Manufacturer:AMD UK Price (as reviewed): Around £140 US Price (as reviewed): Around $190
AMD is re-releasing its Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition. Unlike its larger competitor, who slides in a new core revision like its playing cards, AMD wants to get peoples' attention. There are a few tweaks in the latest upgrade, after all.
AMD has refined its 45nm DSL SOI process and revised the core from C2 to C3, reducing current leakage and making this same 3.4GHz (17 x 200MHz) 938-pin AM3 socket chip "just" 125W, rather than the previous 140W.
The change is significant because it allows us overclockers more overhead: AMD's overclocking potential is directly proportional to how cool it can run, and for most of us on air it means the difference of a mediocre 3.8GHz versus a full blown 4-point-something. And it needs it too, with Intel scurrying away at 4.2 to 4.4GHz with its latest D0 Core i7 920s and most Lynnfields (we're ignoring the obnoxiously priced 975s), AMD needed a boost to keep it in the game.
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The new core is not meant to just overclock the cores better, it's supposed to allow more DDR3 MHz too. Instead of most of us topping out at 1,600MHz (1,700MHz if you're lucky), there's apparently now a little more available with HyperTransport overclocking, since there are no more memory multipliers, not to mention four DIMMs at 1,333MHz too. The latter is noteworthy news for those power users needing 8GB system memory in a workstation.
Finally there's also hardware C1E implemented, which allows faster switching between power states meaning "virtually no impact to performance by power management when the BIOS support is properly implemented". Naturally, we test this claim, as traditionally we've always recommend our readers run with Cool'n'Quiet off in performance systems (if it's built to tolerate the constant extra heat) because it tends to strongly negatively affect performance. If AMD has fixed it, well, great! Power saving all round, please.
The new core is made in Global Foundaries Fab 1, module 1, in Dresden, Germany, which is formerly AMD's Fab 36.
If you're completely new to AMD's Phenom II, inside we have: