Summary: Promising lower power consumption, lower temps, and most importantly for enthusiasts, more OC'ing, AMD is back with a new CPU revision for the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, which now boasts a 125W TDP. Is AMD able to deliver on their promises though? Find out in today's article!
Improving Phenom II
We’ve always been big fans of new CPU revisions/steppings, as AMD and Intel have used them to introduce a number of goodies in the past. As many OC’ers can tell you, newer steppings can often scale to higher clock speeds than older ones. But that’s not all they can potentially be useful for. Newer CPU steppings can be introduced to fix bugs (errata) in hardware, deliver higher clock speeds, improve yields, or to reduce power consumption.
As you can see, the new C3 revision incorporates two enhancements beyond lower TDP. We typically disable power saving features like C1E in order to produce optimal CPU performance, then re-enable it when running power consumption. The new C3 chips can switch power states much quicker than older CPUs based on AMD’s C2 revision, reducing the performance hit you can sometimes encounter in some apps when power management features are enabled in BIOS.
C3 Revision OC’ing
If you’ve followed our Phenom II CPU reviews over the past 11 months, you’ve no doubt noticed that all of the Deneb CPUs we’ve tested have hit a wall right around 3.7-3.8GHz. Our 140W Phenom II X4 965 sample topped out at 3849MHz, 11MHz shy of our 955’s top speed of 3860MHz.
This is simply an incredible difference that any OC’er will appreciate. And remember, since we’re running at stock voltage, the chip is also generating significantly less heat at that 3.8GHz than our older C2 revision Phenom CPUs which were running at higher voltage.
So how far were we able to push our CPU when we upped the voltage? We managed to hit a top speed of 4066MHz (19.0x214) at 1.52V.
The CPU could run at higher speeds, but again, we couldn’t maintain 100% stability.
All CPUs were cooled with Zalman’s CNPS9700-Cu. We’ve included all benchmarks at 4066MHz so you can see how much of an impact our OC has on performance. You’ll also want to check out the temps and power consumption results on page 4 of this article.
Spotting a 125W chip
If you want to pick up one of the new 125W Phenom II X4 965 chips with AMD’s latest C3 revision specifically, your best bet is to look really close at the CPU’s OPN number. The OPN # for the new C3 revision CPU is HDZ965FBK4DGM. The “M” at the end denotes the new C3 revision.
Many retailers also denote the CPU’s TDP under the specifications listing. Newegg for instance does this.
Speaking of retailers, AMD charges the same $195 for the 125W Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, so you hopefully shouldn’t have to pay a price premium at the retail level for the new 125W 965 CPU.
AMD will begin replacing additional Phenom II models with the C3 revision in the coming months, so if you’re an AMD enthusiast but can’t afford to splurge for a new 965, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for 955 and 945 models utilizing the C3 revision in the near future.
AMD wanted to focus on the X4 965 Black Edition at first in order to bring its TDP down to 125W as quickly as possible. OEMs and system integrators will likely gobble up the new CPU, as the original 965’s 140W TDP may have been too high for them to integrate into existing Phenom II systems. With the addition of the 125W Phenom II X4 965, they don’t have to go to the expense of testing and qualifying the 140W part. They’ve now got a drop-in replacement for the 955 that should run well with existing chassis/cooling designs.
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 125W
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 140W
4GB (2x2GB) Corsair CM3X2G1600C9DHX @ DDR3-1333 Speeds
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
500GB Western Digital Caviar SE16
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Resident Evil 5
Since we’ve already benchmarked the 965’s primary competitors extensively in previous articles, today we’re going to focus on how the original 140W CPU compares to its newer 125W cousin. If you need a quick refresher on how the Phenom II X4 965 compares to other CPUs in its price range, we suggest you flip back to our Lynnfield article from September, where we compare the 965’s performance against other Phenom II CPUs as well as Intel’s latest processors.
Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Far Cry 2 – Direct3D
Crysis – Direct3D
Resident Evil 5 – Direct3D
This may not sound like a lot at first to some of you, but in the CPU arena, these differences are huge.
As we noted earlier, OEMs and system vendors who may have passed on validating and qualifying the original Phenom II X4 965 with their existing designs due to its increased power consumption now have a drop-in replacement for the popular Phenom II X4 955. And for enthusiasts looking to OC, that 4 degree difference at stock speeds will grow even larger the more you overclock your processor.
Enthusiasts will also appreciate the increased headroom found in AMD’s new revision. We managed to OC our chip roughly 200MHz higher than previous Phenom II CPUs we’ve tested. As a result, we were finally able to break the 4GHz mark with complete stability. We didn’t need quite as much voltage to hit that speed either.
If all that weren’t enough, the new revision sports more robust DDR3-1333 DIMM loading, up to four 1333MHz DIMMs are fully supported now instead of the C2 revision’s limitation of 2, and the new revision switches power states faster, so you’ll no longer have to worry about the potential 1-2% performance drop from enabling C1E in your motherboard’s BIOS.
Because of all this, the 125W Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition is easily the best CPU AMD makes today.
The new chip won’t improve AMD’s position in comparison to Lynnfield though. Intel’s Core i5-750 still delivers more bang for your buck assuming you’re comparing CPU prices only and excluding the cost of the entire platform. Lynnfield is leagues ahead of Phenom II in terms of IPC, and it scales well too: we hit similar OC speeds with our i5-750 as today’s X4 965. Therefore, we don’t expect it to steal any sales away from Lynnfield amongst the performance crowd who simply wants the fastest CPU they can afford at the $200 price point.
For that AMD enthusiast who wants the best, and can afford the price of admission, look no further than the 125W Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition. We can’t wait to see the new C3 Revision trickle down throughout the rest of AMD’s Phenom II lineup also. If $200 is a little out of your reach, hopefully you won’t have to wait much longer to get this technology in a more affordable package, like say the X4 945, which sells for $166 on Newegg.
Just make sure when you’re buying, you look for the “M” at the end of the OPN if you really want one of the new C3 Revision Phenom II CPUs.
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