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AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4 GHz Socket AM3 Processor Review

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4 GHz Socket AM3 Processor Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: AMD's 3.4GHz Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition processor represents a slight clock speed increase over the previous forerunner, the quad-core 955 Black Edition, and competes with Intel's existing quad-core family of socket 775 CPUs.
 94% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: AMD Aug 19 2009   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition

AMD Overdrive 3.0 and Dragon Platform

Compared to similar tools from Intel and NVIDIA, AMD Overdrive 3.0 is a slightly updated version of its existing performance tuning and software overclocking suite which gives the user full control over system clocks and settings from the desktop. Overdrive is a tool with enough depth that even advanced overclockers will want to use it, negating the need to trek through the BIOS and continually restart the computer.

The performance control panel in AMD Overdrive 3.0.2. Fingertip overclocking of AMD processors, system memory and ATI videocards from one control panel.

Simple controls that automate most of the overclocking process are available to novice users; a basic slider will adjust performance from within the GUI. Using the slider, it was possible to increase the stock 17x multiplier of the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition processor up to 18x, which essentially overclocked the processor from 3.4GHz up to 3.6GHz.

For advanced overclockers there are a lot more options to play with. AMD's Overdrive software can monitor voltages, CPU clock speeds, CPU multipliers, front side bus speeds, memory frequencies, PCI Express frequencies and even overclock the IGP core speed of the Radeon HD 4200 on AMD 785G motherboards, and Sideport memory. There's also a separate page dedicated to memory that lists pretty much every memory timing option available.

It would be nice to see some more built-in recommendations and ToolTips of what each RAM setting does, but as it stands the included help file at least gives a description of each variable.

AMD Overdrive - Smart Profiles

Smart Profiles are a dynamic load balancing and overclocking tool built into the AMD Overdrive application. When the Overdrive software detects that a game has been launched, it can optimize the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition processor to utilize an appropriate amount of processor cores for that game profile.



The Smart Profiles settings for 3DMark 2006.

In certain games that only take advantage of two processing threads, the Overdrive utility will underclock the two unutilized processor cores, and increase the frequency of the two cores the game is using. This entire process is done automatically, so the user doesn't have to worry about turning profiles on or off before gaming - although the profiles must exist for the game in question.

In PCSTATS testing, the Smart Profiles were able to create some gains using the bundled profiles for 3Dmark06 and Crysis, in the range of about 3% to 5%. It's also possible to create custom profiles for any other software application you select, and for owners of Black Edition CPUs the individual core multipliers can be adjusted to set faster speeds for active cores, and lower speeds of the inactive cores, which will increase performance.

AMD Overdrive 3.0 + Black Edition Memory Profiles (BEMP)

Black Edition Memory Profiles are a new feature to AMD Overdrive. It's AMD's way of getting the most out of high-performance DDR3 memory paired with, you guessed it, a Black Edition processor. Working in partnership with popular memory manufacturers, AMD has created an online database with presets for the fastest memory timings for high frequency memory modules. BEMP is exclusive to socket AM3 motherboards, and supported platforms will detect compatible memory and connect to the internet to download an XML profile with the appropriate memory timings - this means profiles can be rapidly updated, revised and included.

AMD Overdrive 3.0 software can tune the memory timings on the fly, as well as automatically boost the CPU northbridge frequency and voltage. The entire system is similar to Intel's XMP, but could potentially be more versatile since it does not rely on the embedded SPD profile of the installed memory.

AMD's BEMP remove a lot of the guesswork of selecting balanced memory speeds and timings, resulting in a one-click solution that simply boosts performance. Fighting with the BIOS over memory timings is not fun... while it's possible to manually tune CAS values up to the levels that BEMP selects, it takes a while for us to get the PC stable and to the point where performance exceeds the built-in memory profiles. While overall neither approach results in huge gains, it's free and very easy to unlock. The only snag we can see with BEMP is the limited amount of memory profiles currently available. At the time of this writing there will likely be a lot of people who have DDR3 memory or motherboards that aren't supported by BEMP, and they'll need to tweak memory values the old fashioned way.

PCSTATS will be overclocking the Phenom II X4 965BE for certain, but next up are the total system power draw tests...

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Contents of Article: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
 Pg 1.  AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4 GHz Socket AM3 Processor Review
 Pg 2.  — AMD Overdrive 3.0 and Dragon Platform
 Pg 3.  Core-by-Core System Power Draw
 Pg 4.  Black Edition Overclocking - Breaking 4.4GHz?
 Pg 5.  Test Specs + 32-bit CPU System Benchmarks: SYSMark 2007
 Pg 6.  32-bit CPU System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 7.  32-Bit CPU Synthetic Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra CPU / Memory
 Pg 8.  32-Bit CPU Calculation Benchmarks: Super Pi, wPrime2.0
 Pg 9.  32-Bit CPU Calculation Benchmarks: ScienceMark2, WinRAR
 Pg 10.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: Cinebench R10, Bibble 5
 Pg 11.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: POV-Ray, 3.7, SPECviewPerf 10
 Pg 12.  32-Bit CPU Synthetic Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 06
 Pg 13.  32-Bit CPU Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis, FEAR
 Pg 14.  Core i5 or Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition?

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