Four months ago, AMD introduced its latest Phenom II X4 processor, which is designed to use the AM3 socket and at the same time remains backwards compatible with previous AM2 / AM2 + motherboards. Although the Phenom II X4 955 was AMD's fastest desktop processor to date, it wasn't the performance that shocked us, but its value.
Our tests were priced at $ 245 at the time of release and showed that the Phenom II X4 955 was often faster than the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650, which is still a more expensive alternative to this day. In fact, the Phenom is available today for only $ 200, while Intel is still charging ~ $ 320 for the Q9650.
AMD tries to put pressure on Intel in the value segment before its Core i5 CPUs come on the market without having to present itself at the performance level of the Core i7. The new Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, which we are testing today, works with 3.4 GHz and a 17x clock multiplier (200 MHz faster than the 955). This new Phenom is based on the same "Deneb" architecture and therefore has a 6 MB L3 cache, with each core getting its own dedicated 512 KB L2 cache (2 MB total L2 cache).
The Phenom II X4 965 continues to support AM3 and is still backward compatible with AM2 / AM2 + motherboards, allowing users to choose between DDR2 and DDR3 memory.
When we tested the Phenom II X4 955 a few months ago, we suggested that the AM2 + platform would be the better choice given the lower prices for DDR2 memory and the small performance difference between the two. However, DDR3 prices have dropped significantly since then, and we are now of the opinion that those who want to build a new computer should consider an AM3 motherboard instead.
This is reflected in our test method, since we only tested the Phenom II X4 965 with DDR3-1333 memory. If you want to compare the performance of the Phenom II X4 using DDR2 and DDR3 memory, you should read our previous review of the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor.