Phenom II X4 965 processor launch is hardly an unexpected event. Once AMD got the new 45 nm Deneb core at their disposal that featured much more impressive frequency potential than the previous Agena core, they started pushing its frequencies higher and higher in an attempt to catch up with Core 2 Quad and Core i7 that have gone far ahead by then. And today the clock speed of Phenom II X4 processor family has reached 3.4 GHz, which is higher than any of the contemporary Intel processors can boast.
But unfortunately, this high clock speed revealed all the drawbacks of Stars (K10) microarchitecture that AMD have been using in their processors for the last 2 years. As we have seen during our tests, the new Phenom II X4 965 working at 3.4 GHz frequency is pretty much as fast as Core 2 Quad Q9550 at 2.83 GHz nominal speed and fall behind Core i7-920 with even lower nominal frequency of 2.66 GHz. So, AMD CPUs lose to Intel competitors quite significantly in IPC (instructions per clock). It is this particular fact, but not the insufficiently high clock speeds, that do not allow AMD solutions to find their way into the high-end price segments.
Moreover, considering that Phenom II X4 965 has increased to 140 W typical heat dissipation, its launch seems even more to be the “last resort”. We obviously shouldn’t expect Phenom II X4 processor family to speed up any further, at least until new Deneb core stepping comes out (which we have no information of so far). So, Phenom II X4 965 will most likely remain the fastest quad-core AMD processor for a while. And within this period of time Intel may not only expand their Lynnfield processor family, but also start production of 32 nm technologies. In other words, while today we reviewed Phenom II X4 965 as a mainstream solution, in the near future Phenom II X4 processor family will have be just a low-cost quad-core offering, like first generation Phenom X4 CPUs.
Even today the position of the new Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition processor is pretty vague. The official price of the new Phenom II X4 965 is set at $245 and the users (mostly in the North American market) were promised additional discounts when purchasing a bundle including a CPU and a mainboard, so looks like our hero could become a pretty good choice for AMD fans. However, it still has a few very serious drawbacks, such as high power consumption and lower performance during overclocking can scare away some of the potential Phenom II X4 965 owners. Therefore, we believe that it can be of interest only to those users who already have a Socket AM2+ or Socket AM3 platform and would like to increase their computational potential by upgrading the CPU. Frankly speaking, we can’t tell you what about the new Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition processor could possibly attract new fans.