When Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) first introduced the Phenom II line of processors, we were still stuck in the days of the AM2+ socket. The processor that the Phenom II launched with was the AMD Phenom II X4 940 back in 2009. The Phenom II X4 940 is a quad core processor that cruised along at 3.0GHz and proved to be a very capable processor. Here we are though, a little more than two years later, looking at the latest variation of the original Phenom II X4 940, the AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition. It’s been over two years since the original AMD Phenom II X4 processor was released using the ‘Deneb’ core architecture and, believe it or not, the core architecture remains exactly the same. The clock frequency has increased from 3.0GHz to 3.7GHz over the past two years, though, and that is good news for those that don’t overclock. If you overclock your processor then you are likely going to yawn right about now as we were able to hit 3.8GHz on the AMD Phenom II X4 940 processor way back in 2008 when we overclocked the first Phenom II X4 that we laid our hands on.
There are a couple of serious differences between the two processors. We will touch on those differences in a bit, though. Though I’m betting you’re familiar with them already, or at least some of them.
We aren’t going to go into a great level of detail on the architecture of the Phenom II X4’s, though we will touch on it. The AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition processor is based off the same 45nm ‘Deneb’ core that the previous Phenom II processors use, but just a bit faster. If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest technology but are thinking about dropping in a new, faster processor, we have some good news! The Socket AM3 processors are 100% backwards compatible with motherboards using AM2+ sockets, which means you do not have to run out and buy a brand new Socket AM3 motherboard and a DDR3 memory kit to upgrade to one of these processors.
The AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition processor brings a new level of speed to the Phenom II X4 series. Like all of the AMD Phenom II processors, the Phenom II 980 Black Edition uses a front side bus of 200MHz; this particular processor, meaning the Phenom II 980 Black Edition, uses a multiplier of x18.5. This combination of 200MHz bus and x18.5 multiplier gives the AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition an impressive speed of 3.7GHz! If we look back at the original Phenom II 940 Black Edition we can see that it came to the party at only 3.0GHz. In the last 2+ years AMD has increased the speed of the Phenom II X4 processors 700MHz which is nearly 25%!
There are two pieces of information that are key to this processor. First, the Phenom II X4 980 is a Black Edition processor! Not familiar with Black Edition processors? Well, the separating detail between Black Editions and the vanilla Phenom II processors is the unlocked multiplier! If you can keep the processor cold enough and enough juice pumping through it, you can darn near run any speed you want to. Back in November 2009 we saw the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition surpassed the 7GHz barrier! If you missed that you can see it here. Another point of the Phenom II 980 Black Edition is price! Since the AMD Phenom II 980 Black Edition is faster than the Phenom II X4 975 you might expect the price to be higher. Guess again! AMD doesn’t increase the price with faster processors, they lower the price of the previous processors! In this case AMD has stuck with the $195.00 that the Phenom II X4 975 is sitting pretty at. This maintains the sub-$200 price point of the AMD Phenom II Quad Cores!