The AMD Phenom II X4 975 BE CPU

AMD Phenom II 975 Black Edition CPU

AMD has just released their latest quad-core speed-bump in order to give consumers the option for a little more bang and a little more buck. With the release of the AMD Phenom II X4 975 'Black Edition' processor, AMD has added a new king to their Phenom II X4 quad-core product line. The previous leader in this category was the Phenom II X4 970 at 3.5GHz and 125W TDP. The 975 adds 100MHz for a total of 3.6GHz. This clock speed not only marks the highest quad core, but the highest base factory clock chip in all of AMD's desktop processor lines.  With a price-point of $195, AMD also maintains their sub-$200 barrier in their quad-core processors.

AMD Phenom II 975 Black Edition CPU

CPU-Z shows the Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition sports an x18 multiplier to bring its core speed to a blazing 3.6 GHz. This Deneb-based core features 6 MB of Level 3 cache which , the X4 975BE is the top of the line for AMD's desktop quad-core processors.  The predecessor of the X4 975BE is the X4 970BE which has exactly the same features as the X4 975BE, but with a 100 MHz difference from the x17.5 multiplier on the X4 970 and the x18 multiplier on the 975.  In order to produce the 975BE, AMD had to beef up their screening processes in order to create a new high-end bin for Deneb cores that can handle 3.6GHz.

Here is what AMD has to say about the Phenom II X4 975BE:

"The 975BE comes in on top of our popular 4-core performance stack with great speed and a sub-$200 price tag. It’s a great general purpose CPU for enthusiasts and gamers alike because it has the cores, cache and the frequency to easily master applications and tasks. As always our ‘Black Edition’ processors come with unlocked multipliers from the factory for easy tuning."

Specifications:

The AMD Phenom II X4 840 CPU

AMD Phenom II X4 840 CPU

As part of this announcement, AMD is also releasing a speed-bump for their X4 800 value series desktop processors as well. The AMD Phenom II X4 840 brings 3.2 GHz to a 95W TDP package.  With an estimated price of $102, this chip will be sure to turn the heads of many budget-minded PC builders.

AMD Phenom II X4 840 CPU

CPU-Z shows the Phenom II X4 840 sports an x16 multiplier to bring its core speed to a blazing 3.2 GHz. Even though CPU-Z labels this processor as Deneb-based, AMD reported that it is actually a Propus-based core since there is no Level 3 cache, just the 2MB of Level 2 cache. 

Here is what AMD has to say about the Phenom II X4 840:

At approximately one hundred U.S. dollars, the 840 makes for a great general purpose chip for the value conscious. Four cores, good speed, sub-100W power band and a great price contribute to its attractiveness. It will be hard to find a better way to spend $100 (U.S.) on a CPU in January.

Specifications:

Test Setup

Our test systems were all set up with a fresh install of Windows 7 64 Ultimate Edition with the latest Windows Updates. Video card drivers for the AMD Radeon HD 6950 were Catalyst 10.12. All systems had the very latest BIOS updates and system drivers. The Intel Sandy Bridge DP67BG motherboard had BIOS BGP6710J.86A.1780 which is the latest from Intel.

AMD Test System

 

AMD Test Bench

 Motherboard  Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H  Live Pricing
 Memory  Corsair Vengence 1600MHz 2x4GB  Live Pricing
 Hard Drive  Intel X-25E SSD  Live Pricing
 Video Card  XFX Radeon HD6950  Live Pricing
 CPU cooler  Corsair H50  Live Pricing
 Chassis  None - Open Bench  
 Power Supply  Corsair TX750  Live Pricing

Intel Sandy Bridge P67 Test System

 

Intel Sandy Bridge Test Bench

 Processor  Intel Core i7 2600K  Live Pricing
 Motherboard  Intel DP67BG  Live Pricing
 Memory  Corsair Vengence 1600MHz 2x4GB  Live Pricing
 Hard Drive  Intel X-25E SSD  Live Pricing
 Video Card  XFX Radeon HD6950  Live Pricing
 CPU cooler  Corsair H50  Live Pricing
 Chassis  None - Open Bench  
 Power Supply  Corsair TX750  Live Pricing

Intel Lynnfield and Clarkdale P55 Test System

 

Intel P55 Test Bench

 Processor  Intel Core i7 875K  Live Pricing
 Motherboard  ASUS P7P55D Premium  Live Pricing
 Memory  Corsair Vengence 1600MHz 2x4GB  Live Pricing
 Hard Drive  Intel X-25E SSD  Live Pricing
 Video Card  XFX Radeon HD6950  Live Pricing
 CPU cooler  Corsair H50  Live Pricing
 Chassis  None - Open Bench  
 Power Supply  Corsair TX750  Live Pricing

Intel 975 Test System

 

Intel 975X Test Bench

 Processor  Intel Core 2 Quad QX6700  Live Pricing
 Motherboard  Intel D975XBX2  Live Pricing
 Memory  OCZ Reaper DDR2 PC 6400 2x2GB  Live Pricing
 Hard Drive  Intel X-25E SSD  Live Pricing
 Video Card  XFX Radeon HD6950  Live Pricing
 CPU cooler  Corsair H50  Live Pricing
 Chassis  None - Open Bench  
 Power Supply  Corsair TX750  Live Pricing

SiSoft Sandra 2011b

SiSoft Sandra 2011b

A year ago, SiSoftware released Sandra 2010 with full support for Windows 7; in the 18 months since the launch of Windows 7, more than ever before we have seen the line blur between PC and entertainment hubs. Two months ago we released a Blu-Ray benchmark, now we have added a brand-new Media Transcoding benchmark using the new Media Foundation of Windows 7. We have also added yet another benchmark (GPGPU Cryptography) which allows direct comparison of CPU performance (using crypto instruction sets) and GPGPU performance.

SiSoft Sandra 2011b

Benchmark Results: Here we see AMD's Phenom II X4 975 BE has roughly the same memory bandwidth as the hex-core Phenom II X6 1090T due to its high clock speeds.  We also see the X4 975 BE and X4 840 CPUs surround the memory performance of the Intel Core i5 661 processor which has a price point higher than the 975 BE.

wPrime

wPrime

wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.

wPrime v204

Benchmark Results: Unlike the memory bandwidth, the Phenom II X4 975 BE is not able to keep up with the Phenom II X6 1090T hex-core in this raw CPU calculating benchmark.  What is nice to see is the X4 840 performing just a tad slower than the Intel Core i5 2400 and the X4 975 BE performing on par with the Intel Core i5 2500K!

Microsoft Excel 2010

Microsoft Office Excel 2010 is a powerful and widely used tool with which you can create and format spreadsheets, and analyze and share information to make more informed decisions. It allows you to import, organize and explore massive data sets within spreadsheets and then communicate your analysis with professional-looking charts. Excel 2010 also provides tools to “see” important trends and find exceptions in your data.

The Black-Scholes model is used to calculate a theoretical call and put price using the five key determinants of an option's price: stock price, strike price, volatility, time to expiration, and short-term (risk free) interest rate. The workload is execution of approximately 300,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation using the Black-Scholes basic option pricing formula in Microsoft Excel 2010. In addition, the workload uses Excel lookup functions to compare the put price from the model with the historical market price for 50,000 rows to understand the convergence. The input file is a ~70 MB spreadsheet.

Excel 2010

Benchmark Results: Intel pretty much dominates this Excel 2010 benchmark, but the Phenom II X4 975 BE performs slightly better than the Intel Core i5 661 for a slightly lower price point.

x264 HD Encoding

x264 HD Encoding

Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.

x264 HD Benchmark

Benchmark Results: The AMD Phenom X4 975 BE and 840 perform fairly well by beating out some of the lower end, but higher-priced Intel CPUs while closing in on some of the mid-range Sandy Bridge processors.

Handbrake

Handbrake 0.9.4

HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. Handbrake supports any DVD-like source: VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD (unencrypted--protection methods including CSS are not supported internally and must be handled externally with third-party software and libraries), and some .VOB and .TS files. Handbrake is a great CPU transcoding utility that is widely used to convert DVD's to popular formats supported by mobile devices.

Handbrake 0.9.4

Benchmark Results: Like the x264 encoding benchmark, the Phenom II X4 975 BE and 840 perform fairly well against a handful of higher priced Intel processors. The 975 BE is approaching the performance level of the Intel Core i7 875K which is over $100 more expensive!

Sony Vegas 10

Sony Vegas 10

The Vegas Pro 10 collection offers an efficient and intuitive environment for professional audio and video production, as well as DVD and Blu-ray Disc authoring. This comprehensive suite offers the most robust and progressive platform available for content creation and production. With innovative stereoscopic 3D tools, broad format support, superior video effects processing, unparalleled audio support, and a full complement of editorial features, the Vegas Pro 10 collection delivers everything needed to produce outstanding results.

Sony Vegas Pro 10

Benchmark Results: The AMD Phenom II X4 975 BE and 840 do not perform as well in Sony Vegas 10 for video authoring as they did in the other encoding benchmarks.  Here the 975 BE performs between the Intel Core i5 661 and i3 2100.

Cinebench 11.5

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

Cinebench 11.5

Cinebench 11.5

Benchmark Results: Here we see the Phenom II X4 975 BE performs on par with the Intel Core i5 750 and even pushing slightly ahead of it on the multi-threaded test.  Even the X4 840 CPU beats out the Intel Core i3 2100 on the multi-threaded test, as well.

7-Zip

7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio.

Some of the main features of 7z format are:

7-Zip 9.2

7-zip

Benchmark Results: Here we see the Phenom II X4 975 BE is once again showing to be a strong mid-range power-horse by closing in on the Intel Core i5 2400 Sandy Bridge processor.

iTunes 10

iTunes is a free application for your Mac or PC. It organizes and plays your digital music and video on your computer. It keeps all your content in sync. And it’s a store on your computer, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV that has everything you need to be entertained. Anywhere. Anytime.

In this benchmark we take a 640MB .WAV file and convert it to a 160kbp/s .mp3.

iTunes 10

iTunes 10

Benchmark Results: The Phenom II X4 975 BE is able to beat the performance of the X6 1090T, but none of the AMD CPUs perform as well as the Intel Core series of processors in this iTunes wav-to-mp3 conversion test.

Folding@home

Folding@home is a distributed computing project -- people from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world. Every computer takes the project closer to our goals. Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved. Moreover, when proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. "misfold"), there can be serious consequences, including many well known diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

The work unit we used was a p6054 which is part of the SMP high performance client for Folding@home.

Folding@home SMP

Folding@home

Benchmark Results: The Phenom II X4 975 BE is able to come close to the performance level of Intel's Core i5 750 processor in this Folding@Home work unit. The X4 840 is also able to match the performance of the Intel Core i3 2100 CPU.

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2

The Sequel to Valve Corporation's award-winning Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 involves the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic. There has been an outbreak of a pathogen that causes infected humans to behave like zombies. The four survivors have to fight their way through the hordes of infected, using safehouses along the way to rest and recover in order to reach extraction points. This takes place in the southern United States, featuring Savannah, GA and New Orleans, LA.

We tested Left 4 Dead 2 at it's highest settings but with no Anti-Aliasing at three resolutions, 1024x768, 1680x1050, and 1920x1080.

Left 4 Dead 2 Settings

Left 4 Dead 2

Benchmark Results: The Phenom II X4 840 processor shows roughly the same performance in Left 4 Dead 2 as the Intel Core 2 Quad QX6700, while the X4 975 BE is able to match the performance levels of the Core i5 750 and even the Core i7 875K.

Starcraft II

Starcraft II Wings of Liberty

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Performance Benchmark

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. A sequel to the award-winning 1998 video game StarCraft, the game was released worldwide on July 27, 2010. It is split into three installments: the base game with the subtitle Wings of Liberty, and two upcoming expansion packs, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has had a successful launch, selling three million copies worldwide in less than a month.

We tested Starcraft II at Ultra Settings on both the GPU and CPU at resolutions of 1024x760, 1680x1050, and 1920x1080.

Starcraft II

Benchmark Results: Similar to the Left 4 Dead 2 results, the Phenom II X4 975 BE is able to match the performance of the Intel Core i5 750, which is expected to be the same price point as the X4 975 BE.  The X4 840 is able to perform slightly better than the QX6700 in Starcraft II.

FIFA 2011

FIFA 2011

We tested FIFA 2011 at it's highest settings and 4x Anti-Aliasing at three resolutions, 1024x768, 1680x1050, and 1920x1080.

FIFA 2011

Benchmark Results: Here we see FIFA 2011 is very video card dependent at hither resolutions, but when run at 1024x768, we see the Sandy Bridge processors have a distinct edge over the other CPUs.  The Phenom II X4 975 BE does perform better than the Core i5 661, but the X4 840 again falls to similar performance to that of the QX6700.

Overclocking the AMD Phenom II X4 975 BE

Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you might be able to get.

Phenom II X4 975 BE Stock

Remember that the stock speed of this Black Edition CPU is 3.6 GHz with a multiplier of x18 and a 200 MHz bus speed.

Phenom II X4 975 BE Overclock

Since the Phenom II X4 975 is a Black Edition processor, the multiplier is unlocked. We were able to change the multiplier from x18 to x20 while also increasing the bus speed from 200 MHz to 220 MHz to obtain an effective 4.4 GHz overclock.  This is 800 MHz higher than the stock speed of 3.6 GHz, so not too shabby! Interestingly enough, the last time we reviewed a Black Edition AMD processor, the Phenom II X4 965 BE back in August of 2009, we also received an 800 MHz overclock!

Phenom II X4 975 BE Overclock

With this overclock, we were able to shave off another two seconds (Stock: 11.296 seconds; OC: 9.373 seconds) off the 32M wPrime benchmark to give us a 17% performance boost in that benchmark. This brought the Phenom II X4 975 BE very close to the performance level of the Intel Core i7 875K.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

AMD Phenom II 975 Black Edition CPU

AMD has released two new processors in the wake of Intel's Sandy Bridge splash just to make sure everyone knows they still have competitive CPUs dollar for dollar. With the realization that Intel's Core i5 661 and Core i5 750 are both $199 or more, we begin to see how AMD's price points really hit the competition for the mid-range and value-level markets.  While it may not be worth upgrading to the Phenom II X4 975 BE if you already have a X4 Black Edition processor, it should definitely be on your short list of mid-range processors when bleeding-edge speed is not a factor.

The same goes for the new Phenom II 840. While it seems more like an "Athlon II X4 650" as far as hardware specifications go, AMD made the call to give it the Phenom II brand even though it does not have the L3 cache enabled.  Even though this may confuse some consumers, it will no doubt help push the prices of the Athlon II X4 processors even lower. If you are looking for a value-level processor with a $100 price point, don't forget about the Phenom II X4 840 when you are looking at the Athlon II product line.

CPU Name Cores Clock L2/L3 Cache HT Bus Socket TDP Price
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T BE 6 3.3GHz 3+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $280
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T BE 6 3.2GHz 3+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $249
AMD Phenom II X6 1075T 6 3.0GHz 3+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $200
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 6 2.8GHz 3+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $180
AMD Phenom II X4 975 BE 4 3.6GHz 2+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $195
AMD Phenom II X4 970 BE 4 3.5GHz 2+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $185
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 4 3.4GHz 2+6MB 4000MHz AM3 140W $159
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 4 3.2GHz 2+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $145
AMD Phenom II X4 910e 4 2.6GHz 2+6MB 4000MHz AM3 65W $184
AMD Phenom II X4 840 4 3.2GHz 2MB 4000MHz AM3 95W $102
AMD Phenom II X2 565 2 3.4GHz   1+6MB 4000MHz AM3 80W $116
AMD Phenom II X2 560 2 3.3GHz   1+6MB 4000MHz AM3 80W $100
AMD Phenom II X2 555 2 3.2GHz   1+6MB 4000MHz AM3 80W $89

This chart shows market prices of AMD's current Phenom II product line with the X4 975 BE and X4 840 included with their expected price-points.  Once these chips are available and on the market, they will no doubt lower the prices of the existing chips a little further.  Given the fact that the release of the Phenom II X4 975 BE is just a speed-bump, the main goal here is to drive further competition in the value and mainstream markets by further lowering prices. This has been AMD's style as of late and it continues to serve them well.

Legit Bottom Line: If you are in the market for a mid-to-low range system and don't need or care about what the fastest and most expensive CPU is on the market, then the AMD Phenom II X4 975 BE and X4 840 CPUs could be of interest even in the wake of Intel's Sandy Bridge. However, if you already have a Phenom II X4 970 BE, the extra 100 MHz will likely not be of interest at the moment.