Phenom II X4 965 – How does it hold up with modern games?


Hey guys, welcome to our weekly Friday video,
and sometimes we have a bonus video on Tuesday, but today we are testing the AMD Phenom II
X4 965 Black Edition. This is an AM3 processor with 4 cores running
at 3.4 GHz. It launched in 2009 and it has a pretty high
TDP of 125 Watts. If you look at the Phenom II food chain, it’s
of the higher end models, but there are faster versions like the 970 running at 3.5 GHz or
the 975 and even the 980, which runs at 3.7 GHz. We will have a look at overclocking and see
if we can match those clock speeds. The motherboard we are using today is a Gigabyte
GA-880GM-UD2H and it worked great, however at first I noticed something really off. When I produce a video like this one I kinda
follow the same process which is cleaning the motherboard a bit, reading up on the online
documentation and seeing which CPUs are supported. I always flash the latest BIOS and my first
test is usually Cinebench and checking the power consumption. Now the power meter showed 204 Watts while
running Cinebench and I knew that this is just way too high for this CPU. Now there is a 140 Watt TDP version of this
CPU, but I double checked, mine is definitely the 125W version, so something else is causing
this high power draw. I then check the CPU voltage with HW Info
and it showed 1.472 Volts, which is well above the 1.4 Volts that this processor is rated
for. So my suspicion was that the motherboard and
the BIOS was over-volting this processor, maybe to give it a higher overclocking potential
or something like that. I always use the optimised BIOS defaults and
in the BIOS section for the voltages I changed the CPU Voltage from Auto to Manual and that
did the trick, the voltage while running Cinebench is now 1.392 Volts and you can see an immediate
reduction of power draw down to 178 Watts. I wanted to see how far I could under-volt
the CPU and it was stable with just 1.264 Volts, but crashed at 1.248 Volts. So I settled for a BIOS setting of 1.3 Volts
and running Cinebench that gives us a power consumption of only 157 Watts. This is the setting I used for all the benchmarks
and gameplay and it was rock solid. I didn’t encounter any issues, so yea if you
do go for one of these CPUs, do check the voltages and with a few minor tweaks you can
reduce the power consumption by around 50 Watts like we’ve seen in our case. So that’s a great outcome, but it does make
me wonder how many people out there had a Gigabyte board with the settings on Auto and
experienced issues like overheating or other issues and blamed the CPU when in fact the
motherboard was excessively over-volting the processor. Here we have the power consumption graph again
and we can see the impact of the voltage tweaks. Under load the E5450 with its 80W TDP is still
the coolest running processor and we will see soon how it actually compares in terms
of performance. Let’s take a closer look at the motherboard
we are using today. We have 4 RAM slots which is nice, so that
means we can take it up to 32GB of RAM, PCIe 16x, 1x and two PCI slots, we have 5 SATA
II ports. They are in an unfortunate spot, if you’re
using a beefy video card then you can’t plug in the SATA cables. I had to use angled connectors and that means
you can only use 2 of them. We also have legacy ports, IDE and Floppy
although the location of the Floppy controller near the ATX power connector is also a little
bit unfortunate. We have dual BIOS so in case one BIOS chip
fails we have a nice backup. We have a ton of ports at the back, there
are a total of 6 USB 2.0 ports, the yellow are not USB 3.0, they are just for quick charging
for your mobile phone. We’ve got a PS/2 connector, VGA, DVI, HDMI,
optical out, there’s also Firewire and E-SATA. Gigabit LAN and also our Audio ports. In the most recent videos I got a few comments
about reapplying the thermal paste of the chipset cooling and, yea, so that makes a
lot of sense and these old boards, well they do deserve a little bit of TLC and I had no
issues with temperatures. The VRMs also held up fine, all I did was
use my finger test and I’m sure that under-volting the processor helped as well. Next up I wanted to tweak the RAM speeds. For this project we got some interesting DDR3
memory provided by GearBest. What’s interesting is that this is marketed
as AMD only RAM and therefore has a lower price. You’re looking at $35 for a 8GB 1600 MHz
module. So for just $70 you can have a nice 16GB RAM
kit. The BIOS defaults to 1600 MHz with 11-11-11-28
timings. So to tweak the timings I set the RAM speed
down to 1333 MHz, which then has a result of faster RAM timings of 9-9-9-24 and I took
a screenshot of all the settings. Then I went back into the BIOS, set the speed
back up to 1600 MHz and manually entered the faster timings. In CPU-Z I saw that the settings got applied
and then ran the Windows integrated RAM test and completed without any issues. And I also had no problems with any of the
benchmarks or games. Now you guys know I’m not that much into
overclocking, but this is a black edition processor with an unlocked multiplier. So it’s really straight forward. With a slight under-volt of 1.35 Volt, it
would go up to 3.6 GHz and pass Cinebench, so that’s now at the level of the faster
X4 975. At 3.7 GHz that was too much, I would get
a blue screen, but raising the voltage to 1.4 made it pass Cinebench and match the fastest
Phenom II X4, the 980. I also had a look at under-clocking, the lowest
bus speed is 200 MHz, you can turn off all the cores apart from one to turn this into
a single core CPU. And the lowest multiplier is 5x, so if you
want a single core running at 1 GHz for some Retro projects, then you can do that. Here we have all the components I used in
the video, the Phenom II processor, the Gigabyte motherboard, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, we’ve got
a Radeon RX 570, a 600 Watt Power Supply, the AMD 125W Thermal Solution, a SSD and a
Hard Drive and I will have a look if I find any links on AliExpress or eBay for these
parts and I will put them down below in the video description. Let’s have a quick look at performance,
Cinebench R15 we’re getting a score of 340, so that’s just a little in front of the
Core 2 Quad Q9650 and moving on to 3DMark, we can see similar results. Basically the Phenom II X4 965 is really on
the same level as a Core 2 Quad Q9650, so that two are a really comparison. So looking at these results, the Phenom II
running at 3.4 GHz matches up nicely with a Core 2 Quad that’s clocked at 3 GHz. We’re getting very similar results and also
in games that we will checkout next, the machine also felt just a Q9650 that we reviewed in
past videos. The Phenom II however does consume more power,
even with the voltage tweaks, the E5450 is the more efficient processor. We will talk about prices and value next,
but now let’s have a look at some games. I will put the name of the game and the graphics settings down below. So what do I think of the Phenom II X4 965? Well to answer this question we have to look
at current prices and also consider alternatives. I got my X4 965 from AliExpress for $33 and
you can get AM3 motherboards from around $35 to $40. Now if you compare this to Socket LGA 775, prices
are a little bit cheaper. You can get the E5450 for around $20 and DDR3
LGA 775 board for even under $30. So the AMD platform is a little bit more expensive,
however you can get cheaoer AMD DDR3 memory, so with a 16GB RAM kit the price difference is not
that great anymore. We did however see, even with the processor
voltage tweaking, that the Phenom II consumes more power compared to the Xeon E5450. You also have to factor in that you need a
quite capable processor cooler that can handle 125 Watts, for this video I’m using what
is basically the AMD Wraith cooler, which is made out of copper and has heatpipes. But otherwise I really like AM3 as a platform. It worked great for this project and after
discovering that the motherboard was over-volting the CPU and applying a few tweaks including
tightening up the RAM timings, the performance in games was pretty decent. As always don’t expect the latest and greatest
AAA games to run well on such a machine, the processor doesn’t have the latest CPU instructions
either, so there are games and programs that won’t even run. But if you’re like me and you like to pickup
older games when they are on sale, then this processor is still going pretty strong. It’s in that zone of being too young to
be considered retro and too old to be considered modern. Talking about retro gaming, AM3 is fully compatible
with Windows XP and most motherboards have all the legacy interfaces, like IDE and Floppy
connectors. So yea, I think I’ve covered everything. But as always, if you got any questions or
comments, please leave them down below. I will see you next week with your weekly
Friday video, but do keep an eye out for Tuesday, sometimes there is a bonus video. And that’s it guys, thank you so much for
watching, please subscribe to the channel if you haven’t done so already. Give it a like and click on that notification
bell and I shall see you soon with another one.

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