The Problem at 245

The problem with the $245 price point that AMD’s flagship sells at is one of positioning. It is dangerously close to the $284 price of a Core i7 920, which is generally a faster chip.

CPU Price
Intel Core i7 920 $280
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 $320
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition $245
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 $220
Intel Core i5 750 (Unreleased) $199

The Core 2 Quad Q9650 simply doesn't make any sense, it's a wonder that Intel still sells it. The Q9550 can be had for around $220 and is generally slower than the 965 Black Edition. The i5 750 is the wildcard; if it does debut next month at $199 and is as competitive as we're expecting, it could force AMD to compress its upper end pricing.

Until Lynnfield arrives, the only things AMD has to worry about are the Core 2 Quad at the low end and the i7 at the high end. The more expensive Core 2 Quads don't really seem to matter, the Phenom II dispatches with them fairly easily. To fight off the i7, instead of lowering profit margins, AMD is going to be offering a number of bundles to help reduce total ownership cost.

While AMD wasn’t specific as to what bundles will be available, starting today Newegg, Tiger Direct, ZipZoomFly, NCIX and MWAVE will all be offering bundles on the Phenom II X4 965 and certain motherboards. AMD is estimating the bundles to knock off around $40 from the total combined price. There will also be Corsair memory and AMD GPU bundles, but AMD was even more vague on what we should expect there.

A quick look at Newegg shows that currently you can save about $30 if you’re buying a Phenom II X4 945 and a Gigabyte 790FX motherboard. Unfortunately it looks like the bundles don’t kick in if you’re buying any of the cheaper motherboards. It remains to be seen what sort of 965 bundles will be available.

Pressure from above with the i7 920 is relieved by lower prices, but next month pressure from below with the i5 750 is sure to make things difficult. AMD sweetens the pot by making its flagship part a multiplier unlocked Black Edition. Like the 955 before it, our 965 easily hit 3.8GHz without so much as an added millivolt. We just increased the clock multiplier and off we went.

The Test

Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
MSI DKA790GX Platinum (AMD 790GX)
Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H (AMD 790GX)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
Chipset: Intel X48
Intel X58
AMD 790GX
AMD 790FX
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1010 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: G.Skill DDR2-800 2 x 2GB (4-4-4-12)
G.Skill DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB (5-5-5-15)
Qimonda DDR3-1066 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Index SYSMark 2007 Performance
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  • FireSnake - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    You really need to grow up with this 140W and take a very close look at the power consumption table ;) Reply
  • JimmiG - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    It's not like the 140W TDP happened by accident or took AMD by surprise. 120 - 140W has been the target TDP for high-end CPUs for a long time. At this targeted TDP, AMD found a 3.4 GHz chip could be produced with decent yields. Some thought, research and design goes into the launch of a new CPU even if it's just a 200 MHz clockspeed bump.

    Don't worry, we'll not see a 160W or 180W CPU any time soon since 140W is a sensible target. Modern heatpipe coolers, mobos and PSUs have no trouble with them.

    If you think the difference between a 65W and a 140W CPU is too much, you must live in a very dark house or apartment since each light bulb consumes almost that entire difference.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    My lightbulbs consume between 12 and 20W of power each as I long since left behind inefficient incandescent bulbs. Reply
  • hyc - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    You guys are reading way too much into that 140W TDP spec. Look at the loaded power consumption results, the 965 is 223W vs 220W for the 955. So it's using a whopping 3W more than the 955, BFD.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Some people seem to miss the T for Thermal in that figure indeed. Reply
  • hyc - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Ah, so which part of the Laws of Thermodynamics did you skip in school?

    You can't emit more power out (thermal or otherwise) than you took in.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Saturday, August 15, 2009 - link

    Thats not the point, dummy, its the maximum heat disssipation and that people mistake it for the power it draws from the wall plug. Got it? Reply
  • Eeqmcsq - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    "The 800 series Phenom II X4 is gone, as are the DDR2-only Phenom II X4 940 and 920. Most of the 700 series is also done with."

    I can understand AMD ending the 800 series and the AM2+ only Phenom IIs. But is this statement saying that AMD won't upgrade their X3 720 to a faster triple core, despite better yields? Many people have said that the 720 is AMD's best bang-for-the-buck value. I'd think that AMD would update this segment also.
    Reply
  • Ryun - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    My guess is AMD is working on positioning their lineup to fight against Lynnfield in the lower end. The triple cores are awesome, no doubt but look at what we've got now:

    1.) Phenom II 945 with a TDP of 95W, Phenom II 720 with a TDP of 95W. I'm willing to bet that AMD is planning to move an AMD 925 down to around the same price as the 720. OEMs will love the lower heat requirements and the lowered price. These are going to combat probably against the Core i5's without hyperthreading and from what I've seen I'd wager they'd do pretty well.

    2.) Last I checked there were still plans to make triple and quad cores of the athlon ii design. These are gonna go in the low end to combat against clarkdale I'd suppose. OEMs selling PCs are probably wanna going to get rid of their stockpile of DDR2 memory somehow so I'd surmise these would sell very well also.

    All and all I'd wager that AMD will do fine until Bulldozer releases as long as they a) Make sure they market these processors well to OEMs b) really ramp up their mobile lineup in the coming months

    Look at the 4800 series success afterall. Most people just don't care about the highend and if AMD can have competitive prices they should do well.
    Reply
  • Nalyk - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Is this just a straight clock bump on AMD's part from the 955 due to improved manufacturing? And if so why would consumers shell out another $50 if the head room is already there on the 955 I figure half the reason people buy the Black Editions is so they can play with the multiplier. Am I wrong?
    I suppose I can understand their need for cash, but I personally feel it difficult to justify shelling out another $50 for 200Mhz especially if the head room is there already on the same chip. Or by releasing this chip are they implying that there's even more head room on this 965?
    Reply

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