If you haven't heard, AMD released a new flagship CPU today: the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition. It's a fast chip, more than competitive with Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9550 and Q9650; and generally faster than both. It's also an easy overclock. I hit 3.8GHz on mine without giving it any additional voltage and with a bit of work Gary broke 4GHz.

There is a hint of nervousness in the air though. Due out very soon are Intel's Lynnfield processors. With prices starting at $199 and motherboards priced in the low $100s, they should prove to be more competitive than the aging Core 2 Quad line. In anticipation of Intel's Lynnfield release AMD told us the following in advantage of today's announcement:

"We will be introducing 965 at a suggested retail price of $245(US), holding the line our flagship’s official price while offering more performance. However, there will be some exciting bundle deals on or shortly after August 13th. The main bundle you’ll see is AMD’s Phenom II X4 965 combined with a range of motherboards to choose from where the bundle is discounted ~$40 or more (depending on the motherboard chosen). "

AMD partnered with five North American vendors for these bundles, but only two of them currently stock the Phenom II X4 965 BE. Granted it's the first day of the launch and these things can take a little while to filter into everyone's inventory. Below is a quick listing of the available bundles for the Phenom II X4 965 BE:

Vendor CPU Price Motherboard Motherboard Price Combo Price Combo Savings
Newegg $249.00 ASUS M4A79T Deluxe (790FX) $188.99 $412.99 $25
Newegg $249.00 Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H (785G) $79.99 $308.99 $20
Newegg $249.00 MSI 790GX-G65 (790GX) $124.99 $353.99 $20
ZipZoomFly No Listings
TigerDirect $259.99 Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H (785G) $79.99 $319.99 $19.99
NCIX No Listings
MWAVE No Listings


Newegg offered the most bundles out of any of the surveyed vendors. Instead of publishing all of them I picked a high end bundle (with a high end motherboard) as well as the cheapest bundle possible. Generally it looks like you can save $20 - $25 on one of these Phenom II X4 965 bundles. That's shy of the "~$40 or more" AMD suggested we'd see; perhaps bigger discounts will come later?

Today, the cheapest you can get into a 965 with a new board is just under $310, while a higher end board will set you back a bit over $400. There's a slight issue with the Gigabyte 785G in that it's not technically on AMD's recommended motherboard list for the 965 BE. I also included an MSI 790GX board, but it too is not technically on AMD's recommended motherboard list. I suspect that it's just a matter of validation but it's worth pointing out regardless.

I also looked at what was available if you wanted to buy a Core i7 920 instead. Again I picked the cheapest motherboard Newegg offered, the MSI X58M, as well as a higher end option (ASUS P6T).

CPU CPU Price Motherboard Motherboard Price Combo Price
Core i7 920 $279.99 ASUS P6T $249.99 $504.98
Core i7 920 $279.99 MSI X58M $169.99 $449.98


There's simply no way the i7 920 can compete with the cheapest Phenom II X4 965 BE configuration, but if you are fine with a Micro-ATX motherboard then the cheapest i7 920 setup is $37 away from the more expensive 965 BE combo from Newegg. You actually don't give up the ability to do multi-GPU with the X58M (it supports both CF and SLI), it even has six DIMM slots and software SATA RAID support. However, unless you had to buy today, I wouldn't worry too much about trying to build a cheap 920. It won't be long before P55 and Lynnfield are upon us, and then we'll have a real race.

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  • turr - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    Not to mention that building an i7 920 today seems a bit silly, which I also mentioned:

    "However, unless you had to buy today, I wouldn't worry too much about trying to build a cheap 920"

    Mr Anand could you explain better this point. why is silly building a 920?

    Thank you
  • cheapo - Friday, October 9, 2009 - link

    if you call microcenter in texas they will ship without tax for $206 #1-713-940-8500 tell them your out of state took 3 days to recieve it was a DO stepping what a bargain . called 4 location before i got lucky with houstin branch.

    first build for me so i'am new
  • v12v12 - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    Sigh... while shaking my head at these 2 dullards and their futile attempts to argue with logic and lack of reading comprehension skills—I would like to put a positive spin on this:

    Here we have 2 people, who are clearly in error in thought, but we also have the CEO of the website taking his own valuable time to reply. HOW OFTEN do you get that kind of reciprocation, even when it is CLEAR that both of them were being not only hostile and malicious, but down right rude. Even still, Anand replied: calmly, and in a civil manner.

    This is an example of POSITIVE CUSTOMER RELATIONS, people! When THE BOSS even takes time to address this kind of trifle, it shows a good sign to me. Let this be a LESSON to all of you out there aspiring to be "somebody!" THIS is how you conduct yourself in the face of mindless-opposition. (I'm one to talk about conduct at times haha!)

    Anyhow, thanks for the clarification Anand. ;-)

  • MrSpadge - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    Nicely said, mate!

  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    Let's also not forget the overclocking perspective. Sure, the X4 965 can hit 3.8GHz easily, and with a bit of tweaking you get about 3.95GHz (unless you don't run a 64-bit OS, in which case you might hit 4.2 GHz on air-cooling).

    At stock 2.66GHz speed, the i7-920 is generally faster than a 3.4GHz Phenom II 965. If we overclock the 965 16% to just under 4GHz and we overclock the i7-920 to 4GHz as well (a relatively easy task with the latest i7 steppings), the 50% boost in i7 performance is going to really separate the two systems.

    Finally, comparing cost of systems you need to factor in the whole enchilada. It's $505 for the ASUS P6T + i7-920 compared to $413 for the ASUS M4A79T Deluxe + Phenom II 965. We do need to keep motherboard options relatively similar, after all, so both ASUS boards are good choices for their respective platforms. That's 22% more for the i7-920 platform, and we need to add in RAM.

    3x2GB DDR3 = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">$86, give or take
    2x2GB DDR3 = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">$71, plus or minus (Yes, you spend more per GB relatively speaking if you get 2x2GB DDR3 instead of 3x2GB DDR3.)

    Now we're looking at $591 vs. $484, or still a 22% price premium (but with 50% more RAM) for the i7-920. Add in the rest of your typical computer setup for a decent midrange computer, however, and it's not quite so big a gap.

    In our http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=361...">last midrange guide, the base midrange system used $750 for all the other components (outside CPU, mobo, and RAM) -- though $380 was for speakers, OS, keyboard/mouse, and LCD. Now we're looking at $1341 for a complete i7-920 setup vs. $1234 for a complete Phenom II 965 setup - a cost difference of 8.7%. Even if we drop the peripherals, we're still looking at $961 vs. $854, or a 12.5% difference. That's at the lower end of the midrange spectrum.

    Bump to the http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=361...">high-end midrange systems and you'd kick the full system price to $1776 for i7-920 ($1946 for a CrossFire setup), compared to $1669 ($1839 for a CrossFire setup). That would be a difference of 6.4% or 5.8% with CrossFire.

    Putting everything in perspective, then, it depends what you're after. For overclocking, I don't think anyone would try to make the argument that AMD can compete against the i7-920. If you're buying a completely new system right now, and you're looking at $1000 vs. $850 (roughly), it's a tougher call. I'm with Anand at that point and would go for the socket 1366 platform, but then I'd also be overclocking so maybe I'm not a good sample audience. For a complete higher-end setup, saving 5-7% while losing up to 30% performance (though you also gain a few percent in a couple tasks)? I'd definitely go with the i7-920.

    You do need to keep your intended use in mind as well. If you never do 3D rendering (I don't), and you don't do a lot of video encoding, the gaming situation is essentially GPU limited on these systems. Elsewhere both systems are so fast that it just doesn't matter much. :-)
  • MODEL3 - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    A little nitpicking regarding your comment:

    "Yes, you spend more per GB relatively speaking if you get 2x2GB DDR3 instead of 3x2GB DDR3"

    This is not true in general!

    You took a:

    Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT25664BA1339 - Retail at 71$

    and you compared it with a:

    PQI 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory Model MFC46GUOE-X3 - Retail at 86$

    If you compare it with the exact same 6GB Crucial kit:

    Crucial 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail at 110$

    You can see that the 6GB kit has higher price per module!

    PQI is in general a lower priced brand in relation with Crucial!

    Newegg doesn't have on stock right now 4GB PQI kits, but this doesn't play a role in general, because maybe they had stock before 1 week or maybe they will have stock in a week from now!
    Also maybe Newegg is trying to press QPI to lower their price, or QPI didn't have stock at the time!

    Generally, although the memory kit manufacturer can give -1/2$ discount for the 3 module kit in relation with a 2 module kit (if the 2 module kit cost 70$, instead of costing 105$ the 3 module kit can go to 103$)

    the reality is, that the 2 module kits are for big volume market, with a lot of competition so the price is more compressed (the market and the kind of people that buys 3 module kits are not going to care much for 4-5$ price cuts)

    Of cource if the manufacturer made a bad forecast regarding production/sales ratio, and has much stock on 3 module kits,
    or if some competitor made this mistake and lowered the price in the market, then it can sell with lower price per module, the 3 module kits in relation with the 2 module kits!

    The same can be applied on the e-tailer level (it is possible to make a bad forecast, so they have to lower the price for the 3 module kits in order to make them more attractive to the customer and clear their bad stock!)

    But all the above are artificial!

    The memory can have wild price differencies depending on many factors!

    In general when a product is aiming for higher-end systems (like 3 module kits) the profit is higher relative with products aiming for mainstream! (like 2 module kits)!

    I meant no disrespect in any way, i just disagree with your comment!

  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    If you want to get technical, yes, the 3x2GB Crucial kit goes for (slightly) more money. As we've shown in our http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=358...">memory articles, brand really isn't a factor. Most of these are using identical RAM chips, so I just chose to grab the least expensive kits off Newegg. If you shop around, you can find 2x2GB DDR3-1333 kits for less money than at Newegg, and the same goes for 3x2GB kits. Personally, I have no problem with using PQI memory, provided you're not looking to overclock it.
  • steelicon - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    Amen. Well said. Now to find out if any AMD PII X4 is compatible with AsuS Crosshair NV590-SLI AM2. Anyone willing to test or have tested? :-)
  • mmpalmeira - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    My PII X3 720 was compatible with a M2N32-SLI (NV590). It will probably work as an unknow CPU but will work.
  • steelicon - Saturday, August 15, 2009 - link

    mmpalmeira : Thanks for the heads-up man! Prolly will try first with a Phenom II X4 945, with 95W TDP, noting that your M2N32-SLI (NV590)was compatible with the Phenom II X3 720 then inch up from there when possible.

    Thanks much!

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