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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  • gaiden2k7 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    I noticed beginning of the article stated that PII x4 965 is more competitive to C2Q 9550/9650 so I was wondering why i7's combo prices were compared to instead of the C2Q's? Q9550 for instance, is $219 on 'egg if you pair it with a P45 (with BioStar) you can get the job done with $312. Bump it up to $365 if you want a x48 chipset (ASUS). or even a 790i at $375 if that's your cup of tea. I honestly don't think that if you try to stay away from putting Q9550 price against 965 would defeat the point of the article. AMD has newer, (and I would also say) better chipset. also their price drops faster (e.g. 955 now $199) than Intel which is certainly a plus for me if not all chip consumers. So I would say, even compared to competitive pricing from Q9550, PII 965 takes the cake with more to offer.

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    I didn't make the Q9550 comparison because it seemed to be the obvious and unnecessary one. Motherboard prices are roughly the same for LGA-775 and AM2+/AM3 and we know what the CPU prices are.

    The 920 is the next logical step up - the question is then how much does it cost to get to the i7. The answer? Still looks like a lot, relatively speaking.

    Take care,
  • lopri - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    Anand doesn't see anything wrong with it.
  • philosofool - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Yeah, look at it this way: if we're hearing the truth about Core i5 750, that's going to cost $325, or $15 more than the least expensive 965 BE rig. What does $15 get you? Well, we don't know for sure yet, but early rumors suggest that it gets you very nearly i7 920 performance. AMD isn't really competing in the high-end market right now for people in the market for a whole new computer.

    On the other hand, if you already have a board that supports Phenom II x4, this processor is a much more senisble upgrade than a switch to intel, unless you're rolling around in a bucket of gold coins.
  • tacoburrito - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    When the i5 come out next month, it's gonna cause lots of confusion. Only 2 chips with the i5 moniker will be quad-cored. The rest, with the i3, are only dual-cored. It's gonna be tough to do a comparison with the P2.
  • rnssr71 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    it MAYBE confusing. but maybe not. i cant remeber how many chips are launching right off, but i thought intel was offering a line top to bottom from the start. 2 quads yes,but some of the duals will have smt which will make them preform like a tri-core(though windows will see them as a quad). if that works out, then they will be very competitive clock for clock and for the price.
  • tacoburrito - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    When doing a price comparison, you always compare it to the product that is one level higher than you, not at same level or a level lower. If the product above you costs only a few dollars more, it makes sense to pony up the extra dollars to get a better product.

    It's just like if you are looking to buy a Toyota, you'd never price compare it to a Chevy or Saturn. You would compare the Toyota to a Mercedes to see what the prioe difference is.
  • Varaxis - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    I love falling for the trolls...

    When I compare, I mainly compare because things are close. Close in budget, features, performance, style, etc. Then I add in things above and below after to widen my comparison to see if the main comparison range is a good choice.

    That means, comparing Toyota Prius to Honda Hybrid. Adding a Tesla Roadster would be rather silly. Compare a Toyota Corolla to Honda Civic or VW Jetta. If I wasn't dead set on the performance level and wanted to see what happens if I wanted to be more conservative I'd throw in the Hyundai Elantra. I'll add Honda Fit if I wanted something hip. I'd add the BMW 3 series, Camry, or Accord if I wanted to see if I wanted something at a level higher.
  • ZoZo - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    So... you don't find useful to compare prices of similar products, to know which one is the better deal?
  • wifiwolf - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    q9550 is, as the article says, left in the dust for the same price.
    and even 9650 which is far more expensive struggles.
    So the question is whether i7 920 is a better deal or just waiting for i5.

    I was thinking of just purchasing a PhII but since intel is releasing an i5, I'll first check if it's worth my money more than PhII.

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