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
Chipset Drivers: Intel (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


View All Comments

  • andrenb91 - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link

    amd's only hope to beat the i7s is the istambul core, if it brings istambul to the desktop market, I guess this future cpu can beat some high-end i7 processors, and after some revisions on the deneb core, amd will place it to ''fight'' the i5s leaving the athlon x4 playing against the i3s, but most denebs must be at 95W to be efficient against i5. of course this strategy depends if amd is economically capaple of putting a 300mm squared die in the desktop market...deneb is already too large to compete against the i7!
  • Denithor - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    You measured performance in video encoding and then power consumption under the same test. Why not take the obvious next step to calculate performance/watt and post those results?

    And I was quite disappointed to see that you posted only about half of each CPU list on each of those charts - a few chips overlap but many do not so we cannot even do the calculation for ourselves except in less than half the cases.
  • - Monday, August 17, 2009 - link

    Two things : Intel's SSE extentions are used by everyone, and should be the difference in some of these tests.">">

    The other disturbing thing is the FarCry benchmark, the writer:

    FarCry 2 is another example of a title well optimized for Intel's architectures and thus we see that the 965BE can't even win against its Q9550 competition. Thankfully for AMD, I do not believe FarCry 2 is representative of the majority of titles on the market.

    I believe this is an example of how SSE extentions deliver; but looking at the game benchmark data closer, we see that all cpu's are comparatively the same even the i7's vs Intel Core ll. Most, if not all vendors optimize in Intels favor

  • - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link

    Note the extention differences between the two designs-

    Phenom ll X4 945
    Processor core Deneb
    Core stepping C2
    Manufacturing process 0.045 micron SOI
    758 million transistors
    Die size 243 mm2
    Data width 64 bit
    Number of cores 4
    Floating Point Unit Integrated
    Level 1 cache size ? 4 x 64 KB 2-way associative instruction caches
    4 x 64 KB 2-way associative data caches
    Level 2 cache size ? 4 x 512 KB 16-way associative caches
    Level 3 cache size 6 MB shared 48-way associative cache
    Virtual memory (TB) 256
    Features MMX
    SSE4a ?
    Advanced Bit Manipulation ?
    AMD64 technology ?
    AMD-V (virtualization) technology
    Enhanced Virus Protection ?

    Low power features Cool'n'Quiet 3.0
    CoolCore Technology ?
    Dual Dynamic Power Management ?
    Core C1 and C1E states
    Package S0, S1, S3, S4 and S5 states

    On-chip peripherals Integrated 144-bit DDR2 Memory Controller
    HyperTransport 3 technology


    Type CPU / Microprocessor
    Family Intel Core i7
    Model number ? I7-920
    CPU part number AT80601000741AA (Q1CM, Q1H7, SLBCH, SLBEJ)
    Box part numbers BX80601920 (SLBCH, SLBEJ)
    BXC80601920 (SLBCH, SLBEJ)
    Frequency (MHz) ? 2667
    Bus speed (MHz) ? 2400 MHz QPI
    Package 1366-land Flip-Chip Land Grid Array (FC-LGA8)
    Socket Socket 1366 (LGA1366)
    Introduction date Nov 17, 2008
    Price at introduction $284

    Architecture / Microarchitecture
    Processor core Bloomfield
    Core steppings C0 (SLBCH)
    D0 (Q1H7, SLBEJ)
    Manufacturing process 0.045 micron Hi-k metal gate technology
    731 million transistors
    Die size 263 mm2
    Data width 64 bit
    Number of cores 4
    Floating Point Unit Integrated
    Level 1 cache size ? 4 x 32 KB instruction caches
    4 x 32 KB data caches
    Level 2 cache size ? 4 x 256 KB
    Level 3 cache size Inclusive shared 8 MB cache
    Features MMX instruction set
    Supplemental SSE3
    SSE4.1 ?
    SSE4.2 ?
    EM64T technology ?
    Hyper-Threading technology
    Turbo Boost technology ?
    Virtualization technology
    Execute Disable bit ?

    Low power features Thread C1, C3 and C6 states
    Core C1, C3 and C6 states
    Package C3 and C6 states
    SpeedStep technology ?

    On-chip peripherals Integrated triple-channel DDR3 SDRAM Memory controller
    Quick Path Interconnect

  • - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link

    Type CPU / Microprocessor
    Family Intel Core 2 Quad
    Model number ? Q9650
    CPU part number AT80569PJ080N (QHGF, SLB8W)
    Box part numbers BX80569Q9650 (SLB8W)
    BXC80569Q9650 (SLB8W)
    Frequency (MHz) ? 3000
    Bus speed (MHz) ? 1333
    Clock multiplier ? 9
    Package 775-land Flip-Chip Land Grid Array (FC-LGA8)
    1.48" x 1.48" (3.75 cm x 3.75 cm)
    Socket Socket 775 (LGA775)
    Introduction date Aug 10, 2008
    Price at introduction $530

    Architecture / Microarchitecture
    Processor core Yorkfield
    Core stepping E0 (QHGF, SLB8W)
    Manufacturing process 0.045 micron
    Data width 64 bit
    Number of cores 4
    Floating Point Unit Integrated
    Level 1 cache size ? 4 x 32 KB instruction caches
    4 x 32 KB data caches
    Level 2 cache size ? 2 x 6 MB 12-way set associative caches (each L2 cache is shared between 2 cores)
    Features MMX instruction set
    Supplemental SSE3
    EM64T technology ?
    Virtualization Technology
    Execute Disable Bit technology ?
    SSE4.1 ?
    Trusted Execution technology

    Low power features Enhanced SpeedStep technology ?
    Stop Grant state ?
    Halt state
    Extended Halt state
    Extended Stop Grant State
    Sleep state ?
    Deep Sleep state ?
    Deeper Sleep state ?">
  • - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    Intel's biggest (only?) advantage is hyperthreading; realize Windows 7 had to be optimized (how much more code?)for will Intel's i7's react in an openCL, CPUGPU environment (WARP) compared to Phenoms II's and an ATI graphics card, is it cost efficient(less code) and more efficient (faster) to go with CPUGPU over hyper..Will multicores do away with hyperthreading? These current comparisons on vista or XP do not necessary reflect comparisons on Windows 7 or DirectX 11. staytuned Reply
  • - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    I would also love my excel spreadsheets to have the advantage of CPUGPU...Photoshop too Reply
  • - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    oh yeah, Intels game plan to fight AMD's CPUGPU concept-

    a)license the SLI technology from Nvidia for Nehelam
    b)get Microsoft to optimise Windows 7 for hyperthreading (sidebar-Intel pushes Windows 7 for corporate upgrades- can you say payoff))

    innovative genius

    but in reality they will probably make sure this great technological concept dies, thereby assuring comp's remain in the dark ages for another 10 years
  • JumpingJack - Sunday, September 21, 2014 - link

    You really had zero clue what you were talking about .... it is funny to come back in time and re-read all this AMD fanboy nonsense. Very entertaining, thank you for the horrendously great laugh. Reply
  • ash9 - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    "Now once you start throwing in background tasks and look at future titles being more threaded then the picture becomes a little more muddy"

    I dont understand where the writer is going with these conclusions. As CPUGPU or OpenCL begins to take hold, the old comparative model of simply looking at raw speed becomes obsolete, now, overall power can be reduced while concurrent events run parallel in multicores and GPU, thats is where AMD is heading. These comparisons with Vista may not be as eye opening as compared on Windows 7 or DirectX 11, this is where AMD planed to rock and roll from the start.

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