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AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition CPU review

by Tarinder Sandhu on 3 May 2011, 08:58 2.5

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa5qr

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Phenomenal?

AMD is launching a new CPU today. The premise behind the release rests with the chip company needing to eke out every last penny of revenue from the Phenom II line of processors that are fundamentally based on 'K10' technology first brought to market in 2007.

The Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition becomes AMD's fastest-clocked chip. Chiming in at 3.7GHz and due to debut for around £150, the quad-core chip, powered by the Deneb core, does without the Turbo CORE niceness of the six-core Thuban processors.

But then this is just a clock bump over other Phenom II chips that have been out for more than two years, and it would have been nice to see this processor based on the four-core Zosma die that's a cutdown version of the six-core Thuban, replete with Turbo CORE support. Yup, AMD makes it all a bit confusing.

Being a Black Edition CPU means that it is fully unlocked, that is, users can increase the multiplier and base clock without any restriction from AMD. But ensuring that it can operate at 3.7GHz translates to a maximum power-draw of 125W.

Fitting into AM2/AM2+/AM3 sockets and sporting DDR2 and DDR3 compatibility, here's how it stacks up against a bewildering number of AMD and Intel chips:

Model number Cores / Threads Clock Speed
(GHz)
Max Turbo
(GHz)
IGP Process Die size Cache Interface* Memory channels TDP Socket Price***
AMD Phenom II
X6 1100T
6/6 3.30 3.70 N/A 45nm
(Thuban)
346mm² 3MB L2
6MB L3
HT Dual 125W AM3 $239
AMD Phenom II
X6 1090T
6/6 3.20 3.60 N/A 45nm
(Thuban)
346mm² 3MB L2
6MB L3
HT Dual 125W AM3 $199
AMD Phenom II
X6 1075T
6/6 3.00 3.50 N/A 45nm
(Thuban)
346mm² 3MB L2
6MB L3
HT Dual 125W AM3 $179
AMD Phenom II
X6 1055T
6/6 2.80 3.30 N/A 45nm
(Thuban)
346mm² 3MB L2
6MB L3
HT Dual 95W AM3 $169
AMD Phenom II X4 980 BE 4/4 3.70 N/A N/A 45nm
(Deneb)
258mm² 2MB L2
6MB L3
HT Dual 125W AM3 $199
AMD Phenom II
X4 975 BE
4/4 3.60 N/A N/A 45nm
(Deneb)
258mm² 2MB L2
6MB L3
HT Dual 125W AM3 $195
AMD Phenom II
X4 970 BE
4/4 3.50 N/A N/A 45nm
(Deneb)
258mm² 2MB L2
6MB L3
HT Dual 125W AM3 $175
Intel Core i7 990X EE 6/12 3.46 3.73 N/A 32nm
(Westmere)
239mm² 1.5MB L2
12MB L3
QPI Triple 130W LGA1366 $999
Intel Core
i7 980X EE
6/12 3.33 3.60 N/A 32nm
(Westmere)
239mm² 1.5MB L2
12MB L3
QPI Triple 130W LGA1366 EOL**
Intel Core
i7 970
6/12 3.20 3.46 N/A 32nm
(Westmere)
239mm² 1.5MB L2
12MB L3
QPI Triple 130W LGA1366 $583
Intel Core
i7 950
4/8 3.06 3.33 N/A 45nm
(Bloomfield)
263mm² 1MB L2
8MB L3
QPI Triple 130W LGA1366 $294
Intel Core
i7 930
4/8 2.80 3.06 N/A 45nm
(Bloomfield)
263mm² 1MB L2
8MB L3
QPI Triple 130W LGA1366 EOL**
Intel Core
i7 2600K
4/8 3.40 3.80 HD 3000 32nm
(SandyBridge)
216mm² 1MBL2
8MB L3
DMI Dual 95W LGA1155 $317
Intel Core
i5 2500K
4/4 3.30 3.70 HD 3000 32nm
(SandyBridge)
216mm² 1MB L2
6MB L3
DMI Dual 95W LGA1155 $216
Intel Core
i7 870
4/8 2.93 3.60 N/A 45nm
(Lynnfield)
296mm² 1MB L2
8MB L3
DMI Dual 95W LGA1156 $294
Intel Core
i5 760
4/4 2.80 3.33 N/A 45nm
(Lynnfield)
296mm² 1MB L2
8MB L3
DMI Dual 95W LGA1156 $205
Intel Core
i5 661
2/4 3.33 3.60 HD 1000 32nm
(Clarkdale)
81mm² 512KB L2
4MB L3
DMI Dual 87W LGA1156 $196
* HT = HyperTransport, DMI = Direct Media Interface, QPI = QuickPath Interconnect
** EOL = End of life
*** U.S. MSRP in 1000-unit tray quantities

The high-clocked chip sits alongside some illustrious CPU company, for the $199 asking price is the same as a six-core Phenom II X6 1090T's and, probably more importantly for readers looking at a new build, within the general proximity of Intel's very impressive Core i5 2500K - a Sandy Bridge chip based on newer 32nm technology.

Is AMD's quad-core line still worth considering? We find this out by running the 980 Black Edition through our benchmarking gauntlet.