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The 965 BE's main competitor is currently Intel's Core 2 Q9550 so that's the CPU we'll be concentrating our comparisons on. However, as this is AMD's fastest chip, we've also included results for Intel's fastest chip, the Core i7 965 (hmmm, coincidental names there). The next closest competitor from Intel is the Core i7 920 and AMD's second fastest chip is the 955 BE, so we've included figures for these two as well.
Common System Components
AMD ATI Radeon 4870 X2 Graphics Card
Western Digital Raptor X 150GB Hard Drive
Pioneer BDC-S02BK Blu-ray Drive
2 x 1GB Qimonda IMSH1GU03A1F1C-10F PC3-8500 DDR3 RAM
Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit.
Core i7 Test System
Asus P6T Deluxe
Core 2 test System
Asus P5E3 Motherboard
AMD Phenom II AM3 Test System
Asus M4A79T Deluxe Motherboard
Starting with our gaming benchmarks, the 965 BE really impresses, clearly coming out on top in the low resolution Crysis test though just missing out to the Intel Q5550 in the high resolution, 1,920 x 1,200, test. It's a less rosy picture when we look at Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, where the multi-core power of the i7 965 maintains a healthy lead. Nonetheless, the Phenom II X4 965 BE certainly holds its own against other CPUs in its price bracket.
3D rendering has always been a strength of Intel's processors and while the 965 BE's increased clock speed closes the gap a bit, our results in the popular Cinebench and POVRay benchmarks show it still has a way to catch up. It's a similar story in our file compression tests, though the margins are so small that we wouldn't call it as quite so conclusive. Also, against its price competitor, the Q9550, the 965 BE holds its own.
Looking at mp3 encoding, it's a reasonably close run thing until we look at the DBPowerAmp batch test. Here, again, the multicore advantage of the i7 processors pays dividends but more importantly the Q9550 doesn't pull away from the 965 BE.
Our penultimate test is in image editing using Photoshop Elements 4.0. This is a really good test for showing baseline, single-core performance and in this case demonstrates that the 965 BE is very competitive, even against the all conquering i7 965.
Finally, we've looked at video encoding performance using VirtualDub (running in single thread mode) and AutoMKV, which is a multi-threaded test. In VirtualDub, it's a close call between the Q9550 and 965 BE with the latter just coming out on top (but both still trail both Core i7 chips). As for AutoMKV, it's essentially exactly the same situation. The Core i7's are simply more efficient CPUs and still the choice if you're looking for ultimate performance. Nevertheless, the 965 BE is impressive for its price in terms of default clock speed performance. The real question now, is how does it overclock?