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AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition - Power Usage, Overclocking, Value, Verdict

By Edward Chester


  • Recommended by TR
AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition


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Power Consumption

Of all the tests we've performed here this is the one that really tells the story of Phenom II. Along with decent performance gains (mainly due to AMD finally being able to get its CPUs running at higher clock speeds) there is a significant drop in power usage. So significant that the 940 is the lowest power CPU on test. Even accounting for the fact you get more performance for the power outlay of Intel's processors, the difference is still marked enough to be worthy of high praise.


One of the biggest problems with the original Phenom was that AMD simply couldn't get the chips running fast enough to compete with Intel. However, with its move to a 45nm manufacturing process AMD has suddenly found a huge amount of headroom for increasing clock speeds. This is reflected in the fact that the launch Phenom II runs at 3.0GHz, which is 400MHz faster than the previous best of 2.6GHz. Further to this, though, AMD claims these chips should easily hit 4.0GHz. So, with the Phenom 940 being a Black Edition (it has an unlocked multiplier) you could have an overclocker's dream.

We put this to the test by having a quick go at overclocking our 940 Black Edition. We didn't add exotic cooling or fine tune our overclocking, we just upped the multiplier and added a little bit of extra voltage (+0.100V). As a result, we were able to get 3.6GHz running stably. This wasn't miraculous but it's a huge improvement over the old Phenom. The increase in clock speed translated into our Cinebench scores improving from 2,605 (single) and 8,667 (multi) to 3,103 and 10,030 respectively - an average increase of around 17 per cent. Likewise our automkv video encoding test time dropped from 895s to 760s, which also equated to around a 17 per cent improvement.

The only downside was power consumption understandably went up a noticeable amount. However, it still remained our lowest power chip on test with idle consumption of 185W and load consumption of 270W.


You can tell AMD knows these CPUs are a big improvement over what came before as they've priced these much less aggressively. When they first launched, the fastest Phenoms were available for only £155. In contrast, the Phenom II 940 is likely to be around £200, and may be a little more. Combined with the fact that Intel will undoubtedly drop the prices of its competing CPUs, you have a situation where, in isolation, neither Intel's nor AMDs CPUs offer a clear value advantage. What we can say, though, is that AMD has come up with a very competitive part that should be adequate for the vast majority of people.


It may not have stolen the performance crown from Intel but with its new Phenom II quad core CPUs, and in particular the 940 Black Edition we're looking at, AMD has finally become competitive again on the CPU front. Unless you must have the fastest and are willing to pay through the nose for it, then this is definitely a CPU to consider.

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January 8, 2009, 11:57 pm

In the system specs you state that the

i7 was 2/3 x 1gb DDR3

Core2 was 2 x 1gb DDR3

Phenom 2 was 1 x 1gb DDR2

Is this correct that the Phenom only had 1gb ram? As surely that would affect benchmarks.


January 9, 2009, 12:07 am

Nope, incorrect. Corrected now.


January 9, 2009, 11:43 am

how would this have compared to common dual core setups and an intel q6600 (overclocked)?


January 9, 2009, 2:54 pm

How much difference do we think DDR3 memory makes, in these speed tests?

The MP3 test is very interesting. By the way, how many simultaneous MP3 encodes were happening on the Intel quad-cores with hyperthreading - was it 8? And does this test not suggest that Intel processors are way more efficient at thread synchronising, but when a Phenom II is allowed to chug through a task on each physical core without much thread synchronisation then the AMD is actually about as fast?

(Thread synchronisation is the guilty secret of multicore computing. It stops multi-threaded tasks being as fast as they could in theory be. In simple terms, where two threads need to access the same data - which is surprisingly often in programs where multiple threads have to co-operate on the same task - then the L1 and L2 cache of all cores needs to be flushed to actual RAM, before any thread can be sure that the data will be read correctly. Flushing the cache is a time-consuming operation. Maybe Intel have a way to do this more efficiently? Maybe it is just because of Intel's new memory controller and DD3?)


January 11, 2009, 5:02 am

I agree it would be advantageous to see this processor compared with the Q6600. The decision is either plop a 6600 into the motherboard, Jump to core i7 or switch to AMD. The Q6600 sems still to be holding its own and is of a similar pricepoint


February 2, 2009, 2:05 pm

edward you might want to trow in a Q9400/Q9300 as a direct comparison based on price

as all the intels cpus in this review is all above $300, the i7 920 platform cost twice that of a a AMD Phenom 940 platform, and the QX9770 costs over $1000+, even the i7 965 cost $1000+, whine the nice Phenom II 940 is $230


March 12, 2009, 5:29 pm

i know this is off topic but "empire total war" is still slow on this cpu even when overclocked to 3.2ghz. the load time is killing it.


April 25, 2009, 5:10 am

Ya know from reading this thread; my conclusion is this.

This is no different than the arguement over Chevy vs. Ford and who is better.

All I have seen is nothing but a FPS war of numbers.

Yes Intel crunches number faster in some cases; but look at the price you pay...


I just assembled a Phenom 940 3.0 ghz, EVGA 730a, 4 gig DDR2 800, ATI 4870 PCI-E card. Liquid cooling from Domino ALC.

I have yes pushed it stale at stock Vcore to 3.6 ghz.

I play Bioshock and Crysis at 1600x1200 max monitor will go to. I can whip things around while playing and no studdering or pausing and MOST OF ALL NO CRASHING. I run at 37-40 temp all the time.

I spent $900.00 assembling this system. For just a Intel i7 Quad Core CPU costs almost $1,000.00; then add everything else.

The system does what I want it too and It does the job also.

Have fun...:-P

mechanical software

August 28, 2013, 6:29 pm

Cinebench has both a single-threaded and multi-threaded test while POV-Ray is just multi-threaded.

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