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AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Processor Review

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Back in January, we were absolutely convinced that we had seen the last hurrah for the venerable quad-core 45nm 'Deneb' die when we reviewed the Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition processor. However, apparently we were wrong. Despite AMD die-hards and enthusiasts in general biting their nails in anticipation of the upcoming Llano and Bulldozer processors, AMD has seen fit to release yet another incremental update to this long lived product line. This time it is in the form of the Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition.

This new multiplier-unlocked and enthusiast-friendly model is clocked at an impressive 3.7Ghz, a 100Mhz increase over the aforementioned X4 975, and is otherwise identical to previous model. It will even slot into the latter's $195 USD price point, providing a relatively affordable upgrade path for budget-conscious users who are clinging to their AM3 motherboards. This new model is not a direct competitor to Intel's Sandy Bridge processors -although that competition is coming very soon indeed- but rather an attempt by AMD to bolster their lineup a little bit in the mean time.

The competition in the CPU market may be intense with products at every conceivable price point but AMD is sincerely hoping this new processor will appeal to budget-mined overclockers who don't want to spend the extra $30 on a K-series Intel chip. Considering how close we are to the release of AMD's new architectures, this may be the perfect placeholder until upcoming products begin showing up.

So without further ado, on to the review.

Phenom_II_X4_980_2.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Location
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Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Specs

Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Specs


Phenom_II_X4_980_3.jpg

Deneb Die

As enthusiasts await the launch of the much hyped Bulldozer microarchitecture, AMD have been keeping everyone distracted with a constant stream of new Athlon II and Phenom II processor models. In September alone they released the Phenom II X6 1075T, Phenom II X4 970 BE, Phenom II X2 560, Athlon II X4 645, Athlon II X3 450, and Athlon X2 265. In December, they unveiled the flagship six-core Phenom II X6 1100T, the Phenom II X2 565 Black Edition, and the Athlon II X3 455. And then in January, AMD unleashed two additional quad-core models, the enthusiast-oriented Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition, and a value-oriented model in the form of the 3.2Ghz Phenom II X4 840.

Today, they are launching an incremental update known as the Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition. How does this new processor compare to previous models? Let’s check it out:

Phenom_II_X4_980_4.jpg

Surpassing the 4 month old Phenom II X4 975 BE, the new X4 980 Black Edition has once again set a record as the most highly clocked processor that AMD has ever produced. AMD is targeting this chip towards overclockers and those who want strong performance in today's applications, most of which can't utilize more than 4 cores. This new model slots in at the same $195 price point as the X4 975 BE, but it is also only $5 cheaper than the X6 1090T. It is hard not to recommend paying the miniscule price premium in order to gain two additional cores.

Phenom_II_X4_980_5th.jpg
Phenom_II_X4_980_5bth.jpg

Although our media samples come packaged differently, you can expect the Phenom II X 980 Black Edition to ship in this packaging, which is unchanged from previous Phenom II Black Edition models. We expect the CPU cooler to be the same model that has been included in recent Black Edition models.

Phenom_II_X4_980_6th.jpg
Phenom_II_X4_980_7th.jpg

As you can see, our chip was manufactured in the 40th week of 2010. That is a mere week later than our Phenom II X4 975 sample. We expected these X4 980’s to be significantly better binned than previous models, so overclocking should be quite impressive.

Phenom_II_X4_980_8th.gif
Phenom_II_X4_980_9th.jpg

As we suspected, the Phenom II X4 980 uses the familiar RB-C3 revision that was unveiled all the way back in November 2009.

Nothing surprising on the northbridge frequency front, just the same 2000Mhz as all previous Athlon II/Phenom II chips. If this is indeed the ‘swan song’ for the Phenom II X4 line-up, we would have loved to see AMD increase this to 2200Mhz or 2400Mhz since it would have a considerable impact on overall performance.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Location
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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we have prepared four different test setups, representing all the popular platforms at the moment, as well as most of the best-selling processors. As much as possible, the four test setups feature identical components, memory timings, drivers, etc. Aside from manually selecting memory frequencies and timings, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

AMD Phenom II AM3 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X4_980_10.jpg

Intel Core i5/i7 LGA1155 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X4_980_11.jpg

Intel Core i3/i5/i7 LGA1156 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X4_980_12.jpg

Intel Core i7 LGA1366 Test Setup​

Phenom_II_X4_980_13.jpg

*Although Windows Vista SP1 was our principal OS for the majority of benchmarks, we did use Windows 7 (with all the latest updates) when benchmarking AIDA64.*

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks were applied to Windows Vista and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • Sidebar – Disabled
  • UAC – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Windows Search – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan - High Performance
  • NVIDIA PhysX – Disabled
  • V-Sync – Off

D) Programs and games are then installed & updated followed by another defragment.

E) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three times after a clean reboot for every iteration of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged. If they were any clearly anomalous results, the 3-loop run was repeated. If they remained, we mentioned it in the individual benchmark write-up.

Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition v1.50.1200 (Windows 7)
  • ScienceMark 2.0 32-bit
  • MaxxMEM2 Preview
  • wPrime Benchmark v2.03
  • HyperPI 0.99b
  • PCMark Vantage Advanced 64-bit Edition (1.0.2.0)
  • Cinebench R10 64-bit
  • Cinebench R11.5.2.9 64-bit
  • WinRAR 3.94 x64
  • Photoshop CS4 64-bit
  • Lame Front-End 1.0
  • X264 Benchmark HD (2nd pass)
  • 7-Zip 9.20 x64
  • POV-Ray v3.7 beta 40
  • Deep Fritz 12
  • HDxPRT 2011 v1.0 (Windows 7)
  • 3DMark06 v1.2.0
  • 3DMark Vantage v1.0.2
  • Crysis v1.21
  • Far Cry 2 1.02
  • Left 4 Dead version 1.0.2.3
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
  • Word in Conflict v1.0.0.0
  • Resident Evil 5 1.0.0.129
  • X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0


That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
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Synthetic Benchmarks: AIDA64 / MaxxMEM

Synthetic Benchmarks: AIDA64 / MaxxMEM



AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 - CPU & FPU Benchmarks


Phenom_II_X4_980_14.jpg

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AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 - Cache Benchmark


Phenom_II_X4_980_16.jpg


AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 - Memory Benchmarks


Phenom_II_X4_980_17.jpg

Phenom_II_X4_980_18.jpg


MaxxMEM² - Memory Benchmarks


Phenom_II_X4_980_19.jpg

Phenom_II_X4_980_20.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Synthetic Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / wPRIME 1024M

Synthetic Benchmarks: SuperPI 32M / wPRIME 1024M



SuperPi Mod v1.5


When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi via the HyperPi 0.99b interface. This is therefore a single-thread workload.

Phenom_II_X4_980_21.jpg


wPRIME 2.03


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.

Phenom_II_X4_980_22.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: Cinebench R10 / Cinebench R11.5

System Benchmarks: Cinebench R10 / Cinebench R11.5



Cinebench R10


Cinebench R10 64-bit
Test1: Single CPU Image Render
Test2: Multi CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders

Phenom_II_X4_980_23.jpg


Cinebench R11.5


Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.

Phenom_II_X4_980_24.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: Deep Fritz 12 / POV-Ray 3.73

System Benchmarks: Deep Fritz 12 / POV-Ray 3.73



Deep Fritz 12 - Chess Benchmark


Phenom_II_X4_980_25.jpg


POV-Ray 3.73 beta 40


Phenom_II_X4_980_26.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
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System Benchmarks: LFE / Photoshop CS4 / x264 HD

System Benchmarks: LFE / Photoshop CS4 / x264 HD



Lame Front End


Lame Front End v1.0 is a single-threaded application, which means that it only utilizes a single processor core. This will obviously limit performance but it will allow us to gauge a processor's single-threaded performance as well as test any turbo feature that it might have. We will be encoding a WAV rip of Santana’s Supernatural album and converting it to MP3 using the highest fidelity VBR 0 quality preset.

Phenom_II_X4_980_27.jpg


Photoshop CS4


For the image editing portion of this review, we will use Photoshop CS4 in coordination with Driver Heaven’s Photoshop Benchmark V3, which is an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. This is a scripted benchmark that individually applies 15 different filters to a 109MB JPEG, and uses Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage. Then it’s simply a matter of adding up the 15 results to reach the final figure.

Phenom_II_X4_980_28.jpg


x264 HD Benchmark


x264 HD Benchmark v1.0
Test: MPEG-2 HD 720P Video Clip Conversion to x264
DVD Video Length: 30 Seconds
Comparison: FPS of Second Pass

x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video.


Phenom_II_X4_980_29.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: WinRAR / 7-Zip

System Benchmarks: WinRAR / 7-Zip



WinRAR


WinRAR 3.93 x64
Test: Compression of 1GB of Assorted Files
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file compression/decompresion tools, we use WinRAR to compress a 1GB batch of files and archive them, timing the task until completion.


Phenom_II_X4_980_30.jpg


7-Zip


9.20 x64
Test: Compression/Extraction of 1GB of Assorted Files, with AES-256 encryption
Comparison: Time to Finish


Phenom_II_X4_980_31.jpg
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06 / 3DMark Vantage

Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark06 / 3DMark Vantage




Futuremark 3DMark06


3DMark06 v1.2.0
Graphic Settings: Default
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.


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Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.0.2
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.


Phenom_II_X4_980_33.jpg
 
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