AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Review

Product: AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition
Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: May 24th, 2011

Overclocking, Power & Temps, Memory Bandwidth


Normally, AMD Phenom II processors are downward CPU multiplier unlocked, and voltage options are limited by the mainboard BIOS and VRM configuration. Overclocking the Phenom II X4 980 was simple, thanks to the Black Edition unlocked CPU multiplier, which allows upward adjustment to increase clock speed.

At 1.46v we were able to run a 21x multiplier (raised from the default 18.5), for a 4.2GHz clock speed. At 1.475 and 21.5x multiplier we could boot into windows but not complete Prime95 stability testing at 4.3GHz, although it was close. Luck of the draw will likely find some samples that can do it, or higher, and some that won't break 4GHz. For our overclocked results today, we ran the CPU at 4.2GHz with the memory at 1600MHz and 9-9-9-27-33 1T timings.


Below you can see the test system's power draw, under idle, media playback and artificial load conditions. Measurements were recorded using a Kill-a-watt meter, recording the total system power from the wall. Idle conditions were measured at Windows 7 aero desktop with Balanced power profile and ASUS EPU enabled in Auto setting. Media playback results were taken during playback of AVC 1080p encoded video, using Cyberlink PowerDVD 10 Mk II and AMD Stream/APP disabled. Load power test results were taken during a 15 minute Prime95 in-place FFT torture test. Highest observed readings (Power drawn, in Watts) during the test period recorded, lower values are better.


Below you can see the CPU core temperatures of the Phenom II X4 980 when used with our HAF 932 and Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler. Temperatures were recorded using CPUID's HWMonitor for all cores, and the highest readings (core temperature, in degC) during the test period recorded, lower values are better.

Memory Bandwidth

Results of the Read, Write and Copy performance benchmark from AIDA64. Higher speeds are better. Stock clocked AMD systems are running DDR3-1333, and DDR3-1600 for overclocked. For Intel, stock clocks are DDR3-1333 and DDR3-2000 for overclocked. AMD systems were configured in unganged mode, running 3x2GB configuration. The Noctua cooler prevents all slots from being easily populated, making testing AMD's unganged simulataneous read/write operation mode impossible.

The Core i7 920's 192-bit triple channel mode leaves the dual-channel 64-bit unganged AMD mode in the dust for synthetic benchmarks, aided by the use of triple channel Mushkin Blackline DDR3-2000 RAM kit on the Core i7 system. Even at DDR3-1333 speeds, the extra memory channel on the i7 920 makes for better bench test results over the overclocked AMD systems. The 200MHz extra clock appears to help the Phenom II X4 980 eke out one win against the X6, but thats it. The results are very close.