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

Summary & Conclusions

Summarizing the Phenom II X4 980 BE was actually quite a hard task. The product is a last gasp hoorah for the Phenom II product line, as two new product lines are coming this very quarter to replace it. While it might be tempting to dismiss this CPU as irrelevant and uncompetitive - that conclusion isn't quite true, as the Phenom II CPU's broad compatibility make it a viable upgrade option for those looking for a drop-in upgrade. AMD also shuffled their processor pricing with this release. For existing platforms, the new lower priced Phenom II range provides options for making the most of the wide range of compatible mainboards out there in a sensible budget.

The Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition is designed to give a new option at a sensitive price point. System builders and resellers can specify the 980 BE in place of previous CPU options, like the 975 BE, to give a little more juice to their products. For owners of older systems looking to upgrade on minimal budget, a new drop in CPU is attractive, but it depends on the workloads as to whether it's the right choice. Ultimately, that is the key to this CPU - what needs you have, and what budget you're on. If you're not willing to invest in a new CPU and mainboard (and possibly RAM) to replace your older AMD system with Sandy Bridge, this can be a way of extending the life of your computer.

Recent market research shows that most people replace their computer every four years or so. On that basis, people consider whole platform cost and upgradability along with ultimate performance. AMD's product strategy uses pricing to pit their comparable performance products against the competition. While AMD doesn't yet have a CPU with Core i7 2600K slaying performance on the market, the lower priced second generation Core I-series processors are easier pickings. AMD use more cores and more clock-speed to counter the architectural improvements found in Intel's latest CPU lineup.

AMD Phenom II Processor In A Box

There is a tendency to look at the halo products from two competing companies and use that to determine purchase decisions all the way down the line. The top end, most expensive product wins so all the rest do too, right? AMD competes by pitting their higher end processors against the competition's mid-range, using pricing as a weapon. AMD also uses the trend for multi-core scaling applications and user experience to demonstrate the value of their product. This strategy works well for the majority of computer buyers out there and for many enthusiasts on a budget, too. If you're looking for flexibility and overclocking fun, the Black Edition processors give you the options you want.

The Phenom II X6 Black Editions are a little bit more expensive than the 980, but the 1075T is the same price. Our gaming tests indicate that you are better served with a hexacore instead of quad core, provided you can overclock it to similar clock speeds - more difficult to achieve on the CPU multiplier locked non-Black Edition CPUs. Ultimately, the Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition is a good CPU, not too hot or juicy and at a reasonable price. Comparably priced second generation Core i-series CPUs are comparable in performance, generally a little faster and lower power, but lacking the overclocking flexibility of AMD's Black Edition CPUs and mainboards. For overclocking, good stock performance and mid-range budget fun, this is a nice product at a nice price.