Product: AMD Phenom II 840 & 975BE CPUs, Noctua NH-D14 HSF
Company: AMD
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: January 26th, 2011
Summary & Conclusions

AMD
AMD
The choice to start branding Athlon II processors as Phenom IIs raises a couple of questions. Previously the $100-$120 price point was filled by the top end of the Athlon II line and the bottom end of the Phenom II line. Moving the Propus core into the Phenom II branding could mean that the value association of the Athlon II moniker wasn't driving sales, the Athlon II X4s were selling better than expected, or that this is the beginning of clearing the way for the AMD Accelerated Processing Unit products. AMD's APU lineup was launched at CES 2011 using the new Bobcat x86 microarchitecture. This began with mobility platforms, swiftly followed with small form factor and embedded designs.


Later this year, AMD will be launching another two new product lines, codenamed Llano and Zambezi. Llano will use current x86 microarchitecture design combined with DirectX 11 graphics cores to provide a mainstream platform APU. With Ontario and Zacate replacing the mobility processors and Llano the desktops, this leaves no room for the Sempron and Athlon II product lines. Moving the ~300m transistor Propus core into the Phenom II alongside the ~758m Deneb quad core and ~900m Thuban hexa-cores gives more opportunities to bring returns to the bottom line, something critical to AMD's board.

AMD Leo Platform
AMD Leo Platform

If you're looking to upgrade your current platform, the new Phenom II X4 840 is a good choice and offers excellent value at the $100 price point. The value of the 975BE is less clear, as only $5 more gets you a Phenom II X6 1055T/1065T; in multi-threaded applications and general multi-tasking, six cores are better than four. For less threaded applications, the Turbo CORE mode will give you most of the clock speed (3.4-3.5GHz) when you need it. As an enthusiast proposition, the Black Edition holds some value, but the prospect of six cores at 4GHz rather than four is probably stronger than an adjustable multiplier. On top of which, multiplier adjusting generally isn't as satisfying as base clock overclocking, tweaking the whole platform to within an inch of its life. Depends on what kind of overclocker you are really, if you're looking for MHz, the Black Edition is your best bet.

Noctua's NH-D14 CPU Cooler

The Noctua NH-D14 took all our processors in its stride. It offers superb cooling with enough design, engineering and attention to detail to justify the high price. You'll need to have a decent sized case, and at least remove the mainboard once to install the SecuFirm mounting bracket. Currently, self-contained water cooling devices are trendy and offer similar cooling performance for similar money. The potential risk of leaks, lack of user capable maintenance and reports of requiring additional fans, spacers and mounting hardware to get the most out them mean they might be unsuitable for some.

Noctua NH-D14
Noctua NH-D14

The NH-D14 is almost as easy to work with as a standard AMD heatsink once the mounting socket is installed, offering top notch cooling capacity whilst remaining quiet with very broad platform compatibility. The fan retention mechanism is solid and secure, with no vibration thanks to both rubber mounts fitted to the fans and plastic fan inserts for the towers. The fan splitters and ultra-low noise adapters retain compatibility with PWM fan control and reporting, to keep platform monitoring processes happy.

Noctua NH-D14 4 1/2 Stars
Noctua NH-D14 4 1/2 Stars
For the price of a Phenom II X4 975BE, you can buy a Phenom II X4 840 and a NH-D14. Against comparable air coolers, the Noctua NH-D14 is very capable and competent. Noctua has demonstrated great engineering and design in the NH-D14, and we are happy to award Noctua 4 1/2 stars. We can't fault its size because of the cooling capacity, but it's a little pricey given how competitive the cooler market is. The Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition is overpriced, but likely won't remain so for long. 


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