The Athlon 64 3200+ processor will surely get a lot of attention from enthusiasts interested in the AMD64 technology, but not in the high prices associated with the Athlon 64 FX line of processors. After all, don’t the most hard core of enthusiasts usually get a cheaper solution, then ramp up their performance through tweaking?
In our tests, the Athlon 64 3200+ processor showed to be a formidable processor, though it wasn’t the knock out blow that many of you were hoping and expecting. The Athlon 64 FX-51 is going to be the closest option for you on that. However, the K8T800 coupled with the first Athlon 64 did have a lot of great gaming scores – it won them all! There is no doubt that the Athlon 64 processor would make a great gaming solution for you. If you are going to be doing a lot of content creation, you may need to look to the more expensive cousin of this processor if you want the top level of performance.
There are a lot of things left to explore when I get back from Taiwan. First, I have a motherboard from ALi with their M1687 chipset as well as with the SiS K8 chipset. I also just received an nForce3 motherboard with the 754-pin socket and am eager to get the results from all these chipsets and post them up. There are also overclocking tests of both Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX that will interest many of you.
In the meantime, I think most of you will be satisfied with an Athlon 64 3200+ processor. However, if you have a comparable Athlon XP system, do you need to upgrade right now? In my opinion no. It’s not necessarily worth it, unless you have the money for the FX processor since the Athlon 64 doesn't show the same overall improvements that the FX does. If it has been a while since you have updated that gaming system of yours, then perhaps you should take a long hard look at the Athlon 64 3200+.
The benchmarks speak for themselves – the Athlon 64 FX-51 processor is the fastest processor available for the desktop platform. With the exception of just a few of the tests we ran the Athlon FX-51 was able to knock out the P4 running at a 1 GHz faster clock rate, and in some cases by a hefty margin. AMD has definitely come full force back into the enthusiast market that any gamer, developer or even home office user would absolutely love to have. But the question is, will they buy it?
If you go with the Athlon 64 FX processor as your next upgrade, then your motherboard options are mostly limited to the Asus SK8N motherboard (~$220). Gigabyte is also developing a 940-pin nForce3 Professional motherboard, but I haven’t seen one yet to compare it with the Asus and it won’t be available for at least a few more weeks. MSI does have a K8T800 chipset motherboard ready for 940-pin processors, but it is only available in a dual-CPU formatn. Also, you’ll have to try hard to get some Registered DDR400 memory for your system as well, if you want it to perform at the top of its game. While Kingston has announced some modules, I don’t know when you’ll be able to buy it or when other manufactures like Corsair will be shipping either.
Interestingly, gone are the days when the Athlon 64 processor is the poster-boy for desktop 64-bit computing. At every possible turn, AMD marketeers and PR told us about the 64-bit capability and what it will mean to the consumer, gamer and developer; but we aren’t hearing that anymore – at least not as much. With the absence of a 64-bit Windows operating system available at launch time, putting emphasis on the Athlon FX being a 64-bit processor would have been suicide. Showing it to be the best possible 32-bit processor with a little bonus on top of that looks much more inviting to consumers and system builders.
AMD did include a pre-beta version of the Windows 64-bit operation system with the Athlon 64 FX-51 processor along with a CD full of demos that show the power of moving into 64-bit applications. The increases we were seeing very dramatic, sometimes by nearly 80%!! However, as these tests are not something that you, the reader, can get publicly, I didn’t think it proper to include them in the processor review pages. Perhaps after I return from Computex next week, I will take the time to compile the results and post them up for you all to see and judge for yourself.
So, if you really want the fastest desktop system available, then the Athlon 64 FX-51 processor is for you. But be prepared to drop a considerable wad of cash on the counter to claim that speed.
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