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AMD Athlon 64 X2 Retrospective

The entire series in tests.

September 8, 2008



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Non-professional/home tests

Archiving



The top 5 is rather indicative: two top-end Athlon 64 X2, a top-end Phenom X4, a top-end Phenom X3, and Core 2 Duo E6550 right in the middle. All processors share similar features, i.e. relatively large cache and fast memory. This, again, is a logical choice from the archiving point of view.

Media encoding



There's some very fierce competition between Athlon X2 64 and Phenom. If we hide Intel processors, we can see that the rest is strictly alternating: Athlon, Phenom, Athlon, Phenom, Athlon, Phenom. The result of E4700 is very indicative -- as we have mentioned, in this article it represents a perfect balance between cache size and clock rate.

Games



I'm not sure if AMD has actually developed Phenom as a gaming CPU, but this is precisely what has happened. Games are the only applications in our test method, in which Phenom (and the new K10 core) shows solid superiority, at least over the previous Athlon 64 X2 based on the K8 core. You have to agree that 2.1 GHz Phenom X3 8450 on par with 3 GHz Athlon 64 X2 6000+ is really impressive.

Non-professional photo processing



The dispersion is diverse enough. Just note the record low 12th place of the low-end Phenom X3 8450. Except for scientific suites, in which Phenom X4 is in the bottom for obvious reasons, it's the first time that a Phenom falls that low.

Total non-professional/home score



While in the bottomline professional chart Core 2 Duo E4700/6550 got the same score, the latter managed to win (although formally) in the home chart. Thus, based on professional and home test results, we can draw a border, above which Intel's reign is nearly absolute. Today this border is Core 2 Duo E6550/6540 (obviously, these two have identical performance). And Phenoms are rather evenly distributed among the top half of the Athlon 64 X2 family -- a picture that we have repeatedly seen before.

Conclusions



As we have mentioned above, it's the point of view that matters. ;)

If you look at the Phenom family as at the next, more advanced AMD processor series and compare it with the previous Athlon 64 X2 series, everything is more or less logical and clear. No, there is not a significant performance increase. But we shouldn't forget that AMD has always had issues with achieving high clock rates on newer cores at first after their releases. Also, efficiency per megahertz has grown considerably -- 0.028 points/MHz of Athlon 64 X2 6400+ vs. 0.036 points/MHz of Phenom X4 9850, according to the total score chart; that is, Phenom X4 is nearly 30% more efficient. Again, Phenom looks worthy enough as a successor to Athlon 64 X2. So it would be biased to claim that AMD is standing still. But the problem is that Intel is also progressing and significantly faster at that.

As for the Athlon 64 X2 family, our test results make it clear that despite being called "unviable" and "outdated", its top half still offers appropriate performance. So, perhaps, owners of PCs based on Athlon 64 X2 5200+ and faster CPUs do not have upgrade to Phenom right away.


Memory modules provided by Corsair Russia.

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