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AMD Athlon 64 3200+ AMD Athlon 64 3200+, Upgrader's Perspective: We take an A64 and compare it to an AXP at the same clock speed to see if it's worthwhile or not in a 32-bit environment.  
Date: July 5, 2004
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AMD Athlon 64 3200+

The marketing problem AMD has at the moment is there is no official 64-bit version of Windows. Sure, there are 64-Bit versions of Linux, and although a large numbers of our readers do swear by the penguin, the majority of the market still runs some flavor of Windows.

Nonetheless, as we've seen here at VL, the Athlon 64 (A64) platform is very speedy. The chip can run 32-bit code natively, and has put up some nice numbers in our various motherboard reviews. However, ever since we've revamped our benchmark suite, we haven't really compared the Athlon 64 to the Athlon XP (AXP) in a true apples to oranges test. If you're running a 32-bit OS, at the same clock speeds, is the performance difference enough to warrant the upgrade?

Actually, the point of this review is from an upgrader's perspective. If you're already running an Athlon XP, you've no doubt been following what AMD has been up to over the last year. The recent release of the Athlon 64 Socket 939 may make the Socket 754 seem useless, but that isn't totally true. There are plenty of Socket 754 boards available, and the high price of the 939 makes the 754 that much more attractive.

The Athlon 64 3200+

The A64 3200+ we're using is a Socket-754 part. We do not have any FX 940 or 939 parts available, and given the scope of this article, I felt it would be better to keep the costs to a minimum to maximize our bang for the buck.

As you can see above, the markings are for a 3200+ CPU. All Socket-754 A64s share the same 0.13 micron silicon-on-insulator technology (SOI), 128KB L1 Cache, a transistor count of about 105.9 million and 193mm2 die size.

Test Setup

MSI K8N Neo Platinum: Athlon 64 3200+ (10x200: 2GHz), 2 x 512MB Corsair TWINX PC3200 Pro, ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, 120GB Seagate SATA 7200rpm, Windows XP SP1, NVIDIA ForceWare 4.24, ATI Catalyst 4.5

ABIT AN7: Athlon XP 2500+ (10x200: 2GHz), 2 x 512MB Corsair TWINX PC3200, AIW Radeon 9700 Pro, 120GB Seagate SATA 7200rpm, Windows XP SP1, NVIDIA ForceWare 4.24, ATI Catalyst 4.5

Test software will be:


Content Creation 2004



Unreal Tournament 2003
Quake 3: Arena
Return to Castle Wolfenstein

The comparison motherboard will be the ABIT AN7, running an Athlon XP at 10x200. We've tried our best to match the two platforms as closely as possible, so we'll be relying on the latest NVIDIA nForce boards for each platform, and ATI 9700 Pro cards. The Corsair modules are not the same, but both boards will have the modules running at PC3200 with 2.5-4-4-8 memory timings.

All our benchmarks were run on a 32-bit version of Windows XP, five times total with the average displayed in this review.

SiSoft Sandra 2004

Although a synthetic benchmark, it's a popular one, freely available if you wish to make comparison benchmarks. We will be testing the CPU, MMX, and memory speeds, using the 32-bit 2004 version.

CPU Arithmetic Benchmark

 
Whetstone FPU
Dhrystone ALU
Athlon 64 @ 2GHz
8681
3170
Athlon XP @ 2GHz
7651
3156

The Athlon 64's floating point performance is quite a bit higher than the XP's in this benchmark, but the arithmetic performance is not as large.

CPU Multimedia Benchmark

 
Integer aEMMX/aSSE
Floating-Point iSSE2
Athlon 64 @ 2GHz
18786
20571
Athlon XP @ 2GHz
18401
18876

Narrow victories again by the A64, but as with the CPU benchmark, more so on the floating point.

Memory Benchmark

 
Int Buffered iSSE2
Float Buffered iSSE2
Athlon 64 @ 2GHz
3051
3052
Athlon XP @ 2GHz
2786
2579

Despite the dual channel memory of the nForce 2, the integrated memory controller on the A64 provides a larger boost in performance.

ZD Content Creation 2004

The ZD Content Creation suite is a script that runs a series of actions and calculates a final score that measures a PC's overall performance.

 
Score
Athlon 64 @ 2GHz
29.8
Athlon XP @ 2GHz
17.3

Here in Content Creation, the A64 flexes its muscle. The A64's performance is almost double that of the Athlon XP. Good news for those who are into web design.

PiFast

A good indicator of CPU/Motherboard performance is version 4.2, by Xavier Gourdon. We used a computation of 10000000 digits of Pi, Chudnovsky method, 1024 K FFT, and no disk memory. Note that lower scores are better, and times are in seconds.

 
Time in Seconds (lower is better)
Athlon 64 @ 2GHz
48.22
Athlon XP @ 2GHz
58.25

PiFast favours a strong CPU and subsystem and the A64 is almost ten seconds faster than the AXP in this benchmark.

CDex Audio Conversion Wav to MP3

CDex was used to convert a 414MB Wav file to a 320kbs MP3.

 
Time in Minutes:Seconds (lower is better)
Athlon 64 @ 2GHz
1:34
Athlon XP @ 2GHz
1:22

For MP3 encoding, I was surprised to see the AXP do significantly better than the A64. It isn't as fast as we've seen the Pentium 4 do in our past reviews, but it's eight seconds faster than the A64, clock speeds being equal.

TMPGEnc 2.521

We used an Animatrix file, titled , and a WAV created from VirtualDub. The movie was then converted it into a DVD compliant MPEG-2 file with a bitrate of 5000. Times are in minutes:seconds, and lower is better.

 
Time in Minutes:Seconds (lower is better)
Athlon 64 @ 2GHz
3:58
Athlon XP @ 2GHz
6:38

If video editing is your bag, the A64 is your ticket. There is close to three minutes between the two platforms here.

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