AMD Athlon 64 3400+

The AMD Athlon 64 3400+ - Page 5

The AMD Athlon 64 3400+:
The Athlon 64 Gets Its First Speed Bump...

By, Marco Chiappetta
January 6, 2004

No CPU review could be complete without some gaming benchmarks!  So, we continued our testing with a DirectX benchmark, Novalogic's combat helicopter simulation, Comanche 4.  Although this is a game benchmark that can be used to test the relative performance of video cards, frame rates are strongly influenced by processor speed and available memory bandwidth.

Novalogic Comanche 4 - DirectX 8 Gaming
As CPU Limited As They Get...

The Athlon 64-FX 51 still holds the record for the fastest, non-overclocked Comanche 4 frame rate we have scene to date, but the Athlon 64 3400+ wasn't too far behind.  The 3400+ finished about 10% behind the FX-51, but it outpaced the rest of the pack.  The 3.2GHz P4 was nipping right on its heals though.

Quake 3 Arena v1.32 - Demo004
Who thinks we'll break 1000FPS by Year's End?

For the next set of benchmarks, we took some Quake 3 Arena v1.32 Timedemo (Demo004) scores using the game's "Fastest" quality setting, with audio disabled.  Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card with these minimal settings isolates memory and processor performance.  Frame rates are limited by the number of polygons and data the CPU and memory subsystems are able to push through the system bus, without being limited by the graphics subsystem.

The Performance profile in the Quake 3 test, was very similar to Comanche 4.  The FX-51 once again finished in first place, outpacing the Athlon 64 3400+ by roughly 5.5%.  The 3400+, however, pulled ahead of the P4 by about 3% and ahead of the A64 3200+ by approximately 6.3%.  The aging Athlon XP 3200+ finished a distant 5th.

Unreal Tournament 2003 - CPU Test
As CPU Limited As They Get...

Lastly, we did some benchmarking with Epic's Unreal Tournament 2003.  When testing with UT 2003, we use specific settings and .INI files, that ensure all of the systems are benchmarked with the exact same in-game settings and graphical options.  For these tests, we used a "Low-Quality" feature set that isolates CPU performance.

The Athlon 64 FX-51 was the clear winner in the Unreal Tournament 2003 benchmark, with the only frame-rate well past the 200FPS mark.  Even though Epic's Unreal engine has traditionally favored the Athlon's architecture, the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 surprisingly finished last in this test, getting trounced by even the Athlon XP 3200+.  The Athlon 64 3400+ finished behind the FX-51, missing the 200FPS mark by only 9.35 FPS, besting the 3.2GHz P4 by a wide margin, a trait of this game engine more than anything else, that seems to favor AMD processors in general..

Overall, we were impressed by the Athlon 64 3400+.  With an introductory price of $417 (in 1K unit quantities), this CPU is not cheap, but the price is in-line with the competition.  The 3.2GHz Pentium 4 is currently priced in the $390 range at many on-line retailers.  The Athlon 64 3400+, however, outperformed the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 in most of the benchmarks.  In the less meaningful synthetic tests, and in the 3D modeling tests, the P4 outran the Athlons, but in our real world office and content creation benchmarks, and in the gaming benchmarks, the Athlon 64 was clearly faster.  As of the time of this article release,  the Athlon 64 3200+ is still selling for over $400, but with the introduction of the 3400+ , 3200+ prices will nosedive.  We're told we can expect wide-spread availability of 3400+ immediately, and can also expect Tier-1 system availability around launch time from Fujitsu Siemens. HP should also be jumping on the bandwagon, with system availability around mid-January.  Today, AMD is also introducing three new Mobile Athlon 64 processors, the 3200+, 3000+ and 2800+ which are priced at $293, $233 and $193, respectively (in 1K unit quantities).

AMD seems to be back on the right track, but there are still some obstacles ahead.  Rumor has it, the move to a 90 nanometer manufacturing process is giving both Intel and AMD some trouble.  Intel's Prescott, which was supposed to arrive late last year, has been pushed back and won't launch until sometime in February.  AMD's processor roadmap doesn't show any CPUs produced on a 90 nanometer process arriving until the second half the year, if all goes according to plan.  For now AMD and Intel remain competitive with each other, but if one company manages to work the kinks out of their 90 nanometer manufacturing processes, and can quickly ramp up clock speeds, the other may be left in their wake.  Time will tell...


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Tags:  AMD, Athlon, Athlon 64, AM

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