Benchmark Summary & Conclusion
Benchmark Performance Summary: Excluding the synthetic SiSoft SANDRA 2004, and Futuremark PCMark04 and 3DMark03 tests, we ran a total of 10 different real-world benchmarks that all used actual applications to test system performance. Of those 10 different benchmarks, the fastest Intel based systems won only 3 of them. The Athlon 64s won the remaining 7. The Intel powered systems excelled in the Cinebench 2003, Windows Media Encoder 9, and X2 tests, but the Winstones, SPECviewperf, XMPEG and the rest of the game tests belonged the to Athlons. With a 70% win percentage, we think its fair to say AMD currently has a clear performance lead with their new processors, at this point in time.
With the release of their 939 pin socket, AMD has transformed the Athlon 64 platform into a much more desirable upgrade option for enthusiasts seeking "best of class" performance. Socket 940 based systems required the use of more expensive registered memory, that up until recently wasn't available with tight memory timings. Also, fear of shortened lifespan for Socket 754 overshadowed the platform ever since news of Socket 939 initially surfaced. For the foreseeable future though, all of AMD's Athlon 64 FX and standard Athlon 64 CPUs will reside in the new 939 pin socket. So if you were waiting for the platform to stabilize before upgrading an existing system, and don't plan to purchase new RAM or a video card, now is the time. Until AMD decides to retro-fit the Athlon 64's on chip memory controller to support DDR2 memory, Socket 939 should be "it". If you're bulding an entirely new system though, it probably makes sense to wait for Socket 939 motherboards that support PCI Express. Moving to a Socket 939 setup will require a sizable investment, however...
|In 1000 Unit Quantities:
AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 processor $799 each (Socket 939)
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ processor $720 each (Socket 939)
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ processor $710 each (Socket 754)
AMD Athlon 64 3500+ processor $500 each (Socket 939)
As you can see, the least expensive Socket 939 CPU weighs in at $500 in 1KU quantities. Considering the on-board cache of the standard Athlon 64's has shrunk to 512K with the "Newcastle" core, which resulted in a 44% reduction in die size, we hope AMD aggressively slashes prices to make the Athlon 64 accessible to a larger audience. After all, the standard Athlon 64 should also be much less expensive to produce. There probably won't be any significant price cuts until Intel launches their next-gen processors and chipsets (LGA 775, 915 and 925) that use DDR2 memory. And even then, Intel's parts will have to offer measurable performance gains at competitive prices to incite another price war. We'll let you know how Intel's new products perform as soon as we can, but for now AMD should be commended for producing the fastest all-around X86 processors we've tested to date.