AMD Athlon XP 2600+

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The AMD Athlon XP 2600+
The Thoroughbred Core Gets a Shot in the Arm...

By, Marco Chiappetta
August 21, 2002

 

Next, we ran MadOnion's 3DMark2001 SE (Build 330) at the benchmark's default resolution of 1024x768x32.  3DMark2001 SE is a DirectX8 benchmarking utility that uses the "MaxFX" engine, from Remedy's very popular Max Payne, to simulate an actual in-game environment. 

Gaming Benchmarks and Comparisons
3DMark2001SE, Comanche 4 and Quake 3 Performance

In 3DMark2001 SE, the Athlon XP 2600+ wasn't able to reach the same performance levels of even a 2.4GHz Pentium 4, but the performance delta between the slowest and fastest systems in this test was less than 10%. 

We also ran a batch of tests with Novalogic's Combat Helicopter simulator, Comanche 4.  Comanche 4 makes use of Pixel and Vertex shaders, and is a useful too for testing performance under DirectX 8.  This benchmark generally scales up with increased CPU speed.  We set the resolution to 640x480x32 and disabled audio in an attempt to isolate CPU performance

The Athlon XP 2600+ performed very well in our Comanche 4 benchmark, but it wasn't able to catch the 2.53GHz Pentium 4.  Regardless, breaking the 50 FPS barrier in this benchmark is no small feat.  The Athlon XP 2600+ is definitely packing some serious muscle.

Next up, we have some Quake 3 Arena v1.17 Time Demo scores taken at the "Fastest" setting at a low resolution of 640X480, using 16-bit color and textures.  Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card, at these minimal settings, isolates processor performance, without being hindered by the graphics subsystem.

Quake 3 Arena has always favored the Pentium 4, but the Athlon XP 2600+ put up one hell of a fight.  It took a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 equipped with PC1066 RDRAM to overtake the 2600+.  When we substituted the PC1066 RDRAM for PC800, the Athlon took the lead.  This is another test where the Athlon XP 2600+ would have benefited from a higher FSB, which in turn would result in increase available memory bandwidth.

Judging by the benchmark scores, the price and the overclocked speeds we were able to hit, we think the AMD Athlon XP 2600+ is a winner.  Throughout our battery of benchmarks, this processor exhibited top-notch performance, surpassing Intel's current flagship processor, the 2.53GHz Pentium 4, in multiple tests.  To get the kind of performance we did out of a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 though, you'll have to spring for and i850E based motherboard and PC1066 RDRAM, which is currently about twice as expensive as PC3200 DDR RAM.  If you were buying a processor, motherboard and memory today, a 2.53GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of PC1066 RDRAM and the Iwill i850E based P4R533-N we tested with would cost about $825 US (prices found on Pricewatch.Com).  Using AMD's pricing, which is usually higher than the street price, an Athlon XP 2600+, 512MB of PC3200 RAM and an EPoX 8K3A+ however, would run you less than $540 US (Current pricing in lots of 1000: 2600+ $297 each, 2400+ $193 each).  No matter which way you slice it, the system based on the Athlon XP 2600+ is the better buy.  There can be no doubt AMD still offers unparalleled bang for your buck.

The future is looking good for AMD as well.  Its obvious that there is some headroom left in this "new" Thoroughbred core, and with motherboards based on the VIA KT400 and nForce2 about to ship, the AMD platform should remain on the cutting edge for some time.  The upcoming "Barton" and "Hammer" processors should also help further AMD's cause.  As of today, with the Athlon XP 2600+, AMD has one of the fastest desktop CPUs ever made, on their hands.  Now, we're going to sit back and see how the competition responds...

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Tags:  AMD, 260, Athlon, XP, AM

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