Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Throughout our entire suite of benchmarks, a system powered by Intel's quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor outpaced all of the QuadFX-based systems. The Intel-powered system also generally scaled better moving from two to four cores in the multi-threaded benchmarks. Our in-game tests and PCMark05's memory performance module put the QuadFX platform at a disadvantage versus AMD's own socket AM2 dual-core platform, but in all of the multi-threaded application and rendering tests, QuadFX was significantly faster than a similarly equipped system powered by an Athlon 64 FX-62.
AMD is clearly laying the foundation for the future with the QuadFX platform. In its current state, a QuadFX machine powered by a pair of AMD's fastest FX-74 processors can't quite keep pace with the QX6700 strictly from a performance standpoint. The overall feature-set of the QuadFX is impressive, however, thanks in part to NVIDIA's nForce 680a SLI chipset and the dual-socket nature of the platform. Twelve SATA ports, quad PCI Express X16 graphics slots, the potential for quad gigabit Ethernet, and SLI support put the QuadFX in a league of its own from a feature standpoint. And that doesn't account for potential future innovations that could make use of the second CPU socket.
* FX-70 Series Processors Sold In Pairs
AMD will be selling Athlon 64 FX-70, FX-72, and FX-74 processors in pairs with heatsinks for prices of $599, $799, and $999 respectively. That's two 3.0GHz dual-core processors for just under a grand. The Asus QuadFX L1N64-SLI WS motherboard will sell for upwards of $300. And for maximum performance, QuadFX will also require four DIMMs, which will be marginally more expensive than two DIMMs of a similar total capacity. Overall, the pricing structure makes configuring the fastest QuadFX system more expensive than the fastest quad-core Intel-based system, but QuadFX does offer more features, so pricing isn't out of line in our opinion.
Unfortunately for AMD, even with the launch of QuadFX, Intel is still in possession of the overall performance crown for now - the gap just got smaller, much smaller in some cases. With QuadFX, AMD could have a solid platform in place for a strong 2007, however. AMD's next-gen, native quad-core processors due out next year could significantly close or even erase the performance gap between AMD and Intel due to core architectural enhancements. Install two of them in a QuadFX motherboard, and you'll have eight cores at your disposal; an interesting prospect to say the least.