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AMD Athlon 64 FX-51 vs. Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition
By CPU-zilla
Category : CPU
Published by Jimmy Tang on Thursday, 25th September, 2003


Conclusion

The new Athlon 64 FX-51 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition are two of today's fastest processors for the desktop market. There are several key differences between each of them, but the main selling point for the Athlon 64 FX-51 is its revolutionary 64-bit core which promises to deliver more computing power to the masses while still retaining excellent 32-bit compatibility with current applications and operating systems. On the other hand, the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is Intel's latest processor that aims to target the gaming market with its additional 2MB of Level 3 cache while still retaining the basic core functions of the Pentium 4 processor.

If you're considering to upgrade to the Athlon 64 FX-51, you have got to have really deep pockets. One of the main disadvantage of the Athlon 64 FX-51 lies in its requirement for expensive registered DDR400 modules. Such modules are rare and even if they are available, expect the prices to be extremely high. We don't think many of us could really afford such luxurious memory modules and therefore, the Athlon 64 FX-51 is really not within the budgets of many potential buyers. In addition, chipsets for the Athlon 64 are expensive and we were told that they are as much as Intel's 865PE or 875P chipsets.

On the other hand, we feel that the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is a much more viable option for power users who want good performance at a reasonable price point. Although the price of the processor (US$925) is higher than the Athlon 64 FX-51 (US$733), it does not require the use of expensive registered memory modules. Furthermore, the cost of upgrading should be lower if you already have an Intel 865PE and 875P motherboard since the processor is made to be compatible with all Socket-478 motherboards which support 800MHz PSB. We don't really need to give you absolute numbers here as you should be able to see the kind of cost advantage associated with the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.

Putting cost aside, both of these new processors fared quite equally in our benchmarks. From our observations, the Athlon 64 FX-51 scored extremely well in gaming and 3D applications while the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition had very good leads in productivity, 3D and synthetic benchmarks. We think the range of benchmarks represented here would give users a pretty good gauge of what to expect in the real world and if you were to ask us which is the faster processor (without considering cost), we have to say they are pretty much tied in the top position. But, if you are looking for a processor just for gaming, we had to give the Athlon 64 FX-51 our two thumbs up for its excellent delivery of frame rates in majority of the 3D games tested in this review.

We are extremely satisfied with the new Athlon 64 FX-51 processor and we are certainly very impressed by what it can do. While the performance of the processor is stunning, we believe that users should not just take the numbers presented in the benchmarks literally. In the coming months, Microsoft should be launching the new Windows XP 64-bit and with hardware vendors promising to deliver 64-bit support in their drivers, the Athlon 64 FX processor will continue to break new grounds especially in the area of 64-bit computing. That is where we'll begin to see AMD's value proposition and it would definitely bring users an added boost in performance (if nothing screws up).

Having said all of that, we are indeed very glad to see AMD making a swift comeback with the Athlon 64 FX. We are even more overjoyed by the fact that AMD is taking the trouble to help the industry migrate to the 64-bit computing environment though critics (including Intel) do not think it is necessary to make the move yet. Either way, we are glad that AMD is taking the lead in paving the way.

For the Athlon 64 FX, we're giving it 4 stars considering its performance and (high) price and a Most Innovative Product award for delivering the world's first 64-bit x86 desktop processor. On the other hand, Intel's Pentium 4 Extreme Edition managed to grab our 4.5 stars award simply due to the fact that it has much better value and equally good performance as compared to the Athlon 64 FX-51.

The Awards


Most Innovative Product Award.

 


Testbed Configuration
Processor Athlon 64 FX-51 / P4 EE
Mainboard ASUS SK8N / Intel D875PBZ
Memory 2 x 512MB DDR400
Graphics Card PowerColor RADEON 9800 PRO
Harddisk Hitachi Deskstar 180GXP
Operating System Windows XP Professional SP1

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