CPU Buying Guide


AMD

AMD chip

AMD was the first processor manufacturer to offer a 64-bit CPU with the launch of the Athlon 64 processor. However, the vendor was quick to point out that it's a technology that's suited to today's applications as well as any future 64-bit-only applications. Nowadays, almost all of AMD's CPUs are capable of processing 64-bit instructions, even CPUs in its Sempron range.

AMD's approach to 64-bit processing on the desktop has been a largely inclusive one, as its Athlon FX, Athlon 64 and Phenom CPU lines support multiple operating modes that will run 32-bit operating systems and applications, true 64-bit operating systems and applications and even 32-bit applications on 64-bit operating systems.

There's an element of future-proofing in buying a 64-bit processor, as you're readying yourself for software applications and hardware drivers that will be capable of running under a 64-bit operating system such as the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. Many 32-bit applications will run without any problems on the 64-bit version of Vista, but stability and compatibility is still an issue as drivers for many hardware components (wireless network cards, for example) still don't work properly under the 64-bit environment.


Athlon 64 vs Athlon 64 FX

AMD currently sells three differing types of 64-bit processor, aimed at different market segments and with somewhat different internal architecture and packaging. When initially launched, the Athlon 64 FX line was the premium brand version of the Athlon 64, with a dual channel memory controller built into the chip, double the L2 cache memory and a 939 pin socket. Newer Athlon 64 FX CPUs are built to an identical standard as Athlon 64 X2 CPUs though, using Socket AM2, with similar levels of cache and integrated dual channel memory controllers. AMD is keeping the FX line as premium chips primarily through higher clock speeds, and by keeping the clock multiplier on the FX line unlocked, which makes them a popular choice with overclockers.

AMD's 64-bit processors shine in the gaming arena, partly because of elements such as the CPU's memory controller being integrated onto the CPU itself, reducing memory latency, and also in single threaded games that can take advantage of the additional memory registers within the Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon 64 FX. A number of popular game engines have also been significantly rewritten to take advantage of a 64-bit processor.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?