CPU Buying Guide


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


Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >


Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >


HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >


Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

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.

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?