AMD Athlon 64

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AMD Athlon 64
  • AMD Athlon 64
  • AMD Athlon 64

Pros

  • Cheap

Cons

  • Single core

Bottom Line

At this point in time a single-core CPU should only be considered by those on a tight budget or with limited requirements. While many single-core CPU models including the Athlon 64 3800+ are suitable for gaming, everyday computing, MP3 encoding and even video editing, their multitasking performance really does not compare to dual-core processors.

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The Athlon 64 has been around since [date] and was the first processor with 64-bit instructions to hit the consumer market. It's still around, and it's now available for Socket AM2 motherboards.

AMD has released the 3800+, the 3500+ (in two different versions, one which consumes 62W and one which consumes 35W), the 3200+ and the 3000+, all of which are aimed at those of you who are after a bargain CPU. [^Print-version only:Indeed, the 3000+ can be found for around $120!]

These are only single-core CPUs, which means that they can only be dedicated to one task at a time. While you can certainly multi-task using a single-core CPU, if you undertake any CPU-intensive work, such as video encoding, then you may notice a slowdown in performance when you try to use another program before that task is finished.

We tested the 3800+, the fastest single-core AM2 model available. This runs at a frequency of 2.4GHz and has a cache size of 512KB. It's based on a 90 nanometre manufacturing process and has been designed to consume around 62W of power under full load. Like all Athlon 64 CPUs, it has a built in memory controller (in Intel CPUs the memory controller is in the motherboard chipset) and, like all the Socket AM2-based CPUs, it requires DDR2 memory.

In the Cdex test, which can only use one CPU core, the time it took to encode our MP3 files was faster than the Intel Core 2 Duo E6300, which runs at 1.8Ghz, but has a much larger 2MB cache. In the tests where the software benefits from a dual-core processor, the single-core Athlon 64 3800+ was left well behind. Sorenson Squeeze took almost double the time to complete, while the Cucusoft test did, in fact, take exactly double the amount of time to complete. Against the Athlon 64 X2 4600+, which is a dual-core CPU that runs at 2.4GHz, in Cdex the single-core 3800+ is only two seconds slower. In the Cucusoft and Sorenson Squeeze tests, however, the full benefits of the second CPU core come into play. The 3800+ took almost twice the time to complete these tests compared to the dual-core 4600+.

Invest in an Athlon 64 based computer if you want a basic PC for surfing the Internet or using a word processor and you know you won't be doing a lot of taxing multi-tasking (such as encoding a video while you browse the Web). If you want a better multitasking experience, then definitely spend a few more dollars and a get a dual-core CPU.

Athlon 64 3800+ Price: $180

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