AMD Athlon 64 FX
Like Intel's Extreme CPUs, AMD's FX range is aimed at the high-end PC market. Buy an FX-based CPU only if you want the absolute fastest Athlon-based performance that you can get for a gaming PC or an entry-level workstation. Wait for the Athlon 64 FX-70, FX-72 of FX-74 models if you want to buy or build a PC based on AMD's 4x4 platform for quad-core computing.
Price$ 1,050.00 (AUD)
In the high-end PC segment, the FX range of dual-core CPUs is AMD's flagship. It uses the same K8 microarchitecture as the Athlon 64 X2 CPUs, but is comprised of CPUs with higher clock frequencies than those present in the regular Athlon 64 X2 range, and 1MB of cache per CPU core is the norm.
For the AM2 platform, only the Athlon 64 FX-62 is currently available. It's built using 90 nanometre technology and can consume up to 125W of power when it's working at its full capacity. Its frequency of 2.8GHz is the fastest that we have tested from AMD and this was also reflected in our tests, where the FX-62 beat the other Athlons resoundingly.
The FX range has recently been expanded with the addition of the FX-70, FX-72 and FX-74 models. These are clocked at 2.6GHz, 2.8GHz and 3GHz, respectively, and all come with 1MB of cache per CPU core. However, none will fit into an AM2-based motherboard. Instead, these CPUs are in Socket F format, which is incompatible with AM2.
Socket F is the format used for AMD's late model Opteron CPUs, which are aimed at high-end workstation and server machines, and which can be used in pairs to enable quad-core computing. This format will be the basis for AMD's 4x4 platform, which will be aimed at enthusiasts and gamers. The 4x4 platform will have two Socket F sockets, which will allow two FX-based CPUs to be installed. Each CPU will have its own set of DDR2 memory slots. This dual-socket quad-core configuration will be more elaborate than Intel's current single-socket QX6700 solution, and it remains to be seen how its performance will stack up against its cost.
As for the FX-62, against the Core 2 Extreme CPUs, which compete in the same market segment, the FX-62 was solid, but did not come up trumps in many of our tests. The Core 2 Duo E6400 beat it the FX-62 in all but three tests, while the Core 2 Duo 6700 beat the FX-62 in all but one of our tests (the FX-62 completed the Microsoft Office Xp test a little quicker). Within the Athlon family of CPUs, the FX-62 does offer around eight percent better performance than the Athlon 64 X2 5200+, according to our Sorenson Squeeze high definition video encoding test, our Cucusoft iPod video conversion test and our Cdex MP3 encoding test, but it costs almost double the price.
The financial outlay doesn't make the FX-62 an attractive proposition for a current AM2-based PC, unless the slight boost in performance is really important to you.
Athlon 64 FX-62 Price: $1050
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