The benchmark results for the Athlon 64 3400+ are about where we expected them, with the higher-clocked model surpassing the overall performance of the Pentium 4-3.2 GHz, while providing the highest-end mainstream solution. Where things got surprising is when the Athlon 64 3400+ started challenging the uber high-end Athlon 64 FX-51 for gaming supremacy, and even beating it in a few tests.
The Athlon 64 3400+ checks in at an approximate street price of just over $400, which compares nicely to the approximate $300 price tag of the Athlon 64 3200+. On the other hand, the Athlon 64 FX-51 is still well above the $700 line, and at least in terms of relative price-performance, is not in the same league as the Athlon 64 3400+. On the Intel side, the Pentium 4-3.2 GHz is just under $400 street, the Pentium 4-3.0 GHz is just over $250, while the $975 price tag on the Pentium 4-3.2 GHz Extreme Edition makes it a non-issue for the majority of gamers.
The above price comparison has the Athlon 64 3400+ challenging as the best overall value for the high-end crowd. The Athlon 64 3200+ and Pentium 4-3.0 GHz are still great options, but now that AMD is offering Athlon 64 FX-51-level speed in a $400 package, this may be too much to resist. Also keep in mind that these are initial market prices, and are likely to fall in the coming weeks. The platform costs are also lower, as powerful VIA K8T800 motherboards are quite affordable, and even loaded with features, can be less expensive than a comparable i875P board, and much lower than an Athlon FX-51-based nForce3. The Athlon 64 3400+ also uses standard DDR, offering some cost savings and added flexibility when configuring your system.
* Please note that these prices were taken at the time of review and are not meant to reflect long-term trends.
The Athlon 64 3400+ has finally delivered on the promise of the AMD64 mainstream design, and its high-end performance and economical platform costs have made the Athlon FX-51 virtually superfluous. AMD has delivered high-end performance at a more mainstream price, and the Athlon 64 3400+ has passed the Intel Pentium 4 at this market segment, while sending notice to the Athlon 64 FX high-end line. If AMD straps dual-channel DDR support onto a new Athlon 64 revision, there will be no stopping it.