The Athlon 64 FX-60 represents the new top-end of AMD-based desktop performance, and is the first FX processor to feature dual core technology. Since this type of processor is so prevalent now, we usually highlight only Athlon 64 X2 and Pentium EE/Pentium D dual core processors in the benchmarking section. We certainly have the dual core contingent out in full force, with the full line of Athlon 64 X2 4800+, 4600+, 4400+, 4200+, and 3800+ AMD processors, along with the Pentium EE 955, Pentium EE 840, and Pentium D 840 (3.2 GHz), 830 (3.0 GHz) and 820 (2.8 GHz) Intel models.
This time is a bit different and we don't stop with just the dual core models. The Athlon 64 FX-60 purports to be a performance upgrade to the current Athlon 64 FX-based line, so to put this claim to the test, we've included a couple of the very fastest single core processors on the market. The 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 FX-57 fits the bill on the AMD side, while the Pentium 4-3.73 GHz EE represents the fastest Intel single core processor money can buy. These two single core powerhouses will definitely give us not only a great feel for how the Athlon 64 FX-60 stacks up, but also provide comparison testing against the other AMD and Intel dual core models.
Naturally, these high-end processors are matched with corresponding platforms and peripherals, while ensuring consistency with the overall reference system mix. The Athlon 64 FX and X2 models utilize an nForce4 Ultra motherboard, the 1066 MHz Pentium EE 955 and Pentium 4-3.73 GHz EE operate on the Intel 975X motherboard, while the 800 MHz Pentium D 840, 830 and 820, and Pentium EE 840, run on the Intel 955X platform. The base memory capacity is set at 1-GB, but due to the differing memory architectures, our Intel systems use 2x512-MB of OCZ PC6400 Platinum (set at DDR2-667 for 1066 MHz and lower latency DDR2-533 for 800 MHz), while the AMD configuration features 2x512-MB of Corsair XMS PC3200XLPRO.
The default hard disk configuration is comprised of dual Maxtor MaxLine III 250GB SATA drives set for RAID 0, which provides top-end disk performance and ensures consistent benchmarking. The video component is one of the top performance candidates in its class, and consists of a powerful eVGA GeForce 7800 GTX KO 256MB PCI Express card, which virtually guarantees high-end performance and scalability for our test systems. The drivers are also the latest NVIDIA ForceWare 81.98, which include enhancements for improved performance under dual core or HT systems. The operating system is Windows XP Pro SP2, along with DirectX 9.0c installed.
The benchmark list includes a wide range of system, CPU, memory, and gaming tests. These include the PCMark04, PCMark05, SiSoft SANDRA 2005, and CINEBENCH 2003, along with TMPGEnc Xpress 3.0 for MPEG-1 and 2, XMPEG for DivX 6.1, and Windows Media Encoder 9 for WMV encoding. We also utilize popular 3D game tests like Quake 4, Half-Life 2, DOOM 3, Chronicles of Riddick, 3DMark05, FarCry, Halo, AquaMark 3, Painkiller, Unreal Tournament 2004/2003, and Quake 3. Our default game benchmark setting is 1024x768x32 for older games, and 800x600x32 for newer releases, both of which are demanding enough for CPU comparisons but still realistic as actual game play resolutions.
* Please note that unless otherwise stated, such as the media encoding times, all performance graph results equate to the standard "higher is better" routine.