The benchmark analysis of the new Athlon 64 FX-62 and Athlon 64 X2 5000+ processors, not to mention the AM2 platform, needs to be separated into two parts. The first deals with office, memory, and multimedia performance, which definitely favors the new Athlon 64 FX-62 and Athlon 64 X2 5000+ processors and the Socket AM2 platform. The memory bandwidth scores are simply incredible and not only do the new AMD processors walk all over the current Socket 939 models, but also outperform the Pentium D line. Media encoding performance is excellent as well, and the Athlon 64 FX-62 and Athlon 64 X2 5000+ more than hold their own against the DDR-equipped Socket 939 processors.
Gaming performance is a bit more difficult to get a handle on, as certain benchmarks seem to favor the new Socket AM2 platform and its dual channel DDR2-800, while a few others sit in the DDR camp, and show the Athlon 64 FX-60 in the performance lead. Usually, the result is somewhere in between, with both Socket AM2 and 939 processors posting very similar game scores. While we'd give the slight nod to AM2 in the system and memory benchmark section, the gaming competition is more of a straight draw, with neither side emerging victorious.
The benchmarking really hasn't been about AMD vs. Intel, but more AMD competing against itself and trying hard to position the Socket AM2 transition so that there was no performance loss. Intel's Conroe is the real challenger, and we'll be able to determine the processor landscape later this year. But rest assured, this is not the last you'll hear from AMD, and there might be a few surprises between now and then.
The power consumption of high-end desktops is a definite concern right now, especially for those who build small form factor and low-noise systems, or for buyers wanting to keep energy costs down. We took each of the reference systems, ran these through a Power Analyzer, and then received consumption figures (in Watts) for both Idle and Load scenarios. In order to keep the systems and results consistent, we used the same configuration for the AMD and Intel processors, along with the selection of peripherals listed on the Test Systems page.
The first test was performed at idle, after Windows XP had loaded, and all of the various software and hardware components had initialized. The 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 FX-52 definitely upgraded the overall power requirements, and even pushed the Pentium D 840 at idle. The 2.6 GHz Athlon 64 X2 5000+ fared better, and while it did push beyond the other Athlon 64 X2 and FX models, it was more of a gradual shift.
The second test changes the operating conditions from Idle to Load, and the SANDRA Multimedia CPU benchmark pushes processor usage to 100%, while ensuring that no extraneous hard drive or peripheral activity artificially ramps up the power consumption rates. The results using SANDRA are also incredibly consistent, with the wattage numbers remaining stable through the entire test. Now that the processors are humming at peak usage, the numbers start to follow along with core speed and design for the most part.
Once the processors get cooking, we start to see more real-world numbers and the processors fall into more of a logical order. The Athlon 64 FX-62, while still posting the largest power draw for an AMD system, still remains well back of the Intel crowd. The Athlon 64 X2 5000+ is a bit more of an anomaly, as it should place lower, but still manages to exceed the 2.6 GHz Athlon 64 FX-60. It is unfortunate there is no way to isolate the motherboard, as the nForce 590 SLI seems to have a higher inherent power draw.
The announcement of AMD's energy efficient line of 65W and 35W products is certainly good news, as current power requirements have started creeping up into Intel territory. The new AM2 DDR2-based platform is a step in the right direction performance-wise, but AMD really needs to get working on the 65nm front, in order to make similar advances in the power and thermal categories.