Last week AMD launched their new AM2 platform, we take a look at what performance difference you can expect at the mid-range side of things, with the help of local computer shop Forcom we compared two AMD 3500+ systems, one based on AM2 one on Socket 939.
We thank Forcom.be for providing the hardware used in this review.
With AM2 AMD has changed the on-die memory controller to support DDR2 instead of DDR1. While DDR2 memory modules were more expensive in the past, the prices have fallen quite a bit and now they carry a comparable price-tag as the DDR modules.
Looking at the prices of the new processors at Forcom.be
they are remarkably evenly matched compared to their older socket versions:
| ||AM2 ||S939/S754|
|Sempron 64 3000+ ||€80 ||€77.95|
|Sempron 64 3400+ ||€102 ||€99.95|
|Athlon 64 3200+ ||€143.99 ||€149.96|
|Athlon 64 3500+ ||€199.02 ||€199.94|
|Athlon 64 3800+ ||€299.01 ||€292.95|
|Athlon 64 X2 3800+ ||€315.01 ||€299.97|
|Athlon 64 X2 4200+ ||€370.01 ||€372.96|
|Ahtlon 64 X2 4400+ ||€485.02 ||€469.96|
|Athlon 64 X2 4600+ ||€574.97 ||€579.95|
|Athlon 64 X2 4800+ ||€654.98 ||€659.96|
So you can build an AM2 system for the same price as an older S939 system, it’s not every day you can buy the latest hardware at the price of the previous generation, so where’s the catch? Time to find out.Test Setup
Forcom helped us build two similar systems on AM2 and S939 using the 2200Mhz clocked Athlon 64 3500+ CPU. Using this OPN guide
we can find out some background info on the CPUsAMD Athlon 64
AMD Athlon 64 Desktop 2.2Ghz 940pin AM2 vcore 1.35V-1.40V 71°C 512KB L2 Cache – F2 revision (Orleans)
AMD Athlon 64
AMD Athlon 64 Desktop 2.2Ghz 939pin vcore 1.35V-1.40V 71°C 512KB L2 Cache – E6 Revision (Venice)
The 3500+ AM2 version was produced in the 13th week of 2006, which makes it the end of March, Anandtech did their AM2 Performance Preview the 10th of April, so they pretty much had final silicon in their hands by then, they did play around with AM2 back in January but found the performance at that stage to be noticeable worse than S939. So how much have they improved since then, and of course we also got the finished chipset from nVidia to take into account, the nForce5.
Using the hardware at our disposal we build these two systems:
Why only PC2 4300 memory and what speed is that anyway? PC2 4300 seems to be a separate “standard”: same memory speed as PC2 4200 but slightly tighter timings.
We tried a set of “OCZ PC2 6400 EL Gold Edition 5-5-5-10” but the AM2 system refused to boot, they worked okay in an Intel system though, so we tried Buffalo PC2 5300 2x1Gb kit, the system started up but unfortunately it didn’t get any further than the memory self-test. Could we have a broken board on our hands? Or does the nForce5 require special DDR2 memory? With the PC2 4200 from Twinmos the Asus board worked as it should.
About 2 weeks ago Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP) for DDR2 was announced, nVidia also refers to it as SLI memory, they developed this together with Corsair and OCZ also recently pledged their support. May not be a bad idea to look into this when you plan on building an AM2 machine. We have emailed OCZ and they are looking into the incompatibility problem with the PC2 6400 EL Gold.
Wonder what memory was used in those other reviews?
|Memory Used in AM2 reviews|
|HardOCP ||4x512MB Corsair PC-8500|
|TechReport || CorsairTWIN2X2048-6400PRO DDR2 |
|AnandTech ||Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 (1GB x 2) |
|TomsHardware ||Corsair CAM2X512A-5400UL (XMS5400 V1.2) |
|PCModdingMy ||Corsair 1GB CM2X512-8500 4-4-4-12-1T DDR2-800 |
|Bjorn3D ||1GB kit of Corsair DDR 2 8500|
|HotHardware || 2x512MB Corsair PC-8500|
|Hexus || 2 x 512MiB Corsair XMS2-8500|
|Planet3DNow ||2 x 512 MB Kingston HyperX DDR2 PC 6400|
|NordicHardware ||Corsair XMS2 8500 (2x512MB) |
|Digit-Life ||Corsair CM2X1024-6400|
|AMDZone ||2GB of corsair DDR2 at 800 and 1066MHz|
|HardwareSecrects ||Four Corsair CM2X512-8500 modules |
|GamePyre ||2GB Corsair DDR 2 8500 CL4 |
|Motherboards ||Corsair DDR2 PC8500 2GB 2X1GB Sticks|
|Guru3D ||Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5 DDR2|
Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4 DDR2
|LostCircuits ||2x1GB OCZ PC2-6400 EL Dual Channel Platinum XTC modules|
|Neoseeker ||Corsair PC2-8500 memory|
|PCPer ||Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4|
|PCStats ||2x 1024MB Corsair XMS2-8500 DDR-2|
|Bit-Tech ||2x512MB Corsair XMS2-8500 DDR2 memory|
|T-Break ||2 x 512MB Corsair DDR2-800 Memory Modules|
Corsair seems to be a popular choice, not in the least because nVidia was providing them with their test boards. SLI-ready memory in action.
Let’s compare lowest prices using Newegg.com, 1Gb sticks (1 module):
PC3200 ~80 CL2.5-4-4
PC2 4200 ~$65 - CL4-4-4
PC2 5300 ~$80 - CL4-4-4
PC2 6400 ~$110 - CL4-4-4
PC2 8500 ~$220 - CL5-5-5
Quite an increase when the ratings go up. Enough talk, time for action let’s start our benchmarks ->