Athlon 64 X2 5000+: A Cheap FX or Overpriced 4800+?

Although the FX-62 conclusion was pretty straight forward, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ gives us another ambiguous candidate to evaluate. Clocked at 2.6GHz, the 5000+ gives you a nice clock speed advantage over previous X2s. However, with only a 512KB L2 cache there may be situations where the clock speed advantage over the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ is diminished.

3D Rendering - Cinebench 9.5

3D Rendering Performance - Cinebench 9.5

We've already seen that many of our 3D rendering and media encoding tests are cache-size independent when running on Athlon 64 X2/FX processors, thus it's no surprise that the X2 5000+ is able to offer identical performance to the FX-60 despite having half the L2 cache per core. The clock speed advantage over the X2 4800+ is also significant enough to offer a pretty decent performance advantage; in fact, in this light, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ looks pretty impressive.

3D Rendering - 3dsmax 7

3dsmax 7 - SPECapc Benchmark

The story under 3dsmax 7 is pretty similar to what we saw under Cinebench; there is a slight performance penalty compared to the FX-60 thanks to a smaller L2 cache, but overall the performance of the X2 5000+ is quite respectable. As we saw in our FX-62 investigation from the previous page, the Extreme Edition 965 is very tough to beat in this test thanks to its high clock speed, very fast FSB and dual core + Hyper Threading combination.


Video Encoding - DivX 6.1.1 Pro

DivX 6.1.1 Pro with Xmpeg 5.0.3

Once again, there's no performance difference between the X2 5000+ and the FX-60, bringing the 5000+ very close in performance to the FX-62 at a significantly lower cost. Thanks to the clock speed advantage, the 5000+ is also clearly faster than the X2 4800+.

Video Encoding - Windows Media Encoder 9

Windows Media Encoder 9 - Advanced Profile

Windows Media Encoder 9 also has the X2 5000+ and FX-60 performing identically, and obviously outperforming the X2 4800+.

Video Encoding - Quicktime 7.0.4 (H.264)

H.264 Encoding with Quicktime Pro 7.0.3

The video encoding trend continues with our Quicktime H.264 test, the 5000+ is second only to the FX-62.

MP3 Encoding - iTunes 6.0.1.4

MP3 Encoding with iTunes 6.0.1.3

Our iTunes MP3 encoding test produces identical results to what we've already seen in previous benchmarks, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ isn't really hampered by its 512KB L2 cache thus far.

Gaming - Quake 4

Quake 4

The tables do turn as we look at gaming performance however; not only does the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ lose to the FX-60, but it also loses to the lower clocked Athlon 64 X2 4800+. While the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ is wonderful in our application tests, it looks like there may be a very different verdict for gamers.

Gaming - F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R.

Under F.E.A.R. the FX-60 is faster than the X2 5000+ once again, but this time the best the X2 4800+ can manage is to tie the performance of the 5000+. Given the $51 price premium for the 5000+, we'd want something that was at least faster than the 4800+.

Gaming - Oblivion

Oblivion

Finally in Oblivion we see that the X2 4800+ is ever so slightly faster than the 5000+, once again thanks to its larger L2 cache (despite a lower core clock speed).

The Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Conclusion

Once again we see the problem with AMD's model number system, where in some cases the 5000+ is no different than a FX-60 and in others it is only as fast if not slower than the cheaper X2 4800+. Our recommendation here would be to only opt for the 5000+ if you aren't a gamer, as it seems that 3D games are far more likely to appreciate a larger L2 cache than a higher clock speed with these chips.

A New FX The Odd Multiplier Issue
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  • mino - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    Well, IMHO the point is AMD has used exclusive 3-level cache structure in the past so they have som experience with thi arrangement. Reply
  • Questar - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    No flame here, look it up for yourself.

    Z-RAM has high capacitive loading, which results in slow speed.

    At 4MB it'll run half the speed of SRAM.
    Reply
  • Questar - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    Large amounts of Z-RAM are pig slow. Reply
  • Ecmaster76 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    Seriously, the one area an Athlon X2 would be bandwidth starved and does it get tested in the preview? NO
    In the review? NO

    How long ago did we know that the K8 was not bandwidth limited in single application usage? YEARS


    So yeah, DDR2 din't increase the 3dMark, big surprise
    Reply
  • mlittl3 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    I think 3dMark06 is multithreaded now so all available cores and bandwidth should be used within the limits of the program. I could be wrong about this however. Reply
  • Ecmaster76 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    3Dmark06 is almost completely GPU limited. The 3Dmark CPU score did increase a bit, but I really was referring to graphics benchmarks in general. Reply
  • cscpianoman - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    I was just noticing the performance differences between the FX and the EE. In some cases the FX tromps the EE by "gasp" 30%! In other cases the EE makes it's mark. This is part of the reason I am skeptic on Conroe. Yeah it's good. But I always take what Intel, or AMD for that matter, with a grain of salt. Just today we saw the 30% advantage translate down to about 15%. This seems just like any other generation change where 15% is to be expected. The current hype for the Conroe is a product of Intel's excellent marketing dept. Reply
  • mlittl3 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    Until K8L (which will have microarchitectural improvements), there are a few things that could allow AMD to look good against Core 2.

    1) Price drops so that comparable K8 and Core 2 processors are the same price giving the same performance/$ ratio (this metric is important for the budget constrained)

    2) Nov. '06 release of 65 nm AM2 processors so that K8 and Core 2 processors will have the same performance/watt ratio (65 nm could give K8 a 20% drop in power and with Core 2 being 20% faster, they will have the same performance/watt ratio which is popular now). Also, everytime AMD transitions to a new die process they add some minor bug fixes and minor memory/microarchitectural enhancements which could also boost performance by a few percent.

    3) Continual improvements to DDR2 latency might yield a 2-2-2 DDR2 800 memory module which will probably benefit K8 more (maybe ~5% improvement) than Core 2 but this is a wild guess here and I don't know if it is even possible. However, DDR400 latency started around 4-4-4 and dropped to 2-2-2 so it could happen.

    With the same performance/price and performance/watt as Core 2, K8 could stay competitive and OEMS and users decide on which company (if not both) they would like to do business with. This is all speculation and of course everyone is more than welcome to rip my reasoning to death.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    I seriously doubt we will ever see DDR2-800 running at 2-2-2 timings. (Feel free to quote me on this in the future and make fun of me if I'm proven wrong. :-)) Just think how long we had DDR memory around, and no one ever managed to create 1-1-1 DDR-400 memory. I do think we will see 3-3-3 DDR2-800, and possibly even higher bandwidth with those timings. In fact, we almost have that already judging from my experiences so far with socket AM2. (I can post and run benchmarks, but I wouldn't call the system 100% stable.) Reply
  • mlittl3 - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - link

    LOL! I will! Reply

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