Windows XP 64-Bit Preview: First Look at Athlon 64 Performance

In case you missed the news, Microsoft has just released a public preview of XP 64-bit.  Microsoft officially calls the new Operating System the "Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems".  The Customer Preview can be downloaded for free or ordered on CD for a fee at the 64-bit Edition website.  The CDs will not ship until mid-February, but the free 420MB download version is available NOW.  We couldn't wait to download the preview of the new OS and run an Athlon 64 through some benchmarks.

Your first task after downloading and installing the OS will be finding drivers for some of the components in your system.  Microsoft's new 64-bit Newsgroup is a great place to start your search. Drivers are part of the new 64-bit OS, but they are still spotty in many cases.  We needed to find a 64-bit driver for the 3Com LAN on our Asus SK8V and better video drivers.  XP64 installed a driver for our Radeon 9800 PRO, but it was really basic and not much in the performance department.  After we discovered ATI did not really have a 64-bit driver, but nVidia did have one on their web-site, we swapped in an Albatron FX5950 Ultra video card.  We also found 64-bit drivers for our 3Com on-board LAN and SK8V Sound at PlanetAMD64 and Collosumus.  With the basic features taken care of we were ready to take our first stab at testing 64-bit performance.

Performance Test Configuration


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  • Staples - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    I really hope those game scores are due to premature video drivers. As you see, Halo did almost as well as the 32bit platform and as you should know, DX9 games are almost solely based on the GPU. So if Halo did almost as well on both platforms, it says that the video drivers can't be that premature, either that or explanation 2 is that we can expect a huge increase in DX9 games. Reply
  • Corsairpro - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Too bad there weren't any decent video drivers. Every one who just glances at the numbers is going to claim "The message is clear x86-64 has failed" when it comes to games. Oh well, more supply for me to buy! Reply
  • buleyb - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Not that I'm not excited, but you should point out Wes that this isn't just a 64bit OS, but an AMD 64bit OS, meaning that the performance improvement has a lot to do with the new general purpose registers and such. I don't want people thinking that 64bit is a pure performance improvement, because it really isn't by itself.

    But still, nice work :)
  • KristopherKubicki - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Skol. Well done Wes. Reply
  • saechaka - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    boy am i glad i just bought this athlon 64 notebook. huurraaayy for me Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    There are times editing would be useful in this comments section. XP, and not Halo, had about the same performance. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Halo was the game that was close to the same performance in XP and XP64, and not Halo as #4 pointed out. Since X2 is DirectX 8.1 with heavy use of transform and lighting effects, it has little relevance to the Halo performance. Corrected in the article. Reply
  • Emma - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    "It is very interesting that the DirectX 9 game Halo is already very close to 32-bit performance at only 4% slower than 32-bit performance. This means the newest 32-bit games, or at least the newest games from Microsoft, may be as fast on 64-bit as 32-bit at the launch of XP64, or possibly even faster."

    Can you clarify this please. The table shows there being a -19.1% change...
  • Boonesmi - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    by the way ive read in several threads of guys using pcmark 2004 and getting incredible fps in divx encoding Reply
  • Ecmaster76 - Saturday, February 7, 2004 - link

    Very interesting. That 15% increase in media encoding should have the AMD execs laughing maniacally. That might end up getting them a 15% increase in market share. Reply