Welcome to the Newcastle based Athlon 64 solution that runs at a clock speed of 1.8GHz (200MHz slower than the Athlon 64 3000+): the AMD Athlon 64 2800+.

The Athlon 64 2800+ has somewhat made its way stealthily into the market place. As is usually the case, the higher performance (more expensive) parts are the ones that companies push the hardest and enthusiasts are most interested in. It is always exciting to read about how fast something can get done, or new possibilities with emerging technology, but it isn't practical to expect everyone to run out and buy the highest performing chunk of silicon available (no matter how much we all may want to do so).

Often, price is much more important to a purchasing decision than pure performance, especially in the business world where even small price differences can add up very quickly with volume purchases. The trick has always been to find the best value for the money, which is much easier said than done. For inexpensive performance, the currently available option is the Athlon XP line of processors.

Until the cheaper Athlon 64 based Athlon XP solutions come around, we will have to hope that lower performance, lower priced Athlon 64 processors will be able to deliver the performance that we expect from the current generation of hardware at prices that will play nicely with others.

Is It Cheap Enough?

The prices that we have been seeing around the internet put the AMD Athlon 64 2800+ at near USD$185 shipped. This will put the chip squarely in a comfortable upper mid-range (or lower high end?) tier at just about the same price as the 800MHz FSB Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz parts. This price might not make the new 2800+ cheap enough for everyone's budget, but the price does fit the market segment, and now, people who were looking in this price range will have another option.

The next cheapest Athlon 64 system is the 3000+ (which was also the first 512kB L2 based Athlon 64), whose street price is somewhere around $240, while the Barton 3000+ Athlon XP counterpart is available for something like $130. When the math is done, what we end up seeing is that the price of the Athlon 64 2800+ falls just about between the two flavors of 3000+ offered by AMD.

Today, we will be taking the opportunity to see if the performance of the AMD Athlon 64 2800+ will maintain a performance level worthy of its price. The unique price layout of these processors means that the value of the chip (considering price and performance) will be readily apparent from the individual benchmarks; the performance of the 2800+ should fall somewhere near the average score of the two 3000+ models. Of course, this will be different on different benchmarks, as each chip has its advantages and disadvantages.

It is also important to note that prices do not usually scale linearly. When a brand new high end chip comes out, it can often be priced much higher than its performance gain over the previous leader would warrant. At the same time, near the bottom of the spectrum, a small change in price can lead to a larger percent increase in performance as a CPU's perceived "value" approaches what it cost to make the chip. Prices also fluctuate greatly over time, so our comparison of averages will be more of an interesting indicator than a hard and fast rule.

The Test
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  • Pollock - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    I thought Unreal Tournament 2004 was already released?

    I was under the impression that some of the 3000+s were indeed Clawhammers with half the cache disabled, and that some were true Newcastles manufactured at those specifications. I think the 2800+ is like that, too, in that some of them are ones that failed at 3000+ speeds and that others are manufactured at those specifications. But I'm not completely sure.

    I agree with AtaStrumf, I don't see why people are making such a big deal over socket 939. The performance difference with dual channel memory has already been demonstrated to be negligible with socket 940 processors, so that's no reason to get 939 over 754. And upgradeability, in my eyes if you have the money to buy a new processor every few months or so, you shouldn't be concerned with upgradeability. People get socket 754 for value, so you only want to buy one processor every 18-24 months anyway, like which AtaStrumF said, a new socket should be out.

    And speaking of little performance loss, I, too, would have liked to see overclocking results with the 2800+...after all, that's the whole point of it, really.

    Rant over.
    Reply
  • SKiller - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    those are OEM prices btw Reply
  • SKiller - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    The current street prices for those are currently about what's listed below.

    XP 3000+ $120
    64 2800+ $170
    64 3000+ $210
    Reply
  • Cybercat - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    Most of the benchmarks are VPU limited. It would have been better to use older games with low resolutions in order to eliminate the graphics card from the equation. It's hard to tell which is better in gaming with this method, since with most of them it's so close it's within margin of error. Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    I'll just stick to my 2500+@3200+ on NF2Ultra400/SoundStorm mobo, thank you very much.

    All these new CPUs look like a total waste of money, when there is such a cheap alternative out there (AthlonXP), that is not that much slower. At least not enough for anyone who doesn't run benchmarks all day long to notice. And that's most of the people, alhough not most AT readers :)

    As for upgreadability that everybody is so concerned about. Forget about it! Just make sure that what you buy will last you 12-18 months, after that you can be preety sure you'll have to change at least the mobo with whatever CPU you will be getting then. Intel and AMD seem to be on top of that one.

    And one last thing. Most of your readers like to OC their chips, so next time you do a review, try to OC it and include the results.
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    yeah all these graphs are wrong. the newcastle is a completly different core than what is tested here. Reply
  • wassup4u2 - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    The 3000+ is a ClawHammer with 1/2 of the cache disabled. Starting soon, however AMD will transition the A64 from ClawHammer to Newcastle. I think this actually does start with the 2800+. Reply
  • iCeVbLaSt - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    actually AMD have confirmed that the 3000+ is a Clawhammer with disabled chache (that failked in chache test with 1mb so half was disabled) ... also if you'll check those chips manufacturing and stepping code and cheeck AMD charts you'll discover its a clawhammer .... I dunno why anandtech keep claiming its a Newcastle since AMD sayd by themself that the Newcastles production will start only around the 2 quater of this year and the 3000+ were produced for a long time (mine is week 50 of 2003) Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    I keep wondering if these are in fact completely different cores, or if they're a regular "hammer" core with half the cache disabled. In other words, is an A64 3000+ just an A64 3200+ with half the cache disabled, similar to a Thorton? Or is it in fact a completely separate core with a different transistor count to reflect the smaller cache?

    I was under the impression that the Newcastle core was made differently... if all that means is that it's a Hammer with half the cache disabled, then fine. But reading this makes it sound like the difference between a Thoroughbred B and a Barton core.
    Reply
  • f11 - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    you can buy a barton 2500 and oc to 3200 (a simple fsb change) and that costs like 1/3rd the price of this. no point. great article though, it least it clarifies the (lack of) speed advantage over alternatives. Reply

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