The Athlon 64 FX-53: AMD's Next Enthusiast Partby Derek Wilson on March 18, 2004 11:00 AM EST
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The AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 is a very solid processor. General usage benchmarks put it at or near the top of the heap, games run really well, and it might seem like a breath of fresh air for those who are tired of waiting for their source to compile all day long. The FX-53 also made some pretty significant performance gains in the traditional Intel areas of encoding and rendering. Obviously, when looking for a processor, you want one that will suit the tasks at hand, but the FX-53 has the benefit of being near the top across the board.
So, with a thousand dollar processor budget, what is the best choice? Honestly, the best choice is to wait. It may seem like that's what we've said at the end of every single CPU or graphics review for the past few months, but the giant caution sign will soon be taken down.
Yes, FX-53 is a fast performer. It's just not fast enough to warrant spending all that necessary money on a platform that is guaranteed to be non-upgradeable in a short while. With socket 939, there will be a much wider selection of processors to fill the platform, and there is much more room for future upgradeability. Add PCI Express to that and you've got a platform that could last for a (relatively) long time.
Of course, when socket 939 does hit the streets, we will have to re-evaluate the situation. The FX-53 has potential, but that's not always enough. If we get some good performance gains from using high quality unbuffered RAM with the FX-53, and if we start to see overclocker-friendly boards with plenty of PCI Express slots on them, we might just be talking after a price drop. Right now, both the very high end Intel and AMD parts are priced too high to recommend. The performance gains that we see in our tests just aren't enough to warrant the kinds of price differences currently seen in the marketplace.
So, the final recommendation? If you absolutely need a system now, go with either a Pentium 4 or an Athlon 64 3000+ (Newcastle) depending on your usage model. But just wait if that's at all possible. The end is near, we promise.