Final Words

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.

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  • johnsonx - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    I looked at the FX-53 benchmarks on THG, and their benches vs. the FX-51 are right in line with what they should be... I don't see any descrepency as with AT's tests.

    From this I conclude that AT must indeed have tested the FX-53 with the OCZ memory, but used the Mushkin memory with the FX-51. That difference must explain the higher than expected performance of the FX-53.

    That also suggests that OCZ memory is pretty good stuff...
  • nourdmrolNMT1 - Monday, March 22, 2004 - link

    yea, i ment registered, my bad.

  • johnsonx - Saturday, March 20, 2004 - link

    To #27: that's my point. For the FX-53 to perform more than 9.1% faster than the FX-51, *SOMETHING* must be different. FactMan (#25) suggests the FX-53 is indeed a new stepping with some improvements.

    In my second note, I also observed that AT tested the FX-51 & FX-53 with different memory, though the article is none too clear on this point.

    Finally, as I pointed out in post 23, ECC is NOT required for the Athlon64 FX. The FX clearly *supports* ECC, but it is not required. Registered memory IS required for both the Opteron and Athlon64 FX.
  • nourdmrolNMT1 - Saturday, March 20, 2004 - link

    why cant the fx-53 perform more than 9.1% better? it could have some revised coding within it which allows for better allocation of data, and improved prefetch, etc.

    it requires ecc. so you have to run with ecc

  • truApostle - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    According to AMD and factually speaking after running a slew of benchmarks, the FX-53 performs only 108% faster than the speed of the 64 3400 Athlon. This number was in overal~gaming prowess, period. I'm not too concerned with encoding, compiling, blah blah blah so I leave that to the folks who are. Man it's too hard to justify the extra cost of the FX-53 in relation to the 3400 with only 6-8% difference in speed, which at any rate is most likey un-noticeable anyhow. For me, and this is purely my humble opinion, the extra money price difference would better be suited a mess load of BAWLS. Reply
  • FactMan - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    In Reply to 16

    There are two things that are likely to be the reason for the superlinear performence improvement.

    1) The integrated memory controller runs at core speed, hence increased clockspeed makes the mem controller faster and reduces latency.

    2) It's build upon the newer CG stepping. This stepping fixes and improves several things, mainly to the memory controller.
  • bldkc - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    WHY CAN'T THEY COLOR CODE THE CHARTS! I have to spend three times as long reading each chart to determine who placed where as I do on a color coded chart such as those posted on Toms site. It is really annoying. I color code my charts at work. Every college class teaches color codeing. My 6 year old daughter color codes her drawings! Come on!! Reply
  • johnsonx - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    TO #18, Athlon64Boy: The Athlon 64 FX retains the Registered requirement of the Opteron, but they were able eliminate the ECC requirement.

    After I posed my question, I did look around a bit for PC3200 Registered Non-ECC memory: it is something of a rare animal, but it does exist. (I think it's pretty A64FX specific). On, only CorsairXMS is offered in Reg/Non-ECC. Their website specifically touts this memory as being tested in AthlonFX motherboards:

    I suppose AT may have run their tests with ECC disabled, which as far as I know would eliminate any extra performance penalty. It may also be that the A64FX memory controller runs ECC and Non-ECC with equal efficiency... but there's always been a performance penalty in the past with ECC, registered or not.
  • yumarc - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    I've been hearing "Hold off til socket 939" for almost 6 months now. It appears has become a PR mouthpiece for AMD, or at the very least, become irresponsible to the point of recommending hardware that no one has publicly tested, priced, or seen. The future is now and socket 940 exists now. Don't forget the definition of the term, "vaporware". Reply
  • Xaazier - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    when is socket 939 due? Reply

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