AMD Athlon X2 3800+
- Cheap, strong performance for its price
- Nothing of note
The Athlon 64 X2 3800+ has a big future as the budget model in the X2 range. The performance is better than the vast majority of single-core chips we've seen, especially when it comes to multitasking.
Price$ 575.00 (AUD)
AMD has a new dual-core processor to add to its X2 collection - the Athlon 64 X2 3800+,which is the fourth X2 chip to hit the market.
The 3800+ has a different core from the previous X2 processors, and this means there is only 512KB of Level 2 cache. It runs at a clock speed of 2GHz and uses the 939-pin socket that most Athlon 64 CPUs use.
We rigged up the 3800+ in a PC using an Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard with an nForce 4 chipset, 1GB of PC3200 DDR RAM and a 256MB Connect 3D Radeon X850 XT PE graphics card. This rig previously had an Athlon 64 X2 4600+ chip in it and we were interested to see how the two compared.
We also wanted to compare it to the system we use to rate every other PC and notebook we review, the WorldBench 5 baseline system. With 1GB of DDR RAM, a 2.2GHz Athlon 64 FX-51 CPU with 1MB of Level 2 cache and a 256MB GeForce FX 5950 Ultra graphics card, we wanted to pit the single-core chip against the dual setup. The overall WorldBench 5 score of 108 is 10 points down on the score achieved by the 4600+ but eight per cent faster than the WorldBench 5 baseline score. What we were more intrigued by, though, was the breakdown of scores in the 12 different applications used in the WorldBench 5 test suite.
Predictably, the 3800+ was behind the 4600+ in all areas, although it was very close in the Office XP, Nero Express 6.0 and Adobe Premiere 6.5 tests, the latter being an application AMD told us that we'd notice a big improvement in. Our focus was on the Windows Media Encoder 9.0 and Mozilla 1.4 combined multitasking test, where the 3800+ was behind the 4600+ but well ahead of the baseline system, proving that two cores really are better than one.
The 3800+ also displayed dramatically better performance than the Athlon 64 FX-51 in WinZip 8.1, a compression utility, Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5 and, most notably, Nero Express 6.0, halving the time to complete a set of tasks.
In terms of gaming, we saw the 3800+'s performance drop off by some 10 to 20 per cent in the Doom 3 and Halo graphics tests in comparison with the 4600+.
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