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Test System And Conditions

Can Your Old Athlon 64 Still Game?
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Our test system for this article employs the Asrock 939 Dual SATA 2 motherboard, which is packed with an abundance of upgrade-oriented features. It supports native 8X AGP, PCI Express x16, single- and dual-core Socket 939 processors with dual-channel DDR memory, and even socket AM2 CPUs and DDR2 memory with a daughter board, which we used for testing.

While searching online auction sites, we have seen people spending $200 or more for a Socket 939 Athlon 64 X2 4800+. It’s one of the fastest Socket 939 dual-core CPUs produced, but the device also represents a lot of money considering you can buy an even faster AM2 Athlon X2 for well under $100. Those stuck with Socket 939 will need to search the Web long and hard for a well-priced dual-core for their motherboard, but our AM2 compatible motherboard gives us the convenience of opting for an AM2 CPU with very little trouble and expense.

We chose the following CPUs to examine the effects they have on gaming performance. First is the AMD Athlon 64 4000+. It’s base don the San Diego design, runs at 2.4 GHz, sports 1 MB L2 cache, and is one of the faster single-core desktop CPUs made. The direct comparison dual-core to this device is the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (2.4 GHz 1 MB cache per core). Next, we chose the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200 + dual-core, which has a 2.2 GHz Manchester architecture with 512 KB L2 cache per core. The single-core direct comparison would be the A64 3500+, so our A64 4000+ should have an advantage both in clock speed and L2 cache in single-threaded applications. And lastly, the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ AM2 dual-core is a 2.8 GHz Windsor design with 1 MB L2 cache per core. With these three CPUs, we should get a good look at single- versus dual-core in gaming and have a good idea about how CPU clock speeds affect game play.

Tested Hardware
Motherboard Asrock 939 Dual SATA 2 Bios vs. P 2.30
Asrock AM2 CPU Board
RAM 2 GB (2 * 1 GB) dual-channel Adata DDR 400 (3-3-3-8) for Socket 939
2 GB (2 *1GB) dual-channel Corsair DDR2 533 (4-4-4-12) for Socket AM2
Video Cards XFX GeForce 8800 GS 384 MB PCI Express 580MHz core/ 700(1400) MHz memory
HIS Radeon HD 4850 512 MB PCI Express 625 MHz core/ 993 (1986) MHz memory
Sound Card Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 250GB 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
Power Supply Antec EarthWatts 430 W
OS Windows XP Professional 32 bit Service Pack 2
Display Driver Nvidia ForceWare 174.74
AMD Catalyst 8.8

Benchmarks
3DMark05 v. 1.3.0
3DMark06 v. 1.1.0
F.E.A.R. v.1.08
Far Cry v.1.4
Need For Speed Carbon 1.4
Test Drive Unlimited 1.66A
Oblivion 1.2
Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare 1.4
Crysis 1.2
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