Skip to main content

AMD's and Intel's End-of-Year CPU Buyer's Guide

The Model Athlete: Athlon64 FX

Fraternity: in technical terms, the Athlon64 FX and the Opteron are practically identical.

The Athlon64 FX is AMD's flagship desktop processor.Technically, the CPU core is nothing more than an Opteron with half the L2 cache and without multiprocessor support. Nor is the Athlon64 suitable for multi-processor operations. This close relationship results in an equal balance of pros and cons.

The key data is quickly summarized: the Athlon64 FX-51 runs at 2.2 GHz and is thus 200 MHz faster than the Athlon64 3200+, yet needs another socket (940 pins instead of 754). It also has a two-channel memory interface that can control DDR400 DIMMs.

For reasons of stability and its close relationship to the Opteron, the FX functions only with "registered" DIMMs. This is done to keep signal quality at a consistently high level and to lighten the load of the memory controller electrically.

Its performance values are impressive; a system with Athlon64 FX leaves the Pentium 4 with 3.2 GHz and HyperThreading in its dust in practically every benchmark.

But it comes at a price: at about $750 / €780, the FX is one of the most expensive x86 processors on the market - not including the Itanium and large Opteron server CPUs. But is this kind of investment worth it? "Not often" is probably the right answer - although what does a Porsche driver care about people's opinions?

FastNo 64 bit software
Modern architectureVery expensive