The Athlon 64 3800+’s outstanding performance is probably derived from a few key areas. While an extension of the standard 32-bit x86 architecture, AMD64 technology supports 64-bit registers and addresses up to 16 Exabytes of memory (32-bit CPUs are limited to 4 GB) that promise additional performance gains once 64-bit software reaches the market. However, this is not why the Athlon 64s are such fast processors for today’s games; the answer most likely lies in the fact that they’re designed to execute more instructions per clock (IPCs) cycle than the competition, outperforming other CPUs that are running at much higher physical clock speeds. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the integrated memory controller simply gives the Athlon 64 platform a high system bandwidth, and game benchmarking overwhelmingly indicates that such software thrives on system bandwidth.
Of course a system is only as stable as the platform on which it is built, and the A8V provided a solid, reliable backbone for the 3800+. In fact, the test system’s chassis was a Antec Sonata case, which proved to be whisper-quiet even with a 15k Cheetah SCSI hard drive installed, and the machine purred through the entire benchmark suite without a hiccup. It is unfortunate that SimHQ was unable to obtain a more powerful AGP graphics board to pair with the Athlon 64 3800+, for quite a few of the titles used were obviously not reaching the test system’s performance potential. Yet in spite of this situation several of the lower resolution tests nevertheless obtained very respectable scores, a testament to AMD’s processor. While still demanding a sizable financial outlay in price, the 939-pin Athlon 64s’ ability to handle the latest simulations with aplomb make them well worth the price of admission for those looking to build a high-end gaming system.
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The “How SimHQ Tests” page is here.
The page includes our test criteria and links to the new Benchmark Suite.