Building a New Computer – Part 2

Athlon XP64 with Windows XP64
and a look at 64-bit Far Cry

by Tom “WKLINK” Cofield



Well, if there is an advantage of being a member of the ‘gaming press’ it is the ability to occasionally get stuff that you normally wouldn’t or couldn’t afford. Let’s face reality here, with the salary that Doug pays me I can’t afford to pay attention, much less go out and buy all the latest hardware.

Anyway, at E3 I finally got to meet the old former boss of SimHQ and someone who became a good friend of mine over the years, Bubba Wolford. Bubba has transitioned to a job he enjoys as a public representative for AMD. For those of you that wondered whatever happened to Bubba (he doesn’t post much anymore) both he and Christy are doing fine and enjoying the extra time that not owning SimHQ now gives him.

Of course Bubba’s job is to try to convince all of us that AMD is a superior product to anything that that ‘other’ company sells so we all sit down to listen to his presentation. Bubba’s presentation was fairly impressive, at least to someone like me. I generally know enough about hardware to be dangerous. John Reynolds has done quite a few comparisons between AMD’s and Intel’s latest processors and in general the AMD Athlon XP64s and FX 5x series perform exceptionally well against their Intel counterparts.

I of course opened my big mouth and discussed what I thought AMD was doing wrong. Mostly I consider their problem to be a problem with marketing and exposure. For example, the Intel booth at E3 was in one of the main halls, with all the bells and whistles out for display. AMD on the other hand had a small booth in Kentia hall and their display probably cost 1/20th the setup at the Intel booth. Flashier isn’t always better but the display is what brings the folks in.

Of course I was preaching to the choir with my opinions. AMD has been considered to be the David in the battle between the chip manufacturers. While they do make a decent profit off of their processors, and right now they do have a fairly decent gaming lead over their Intel competitors, they still have an uphill climb to create the familiarity that Intel now has.

During this conversation I of course mentioned that I use (gasp) an Intel based computer; a Dell Inspiron 2.8GHz Pentium IV HT box. Well, Bubba wouldn’t stand for that. I think he felt somewhat insulted that I wouldn’t be doing my gaming reviews on an Athlon. Sooooo, I was offered an Athlon XP64 3500 processor, an MSI K8N Neo 2 Platinum motherboard, 1 Gig of Corsair 400 Ram, and a GeForce 6800GT video card. In addition he put me in touch with a Microsoft Representative who sent me the latest WindowsXP64 version.

Now while I appreciated the offer I had to make sure that Bubba realized that I am not a hardware kind of guy. Clint Eastwood once said that a man has to know his limitations and I realized that mine ended at the hardware level. I told him that if he wanted a down deep hardware review of the XP64 level of processors he needed to read the stuff that John Reynolds did. I certainly wouldn’t add anything to that kind of review and any attempt I would make would be amateurish compared to him. To me FRAPs is the sound I make when I have double bean chili.

Bubba assured me that wasn’t his idea. What he did want me to do was look over the XP64 series of processors and actually give my opinion of what the processor can do with Windows XP 64. In addition he wanted me to look at the 64 bit version of Far Cry and give my opinions of it compared to the original version.

After a discussion with Doug and John, it was felt that there would be nothing wrong with letting Goober try a review so here we go. This won’t be an in depth look at frame rates but more a practical look at both the 64bit processing capabilities of the newer processors as well as WinXP64.

What I added to the mix from my side was a 79gigabyte Western Digital SATA 150 HD, 550 watt power supply case and Audigy 2 sound card. I hadn’t built a computer since my old Win95 days but it went surprisingly well and I actually got the computer up and running in no time.

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