Athlon 64 Adds Some VelocityBy Konstantinos Karagiannis | Print
With high quality and high speed, the Velocity Micro Vision 64 chip provides impressive performance and some healthy competition.
We may not have wide OS and driver support for 64-bit computing yet, but AMD's Athlon 64 processors prove that having the headroom can be quite welcome, even in the 32-bit space. The latest speed bump to the standard (not FX) version of AMD's 64-bit processorthe Athlon 64 3400+brings a performance chip that competes quite nicely with Intel's HyperThreading P4.
Like the FX version, the Athlon 64 3400+ has 128K L1 and 1,024K L2 cache, 3DNow! Professional, and support for SSE2.
But whereas the pricier Athlon 64 FX has a 128-bit memory interface and requires registered DDR memory, the less expensive Athlon 64 CPUs have a 64-bit interface and a single-channel, on-chip memory controller that supports 200- to 400-MHz standard DDR SDRAM.
To determine how much you get for your money, we procured a well-equipped Athlon 64 3400+ systemthe Velocity Micro Vision 64 ($2,988 direct)and stacked it up against a similarly equipped 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 HT box, the Compaq x09. Note that both have 1GB of 400-MHz DDR SDRAM, the 256MB nVidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra graphics card, and two 7,200-rpm SATA hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration. In the tests we ran, the AMD chip outperformed the P4 across the board. Of course, each company's highest-end chips (the Athlon 64 FX and the P4 Extreme Edition) are fairly evenly matched.
Besides performing well, the system is an overall delight. The ViewSonic 19-inch flat CRT looks wonderful and pulls you into movies or games. The Creative MegaWorks 650 6.1 THX speakers take full advantage of the Audigy 2 ZS card and provide immersive audio.
You can get started on media projects right away, thanks to the excellent Ulead Digital Media Center bundle, which includes PhotoImpact 8, MovieFactory 2 SE, and VideoStudio 7. Burning options abound for your final products or for copying, thanks to both a 4X DVD multiformat writer and a DVD/CD-RW combo with 52X CD burning. So considering the price and performance of the Velocity Micro Vision 64, we couldn't imagine changing a thing.