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Jorophose 04-08-2007 09:20 PM

Athlon 64 3500+ v. Athlon 64 X2 3800+ v. EE/SFF
Hi, I'm in the process of planning to build a new PC, and I need your advice. Yes, you.

So here's the options:

- I either go Athlon 64 3500+ (Windsor?) and upgrade to an Athlon 64 X2 later when prices drop. (By a lot)

- I skip the Athlon 64, and go straight for X2 3800+.

- Previous, but go for the energy efficient model.

Do the EE versions have all the power of the regular ones? Do you think the X2 3800+ is worth the extra 50$? Does it have (In total) 512KiB of L2 cache, or 1MiB? Will I see a boost in performance by going dual-core?

This is going to be a home PC, so doing everything possible, some light multimedia, lots of OO.o work, Internet activity, and light gaming. (We're talking games from 1999-2003, not Doom 3 or Quake 4, or whatnot)

The problems with Dual-core are that it's going to cost me an extra 50$ to go dual-core, while the speed stays the same, and I need to go for a bigger PSU, unless the EE model is worth it. (And if I can get my hands on it)

Oh, and is it worth buying an OEM CPU, or should I just go for a retail one?


lordtweety 04-09-2007 03:53 AM

I would definitely fork out the extra $50 for the dual core. Processor speed may be lower but you will see definite performance gains because of the dual processing power.

It will also depend on what you are planning to do with your computer. I use mine for compiling and packaging software and the benefits of dual core far outweigh the extra $50.

My 2 cents anyway.


Jorophose 04-09-2007 10:54 AM

So I guess the X2 would be better at handling simultaneous tasks?

That's a big plus. Normally I don't do anything too intense, but I'm doing 10-15 things at once.

weibullguy 04-09-2007 01:15 PM

AFAIK the Athlon 3500+ is an Orleans core and the Athlon X2 3800+ is a Windsor core. Both are F2 steppings though. I just looked on NewEgg and the difference in price is $5.99 US between the two processors you specified. I'd go dual core for that price difference and nver look back. Of course, I'd go dual core for $50 and never look back too.

The better reason to go with the 3800+ has to do with the method that AMD uses to derive the RAM bus clock. Instead of being generated thru the CPU base clock (HTT clock, which is of 200 MHz), it divides the CPU internal clock. The value of this divider is half the value of the CPU multiplier.

The problem is when the CPU clock multiplier is an odd number. For the 3500+, the clock multiplier is 11x, theoretically its memory bus divider would be 5.5. Since the AMD64 memory bus doesn’t work with fractional dividers, it is rounded up to the next higher number, six in this case. So while this CPU will work at 2.2GHz (200 MHz x 11), its memory bus will work at 367MHz (734MHz DDR) and not at 400MHz (800MHz DDR), making the CPU unable to achieve the maximum bandwidth the DDR2 memory can provide.

With the 3800+, the clock multiplier is 10x. Thus, the CPU operates at 2.0GHz (200MHz X 10), the memory bus divider is 5 and the memory bus clock is 2.0GHz / 5 = 400MHz. Voila!

The EE versions theoretically have all of the processing power of the regular ones. They do have a lower TDP though. It operates at a lower voltage (about 7%) than the "regular" processors. The small form factor operates at an even lower voltage (about 20%) than the regular processors.

The retail chip comes with a heat sink, the OEM does not. The heat sink will cost you at least as much as the difference in price and then if you choose the wrong one, you could fry the processor or shorten its life. AMD's retail cooling solutions are pretty good in my experience. I've never replaced the stock heat sink and if you're not overclocking like a banshee you really don't need to either.

Jorophose 04-10-2007 04:31 PM

Thanks for the in-depth advice, Arow!

I might go for the EE version, if I can get my hands on it. I'll have to shop around, though; no one here seems to stock it yet :(. I think TigerDirect might have it, but then odds are it's an OEM one, and I'd rather not risk frying a 100$+ device, no matter what it is.

Should I go S939 or AM2? DDR2's cheaper, AM2 seems to have a slight edge in future compatibility (It'll live out the S939, 100% certain, but S939 might still work with the next generation) but S939 boards have better Linux support, and the CPUs might be cheaper. (I haven't checked yet)

EDIT: It's a 15$ difference here, and I'm pretty sure these are retail boxes. (Hopefully) That's perfect for me, I don't mind the extra cash to get a better CPU. And yeah, DDR2 is a few bucks cheaper here. (But this is retail)

weibullguy 04-10-2007 05:04 PM

Socket 939 Athlon 64 3800+ = $129 US. Socket AM2 Athlon 64 3800+ = $100 US.

Socket 939 is, obviously, the older generation produced by AMD. This is from AMD's website, "As a customer-centric company, we plan to support the socket 939-pin package parts as long as customer demand warrants it." You'll have to decide what that means.

AMD has announced that Socket AM3 processors will be able to run on Socket AM2 motherboards, but not vice-versa. Obviously they won't run on socket 939 motherboards either. AM3 processors will have a new memory controller supporting both DDR2 and DDR3 SDRAM, allowing backwards compatibility with AM2 and AM2+ motherboards. That means longer technologically useful life of the motherboard.

I don't know that I'd agree socket 939 boards have better Linux support. Some mobo vendors might have better Linux support than others. I've been happy with Gigabyte.

Jorophose 04-10-2007 06:20 PM

Gigabyte AM2 motherboards, from what I hear, have good support. Must be just ASUS with the crap drivers...

Well, thanks, you've helped me solve my minor dilemma :)

monkepinay 04-21-2007 08:17 AM


Originally Posted by Jorophose
- I either go Athlon 64 3500+ (Windsor?) and upgrade to an Athlon 64 X2 later when prices drop. (By a lot)

is this later a forseeable later or just generally speaking, because prices always drop?

Jorophose 04-21-2007 03:57 PM

An "eventual". Like a few years. Maybe 5 at most, past that, I don't think it'd be worth wasting time on.

dasy2k1 04-21-2007 06:24 PM

i have an X2 dual core and its great, the best advantage is wehn you are encoding audio as it gets though the tracks in double quick time thanks to the 2 cores

o use an asus Mbo and havent had much trouble with it, though it has a Nvidia chipset and sata controllor.

Jorophose 04-22-2007 11:13 AM

Which Asus mobo did you go for?

It seems all the AM2s and some of the S939s from them don't work at all under Linux :( (Planning to get a Gigabyte board instead.)

dasy2k1 04-23-2007 10:41 AM

my MBO is an Asus M2N-Sli Deluxe (socket AM2)

the page of where i bought it form is

its AM2 and works Great withj linux. never had any troubles with it atall,
the sata drives are recognised immidiatly,
the bios is good

the heatpipe works wonders,
overall im very impressed and rats with anyone who says AM2 dousent work with linux.

S939 is dead and buried!
i was even recomended AM2 at this fourum!

Jorophose 04-24-2007 05:24 PM

Other Asus AM2 boards don't work too well with Linux :( (check the HCL, I was talking to someone too about their nForce based Asus board and the problems it gave them)

The SLI-deluxe is 200$, out of my budget range. :(

ovidnet 05-17-2007 09:46 PM


Originally Posted by dasy2k1
my MBO is an Asus M2N-Sli Deluxe (socket AM2)

its AM2 and works Great withj linux. never had any troubles with it atall,
the sata drives are recognised immidiatly,
the bios is good

anybody try to use m2n-sli deluxe on slackware ?
I use slackware 11.0 with sata.i kernel and sata is ok, but nvidia mcp55 network cards is not recognized
I try to compile a kernel and i have some trouble...

Jorophose 05-18-2007 04:44 PM

If you're just having problems with the network cards, you could always pick up one at like a garage sale / bargin bin or something until you get it working.

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