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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?
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 $50 and never look back too.
The better reason to go with the 3800+ has to do with the method that AMD uses to derive the RAM bus clock. Instead of being generated thru the CPU base clock (HTT clock, which is of 200 MHz), it divides the CPU internal clock. The value of this divider is half the value of the CPU multiplier.
The problem is when the CPU clock multiplier is an odd number. For the 3500+, the clock multiplier is 11x, theoretically its memory bus divider would be 5.5. Since the AMD64 memory bus doesn’t work with fractional dividers, it is rounded up to the next higher number, six in this case. So while this CPU will work at 2.2GHz (200 MHz x 11), its memory bus will work at 367MHz (734MHz DDR) and not at 400MHz (800MHz DDR), making the CPU unable to achieve the maximum bandwidth the DDR2 memory can provide.
With the 3800+, the clock multiplier is 10x. Thus, the CPU operates at 2.0GHz (200MHz X 10), the memory bus divider is 5 and the memory bus clock is 2.0GHz / 5 = 400MHz. Voila!
The EE versions theoretically have all of the processing power of the regular ones. They do have a lower TDP though. It operates at a lower voltage (about 7%) than the "regular" processors. The small form factor operates at an even lower voltage (about 20%) than the regular processors.
The retail chip comes with a heat sink, the OEM does not. The heat sink will cost you at least as much as the difference in price and then if you choose the wrong one, you could fry the processor or shorten its life. AMD's retail cooling solutions are pretty good in my experience. I've never replaced the stock heat sink and if you're not overclocking like a banshee you really don't need to either.
I might go for the EE version, if I can get my hands on it. I'll have to shop around, though; no one here seems to stock it yet . I think TigerDirect might have it, but then odds are it's an OEM one, and I'd rather not risk frying a 100$+ 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)
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.
Last edited by weibullguy; 04-10-2007 at 04:05 PM.
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