Earlier this week, AMD significantly upped the ante in their ongoing price war with Intel. Prices on AMD’s entire Athlon 64 lineup were slashed; CPUs ranging from the Sempron 3000+ all the way up to the Athlon 64 FX-74 were affected. As a result of the cuts, buying a high-end dual-core CPU has never been easier on your wallet: it’s like Christmas in April for CPU shoppers!
As usual with price cuts, the biggest reductions went to the fastest processors. This means you can buy a lot more CPU for your money than you could a month ago. Let’s take a look at the cuts and see how they compare to Intel’s latest processors:
|AMD vs. Intel Pricing|
|AMD CPU||Price||Intel CPU|
|$1199||Core 2 Extreme QX6800|
|$999||Core 2 Extreme QX6700|
|$999||Core 2 Extreme X6800|
|$851||Core 2 Quad Q6600|
|Athlon 64 FX-74||$799 per pair|
|Athlon 64 FX-72||$599 per pair|
|$530||Core 2 Duo E6700|
|$316||Core 2 Duo E6600|
|Athlon 64 X2 6000+||$241|
|$224||Core 2 Duo E6400|
|Athlon 64 X2 5600+||$188|
|$183||Core 2 Duo E6300|
|Athlon 64 X2 5200+||$178|
|Athlon 64 X2 5000+||$167|
|$163||Core 2 Duo E4300|
|Athlon 64 X2 4800+||$136|
|Athlon 64 X2 4400+||$121|
|Athlon 64 X2 4000+||$104|
|Athlon 64 X2 3800+||$83|
|Athlon 64 X2 3600+||$73|
As you can see, AMD’s X2 CPU lineup has never been more affordable. Even AMD’s most expensive processor, the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ is now priced at just $241, while the CPU we’re evaluating today, the X2 5600+ sells for $188. Of course keep in mind that this is the price AMD officially charges distributors and OEMs in bulk (1,000 units), street prices will vary. Nevertheless though this is a pretty dramatic reduction in pricing, and it completely changes the head-to-head CPU battle between AMD and Intel.
In the case of the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ for instance, the 5600+ was previously priced at $326. At this price, its closest competitor from Intel was the Core 2 Duo E6600, which carries a list price of $316. Compared to the E6600, the X2 5600+ definitely takes a backseat to the Core 2 CPU when it comes to performance, generally running anywhere from 5-20% slower with the exact amount depending on the game being tested. The chief advantage the X2 5600+ holds over the E6600 is idle power consumption, everywhere else the E6600 generally outpaces the X2 5600+.
But based on today’s $188 price, the X2 5600+ is now paired against Intel’s Core 2 Duo E6300. The E6300 ships with half the cache as its X2 counterpart, and runs over 500MHz slower than the E6600. As you’ll see in today’s benchmarks, once the X2 5600+ is compared to the E6300, the pendulum swings wildly in favor of AMD when it comes to performance, but more on that later.
Specs on the X2 5600+
In case you aren’t familiar with the specs of the X2 5600+, we’ll provide a quick refresher. Up for review today is the 5600 a.k.a. the FX-62 lite. The X2 5600+ runs at 2.8GHz, just like the FX-62, and sports a 2MB L2 cache, also like the Athlon 64 FX-62. Unlike the FX processor, the X2 5600+ doesn’t have an unlocked multiplier, instead its clock multiplier is fixed at 14.0x and its TDP is just 89W, making it less power hungry than the FX. It’s built on the same 90-nm manufacturing process, utilizing AMD’s Windsor core.
Depending on your perspective, while this may not seem like much today, a year ago this would have been the world’s fastest desktop processor. Funny how quickly things can change in the tech world isn’t it?
Honestly we were a little disappointed with our overclocking results with the Athlon 64 X2 5600+. After a considerable amount of tweaking, we ultimately settled on a speed of 3.03GHz (13.0x231):
We were actually able to boot the system up at speeds over 250MHz higher, at 3.2GHz for instance we could load up Windows and run an app or two before we’d get a BSOD in WinXP and the system would reboot itself. At lower speeds in the 3.1GHz range we could actually complete many benchmark runs in multiple apps before the system became unstable.
Ultimately 3.03GHz was the highest speed we could complete our full suite of benchmarks without running into any crashes, BSODs, or other issues. Considering that many Windsor cores seem to be topping out around 3.1-3.2GHz, this is a little lower than we’d like, but as always with overclocking, you should never expect to hit a certain speed.