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The benchmarks speak for themselves – the Athlon 64 FX-51 processor is the fastest processor available for the desktop platform. With the exception of just a few of the tests we ran the Athlon FX-51 was able to knock out the P4 running at a 1 GHz faster clock rate, and in some cases by a hefty margin. AMD has definitely come full force back into the enthusiast market that any gamer, developer or even home office user would absolutely love to have. But the question is, will they buy it?

If you go with the Athlon 64 FX processor as your next upgrade, then your motherboard options are mostly limited to the Asus SK8N motherboard (~$220). Gigabyte is also developing a 940-pin nForce3 Professional motherboard, but I haven’t seen one yet to compare it with the Asus and it won’t be available for at least a few more weeks. MSI does have a K8T800 chipset motherboard ready for 940-pin processors, but it is only available in a dual-CPU formatn. Also, you’ll have to try hard to get some Registered DDR400 memory for your system as well, if you want it to perform at the top of its game. While Kingston has announced some modules, I don’t know when you’ll be able to buy it or when other manufactures like Corsair will be shipping either.

Athlon 64 FX-51 Processor Review - Processors 32

Interestingly, gone are the days when the Athlon 64 processor is the poster-boy for desktop 64-bit computing. At every possible turn, AMD marketeers and PR told us about the 64-bit capability and what it will mean to the consumer, gamer and developer; but we aren’t hearing that anymore – at least not as much. With the absence of a 64-bit Windows operating system available at launch time, putting emphasis on the Athlon FX being a 64-bit processor would have been suicide. Showing it to be the best possible 32-bit processor with a little bonus on top of that looks much more inviting to consumers and system builders.

AMD did include a pre-beta version of the Windows 64-bit operation system with the Athlon 64 FX-51 processor along with a CD full of demos that show the power of moving into 64-bit applications. The increases we were seeing very dramatic, sometimes by nearly 80%!! However, as these tests are not something that you, the reader, can get publicly, I didn’t think it proper to include them in the processor review pages. Perhaps after I return from Computex next week, I will take the time to compile the results and post them up for you all to see and judge for yourself.

So, if you really want the fastest desktop system available, then the Athlon 64 FX-51 processor is for you. But be prepared to drop a considerable wad of cash on the counter to claim that speed.

Edit: In a related note, you will definitely be seeing other reviews couple the Athlon FX processor against the Intel 3.2 GHz P4 EE (Extreme Edition) with additional L3 cache, but as of this writing I did not have access to one. Sorry! (To see some benchmarks of it, check out HardOCP’s review.)

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