Power Consumption and Conclusions

Power Consumption

In many cases, looking at power consumption of motherboards and chipsets can seem a little over dramatic.  After all, when your GPU eats up a couple hundred watts on its own, whats a few more for a chipset?  Regardless, we felt the need to use our power meter to test for power consumption at the wall. 

Idle power was taken at the Windows desktop while load results were taken from a dual-threaded CineBench run.

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Power consumption wasn’t noted on the AM2 4800+ processor because we didn’t have a retail CPU to test — we were underclocking the FX-62.  That means the voltages were based off of the FX-62 specifications and thus power consumption would be a bit off.  We’ll have to wait for more samples in order to test AM2 vs S939 directly.  That being said, the new FX-62 uses a lot of power as we can see here, nearly matching the Pentium 965 processor released earlier this year.  Compared to the X2 4800+ and especially the T2600 system, both the flagship CPUs seem like quite the power hogs!

Conclusions

Now that AMD’s AM2 platform has officially been launched and we have had some time to play with it, we can offer some advice for users that migh be thinking of upgrading to a new system.

Performance

The performance delta between the AM2 and S939 parts of matching frequency and cache sizes is nearly indistinguishable in my testing.  The move from DDR to DDR2 memory speeds was never going to bring massive amounts of performance change, though had AMD gone into DDR2 any earlier, we probably would have seen performance decreases instead of increases.  An X2 4800+ processor based on the AM2 platform with DDR2 memory is going to perform only a percent or so faster than an X2 4800+ based on the 939-pin platform with low latency, standard DDR memory. 

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That being said, the move to DDR2 is permanent and here to stay.  There is no doubt that the FX-62 processor is the fastest desktop CPU we have ever tested, though this is really more because of the 2.8 GHz clock speed than the move to DDR2.  Even at 800 MHz, the real world benefits of DDR2 memory are small, though they are definitely there if you look hard enough.

Platform Choice

If you happen to have recently purchased a Socket 939 system and are wodering whether a move to an AM2 system is worth it, the short answer is “no, not yet.”  Unless you have a pretty slow S939 setup, then you should be good for some time to come with what you have or currently available S939 processors.  That being said, if you are looking to upgrade your system anyway, now or in the near future, it would only make sense to move up to the AM2 platform now instead of buying into a platform that is basically dead.  While the S939 option is still a great performer, AMD has told us that they are not going to be releasing any more processors in the S939 package and as such your upgrade optoins in the next year or so are going to be limited. 

Enthusiasts are going to have their hands full this summer if an upgrade is due; with both Intel and AMD offering brand new processor and brand new platforms the choices are going to get interesting. 

Pricing and Availability

Availability of the slew of AM2 processors is set for the week of June 1st, though you can expect to see them for sale before then if they don’t sell out.  Motherboard inventory might be a bit harder to come by as most vendors are saying they never changed their schedules when AMD bumped up the release two weeks after hearing rumblings of an Intel processor release on the same day.  (Turns out it didn’t matter…)  So though you might get your hands a CPU, a motherboard might be harder to find, at least at first.  By this time next month we should see plenty of board choices and processors available for users to purchase, making AM2 as close to a hard launch as we have seen in the CPU business in quite a long time.

Pricing on the chips is about where we have seen it in the last year from AMD — on par with what Intel things their products are worth.  The only noteworthy item really is the gap between the FX-62 processor and the X2 5000+ — $335.  The difference between the 5000+ and 4800+ is only $50 and between the 5000+ and 4400+ is only $200, so the FX-62 seems even further out of reach.  We know the FX series offers unlocked multipliers (just as it did on the S939 platform) but the $1000+ prices have always been hard to swallow.  If you want the best, you have to pay for it, I guess.

Final Thoughts

AMD’s AM2 processor launch should be considered a success on multiple levels.  The performance is great, the pricing is pretty good, the product will be available in quantity very shortly and the platforms are strong from both NVIDIA and ATI.  We’ll have much more detail on the NVIDIA vs ATI chipset battle later today, so check back for that.  The AM2 processor helps AMD prepare for the future of system memory and stay grasping on to the performance crown for a bit longer at the same time.  With at least one more performance trick up their sleeve this year, AMD and Intel are set to make this summer a hot one for enthusiasts!

Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU, and anything else you may want to buy!

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