Performance, Power and Closing Thoughts

Early Performance Reports

The hardware is sure pretty, and the specs are fun to look at, but what about performance?  I have to tell you now that I did not receive any hardware from AMD for testing on this product launch, but I know many people that have and in communications with them, partners of AMD and reading the same information that has leaked out onto the Internet that you have seen, and thus I feel fairly confident in the information I have on hand.

The only benchmarks that I can link you to are here, from our friends across the Pacific Ocean:  They compare an Intel QX6700 system against the new Quad FX, dual processor Athlon 64 FX-74 platform.

Here is a summary of some of their results.

  • Sandra 2007 – QX6700 wins 3 out 4
  • PCMark05 – QX6700 wins 6 out of 6 (small wins)
  • Sysmark 2004 SE – QX6700 wins 9 of 9 (36% overall)
  • Winstone 2004 – a tie
  • CineBench 9.5 – slight Intel win
  • Encoding tests – QX6700 wins 8 of 8 tests (3 are basically ties with one as much as 39% faster)
  • 3Dmark06 – QX6700 wins 4 of 4
  • Doom 3 – QX6700 wins 3 of 4 (loses on 800×600 resolution)
  • Splinter Cell Chaos Theory – split; but the high resolutions are basically tied

(You can see more benchmarks comparing the QX6700 to the new AMD Quad FX here at as well.)

Taking this information and pairing it with other peoples data as well (including some reviews that just went live as I was finishing this up) you can see that while the AMD Quad FX-74 platform is very fast, it doesn’t really jump over Intel’s QX6700 processor at all.  In fact, I would say that the Athlon 64 FX-74 processor is still behind the Intel Core 2 Quad QX6700 in nearly all aspects.

Power Consumption!!!

There is ONE graph from that article that I MUST show you here:

AMD Quad FX Platform Launch: An Editorial - Processors 4

Source: Watch Impress

What you are seeing is the Intel QX6700 power consumption in the teal color and the AMD Quad FX power consumption in the orange-ish color.  And the results are simply jaw-dropping: AMD’s Quad FX system uses close to double the power of the Intel QX6700 system to get similar (or slower) processor performance.  Now I know that there are some enthusiasts out there that don’t give a rats ass about power consumption — more performance is more performance right?  Well, according to results from HardOCP as well the Quad FX system is using 402 watts at idle and 510 watts under a CPU load.  To quote their reivew:

“I would guess at this moment you are wondering if our numbers are correct or if you read correctly. Let me reassure you that this power consumption data is in fact correct. The FX-74 equipped Quad FX system uses approximately 100% more power than the comparable Intel QX6700 quad-core system at both full CPU load and at an idle state.

Quite simply put, the AMD 4X4 system is using two times the power to achieve comparable multithreaded results.”

Initial Impressions from one of YOU

When I was first writing this editorial on the AMD Quad FX platform launch, I thought that the opinion of one enthusiast that has not even played with the hardware would be mostly useless and would be seen as simply “sour grapes.”  However, after finishing this up, I don’t think that is the case.  What we have here is a look at the Quad FX from the standard enthusiast’s perspective; one that has not played with the hardware but has digested all the information available on it.  And the conclusions that I am coming to are pretty apparent.

From a performance perspective, the Athlon 64 FX-74 and Quad FX platform looks to be a screamer; if not faster than the QX6700 CPU from Intel, at least NEARLY as fast, which AMD couldn’t have claimed before.  AMD is again competitive in the enthusiast performance segment: score one for AMD.

From a pricing perspective, the Quad FX platform might be seen as a reasonably priced solution for the reasons I gave you before: cheaper quad-core processor with the FX-70 and FX-72 options and the FX-74 is priced at around the same as Intel’s QX6700.  All of that depends though on how much these pairs of processors are actually going to be selling for, and if the nForce 680a motherboard demand a premium over even the most expensive Core 2 Duo motherboards like the nForce 680i series selling for over $250 in most cases.  In fact, this article mentions an MSRP of nearly $500 on the Asus board!!!

From a power perspective, and thus a performance per watt perspective, the Quad FX couldn’t be further from what we wanted to see.  The QX6700 CPU was actually a surprise to us in testing because it only drew 60 more watts than the dual-core E6700 at the same speeds.  In order to reach the performance levels of Intel’s flagship CPU, AMD had to push their technology to its limits, as well as the power draw to harness it.  A system running at idle over 400 watts and at load (only CPU load mind you!) over 500 watts means that the days of not “needing” that 1 kW PSU are nearly gone.

AMD seems to be dedicated to the dual-processor enthusiast platform however, and when their quad-core processors are released next year, they are supposed to be able to be dropped into these motherboards to support octo-core processing in a desktop system.  So that means those of you crazy enough to jump into this platform now should have an upgrade path ahead of you. 

What AMD really needs to do is roll with the punches on the desktop front for as long as possible until their K8L core is ready, bringing core enhancements and quad-core processing to a single CPU, and hopefully competition to Intel’s Core 2 Duo CPUs.  The Quad FX platform is a great marketing toy, but in reality, very few if any enthusiasts are going to want this solution in their next build.

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