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      AMD Athlon XP 2600+ Review

     
     Date: December 11th, 2002
     Type: Review
     Supplier: AMD
     Author: mayhem
     RRP: $685 AUS (inc GST)

    Quake 3 Arena Demo

    Quake 3 Arena, although an old game, still gives a good reference benchmark that can be compared to many other reviews. As you can see from the above benchmarks the system performs with older games, giving many more Frames Per Second than you could notice.

    Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo

    Above are the test results from running Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo Benchmark for a number of screen resolutions. As you can see, even at 1600x1200 in the Botmatch, the test system is able to average 60 frames per second at stock clock and up to almost 64 frames per second when overclocked using 142 front side bus. This gives you and idea of the extra power the XP 2600+ has, as the Botmatch test relies a fair bit on CPU power.

    As a general rule for stability and simply as a burn in test for the XP 2600+ we ran Folding@Home overnight between testing of the system to make sure that it was running fine for normal usage and at the full overclock speed. Unless the system ran perfectly stable with an overnight full load after benchmarking then we didn't consider it worthy of receiving that rating. Most people will be happy to know that at 145 MHz FSB we were able to run the system without any major problems, although 3D Mark didn't like it at all.

    Results
    From first boot the system was extremely quick, it put the older XP 1800+ @ 1.61 GHz to shame unfortunately. When first powering on the system without any RAID usage the post screens and BIOS information would be completely missed and the first thing to appear would be the Windows XP loading screen, now that's quick.

    Another great improvement, which was a long time coming, is the operating temperature of the XP's. The new XP 2600+ @ 2400 MHz ran 49 degrees at idle and only increased to 53 degrees at full load, compares to my XP 1800+ @ 1610 MHz which runs 49 degrees at idle and 57 degrees, this makes people feel a lot easier about overclocking the XP and also allows for a more reliable system. We noticed the XP 2600+ running standard FSB of 133 MHz would sit around 37 degrees quite constantly, this is really good to see as alot of people didn't like the heat caused by the older AMD chips.

    Both normal usage and gaming performance have increased considerably with this new processor. The XP 2600+ combined with a decent video card provide more than enough power for today's games.

    Future
    With the next step for the Athlon, core codenamed "Barton", there will be an on-die cache increase to 512K.  This extra on-die cache should give the Athlon a bit of a speed boost, it will be good if we can see these chips out before then end of the year, but its looking more like a 2003 release.

    Another interesting improvement for the Athlon will be the increase from 266 MHz overall FSB to 333 MHz with most boards with KT400 supporting it and a large selection of KT333 boards being flashable to support it.

    Overall the Athlon XP chips have a list of improvements ahead all will be needed to retain they're reputation for an affordable and powerful CPU for today's PC systems.

    All this is reason enough for yet another naming convention to be introduced by AMD. The original "P-rating" system that was introduced with the Palomino core which increased the CPU naming by 100 for every 66 MHz in clock speed. This was to counter Intel's "real" megahertz figures, but lets face it, we all know by now that a processor performance cannot be analysed solely in terms of pure clock rates. The new "P-Rating" system seems to increase the CPU naming by 100 for every 133 MHz in clock speed, which leads to the following table for estimated future CPU releases:

    Processor (Thoroughbred "B") Clock frequency Model Number
    AMD Athlon XP 2400+ 2000 MHz 2400
    AMD Athlon XP 2600+ 2133 MHz 2600
    AMD Athlon XP 2800+ 2266 MHz 2800
    AMD Athlon XP 3000+ 2400 MHz 3000
    AMD Athlon XP 3200+ 2533 MHz 3200
    AMD Athlon XP 3400+ 2666 MHz 3400
    AMD Athlon XP 3600+ 2800 MHz 3600
    * table courteously of Toms Hardware

    Conclusion
    From the results it is easy to see that the XP 2600+ is a real muscle power processor and now that it is available here in Australia it should be extremely popular for all those enthusiasts. Based on current pricing the XP 2600+ ($685 AUS inc GST) looks like a sure winner compared to Intel rival (P4 2.66 GHz ~ $705 AUS inc GST).

    Pros

    • Higher Clock Speed
    • Cooler Operating Temperature
    • Overclockability

    Cons

    • Price (as with any top of the line CPU)

    Score: 9.5 / 10

    All points taken into consideration we have no hesitation in calling the AMD Athlon XP 2600+ the best CPU for gamers because of its cost vs. performance results and the level of overclockability. It also takes out the Editors Choice awards:

    Big thanks to all the people at Hosworth PR (especially Elizabeth Dawson and Skye Eggleton) and AMD for supplying this review kit, we hope to see much more AMD products in the future.

    More Reviews
    You can find some more AMD Athlon XP 2600+ reviews at the following sites:

    www.hexus.net
    www.hothardware.com
    www.tomshardware.com

    FORUM: Talk about this and other products

     

      Supplier Information

     

    AMD is a global supplier of integrated circuits for the personal and networked computer and communications markets. If you would like more information on the company then please visit there site: www.amd.com.

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