AMD AM2 3500+ Vs. AMD 939 3500+

Bosco - 2007-06-21 02:12:51 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: Bosco   
Reviewed on: August 25, 2006
AMD
GF City Computers
Price: $99 USD

Introduction:

AMD is at it again. With a new season comes a new socket type: AM2. Here at OCC we recently pitted the 4200+ AM2 head to head against its 939 counterpart. This review will be the same, except that we will be pitting the single core 3500+ processors against each other. Hopefully the 3500+ will fare a bit better than the 4200+ did in our 939 vs AM2 4200+ review. With all the hype about this new AM2 socket, as well as the jump to DDR2 memory, it is a bit of a disappointment to see how this new socket is actually performing. Granted, they are still smoking fast chips, though you would expect a new socket and a new architecture to beat its predecessor. It seems that with the 4200+ that was not the case. Hopefully this 3500+ will prove to be better off.

Closer Look:

Right away when I got home with this new toy, I noticed that the box design is nearly identical to that of the 939 series of processors.

Opening up the box to examine the new brain for my computer, I noticed that it was packaged with the same HSF (heatsink fan) that the dual core 4200+ was packaged with. Being made out of a somewhat polished aluminum, the cooler will no doubt do its job, but a bigger cooler would always be nice.

TIM (Thermal Interface Material a.k.a. thermal compound) is found in the form of a small pad on the bottom of the heatsink. For those who want to get running right away, this is a hassle free way of installing your heatsink. Though for the enthusiast, it would be beneficial to use a superior substitute, such as Arctic Silver 5 or Céramique.

The CPU itself is pretty lackluster, looking identical to the 939 counterpart. It was time to install and test this baby.

Installation:

Installation of a new processor is viewed by most as risky business. Though if you are confident with what you are doing, it is as easy as washing dishes. In my case this was a new install, so the motherboard was out of the case. In most people’s case you will need to unsnap your old heatsink, unlatch your old CPU, and remove. With the ZIF socket still open, place the new processor into the socket. Take note that there is a small triangle on the corner of the CPU as well as a matching triangle on the ZIF socket; this is your key, as a processor will only go in one way. Make sure that your keys (triangles) are lined up, and the processor will drop into place. Lower the ZIF lever to lock your new brain into place.

After the processor is locked down, you will need to affix your cooling solution. I will be using the stock HSF that was packaged with the processor, as well as the stock thermal compound.

Remove the cover that protects the thermal material on the bottom of the heatsink, line up the heatsink (it will only latch in one direction), place the heatsink on the processor, and lock it in with the supplied clips.

Specifications:

  • Processor: AMD Athlon™ 64
  • Model: 3500+
  • Stepping: F2
  • Frequency: 2200Mhz
  • AMD64 Technology: Yes
  • Both 32- & 64-bit computing: Yes
  • L1 Cache (Instruction + Data): 128KB (64KB + 64KB)
  • L2 Cache: 512KB
  • HyperTransport™ Technology: Yes, one 16x16 link @ up to 2000 MHz bidirectional
  • HyperTransport I/O Bandwidth: Up to 8 GB/s
    • Integrated DDR Memory Controller: Yes
    • Memory Controller Width: 128-bit
    • Type of Memory Supported: PC2 5300(DDR2-667), PC2 4200(DDR2-533), and PC2 3200(DDR2-400) unbuffered memory (socket AM2)
    • Memory Bandwidth: Up to 10.6 GB/s (socket AM2)
    • Total Processor-to-system Bandwidth (HyperTransport plus memory bandwidth): Up to 18.6 GB/s
  • Testing

    For testing these two processors the only difference between the systems will be the motherboard, CPU, and RAM; the rest of the parts, along with the drivers, are identical. When initially building this machine, I attempted to use a Gigabyte motherboard. After fighting with it for a three days, I could not get the computer stable at all. When I switched to the Asrock motherboard, I was able to achieve 100% stability. So it would seem that there are still some bugs to work out of this new architecture, but most likely I would say it is a BIOS issue. Specs are as follows:

    AM2

    939 For testing, we will be following the standard array of OCC CPU tests, though we will also be throwing in a set of game benchmarks to see if the socket type can indeed affect game FPS.

    At the head of the tests we have Apophysis, a unique piece of fractal rendering software. We have a pre defined image to render, and tested how long it took to render on each machine. Remember, lower is better.

    As we can see form the graph, the AM2 lost by over 5 minutes. While this is not a huge loss, it is a disappointment. Following Apophysis we ran the Sciencemark suite of benchmarks.

    Again AM2 is lagging behind, though only slightly.

    Next on the list is Cinebench, which is a subsection of Cinema4D, another piece of fractal rendering software. There are two CPU tests, though we only chose to run the first of the two.

    With a 5 point win this time, the AM2 seems to be a smidge ahead of its 939 predecessor.

    Specview being next on the list gives us a unique look at CPU performance. We ran both tests; using 3DS type rendering Specview is a very vivid test.



    In the long test the AM2 won, though in the light test it tied its 939 predecessor.

    Next we ran the HDTach set of tests. We ran the entire suite, as motherboard architecture, as well as CPU architecture can greatly affect the efficiency of a hard drive.





    It seems as if the AM2 socket is not as efficient at dealing with data transfer as its 939 predecessor, though this could partially be due to the motherboard. As the motherboards mature, we may see an improvement

    Using Sisoft Sandra, which seems to be a standard in CPU testing, we again ran the entire suite of tests. Results are as follows:

    Processor Arithmetic

    Processor Multi-Media

    Memory Test

    Cache Test

    The AM2 again lost in almost every category. It did however, fare better for the memory bandwidth tests, though this can be attributed to AM2 utilizing DDR2 memory. Though even with memory that is nearly double the speed, it is still only a slight win.

    After Sandra comes PCmark05, which is similar to Sandra, though it has more of a broad spectrum of tests, including compression/decompression, as well as some hard drive performance.

    As we can see, it is very close between the two CPUs here, but the AM2 only wins the Text Edit test. That ends our standard CPU tests.

    We also chose to run the Gaming benchmarks, and the results from them can be found below.

    Quake 4:

    First on the list for Games is Quake 4. Using a tweaked Doom 3 engine, Quake 4 gives us a look at popular multilayer frames.

    Quake 4, though being a relatively newer game, is still based off of the aging Doom 3 engine. There is no frame loss between the sockets, even with different boards and memory.

    Next on the list is FarCry. Though it is an aging game, we feel that it is still a valid benchmark as it utilizes some of the most lush, as well as complex, environments we have yet to come across.

    Again we see no change at all in Far Cry.

    F.E.A.R a game that uses multidynamic shadows and complex physics to give you a superior gaming experience.

    Finally, a game that gave me some results I was expecting. The AM2 held even at lower resolution, but fell slightly behind in the higher resolutions.

    Though Doom 3 is an aging game, its use of a frame cap gives us a view as to how well hardware can hold at said frame rate.

    AM2 coming out with a large win over its 939 counterpart gave me a bit of a shock, as Doom 3 uses an almost identical engine as Quake 4.

    COD2 a game that is very popular for its multiplayer aspect, as well as its intense effects, and intense weather.

    Again the AM2 is pulling ahead. Possibly due to the rendering type of the COD2 engine, the AM2 must be better suited to this type of frame rendering.

    Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a fairly new game, using complex reflections as well as a unique updating schedule, gives us a look at how hardware deals with the demand of constant updating.

    Surprisingly, the AM2 wins again. This must be due to the AM2 having a faster interface, as well as DDR2 memory coming into play here.

    Conclusion

    Throughout this array of testing it seems as if the AM2 is merely one step behind its 939 counterpart. In the end, along with testing of newer games, I believe that the use of DDR2 memory is finally starting to pay off with the AM2 having a few clear wins. Whether or not this can be attributed to newer game engines or not, it will be interesting if we see future games pulling ahead on an AM2 platform as developers may be able to take use of that faster memory interface. Though the AM2 does win in a few areas, I still feel that if you are looking for a new machine, it would not be worthwhile to “upgrade” to an AM2 platform, especially from a socket 939 machine. Though it would be worthwhile to keep an eye on the evolving tech, because once the motherboards as well as the AM2 CPUs themselves mature, we may indeed see them taking the lead against the 939s.

    Pros

    Cons