AMD AM2 4200+ Vs. AMD 939 4200+ CPU's

Bosco - 2007-01-15 20:27:29 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: Bosco   
Reviewed on: October 21, 2006
AMD
GF City Computers
Price: $179 USD

Introduction

It’s that time again folks. That’s right, AMD has finally, after many setbacks, released their new socket type. Titled AM2, which uses 940 pins, AMD has used this as the opportunity to move up to newer, and cheaper, DDR2 memory. AMD has long been the underdog in the processor business, but in recent years, especially with their last release of processors, it has come out on top. Having a very strong lineup behind it, this left us with high expectations for this new line of processors.

AMD started as a producer of logic chips in 1969, then entered the RAM chip business in 1975. That same year, it introduced a reverse-engineered clone of the Intel 8080 microprocessor. During this period AMD also designed and produced a series of bit-slice processor elements (Am2900, Am29116, Am293xx) which were used in various minicomputer designs. The company continued buying and building to become what it is today.

Previously looked at as a second option, AMD is now competing head to head with Intel in the processor market, holding the crown for gaming processors. Anyone into serious gaming will most likely have one of AMD’s processors in their machine. With this release of a new socket, it had us at Overclockersclub on the edge of our seats. As soon as we were able to get a hold of one of these chips, we put it though the OCC standard of tests. This review will be more of an article than a simple review, as we will not only be looking at the AMD AM2 4200+, but we will also be comparing it against its counterpart, the 939 4200+, showing you where the real performance is.

Closer Look

When I received this processor I was a bit more excited than usual, as this is a totally new technology. As always with any product, I checked out the packaging. The processor came to me in the standard retail packaging: box with the processor, HSF (heatsink fan), and the instructions. Along with a new socket, AMD has also opted for a new design of box. Looking similar to the 939 boxes, the AM2 comes equipped with a new look as well as a sticker denoting the socket type.



When looking in the box, I saw nothing out of the ordinary and coming with the standard set of accessories (heatsink fan combo).


AMD has opted for a different arrangement when it comes to the pins design. This may partially be due to the jump to DDR2 memory.



The cooler that AMD packages with this processor looks similar to the coolers found with the single core Athlon 64 socket 939 series of processors. A little lackluster, though this is to be expected from a stock cooler. It would be nice to see manufacturers packaging beefier coolers, as cooler IS better. This heatsink comes direct with TMI (Thermal Material Interface AKA Thermal compound) in the form of a pad stuck on the middle of the base of the unit. This provides for easy installation, as it does not require adding your own thermal compound. If you are looking for the best performance, it would be beneficial to replace this with a better performing paste.



Installation
Installation of a new Processor is considered somewhat of a hassle, as people are often afraid of the dreaded ‘oops’. When installing a new processor, it is useful to lay the computer (or in this case the motherboard) down on a non-static surface, as well as somewhere where static is not an issue, such as a tiled or hardwood floor. Installing the new CPU is simply lifting the lever on the ZIF socket, placing the processor into the socket, taking note of matching the keys (little triangle on the CPU, matched with the little triangle on the ZIF socket) and then closing the lever locking your new CPU in place.

After installing a new CPU, I like to take the extra step of wiping it down with either rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. This can be viewed as an extra step, though I feel that it provides an extra bit of reassurance. Once the CPU was cleaned off, the next step is to apply your thermal paste. After that, plop the HSF down on top, make sure it's set and then lock it down with the supplied clips.

Now sit back and admire your handiwork. Take this time to make sure that the HSF is indeed secured properly, and then you should be ready to go. We still had to install the motherboard in the case.

Specifications

Processor AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core
Model 4200+
Ordering P/N (Tray) ADA4200IAA5CU
Ordering P/N (PIB) ADA4200CUBOX
Operating Mode 32/64
Stepping F2
Frequency 2200Mhz
HT Speed 2000
Voltage 1.30V/1.35V
Max Temp 55-70°C
Thermal Power 89W
L1 Cache 128KB x2
L2 Cache 512KB x2
CMOS Technology 90nm SOI
Socket Socket AM2
Testing
The test machines do vary a bit, as the CPU, Motherboard, and Ram, differ between these two machines due to different technologies. 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 of the two test machines are as follows:

AM2
  • AM2 4200+ X2
  • Asrock AM2NF4G
  • 2x 512MB Kingston 667Mhz (5-5-5-15)
  • 80GB Maxtor SATA
  • Gigabyte 6600GT 128MB Forceware Driver 84.21
  • Thermaltake 680 Watt Power Supply
  • Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2
939
  • AMD 4200+ X2
  • MSI K8N Neo 4 Platinum
  • 2x 512MB Kingston (2-2-2-5)
  • 80GB Maxtor SATA
  • Gigabyte 6600GT 128MB Forceware Driver 84.21
  • Thermaltake 680 Watt Power Supply
  • Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2


When I decided to do this review, I knew that I was not going to overload the review with benchmark after benchmark. So I choose to go with a total of 12 in order to give you, the reader, a general idea of performance without boring you to death.

For testing this new socket type, we chose to run it through the standard OCC CPU benchmarks, as well as add a couple of more exotic, and specialized, pieces of software. Results are as follows:

To kickoff the testing we chose to run Apophysis, which is a unique piece of rendering software. Mostly used to create abstract fractal renders, we created our own template .flame file, and will be rendering it on each machine. At the end of rendering an image, Apophysis gives a time; we will be using that time as a score for this test. Remember, lower is better in this case.

As we can see from the graph the AM2 4200+ does lose by exactly two mins.

For the next test we chose to run Sciencemark, which is mostly CPU intensive.

From these graphs, we can see that the AM2 does win, though this time only by a handful of points; however, this is still a win.

Third on our list of tests is Cinebench, which is a hybrid of Cinema4D, another fractal rendering program similar to Maya. Cinebench has a built in testing feature with predefined variables. The program having two CPU tests, we ran both and the results can be found below.







Testing Continued
Next on the list is Specview, which uses 3Ds Max like rendering styles. Results are below.

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

For testing the difference between sockets, and especially when a CPU uses a new architecture, we chose to run HDTach as a test as well. Even though the hard drives are identical, it will be interesting to see weather or not the different CPU architecture or the motherboards show a difference in the scores.

We can see that there is a minimal difference between the two socket types, though this was to be expected.

Testing Continued
Next on our list of fun is Sisoft Sandra. We ran the full array of tests provided, everything from CPU and Memory performance, to cache testing. This gives us a very broad spectrum of results and provides for an excellent benchmark.

As Sandra shows us, the AM2 lost in everything except the memory benchmarks. Though this is due to the fact that it is utilizing DDR2 memory, which is running at a blistering 667 MHz.


Testing Continued
PCMark05, released by Futuremark, provides us tests similar to those of Sisoft Sandra, but rather, focuses on File decompression and encoding. Results are again below.

As seen above, the AM2 flavor of the 4200+ actually pulled slightly ahead on decompression, encryption, and scanning. This is not especially a surprise, as it can be partially accredited to the move up to DDR2 memory.


Testing Continued
For the last step in our testing curriculum, we chose to run the AM2 through our standard Gaming benchmarks. These are the same tests that we run on all of our videocards here at OCC. This will show us if socket type, as well as memory, actually plays a part in game performance.

 

Quake 4

Quake 4, though being a relatively newer game, is still based off of the aging Doom 3 engine. There is still a noticeable frame loss between the sockets, even though the videocards are the same.


Testing Continued
Farcry

We feel that Farcry is still a valid benchmark, with its use of complex environments as well as unique shaders. The frame difference between sockets is quite noticeable at lower resolutions.


Testing Continued
F.E.A.R

>
F.E.A.R is a very new game, which uses extremely complex physics, as well as a unique shadow system. This game gives us a look at higher end performance more than anything else, as most games currently available either run at the same level of or with slightly less performance than F.E.A.R.


Testing Continued
Doom 3

Though Doom 3 is an aging game, we feel that it still provides a valid result for our benchmarks. As when it was initially released there are no graphics cards on the current market that can run it at a playable rate at higher resolutions.


Testing Continued
Call of Duty 2

[[CHART|chart_title:Call of Duty 2 1280x1024;chart_categories:AMD AM2 4200, AMD 939 4200;chart_values:6,9]

Call of Duty 2 is the latest installment in the Call of Duty saga. Having a complex environment, as well as weather simulations, Call of Duty 2 remains on our testing list because of these unique features. Testing Continued
Need For Speed: Most Wanted

[[CHART|chart_title:Need For Speed - Most Wanted 1280x1024;chart_categories:AMD AM2 4200, AMD 939 4200;chart_values:8,12]

Need for Speed: Most Wanted, the latest addition to an aging collection. Sticking to the theme of the rest of the Need for Speeds games, Most Wanted offers a uniquely complex environment as well as superb car detailing and reflections. Using lighting effects not found in other games, Need for Speed: Most Wanted remains on our testing list.

Throughout all of the game benchmarks, the AM2 falls far behind the 939 version, sometimes as far back as 10 or more frames. It is hard to tell whether this is to be accredited to the motherboard, Memory, or to the processor itself.


Conclusion
Despite being a totally new socket, along with finally making the move up to DDR2 memory, it seems as if AMD has taken one step forward and two steps back. The AM2 does beat its predecessor in a handful of benchmarks, though not by enough to make a significant difference. While using this machine, it was noticeably a bit slower than the 939 machine. Though this is still a new architecture, there may be room for improvement on the motherboard side of things, as it seems odd that a supposed upgrade would actually lose to what it was upgraded from. We will have to wait and see whether or not, through motherboard revisions, these results will improve. Though at the time being, AM2 is not worth the upgrade. If you are looking for a new computer, or just a new processor, it is best to keep your sights on the 939 version of these processors, as for the same money you will get slightly better performance.

Pros

Cons