Quad FX CPUs
Quad-core gaming: it’s coming
The quad-core gaming era is about to begin. In less than a week, the world’s first quad-core enabled game will hit store shelves, Gas Powered Games/THQ’s highly anticipated 3D RTS, Supreme Commander.
Supreme Commander is the brainchild of Chris Taylor and is the spiritual successor to the hit RTS Total Annihilation. When it ships next week, Supreme Commander will be a technological tour de force. The game will support multi-threading out-of-the-box, with major game threads devoted for aspects such as graphics, physics, and unit movement, and smaller threads for things like sound and networking. The game also supports maps of massive scale. With the game’s strategic zoom feature, you can zoom out to see the entire region, or zoom in to see individual units battling it out up close. Literally hundreds of air, land, and naval units can be engaged in combat at once. We asked Gas Powered what kind of performance impact quad-core CPUs can have on performance and we were told that the game runs about 35% faster on quad-core processors versus dual-core when the game is CPU-bound.
If RTS games aren’t your thing and you prefer first-person shooters, you’re still in for a treat. Games such as Unreal Tournament 3 and Valve’s Half-Life 2: Episode Two have been designed with quad-core CPUs in mind. And of course, there’s also the title everyone’s been talking about lately, Crysis. Crytek has confirmed that Crysis will take advantage of quad-core when the game ships later this year.
AMD’s FX-70: Cheapest quad-core available
With so many quad-core ready games shipping this year, gamers planning to upgrade for these games have been clamoring for cheaper hardware. The least expensive quad-core processor right now is AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-70. Looking over the lastest Pricegrabber listings, the lowest price goes to Zipzoomfly.com at $304.99
with free shipping. You can also pick up an ASUS L1N64-SLI WS nForce 680a motherboard at Zipzoomfly.com for $349.99
also with free shipping.
Based on these prices, you can pick up AMD’s Quad FX platform for just under $1,000 at $960 total.
In comparison, the Core 2 Quad Q6600 is priced at $848.99 at Zipzoomfly.com. You’d then need to spend at least $110 for a barebones SLI motherboard like the ASUS P5NSLI, based on NVIDIA’s nForce 570 SLI chipset, while a comparable motherboard based on the nForce 680i chipset would cost around $250.
By going the AMD route, you’d also get the benefit of upgrading to eight processing cores later this year when AMD’s native quad-core “Barcelona” processors debut. Intel’s competitor to Barcelona codenamed “Yorkfield” should also appear before the end of the year, but it’s unknown at this time if today’s Core 2 motherboards will be compatible with Yorkfield.
Of course, the Intel platform has the advantage of being single socket, so each platform has their fair share of pros and cons.
The beauty of the Athlon 64 FX-70 of course is its price. It sells for nearly half the price of the flagship FX-74, while still retaining the FX-74’s key features, namely it’s 1MB of L2 cache per core (2MB total). With the FX-70 selling for substantially less than the FX-74 yet running just 400MHz slower, the natural instinct of any hardware enthusiast is going to be to overclock it. That’s exactly what we were eager to see today. Just how far can this chip be overclocked? Let’s find out!