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| AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Processor - Still Capable!? (4 comments )|
by: Droniac (114) | Posted in cluster Round 3 Editors Challenge Sponsored by Intel
Posted 74 months ago ( edited 74 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
In previous years the Athlon 64 3200+ proved to be a very popular processor Ė and has graced many a gamerís PC. It was one of the most impressive new pieces of technology at it's time, featuring a whopping 105.9 million transistors, a 1MB L2 cache and actual 64-bit technology - and it quickly dropped in price too! Now weíre nearly three and a half years further and dual core technology has become commonplace. How does the Athlon 64 3200+ fare in a dual-core dominated world Ė and more importantly: is it still powerful enough to run all the latest games? Letís find out, shall we?
|» MEDIA (14)|
Figure 1 - The Test System
Figure 2 - 3DMark 2006 Results
Figure 3 - Sandra Processor Arithmethic
Figure 3 - Sandra Multimedia Processing
Figure 4 - Command and Conquer 3 Settings
Figure 5 - Command and Conquer 3 Results
Figure 6 - Company of Heroes Settings
Figure 7 - Company of Heroes Results
Figure 8 - Guild Wars Nightfall Settings
Figure 9 - Guild Wars Nightfall Results
Figure 10 - Unreal Tournament 2004 Settings
Figure 11 - Unreal Tournament 2004 Results
Guild Wars Nightfall in-game
Company of Heroes in-game
The Athlon 64 3200+ is a socket 754 processor that ordinarily runs at 2Ghz clockspeeds although many retailers now sell overclocked versions at 2.2Ghz clockspeeds. It features a 128KB L1 cache and a 1MB L2 cache, which can't quite compare to the 4MB L2 cache of the modern Intel Core 2 Duo E6600, but it's still a pretty hefty cache even compared to many modern AMD processors (which frequently still feature just a 1MB L2 cache as well).
Most importantly the Athlon 64 3200+ featured 64-bit technology. At the time the benefit of this was not so readily apparent - as software still did not fully support 64 bit technology, if at all. Nowadays there are plenty of system drivers and operating systems available for owners of a 64 bit processor, which means the 3200+ can show off it's true power. The Athlon64 line, with the 3200+ as one of the earliest models, opened the door for 64 bit technology which has quickly turned into the trademark of the AMD line of processors. To put things in perspective: the 64 bit technology allows PCs to handle much larger quantities of RAM and process larger quantities of data, while also having the innate disadvantage of requiring more memory for the same processes than a 32 bit equivalent would.
•Athlon 64 3200+ clocked at 2.2Ghz
•ASUS K8V Special Edition Deluxe Motherboard
•ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256MB AGP Video Card (Catalyst 6.11)
•200 + 160 GB Western Digital SATA HDDs
•2 GB DDR400 Kingston RAM
•Iiyama 19Ē CRT Monitor
•Windows XP Professional
Utilizing the following benchmarking tools:
•BOINC Manager 5.4.11
•SiSoftware Sandra Lite XI
•Windows Movie Maker
•Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars v1.2
•Company of Heroes v1.5
•Guild Wars: Nightfall
•Unreal Tournament 2004 v3369
»3DMark 2006 - Basic Edition
This widely used benchmarking tool tests a system's capability of displaying 3D graphics by putting it through a series of processor and video card intensive tests. The Basic Edition offers four tests that rely on both video card and processor performance, as well as two tests that rely purely on the power of your CPU. The end result is a series of results spread out over four categories: CPU, Overall Score, Shader Model 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0. With this particular setup the Shader Model 3.0 results will be missing, because the X800 Pro video card does not support said technology.
Results - Fig. 2
The 3200+ manages a decent enough 847 Marks in the pure CPU test - while this might sound like a lot, it translates into only about one frame per ten seconds during the actual test. The overall score of 1578 Marks is not impressive by any means - even budget systems manage to hit past 3000 Marks nowadays. Regardless this reflects more on the quality of the video card, which does not support SM3.0 and as such needlessly drags the score down, than it does on the CPU - which performs decently enough.
»SiSoftware Sandra Lite XI
This tool allows users to test many aspects of their system ranging from pure processing power to harddisk access speeds. In this case we opted for testing the processors calculating power and itís multimedia processing capabilities. We also compared itís performance against an Athlon 64 3200+ clocked at 2 Ghz, an Athlon XP 3200+ clocked at 2.2Ghz, an Intel Pentium 4-E 570 clocked at 3.8Ghz and a more modern budget processor, namely a single 2.13Ghz clocked core of the Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 processor. Note that the results for these other processors come standard with the software bundle - and as such might not be an entirely accurate representation of the actual performance of these products.
Results - Fig. 3
In the processor arithmetic test the Athlon 64 3200+ comes out rather well. In terms of raw processing power the 3200+ is clearly capable to fend off itís competitors from many years ago, with 7855 Million Integer operations Per Second and 6201 Million Floating Point Operations Per Second. The Core 2 Sole E6400 processor on the other hand manages to overpower it by 21% and 8% respectively, which is of course only half the actual capacity of a Core 2 Duo E6400. Clearly, the Athlon64 3200+ is way out of itís league even in comparison to todays budget dual core CPUs.
The multimedia processing test consists of the processor drawing a picture of the Mandelbrot fractal in 640x480 format. The result comes in the number of Mandelbrot iterations processed per second in either integer or floating point format. In this case the Athlon64 3200+ manages a decent 20613 it/s on integer operations and 22687 it/s on floating point operations. As expected the Intel Core 2 Solo manages to obliterate the scores of this single-core processor Ė and the scores seen with a Intel Core 2 Duo variant would most certainly be even more devastating. In terms of pure processing power, the 3200+ is done for.
»BOINC Manager 5.4.11
BOINC is the culmination of the well known SETI@Home project. BOINC users donate their processor's time to a project of their choosing, which generally attempts to benefit mankind in some manner. Whether it's solving ancient mathematical questions, searching for alien life or curing disease - BOINC will have your computer running CPU-intensive codes which will work in tandem with many millions of other PCs around the world to form a supercomputer of sorts. An especially interesting aspect of BOINC is that it relies on your processor's pure integer and floating point operating power.
The software bundle comes complete with a benchmarking tool that allows a basic benchmark of processor performance. The Athlon 64 3200+ comes out rather decently with 2096 Million Instructions Per Second (MIPS) when it comes to floating point operations (numbers with figures behind the dot, such as 0.54) whereas it scores 3885 MIPS on integer operations (straight numbers such as 20). This Athlon64 chip is clearly capable of outputting quite some raw processing power and it shows in the relatively short completion time of BOINC Work Units. This particular processor has been running World Community Grid units for some time now and it's average work unit completion time ranks in at just over 3 hours, whereas the average work unit completion time for all World Community Grid computers is just under 9 hours.
File compression is something that many a gamer has to deal with during his or her daily PC adventures. As such itís important for your processor to be capable of handling such tasks in a timely fashion. Fortunately the Athlon 64 3200+ processor manages to do fairly well Ė turning a 400MB selection of folders filled with images into a mere 150MB '.rar' archive in just 2 minutes and 7 seconds.
»Encoding Media Files
One of the most processor-intensive tasks one can imagine is video encoding. While itís not one of the most common requirements amongst PC users, or even hardcore tweakers, some people do find it useful to have a fast encoding machine for putting together family videos and the like. In this test we had Windows Movie Maker turn a 78.1 MB .avi file into a 14.8MB .wmv file at a bitrate of 768Kbps. This took 2 minutes and 28 seconds, which is a rather long time for such a small operation. It's certainly possible to encode sizable media files on a 3200+ processor, just don't expect it to be done quickly.
»Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars v1.2
A recently released RTS which features a capable engine churning out some pretty visual effects. It's not quite as large-scale as Supreme Commander and it isn't promising DirectX10 support like Company of Heroes, but it's still a hefty beast and likely to be the most popular game of these three RTS giants. With many people having recently purchased this title, or thinking about doing so, there's really no better game to benchmark than C&C3.
Settings - Fig. 4
As you can see in the screenshot: most of the in-game settings were left on high or maximum settings and the only value that changed in between benchmarking sessions was the resolution. The reason for changing the resolution in between benchmarks is to determine whether the results seen are CPU or GPU based. Fraps was used as the tool for recording benchmarking results. As for the method of testing: we loaded up a replay of a 3 vs 3 multiplayer match to really get the system sweating. (Note that results will be limited to 30fps or lower, due to CnC3's built-in framerate limit of 30fps)
Results - Fig. 5
Figure 5 clearly shows that the Athlon64 3200+ has little problem running this game. In lower resolutions the average framerate is high enough to be a consistently enjoyable experience even in such a large-scale battle. It should be noted that the visual quality degrades severely once the resolution hits 1024x768 (on a 19" monitor). Additionally gameplay is significantly slower in 1600x1200 resolution due to a lower average framerate which also leads to the risk of being kicked from a multiplayer game due to running out of sync with the rest of the players. The results speak for themselves - Command & Conquer 3 is rather obviously GPU-bound with vast performance differences between playing in 1024x768 and higher resolutions. Just changing resolution to 1280x1024 results in a 19% performance drop. The 3200+ can definitely handle a game of C&C3, but requires a slightly more powerful video card to cope with all the visual effects this game provides in higher resolutions.
»Company of Heroes v1.5
It isn't just one of the most popular RTS games in recent times, but it's also one of the most demanding games released in 2006. Company of Heroes is such a popular and demanding RTS that it's become a standard in benchmarking as of late. As such it certainly could not be left out in this performance test.
Settings - Fig. 6
Figure 6 shows the settings used during testing. These were the settings recommended by the game itself, although the resolution was once again altered during testing. Benchmarking Company of Heroes proved to be a very straightforward affair - because it offers a means of testing performance in the actual settings tab.
Results - Fig. 7
Figure 7 clearly illustrates how Company of Heroes relies heavily on video card power and not so much on processing power. The performance differences between varying resolutions are enormous and ranges from being barely playable (18 fps in 1600x1200) to a highly enjoyable gaming experience (33 fps in 1024x768). The Athlon64 chip seems capable of handling this game rather decently, but once again requires a slightly more powerful video card companion in order to shine to it's full capacity.
»Guild Wars: Nightfall
It's the latest chapter of one of the most popular online games to date and that alone warrants a benchmark. Better yet, this edition in the Guild Wars franchise features fully reworked visuals which make it more beautiful and more demanding than ever before. A perfect sample game to benchmark our Athlon64 3200+ with.
Settings - Fig. 8
Figure 8 demonstrates the in-game settings used during testing, indeed we had everything other than anti-aliasing maxed out during play. The resolution was changed in between sessions as before and once again Fraps was the means of recording data. Several benchmarking runs were done while observing a championship guild match in order to get a sufficiently demanding, yet also consistent, situation.
Results - Fig. 9
As you can see in figure 9, Guild Wars: Nightfall runs flawlessly on this system. The negligible performance difference between resolutions indicates that this game is being limited by the Athlon64 3200+ processor, but this is at sufficiently high enough a framerate not to be a problem during play. Indeed Nightfall would perform better on a superior processor, but with an average framerate of 44.6 fps even in 1600x1200 resolution there's really no need to upgrade for this game.
»Unreal Tournament 2004 v3369
This isn't one of the most recent games, indeed it's been around even before the advent of the Athlon64 3200+ processor. Regardless, it remains one of the most beautiful and popular online shooters of today and is a nice means of ascertaining the power of this processor in games of it's own age.
Settings - Fig. 10
The settings used during testing were of course maximized, as can be seen in figure 10. A nifty program called UMark (version 2.00) was all that was required to give UT2004 a proper consistent testing run. This program reported back results in varying resolutions after running high-speed bot matches on predefined maps.
Results - Fig. 11
Figure 11 displays the results of this test, which unsurprisingly indicate that this game is CPU-bound. It could perform better if we had outfitted our system with a superior processor, but then who needs better performance when even in 1600x1200 resolution it manages to churn out a whopping 129 fps on average!? Indeed this game will run fine on any Athlon 64 3200+ outfitted PC. As for the unexpectedly low minimum FPS values, those are likely caused by UMark as it switches between bots to display different scenes during play - which is not something you'll notice during actual gameplay.
• A very capable processor that can contribute hefty amounts of processing power to the betterment of mankind with BOINC software or your personal enjoyment with the latest games.
• It's still capable of running all the latest games, provided your video card is up to par. For the moment it should suffice for any gamers' needs.
• Horribly insufficient for video encoding.
• Most modern budget processors are superior to this processor and as such there is no viable reason to purchase an Athlon 64 3200+ now.
• No multi-core processor, it's just the regular old single core.
• This processor will likely prove to be insufficient for some of the more demanding titles currently in development, such as Crysis.
The results seen in this article should speak for themselves: the Athlon 64 3200+ is still a capable processor that can run any of the latest games provided that it's paired up with a sufficiently powerful video card for a partner. It might not be up to the task of running every game with settings maxed out and it isn't the fastest processing unit available, but for the moment there's no reason to upgrade if you already own a 3200+ - unless you're into video encoding. With that said - this processor is certainly reaching the end of it's life. It has lasted these past three and a half years most formidably, but with games like Crysis and Unreal Tournament 3 around the corner - the time to upgrade is nigh.
Additionally this is not a processor you want to purchase if you're out looking for a good, cheap, CPU. Any budget processor you can find in stores nowadays is significantly more powerful than this old Athlon 64 processor and as such actually purchasing one now would be a total waste. You're better off spending a little more money on a processor that won't need to be replaced in a year's time. Still, for now the Athlon 64 3200+ remains a surprisingly capable processor for it's age...
|4 User Comment(s) • 4 root comment(s)|
| Ricky Williams (138) May 10, 2007 - 05:38 pm|
|My brother has the same proc with a 6800gt agp and a gig of ddr 500 mhz. We have discussed whether he needs an upgrade but it runs BF2 butter smooth and that pretty much all he plays. Besides even for a 2 year old game BF2 still is one of the most stressful on systems around. Nice article. With good ram and VC the ahtlon 64 can still get the job done for the forseeable future.|
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| ithinkcowsaresexy (7) Apr 10, 2007 - 03:18 pm|
|Good article, I agree with you. The Athlon 64, although aging, isn't dead yet. My brother runs an Athlon 64 3400+ Socket 754. That thing is a trooper. My friend also runs an Athlon 64 2800+ with good results. Heres to the ever trusty Althon 64. You did good pal, you did good.|
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