Introduction:

Today AMD is releasing the next processor in their enthusiast line, the AMD Athlon 64 FX-53. The FX-53 is now the fastest processor that AMD has in their aresnel and packs 64-bit processing for upcoming 64-bit applications. The Athlon 64 FX line is aimed at the heart of the power user, since the processor is unlocked from the factory and offers a 400MHz Dual Channel memory solution. As far as changes in the processor goes the FX-53 is simply a 200MHz increase and not a new core please feel free to refference our FX-51 review that covers the specifics of this 64-bit processor.

The FX-53 in its natural habitat:

The Athlon64 FX-53 is clocked at 2.4GHz (12x200) and has 1MB of L2 cache. It is in a 940-pin package and is supported by dual channel DDR400 registered memory. AMD's even been able to increase the frequency without having to have increase in the core voltage, which remains at 1.5v!

CPU-Z shots of the FX-53 in action:

Everything looks good when viewing the processor under CPU-Z version 1.21! Looks like the standard FX specifications with a little speed boost.

General Athlon 64 FX Information:

Road MapTechnical Specifications

Since many don't follow processor roadmaps or look at the technical specifications of AMD processors they are posted above to help give one a better understanding of where AMD is going and how the FX fairs against other AMD products.

Now that you know what processor we are looking at and how this is just a basic speed increase let's take a look at some real numbers!

The Test Processors:

Individual Test Systems:

Testing Procedure :

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600 with Service Pack 1A and DirectX 9.0b. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. No overclocking was done on the video card durning any of this review. We did disable the Firewire, and lan features if found in the BIOS menu for all the testing completed during this review.

Now for the results!

Memory Bandwidth Testing:

AIDA32 Version 3.90.5:

AIDA32 is a professional system information, diagnostics and benchmarking program for Win32 platforms. It extracts details of all components of the PC. It also tests the actual read and write speeds of your memory to give a fairly accurate look of true memory performance.

ScienceMark 2.0 Beta:

ScienceMark 2.0 is different from other benchmarks, in a sense the benchmark tests a series of different memory bandwidth algorithms. To top it all off the assembly source for these copy routines is available online to help assure the benchmark is not biased towards any one platform in particular.

Results: It's fairly obvious that the 2.4GHz FX-53 with its integrated memory controller has the best overall memory throughput. Recent Intel and AMD processors have not been "starved" when it comes to memory bandwidth, but more can't hurt!

Synthetic Testing:

FutureMark; 3dmark2001 SE, Build 330:

Massive Development; AquaMark3:

The AquaMark3 executes a complete state-of-the-art game engine and generates 3D scenes designed to make the same demands on hardware as a modern game. The utilized game engine, the krass™ Engine, has been used in Aquanox and AquaNox 2: Revelation as well as in the upcoming RTS Spellforce by Phenomic Game Development. AquaMark3 utilizes recent hardware features of the new DirectX 9 API, such as PixelShader 2.0, while staying fully backward compatible to DirectX 8 and 7 graphics hardware.

SuperPi 1.1e :

SuperPi calculates the number Pi in this raw number crunching benchmark. The benchmark is fairly diverse and allows the user to change the number of digits of Pi that can be calculated. In this benchmark we ran SuperPi to 4 million places.

Results: The AMD A64 FX-53 passes up all of the other processors during Super Pi testing and finishes the benchmark with a 20 second lead over the closest placed Intel CPU. The FX-53 leads again in 3dMark2001, but falls to third behind both of the Intel P4 EE processors in the AquaMark3 CPU portion of that benchmark. Let's move on to some more benchmarks.

Professional Testing:

MAXON; CINEBENCH 2003:

CINEBENCH 2003 is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D R8. The tool is set to deliver accurate benchmarks by testing not only a computer's raw processing speed but also all other areas that affect system performance such as OpenGL, multithreading, multiprocessors and Intel's new HT Technology. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

Results: The additional 200MHz of power help improve the FX's performance, but finds itself a behind the Intel 3.4EE in the single rendering test by a little more than one second.

Case Lab CFD Solver:

The benchmark testcase is the AGARD 445.6 aeroelastic test wing. The wing uses a NACA 65A004 airfoil section and has a panel aspect ratio of 1.65, taper ratio of 0.66, and a quarter-chord sweep angle of 45º. This AGARD wing was tested at the NASA Langley Research Center in the 16-foot Transonic Dynamics Tunnel and is a standard aeroelastic test case used for validation of unsteady, compressible CFD codes. The CFD grid used to model this problem consists of 67,435 nodes and 366,407 tetrahedral elements.

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Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation; SPECviewperf 7.1.1:

SPECviewperf 7.1 is a professional OpenGL rendering benchmark that can evaluate the performance of OpenGL rendering in a professional workstation environment.

Results: SPECview loved the additional 200MHz that the FX-53 offered and gained one frame per second as a result.

Professional Testing:

FutureMark; Bapco SYSmark2004:

SYSmark2004 provides an application-based benchmark that accurately reflects usage patterns for business users in the areas of Internet Content Creation and Office Productivity.

Results: The 3.4 Extreme Edition processor led the pack, but it was closely followed by the FX-53 and even the 3.2 E Prescott! .

ScienceMark 2.0 Beta:

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, ScienceMark 2.0 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias. For the Memory Testing, higher numbers represent better performance. On the remaining tests, lower seconds represent better performance.

Primordia "calculates the Quantum Mechanical Hartree-Fock Orbitals for each electron in any element of the periodic table." We ran the benchmark on default using Argon as our element.

Results: A significant improvement was noted in ScienceMark 2 in both tests run. The additional 200MHz in the FX-53 helped make it ~39 seconds faster than the FX-51 and 51 seconds faster than the Intel 3.4 EE in the Primordia benchmark.

Game Testing:

NovaLogic; Comanche 4:

The Comanche 4 benchmark demo is a unique benchmark as it represents a real-world gaming experience. It contains the single player Eagle's Talon mission from the game as well as a detailed cinematic. This DirectX 8.1 benchmark demo measures your system's performance in the standard frames per second format.

Results: The Intel 3.4GHz Extreme Edition brought the victory to Intel, but the FX-53 was less than .4 FPS behind the 3.4EE.

Epic Games; Unreal Tournament 2003:

Using the full installation of Unreal Tournament 2003 along with the newest patch gives us a very nice real world benchmark! We also used [H]ardOCP's UT2003 Benchmarking utility version 2.1. A resolution of 1024x768 was tested in Direct3D on the built-in CPU test.

Results: It is clear that AMD processors are the way to go if you are a huge UT2003 fan. The FX-53 proved to be 39FPS faster in the [H] CPU test.

Game Testing:

Activision; Call Of Duty:

Using the full installation of Call of Duty along with the newest patch gives us a very nice real world benchmark! We also used a custom demo for our testing at 640x480.

We again tested the processors with a private demo and went by the time it took to complete the demo.

Results: This time around it is clear that the Intel processors take a significant lead over AMD. The FX-53 marks a notable improvement on the AMD side, but it is not enough to overcome any of the Intel processors tested.

Conclusions:

Nathan Kirsch's Thoughts:

After looking at the benchmarks it is clear that a 200MHz increase in the FX line boosts performance roughly 10% across the board on the majority of benchmarks used. This makes perfect sense as it truly is a 10% increase in overall frequency. With FX-53 flying along at 2.4GHz it is truly impressive seeing it hang neck to neck with the 3.4GHz Intel Extreme Edition processor. The FX-53 processor leads in a fair share of benchmarks and hangs tough with the seven other processors it was tested against in this review. Even more amazing is how the FX-53 also happens to run a tad cooler than the competitions processors with a Max Thermal Power rating of 89W, which happens to be quite a bit lower than the Intel P4 3.4 EE processors 103W.

Pricing on the FX-53 at launch will be at the same price as the current FX-51 $733/each (in 1KU quantities). After the launch the AMD Athlon FX-53 will replace the FX-51 at this price and the FX-51 should have a price cut. How far the FX-51 will come down in price should prove to be interesting. The 3.4GHz Extreme Edition that we tested along with the FX-53 was very impressive, as well as the $999 price tag that comes along with it. With the FX-53 placed at a price point roughly $250 lower than the Intel 3.4 EE it is easy to ignore the few areas that the FX-53 lags behind the Extreme Editions. Not only did the FX-53 prove to be fast it was was a very stable processor. Not one BSOD or problem happened to pop up during testing over the past days of testing under full load.

When a new processor comes out we like to contact some of the major online retailers and check pricing and availability. This time around we found that the majority of retailers we checked didn't have enough in stock to put them for sale for the day of the launch. Meaning they have a handful (5 at one popular store), which shows this wont be a paper launch, but quantities are limited. The retailers also stated that the original quantity they ordered was supposed to arrive by months end according to AMD. Although many may want to poke a stick at this it is actually a good sign that retailers have the FX-53 in stock (partly) or on the way. The Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz EE and E are still missing from many online retailers and pricing search engines such as our Dealtime shopping service lists that only the 3.4 C is in stock at the current time.

One last thing to keep in mind is that AMD's Socket 939 processor is now closer to becoming a reality and when that happens socket 940 will no longer be the top dog. While Socket 939 more than likely not give end users an enormous performance increase, it will be cheaper to build a socket 939 system (does not require registered memory) and there will be performance increases (estimated at <5%).

Legit Bottom Line:

The FX-53 runs head to head with the Intel Pentium 4 EE, but does so with cooler temperatures, a lower price point, and is 100% 64-bit software ready!