Only having the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor for less than a week, I have managed to try out some overclocking on our water cooled test system. Using the default settings and only adjusting the Front Side Bus (FSB), I was able to hit a pretty nice O/C of 2.48GHz without any trouble at all. Keeping the multiplier the same while lowering the memory divider to 333MHz, and bumping the processor VCore up to 1.56V, I was able to hit 2.70GHz (270×10). This is a very nice overclock and the CPU temperature only increased a tad — 29 to 33C! Under a full load the CPU temperature was observed to be at 38C.
While I am using water cooling for my test system, I was extremely impressed by a 700MHz overclock resulting in only a 2-3C rise in core temperature. Lacking a stock air cooling solution for the AMD test system, I can’t say without some doubt what overclock or temperatures you can expect, but from my experience with a 3500+Winchester, I can say that this processor is a bit cooler than the 3500+ was in the exact same setup.
I am sure that with some great overclocking memory from Corsair or OCZ, users will not have to drop their memory timings to achieve some great overclocks with this processor, I also feel that with a couple more days to tinker with different BIOS’ and BIOS settings, that 2.7 – 2.8GHz is a very realistic overclock with water cooling, and 2.6 GHz should be achievable wiith air cooling, making this a great choice for overclocking.
Where do I even start? First of all, from a budget standpoint, the 3800+ bests a very game Pentium D 820 in almost every benchmark. Looking at this from one point of view, the Pentium D 820 is a little over $118 cheaper at $236 as compared to the 3800+ X2’s $354 price tag. But, and this is a big BUT, the Pentium D 820 requires a new motherboard, either an Intel based 945 or 955 chipset board, while on the other hand, the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ will work with nearly every 939 motherboard on the market with a simple BIOS upgrade… that quickly erases that $118 price difference.
In my opinion the Pentium D 820 is a great processor. I use one on a daily basis and have no problem recommending it to anyone in need of a very good, inexpensive dual core processor. While no one should expect the Intel processors to beat AMD’s solutions in gaming based benchmarking, I thought some of the results actually showed the Intel Pentium D do better than expected. If Intel’s Pentium D 820 does have one drawback, it’s the heat output. Like most Prescott cores before it, the 820 is a very hot processor that will need extreme cooling if run much higher than its stock speed.
Having said all of that, the AMD64 3800+ X2 is an incredible processor at a great price. Like most processors, I fully expect the price to drop a bit once AMD shows it can meet demand and the rush to scoop up the available processors at retailers slows. The $399 Pre-Order price on the X2 3800+ should hopefully quickly go away when they come into stock on 8/12/2005.
The 3800+ even bested a Pentium D 840EE in some benchmarks, which to me is astounding considering the price difference between the two, and while the 4800+ is without a doubt the top dog, the 3800+ at stock speeds and while overclocked shows itself to be a great choice.
In single thread apps, the 3800+ performed as expected, much like AMD’s 3200+ Winchester or San Diego cores. However, when I threw Norton Anti Virus at it, it happily chugged along without much of a hiccup. AMD’s dual core processors should be a top choice for anyone, not just the people who multi task like crazy, but the gamer and casual user, the difference between AMD’s single core and dual core processors is truly noticeable.
The Legit Bottom Line
Without a doubt, the 3800+ should be the first choice of any AMD fan on a budget (or anyone needing a new processor who is pinching pennies). Taking into consideration price versus performance, low power demands and our great overclocking results we easily find that the AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ deserves our Editor’s Choice Award.