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AMD Athlon X2 3800+ dual-core CPU

Entry-level two-core champion?

To test the X2 3800+ we used an Abit A8N Ultra, with 1GB of memory and a GeForce 6800GT graphics card. On our review sample we obtained from AMD, I noticed that among the codes on it were the initials BHE, which also happen to be my initials. Well, they say that somewhere out there, there's a CPU with your name on it, and I appear to have found mine.

AMD Athlon X2 3800+ SysMark

AMD Athlon X2 3800+ POV-Ray

As you'd expect, given the price difference, the X2 3800+ outpaced the Pentium D 820 in SYSmark 2004 with a score of 220 compared to 202. In PC Mark 04 it also beat the 820, scoring 5783 to 5488. Interestingly, it lost out to the Intel chip in the individual CPU test and the graphics test - obviously the extra cache on the 820 was making itself felt there.

In POV-Ray - an application that can really take advantage of dual-core - the X2 3800+ is faster than the 820 in both single- and dual-core modes. However, while the Intel chip was almost exactly twice as fast in dual-core mode as it was in single-core mode, the AMD chip was slightly less than twice as fast. All in all, though, the X2 2800+ is the clear winner.

One thing that that some might wish to try is overclocking. Having a quick look in the BIOS reveals that the multiplier on the CPU is locked. This means that overclocking has to be done by raising the bus speed and adjusting voltages for CPU and memory to cope.

AMD Athlon X2 3800+ PCMark 04

AMD Athlon X2 3800+ PCMark 05

Finally, I also did some subjective testing, running multiple applications at the same time, to get a sense of how the X2 3800+ dual-core feels in real-world usage. One big advantage I noticed was the ability to switch out of a game back to the Windows desktop much more smoothly. It's often necessary to do so to adjust some settings in Windows and the ability to do it less painfully is a welcome bonus.

Verdict

If you've been tempted by the prospect of dual-core but have been put off by the price the X2 3800+ is the CPU that should make you reconsider. It's still about £85 more than Intel's entry-level chip but the extra performance is definitely there.

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AMD Athlon X2 3800+
 
Rating 80%
Price £276
 
More info The AMD site

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