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AMD Athlon 64 FX-60

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 dual-core gaming CPU

The best AMD consumer-oriented processor yet?

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A new cooler? Not quite, but close. When FX-57 was released it was shipped solely with a PIB cooler developed by AVC. Since launch, AMD has sought out another model to ship along with FX-57 and its own ~100W CPUs. That other model is what'll ship with FX-60. It's manufactured by Coolermaster and called the CMHK8-8I22A-A2.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60

Compared to the first FX-57 PIB cooler, the Coolermaster has all four heatpipes aligned on one side of the cooler, rather than two per side. The cooler, including heatpipes, is also around 5mm shorter in major width, although it retains the same 62mm height. The fan is an 80 x 20mm Delta, up from 70 x 15mm on the first FX-57 PIB example, allowing the fan to move a larger air volume at the same fan speed, or the same volume at reduced speed.

Presumably the different cooler design and fan are primarily to achieve the latter, making this cooler even quieter under the same conditions as the AVC. It appears, although we can't confirm it, that the cooler also comes supplied with a Dow Corning thermal material, whereas the AVC cooler is equipped with a Shin-Etsu thermal pad. The heatpipes are outwardly identical with a 5mm width and equivalent length, and we're told they each have a 30W capacity, making the CMHK8-8I22A-A2 a 120W capacity device.

The differences add up to something that's smaller overall, but has the ability to cool better at the same fan speed and equivalent levels of noise. We'd hazard a guess that this PIB cooler revision will also see service with the next speed grade of Athlon 64, Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 X2, if and when they appear.

The processor driver allows the OS to adjust the performance level of the CPU cores via multiplier and voltage (P-states), based on CPU demand. The driver is therefore a recommended installation, giving rise to power savings and less heat output when the CPU is idle.

However, Windows XP Service Pack 2 doesn't correctly identify CPU load in all cases, which can lead to it setting a lesser P-state than would normally be required, reducing absolute performance with the side-effect of better environmental performance. A fix, not generally available for download from microsoft, changes that to affect proper adjust of the CPU P-states for the right performance levels, trading off the environmental sides previously mentioned.

On top of that is Cool 'n' Quiet, which, at least initially, may not even be available for FX-60 until BIOS engineers add in the correct IDs to the CnQ tables to let that feature work correctly. So, depending on BIOS revision, CPU driver installation and presence of the essentially unavailable hotfix, differing performance and environmental levels will be experienced. Something to keep an eye on.

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