Athlon 64 6000+ X2 - Dual Core at 3GHz

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Product: AMD Athlon 6000+ X2 Dual Core CPU
Provided By: MemoryExpress
Price: ~$700CDN Est.

Introduction:

6000+ X2 Profile AMD is a company that really needs no introduction.  AMD Desktop processors have been widely used and enjoyed by users since the days of the K6-3 series.  Their processor history extends much earlier than that, but the K6-3 is where things really started to take off for Advanced Micro Devices.  Years later AMD introduced the world's first consumer oriented 64-bit processor - the Athlon 64.  They were also the first company to release a fast Dual Core 64-bit processor as well.  For years AMD has ridden on their success and up until Intel launched the Core 2 processor, they really had nothing to worry about.  Today AMD launches their fastest Dual-Core AM2 CPU yet - the Athlon 64 6000+ X2 Dual Core Processor.  This processor is still based on the aging 90nm process and comes clocked in at 3.0GHz (15x200) and has 2x 1MB L2 Cache.  We have been playing around with this processor for a couple of weeks now and have ran a multitude of benchmarks to see if this processor is a worth choice for AM2 users, or if the mid-range Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 can beat it mercilessly.  It should be an interesting showdown so you'll want to keep reading.

 

 

Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Architecture:

AMD has pioneered Dual-Core computing and they have some benefits over Intel's Dual Core processor in some areas.  Below is a diagram from AMD that shows how the the X2 Dual-Core processor gets the job done.

Key Architectural Features

The Integrated DDR2 Memory Controller and the HyperTransport Bus allow lightning fast performance across the system bus and to the DDR2 memory.  As you will see later in this review, AMD has a distinct advantage in this area over Intel.

 

Our Processor:

We received an OEM tray CPU 6000+ X2.  The model number on this particular CPU is ADX6000IAA6CZ.  As far as we can tell this is a 89W CPU that actually is quite easy to cool - unlike some 125W processor from AMD.

6000+ Stepping
6000+ Stepping

 

On the next page we'll cover the processor specs, overclocking and thermal properties of this CPU.


Processor Specifications:

The Athlon 64 6000+ X2 Dual-Core CPU isn't a leap ahead in performance.  This processor is merely a speed increase in their older architecture.  Below is a list of the Feature & Specifications of this 90nm processor.

  • Operating Mode: 32/64
  • Frequency: 3000Mhz
  • HT Speed: 2000Mhz
  • Voltage: 1.30-1.35V
  • Max Temp: 55-70°C
  • Thermal Power: 89W
  • L1 Cache: 128KB
  • L2 Cache: 1MB x2
  • CMOS Technology: 90nm SOI
  • Socket: Socket AM2

 

Because this processor sits in the 89W Thermal envelope, it is no harder to cool than our existing 4200+ AM2 processor.  This processor sat under the CoolIt Eliminator so that we could delve into overclocking, but temperature wasn't the issue with this processor.  As you can see below, it idles at a nice and chilly 25C/18C.  This temperature is taken with an ambient temperature of 20.5C.

CoreTemp - Stock Speed
CoreTemp - Stock Speed

Overclocking:

When it came to overclocking this CPU, I didn't have high hopes.  In my experience, top-end CPU's don't overclock as much as slower CPU's.  They may all reach similar speeds, but overclocking percentage is limited.  We set off with our trusty MSI K9N Platinum motherboard to see if we could gain at least 10% out of this processor. 

In order to reach our High CPU Speed overclock, we dropped the HTT Multiplier down and set our 10th Anniversary Crucial DDR2 memory to very loose timings.  We then started out overclocking this processor by bumping up the HTT 5Mhz at a time.  We quickly passed 220Mhz and kept on going up to 235Mhz, where we needed to apply a bit more voltage to make the system boot.  At 255Mhz, the system refused to boot even if we maxed out the boards CPU voltage at 1.45v.  We backed off the HTT to 250Mhz and tried to boot up into Windows.  Until we backed off the processor to 220Mhz * 15 (3.3Ghz), we were not able to boot into Windows, and after a couple of benchmarks the system crashed.  We dropped the CPU speed down to 217Mhz * 15 in order to boot at our highest CPU speed of 3255Mhz.  This was less than a 10% overclock and was quite disappointing.

6000+ X2 Overclocked
6000+ X2 Overclocked


Next we tried to see how high the "FSB" could go on this processor.  We dropped the multiplier down incrementally to keep the CPU as close to 3Ghz as possible.  We were able to run as high as 305MHz * 10 on this processor and keep things stable.  At this speed we had a HTT multiplier of 3x and ran the HTT bus at 915Mhz.  After running the processor for a few days we were able to run at 220Mhz * 15 = 3.3Ghz stable.  This may be due to a CPU "Burn In" or some other reasoning.  For benchmarking the Athlon 64 6000+ X2, we ran at stock 200Mhz * 15 = 3.0Ghz and our fastest overclocked speed of 220Mhz * 15 = 3.3Ghz.

On the next page we'll cover the test setups before we jump into testing.


Test Systems:

BCCHardware Testing Information
 
AMD Test System:
  • AMD Athlon 6000+ X2 Dual-Core CPU @ 3.0Ghz Stock - 3.3Ghz O/C
  • MSI K9N Platinum nForce 570 Motherboard
  • Crucial PC2-5300 DDR2 @ 667Mhz 3-3-3-8 1T Stock CPU & 733Mhz 3-3-3-8 1T O/C
  • Crucial X1900XTX Graphics Card with Catalyst 7.1 Drivers
  • Seagate 250GB 7200.10 SATA HDD
  • Windows XP Pro. SP2
   
Intel Test System:
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4Ghz Stock - 3.2Ghz O/C
  • MSI 975X Platinum Intel 975 Express Motherboard
  • Crucial PC2-8000 DDR2 @ 667Mhz 3-3-3-8 Stock CPU & 895Mhz 4-4-4-12 O/C
  • Crucial X1900XTX Graphics Card with Catalyst 7.1 Drivers
  • Seagate 250GB 7200.10 SATA HDD
  • Windows XP Pro. SP2
   
Game Test Info:

Game tests were ran at Maximum CPU Settings (if applicable) and medium graphics settings.

   



With that being said, let's not waste anymore time and get right into testing AMD's fastest AM2 Processor!

 

Synthetic Memory Tests:

 

PCMark05
Higher is Better

 

 Everest Memory
Higher is Better

 

 SiSoft - Memory
Higher is Better

 

It is no surprise that the AMD Athlon 6000+ X2 beats the Intel E6600 in stock memory performance.  SiSoft 2007 and Everest Ultimate show a major lead in memory performance on the AMD based computer.  PCMark 2005 shows a little different result and the gap is much closer with the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 actually in the lead in memory performance when both systems are overclocked.  We will see how that translates in real-world performance later on.


Synthetic CPU Tests:

We carry on the testing with some synthetic CPU benchmarks such as SiSoft's CPU Arithmetic and Multimedia benchmarks as well as Cinebench.

SiSoft - Arithmetic
Higher is Better

 

 SiSoft - Multimedia
Higher is Better

 

 Cinebench
Higher is Better

  

The X2 6000+ managed to hold it's own and even take the lead at stock speeds in the SiSoft CPU Arithmetic benchmark.  When both systems are overclocked, the Core 2 Duo takes the lead.  In the CPU Multimedia benchmark the Intel processor walks away from AMD and the 6000+ is left crying in a silicon haze.  Cinebench once again shows the AMD processor with an advantage at stock speeds and shows it lag when both CPU's are overclocked.  The results actually surprised me as I expected the E6600 to dominate all of these synthetic CPU related tests.  On the next page we'll cover the last of the synthetic CPU tests before we jump into some real-world applications.


Synthetic CPU Tests: (continued)

In this section we are going to compare POV-Ray, SuperPi and PMCore to see how fast these two processors can crunch raw mathematical data - outside the confines of SiSoft.

POV-Ray 3.6
Higher Is Better

 

 SuperPi
1M Integer - Lower Is Better

 

PMCore
Lower Is Better

 

In this section the E6600 Intel CPU dominates and virtually spanks the 6000+ X2 processor from AMD.  On the next page, we'll take this battle into the real-world and see how it adds up when encoding video, transcoding audio and more.


Video & Audio Encoding:

Regardless of canned benchmark results, we believe the best way to see real processor performance is use it in the real world.  The following set of benchmarks are taken from applications that many people use everyday.  Take a look and see how each of these processors really perform when compared to each other at both stock and overclocked speeds.

For ConvertX to DVD we used a 97 minute DivX file and converted it using the medium quality/performance setting in VSO Software's latest ConvertXtoDVD software.  We followed that up with dbPowerAMP encoding using the standard LAME encoder as well as the OGG SSE2 codec.  DivX Encoding was done on a small video clip using the drag-and-drop converter on the Home Theatre Profile.  The Quicktime tests were done using the "Best/Multipass" settings and a small clip was exported.  Finally, DVDShrink was performed on Shanghai Noon from the original size - 7.47GB and compressed to 4.27GB.

ConvertX to DVD
Time in Minutes:Seconds - Lower is Better

 

 dbPowerAMP Transcoding
Time in Seconds - Lower is Better

 

 DivX Encoding
DivX 6.2.1 Encoder - Time in Seconds - Lower is Better

 

 QuickTime Encoding
Time in Seconds - Lower is Better

 

 DVDShrink 3.2
Time in Minutes:Seconds - Lower is Better

 

The Athlon 6000+ X2 took the cake in the ConvertX to DVD tests both at stock and overclocked speeds.  Other than that, the Core 2 Duo E6600 was faster in almost every situation.  On the next page we'll take a look at a few real-world applications - other than video and audio conversion.


Real World Applications:

The section below takes a look at performance numbers from popular applications such as Photoshop CS2 and WinRAR file compression.  We've also thrown in the Ultima Online server package.  This package relies heavily on a fast CPU as it parses and loads HTML, XML and other raw data.

 PhotoShop CS2 Bench
Time in Seconds - Lower is Better

 

Ultima Online Server
Time in Seconds - Lower is Better

 

 WinRAR Compression
Time in Seconds - Lower is Better

  

Once again, the E6600 puts up a very good fight against the brand new AMD Athlon 6000+ X2 Dual Core Processor.  In all of these tests we see the slower clocked Intel processor in the lead at stock speeds as well as when clocked up.  Ultima Online Server at stock speeds is very close to the E6600, but the other tests show a larger performance gap.

Now that we've seen how things shape up in the world of applications, let's take a look and see if the 6000+ X2 can redeem itself in the gaming world.


3DMark Synthetic Tests:

Before we jump into real games, we have some 3DMark tests to cover briefly.  I know that many of you rate you system by 3DMarks - even though you realize that it isn't a solid indicator of how a particular game will perform on your system.  Below are the results from 3DMark 05 and 06.  Both were ran at default settings and we've recorded the total 3DMark Score as well as the give CPU Score.

3DMark 05

 

3DMark 06

 

At stock speed the AMD 6000+ X2 takes a narrow lead in the 3DMark overall benchmark score.  When we push both processors to their limits in our test boards, the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 opens the gap and pulls ahead slightly.  In a real game, you'd not likely notice a difference.

Speaking of a real game, we've got a few games covered on the next page.


Real-World Gaming:

In this last slough of tests we take a look at some in-game performance from F.E.A.R., Half-Life 2: Lost Coast (no HDR), Oblivion and Quake 4.  All of these games were ran using the maximum CPU settings (if applicable) and medium-high graphics settings to re-create real world gaming.  The results are taken from FRAPS after many consistent level run-through scenarios.

F.E.A.R.
Results in FPS - Higher is Better

 

 HalfLife2 Lost Coast
Results in FPS - Higher is Better

 

 Oblivion
Results in FPS - Higher is Better

 

  

Quake 4
Results in FPS - Higher is Better

 

Game tests showed similar results as all the other tests.  Most of the time the mid-range Core 2 Duo E6600 takes out the high-end AMD Athlon 64 6000+ X2 even when the AMD processor is clocked higher.  The tables have sure turned from the early days of the Athlon 64 when compared to the Pentium 4 Northwood.

On the last page we'll wrap things up with some final thoughts and a conclusion.


Final Thoughts:

AthlonX2 AMD has pioneered CPU development as they were the first to bring 64-bit processing to the mainstream PC market.  They also were the first to bring Dual-Core processors to consumers as well.  AMD has relied on their success in the desktop and server market for several years - and rightly so.  Intel recently introduced a die shrink to 65nm as well as the new Core  and Core 2 architecture.  This advancement left the current Athlon 64 X2 processors behind in terms of performance.  Although currently outgunned, AMD future is far from grim.  Their latest processor for the AM2 platform is the 6000+ X2, and other thana speed bump, this is nothing new for the green team.  The Athlon 64 6000+ X2 Dual Core processor is the first desktop processor from AMD that bring a 3.0Ghz stock speed to the desktop.

 

Conclusion:

When we were given the opportunity to take a look at the latest desktop processor from AMD, we gladly agreed and were quite excited to see how 3.0Ghz of stock dual-core Athlon 64 goodness could stack up to an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.  In the end, we weren't really surprised, but we were a little disappointed.  We hoped that the 6000+ X2 would at least be a 65nm part and that we could squeeze some major performance by overclocking.  We discovered and confirmed that it is in fact a 90nm Windsor core CPU - it's just hand-picked to run faster than other processors.  On a positive note, it does have 1MB of L2 Cache per core and offers very good performance for AM2 users.  If you have a current AM2 board, this chip would drop in and make a very simple upgrade without requiring a new motherboard or memory.  Unfortunately, this chip will be priced around $600CDN and be much more expensive than a better performing Core 2 Duo processor.

 

Pros:

  • 3.0Ghz Stock Processor from AMD.
  • Features 2MB of L2 Cache (2x 1MB).
  • Drop-in upgrade for AM2 users.

Cons:

  • 90nm Windsor Core - Showing it's age.
  • Moderate overclocking.
  • 65nm Brisbane processors overclock much higher.

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
9/10
Performance:
6/10
Software Pack:
N/A
Stability:
8/10
Features:
N/A
Value:
5/10
Total Score 7.0

 

I'd like to thank MemoryExpress for sending this processor over for us to play with and review.  It has been very interesting to see what the latest processor from AMD can do.  If you have any questions or comments, please head on over and post them in our forum at the "Comments" link below.