Then of course there’s the price. The 3800+, boxed with fan, costs £260 from Komplett, while the next X2 up, the 4200+ costs £350 – that’s £90 for the extra 200MHz. The closest Intel CPU to compare it to in terms of price would be a Pentium D 830 – a 3.2GHz CPU at £235. However, Intel was not able to supply us with one, so instead we could only use our previously tested Pentium D 820, a 2.8GHz CPU to compare against. This costs £175 from Komplett but even so, the 820 has a clock speed advantage over the X2 3800+ and twice the Level 2 cache.
For testing the X2 3800+ we used an Abit A8N Ultra, with 2x 512MB of PC 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.
As you would expect considering 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 with 5,783, compared to 5,488. Interestingly though, it actually lost out to the Intel chip in the in the individual CPU test and the graphics test – with the extra Level 2 cache on the 820 making itself felt.
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, the AMD chip was slightly less than twice as fast. All in all though the X2 3800+ is the clear winner.
One thing that that some might wish to try is overclocking. It’s not something we get into often at TrustedReviews but 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.
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. 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.
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.