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As the ultimate AMD offering, the Athlon 64 FX-51 employs a higher frequency and dual channel DDR RAM support to provide greater performance over the Athlon 64 3200+. However, the chances are that if you are looking to purchase an FX-51 equipped computer, you don't already own a Athlon 64 processor. To that end, we looked at the highest performing Athlon XP machine from Evesham, featuring a 3200+ processor to give us a platform to benchmark against.

Before we move onto raw figures it's important to remember that an Athlon XP 3200+ is not the same processor nor does it deliver the same performance as an Athlon 64 3200+. AMD's decision to give it the same 'performance rating' only causes confusion when purchasing a processor or system since the two are completely different products.

BAPCO's Sysmark 2002 is a popular synthetic benchmark suite featuring some of the most popular applications currently in use, including Microsoft Word 2002, Excel 2002, Adobe Photoshop 6 and Macromedia Dreamweaver 4.

The AXIS FX-51 obliterates the XP 3200+, scoring a 21% higher Sysmark rating. When dissecting the result, in Internet content creation we find a 21 percent increase and office productivity produces a 20 percent boost from XP 3200+ levels. Comparing these figures to a Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor in Internet content creation, the Athlon 64 FX-51 is 10-20 points behind (varying slightly with system configuration) but faring better in office productivity where it sees a lead of almost 50 points, representing a 20 percent gap.

PCMark 2002 provides a simple, yet effective means of rating the performance critical components within a computer such as CPU, RAM and the hard disk.

A 5 percent difference between the two processors is less than convincing although thanks to the integrated memory controller, we see a very impressive memory score. The AXIS FX-51 shows a 75 percent increase in this test over the XP 3200+ based system. Interestingly the hard drive score is higher on the XP 3200+ system which can be attributed to the use of a Promise controller on the AXIS FX-51 system coupled to a relatively immature Serial ATA hard drive utilizing converter chips to transform them into Serial ATA drives.

Futuremark’s 3DMark suite is a popular set of game tests put graphics cards through their paces. The older version, 2001 SE, due to its age can provide us with some insight into CPU performance. 3DMark03 offers a mix of game tests that are mostly dependant on graphics card performance.

In 3DMark 2001 SE the AXIS FX-51 shows a clear 2000 point or 11 percent lead over the XP 3200+. In the more graphically demanding 3DMark03, the gap is just 4 percent. From further testing we found that the majority of that gap is produced by the faster CPU rather than the extra 128MB of RAM present on the AXIS FX-51's video card.

SPEC viewperf 7.1 is a popular benchmark for testing OpenGL performance. Used to grade many workstations, it provides some of the toughest graphical tests that utilize this standard. ATi video cards have traditionally been weaker on OpenGL performance when compared to nVidia.

The results exhibit small levels of increased performance in the AXIS FX-51, but nothing to write home about. Viewperf is a demanding graphical test and therefore one should not expect a large increase in performance when only upgrading your processor. Further testing confirmed that when the Radeon 9800 Pro was replaced with a GeForce FX 5900 Ultra in a similar system, the viewperf figures rose.

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