The system was built inside a Cooler Master Wave Master with windowed side panel. The motherboard used was an ASUS SK8N with its nForce3 Pro 150 chipset. Two 512MB sticks of PC3200 CL2.5 ECC registered memory filled two of the four available slots, while graphics were taken care of by a 256MB Gigabyte GeForceFX 5950 graphics card. Windows XP in its 64bit beta version sat on a pair of RAIDed Western Digital, 10,000rpm Serial-ATA hard drives, while a copy of Windows XP Pro occupied a single Parallel-ATA drive. The whole, impressive set-up was lit with a couple corporate-green CCFL tubes to complete the effect.
Performance during testing held very few surprises. We’re already familiar with the benefits of SSE2 and 3DNow! So we’re essentially dealing with a simple 200MHz speed bump. As I mentioned though, this in itself leads to associated benefits in terms of memory and data bus efficiency and both of these were evident from my results which, generally speaking, pointed to this as being probably the fastest desktop CPU your money can buy right now. This is no doubt a relief to AMD who must have questioned its own marketing wisdom when the Athlon64 3400+ began nudging at the performance levels displayed by the original FX-51, helped admittedly by VIA’s very able K8T800 chipset.
Despite its blazing speed the FX-53 is a tough product to place. It’s undoubtedly the cream of the current CPU crop, but to whom will it ultimately appeal? If it takes the eye and the coin of the Opteron user then this will impact AMD’s bottom line, while I suspect the savvy gamer with deep pockets is holding off buying until they see what a Socket-939 Athlon FX is capable of.
In terms of feathers in caps, this is almost a full headdress. It’s AMD’s fastest clocked CPU ever. It’s the fastest desktop CPU currently available on balance. It has the fastest memory controller ever created and it does it all for both 32bit and 64bit code. By rights Intel should be cowering in fear, humiliation or possibly both. Unfortunately though, unless AMD can conjure up a fully functional 64bit Windows based operating system for those who aren’t ready to dabble with Linux, and then get all the big-name software titles ported to take full advantage of it, it’s just punching under water and really not making the impact we all know it can.
With a retail price of almost £600, the FX-53 is far from cheap and you’d have to be a serious performance junky to stump up the cash. That said, you will be getting the fastest CPU that AMD has ever made, and the basis for building PC that will make short work of anything you care to throw at it.