Athlon core! Baltimore! Who's your friend?


Hi chums.

It’s time for the old man to say bye-bye to Slot A and AGP and embrace the future. I’ve read some of the older pleading bleats of “help me choose my new hardware” and the requisite, acerbic “did you look at the other eighteen hundred threads about this exact question you dumb COCK? Oh and the answer to your question is…” responses; those erudite dissertations have helped me determine exactly how many pins, what clock, and the number of processors per die that I want. Which, since I’m a cheap old bastard, is one.

Where I’m getting hung up is the core. When I go to buy, it seems that you can get the same clocks on different cores - San Diego, Winchester, Venice, Newcastle, Blahdeblah. Reading specs, technical nuts & bolts discussions, and benchmarking test results in poorly constructed Russian-accented English has left me with a terrible pain in my gulliver. I just have a simple question:

Is there a substantial difference in performance for gaming? What are the factors that will really affect my framerate? Will the name of the core make a noticeable difference when I’m playing Leisure Suit Larry Visits The Land of Clever, Racy Double Entendres?

If two different cores for the same chip (ie… Athlon 64 3800+) have the same cache and clock speed, then performance won’t really be any different. Possibly only different in the “.03% in a synthetic CPU test” sense.

It’s almost always to your benefit to get the latest core. Further chip revisions tend to run cooler (at a given clock speed), and AMD has made recent improvements to their memory controller that improve compatibility when doing things like loading up all four DIMM slots with double-sided RAM and so on.

But I would TOTALLY get a dual-core CPU.

Here’s a couple big tables of all of the different AMD CPU families and the differences between them.

The most important factors to look for have pretty much already been mentioned. The cache doesn’t really seem to make a huge difference in the benchmarks; a processor with 1MB of cache will generally perform better than one with 512K at the same speed, but slower than one with 512K at a higher speed. The CPUs with the smaller process width will tend to use less power and generate less heat, all else being equal, which may be important for system stability.

Given that, either San Diego or Venice would be best for a single core. If you wind up going dual core, it doesn’t really matter too much since they’re all fairly new and use 90nm.

(edit: added more info that might actually help answer the original question…)

Why? Appreciate the response, but wanted to ask for a bit more elucidation here.

Sorry if I’m begging the obvious, but my price point is in the $200 neighborhood, and the dual cores are pushing twice that. Will the processing increment justify the extra two bills? Will a dual core 4200+ perform twice as fast as a 3700+ San Diego (or might it in the near future if someone develops the software that can push all its buttons)?

Dual core or the older dual CPU solution will not perform twice as fast as a single core CPU. The software needs to be specifically tailored to utilize the 2nd CPU and even though, due to real world efficiencies the gain will always be less than 2x. However, I would strongly suggest you get 2 if that is within your budget. I have a dual CPU computer ( 2x Athlon 2600+ bartons ) and it is a dream to use. I use my computer for work at home and the Photoshop suite does utilize the 2nd cpu quite a bit. More over, having 2 CPU’s makes everything better in your day to day experience. You computer will be really really really smooth doing everything. No more hiccups and stutters when you switch apps. No stutters in your music when install apps with itunes playing. Leave your virus software on while you play games. No more hard reboots when an errant applications uses 100% of your CPU time…you have the 2nd CPU to use and kill it. Its just amazing. I love it, and would always get a dual CPU/core solution in the future.


Is it really that much of an advantage such that it is worth paying so much extra now? I bought a 3500+ (which is running everything I need silky smooth), with the thought that in a year I’ll be able to upgrade to a dual core that I could probably buy now for less in aggregate than I’d pay for a dual core now. It seems that a dual core’s real value is still 6 months-one year off for most people, but maybe I’m just offbase in that.

After upgrading my main rig to a 3800+ X2, I had to upgrade my Pentium rig to an 840D. Dual core rocks.

Only a few apps I use take advantage of it. But general multitasking is SOO much smoother.

I mean, heck, I can play a game at 60+ fps while converting videos for my PSP. That rocks.

Yeah, I guess I don’t do that stuff. I basically play games and use other programs at different times. That probably explains part of it.

Its hard to explain the benefits to you without demonstrating a dual core/cpu system to you. I’d say if you happy with what you have now, and its not really within your budget, to stick with the single core computer. However, if you ever do get the chance in the future, I would highly recommend that you make the move to dual cores. I didn’t really notice the advantage until i started doing work from home. The 2nd cpu is extremely helpful to me at all times now. Trust me, when you have photoshop and illustrator running, you’ll be using that 2nd cpu and 1+ gig of ram that everyone is telling you that you don’t need. :)


That’s exactly where I’m at. I don’t like the upgrade path I get on when I start popping four bills for major components.

Staying in the $200 vid card/cpu range keeps the upgrade stream reasonable, allows me to still play all the games I want to (generally), and has the added benefit of letting me also buy luxuries like shoes that fit for my wee ones.

Dual core does sound great though. If I could be downloading barnyard pron videos at the same time as I was running Thief: the Dark Project on DOSBox, why, I’d NEVER get anything else done.

You can buy a reasonably priced dual core+motherboard now in the $250 range. You just need to shop around, and if you’re not afraid of getting your stuff from the internet there are some seriously sweet deals.

I have a 3500 now but once the 4400 comes down to about 200 ish I will be picking one of them up no doubt. I cant wait!