AMD Athlon 64 FX-60

The latest high-end chip from AMD introduces dual-core processing to AMD's ultra-high-end enthusiast FX line. But while the Athlon 64 FX-60 set new records on our current benchmarks, the chip doesn't play well with Nvidia's graphics cards. Assuming that this issue gets sorted out, the FX-60 shows great promise.

Rich Brown

Rich Brown

Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness

Rich is the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, KY. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printing to Z-Wave smart locks.

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AMD Athlon 64 FX-60
Editor's note: We've updated this First Take to reflect the fact that the systems on which we had trouble testing the FX-60 all arrived with overclocked parts. (1/11/06)
Hot on the heels of Intel's second-generation dual-core Extreme Edition 955 chip comes AMD's Athlon 64 FX-60. More than just a speed bump to AMD's ultra-high-end FX line, the Athlon 64 FX-60 features two processing cores, bringing the FX series into the modern multicore era. Expect to see the chip available for $1,031.

Upside: Now that AMD's highest-end processor is dual core, we can paint a more straightforward desktop CPU picture. It was previously hard to explain that the Athlon 64 FX-57 was only a single-core CPU yet cost $200 more than AMD's top-of-the-line dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+. Now gamers and enthusiasts that invest in an ultra-high-end FX-60 chip can take advantage of all the forthcoming games and applications due to incorporate multicore optimizations. But the FX-60 is not merely an insurance policy for the future; our early tests show the FX-60 is lightning-fast on today's apps, as well.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
BAPCo SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
BAPCo SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  

CPU-limited custom Half-Life 2 demo (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Half-Life 2 1,024x768, no AA no AF  

On our current suite of single-core and multithreaded benchmarks, the Athlon 64 FX-60 beats all other desktop chips on almost every test, including Intel's new Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 955 introduced at the end of December (the lone exception is a statistical tie with the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ on Half-Life 2). Of particular note are our DivX 6.1 tests. The recent update to that application saw the introduction of multithreaded code. While Intel's Extreme Edition 955 chip did well on the straight video encoding, it couldn't compete with the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ on multitasking. The Athlon 64 FX-60 not only beat Intel's chip by a larger margin on the multitasking, it also trumped the Extreme Edition 955 on the encode portion. We're curious to see how both of the new chips will perform on upcoming multithreaded games designed to take advantage of dual-core CPUs processing threads, but the early results favor AMD as strongly now as they did a few months back in our dual-core CPU prizefight.

Multimedia tests (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Sorenson Squeeze 4  
Apple iTunes  
Adobe Photoshop CS  

DivX 6.1 tests (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Multitasking--McAfee VirusScan and DivX 6.1 encoding  
DivX 6.1 encoding  

Downside: As is often the case with new hardware introductions, the FX-60 is not immune to quirks. We received a number of FX-60 PCs in the weeks leading up to the end of the press embargo. All of them were overclocked, some more aggressively than others, but they all had trouble getting through our tests. Some vendors claim the troubles have to do with Nvidia's graphics drivers, others point to conflicts with Windows. We have faith things will sort themselves out eventually, but since the Athlon 64 FX-60 is ostensibly a gamer's chip, those problems will likely give pause to the early adopting gamers most likely to purchase it at launch.

Outlook: Assuming the Athlon 64 FX-60 will soon learn to play nice in the larger computing ecosystem, our early take is that AMD's desktop performance dominance continues. That said, we're only now starting to see the true proliferation of multithreaded apps that can take advantage of a dual-core CPU. We'll revisit our benchmarks accordingly soon, at which point we can present the full dual-core CPU picture.

AMD test bed:
Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; Crucial 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (PCIe); WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; Windows XP Professional SP2; Antec 550w power supply

Intel test bed:
Intel 975X Express chipset motherboard; Intel 975X Express chipset; Crucial 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (PCIe); WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; Windows XP Professional SP2; Antec 550w power supply

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