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AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ review: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+

AMD's new high-end dual-core CPU offers plenty of bang for the buck, outpacing Intel's Pentium 965 Extreme Edition, which costs $200 more. Sounds like a good deal, but wait to see what Intel's next-gen Core 2 Duo chips have to offer when they debut later this year.

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Rich Brown
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Rich Brown

Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness

Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.

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Despite the impending Intel announcement, the X2 5000+ deserves merit. Compared to everything else in the field right now, the X2 5000+ will serve everyone but demanding gamers well. At 2.6GHz per core, it's faster than all of AMD's original X2 series of dual-core CPUs. It was also announced on the same date as the aforementioned Socket AM2 chipset for a reason.

7.0

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+

The Good

Faster than Intel's current fastest, more expensive desktop CPU; beats even AMD's more expensive FX-60 chips on some tests.

The Bad

Requires new motherboard and memory; Intel's new, potentially faster CPUs are right around the corner.

The Bottom Line

AMD's new high-end dual-core CPU offers plenty of bang for the buck, outpacing Intel's Pentium 965 Extreme Edition, which costs $200 more. Sounds like a good deal, but wait to see what Intel's next-gen Core 2 Duo chips have to offer when they debut later this year.
Along with last week's and Socket AM2 chipset announcements, AMD introduced a more mainstream dual-core chip, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+. At $696 (according to AMD's pricing per 1,000 units), the X2 5000+ has a lot of performance to offer for the price, stacking up well alongside AMD's pricier Athlon 64 X2 FX-60 and FX-62 CPUs, as well as Intel's most advanced desktop chip, the Pentium Extreme Edition 965. If Intel weren't close to announcing a major overhaul to its CPU lineup in the coming months, we'd be able to provide a clearer recommendation for the Athlon 64 X2 5000+. As it stands, powerful though it is, we suggest you hold off purchasing such an expensive chip until we know what Intel's next-generation Core 2 Duo processors will bring to the computing table.

The new AM2 chipset brings all of AMD's CPUs onto an updated motherboard platform, although the company needs to reissue separate AM2 versions of the old Socket 939 chips. The X2 5000+, however, is Socket AM2 only. About all that really means is that you'll need to buy a new motherboard (Socket AM2 and Socket 939 aren't cross-compatible) and new DDR2 memory, since AM2 boards don't use DDR memory. Aside from the memory switch, the only other major advantage of the new platform is reduced power consumption. Whereas on Socket 939, the highest-end X2 chip, the 4800+, required 115 watts from your power supply, the X2 5000+ (and the AM2 version of the 4800+) needs only 89 watts. While we appreciate the improvement, it will really benefit you only if you're building a PC with multiple high-end graphics cards.

Chipset updates aside, the real news about the X2 5000+ is its performance. It performed so well, about the only task we don't recommend it for is extreme gaming. Otherwise, it will give you fast performance at significant cost savings. The best example is our multitasking test. The X2 5000+ finished our test a few seconds faster than the Athlon 64 FX-60, which costs roughly $125 more. And even where it didn't win, the X2 5000+ turned in strong scores. Both its SysMark 2004 scores and its times on our multimedia tests trailed the FX-60 slightly. And for Intel's part, its $1,100 Pentium Extreme Edition 965 chip trailed the X2 5000+ on all but the stand-alone DivX 6.2 encoding test. In other words, the X2 5000+ is a great choice for digital content creation and fast day-to-day computing.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62
367 
294 
235 
AMD Athlon 64 FX-60
353 
282 
225 
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
340 
272 
218 

Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
VirusScan 10 and DivX 6.2  

Multimedia tests (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Adobe Photoshop CS2  
Apple iTunes 6.0.4.2  
DivX 6.2  
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
269 
86 
88 
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62
255 
78 
79 
AMD Athlon 64 FX-60
258 
85 
84 

In our gaming test, the X2 5000+ didn't fare as well as on the other benchmarks. It was still faster than Intel's 965 chip, but it fell significantly behind AMD's FX chips. In fairness, its 97.4 frames-per-second score on our Half-Life 2: Lost Coast demo is still very strong, so if you won't be disappointed if you use this chip for gaming. Just know that AMD has faster options in its FX line if your chief concern is 3D games.

CPU Limited Custom Half-Life 2: Lost Coast demo (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast demo 1,024x768 no AA no AF  

If all of that sounds like a resounding endorsement of AMD's new chip, we have to throw in a caveat. You see, way back in March, enthusiast site Anandtech was able to get some Intel-guided hands-on time with Intel's new Core 2 Duo desktop chips (then code-named Conroe). The testing was admittedly dubious, conducted as it was on systems set up by Intel, but it provided enough of a glimpse at the future to suggest that you at least wait and see what Intel's next-generation chips have to offer before buying an expensive new CPU from either company. They're due out soon, so we suggest you keep an eye out for our full-fledged, unbiased benchmark testing.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 test bed:
Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard; Nvidia Nforce4 SLI chipset; Crucial 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX; 74GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drive; Windows XP Professional SP2; Antec 550w power supply

AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 and X2 5000+ test bed:
Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard; Nvidia Nforce 590 SLI chipset; Corsair 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900GTX; Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drive; Windows XP Professional SP2; Antec 550w power supply

Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 965 test bed:
Intel 975X Express chipset motherboard; Intel 975X Express chipset; Crucial 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX; Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drive; Windows XP Professional SP2; Antec 550w power supply

7.0

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 8