AMD has launched its latest and greatest desktop processor, the AMD Athlon 64 FX-57. As the name suggests, the FX-57 is a faster variant of the FX-55, raising the core speed from 2.6GHz to 2.8GHz.
The FX-57 continues to use the Socket 939 form, with 1MB of L2 cache. It uses a core which has completed the transition from the 130nm Clawhammer to the 90nm San Diego that was started with FX-55. Besides making the core physically smaller, as the transistor count is unchanged at 114 million, the San Diego adds SSE3 instructions and also has an improved memory controller.
The memory controller for Opteron and Athlon 64 processors is inside the processor core, instead of being in the motherboard chipset, but this is an enhancement rather than a wholesale change. FX-57 still uses DDR memory, rather than DDR2, but you should now be able to plug in four modules of memory without suffering from incompatibility problems that cause your memory to clock down in speed.
In the past when AMD has introduced a new FX processor it has discontinued the previous model, so there isn’t a family of FX processors but instead the FX sits at the top of the Athlon 64 family, offering the ultimate in desktop performance for gamers. Well it’s all change with FX-57 as AMD will continue to sell FX-55 at the current official price of $827 per 1,000 units which translates to £590 inc. VAT in the UK. The FX-57 will go on sale at $1,031 per 1,000 units which will be about £764 inc. VAT, so you’ll be paying a premium of £170 for those extra 200MHz and that enhanced memory controller.
As with previous FX processors the clock multiplier is unlocked, so AMD fully expects that you’ll be overclocking your new processor, in which case you’d better have a decent power supply and a top-notch motherboard which can supply up to 80A to the processor.
The AMD Press kit that we received consisted of the FX-57, an Asus A8N nForce4 SLI motherboard and 1GB of Corsair CMX512 memory in two modules. Unfortunately the BIOS that was installed did not allow any overclocking which rather defeated the object of the exercise, however we were able to run benchmark tests that showed the FX-57 would be equivalent to an Athlon 64 4200+ and is very, very fast indeed. But at that price, it ought to be.
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