The AMD Athlon XP 2600+
The Thoroughbred Core Gets a Shot in the Arm...

By, Marco Chiappetta
August 21, 2002

 

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM:

Due to the significant variations in benchmark scores we have seen from one site to the next, we feel it is necessary to explain exactly how we configure our test systems before running any benchmarks. When testing the Athlon XP 2600+, the first thing we did was enter the EPoX 8K3A+'s system BIOS and set the board to "Load Optimized Defaults". We then configured the Memory manually to run at 166MHz, with the CAS Latency and other memory timings set to 2-2-5-2, with 4-Way Bank Interleaving and a 1T command rate.  The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Professional was installed. After the Windows installation had completed, we installed the VIA 4-In-1 drivers and then hit the Windows Update website and downloaded all of the available updates, with the exception of the ones related to Windows Messenger. Then we installed the rest of the necessary drivers, and disabled then removed Windows Messenger from the system.  Auto-Updating and System Restore were also disabled, and we setup a 768MB permanent paging file. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance", installed all of the benchmarking software, defragged the hard drive and ran all of the tests at the CPU's default and overclocked speeds.

The Athlon XP 2200+ benchmarks were run on a Gigabyte GA-7VRX KT333 Motherboard that was supplied to us by AMD when the 2200+ launched back in June.  Abit's IT7 MAX motherboard, based on the Intel 845E chipset, was used to test the 2.2GHz and 2.4GHz Pentium 4s.  Lastly, an Iwill P4R533-N motherboard was used to test the 2.53GHz Pentium 4, as this was the only i850E based motherboard we had in the lab that has been certified to run the RDRAM at PC1066 speeds.

The HotHardware Test Systems
The KT333 + 512MB of PC3200 - A Perfect Match

 

CPUs:

AMD Athlon XP 2600+ (2133MHz)

AMD Athlon XP 2200+ (1800MHz)

Pentium 4 2.2GHz

Pentium 4 2.4GHz

Pentium 4 2.53GHz

 

Common Hardware:
NVIDIA GeForce 4 Ti 4600

On-Board Sound

IBM DTLA307030 30GB ATA/100 7200 RPM HD
Creative 52X ATAPI CD-ROM

Standard 3.5" Floppy

320W Power Supply

 

Other Hardware:

EPoX 8K3A+ VIA KT333 Based Motherboard (2600+)

Gigabyte GA-7VRX KT333 Motherboard (2200+)

Abit IT7 i845e Motherboard (2.2GHz & 2.4GHz)
Iwill P4R533-N Motherboard (2.53GHz.)
512MB of PC3200 DDR RAM @ CAS 2 (2200+, 2600+, P4 2.2 & P4 2.4)

512MB of Samsung PC800 RDRAM (2.53GHz)
512MB of Samsung PC1066 RDRAM (2.53GHz)

 

Software:

Windows XP Professional
Direct X 8.1
NVIDIA Detonator 4 reference drivers, version 28.32

VIA 4-in-1's v.4.42

VIA 4-in-1's v.4.38

Intel INFs v4.00

 

Benchmarks & Comparisons With SiSoft SANDRA
Synthetic Number Crunching

SANDRA (the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information and diagnostic utility put out by the good folks at SiSoftware. Not only is this program used for benchmarking, but it can provide a host of other information about your installed hardware and operating system.  We began our benchmarking with four of the built-in sub-system tests that are part of the SANDRA 2002 suite (CPU, CPU Cache, Multimedia and Memory Bandwidth).  Default, and overclocked scores are both represented below.

CPU Test
Athlon XP 2600+
2133MHz (16x133)

 

CPU Test OC
Athlon XP 2600+
2416MHz  (16x151)

 
CPU Cache Test
Athlon XP 2600+

 
CPU Cache Test OC
Athlon XP 2600+

 
Multimedia Test
Athlon XP 2600+

 

 
Multimedia Test OC
Athlon XP 2600+

 
Memory Test
Athlon XP 2600+

 
Memory Test OC
Athlon XP 2600+

At its default clock speed of 2.133GHz, the Athlon XP 2600+ owned all of SANDRA's reference systems in ALU performance, but its FPU scores were second to the 2.66GHz Pentium 4.  However, when we overclocked our CPU to 2.416GHz, nothing could touch it.  In the CPU Cache tests, the 2600+ didn't fare as well, getting beat by the 2.66GHz Pentium 4 at every block size except for 8Kb and 16Kb.  At its overclocked speed, the 2600+ did a little better though, besting the P4 at 8Kb, 16Kb and 32Kb.  The CPU Multimedia tests show the Athlon XP 2600+ dominating all of the reference systems at its default clock speed, and with the processor overclocked it pulled even further ahead of the competition.  The memory bandwidth tests tell a much different story.  Due to the fact that the Athlon XP 2600+ is still "stuck" with a 133MHz (266MHz effective) FSB, its memory bandwidth scores did not increase much with the processor's higher clock speed.  When we overclocked our CPU with a 151MHz FSB, the scores did increase and are actually pretty good, but they look abysmal next to PC1066 RDRAM.  Rumor has it, AMD will be switching to a 166MHz (333MHz effective) FSB with future Athlon XPs...Let's hope this turns out to be true.

Benchmarks & Comparisons With The ZD Winstones
Simulated Application Performance

NOTE: From this point forward, we'll be comparing the performance of the Athlon XP 2600+ to an Athlon XP 2200+, and three Pentium 4s ranging in clock speed from 2.2GHz to 2.53GHz.  We should mention that the Athlon XP 2200+ was NOT tested on the same EPoX motherboard as the 2600+, it was tested on a Gigabyte KT333 based motherboard that AMD sent out when the 2200+ launched.  We also used a different stick of memory with the 2600+, that was able to run at far more aggressive timings than the TwinMos modules we used in our 2200+ review.  These changes, along with the updated VIA 4-In-1 driver package, seem to have generated some benchmark scores that don't quite scale exactly with the 333MHz clock speed increase.  We want you to keep that in mind when viewing our benchmark results.  Had we retested the 2200+ on the newer test bed, its scores would no doubt have been higher.  Now, onto the rest of the benchmarks...

Our first "Real World" tests we taken with ZD Labs' Business Winstone 2001 benchmark. The quote below, taken directly quote ZD's eTestingLabs website, explains exactly what this test is comprised of:

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based 32-bit applications on Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 (SP6 or later), Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows XP. Business Winstone doesn't mimic what these packages do; it runs real applications through a series of scripted activities and uses the time a PC takes to complete those activities to produce its performance scores."

The application used in the Business Winstone tests include:

  • Five Microsoft Office 2000 applications (Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Word)

  • Microsoft Project 98

  • Lotus Notes R5

  • NicoMak WinZip

  • Norton Antivirus

  • Netscape Communicator

The Athlon XP 2600+ simply crushed every other system we tested in the Business Winstone 2001 benchmark!  This score seemed unusually high, but was within 2 points of the reference score provided to us by AMD, so we decided to publish it anyway.  The 2.53GHz Pentium 4, even when using PC1066 RDRAM, couldn't even come close the 2600+.  Score one for AMD...

Next up, we have ZD's Content Creation Winstone 2002. This benchmark runs a similar series of scripted activities to Business Winstone 2001, but the tests are comprised of more "bandwidth hungry", multimedia type applications. The applications used in the Content Creation Winstone 2002 tests include:

  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.01.00.3055

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

We got an excellent score of 42.3 in the Content Creation Winstone 2002 benchmark with the Athlon XP 2600+.  This wasn't fast enough to beat the 2.53GHz Pentium 4 when using PC1066 RDRAM though, but it did outperform every other system we tested. 

MPEG Encoding & PC Mark 2002