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Review: AMD Duron 850

by David Ross on 27 January 2001, 00:00

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaee

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AMD Duron 850

The computer market is changing all the time, a year ago if you had said we would be running @ 1.2 GHz with DDR Ram technology I wouldn't have believed you, but we are. Also prices are dropping, with the release of the AMD Duron 850 CPU comes a new dent in the market space, a budget CPU at sub £100, this is sure good value. The only issue being, do we need this speed ? Well we don't think so, yes it is nice to have a fast CPU and do massive overclocks, but is it actually worth it, meaning most of us simply use our systems for a few games and using the internet.

Is there any need for us to run a 850 MHz Duron review? Well we have decided to run a short update review, giving you the facts which you need, rather than reading through someone else's 15 page review, which at the end will tell you that the CPU is a mere 1% faster, and that it is just like a Duron 700 clocked at 850.

AMD first released there Socket A processors around a year ago, and ever since this there was a budget version on the run, this being given the codename 'Spitfire' well this then became a Duron. It uses a Socket A interface, and it is basically a cut down Thunderbird, with one crucial difference, less L2 cache. The Thunderbird uses 256K L2 cache compared to the Duron mere 64K, this could be a major slowdown in some applications.

The Specs:

Feature

AMD Athlon Processor

Slot A/Socket A

Operations per clock cycle

9

Integer pipelines

3

Floating point pipelines

3

Full x86 decoders

3

L1 cache size

128KB

L2 cache size

Internal, 64KB

Peak bus bandwidth

1.6 GB

Bus outstanding transactions

24 per processor

Clock technology

Source synchronous
(Clock forwarding)

3D enhancement instructions

- Total no. of instructions

- Single-precision FP SIMD

- 4 FP operations per clock

- Cache/prefetch controls

- Streaming controls

- DSP/comm extensions

Enhanced 3DNow!™ technology

45

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multiprocessing support

Yes, point-to-point

Max. system processors

Unlimited (by chipset) - Soon to be Dual, and DDR Rigs soon!

No. of transistors per die

~22 million – 37 million

This CPU looks like every other Socket A CPU on the market ;] In fact something like this : -

I installed this CPU in a IWill KT133A Motherboard, after we had done the usual Hexus tricks and unlocked the CPU as you can read here. After doing this I did a clean install of Windows 2000, and then had some fun.

There are lots of boards on the market now which will support the Duron Socket A interface, ranging from the KT133 motherboards, the KT133A Motherboards, and the ALI DDR Motherboards. VIA, AMD, and ALI all make boards to run these CPUS. These CPUS have taken off and nearly everyone I know runs an AMD now, which wasn't the case 18months ago. Intel seem to be loosing it recently but with rumors I've heard about the new P4 motherboards due to be on the market soon, they should take off. In my eyes Intel are concentrating too hard in offering complete solutions rather than what some people want, CPUs! also I believe they need to sort out there pricing system. One advantage of a Socket A CPU over a standard Slot A, is the lack of need for a Gold finger card, this means that you don't need to fork out £40 for the little card, all you need is a standard pencil. Read about the pencil trick here.

This CPU is developed for a budget low end system (yes BUDGET, even though it is 850MHz), this means it needs a low price, to beat away Intel, at the time of the review this CPU was no more than £100 from most online vendors. The Duron is developed to replace AMD recent poor performers, the AMD K6-2 and k6-3. This CPU is developed to be a direct competitor to Intel's Celerons. Because this CPU is for the budget computer, it is priced accordingly (also at a low price to kick up a stink with Intel). This CPU has been developed to be a direct competitor to Intel's Celerons 2 range of CPUs.

AMD Testing System : -

Mobo - IWill KT133A Motherboard
Graphics Card - Asus Geforce Pure 64MB
Case - Coolermaster ATCS201
Memory - 256MB Crucial PC133 Cas 2 Ram
Cooling - Hedgehog
HD - 18GB Quantum Atlas 10K II
CD/DVD - Teac 32X CD Rom
Sound - SB Live 1024
Network - Intel Pro 100 Management

Intel Testing System :-

Mobo - Abit VP6 / Asus P3V4X for Celerons 2s
Graphics Card - Asus Geforce Pure 64MB
Case - Coolermaster ATCS200
Memory - 256MB Crucial PC133 Cas 2 Ram
Cooling - Hedgehog
HD - 18GB Quantum Atlas 10K II
CD/DVD - Teac 32X CD Rom, 6X SCSI DVD Rom
Sound - Sound Blaster Live Platinum
Network - 10/100 3Com Management Card.

3DMark was run with the Geforce Pure running at default clock speeds, and in 1024*768 with the latest detonators.

Here the Duron scores an acceptable score, beating the Celerons by a large margin, but not quite the speed of its big brother or the PIII. This is the only test where the P3 800 manages to clear the floor.

In this test all the CPUs come within a few point of each other, the Duron scoring very well and beating a PIII. With one exception with the TBird 850 outperforming the other CPUs by a larger margin.

As you can see the TBird still beats the Duron at a lower clock speed, with Intel not even being able to put up a fight. The Duron 850 beats the 700 by around 4 points, which is a good increase over such a little physical speed increase. And the Celerons is lagging behind as usual.

Overall the 3DMark scores aren't surprising, not a lot of difference between the top and the bottom, as it is mostly graphics card dependant. But the AMD CPUs shine still, with the TBird beating all of the other CPUs, and the Duron also performing very well.

Conclusion : This is a great CPU for the home/office computer. Perhaps not the best for CPU intensive games, but by no means slow in them. At this price and speed this CPU is a GREAT buy. The Overclockers out there might have a little problem, as there have been mixed reports about this CPU’s overclockability. At the end of the day I would personally recommend that people get something like the Duron 700 CPU and overclocks it to 1Ghz, this CPU would run at 1.1 Ghz with standard air cooling but for the price the Duron 700 cant and wont be beaten. As you can see overall at default speeds it is only a little faster than a Duron 700, but this is what we would expect.

Ed Note : This review is informative, but we have kept it as compact as possible, so readers can obtain as much information as possible. This is what our readers want, any comments on this matter please email us