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AMD's Athlon 1.4GHz processor

Fun, fun, fun 'til..

NOT SO LONG AGO, we rounded up the fastest mainstream PC processors for a comprehensive look at how they compared. Our review of the 1.7GHz Pentium 4 compared Intel's latest to the Athlon 1.33GHz using a range of tests. We looked at how these two CPU architectures handled different types of code and some other nifty things, as well. Finally, then, we picked a winner. We concluded at the time that, despite the clock speed disparity, AMD's 1.33GHz Athlon was the fastest PC processor around. We noted the 1.7GHz Pentium 4 performed roughly equivalent to the 1.2GHz Athlon.

It was a hoot.

Since then, we've been treated to a parade of freaks from AMD and Intel: all sorts of wild, new variations on the Athlon and Pentium 4 designs, including two-headed oddities like the super-expensive Xeon and Athlon MP, plus the strangely named Athlon 4 for laptops. At the end of the day, though, we were just looking at Athlon and P4 variants aimed at other market segments—specifically, high-end workstations, servers, and mobile applications. If you want to buy or build yourself a plain old PC for anything close to an acceptable price, you're probably going to be choosing between the Athlon and the Pentium 4. The new Athlon "Palomino" core won't supplant the current Athlon Thunderbird on the desktop for a while yet. (Palominos do show a bit of a performance advantage over a T-bird at the same clock speed, but nothing dramatic.)

In that context, AMD has launched its very latest Athlon, which is a clock speed increase over the 1.33GHz Athlon, and not much more. This is still the Thunderbird core, but this one goes to 1400MHz, or 1.4GHz. It may not be anything fancy nowadays, but the T-bird can still run, and this one runs faster than ever.

The chip
Our Athlon 1.4GHz review unit is a couple steps beyond the vaunted AXIA T-bird stepping, famous for is overclocking prowess. This new stepping is AYJHA, which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like AXIA, but it does sound like a sneeze, which counts for something.

The Athlon 1.4GHz - Achoo!

Our review unit also came with a nice looking FoxConn heatsink/fan combo. It's not too terribly huge, and the fan is relatively low profile, but it has a nickel-plated copper base. Check it out...

The FoxConn cooler comes with a nickel-plated copper base. Ooh! Shiny!

This cooler proved at least as effective in our testing as our larger (and much louder) Thermaltake Volcano II cooler. It is also very, very shiny.

Though this processor runs fairly hot—around 125-132 degrees Fahrenheit during our testing—it was eminently stable, as well. Now, let's see how it performs.