Duron, Duron: AMD's New Processor Rocks

SAN FRANCISCO (07/26/2000) - Our first look at Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s new Duron processor--in a TaskMaster 600D system from Sys Technology--shows that this fast and inexpensive CPU will be one to watch.

With Duron, AMD extends the processor war to budget-tier PCs. Duron--a name invoking the Latin root of "durability"--is currently available in 600-, 650-, and 700-MHz versions. Systems with Duron CPUs cost roughly the same as PCs with Intel Celeron chip sets, previously the top dogs in the budget CPU pack.

In PC WorldBench 2000 tests, the no-frills TaskMaster 600D performed impressively (though our test base of Windows 2000 Professional systems is not yet extensive). Running Windows 2000 Pro on a 600-MHz Duron, the Sys scored 159--that's 13 points higher than a comparably equipped PIII-600 system and only 6 points below a comparable PIII-733 machine.

This US$1189 Sys shipping model, with a 20.5GB hard drive, contains such business-ready components as an Intel Pro/100+ network card and a case lock.

The unit does have a few shortcomings, including a low-end 17X-40X CD-ROM drive and limited expansion room (two open PCI slots and two open bays).

Like AMD's new Athlon, the Duron carries integrated L2 cache. Cache provides limited, quick-access storage space for data most likely to be needed next by the CPU. The size of Duron's total cache (128KB of L1 cache and 64KB of L2 cache) is only slightly greater than that of the Celeron (32KB of L1 and 128 KB of L2), but its three-times-faster front side bus (at 200 MHz versus 66 MHz) should supply a larger performance boost with CPU-intensive applications.

The system comes with a crisp 17-inch OptiQuest Q71 monitor powered by an NVidia graphics card, but it lacks an overall manual and a reset button. Still, the Sys TaskMaster 600D's low price and solid performance make it a good bargain desktop.

--Joel Strauch

Sys TaskMaster 600D

PRO: Nifty new Duron CPU, ready for corporate use, budget price.

CON: No system manual, no reset button.

VALUE: Inexpensive Win 2000 Pro machine with good performance.

List price: $1189

Sys Technology



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