A Desktop Turion

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Someone recently asked me the following:

As a faithful reader I would like to see something
on the latest low wattage
mobile and DTR A64’s for use on the desktop.

Lots of us have s754 boards because we went early
and now we don’t want to
go s939 with a new cpu and pci-e vid card.

What we do want is an option for our s754 boards . . . .

As it stands right now, AMD doesn’t plan to make 90nm socket 754 Athlon 64s (Semprons, yes, socket 754s, no).

However, they certainly do plan on making a lot of 90nm socket 754 Turions, which are basically tweaked Revision E Hammer cores.

Will the Turions work on desktop socket 754 boards?

GamePC recently reviewed a couple Turions, and had this to say about compatibility and desktop use:

Turion64 processors run off the same Socket-754 form factor of AMD’s first generation desktop Athlon64 processors, which also their current form factor for Mobile Athlon64 processors. This means that Turion64 processors will be able to drop into the majority of Socket-754 desktop and notebook motherboard without any hassle. However, the motherboard must have a BIOS which supports E-Stepping Athlon64 / Turion64 processors, and the motherboard must support the lower core voltage levels of the Turion64 processors. Many motherboard makers like Asus and DFI have already updated many of their BIOS’s to support E-Stepping processors, so it’s entirely possible to use Turion64 processors on the desktop today. In fact, all of our testing is done with an off-the-shelf nForce3 250GB Socket-754 motherboard which has been out for months.

If you plan on using the Turion64 processor in desktop environment for a quiet desktop / gaming system, keep in mind that all Socket-754 coolers will not work on the processor. As you’ve likely noticed, the Turion64 comes in a “lidless” form factor, meaning there is no heat spreader attached. This means that the Turion64 is slightly shorter compared to Athlon64 processors, but more importantly, the chip is more fragile and can crack or chip under heightened stress, similar to the Athlon XP of yesteryear. Here at GamePC, we’ve found that Zalman 7000-series coolers, which allow you to manually adjust the stress level on the core work very well on Turion64 processors. We would not recommend the use of AMD’s stock Athlon64 coolers on Turion64s.

That’s the good news (we’ll note that any BIOS which supports 90nm Semprons should be able to run these chips). The bad news is you can’t find one for sale yet (at least I couldn’t). However, that will eventually change.

It’s also arguable whether or not this will prove to be the best upgrade option for socket 754 users. Somewhere down the road, an AMD64 enabled Sempron (at least the 256K cache models) ought to deliver 90-95% of the performance of a Turion for $75-$100 less. No doubt, how people will decide will depend on the exact price/performance differences between the two at the time.

Nonetheless, it’s good to know that socket 754 owners will have a choice down the road.



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  1. Sounds interesting, I am curious on the cost/benifits though on changing out the cpu from say a 3400+ Although that has to bee a whole lot cheaper then having to buy a new s939 board, proc, and a new video card.