Final Words

It can be argued that as much of a GPU hog Doom 3 is, it is just as demanding on your CPU. The recipe to success is much simpler on the CPU side however: Doom 3 needs cache and lots of it.

On the Pentium 4 side of things, if you've got anything with less than 512KB of cache it's time for you to upgrade. Prescott owners will be happy that their chips are finally faster than Northwood in something thanks to larger caches.

AMD owners have much more of a reason to rejoice: the Athlon 64 runs Doom perfectly. It's almost as if the game was built to run best on an Athlon 64; maybe AMD should invest some marketing dollars in their own "The way it's meant to be played" campaign. And to make things even better, you don't even have to have the fastest Athlon 64 to get great performance, even the meager 3000+ manages to offer performance equal to that of Intel's Extreme Edition Pentium 4 at a much lower cost. The key to AMD's success is the on-die memory controller; with lower latency memory accesses than the competing Intel solutions, Doom 3 sees system memory as one big cache and drives performance up considerably. It is also the on-die memory controller that makes cache size less of an issue on the Athlon 64, while too small of a cache seems to make or break performance with the Pentium 4.

The Athlon XP is much less impressive under Doom 3 thanks to its lack of an on-die memory controller; unless you have a Barton based Athlon XP, it may be time to bite the bullet and upgrade to an Athlon 64. That being said, the entry level Sempron 3100+ offers very competitive performance at a price point that's low enough to make the transition to a Socket-754 platform relatively painless.

If you are lucky enough to own any of the GeForce 6 series cards and play at resolutions lower than 1280x1024 rest assured that money spent on a faster CPU is money well spent. If you happen to have a slower card, something along the lines of a Radeon 9800 Pro or even a regular X800, your system is far less CPU bound and you may want to go with a more middle-of-the-road CPU in order to maximize performance without spending needlessly.

In the end, the winner of the final battle is clear: the AMD Athlon 64 is the processor for Doom 3.

AMD vs. Intel
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  • michael2k - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Heh, what about frames/$ graphs? Reply
  • Da3dalus - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Lovely graphs, *pats my Athlon 64 3200+ while waiting for Doom 3*

    Another week for Doom 3 to hit our european shelves, damnit I hate waiting for something you americans already have :-/
    Reply
  • elfy6x - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    I have a dual Opteron 246 setup, with 1Gb of ram, and a Radeon 9700 Pro. I'm not really a gamer, but I gave Doom 3 a shot, and it utilizes both of my CPU's when I play. I have nothing else running when I play the game. It doesn't tax both CPU's to 100% but one CPU fluctuates between 40-50% while the other one bounces around 10-20%. So something is processing two threads. Just my observation. :) Reply
  • PotatoMAN - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    I second the idea of benching memory and video memory at AT for doom week. I have a 3200+ A64 and I am wondering if I am starving it more with a 9800 pro (128) or with my 512mb of RAM. Thanks AT for being awesome! Reply
  • Gooberslot - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    I bet a 1-1.2ghz P3 or Athlon would cut it for a minimum. Just go back and look at the old benchmarks of the P4 1.5ghz on here. Only in Quake3 was the P4 on top. In UT the P4 actually tied with the P3 1ghz. Pathetic. Stating minimum requirements based on those old Williamete P4's is very misleading. Perhaps the real minimum cpu requirements should have been 1.2ghz P3 or Athlon, 1.5ghz P4, or 2.4ghz Celeron. :) Reply
  • matman326 - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Man I always knew that an athlon 64 system was powerfull but a 180 dollar proc. beating Intels Extremly Expensive 1000 dollar proc is just mind blowing. So much for the Netburst design kicking butt. Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    If you could find some time, I'd like to see a comparison between 128 and 256 MB R9800Pro, and 512 RAM and 1024 MB RAM. Basicly how much of a difference do video and system RAM make. Reply
  • at80eighty - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    dammit! looks like im gonna celebrate Christmas with a loan..grrrr... : )
    Reply
  • WooDaddy - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Two words:

    AMD ROX!!!


    I've been an AMD user since the 386 days and even had a NexGen processor (pre-pentium, K5). Never went Intel, never will (maybe)...

    Thatsright,
    Naw.. The charts don't lie. But to be fair, let's wait for the Intel-funded people (aka Tom's (blow)hardware) to put up their benchmarks. 10 bucks says they'll make all kinds of excuses to why Intel procs aren't fast enough.
    Reply
  • Regs - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Wow. Good info. Dual channel offers nothing. And the socket 939 2.2 Ghz CPU offers nothing over my 3000 A64 which costs 200 dollars less. Given that if you play on higher resolutions. Reply

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