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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  • Thorne - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    SMP Anyone? Doom III should support smp... has anyone found it? Reply
  • Thorne - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • jrphoenix - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Intel and gaming don't mix. Where is Peteroy when you need him? LOL. My 3800+ is looking better and better each day :) Reply
  • magratton - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Is there any possibility that you could produce some numbers for the cpu overclockers who placed their bets on the Athlon XP2500M instead of the A64? Great article, thank you! Reply
  • ceefka - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    Oh my, I guess the Pentium EE is indeed the Extra Expensive Emergency Edition.

    I'm not much of a gamer though. It's a shame I wrecked my car a few weeks ago. I wanted to build a 939 since they also perform so well on sound and video. Have to wait now. Well there's one upside to that, prices will drop a bit, or so I hope.

    Say AT, how about soundbenchies, especially Cubase SX, or similar, with a fixed arrangement, sound & midi with VST instruments and then add stuff like plug-in effects until the system throws up. I have read that Dual Opteron systems can handle 100 audio channels with about 80 realtime plug-ins. How far does say the top 20 of these CPU's carry you. I suppose Hyper Threading would help out Intel here. So I'm very curious.
    Reply
  • msva123 - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    If only you could download hardware... Reply
  • Sonic587 - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    I find it remarkable how the A64 3000+ manages to get within 2FPS of the 3.4GHz EE. We have a lowly $160 processor almost besting a $1000 EE. Wow. Reply
  • Adul - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    drool :D cant wait to upgrade Reply
  • mkruer - Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - link

    LOL im still not buying and AMD 64 chip til the end of the year, but its good to know that the 3500+ on socket 939 still beats*ntels best Reply

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