Cheap - High End: Athlon 64 3800+ vs. Pentium 4 560

This entire review has been focused on comparing processors that retail either close to or over $1000 since they are flagship chips, but what about the next price class down? There's a very interesting situation here with the most expensive non-EE Pentium 4 being significantly cheaper than the highest end non-FX Athlon 64 processors.

Using our RealTime Pricing Engine we pitted the bargain high end Pentium 4 560, going for $440, against the more expensive Athlon 64 3800+ which is still selling for just over $600. So which CPU is the better choice if you want performance almost as good as the high end chips, but at a much more reasonable price? Let's find out.

First we've got the business/general use application tests; with AMD taking five of the benchmarks and Intel taking three, the score card is pretty close between the two, however AMD does win by higher margins so the nod goes to AMD here. However, once you take into account the price difference between the two CPUs, AMD's margin of victory is cut into. Despite the price argument, we'll still give the crown here to AMD.

Business/General Use
 
Intel Pentium 4 560
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
Winner
Business Winstone 2004
21.4
23.6
AMD (10.2%)
SYSMark 2004 - Communication
144
139
Intel (3.6%)
SYSMark 2004 - Document Creation
201
194
Intel (3.6%)
SYSMark 2004 - Data Analysis
184
145
Intel (27%)
Microsoft Office XP with SP-2
522
520
Tie
Mozilla 1.4
459
316
AMD (31.2%)
ACD Systems ACDSee PowerPack 5.0
547
490
AMD (10.4%)
Ahead Software Nero Express 6.0.0.3
540
491
AMD (9%)
WinZip Computing WinZip 8.1
412
409
Tie
WinRAR
479
617
AMD (28.8%)
Winner
 
 
AMD

Under our Multitasking Content Creation tests Intel comes away with three wins, and AMD with two. One of AMD's victories is in a test with a fairly high margin of error reducing the real world performance advantage; factor in the lower CPU cost and Intel wins this one.

Multitasking Content Creation
 
Intel Pentium 4 560
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
Winner
Content Creation Winstone 2004
32.7
35.3
AMD (8%)
SYSMark 2004 - 3D Creation
231
205
Intel (12.7%)
SYSMark 2004 - 2D Creation
288
265
Intel (8.7%)
SYSMark 2004 - Web Publication
206
188
Intel (9.6%)
Multitasking: Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder
676
590
AMD (12.7%)
Winner
Intel

AMD wins two, Intel wins one, factor in variance between tests and AMD still comes out ahead by a reasonable margin. AMD wins the performance crown here, but its debatable whether or not the performance advantage is worth the price.

Video Creation/Photo Editing
 
Intel Pentium 4 560
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
Winner
Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1
342
315
AMD (7.9%)
Adobe Premiere 6.5
461
371
AMD (19.5%)
Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5
287
310
Intel (7.4%)
Winner
 
 
AMD

Intel wins the A/V encoding tests hands down, barely losing one of the tests.

Audio/Video Encoding
 
Intel Pentium 4 560
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
Winner
MusicMatch Jukebox 7.10
484
458
AMD (5.4%)
DivX Encoding
55.3
47.9
Intel (15.4%)
XV Encoding
33.9
32.6
Intel (4%)
Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0
2.57
2.21
Intel (16.3%)
Winner
 
 
Intel

There's no argument here, the 3800+ is clearly the faster gaming processor.

Gaming
 
Intel Pentium 4 560
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
Winner
Doom 3
84.6
97.3
AMD (15%)
Sims 2
47.3
55.4
AMD (17.1%)
CS: Source
142.8
171.6
AMD (20.2%)
Halo
87.5
95
AMD (8.6%)
Far Cry
130.3
151.4
AMD (16.2%)
Star Wars Battlefront
140
144
AMD (2.9%)
Battlefield Vietnam
236
240
AMD (1.7%)
UT2004
59.3
67.6
AMD (14%)
Wolf: ET
97.2
107.1
AMD (10%)
Warcraft III
60
62
AMD (3.3%)
Winner
 
 
AMD

AMD wins two benchmarks by less than 5%, while Intel wins one benchmark by less than 7%. We'll call this one a toss up between the two in performance, but factor in price and Intel wins.

3D Rendering
 
Intel Pentium 4 560
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
Winner
Discreet 3ds max 5.1 (DirectX)
267
254
AMD (4.9%)
Discreet 3ds max 5.1 (OpenGL)
327
312
AMD (4.6%)
SPECapc 3dsmax 6
1.64
1.54
Intel (6.5%)
Winner
 
 
Tie

For 3D Professional applications AMD takes the clear lead, not to mention a significant advantage in compiler performance as well. The added cost of the Athlon 64 is well worth it in some of the tests, but is more questionable in others.

Professional Apps
 
Intel Pentium 4 560
AMD Athlon 64 3800+
Winner
SPECviewperf 8 - 3dsmax-03
17.04
16.75
Intel (1.7%)
SPECviewperf 8 - catia-01
13.87
14.03
AMD (1.2%)
SPECviewperf 8 - light-07
14.3
14.3
Tie
SPECviewperf 8 - maya-01
13.12
18.58
AMD (41.6%)
SPECviewperf 8 - proe-03
16.7
17.19
AMD (2.9%)
SPECviewperf 8 - sw-01
13.09
13.72
AMD (4.8%)
SPECviewperf 8 - ugs-04
15.31
16
AMD (4.5%)
Visual Studio 6
16.8
13.1
AMD (22.0%)
Winner
 
 
AMD

So in the end, who takes the crown? AMD or Intel? The 3800+ took four category wins, while the Pentium 4 560 only took two, however with the exception of the gaming and professional apps category, AMD's victories were not overwhelming - especially once you take into account the fact that the 3800+ is priced much higher than the Pentium 4 560. Now that you can purchase at least a couple of 915 based motherboards for less than $130 the total cost of ownership for the Intel platform doesn't eat into the CPU price advantage. For the most part we'd say the 3800+ is faster than the Pentium 4 560 but not always worth the added cost. It's unusual but in many cases, the Pentium 4 560 is actually the bargain high-end chip of the two.

Workstation Application Performance Final Words
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  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Intel is not doing bad. They are doing terrible. So terrible that you might as well call them dead. Probably will last till 2009 before they fill bankruptcy.

    To those people who say people in forums don't know anything and that there are other people stupid enough to buy Intel chips(I mean all Intel chips): Uhh, yeah, get your head straight, since AMD is closing with Intel very rapidly in marketshare, in server, desktop, and laptop, and that means that gamers actually do make a difference(albeit slowly) making other people buy computers. You think other people will buy P4's because of high clock speed? That's BS, since people who is stupid enough to buy Intel chips don't even know what clock speeds does. There are only a very few that knows computers JUST enough to say clock speed is good.
    Reply
  • Tides - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    believe me, everyone wants the best they can get for the least cash. Reply
  • FinalFantasy - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Intel is not doing good right now. I know a lot of people rested their hopes for Intel to strike back with the release of this chip. But alas, we are still seeing the same problems with this chip as we've seen with it's predecessors.

    1. Way overpriced
    2. Still getting whooped by AMD's 64-bit chips

    The choice is clear here, buy an average AMD chip for a fraction of the price and still be able to outperform your friend's Intel EE based machine that he spent $2,500-3,000 on to build, while you spent about $1,500 (factor in price a person pays for an Intel EE chip and a couple of sticks of DDR2).
    Reply
  • Pandaren - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    What the community here forgets is that the common person doesn't care for 10 extra FPS in a game or 3 seconds faster on that photoshop filter. They want a reliable, dependable computer with good support at a reasonable price.

    Dell provides that with Intel chips. People honestly don't care if the Intel chip is not faster.

    Those of us who do care about performance and price/performance will build our own. I replaced my Dell with a homebuilt AMD box for that reason, but I don't expect everyone to do the same.
    Reply
  • SLIM - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    "SLIM

    You're forgetting DDR2 price which this needs in your so called Intel is "cheaper" comparison. If you want the same price setup you can get a FX-55 and really bring the wood."

    ZEBO
    Perhaps you didn't read my post correctly or didn't read the review, but the first paragraph in post #14 is a direct quote from the review (that's why there are QUOTATION MARKS around it). The two comments below the QUOTE were my views on Anand's conclusion of the 560 v 3800 comparison at the end of the review. Your comment actually agrees with what I said.
    Reply
  • Tides - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    they would if they had it Reply
  • swatX - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    why doesnt intel just release a dual core platform or a 64bit chip already..gezz its like they are acting like ATI "we will release 64-vit chips only when apps start to use it" ... Reply
  • NotMrT - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Last time i remember AMD domminating this much was in the time of the thunderbirds Reply
  • Chapbass - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    #43:

    One thing that i can vouch for, being a college student: Almost every college student not "in the know" with building systems buys a dell....because theyre sold through the college. At least my college they are. DEFINITELY the most common systems around here (and it makes me sick) : P.

    It seems like households are more into HP/compaq, where schools, both k-12 and college, are totally dell.

    Just something ive noticed around where im from. YMMV.

    -Chap
    Reply
  • justly - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    I find it interesting that the page compareing an A64 3800+ to the P4 560 shows the P4 winning the multitasking content creation. Well that isn't the interesting part, but the fact that Intel only won this because it took all three SYSmark tests is (the SYSmark tests wher the only thing Intel won in this catagory). I guess what really amuses me is remembering a comment in a article a while back (I think it was Anand himself who made the comment) implying that the SYSmark scores did not reflect the rest of their testing and that it seemed to favor Intel. Reply

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