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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  • GhandiInstinct - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Come on Dell, cheaper, faster..give in to the grown up taste!!!

    I still can't fathom Dell being the top computer seller worldwide, are soccer moms buying at record highs?
    Reply
  • Tides - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    i'd say ddr2 does suck when intel gets less performance with it vs an amd 939 with ddr1. what a waste of cash to have the intel branding. Reply
  • jimmy43 - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Most people dont care whats in their computer. Intel is a brand name people trust, but if they can get a computer for less money which can do all they need, then they will. And guess what? Theyl be blown away, and theyl realize AMD slays Intel and theyl laugh at their friends who got an Intel. The reason Intel is able to hold on so well to the market is because of conservative companies like DELL and other such multi-billion dollar partnerships. I say once DELL gives in, its over for Intel. But seriosly they really need to pick it up... Reply
  • Zebo - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Those gaming benchmarks are embarresing.A "budget" athlon 64 3400 with the "old" socket 754 single channel mem controller is putting a whoppin' on Intels top chip. Reply
  • Zebo - Sunday, October 31, 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.
    Reply
  • AnonymouseUser - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    "why didn't anyone try to overclock this thing and see how far it'll go?"

    They didn't want to melt the motherboard?
    Reply
  • knitecrow - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    why didn't anyone try to overclock this thing and see how far it'll go?
    Reply
  • Determinant - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    There is a graph missing in the "Business/General Use Performance" page.

    The graph for "Ahead Software Nero Express 6.0.0.3" is replaced by a duplicate of the preceding graph.

    I was surprised to see the big difference when burning CDs/DVDs with different CPUs until I realized that it was the wrong graph.

    I'm really interested to see how much of an impact faster CPUs make for burning CDs/DVDs because I didn't think that there would be a difference outside of the benchmark variance but since this was benchmarked it must have been noticable.

    Thanks
    Reply
  • MMORPGOD - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    None of you are aware of the situation Intel has over the world computing market. Yes evryone here on Anand forum is hardcore or enthusiast of computer tech and gaming for PC. But one thing none of you have a grasp on is that Intel has millions of people who do not define themselfs as ever being knowledgable to computing performance or benchmarks. Basicly all of intel is going to be on top no matter what, unless something big happens where the community who purchases these computer systems from the retail stores either sees whats going on beforehand or just wises up and reads about there current technology. Its something thats proven and works, Intel is leading the world in publications of its product more then AMD, thus they have a hand on being on the top. I am a diehard AMD fan, and there isnt to many of us out there who have been since AMD came out, but I can tell you, with all this media coverage on Intel over the past years, its engraved into evry consumers head that the next PC they get they will most likely purchase retail INtel equiped PC. AMD needs to market a little more because average people dont give a damn about benchmarks. Just my opinion about evryone who I see post above who says man Intel is toast or Intel is gone, those are benchmark comments and dont disolve the real world consumers thoughts on a PC with Intel name. How many people go into a Circuit City or Best Buy and see more AMD products then Intel? Intel leads advertisements and in store showcasing, so until someone actually gives the word to the public that AMD is better, Intel will always lead but not in performace. Cant wait for my FX-55 Reply
  • Pythias - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    I really hope intel can get it back together, or we're gonna be looking at sky high processor pricing again. We need healthy competition. Reply

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