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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  • AlexWade - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Now if only I can afford and find one ... Reply
  • MMORPGOD - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    DDR2 is not a stupid move, its the speed they are at that's stupid. Remember DDR? They first ones ran at 200MHz, which were 50% faster than PC133 and still way faster than the enthusiast 166MHz SDRAMs. DDR's latency were higher, but since their clock is much higher, it wasn't a big problem as DDR2 vs DDR. However, PC1600 DDR still was not a big improvement over PC133, it was when PC2100 came that DDR started to shine.

    Another thing:
    Quote:"With the original 925X chipset we were a bit unhappy to see that the Pentium 4's 800MHz FSB was paired with DDR2-533, creating one of those frustrating asynchronous situations."

    I think 800MHz bus with DDR2-533 is actually VERY synchronous. First look it doesn't look like it. However since DDR2s latency is higher, it doesn't act like DDR533, it acts like DDR400. There was a Tomshardware review that was trying to predict the performance of 1066MHz bus.

    First config was: 800MHz bus, DDR2-533
    Second: 1066MHz bus, DDR2-533
    Third: 1066MHz bus, DDR2-667

    Guess which one had the biggest performance benefit? The third one, contrary to most people's belief. I think that tells that because of the DDR2's latency, you need DDR2-667 to perfectly match 1066MHz bus. Since Intel chose to stick with DDR2-533, they have created an asynchronous situation, making the performance not so much better. They should have went DDR2-667 with 1066MHz bus.
    Reply
  • SLIM - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    One thing I didn't catch from anand's review is that the 3.46ee is rated at 110.7 watts according to [H]; just another reason to go AMD. Makes you wonder what the 3.73ee (which is supposed to launch this quarter) will have for a heatsink...
    Prometia for everyone:)
    Reply
  • Tides - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    I remember reading a week or two ago about "AMD is going to have a tough time keeping up," from the lips of an Intel guy.

    Was this latest outing with the new P4EE's the proof? Perhaps I lack the foresight to understand what will happen in 6 months time, but in who's world is AMD going to have a hard time keeping up with? Cyrix's?
    Reply
  • Tides - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    "ddr2 is a stupid move." Reply
  • Tides - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    not to mention, hi, ddr2 for is a stupid move. high latency, crap bandwidth, not just twice the price since you wouldn't have had to upgrade your ram otherwise if you already had solid ddr1.

    it reminds me of rambus. and beta max. and sony's discman. what else? ddr2 should have never come out imo. ddr3 is where it's at, hopefully amd will go straight to ddr3 and save it's customers and themselves the hastle of having to buy new ram, new mobos and so forth just to have to do it again with ddr3. i like faster everything as much as everyone else, but amd 64 proves ddr1 is alive and well, and ddr2 is what? exactly? perhaps in a year down the road, or two; it'll be worth something at the end of it's life cycle, just as ddr3 starts poking it's head about.

    Reply
  • GhandiInstinct - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Why don't they just screw any other core and focus on pumping out $1000 EEs? Everyones buying them, might as well. I really would like to know the stats for Intel's sales on their new cpus and chipsets, exact numbers. Reply
  • GhandiInstinct - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    #17 I was infering this world is off balance with that reality... Reply
  • Gnoad - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    wow. $1000 a pop for a CPU that gets destroyed by processors that cost a quarter as much. Totally asinine. Reply

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