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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  • Beenthere - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Intel has simply run out of Hail Mary solutions to their unending design, engineering, production, sales, management, and marketing problems. Even Wall Street knows this by now. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    For those who asked, the 1000 lot Intel price for the 3.46EE is $999. Reply
  • coldpower27 - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Well you could get a direct comparison between the Athlon 64 3700+ vs the Pentium 4 560 as those 2 processors are priced pretty directly against each other on Newegg, though their MSRP differ in actuality.

    64Bit Windows isn't likely to be released until Prescott 2M with Intel EM64T is released in Q1 2005. We will have to see though if Microsoft will released in 2005 WinXP 64.
    Reply
  • jimmy43 - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    #14 I was thinking the same thing. The 3500 would probably still win or tie in most of the categories and it costs nearly half the price of an intel 560. I feel like Anand is trying to be fair to both companies and reccomending a bit of both. Realistically, AMD has Intel beat in every market segment... by alot. It's also funny how everyone is COMPLETELY forgetting that AMD's proccessors are 64 bit so in a year or so, you will get a considerable free speed boost and youl be able to run the latest OS. Is that not a huge advantage? Come on, people need to stop overlooking that its really bugging me. Reply
  • DukeN - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Once again, Intel shows why it's the Sony of the CPU world with terrible products terribly overpriced. Reply
  • Gnoad - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    I might have missed it, but how much will Intel price this at? Considering it's an EE, one can guess about $900. If thats true, they MIGHT sell 3 or 4 of them. Reply
  • skunkbuster - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    underdog in terms of market share Reply
  • GhandiInstinct - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Since when did the world spin where a chip that is superior in 90% of chip tasks is the underdog? Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    So... I was thinking of investing some money in shares. You don't think AMD might happen to be a good bet right around now, would you? Reply
  • SLIM - Sunday, October 31, 2004 - link

    Great review as always, but there's always room for improvement:)
    [/begin nitpicking]
    "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."

    Alrighty, two comments:
    1) It's bad science to make a detailed comparison, and then in the conclusion talk about switching the chipset and memory in order to make the price comparison hold up. (Maybe include the numbers from a 915 review to back up the assertion that the 560 will still perform just as well with 915/DDR).

    2) I'd be curious to see how the 3500+ would hold up in these same comparisons since it is about $150 cheaper than the 560.

    Bonus nitpick:
    4 of the graphs don't include the new 3.46ee (ACD on page 9 and 3 games benches); I don't know if that was intentional or not. [/end nitpicking]

    Thanks again for the best reviews.

    Reply

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