Head to Head: Athlon 64 X2 3800+ vs. Pentium D 830

Is the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ worthy of its Pentium D opponent?  Not to spoil the surprise, but yes, emphatically yes.

Not only are there significant advantages in single threaded games, but everything from encoding to the multitasking tests put the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ ahead of its Pentium D counterpart. 

Note: The iTunes scores are Encoding Times in Minutes, lower numbers are better.

Although they aren't pictured here (for space reasons), you'll see in the coming pages that there is only one benchmark where Intel ends up ahead.  The Roxio VideoWave test in PCWorld's WorldBench 5 suite completes 6 seconds quicker on the Pentium D 830 than on the Athlon 64 X2 3800+.  That is one loss out of 31 total benchmarks for the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (once again, not all pictured here, but you'll see them on the coming pages). 

The victory is clear and without debate, at the $300 - $400 price point, the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ is the dual core processor to get. 
AMD’s Efficiency Advantage? Business/General Use Performance


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  • Houdani - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    By that same logic, should Intel cut prices on the Pentium D 830, 840, and EE down to the same price as the Pentium D 820? Of course not, because with higher performance comes higher prices.

    Sure, AMD could release a 1.8GHz X2 3400+ at a $250 price point to cross with the Pentium D 820, but before that happens they'll continue to make a profit with what they've got before introducing a new chip which has been artificially gimped in order to meet the needs of the low end/entry market.
  • still - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    Except that by the time you get a new motherboard that supports that cheaper Intel chip and the pricier DDR2 memory, any price advantage Intel had is already gone. And the AMD system still outperforms the Intel one 15% in for the 830D and 20% in the 820D. So choose wisely... Reply
  • SDA - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    You know what's funny? Most of the customers I've had were more than happy to pay extra to have a PC that ran very quiet and cool. All of them said they'd like that, actually, but most of them added that they wouldn't mind a hefty premium. So do you think these customers would bite if I told them that $100 would buy them a faster, more capable, and cooler-running processor?

    Oh, it's expensive, to be sure. But saying that no one will ever want it just because you don't is, well, stupid.
  • fishbits - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    "one major flaw in AMD's execution: price"
    "AMD's Athlon 64 X2 was the better overall performer, just at the very wrong price point."

    Anand, I wish you and the rest would seriously sit down and think about all the sniping and whining you've done lately about the prices of high(er)-end products. How, exactly, was AMD's price execution flawed? They can only make so many of the X2 chips, and they have been flying off the shelves at and above their suggested price. It's not like AMD's "flaw" was pricing them so high no one was buying them and they were gathering cobwebs in warehouses. What's "wrong" about this price point?

    Let's look at it this way, is AnandTech "flawed" and "wrong" in its advertising pricing? I mean you could sell front-page add space for $5 per month. Or do you charge a reasonable price that keeps ads to a reasonable (non-overwhelming) number of ads on a page, without pricing so high that there's huge droughts of no ad revenue?

    I couldn't care less if you were to deem products "too high to recommend to most users for their budgets and needs" and the such. But it's pretty petty that you and the crew constantly take slaps at products and their manufacturers because they're priced higher than we'd WISH they'd be, but still selling quite well and making those who can afford them quite happy. A new Corvette costs more than a Neon. This isn't "flawed" or "wrong." It's just another factor to take into consideration when purchasing and recommending. Now if something is seriously overpriced for its ability, by all means point it out. But stop coming across like you have no clue that the prices for higher-end parts ramp up quite steeply, and deservedly and understandably so. Been this way for decades and will continue to be this way for decades to come.
  • masher - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    From AMD's perspective, there may be nothing "wrong" with pricing X2 chips far higher than two equivalent single CPUS...but from the consumer's persective, such a price point is most certainly flawed.

    So are you a consumer or an AMD stockholder? It should be obvious that-- for the average consumer-- a second core priced far above the first is a poor purchasing decision, and that such pricing will never lead to significant market penetration.
  • fishbits - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    But that's just it, AnandTech is taking the stance that it is wrong from AMD's perspective, not from the consumer's. That is where I think they've gone off track. As far as a second core being priced far above the first, color me unfazed. If somehow AMD or Intel were able to bump single-core clock speed by 50%, would any of us be suprised that the new chip would cost (gasp!) AT LEAST double the price? On a dollars-per-Mhz scale, of course it's a loser. On a "getting my hands on a high-end performer" scale, it's easily a winner at double the price. Look at how much more we pay for just a 20% bump in single-core clock speed, and yet it doesn't generate the kind of whining that adding a whole second core and cache does.

    "...Such pricing will never lead to significant market penetration".
    Funny, last I heard X2s were selling very well, especially when measured against AMD's ability to produce them. As always, when production ramps up the cost will go down.

    The other thing I'd add is that it's my understanding that the 820, a very good performer for its price, is that it's a subsidized chip. I gather (though could be wrong) that Intel sells them for zero profit, or even loses money on them to bump up market share. If that's the case, then its pricing is somewhat an exception and that should be provided as appropriate context in any comparison as Intel has the size and cash to do this, where AMD doesn't.
  • masher - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    > "But that's just it, AnandTech is taking the stance that it is wrong from AMD's perspective..."

    I think you're reading your own bias into his statements.

    > "Funny, last I heard X2s were selling very well, especially when measured against AMD's ability to produce them..."

    Actually, they are selling well ONLY when measured against AMD's ability to produce them. An ability which is nearly-nonexistent. A few thousand cpus a month may sound like a lot to you, but it doesn't even pay for lunches at the corporate HQ, much less fund a few new multibillion dollar fabs.

    AMD's trickle of high-priced X@ sales was useful for bootstrapping future sales...but for gaining any significant market share-- or even paying off a portion of the X2 R&D costs-- it was a nonentity. As I said before.
  • dougSF30 - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    <i>but from the consumer's persective, such a price point is most certainly flawed. </i>

    Not so, because the infrastructure cost for a dual-socket equivalent is significantly higher.

  • masher - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    But the comparison isn't between an Athlon and a dual-socket Opteron setup...but between AMD and Intel dual-cores. The "flaw" is charging $300-400 for a second core, when Intel will give you one for $100.

    Let's face it...while AMD trounces Intel in gaming and other single-threaded apps, performance is neck-to-neck for highly scalable apps...just the ones you'd want a dual-core processor in the first place. AMD can't afford to charge far more than Intel for these cores...not if they want to sell more than a few thousand cpus to the fanboi brigade. They have to bring their prices more in line. A step they've taken with the launch of the X2 3800.

  • mlittl3 - Monday, August 01, 2005 - link

    Your power comparison graphs list both the manchester and toledo cores as having 512K cache. Is this a typo? Reply

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