Final Words

It can be argued that as much of a GPU hog Doom 3 is, it is just as demanding on your CPU. The recipe to success is much simpler on the CPU side however: Doom 3 needs cache and lots of it.

On the Pentium 4 side of things, if you've got anything with less than 512KB of cache it's time for you to upgrade. Prescott owners will be happy that their chips are finally faster than Northwood in something thanks to larger caches.

AMD owners have much more of a reason to rejoice: the Athlon 64 runs Doom perfectly. It's almost as if the game was built to run best on an Athlon 64; maybe AMD should invest some marketing dollars in their own "The way it's meant to be played" campaign. And to make things even better, you don't even have to have the fastest Athlon 64 to get great performance, even the meager 3000+ manages to offer performance equal to that of Intel's Extreme Edition Pentium 4 at a much lower cost. The key to AMD's success is the on-die memory controller; with lower latency memory accesses than the competing Intel solutions, Doom 3 sees system memory as one big cache and drives performance up considerably. It is also the on-die memory controller that makes cache size less of an issue on the Athlon 64, while too small of a cache seems to make or break performance with the Pentium 4.

The Athlon XP is much less impressive under Doom 3 thanks to its lack of an on-die memory controller; unless you have a Barton based Athlon XP, it may be time to bite the bullet and upgrade to an Athlon 64. That being said, the entry level Sempron 3100+ offers very competitive performance at a price point that's low enough to make the transition to a Socket-754 platform relatively painless.

If you are lucky enough to own any of the GeForce 6 series cards and play at resolutions lower than 1280x1024 rest assured that money spent on a faster CPU is money well spent. If you happen to have a slower card, something along the lines of a Radeon 9800 Pro or even a regular X800, your system is far less CPU bound and you may want to go with a more middle-of-the-road CPU in order to maximize performance without spending needlessly.

In the end, the winner of the final battle is clear: the AMD Athlon 64 is the processor for Doom 3.

AMD vs. Intel
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  • kabob983 - Thursday, September 9, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • kabob983 - Thursday, September 9, 2004 - link

    So where does the A64 3200+ fit on this scale anyways...above or below the P4 3.4EE? Reply
  • T0918273645 - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    this statement from their review is partially wrong.


    "Doom 3 sees system memory as one big cache and drives performance up considerably. It is also the on-die memory controller that makes cache size less of an issue on the Athlon 64, while too small of a cache seems to make or break performance with the Pentium 4."

    notice the 3.2 E with its 1mb cache gets 72.8 while the 3.2 C with 512KB cache gets 68.7. the only difference between this chips is the cache, which results in a difference of 4.1 FPS.

    look at the FX53, with dual channel, and 1mb cache, it gets 103.4

    and the 3800+ with 2.4ghz, 512kb cache, and dual channel gets 99.8

    a difference of 3.6. So the larger cache does help. I think maybe anandtech might have mixed up the fact that they were comparing with amd the difference between dual channel, and cache. while with intel they were comparing only the difference between caches.

    i think looking at the AMD charts you can see how close amd's view of the tradeoff for dual channel with the loss of half the cache actually is, at least as far as doom3 is concerned.

    The 3400+ (no dual channel, 1mb cache, and 2.2ghz) performs at 80.4 FPS

    The 3500+ (dual channel, 512KB cache, 2.2ghz) turns in 79.5FPS. So the dual channel/ cache tradeoff is so close you'd never be able to tell the difference.

    So basically they mixed up the fact that the smaller cach size of the 3500+ compared to the 3400+ is masked by the dual channel ram which nearly completely makes up for the loss in cache.

    I'm surpised they overlooked that fact.

    Or maybe they thought that a difference of 4.1 is more of an issue than a difference of 3.6, but really that difference is nearly the same.
    Reply
  • manson909 - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    i can't believe no one has thought of this: since Doom 3 is capped at 60FPS, why not compare the MINIMUM framerates the CPU's encounter when playing? a system that has an average of 60FPS but is locked in at this speed (no dips) is far superior than a system that has an average of 70FPS but with lows in the 20's & high's in the 100's imo... anyone? Reply
  • HermosaBeach - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    Short version:

    I would like to see the final graph comparing CPUs using 1600x1200, Highest Quality, 4xAA (Anti-Aliasing) and 16xAF (Anisotropic Filtering)

    With this graph we may actually see a flattening of the frames per second where an increase in the CPU has no real impact on frames per second. This is where the GPU (GeForce 6800 Ultra) hits the wall and becomes the limiting factor.

    Dave
    Reply
  • HermosaBeach - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    Dear 53, I disagree. Here's another way to look at the problem or question. Let's say I own an ATI X800 XT PE. I would like to know what computer (CPU/MB) to get. I want to play games at 1600x1200 with 6xAA and 16xAF. Starting from the slowest computer like the AMD XP 2000+. As you improve the CPU and climb the performance ladder we expect the frames per second to increase. But, there may come a time where an increase in CPU does not appreciably increase the frame rate. At this CPU level getting a faster CPU is not really going to help you. I was hoping to find this magical CPU point. Early 2003, with my ATI 9800 Pro, the sweet spot was the AMD XP 1800+. A faster CPU imporved frames per second, but not by much and was not worth the significantly increase in cost. For example, with FarCry and Doom3 the AMD 64 3000+ might be the sweet spot where getting the AMD 6400 3700+ really does not significantly increase your frame rate. If this is true, I would get the AMD 64 3000+. If the frame per second continue to significant improve as you increase the CPU then I would get the top end CPU. Sadly, at 1280x1024 without 4xAA and 16xAF you really can't tell.

    Dave
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    Dave, your retarded. Try reading the review, esp the first page. Reply
  • HermosaBeach - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    This article should have used 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. The 800x600 resolution was a waste of time and reading. Who's going to purchase any AMD 64 or any ATI X800 series or NVidia 6800 series card and play at such pathetic resolutions. I found the article a waste of time and it certainly did NOT answer the question - what CPU to get. I own a ATI 9800 Pro and it certainly did not help with what CPU to get when I purchase my next graphics card - sigh.

    Dave
    Reply
  • xxxfubar187xxx - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the benchmarks guys! You do great work over there. Why wasn't the Athlon64 3700+ included in these benchmarks? Being the top of the line Socket 754 processor I figured it would be included in the tests. Reply
  • gimpyd00 - Thursday, August 5, 2004 - link

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