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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  • T8000 - Thursday, November 4, 2004 - link

    The most important part of this release is the Intel 925XE chipset, that will allow much higher overclocks because of its 1066 bus support.

    This is because the 925XE will have the right divider to reach 1066 without any PCI-E overclock.

    So with a 925XE mainboard, you can run an Intel 530 CPU at 4Ghz with any PCI-E GPU you choose, because only the CPU will be overclocked and Prescott has excellent chances of reaching 4Ghz with modest water cooling or good air cooling.
    Reply
  • Odeen - Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - link

    Realtek codec on an Intel board... and here I thought Intel actually made quality motherboards, which entails Sigmatel or Soundmax onboard audio chips.

    Sigh :(
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - link

    Slim: You're right... my bad. I didn't read every single page. I read the couple of introductory pages, then skipped to the test configuration page, perused a few benches, and then skipped to the conclusion.

    The measured results of course are no different than I thought they would be...
    Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    We need to have our own review website called www.dontreleasesh!tunlessitsactuallyabetterproductthan theonebeforeit.com. Reply
  • SLIM - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    johnsonx,

    Anand did isolate the fsb as the sole variable when he DOWNclocked both chips to 3.2ghz (266 x 12 and 200 x 16) on page 3. There was a slight caveat that faster chips would benefit more from a fsb boost. And yes the faster bus increased performance by almost 1% in some tests woohoo!!!

    SLIM
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    One thing that might've been interesting to see:

    Overclock the 3.4EE to 3.46Ghz by OC'ing the FSB to 203Mhz or 204Mhz (812 & 816 respectively). This would completely isolate the effect if the increased clock speed of the 3.46EE, showing only the increased FSB performance... at that point I suspect that the tiny performance gains would completely evaporate.

    Mind you, I'm not suggesting this would change the conclusion much, but it would put a big exclamation point to it...

    BTW, one does have to wonder why Intel bothered with this. If the 3.46EE/925XE combo is no faster than the 3.4EE/925X combo (I'm assuming the 925X=925XE @800FSB), then why go through all the trouble? Indeed, isn't it true that an 'old' 3.4EE/875 combo is faster still?

    Good grief, at least when AMD releases a new top-end chip it is actually measurably faster. Regardless of whether the rating is 'earned' or not, no one can argue that the 4000 isn't (generally) faster than the 3800, nor that the FX-55 isn't faster than any other A64.
    Reply
  • Tides - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    Some benchmarks? Hardly. AMD owns in actual games, workstation apps, and half of the other stuff. Not to mention AMD doesn't make you upgrade to ddr2, and AMD cpus are 64bit. Intel's new chips have low shelf lives while the current AMD 64's you buy will last you a lot longer.

    Performance, realiability, and long lasting.
    Reply
  • danidentity - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    IntelUser2000, you couldn't possibly be any more wrong. I will be the first to admit that AMD chips excel above Intel chips in many benchmarks.

    However:

    1. Intel is no where near dead. Calling them so is ridiculous. In Q3 of this year Intel posted revenue of 8.5 billion compared to AMD's 1.2 billion, or SEVEN times as much.

    2. AMD is NOT closing "very rapidly" in marketshare. It would appear that way from reading sites and forums like these, but it gives you a false impression. Keep in mind that the largest supplier of PCs on the planet puts Intel chips in every machine. AMD's mobile chips can't compete with the Pentium M in terms of performance and functionality.

    3. Intel is not stupid, they have some of the best engineers on the planet. If they seriously thought that AMD was going to topple them as the market leader, or even if they are predicting it, you can GUARANTEE they have something in the works to strike back. They have the means and the money.

    4. While many people don't know exactly what clockspeed is, everyone thinks it is the ultimate measure of performance. That mindset will take a LONG time to change, and by then, Intel will have something new.

    Most people out there don't even know AMD exists. Just because AMD chips beat Intel chips in some benchmarks posted on technical computer sites, don't mean they're going to topple Intel.
    Reply
  • JonahStone - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    Performance is not the only reason why somebody buys a CPU. Although 64 bit might not be available now, does not make it unimportant. Many who buy a computer will keep it for a long time. I do not want to buy a new PC in a year's time to run 64 bit apps. All reviews keep on comparing 32 bit performance and do not even mention the advantage 64 bit will bring. It does matter!!!!!!! Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Intel is not doing bad. They are doing terrible. So terrible that you might as well call them dead. Probably will last till 2009 before they fill bankruptcy.

    To those people who say people in forums don't know anything and that there are other people stupid enough to buy Intel chips(I mean all Intel chips): Uhh, yeah, get your head straight, since AMD is closing with Intel very rapidly in marketshare, in server, desktop, and laptop, and that means that gamers actually do make a difference(albeit slowly) making other people buy computers. You think other people will buy P4's because of high clock speed? That's BS, since people who is stupid enough to buy Intel chips don't even know what clock speeds does. There are only a very few that knows computers JUST enough to say clock speed is good.
    Reply

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