Athlon 64 vs. Athlon 3200+ vs. Pentium IV


[H]ard|OCP – Shuttle SN85G4 and “Pentium vs. Athlon”: This comparison was done between Athlon 64 3200+ and a host of machines including a fast Pentium 3200 system. On the charts, the top is the Shuttle and the bottom is the Pentium. Shows it to be about 20% faster. That’s pretty amazing considering that the Pentium systems have twice the memory bandwidth and 50% faster clock rates (3.2 GHz vs. 2.0 GHz for the Shuttle with the Athlon XP).
Interesting to see how the very inexpensive Athlon XP 3200+ is actually about as fast as a Pentium 3200 for Office applications. It is not that great for gaming though or for compute intensive multimedia things.
Here are some excerpted numbers from the first review using the actual Shuttle box:
| | Athlon 64 | Athlon 3200+ | Pentium 3200+ | Comment |
| Business Winstone 2001 | 108.4 | 81.2 | 80.6 | Wow, 30% faster |
| Business Winstone 2002 | 48.6 | 40.6 | 37.5 | 20% faster! |
| Content Winstone 2002 | 54.2 | 42.6 | 46.8 | 20% faster |
| Content Winstone 2003 | 48.7 | 60.1 | 49.8 | Something wrong if XP wins |
| Lame WAV to MP3 | 45 | 54 | 37 | Lower is better, so Pentium wins by alot |
| DVD to DivX | 62 | 68 | 66 | Lower is better, around the same |
| Quake III 640×480 | 400 | 326 | 366 | 10% faster |
| Unreal 2003 | 81 | 56.7 | 65 | Much faster |
Here are numbers using other motherboards, but the tests were more extensive and included both the Athlon 64 FX 51 (the dual memory channel version of the Athlon 64) as well as the Pentium IV 3.2 Extreme Edition (basically a Pentium with a 2MB level 3 cache). Interesting to note BTW, that these benchmarks didn’t change more than 1% when going from DDR400 to DDR333 memory so you could save some money with slower memory. Also you can’t see from here, but the VIA chipset for Athlon 64 is about 5% slower than the nVidia chipset due to better IDE handling, but nVidia boards appear to be unstable so some folks are switching to VIA as a result:
| Test | Athlon 64 FX | Athlon 64 | Pentium EE | Pentium 3.2GHz | Athlon XP | Comments |
| Wav to MP3 (Lower Better ) | 41 | 45 | 37 | 37 | 54 | Raw CPU benchmark, Pentiums are clocking at 3.2GHz vs. 2.0 GHz |
| DVD to DivX (Lower Better ) | 57 | 60 | 66 | 68 | Athlon 64 pipeline faster than XP |
| Business Winstone 2002 (higher better) | 47.5 | 46.2 | 39.9 | 37.4 | 40.6 | Athlon XP great for business |
| Content Creation Winstone 2003 (higher better) | 60.1 | 56.3 | 53.7 | 51.5 | 49.8 |
| Jedi Knight II (higher better) | 210 | 202 | 220 | 194 | 175 | Clock rate and cache matter |
| Unreal Tournament 2003 (higher better) | 87.1 | 82 | 74 | 64 | 65 | Results invert |
And of course, the good overall point is that with the Athlon 64 at $400 and the Athlon FX at $700, the best bet is to buy a Pentium 2.4GHz and overclock it to 3.0GHz. That’s kind of true for all these processors though. If you don’t mind the stability issues.

4 Replies to “Athlon 64 vs. Athlon 3200+ vs. Pentium IV”

  1. 1: not all p4 2.4ghz can reach 3ghz.
    2: pentium 4 cpus have locked multipliers so overclocking is only possible by increasing front side bus speed and not all mainboards can handle a 25% fsb jump
    3: benchmarks didnt change more than 1% when switching from ddr400 to ddr333 because dual channel mode enables more bandwidth when the cpu external frequency is higher than that of the memory.Otherwise, dual channel mode doesnt make much of a difference 10% max
    4: The athlon 64FX-xx series is not just a dual channel athlon 64. it also requires registered ram which can have weaker performance (vs non reg)due to additional ram timings needed for it’s extra buffering
    5: If AMD released a dual channel athlon 64 compatible with non registered RAM, the higher frequencies and lower latencies would make it school the p4

  2. Wow, great comments, Mike, explains quite a bit. Responding in turn:
    # not all p4 2.4ghz can reach 3ghz. That’s right, its a function of what chip you actually got and what kind of cooling you have as well. Watercooled seems to work very well for most overclockers.
    # You are right about the locked multipliers. Most modern motherboards and chipsets support separating the FSB from the actual clock though. You can thus staple the PCI, FSB and other buses whil pumping the clock rates.
    # I didn’t realize this about DDR. So the only impact is when CPU has higher clock than memory. When would this happen.
    # I forgot that point about registered RAM. Great point, this will slow it down.
    # The rumor is next generation Athlong FX-5x won’t need registered memory.

  3. Pentium 4c, extreme edition and prescott all have 800mhz frontside bus support as opposed to the athlon xp’s 400mhz.
    When i was using two 256 meg modules in dual channel mode at ddr266 with my athlon xp at 400mhz fsb, it benched at about 2800Mb/s.
    Imagine the look on my face when my new corsair twinx 1024-4000pro (in dual channel) benched at 3000Mb/s…..
    Any of the above mentioned intel cpus with that same ram can easily bench at over 5000Mb/s. The athlon xp just doesnt have the extra bandwidth legroom to utilise the dual channel mode efficiently. Many socket a motherboards could support that kind of bandwidth, but its the cpu thats holding it back.
    Another example of cpu and ram running asynchronious speeds is the pentium 4b (533fsb) using dual channel ddr as opposed to rdram.
    Hope that rumor’s true about the next gen Athlon FX 🙂

  4. I see now what you mean. It really depends on the cpu memory bus. If it is greater than single channel, then obviously dual channel helps quite a bit.
    Because intel quad pumps their 200mhz bus (that is gets data on each transition twice) but amd only get 2 data per 200mhz, they have half the bandwidth on the athlon xp.
    I believe this is also true with the athlon 64 but will have to look it up.
    On this site somewhere I blogged the data on the athlon 64 roadmap. Was originally from tom’s hardware.
    Big news of course is that intel is going to 64 bit extensions rather than having the gap between pentium and itanium. Smart on their part, bad for amd. Hope amd survives. It will be sad if intel is the only performace mainstream cpuy vendor left.

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