We used the following system to test the 3.2Ghz Pentium4:
- Intel Pentium4 3Ghz (15x200) comparison
- Albatron 865PE Pro II (1.02b "Accelerated" BIOS)
- 512MB Crucial PC3200 (2 x 256)
- ATi Radeon 9700Pro (3.4's)
- Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB ATA/133 HDD
- Creative SoundBlaster Live! 5.1
- Windows XP Pro SP1
- DirectX 9.0a
We used the following software to test the performance of this new chip:
- Sisoft Sandra 2003 9.44
- Quake 3 Arena
- 3DMark 2003
- Unreal Tournament 2003
- SPECViewperf 7.1
It’s that time again folks. The time where PC users far and wide gather to either drool or poke fun at the latest in Intel CPU technology. Everyone knows the best buy is the mid range CPU, it often has the most value for money, it usually has all the features of the faster models and if also often overclocks far better. This is true for the current Intel pentium4 series, the mid range value of the 2.4/2.6C processors is remarkable, however if you’re looking for an Intel system with today’s absolute best performance out of the box, you would obviously be looking at a higher end CPU. Intel want these users to enjoy what is the latest in P4 technology, the 3.2Ghz HT enabled CPU. It’s slick, it’s fast, and it’s insanely expensive. It’s the Intel Pentium4, baby!
Pentium 4 3.2 GHz | Same old same old
This 3.2Ghz CPU is not strictly new in anyway, just faster. We see the same 0.13 process, 512KB cache, and 800Mhz fsb interface as we do on all the recent Pentium4’s, specifically the Pentium4-C’s. It is still a while yet before we see the next desktop mainstream core of Intel’s, which is codenamed the Prescott, expected to be released later this year. According to an early roadmap of Intel’s, 3.2GHz is the fastest the Northwood will get, with 3.2, 3.4 and 3.6 Prescott processors eventually taking over completely.
HT and WindowsXP SP1
Most of you would probably know what HT is by now. Basically, Intel has developed HT technology to somewhat emulate two processors instead of just one, at least logically. This is done by each logical processor sharing a single set of physical execution resources where each logical processor has a copy of the architectural state. In basic terms, this means operating systems and end user programs can designate threads to each logical processor like a real multi-processor system would.
WindowsXP has been the OS of choice for HT users, although Windows2000 shows signs of improvement with HT enabled, it does not have official support. This is most obvious in 3D gaming under Win2k, where HT actually hurts performance by a considerable amount. With this in mind, anyone wanting to enable HT would generally use WindowsXP.
So, since HT is now a mainstream feature of Intel’s, you would assume it has full support in XP, however, it most certainly does not. It was only until very recently Microsoft released a knowledge base article describing the possibility of significant system slow downs with HT enabled in some applications. This appears to be MS’s issue and not Intel’s, so it will apparently be addressed in the next service pack for XP. Just as a side note, we did not apply this patch in this review, we kept everything in its ‘official’ state.
Unless stated otherwise, Hyper Threading was enabled in all tests. All 3D tests were run under the highest possible detail setting, including 32bit rendering, highest quality filtering and so on, however anti-aliasing was not enabled.
Sisoft Sandra 9.44
According to Sandra, Hyper Threading does the world of difference. Across the board we see the expected and obvious lead from the 3.2GHz CPU, with HT disabled scores lagging behind considerably.
Quake 3 Arena HT enabled
As expected the lower resolutions use the extra 200MHz to its fullest while 1280×1024 and beyond show the 9700Pro maxing out. Although the lower resolutions are impractical for real world gaming, one has to wonder just how fast Q3A can run, it seems everytime we get a faster CPU the low res scores keep getting higher and higher.
3DMark HT enabled
The 3DMark 2003 CPU tests are very intensive, particularly the second one, showcasing a relatively minor performance increase across the board. This is as close to being a solely CPU dependant 3D test as any other app you’ll get, and while it is impractical game wise to leave 3D chip optimizations out, it shows the raw power of the CPU on hand nicely.
Unreal Tournament, Comanche 4, SPECViewperf
Unreal Tournament 2003 HT enabled
UT2003 is, in the most part, more CPU dependant than 3D chip dependant, and the extra 200MHz seem to do a decent job getting a performance enhancement here, at least for every resolution other than 1600×1200. However, 1600×1200 is always going to be a hard resolution to please with only a CPU upgrade, no matter what application.
Comanche 4 HT enabled
The resolution almost might as well be a constant in Comanche 4, because on both CPU’s we hardly see a loss going from 640×480 to 1600×1200 at all. Obviously, CPU speed can only do so much for Commanche 4, as the extra 200MHz only gets an extra ~5fps on average.
SPECViewperf 7.1 HT enabled
SPECViewperf 7.1 is a collection of common desktop multimedia applications, which also seems to be very CPU independant. Nevertheless, the 3.2GHz managed to improve in every test as expected, if only slightly.
Performance per dollar
Having the best performance is one thing, but having the performance to justify the extra price tag is another. In this section, we will briefly cover what performance the 3GHz and 3.2GHz Pentium4’s get per dollar. For example, in Quake3, this means for every dollar you spend you get X amount of frames per second. This is a good way to compare CPU’s no matter how different they are, as they all share atleast one characteristic, that being available in the retail market.
The Pentium4 3.2 GHz was given the price of US$139,95 , according to the lowest price we could find on pricegrabber. The 3.2Ghz Pentium4 was US$695, we took the FPS mark we found in Quake 3, and divided it by its price, showing you how many FPS you get per dollar in each resolution.
As you can see, as far as value for money is concerned, the 3Ghz Pentium4 wins out significantly. Remember, this isn’t saying the 3Ghz Pentium4 performs better, it is just saying that for every dollar each CPU costs, you’re getting more for your money with the 3GHz CPU. This is only really relevant for people who try to get the most out of their cash, but if you plan on buying either a 3.0 or a 3.2 then that probably isn’t you anyway.
Obviously the 3.2GHz CPU is a very expensive CPU, every top of the line product is, atleast compared to its slower counterparts. Although it would be crazy to recommend this CPU to everyone, that isn’t relevant, people who are considering this CPU don’t need to be told it is the best performer, you already know that simply by looking at the product name. And people who aren’t dedicated to buying the fastest PC available every month don’t need to be told this CPU isn’t for them, the price tag tells them that straight off the bat. If you’re an Intel buyer who wants the best then this is it right here, but for any other user, the 3.2GHz P4 is but a mere symbol of raw computing power.