By, Marco Chiappetta
and Chris Angelini
February 10, 2003
Lastly, we took some Quake 3 Arena v1.32 Timedemo (Demo Four) scores at a resolution of 640x480x16, with the texture quality and geometric detail sliders at their lowest settings. Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card with these minimal settings isolates memory and processor performance, because frame rates are limited by the number of polygons and data the CPU and memory subsystems are able to push through the bus, without being limited by the graphics subsystem.
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| Quake 3 Arena v1.32 - Demo Four |
| Low-Res OpenGL Action |
Quake 3 Arena also gained some performance by having more L2 cache available. The Athlon XP 3000+ surpassed the 2700+ by 12.7 FPS, or by about 5%. The Pentium 4 CPUs, however, ran away from the Athlons in this test. The 2.8GHz Pentium 4 beat the Athlon XP 3000+ by over 30 FPS, and the 3.06GHz Pentium 4 was over 47 FPS faster.
The new "Barton" core is a definitely step in the right direction for AMD. When directly compared to a 3.06GHz Pentium 4, Intel's current flagship processor, the Athlon XP 3000+ may not have been able to overtake the P4 in the synthetic or gaming benchmarks, but in the "Real World" tests, the Athlon was the superior performing CPU. The Athlon XP 3000+ is also less expensive than the 3.06GHz P4, but unlike previous generations, not by much. Let's take a look at AMD's current pricing scale...
| Model Number || 1KU Pricing |
| 3000+ || $588 |
| 2800+ || $375 |
| 2700+ || $349 |
| 2600+ || $297 |
| 2400+ || $193 |
| 2200+ || $157 |
| 2100+ || $93 |
| 2000+ || $83 |
According to this pricing information, in lots of 1000 the Athlon XP 3000+ is only about $40 less expensive than a 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4. That is no where near the price advantage AMD used to hold over competitive Intel CPUs. High-end motherboards for Intel CPUs are slightly more expensive than similar boards for the Athlon, however, but overall neither platform is a more "cost effective" solution. In fact, based on the benchmark scores we saw, one could argue the Intel 2.8GHz Pentium 4 was probably the best all around processor we looked at today when price is taken into consideration. Regardless, the Athlon XP 3000+ is an excellent CPU, and unlike previous AMD processor launches, the 3000+ should be available today. We'd also bet AMD will be releasing faster "Barton" based Athlon XPs relatively quickly.
Rumor has it a 3200+ variant will be available in the spring. AMD will also be bringing lower-speed Athlon XPs to market based on the new "Barton" core, which, if our overclocking results are typical, should make these processors a favorite amongst the overclockers out there. For now we'll say the Athlon XP 3000+ is an excellent desktop CPU at a competitive price point. However, we're really looking forward to higher-clocked "Barton" CPUs and can't wait for the day AMD "drops the Hammer". A 200MHz FSB may even be in the "Barton's" future, but until AMD makes an official announcement, that is just speculation. In closing, we feel AMD has definitely laid the foundation for a productive 2003, and we think they're poised to react quickly to Intel's next round of upgrades.
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