By, Marco Chiappetta
May 13, 2003
We continued our testing with another DirectX benchmark, Novalogic's combat helicopter simulation, Comanche 4. Although this is a game benchmark that can be used to test the relative performance of video cards, frame rates are strongly influenced by processor speed and memory bandwidth...
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| Novalogic Comanche 4 - DirectX 8 Gaming |
| As CPU Limited As They Get... |
The Athlon XP 3200+'s higher core clock and system bus speeds helped it to outperform the 3000+ by approximately 4%. Both of the Pentium 4 systems, however, held onto a commanding lead. The P4 3.0C was a full 10 FPS, or 18.2% faster than the 3200+ with the P4 3.06 coming in second place at 60 FPS.
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| Quake 3 Arena v1.17 - Demo001 |
| Who thinks we'll break 1000FPS by Year's End? |
For our last set of benchmarks, we took some Quake 3 Arena v1.17 Timedemo (Demo001) scores using the game's "Fastest" quality setting, with audio disabled. Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card with these minimal settings isolates memory and processor performance. Frame rates are limited by the number of polygons and data the CPU and memory subsystems are able to push through the system bus, without being limited by the graphics subsystem. As you can see, the Athlon XP 3200+ performed very well in Quake 3. It surged ahead of the 3000+ by 11%, but unfortunately it could not come close to catching either of the P4s.
We've run through the gamut of benchmarks and our minds are made up. AMD's decision to transition the Barton core to a 400MHz system bus was a good one. We saw increased performance across the board and our test system remained completely stable throughout. The Athlon XP 3200+ is also being introduced at a price point much more palatable than the original "Bartons". When the Athlon XP 3000+ was released back in February, its debut price was set at $588 each in 1K unit quantities. The Athlon XP 3200+, however, is being introduced at "only" $464, a full 22% lower than the 3000+. Basically, there is nothing negative we can say about AMD's decision to up the Athlon's FSB. We're also happy to see AMD has release a new CPU that is clocked higher than their previous high-end part...even if it is only by few MHz. Simply put, the Athlon XP 3200+ is one seriously fast CPU, and it's being supported by a very capable chipset. We must also commend NVIDIA for designing a chipset in the nForce 2 that has matured so well. When building a high-end Athlon rig, there really is no reason to look for a motherboard based on any other chipset at the moment. The only caveat is that Intel's flagship parts consistently outperform the Athlon XP in the majority of benchmarks, except for the Winstone tests, which don't benefit significantly from Hyper-Threading or the extra bandwidth afforded by the P4's architecture. It seems like Intel expected to be competing against the Athlon 64 by this point in time and as a result they have solidified their lead in performance. Keep in mind that the entire landscape may change a few months from now with the introduction of the Athlon 64. For now though, we'll conclude our coverage by giving AMD praise for releasing a powerful CPU that should quench every speed-freak's thirst...at least until the "next big thing" arrives...
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