In terms of processor benchmarks, the aged and out dated Quake 3 Time Demo run, is as good as anything else, with respect to evaluating overall CPU and Memory subsystem performance. It won't be long before it is replaced by Doom III for our graphics card testing but it may just linger around for CPU benchmarks.
| Quake 3 Time Demo
| A fragin' drag race
We turned down the all the eye candy, resolution and color depth, in an effort to let all processors in this competition, run flat out as fast as possible, without limitation of the graphics card.
The following test was run at 640X480 resolution with 16 bit color and textures.
And there it is, 300+ frames per second is a blazingly fast score, even for this low resolution benchmark run. The PC1066 driven 2.8GHz Pentium has set an all time land speed record for this test, in the HotHardware Lab. What is interesting to note is that a PC1066 RDRAM driven 2.53GHz Pentium 4 actually comes close to the performance level of a 2.8GHz P4 with PC800 RDRAM. This is just more confirmation that Quake 3 is heavily memory bandwidth dependant.
What we've shown you here today, is a look at what the new Pentium 4 Northwood 2.8GHz Processor is capable of, in various benchmarks from all angles. The new P4 exhibited a 15 - 25% performance lead, in most tests versus an Athlon 2600+. This of course stands to reason with the "2600+" branding signifying something close to P4 2.53GHz performance. The clock speed jump up to 2.8GHz from the legacy 2.53GHz speed, for the P4, offers performance gains around 10 - 15%, depending on the application involved. This also seems to scale correctly, with this 10% clock speed boost for the new Northwood. Now the question remains, is the new 2.8GHz Pentium 4 worth the extra dollars for a 10 - 15% performance gain?
Here's the most recent pricing on the P4 line, that we've received from Intel.
| Core Speed || Level Two Cache || System Bus || 1KU Price |
| Pentium 4 2.80 GHz || 512K || 533MHz || $508 |
| Pentium 4 2.66 GHz || 512K || 533MHz || $401 |
| Pentium 4 2.60 GHz || 512K || 400MHz || $401 |
| Pentium 4 2.53GHz || 512K || 533MHz || $243 |
| Pentium 4 2.50 GHz || 512K || 400MHz || $243 |
We know what you are thinking, the sweet spot here is the 2.53GHz CPU and you would be right. Versus an Athlon 2600+ at around $300 or so, the 2.53GHz P4 is an attractive way to go. Going with PC1066 RDRAM is a little more pricey than high quality DDR DRAM but in our opinion, it is the only way to fly the P4 right now, at least until Dual Channel DDR chipsets from Intel are released. In closing, once again it seems as though Intel has one upped AMD in their clash for the PC processor performance superiority. The edge goes decidedly to Intel's 2.8GHz flagship, in most all areas of performance, with perhaps the rare exception of older legacy code based applications.
However, as always, keep your eye on the horizon and stay tuned here. A few more months down the road and we'll most likely be doing this all over again, with more GHz cranking up the benchmark numbers.
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