||Intel Pentium 4 3.8GHz Review
November 14, 2004
Summary: Intel's Pentium 4 3.8GHz CPU is out to challenge AMD's supremacy on the high end-market. Does it succeed? We test the Pentium 4 570 through a full suite of benchmarks. Read on for the results!
| Introduction||Page:: ( 1 / 12 )|
After feeling soured by Intelís 3.46GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, which requires a new motherboard, costs more than a modest mortgage payment, and offers little in the way of extra performance, we were understandably down on the Pentium 4ís future potential.
But Intel isnít ready to roll over by any means. Itís unveiling an attractive BTX strategy that promises to standardize the way small form-factor cases are designed, while simultaneously augmenting cooling performance and reducing some of the noise pollution generated by an excessive number of fans. Intel is also taking the wraps off of a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 that boasts more than just an extra 200MHz. It isnít the Athlon 64-killer that Intel so desperately needs, but it is an undeniable step in the right direction.
Pentium 4 570J at 3.8GHz
Of course, Intelís Pentium 4 570J comes in lieu of the 4GHz processor that was originally slated to emerge before the end of 2004. Naturally, it centers on the Prescott core, which compromises a little performance for augmented clock frequency through a lengthy 31-stage execution pipeline. The core is also manufactured on a 90nm lithography process and features 1MB of L2 cache, in addition to SSE3 and Hyper-Threading technology.
In fact, the 3.8GHz chip is almost identical to the 3.6GHz variant that precedes it. But there are a couple of notable improvements that accompany E0, the new revision as identified by CPU-Z. The first is Intelís XD hardware bit, an equivalent to what AMD calls Enhanced Virus Protection and a natural complement to Data Execution Prevention in Windows XP Service Pack 2. In adding the feature to its Pentium 4, Intel is establishing some degree of parity between its own processor family and competing Athlon 64 chips, which have supported the feature for more than a year already, in addition to CoolíníQuiet and 64-bit extensions.
Intel stands to benefit from enabling its EMT64 and DBS technologies, already available to servers through Xeon, in the Pentium 4 as well. Weíve already heard that a limited number of Prescott cores shipping to large system builders support EMT64, but representatives from Intel claim that Pentium 4 570J does not.
The other improvement is an enhanced halt state that improves Prescottís thermal characteristics. Notorious for running hot, the enhanced halt state is a boon to the architectureís heat output and as youíll see in the overclocking results. Clock scalability improves appreciably.
Unlike the previously announced Pentium 4 3.46GHz Extreme Edition, Intelís Pentium 4 570 employs an 800MHz front side bus, meaning it will work with existing 925X motherboards. A BIOS may be required to properly identify the new stepping, but our test platform immediately recognized the 3.8GHz processor.
| Pricing, Overclocking, and the Future||Page:: ( 2 / 12 )|
If youíre interested in the Pentium 4 570J, Intel is pricing the chip at $637 for 1,000-unit quantities. Thatís lower than AMDís listed price for its Athlon 64 3800+, but higher than the 3800+ís actual street price. The Pentium 4 570J is also significantly less expensive than the Extreme Edition, which lists for $999, but sells online for as much as $1,100.
Despite notable performance setbacks in the face of an elongated execution pipeline, the Prescott core is intended to facilitate greater clock frequencies. Indeed, the architectureís latest revision offers more headroom and less heat than preceding cores. And while Intelís own reference motherboards generally donít showcase the Pentium 4ís flexibility very well, we had better luck this time around with the 570J.
Using the D925XECV2 motherboard and its latest BIOS, which fixes a problem with Intelís burn-in mode, the 3.8GHz Pentium 4 scaled up to 4.3GHz Ė the highest setting available Ė without crashing. It didnít prove to be as reliable in games, so we dropped it to 4.2GHz, where the platform worked without issue.
CPU-Z reported a 1200MHz front side bus. But because the timings required to get our low-latency DDR2 modules running at that frequency increased, memory performance was inferior to the 925XEís 1066MHz bus (5,700+ MBps versus 5,400+ MBps). Overall performance did increase, though. At 4.2GHz, Doom 3 scores recorded for 800x600 went from 91.7 frames per second to 100.2 frames per second, a nine percent increase. Scores at 1600x1200 were less impressive Ė from 68.8 frames to 69.9.
Itís amazing how quickly plans change. The highly publicized 4GHz launch fell through leading up to the 570Jís 3.8GHz announcement. Then, the 3.73GHz Extreme Edition that was scheduled for a 2004 unveiling met a similar fate. That one wasnít as widely discussed, but it demonstrates nonetheless that Intelís roadmaps are in a constant state of flux right now.
It doesnít look like there will be any more Intel processor releases this year. Instead, weíre expected to hear more early in 2005. At that point the 1066MHz front side bus will become more useful, but even that feature has limited appeal at this point.
| System Setup||Page:: ( 3 / 12 )|
Intel Pentium 4 3.46GHz Extreme Edition (1066MHz bus)
Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz Extreme Edition (800MHz bus)
Intel Pentium 4 570 (3.8GHz; 90nm 1MB L2)
Intel Pentium 4 560 (3.6GHz; 90nm; 1MB L2)
Intel Pentium 4 550 (3.4GHz; 90nm; 1MB L2)
AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 (939)
AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 (939)
AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (939)
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ (939)
Intel D925XECV2 925XE Motherboard
Intel D925XCV 925E Motherboard
MSI 7025E nForce3 Ultra Socket 939 Motherboard
1GB Corsair 2-2-2-5 DDR400 Pro Series Memory (2x512MB)
1GB Corsair 3-3-3-8 DDR2-533 Pro Series Memory (2x512MB)
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra AGP 8x
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra PCI Express x16
Detonator 66.81 Beta with support for PCI Express cards
34GB Western Digital Raptor (10,000RPM, 8MB cache)
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2
Desktop resolution 1024x768, 32-bit color, 85Hz refresh
All power saving options were turned off, as were the Automatic Update and System Restore services. Graphics options under the ĎPerformanceí tab were all disabled for maximum performance.
Note also that extremely low latency memory modules were used for both platforms. The AMD64 system used 1T command rates, while the Pentium 4 machine employed 2T command rates.
Note also that weíve dropped both Futuremark benchmarks from our suite. Itís difficult to defend the use of a synthetic test that contradicts 100 percent of the real-world metrics to which itís compared, and both PCMark04 and 3DMark05 did just that, limiting their usefulness as synthetic tests.
PC Magazine Business Winstone 2004 v.1.0.1
PC Magazine Content Creation Winstone 2004 v.1.0.1
SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP2
Epic Games Unreal Tournament 2004 v.3323
Id Software Doom 3
Crytek Far Cry v.1.1
Valve Software Counter-Strike: Source
Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9
| PC Magazine Benchmarks||Page:: ( 4 / 12 )|
Content Creation Winstone 2004 and Business Winstone 2004
The 3.8GHz Pentium 4 achieves Intelís highest benchmark score in Content Creation 2004, beating even the 3.46GHz Extreme Edition on its 1066MHz front side bus. However, the chip isnít able to overcome any of AMDís Athlon 64 products. In fact, the 3800+, a product weíd expect to be roughly equivalent to the new Pentium 4, is about eight percent faster.
Business Winstone 2004 demonstrates less pronounced gains for Intelís 3.8GHz offering. It actually scores a bit behind the 3.6GHz processor, well within the testís margin of error, but a bit disappointing nonetheless. The throughput advantages of its 1066MHz front side bus give the high-end Extreme Edition a lead in the business metric, though it still falls well below all of the examined AMD64 processors.
| SiSoft Sandra 2004||Page:: ( 5 / 12 )|
SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP2
Because the 3.8GHz processor employs the older 800MHz front side bus, itís limited to 6.4 GBps of front side bus throughput, despite the fact that it operates on a platform that pushes DDR2-533 memory with an 8.5 GBps ceiling. As such, itís no surprise that the 3.8GHz processor hovers right around the other 800MHz front side bus chips in the Sandra 2004 memory benchmark.
When all of Intelís processors transition to a 1066MHz fronts side bus, the 3.46GHz Extreme Edition clearly shows that effective bandwidth will improve significantly as the front side and memory buses sync up.
Granted, even at 1066MHz, Intelís off-die memory controller canít keep up with the efficiency of AMDís integrated controller, which manages to push more than 6.1 GBps of real-world throughput Ė 95 percent of its 6.4 GBps theoretical ceiling.
| Unreal Tournament 2004||Page:: ( 6 / 12 )|
Unreal Tournament 2004 v.3323
Given the modest performance improvement realized by the 3.6GHz Pentium 4 over the 3.4GHz model at 800x600, itís a little surprising that the 3.8GHz variant isnít able to score higher. Thus, the Extreme Edition processors persist as the pinnacle of performance for Intel. Incidentally, theyíre still bested by all of the Athlon 64 processors tested.
As expected, the scores even out at 1600x1200, where other bottlenecks blur the lines between model numbers and micro-architectures. AMD holds its lead, but only by a few frames per second. This time around, the 3.8GHz chip does show a little improvement over the 3.6GHz model, too.
| Doom 3||Page:: ( 7 / 12 )|
Again, thereís very little difference between the 3.8GHz Pentium 4 and the 3.6GHz model underneath it with regard to performance in Doom 3. Interestingly, the 3.8GHz chip is actually roughly equivalent to AMDís Athlon 64 3800+ at 800x600.
At 1600x1200 the 3.8GHz chip manages to edge ahead of AMDís Athlon 64 3800+ and 4000+ processors; never mind that the margin is a scant one-half frame per second. For all intents and purposes, performance at high-resolutions in Doom 3 is severely limited by todayís graphics cards and it doesnít really matter if you have a $300 chip or a $1,100 Extreme Edition. Youíll get roughly similar results at 1600x1200 with either of the two.
| Far Cry||Page:: ( 8 / 12 )|
Far Cry v.1.1
Intelís 3.8GHz Pentium 4 picks up enough performance in Far Cry at 800x600 to usurp the 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. However, it isnít quite able to catch the 3.46GHz version on its 1066MHz bus, nor does it compare favorably to any of the Athlon 64 processors.
At 1600x1200, the situation normalizes, as expected, and the Pentium 4 and Athlon 64 lines all score fairly comparably. The 3.8GHz chip drops below both Extreme Editions, but again, the difference is less than one frame per second.
| Counter-Strike: Source||Page:: ( 9 / 12 )|
Weíve observed in the past Ė and the same holds true today Ė that Counter-Strike: Source doesnít scale well with processor performance. Intelís 3.8GHz Pentium 4 doesnít demonstrate a tangible lead over any of the other Pentium 4 processors at either 800x600 or 1600x1200, really. And while the Athlon 64 family continues to post the highest scores in Counter-Strike, it does so by a smaller margin than in other games weíve tested.
| Windows Media Encoder 9||Page:: ( 10 / 12 )|
Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9
That the Pentium 4 micro-architecture, centering on the Prescott core, doesnít do well against AMD64 designs in games at low resolutions has already been shown here. However, the micro-architecture is known to hold its own in other usage environments that gaming enthusiasts hold dear, such as multimedia encoding. For our purposes, we converted a 207MB .mpg using Windows Media Encoder 9 into something a little more suitable for streaming.
Sure enough, the 3.8GHz Pentium 4 manages to outperform all of the Athlon 64 processors, including AMDís high-end FX-55. It also manages to fly right past the expensive Extreme Edition chips Ė even the 3.46GHz on its 1066MHz front side bus. So, while it might not be the end-all for gamers looking to play, Intelís 3.8GHz Pentium 4 does prove to be a competent media encoding platform, at least in WME 9.
| Ballistics Report: Pentium 4 570 3.8GHz||Page:: ( 11 / 12 )|
Media Encoding Performance: Though it doesnít take any gaming victories and while, for the most part, Intelís Extreme Edition family is still faster, the 3.8GHz 570J performs really well in Windows Media Encoder 9. Itís no slouch in games, either. In many cases, the 3.8GHz chip approaches the Extreme Edition chips that cost nearly twice as much. And performance at high-resolutions generally falls just shy of AMDís Athlon 64 family.
Overclockability: CPUID reports that the Pentium 4 570J centers on revision E0 core, indicating Intel has made some improvements to its design. Indeed, representatives at Intel have made claims on other occasions that the new stepping does help Prescott run cooler than previous versions and these improvements are manifest in better overclocking results. Using Intelís own D925XECV2, with its limited overclockability, the 3.8GHz chip stretched to 4.2GHz without any indication of instability. Itíd run at 4.3GHz as well, though it doesnít prove reliable in games.
XD In Hardware: Another of the chipís improvements include XD Ė execute-disable Ė functionality. Intel has always said that itíd support the feature once Microsoft enabled it in Windows XP Service Pack 2. AMD calls the feature Enhanced Virus Protection, Microsoft calls it Data Execution Prevention, and Intel casually makes reference to execute-disable. Either way, its Pentium 4 now supports the feature in hardware, making it possible to prevent certain targeted malicious code attacks.
Price: Priced at $637 in 1,000-unit quantities, the Pentium 4 570J isnít as prohibitively expensive as the Extreme Edition lineup, but it does cost more than the street price for AMDís Athlon 64 3800+. Moreover, itís a couple hundred dollars above the 3.6GHz Pentium 4 that is only marginally slower.
Availability: Even two weeks after its debut, the 3.46GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is literally non-existent to the do-it-yourself enthusiast crowd. Even Dell, perpetually devoted to Intelís processor lineup, isnít listing the high-end chip. Afraid that the Pentium 4 570 would suffer a similar fate, we asked Intel about availability. Purportedly, select system builders will have the processor immediately with limited boxed product before the end of 2004. Chances are good that youíll have a tough time locking one of these puppies down before the holiday season.
The AMD Factor: Within the confines of Intelís own product line, the Pentium 4 570 is a respectable solution. However, when you consider the AMD chips that itís going against, gamers are much more likely to go with AMD. Weíre still waiting to see how Prescott performs with 2MB of cache, especially at those higher clock speeds. Until then, AMD largely goes unchallenged in gaming environments.
| Final Verdict||Page:: ( 12 / 12 )|
Intel Pentium 4 570J 3.8GHz
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