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CPU Re-match : Athlon XP vs. Pentium 4
By CPU-zilla
Category : CPU
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 14th August, 2002

Who's Da Best?

For now, we can't really deny that the Pentium 4 is indeed the faster processor for your computing needs - whether you're into serious gaming, office applications or intense multimedia applications. Looking at the results generated from SYSmark 2002, Winstone and 3DMark 2001SE, the Pentium 4 2.2GHz beats the Athlon XP 2200+ in every benchmark that was thrown at it. What else can we say? The results speak for itself - so don't stone us just because the Pentium 4 beat the Athlon XP into pulp.

If we compare price and performance, we cannot avoid the fact that both the Pentium 4 2.2GHz and Athlon XP 2200+ are priced in the same ballpark although the 2200+ is only clocked at 1.8GHz. Since the total price of the components compared in this article are somewhat in the same figure, we can safely say that the Athlon XP 2200+ is quickly losing its price/performance appeal. The new Thoroughbred is just not cut out to beat the Pentium 4 - well, maybe not now. Perhaps the Palomino (Athlon XP 2100+) would give the Pentium 4 a good fight, but when you are looking at the fastest CPU that AMD has to offer (like the 2200+), it just fails to give the Pentium 4 a good challenge.

Now, if you've been following the article, what we've set out to achieve was to show where the Athlon XP and Pentium 4 performance stand when we consider the price factor. However, we did not really give the Pentium 4 much advantage as we only used DDR266 and 400MHz FSB CPUs (although it was already faster than the Athlon XP). So, what if we give it an extra push with DDR333 and 533MHz FSB? Well, there's not a single doubt that the Pentium 4 will receive more performance boost. So, if we throw in a SiS645DX motherboard with DDR333 memory, what's the price and performance like? Check the table below.

Component Pricing Compared With SiS645DX Motherboards
  Processor Motherboard Memory Total
Intel Pentium 4 2.26GHz / i845E / DDR266 US$241 (S$424) S$190 S$113 S$727
Intel Pentium 4 2.26GHz / SiS645DX / DDR333 US$241 (S$424) S$161 S$138 S$723
Intel Pentium 4 2.2AGHz / i845E / DDR266 US$241 (S$424) S$190 S$113 S$727
Intel Pentium 4 2.2AGHz / SiS645DX / DDR333 US$241 (S$424) S$161 S$138 S$723
Intel Pentium 4 1.8AGHz / SiS645DX / DDR333 S$299 S$161 S$138 S$598
Intel Pentium 4 1.8AGHz / i845E / DDR266 S$299 S$190 S$113 S$602
AMD Athlon XP 2200+ / KT333 / DDR333 US$230 (S$405) S$199 S$138 S$742
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ / KT333 / DDR333 US$163 (S$287) S$199 S$138 S$624
AMD Athlon XP 1800+ / KT333 / DDR333 US$142 (S$250) S$199 S$138 S$587

The price of SiS645DX motherboards are really low and this has helped offset the cost of DDR333 memory. The result - you get faster systems at the same price. More interestingly, the 2.26GHz Pentium 4 is similarly priced as the 2.2GHz part. The difference is only in the FSB frequency but between 400MHz FSB and 533MHz FSB, we know that the difference is significant. So, if you're to configure a kickass system at a good price, there's no doubt that the SiS645DX-DDR333 combination will give the Athlon XP a beating in terms of price and performance.

What more can we say? The Athlon XP lost the GHz race, and has lost the performance battle. With the 2200+, it doesn't look like it will win the price-performance war. Price has to come down if AMD wants to preach the price-performance gospel. Until AMD introduces ClawHammer (K8) or Barton at compelling price points, AMD will continue to lose this CPU war. Time to buck up, guys!

Testbed Configuration
Processor AMD Athlon XP / Intel Pentium 4
Memory 256MB Kingston Value RAM
Graphics Card MSI G4Ti4600-VTD 128MB
Harddisk IBM DTLA-307020
Operating System Windows XP Professional

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