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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.02.04]
Manufactured by: Intel

Prices: 3.2GHz: $278
3.4 GHz: $417

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Content Encoding Performance

Probably one of the more important performance figures we'll give you in this review are the real-world content encoding numbers. Audio and video compression is hot among almost everyone who is into high end PC's, and having the latest CPU can really make a difference in the length of time it takes to create videos and music files.

First up is MP3 encoding; we used the LAME codec, set to "insane" quality. We encoded a 459MB WAV file, and timed it with dBPowerAMP's encoding utility.

For MP3 encoding, the Prescotts are the slowest of all, by quite a margin. The 3.2 Prescott is behind its Northwood counterpart by about half a minute (along with the Athlon64 3400+). As you can see, LAME makes no use of Hyperthreading whatsoever, although you will still see benefit from HT when running other applications along side encoding. This is what makes benchmarking HT difficult. Real world performance is definitely noticable, but doesn't always show up in tests.

For video encoding, we used the latest beta version of the XviD codec, along with DVD2AVI, encoding a 25 minute caption of "Rashomon" in 700 KBPS single pass. Final encoding time is given in seconds:

This time the Prescott does very well, probably benefiting from the extra L2 cache here. Again we see no direct effect of HyperThreading here.

System Performance Part 1

PCMark04 is used to determine an estimated system performance overview. While it doesn't use actual programs like SYSmark and ZDBench, it uses *parts* of those programs to determine performance. Performance of the following applications are considered:

File compression
File decompression
File encryption
File decryption
Virus scanning
Grammar check
Audio conversion
Image processing
Web page rendering
WMV video compression
DivX video compression
Physics calculation and 3D

Once again, Prescott pulls ahead by a narrow margin. So far the enhanced Hyperthreading isn't showing up, as the non-HT performance is scaling directly with the other CPU's. Keep these numbers in mind when we look at the SYSmark 04 results near the end of this article.

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