RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.21.04]
Manufactured by: Intel


SYSMark 04

SYSMark 04 is what I consider to be the most important total system performance benchmark. For full details (and I mean FULL), check out BapCo's whitepaper on the software.

If you are concerned about the skewed performance results of the last version of SYSMark, you shouldn't be this time. Both AMD and Intel have had their part in helping develop this software, and as such it should hold no bias against either platform.

Starting with the Internet Content Creation half of SYSmark 04, here is a list of the applications used in this test:

Adobe® After Effects® 5.5
Adobe® Photoshop® 7.01
Adobe® Premiere® 6.5
Discreet® 3ds max® 5.1
Macromedia® Dreamweaver® MX
Macromedia® Flash MX
Microsoft® Windows Media® Encoder 9 Series
Network Associates® McAfee® VirusScan® 7.0
WinZip Computing WinZip® 8.1

If you use these applications extensively, be sure to give the following results your full attention, as they will mean quite a bit to you.

Let's start with the overall Internet Content Creation score, which uses ALL the results to compile what may be the 'best overall' CPU for ICC:

In the Internet Content Creation apps listed above, it's clear that the Prescott excels ahead of the Northwood, probably in a large part due to the increased cache size. Also, due to Hyper-Threading support, the Pentium 4 performs much better than the Athlon64 (read our last Prescott review if you want to see full details of the tests performed)

The Office Productivity half of SYSmark 04 uses the following applications:

Adobe® Acrobat® 5.0.5
Microsoft® Access 2002
Microsoft® Excel 2002
Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6
Microsoft® Outlook® 2002
Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2002
Microsoft® Word 2002
Network Associates® McAfee® VirusScan® 7.0
ScanSoft® Dragon Naturally Speaking® 6 Preferred
WinZip Computing WinZip® 8.1

If these apps seem more familiar to your line of work, you're going to want to know how the CPU's perform in the Office Productivity suite.

This time, the Northwood and Prescott perform largely the same. And once again, the A64 lags behind the P4.

Well there you have it; the Pentium 4 is now 200 MHz faster, and performs 200 Mhz faster.

The retail Northwood 3.4 is currently available from NewEgg for $418, which is exactly what it was announced at in 1000 unit levels, so the price has gone down a bit. As we already know, the Prescott is priced directly with the Northwood, so you should be able to pick one up for around $420 as well.

But do you want to? We all know the Prescott is built for the future, but what about now? In some cases, it is a little faster. In more cases, it is slower than a Northwood of matching speed. Therefore, if you are thinking of picking up a $420 processor, I would still recommend the Northwood version of the Pentium 4 over the Prescott.

What about Athlon64?

Well we can now see for sure that the 3400+ performance rating holds up in 'pure' number crunching tests, like ScienceMark 2.0. Also, it performs VERY well in gaming - sometimes performing ABOVE expectations based on the performance rating.

However in most other tests, including office applications and content creation, and video and audio encoding, it is actually quite a bit slower than a 'matching' Pentium 4 processor (especially Northwood).

If you game more than anything else, I would still recommend the Athlon64. However if you're into working - I'd go for a Pentium 4.

The 3400+ Retail is goes for the exact same price as Intel's 3.4 GHz parts (imagine that!). You can pick up an OEM version for $404 right now.