Intel vs AMD S1E8 – Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4 review
The Intel Pentium 4. Heart of many gaming machines in the 2000s. The Pentium 4 is based on the Net burst architecture, available for three different CPU sockets, in clock speeds ranging from to GHz. It certainly divides opinions, loved my many, hated but others, but there is no denying that this processor has left its mark. There are many Pentium 4 processors. This one is different. The name Extreme Edition certainly raises expectations. What is it that makes this processor extreme? How does it perform against the Athlon 64 and should you consider getting one for your rerto gaming PC.
This Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor launched in February of 2004. It runs at a clock speed of GHz and is available for the sockets 478 and 775. While the traditional Pentium 4 Ghz came in the Northwood or Prescott core, the Extreme Edition features the Gallatin core. Originating from the Xeon MP, it has 512 KB of level 2 cache like the standard Pentium 4 Northwood, but features a massive 2 MBs of fast level 3 cache. The level 3 Cache is the main reason for higher performance, That level 3 cache is also the main reason for the higher price tag. The Northwood had around 50 million transistors, the Gallatin had almost 180. This is extremely impressive, especially considering that Gallatin was produced on the older 130 nm process. The newer Prescott for example was already manufactured on the smaller and cheaper 90 nm process. In short, for the price of single Gallatin, Intel could produce several standard Pentium 4 chips. Power draw is also extreme, having a TDP of 1Watts which is at the same level of the Prescott. Double check that your motherboard supports this processor and is able to handle the high power draw Compared to the GHz Extreme Edition, the GHz version can handle somewhat higher temperatures, but still less than the other processors, so a decent CPU cooler is a must.
Extreme was also the price. At a time where the other high end processors would sell for 417 US dollars, the Extreme Edition would set you back 999 US dollars. Accounting for inflation, that’s almost 1300 dollars by todays standards. With so many extremes, let us as take a look at the performance and see if it can live up to the expectations. First up we have 3DMark 2001 SE. In this benchmark the Athlon 64 3400+ is the fastest processor, but the GHz Extreme Edition is not far behind. Amongst the Pentium 4 processors, the Extreme Editions take the lead and with a decent margin. In 3DMark03 we can really see that the graphics card is holding things back.
All the Pentium 4 and Athlon 64 processors offer high performance, the Extreme Editions do take the lead, but the margin is very small. The Athlon 64 processors are little bit behind the Extreme Editions and the Prescott, but the results are all pretty close to each other. In Aquamark 3, the GHz Extreme Edition takes the lead, clearly separating itself from all the other processors. With a score of just under 69000, the Athlon 64 3400+ is a little bit behind the Pentium 4 chips, which all score over 70000. CodeCreatures Pro is a benchmark clearly dominated by the Athlon 64 processors. The GHz Extreme Edition can do little to change to the outcome. It is the fastest Pentium 4 processor, but even the Athlon 64 3200+ manages to be a tiny bit faster. Serious Sam Second Encounter, a classic OpenGL game, also runs very fast on the Athlon 64. The 3400+ is in front with the 3200+ not far behind.
Both Extreme Edition processors do perform well in this game and are able to catch the 3200+, but the 3400+ is still out of reach. X2 The Threat also runs very well on the Athlon 64 processors, they manage to beat all the standard Pentium 4s. The Extreme Edition processors however get a nice performance boost, the GHz model is able to match the 3400+, but the GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition pulls ahead and is the fastest processor in this benchmark. Comanche 4, the only benchmark that runs slower on the Prescott compared to Northwood. The two Extreme Editions are taking the lead in this benchmark. Even the slower GHz version is able to stay in front of the Athlon 64 3400+. Doom 3, a game that really shines on the Athlon 64. It is also the only benchmark that shows the Prescott outperforming the GHz Extreme Edition. The GHz version also does very well in this game, ending up a tiny bit in front of the 3400+ In Far Cry the GHz Extreme Edition managed to hit 100 frames per second. Even the Athlon 64 3400+, which also performs strongly in this benchmark, is not able to beat the Extreme Edition. In FEAR I have began to record the minimum FPS as well, but only got results for a few Pentium 4 processors.
The GHz Extreme Edition is almost able to get close to 60 fps, clearly offering the highest performance out of the processors tested. Looking at the average framerate, we can see that all the faster processors are being limited by the graphics card. 91 frames per second seems to be the limit of what is possible here. The and GHz version of the Extreme Edition, as well as the 3200+ and 3400+ all achieve the same result of 91 frames per second. It will be interesting to see what the result look like with a faster graphics card. And we got some results for Half-Life 2 Lost Coast. This is a very recent addition to my benchmark process, so we also only have a few Pentium 4 results. And once again, the GHz version of the Extreme Edition is the fastest processor in this game.
Time to analyse the results. The GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, does indeed offer extreme performance. It is quite impressive to see what this processor is able to get out the good old socket 478. We can see why Intel decided to launch the Extreme Edition series, the standard Pentium 4 processors simply didn’t have a chance against the newer Athlon 64. Now do keep in mind, that my videos are following the timeline of back in the day. So currently we are in February of 2004, so if you are wondering about socket 939 and 775, PCIe, dual channel memory and the FX series, please relax, all of these cool technologies will get their time to shine.
I can’t tell you when, but it will happen. Looking at the benchmarks, the Athlon 64 3400+ was the fastest processor in 3DMark2001 and Code Creatures and the GHz Extreme Edition dominated 3DMark03 as well as Aquamark 3. When it comes to games, the GHz Extreme Edition ended up being the faster processor in most of the games. X2 The Threat, Comanche 4, Doom 3 and Far Cry all ran faster on the Extreme Edition. Serious Sam The Second Encounter is the only game that ran faster on the 3400+, and FEAR was a tie, being severely limited by the graphics card. Extreme performance is great, but the Extreme Edition comes with other Extremes. Price is one. While you don’t have to pay anywhere close to the 999 USD that this processor would set you back in 2004, this processor is still very much in demand and you will definitely have to look around a bit to find one, and if you do, be prepared to spend a substantial premium. I was looking at availability when producing this video and couldn’t find a single listing, so this is something to really think about.
Extreme is also the power consumption and heat. You will need to source a decent CPU cooler, I cannot recommend using any of the Intel stock coolers. An all copper cooler from Zalman or Thermal right is the way to go, but once again, be prepared to look around for a while and spend a bit of money. Also make sure that your motherboard fully supports this processor and can handle the power draw. Careful when using tower coolers as these motherboards expect airflow around the CPU socket area, back in the day coolers where of the sunflower type, blowing air down onto the motherboard and cooling components around the CPU socket, especially the voltage regulator modules and capacitors. So the performance is awesome, but powerdraw and heat not so much.
This brings us to the question: Should you get this processor for a retro gaming PC? In my opinion, if you’re looking at just the performance, you aren’t going to get good value. The Extreme Edition is sought after not so much for its performance, but for what it stands. It stands for the ultimate processor available for the socket 478. There is just something really cool about having the last of its kind. Owning a processor that used to sell for 999 USD and that simply was out of reach for you back in the day, is an experience that is hard to explain but awesome when you experience it.
Seeing the Extreme Edition BIOS post screen and logo in CPU-Z might be worth every single dollar you invest into such a processor. Also keep in mind that this processor is highly collectible, it will most certainly continue to go up in value, so don’t let a high price put you off right away. So this video is the final chapter for the socket 478. But I’m done with the socket just yet. But that’s all I’m going to say at this point of time. June of 2004 will be the next stop in our PC retro gaming journey. I cannot give you a date, but let me tell that I have some really cool videos planned. 2004 is a really interesting year, lots of new technologies so I’ll be busy acquiring parts, testing hardware and of course, benchmarking, creating charts and having an awesome time playing around with hardware I didn’t have back in the day. And as always, please subscribe and share this video. And know that I read every single comment. You might not get a reply but I do read every single comment and work very hard to keep improving my videos.
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