Again, we're mirroring the default bench runs here, 1024x768 and 1600x1200.
Yes sir, I believe you could call that a tie. Again we're seeing that the even with the additional bandwidth of the lower rated CPU's the scores stay close, and in this case exact pretty much.
3DMark2001 (Build 330)
For some of you benchmark fiends out there I realize that this is what you were waiting for. I can type a ten paragraph summation on why synthetic benchmarks should be taken with a grain of salt (and they should!) but you will still wanna see em, so here they are...
Now with this for whatever reason the highest system bus takes home the prize. When you're talking about 19,000 and the difference 400 marks total you have to call it close, but advantage 2.4c all the same. I'll readily admit that I've spend more than a few hours before trying to get "just 400 points" so it does matter!
3DMark2003 (Build 330)
And here again for those of you that care to see it, and there's more of you that want this than even I realized according to my inbox after our last review. Ignore it, nuke it, worship it, whatever suites your fancy.
Now that's a lot of benchmarks to digest! What we've seen is not what I was personally expecting. The default speed benchmarks were right in line with expectations but the overclocked results left me a tad baffled.
It seems as if the synthetic memory bandwidth readers show a substantial difference between the higher bus running CPU's and our 3.0GHz in their overclocked settings, but real world benchmarks were closer than anticipated. Have no doubt, the extra bandwidth, both system and DDR, did help, just not as drastically as anticipated. What we basically saw was a whole lot of power with some rather impressive results, which is to be expected when you're throwing 3.5GHz at anything, but not the drastic variance we thought may be the case.
When it comes to raw power it would appear that all three chips offer enough to impress, with only minimal differences in real world results. If you are a synthetic benchmark chaser then you may have read the results and the difference between the chips a bit more steeply, but as far as real world power on real world gaming applications, the difference was negligible at best.
Personally I prefer the 2.6c over both other chips we've looked at. Here's a few reasons why and some final thoughts on each CPU we've tested here today.
There is no denying the awesome power this CPU delivers straight from the box at default speeds. If you are not an overclocker and don't mind a thin wallet, this may very well be what deserves your money. For the performance crowd that doesn't even remember what "Default" means anymore, I have to think you'll want to shy away from this 3.0GHz. The part we have was able to overclock impressively, but with a multiplier of 15, even at insane speeds your bus speeds never give you the opportunity to stretch out. At a respectable overclocked speed with this 3.0GHz your FSB will be between 230MHz - 245MHz or so, which is just out of reach of all but the best memory as far as running a 1/1 memory divider. To really push this CPU you'll be forced to drop to 4/5 on the DDR multiplier which leaves you on the wrong side of 200MHz. Considering that both other CPU's we looked at had the same overclocking potential, it's a safe thing to say that if you're going to overclock, this is not the chip for you.
I will go on record here as saying that the 2.6c is my personal favorite and the one I recommend to most enthusiasts. Not only is the 2.6c capable of insane speeds but it does it with an overclocker friendly multiplier of 13x. I would think there's a GREAT chance for all 2.6c's to be able to run at 250MHz FSB which puts you at a respectable 3.25GHz and with a 4/5 DDR divider that keeps you at 200MHz on the DDR. Even with an higher side overclock of 285MHz front side bus or so that leaves you in shape to run 4/5 DDR divider with most quality (quality being the key word there) memory and certainly helps. This particular chip we have can handle 281MHz bus with our Corsair memory set to a 4/5 divider at semi-aggressive timings. That leaves us at 3.65GHz on the CPU and 225MHz on our memory. With those settings we've exceeded 6100MB/s memory bandwidth according to SiSoft and 3D benchmarks that are impressive to say the least. Priced considerably lower than the 3.0GHz and 3.2GHz models, only USD$40 or so higher than a 2.4c, and with a more overclocker friendly multiplier than the 2.8c, the 2.6c is in my opinion, the way to go.
If you are one that has ambitions to reach the heralded 300MHz front side bus and the amazing system bus of 1200MHz then barring insane cooling or a lottery winner type chip from a different speed CPU, this is your only viable option. The 2.4c we have is capable of running 300MHz FSB but to get it stable required water cooling and some experimentation within our BIOS. Have no doubt, for the USD$180 or so you can get this chip to your door for it's a great deal and a great chip, but have the equipment to run it. Not only do you need a motherboard that can handle well a super high front side bus (290MHz or higher to get "real" speed from it), you will also need memory that can hang at a high speed as well to truly utilize the potential of this CPU. If you have the equipment to push it then prepare for greatness, however the potential for something to not hang is certainly present with this CPU which leaves you with a crapshoot. Do you feel lucky?
The conclusion is going to be up to you in the end as it's your money and only you can decide what deserves it. I'm hoping that we've given you enough information to make an informed decision, but the bottom line is that in the end it's just that, your decision.
What is in my opinion a done deal is the fact that if you're looking for stellar performance at competitive prices these newer Pentium4's at 800MHz system bus are your only viable option. Intel apparently got tired of playing second fiddle to the performance crowd and with the release of these CPU's made it perfectly clear that they are back in the saddle. After over a year running an AMD in my main box I am in the process of switching over to Intel again. That is the strongest thing I can say about a product, that I will be running it.
Whether any of these CPU's belong in your box or not I cannot say, that's for you to decide. While your making that decision you'll have to excuse me, I'm pretty busy. I have a system to convert.
Thanks for checking out this shoot-out. To find the best prices on these CPU's I highly recommend clicking the on one of these links: P4 2.4c, P4 2.6c, or P4 3.0GHz. If you have any questions, props, concerns, or comments, feel free to drop into our forums. Otherwise, head on back to the Dev Hardware front page and check out the other GooSH!™
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