All said and done it looks like Intel has made its homework on the 600 series; all the needed features are there to compete with AMD’s offerings and the extra cache memory will certainly help. The question really is whether something that looks good on paper will also perform similarly in the real world. To evaluate whether the 600 series is a step up from the 500 series we decided to test the Pentium 4 560 and 570J against the Pentium 4 660 to see how it fared. We’ll throw in the 3.73 Extreme Edition for good measure, for those of you who can afford it, to see whether it is worth the inflated price tag. We’ll also take a close look at throttling, as we’ve seen throttling
play an important role with top-of-the-line Pentium 4 processors operating at temperatures over 60 degrees Celsius.
To do this we used a top-of-the-line system consisting of Intel’s D925XECV2 motherboard, 1GB of OCZ PC4300 DDR2 memory, two 250GB Maxtor Maxline III Serial-Ata harddisks in RAID0, ATI’s superb X850XT PE PCIe videocard and Windows XP with SP2 and naturally the latest WHQL drivers on both the chipset as well as the graphic card. We used Futuremark’s PCmark04 v1.30, 3Dmark03 v3.60 and 3Dmark05 v1.20 to get an impression of the performance offered accompanied by some benchmarks on compressing files with WinRAR, compressing CD to MP3 and the CS:Source Video Stress Test.
Looking at these benchmarks it is clear that all processors turn in comparable performance numbers, the gap between the highest and lowest performing processor is never more than a few percent. But obviously that is to be expected, there’s not more than a few hundred MHz of clock speed between them, and they’re all based on the same architecture. For example the Pentium 4 3.73 Extreme Edition processor is just 7% faster than the Pentium 4 560 when running PCmark04, but the latter is only half the price, making the Extreme Edition grossly overpriced. Clock for clock the Pentium 4 660 offers the best performance, and has another card up its sleeve, but we’ll get to that in a minute.