For the past few months I have been
considering the idea of building a dual-core system,
primarily for gaming. Although dual-core processors have not
shown any real benefits over single-core processors in
gaming applications, this should change in the near future.
As drivers and games become better optimized to use multiple
cores, the huge improvements we are all waiting for should
All of my previous gaming computers have
been overclocked for maximum performance, not to mention
high anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering settings become
addictive after a while, however using these in the latest
most demanding games can be quite the frame rate killer.
Therefore when migrating to a dual-core configuration I
wanted a processor that would give me the best bang for my
buck. Current Intel dual-core processors are very affordable
with the Pentium 4 D 820 costing
~$230. In the other hand we
have the Athlon 64 X2 dual-core processor, starting at $300
Although the AMD dual-core processors
are faster on a level playing field I wanted maximum
overclocking power. Unfortunately, unlike Intel who only
changes the processors clock frequency from one model to
another AMD also alters the L2 Cache. The Athlon64 X2 3800+,
4200+ and 4600+ all feature a total L2 Cache of 1MB. While
the 4400+ and 4800+ both feature a total L2 Cache of 2MB.
The entire range of Pentium D processors
also uses a 2MB L2 Cache (1MB+1MB)*. Meaning that if I wanted
to achieve maximum performance from an overclocked Athlon64
X2 processor, I would need at least a 4400+ as it is AMD’s
slowest dual-core processor to feature the full 2MB Cache.
This also means I would end up spending twice as much on the
processor if I went with the
AMD X2 4400+. At the end of the
day, I decided to give the 4400+ a chance, making this an
Intel Pentium D 820 vs. AMD Athlon64 X2 4400+ overclocking
At their stock frequencies the AMD
Athlon64 X2 4400+ is naturally going to be much faster than
the Intel Pentium D 820. Despite the Pentium D 820 being
clocked 600MHz faster, the Athlon64 X2 4400+ utilizes a more
On the other hand overclocking these two
processors may give the Pentium D 820 processor a natural
advantage. The Pentium D 820 is easily capable of achieving
a clock frequency in excess of 3.5GHz and with some more
extreme measures capable of surpassing the 4GHz mark, very
impressive indeed. The AMD Athlon64 X2 4400+ managed to
reach 2.7GHz, this 500MHz overclock went a long way in
aiding the X2 4400+’s performance.
The question is which Dual-Core 2MB L2
Cache processor gives you the best bang for your buck? Is it
the 2.7 GHz AMD Athlon64 X2 4400+ or is it the 4.2GHz Intel
Pentium D 820? Initially there was just 600MHz favoring the
Intel processor and it was still slower. Now there is a
staggering 1.5GHz favoring the Intel processor, surely this
kind of gain has to help Intel get over the line before AMD.
Well let’s move on and find out...
*Edit: Earlier this year Intel released
the Pentium D 9xx series which are based on the Presler 65nm
core. These come with a total of 4MB (2x2MB) L2 cache.