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P III vs P4

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First post, by steevf

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I've been looking into building an XP system and I'm trying to decide on a Pentium III or a Pentium 4. I used to have a Pentium 4 1 Ghz system that I sued from 2002 to 2009. It had 4 GB ram and an AGP Geforce 4 Ti something (4200 or 4400) graphics card. But when the motherboard died, I regrettably threw it out. I did keep the sound card out of it as it had my Sound Canvas daughter-board attached to it. It was an MSI motherboard but I have no other information. I just didn't keep the specs.

Well, also way back in the time period of 2002, my work computer at the time was a P III and I think it was running at about 800 MHz. But I have no idea what the video card was and I think it only had 2 GB RAM.

So what I remember for some reason, is that my P III work computer was a lot more snappier in performance than my P4 home computer.
I never really looked into why it seemed that way. Does this make sense? We also had some Dual PIII 500 MHz systems at work that seem to always out perform the 1 GHz P4 systems. And I've always felt like my Pentium 4 was a bit of a let down in performance when I got it. Like it should have been much better than the PIIIs at the time. Does that perception seem reasonable or could I be misremembering this? Was I imagining things or is it possible that the P4 wasn't really that great of a CPU over the PIII? I feel like they were probably almost even in performance.

So I'm wondering if I should try to rebuild my XP computer as a Pentium 4 or Pentium III?

It probably won't be a gaming machine. It's more for running older design software.

Reply 1 of 40, by chublord

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The early P4's were not very good especially when paired with regular SDRAM. I think it was typical for a P3 1 GHz to outperform the P4 1.3 GHz in a lot of tests, and it was a lot more consistent. I would vote for a P3 system.

IBM Valuepoint 486 DX4-100, Opti 802G, 50 MHz FSB, Voodoo1+S3 864, Quantum LPS 540 MB + Seagate Medalist 1.6 GB + 4.0 GB Quantum Fireball, 128 MB FPM, 256k L2

Reply 3 of 40, by Doornkaat

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I believe you either misremembered those systems' specs or misconfigured your Pentium 4. There is no 1GHz Pentium 4. I'm also not too sure you'd find a Pentium 4 motherboard with support for 4GB of RAM in 2002. This makes it kind of hard to answer your question.

People were dissatisfied with early Pentium 4 CPUs when comparing them to Pentium III machines of similar clock speeds though. I can't say which is better clock for clock for the programs you're using but late Pentium 4 CPUs run circles around any Pentium III CPU based on their higher clock speeds alone. Multithreaded applications will run better on hyperthreaded Pentium 4 CPUs than on dual 500MHz Pentium III systems as well.

I hope this helps somewhat with choosing parts.

Reply 4 of 40, by Repo Man11

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A good P3 system is going to cost substantially more than a P4 system, and the later P4s will offer more performance. I scored a P4 system for free off of Craigslist with an Asus P4P800, and a 2.8 GHz P4. This system uses DDR RAM, has USB 2.0, and has SATA ports allowing the use of modern hard drives without any sort of adapters. Even if you aren't lucky enough to get something like this for free, the cost of such parts used is substantially below that of a decent P3 system.

If you have the money and want a P3 system out of nostalgia, then go for it.

A relevant video by Phil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqCPnO97Vl0

Reply 5 of 40, by steevf

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Doornkaat wrote on 2020-08-26, 03:58:

I believe you either misremembered those systems' specs or misconfigured your Pentium 4. There is no 1GHz Pentium 4. I'm also not too sure you'd find a Pentium 4 motherboard with support for 4GB of RAM in 2002. This makes it kind of hard to answer your question.

People were dissatisfied with early Pentium 4 CPUs when comparing them to Pentium III machines of similar clock speeds though. I can't say which is better clock for clock for the programs you're using but late Pentium 4 CPUs run circles around any Pentium III CPU based on their higher clock speeds alone. Multithreaded applications will run better on hyperthreaded Pentium 4 CPUs than on dual 500MHz Pentium III systems as well.

I hope this helps somewhat with choosing parts.

I am probably misremembering some of this. And I again regret throwing it all out.
My P4 system was built by a custom builder and I didn't really have a hand in what it was. I got what they told me was the "high end" at the time. It may very well have been misconfigured.
I also didn't really pay hard attention to a lot of the computer tech in those days unfortunately. Ironic as I was also writing drivers for their PCI cards back then.

Reply 6 of 40, by kalohimal

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I'd go with a P4 with higher clock speed (e.g. >= 2.8MHz and 800MHz FSB). They are abundant and cheap at the moment (might not be so a few more years down the road). Best if you could find a system with socket 775 and Cedar Mill CPU (they have Speedstep and can control multiplier, for DOS games). If not, a Prescott in socket 478 will do too.

Last edited by kalohimal on 2020-08-26, 04:34. Edited 2 times in total.

Slow down your CPU with CPUSPD for DOS retro gaming.

Reply 7 of 40, by steevf

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Repo Man11 wrote on 2020-08-26, 04:23:

A good P3 system is going to cost substantially more than a P4 system, and the later P4s will offer more performance. I scored a P4 system for free off of Craigslist with an Asus P4P800, and a 2.8 GHz P4. This system uses DDR RAM, has USB 2.0, and has SATA ports allowing the use of modern hard drives without any sort of adapters. Even if you aren't lucky enough to get something like this for free, the cost of such parts used is substantially below that of a decent P3 system.

If you have the money and want a P3 system out of nostalgia, then go for it.

A relevant video by Phil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqCPnO97Vl0

This is giving me a lot to consider. Phil's video is helpful, thanks.

Reply 8 of 40, by Warlord

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If I wanted to run XP to game on I wouldn't use a P3 or a P4. Reasons and certainly not bad ones.
Now If i wanted to play retro games XP isn't the platform to do that on, 9X is.
Any game that will run on XP, will also run on a core2duo.

Reply 10 of 40, by leileilol

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Warlord wrote on 2020-08-26, 04:43:

Any game that will run on XP, will also run on a core2duo.

.......unless that game freaks out about cores and crashes - which there's been many 200x games to do so. The early affinity changing days weren't fun.

apsosig.png

Reply 11 of 40, by darry

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XP's heyday lasted practically from its launch in 2001 until at least late 2006 or even 2009, if you discount Vista . By 2006, a Pentium 3 was pretty much a dog and there were better choices than a Pentium 4 . So, you may well want to consider even a Core2 CPU or an Athlon64 based system . Issue with multiple cores are admittedly no fun, but extra CPU cores can be disabled temporarily when needed, if playing with affinity settings is not your cup of tea . If you really want a Pentium 4 CPU for nostalgia's sake, I understand . I personally do not miss the Pentium 4 in any way, shape or form . Full disclosure: I owned a 2.8Ghz hyperthreaded Northwood CPU from 2003 until 2005 when I switched to an Athlon64 X2 3800+ .

Reply 12 of 40, by chinny22

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Often its the case that the first generation is more or less the same performance as the generation it just replaced.
P3-P4 espcially as you rambus to add to confusion and cost.

The fact that your focusing on design software and not games I'd go with a P4.
XP would work on a P3 initially but over the years and service packs performance really started to suffer.

If you want AGP you want a socket 478 or more interesting in my book a socket 603/604 which it the Xeon equivalent and much more in keeping with a high end workstation.

If you want outright performance LGA 775 make great XP machines, you'll also gain multiple cores, some motherboards that support AGP but not many.
LGA771 is the Xeon workstation equivalent for this generation.

Good thing is prices are still pretty cheap for most this stuff, 771/775 stuff. especially S771 workstations as companies are offloading them on mass now.
HP Xw8400 or Dell Precision T5500 are pretty common in this regard.

Reply 13 of 40, by flupke11

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I have a couple of PIV's as Win98/WinXP LAN systems, for early 2000's games up to 2003 (C&C generals). WinXP performance is ok, especially om ssd or very fast HDDs like the 160/300GB raptors.

Heavier workloads on WinXP/Vista are covered by dual Xeon Workstations om SSD, as Chinny mentioned. Great gaming performance coupled with a Geforce 960. That era does slurp a lot of PSU power, mind you.

Reply 14 of 40, by SPBHM

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P4 lowest desktop model was 1.3GHz but faster models were a lot more popular,
clock for clock P4 is slower, but it can be clocked much higher on average, and have access to a faster bus/ram, so in general it's easy to say P4 was faster,
still, lower models P4 can be slower than some P3s,

as for building a XP system, P4 seems more adequate, but, don't expect amazing performance, my P4 @ 3GHz with 845PE (single channel DDR) doesn't feel that great even for some games from 2003.
I personally would pick a fast Athlon XP +nforce2 over Northwood/Prescott P4.

Reply 15 of 40, by BinaryDemon

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Warlord wrote on 2020-08-26, 04:43:

If I wanted to run XP to game on I wouldn't use a P3 or a P4. Reasons and certainly not bad ones.
Now If i wanted to play retro games XP isn't the platform to do that on, 9X is.
Any game that will run on XP, will also run on a core2duo.

I agree with this but OP if you are intent on running XP on a P3 or P4, P4 might be a better option. I don't know if you intend to update/patch the OS, but there are some late XP patches that assume you have SSE2 instructions and will bork a Pentium3 or older machine.

I'd save the P3/P4 for high performance Win98.

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 16 of 40, by red-ray

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BinaryDemon wrote on 2020-08-26, 10:39:

there are some late XP patches that assume you have SSE2 instructions and will bork a Pentium3 or older machine.

I don't think so, I have fully patched XP SP3 running on my both P-!!! + Athlon MP systems. As I recall it's Windows 7 that has the patches that need SSE2

Reply 17 of 40, by SPBHM

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I did have issues installing some programs due to lack of SSE2, but not the OS (XP) itself, I think I tried firefox 52 ESR and it failed for lack of SSE2, also a video player software, so yeah p4 would have an advantage with that alone, but for playing old games that's not really a factor.

Reply 18 of 40, by BinaryDemon

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red-ray wrote on 2020-08-26, 10:50:
BinaryDemon wrote on 2020-08-26, 10:39:

there are some late XP patches that assume you have SSE2 instructions and will bork a Pentium3 or older machine.

I don't think so, I have fully patched XP SP3 running on my both P-!!! + Athlon MP systems. As I recall it's Windows 7 that has the patches that need SSE2

Hmm seems you are right, I was thinking of this - Recent WinXP/POS2009 update causes errors with PIII systems but those are POS updates on top of XP.

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 19 of 40, by Warlord

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red-ray wrote on 2020-08-26, 10:50:
BinaryDemon wrote on 2020-08-26, 10:39:

there are some late XP patches that assume you have SSE2 instructions and will bork a Pentium3 or older machine.

I don't think so, I have fully patched XP SP3 running on my both P-!!! + Athlon MP systems. As I recall it's Windows 7 that has the patches that need SSE2

List of updates that require sse2
KB4034775, KB4343674, KB4458000, KB4458006, KB4462987, KB4463573, KB4473077, KB4487085-v2, KB4487385, KB4489977, KB4490385, KB4493793, KB4493794, KB4493795, KB4493796, KB4493797, KB4494528, KB4495022.

Of course when u say you have fully updates, that is objectionable.

leileilol wrote on 2020-08-26, 04:47:
Warlord wrote on 2020-08-26, 04:43:

Any game that will run on XP, will also run on a core2duo.

.......unless that game freaks out about cores and crashes - which there's been many 200x games to do so. The early affinity changing days weren't fun.

Even if this is as bad as it sounds, which it probably isn't. You can always disable 1 core and a core2 running on 1 core is still a lot way.....faster than a crappy p4. And can play more games and do more things.