More interesting though were the subjective tests. What I did was to run a full scan of Norton Anti-Virus, convert an album of tracks from MP3 to 320Kbps AAC, re-encode a DivX movie using Dr DivX into a more compressed file, playback a move file and then attempt to launch and play Half-Life 2.
On the Pentium D I was able to do this and switch between the game and desktop. It took Half-Life 2 a long time to load but once it got going the game was playable, without dropped frames. (This was with a GeForce 6800 GT installed).
Performing the same tasks on the 3.8GHz however, when I tried to launch Half-Life 2, Task Manger revealed that I had run out of CPU cycles. Once iTunes had finished encoding, Half-Life2 then launched, but wouldnâ€™t play smoothly. Once I shut down the other tasks it was smooth as silk.
This proved to me quite comprehensively the benefits of dual-core and seeing it make a real difference was quite satisfying.
But what of pricing for the CPUs? In quantities of 1,000, (which admittedly isnâ€™t much use to the end user) the Pentium 670 (3.8GHz) costs $851 and for the Pentium D 820 (2.8GHz), you'll have to fork out $241, moving up to $316 for the 830 (3.0GHz) and $530 for the 840 (3.2GHz).
Based on the benchmarks and my subjective tests, I know which processor Iâ€™d prefer â€“ itâ€™s the dual-core, and for most people I donâ€™t think the faster but less agile Pentium 4 is going to find many end user customers, especially considering that it costs so much more.
The Pentium 4 670 is just more of the same and is expensive to boot. The Pentium D however, is a decent introduction to dual-core from Intel, and for most consumers it will be the better choice by far. It's clear that AMD's X2 is a far better performer, but it also costs a lot more. Ultimately, with Intel's projected pricing, we could see entry level dual core PCs sooner rather than later.