Although there were a few benchmarks that favored the Athlon XP 2800+, it's quite obvious that the Athlon XP 3000+ is the fastest AMD desktop processor. While this new processor definitely warrants a higher-than 2800+ model number, its performance against the Pentium 4-3.06 GHz makes you wonder if the 3000+ might not be a bit optimistic, even given the AMD notation that the model numbers reflect theoretical Athlon performance levels. Still, the race is a close one in most areas, though the Pentium 4-3.06 GHz still holds a slight performance advantage in the overall sense. Also keep in mind we're testing platforms along with processors, and Intel has had the luxury of some extremely powerful chipsets (E7205, SiS 655) of late.
The value component is usually an area that AMD makes hay in, especially against the historically higher-priced Pentium 4. AMD has their 1KU pricing set at $588 for the Athlon XP 3000+ and $375 for the Athlon XP 2800+ (Barton). These are significantly higher prices that we're used to from AMD, especially for the 3000+ model. The street prices are even higher, tipping $630 for an Athlon XP 3000+, which places it at a premium to even the Pentium 4-3.06 GHz. These price levels will likely decline in the weeks following the release, but one thing is for certain, AMD isn't backing off, and is challenging Intel at a similar price point.
In lieu of an Athlon 64 desktop release, the Athlon XP Barton is a great compromise. The 512K of L2 cache adds some longevity to the line, as well as offering up some noticeable performance increases. The current retail price of the Athlon XP 3000+ is a bit problematic, but those looking for deals should check out the 2800+ and 2500+ Barton models instead. Also keep in mind this is only the first step, and AMD is primed for an Athlon XP 3200+ release in mid-2003.