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Intel Pentium 4 3.2E GHz Prescott Processor Review

Intel Pentium 4 3.2E GHz Prescott Processor Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Remember back in November of 2000 when the 1.5GHz Pentium 4 first came to light?
 75% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Intel Feb 01 2004   C. Angelini  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > Intel Pentium 4 3.2E

Prescott Compatibility and Heat Levels

The virtues of a smaller manufacturing process and complex core logic are not all positive, unfortunately. Prescott, even in its very first incarnation, dissipates a lot of power. In fact, at 3.2GHz the core's Thermal Design Power (TDP), the target used in determining thermal solution design, is rated at 103W. Motherboards based on a previous voltage regulator specification may consequently have trouble supporting the new processor.

Intel claims that most motherboards will work fine with a BIOS update, which third-party board vendors are expected to release. There's a chance that older Socket 478 motherboards are simply incompatible, though.

How serious is the problem, you ask? We tested a total of eight motherboards, randomly sampled from our test systems, for Prescott compatibility. Of the eight, only three actually worked, including the D875PBZ that Intel sent with the Prescott sample, ABIT's IC7-MAX3, and ABIT's AI7. Those boards that didn't work were ASUS' P4C800-E, AOpen's AX4C Max, two of Intel's D865PERL, and an older D875PBZ.

Although the ABIT IC7-MAX3 and AI7 successfully booted into Windows, neither motherboard properly recognized Prescott’s clock multiplier, in both cases reverting back to 2.8GHz. Each board was flashed to the latest publicly available BIOS, but ABIT clearly has some work to do before touting full Prescott compatibility. Consequently, we weren’t able to overclock the Prescott core at 3.2GHz. The only remaining platform with which to test, Intel’s D875PBZ, is limited to a four percent “Burn-in” mode that doesn’t facilitate aggressive FSB manipulation.

Of course, Intel can't comment on other manufacturers' boards, but it claims that a BIOS update will not enable compatibility on older Intel boards that were manufactured before the latest voltage regulator specification. Moreover, there's no way to tell by looking at your motherboard if it can be made compatible. If you purchased your Socket 478 motherboard within the past couple months, you shouldn't have a problem upgrading.

Intel's Prescott dissipates copious amounts of heat, but the good news is that the 3.2GHz model doesn't require any special treatment; the same retail heatsink and fan combination that shipped with Northwood processors works fine. Given that the heatsink uses the same physical socket and retention system, you can also continue to use just about any after market cooler, like the Zalman CNPS7000A-Cu for example.

Intel's doesn't validate chassis designs, though, so you'll want to exercise caution before coupling a Prescott processor and a small form-factor system.

What's in a Name?

The launch of a new core with different features always introduces naming confusion. Case in point: there are now four different versions of the 2.8GHz Pentium 4. The standard Northwood-based 2.8GHz processor operates on a 533MHz bus, while the 2.8C employs an 800MHz bus. The former doesn't support Hyper-Threading, while the latter does. The 2.8A and 2.8E are both Prescott cores. Again, the former doesn't support Hyper-Threading and runs on a 533MHz bus, while 2.8E is Hyper-Threading enabled and 800MHz-ready. Undoubtedly, retail outlets are going to have a hard time explaining the new model numbers to customers.

As a rule of thumb, Prescott's are denoted with 'E' and 'A.' Northwood cores either don't have a letter designation or are marked with a 'C,' if they are 800MHz and Hyper-Threading-compatible.

PCStats Test System Specs:
Computer Hardware
Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz Prescott (800MHz)
Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz Northwood (800MHz)
Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz Extreme Edition (800MHz)
AMD Athlon 64 FX-51
AMD Athlon 64 3400+
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Motherboards: Intel D875PBZ 875P
Gigabyte K8VNXP K8T800
Videocard: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB (Det. 53.03)
Memory: Corsair PC3500 CAS2
Corsair Registered PC3200 CAS2
Hard Drive: Western Digital Raptor 10,000RPM 37GB SATA
PowerSupply: Vantec 470W Stealth PSU
Software Setup Windows XP Professional with SP1
DirectX 9.0b
Workstation Benchmarks PC Magazine Business Winstone 2004
PC Magazine Content Creation Winstone 2004
Futuremark PCMark04
Futuremark 3DMark03 (v.340)
SiSoft Sandra 2004
X2: The Threat Rolling Demo
Comanche 4 Benchmark Test
Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo
Super PI
ScienceMark 2.0
Quake III: Arena v.1.32
POVray 3.5

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Contents of Article: Intel Pentium 4 3.2E
 Pg 1.  Intel Pentium 4 3.2E GHz Prescott Processor Review
 Pg 2.  Prescott's new SSE3 Instructions
 Pg 3.  — Prescott Compatibility and Heat Levels
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, PCMark04
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: 3DMark03, Sandra 2004
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: X2: The Threat, Comanche 4
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: UT2003, SuperPI
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: ScienceMark2, QIII Arena
 Pg 9.  Conclusions on Prescott and POVray 3.5

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