I think it is obvious that the i845 is handicapping the performance of the Pentium 4. As mentioned the Pentium 4 only performs well when it is teamed up with a high-bandwidth, low-latency memory subsystem, which the i845 is unable to deliver. And although the i845 has a large number of features such as hardware pre-fetch buffers meant to alleviate the memory bottleneck, it still isn’t able to perform. Even more so, a 1.5GHz Pentium 4 running on the i850-chipset was easily able to beat the 2GHz Pentium 4 running on the i845-chipset.
If we wanted to have a performance level equal to that of a 1.5GHz Pentium 4 on a i850-chipset we need a CPU running at over 2GHz clockspeed, something which does away with the cost advantage, as system consisting of a 2GHz CPU, a i845 motherboard and PC133 SDRAM is a lot more expensive than a 1.5GHz CPU, a i850 motherboard and two PC800 RIMMs. For those that were hoping to get away with a cheap alternative for Intel’s i850 and the RDRAM it uses we can only hope that Intel will follow through with the support for DDR, which the i845 chipset is capable of supporting.
It needs no further explanation that the i845 is no valid alternative for the i850. You’d better save some money on a lower clockspeed Pentium 4 and go with an i850-chipset motherboard and RDRAM instead than to throw money at a solution that will never be able to perform. The combination of SDRAM and the Pentium 4’s demand for a high-bandwidth memory subsystem just isn’t working out, as many of us already expected. We’ll have to see how the DDR capable i845-chipsets fare as that should make for some improvement. For the time being we’d recommend you’d stay away from i845-chipset motherboards and rather look at motherboards with Intel’s i850 or Via’s P4X266 chipset as an alternative.
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