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  P4 2.53 GHz & Intel 850E, The Pentium 4 Gets A New FSB 
  May 06, 2002, 10:00am EDT 


By: Dan Mepham

We had originally intended on more benchmarks, however the pattern here is obvious already. Without an appropriate increase in memory bandwidth, the increased FSB bandwidth offered by the 850E has very little impact upon real-world performance, while the increased clock speed of the 2.53 GHz parts delivers about 4-5% more performance versus the 2.40 GHz processor.

No, 850E is more a case of preparing for the future than offering more performance today. This is why the 533 MHz processors are the same price as their 400 MHz equivalents. Simply put, they’re hardly faster right now, so Intel can’t charge more for them.

The 850E MCH itself is pin-compatible with the 850 MCH, and priced at only $2 more, so we should see most motherboard manufacturers adapting fairly quickly. There’s really no reason for motherboard manufacturers not to -- there's no cost of integration, and they’ll be able to write a bigger number on the boxes.

Do we recommend the 850E? At this point in time, not really. 850E is somewhat of a transition product. We would recommend waiting until a chipset fully supporting higher memory bandwidth is available. Dual channel DDR is a possibility, as well as PC1066 RDRAM once it’s available in volume. Unfortunately we’re not able to comment on when such platforms will be available, but rest assured they’ll be worth the wait (we've already posted a look at what to expect from PC1066 RDRAM). If you’re set on buying now, it’s in your best interest to hang on for just a few more weeks. 850E prices will be a bit elevated at first, but then drop to 850 levels in short order. If you have to buy, waiting a few weeks, then picking up an 850E platform at a cheaper price is the best bet. On the processor side, the 2.53 GHz part will prove too expensive for most. The 2.40 B GHz or, particularly, 2.26 GHz parts look to offer the best value.

One product to keep an eye on will be the 845E chipset, which Intel will introduce shortly as well. As you might suspect, it supports the 533 MHz FSB and PC2100 DDR (or PC133 SDRAM) memory. 845E will exhibit a more noticeable performance jump, since the move to 533 MHz will put the system bus back in sync with the memory bus (the 400 MHz FSB was asynchronous with PC2100 memory, introducing latency penalties). This is essentially a ‘free’ bit of extra performance once the prices level out, so if possible, hang on until they do so.

In summary, the 850E chipset and 533 MHz processors are finally here, but without more memory bandwidth, they offer very little increase in real-world performance, with the exception of the 2.53 GHz part, which is marginally faster due to the clock speed increase. If you have to buy now, wait until the prices of 850E and 533 MHz processors drop to 850/400 MHz levels. Otherwise, the best option is to sit tight, and wait for a platform offering more memory bandwidth. PC1066 and Dual Channel DDR are just around the corner.

Dan Mepham

1. Introduction
2. Speeding Up The Pipe
3. More Memory Bandwidth?
4. Testing Methodologies
5. Performance - Cache & Memory
6. Performance - Audio & Video Encoding
7. Performance - Scientific
8. Performance - Gaming
9. Performance - Professional OpenGL
10. Summary

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