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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [06.23.03]
Manufactured by: Intel

Est. Street Price: $700

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Is This The End of the Line for 0.13?

This review is going to be one of the tougher ones to write about for me... Coming off our Intel @ 3GHz Platform Overview where we covered Intel's latest technology and platforms, it's going to be tough to talk about the 3.20 GHz.

Why? First of all, there's just not much to talk about here beyond a 200 Mhz bump in CPU speed. Secondly, by all indications, this is the end of the line for the highly acclaimed 0.13 micron Northwood Pentium 4.

That's right; word is Intel has been ready for the Athlon64 for some time.  Their weapon: The 9 micron "Prescott" Pentium 4. Going to a 9 micron process will allow Intel to once again double the amount of L2 cache - up to 1MB now. Also, the low power consumption should allow Prescott to scale up to 5 GHz! No matter what AMD throws Intel's way with the Athlon 64, they'll be able to simply throw more MHz at it to overtake.

There is much more to talk about with Prescott, such as advanced HyperThreading and new Instruction Sets, but we'll have to save that for a full article once official details are actually released.

What about the 3.20?

I guess I should stick to the subject at hand for now; the 3.20 Northwood P4. First I should talk about what exactly lead me to believe this 3.20 is the end of the line for Northwood: Heat.

This CPU is the hottest Pentium 4 I've ever seen running at stock speed. In fact, up until quite recently, the Northwood P4 retail heatsinks have been among the quietest and most reliable heatsinks for those running at stock speeds. Not anymore. This is what Intel gives you now:

 

That monster of a heatsink includes features we're used to seeing only on high end 3rd party sinks by the likes of Cooler Master and Thermaltake: Copper slug, variable speed fan, etc. And believe me; the 3.20 NEEDS it.

Of course with a hot CPU and a variable fan comes noise. And there goes Intel's biggest advantage in my opinion over the AthlonXP. While the 3.20 is perfectly stable at the high temperatures it reaches with stock cooling (expect to see it in the mid-60's Celsius after a while of gaming), many people looking for a silent or quiet computing experience will have to look elsewhere.

Prescott should show up sometime this fall, also at 3.20 Ghz, and it won't be a moment too soon.

Performance @ 3.20

Nonetheless, we still have to look at the performance of the latest, greatest, hottest P4, so let's get started! We'll start with theoretical numbers, as always.

First, the specs:

CPU: P4 3.0C and 3.20 GHz (800 FSB)
Motherboard: Intel D875PBZ (i875 Chipset)
RAM: 2 x 256MB Kingston Kingmax DDR400 (Dual Channel mode)
Video Card: ATI Radeon 9700 Pro

Drivers are always the very latest final releases found on official sites. You can download all of the benchmarks we used on our Downloads Page.

Right away, we can see what the extra MHz does for the P4.  Sandra's CPU tests are showing performance increases we expected.

And CPU Multimedia is right in line with everything else.

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