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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.02.04]
Manufactured by: Intel

Prices: 3.2GHz: $278
3.4 GHz: $417

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This baby is HOT

As you know, we at HCW are very concerned about the heat generated from CPU's. When the Northwood was competing against the AthlonXP, we considered two things besides performance: price and heat. If you aren't so concerned about the price, then you might be about the heat. If you were, then you would go with a P4.

As CPU's pack more and more transistors into a smaller and smaller space, they will do nothing but get hotter, and the Prescott is absolutely no exception. Looking at the thermal specifications of Pentium 4 CPU's, we find the protocol "TDP", which is "Thermal Design Power". This is the spec used by cooler manufacturers when designing for Intel CPU's. Although it is measured in watts, Intel specifies that TDP is "not the maximum power that the processor can dissipate". So we can't compare these numbers with anything but other P4's.

The Prescott 3.20E we have has a TDP of 103W. Compare that to a Northwood 3.20C at 82W. You might recall us saying that "the (Northwood) P4 3.2 is the hottest Pentium 4 I've seen running at stock speed". I wrote that while seeing it run at around 60C at full load, which was unheard of from a P4 at the time, and a huge increase in temperature from the 3.0 GHz.

"What's that in celsius?"

If the Northwood runs at 60C with a TDP of 82W, what would a 103W CPU make? Well, we've been running the 3.20E at 100% load (running Distributed Folding - join our top 20 team!) for the past 2-3 weeks or so. Using the same retail heatsink, the 3.20E was sizzling away at a consistent 77-80 degrees! And yes, THAT IS CELSIUS.

It should be noted that in all that time, the Prescott didn't produce so much as a hiccup. But if overall case temperatures are a concern, and you have other components that are sensetive to heat, you should probably consider a higher end thermal solution if going with a Prescott. I think we are going to see a whole new wave of mainstream watercooling solutions riding the Prescott core.

Compatibility

Although this is a Socket 478 P4 CPU, and will fit in any Socket 478 board you may have, it may NOT work for you. Intel calls for a new power consumption spec, and not every mothboard may support it.

However, most motherboards that our readers are interested in should have no problem. Bigger brands like Asus, Abit, DFI, and GigaByte should have Prescott-ready BIOSs available in no time. In fact, we did all our testing on the award winning DFI Lanparty PRO875B using a beta bios provided by us.

Keep in mind that individual board compatibility will vary, and you should check with the manufacturer to see if they support it.

The new power consumption level of the Prescott seems to be extra strenuous on the boards, and as soon as we plugged the Prescott into our Lanparty, we immediately noticed that the MOSFETs get a lot hotter than they ever did with a Northwood. As a precaution, I installed some small OCZ copper heatsinks. I am predicting that by the end of the year, pretty much every board will have some form of MOSFET cooling, whether active or passive.

The Test

Now that we are familiar with Prescott, and know what to look for in benchmarks, let's get right to it!

Athlon64 System

CPU: Athlon64 3400+ (1MB L2 Cache)
Motherboard: GigaByte K8VNXP (VIA K8T800)
Memory: 512MB Corsair PC4400 (running DDR400) 3-3-3-8
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra
HDD: Seagate 80GB Barracuda V ATA100
Windows SP1, DirectX 9b, VIA Hyperion 4.51, NVIDIA ForceWare 53.03

Pentium 4 Systems

Northwood CPUs: 3.2, 3.0, 2.8 with HT, 2.8 without HT (all on 800 FSB)
Prescott CPUs: 3.2, 3.0, 2.8 with HT, 2.8 without HT (all on 800 FSB)
Motherboard: DFI Lanparty PRO875B (Intel 875P)
Memory: 512MB Corsair PC4400 (running DDR400) 3-3-3-8
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra
HDD: Seagate 80GB Barracuda V ATA100
Windows SP1, DirectX 9b, Intel INF Update 5.1.1.1002, NVIDIA ForceWare 53.03

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