RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.21.04]
Manufactured by: Intel


The Launch is Complete!

A little over a month ago, Intel announced a ton of new CPU's, including of course the 0.9 nm "Prescott" version of the Pentium 4. Surprizing a lot of people was the fact that they were going to continue the Northwood line at 3.2 Ghz, and even beyond.

If you had read our review, you know why. Clock-for-clock, the Prescott is quite often slower than the Northwood in many of the tests, due to the longer pipeline. However, because of the many other enhancements in the Prescott core, the performance should pull ahead of a matching Northwood as the clock speeds increase.

Today, Intel is officially launching the 3.4 GHz Prescott Pentium 4. The Northwood version of the 3.4 GHz has actually been available for a while; we even used it in a recent video card review. The Northwood can currently be purchased from NewEgg for $418.

For full details on the Prescott, what is good, what is bad, etc, read our Prescott Launch Review. There is nothing else new about the CPU's we're reviewing today, except bumps in clock speed.

How's the Heat?

In our first Prescott review, we told you that it was significantly hotter than an equivalent Northwood CPU at 3.2 GHz. It was not unusual to see a fully loaded Prescott to hit up to 80 degrees C (yes, CELSIUS) with stock cooling. This poses no stability issues however.

Interestingly, the new 3.4 GHz Prescott features the exact same Thermal Design Power spec as the 3.2, and thus should be no hotter or cooler than the 3.2 GHz version.


So far, every P4 motherboard we've seen in the past two months has been Prescott-compatible. Even boards made before the Prescott was announced can be made compatible with a BIOS update. MOST boards based on the 865PE or 875P chipset should be okay. However, one thing we are seeing is that when you plug in a Prescott, the MOSFETs are stressed a lot higher than with a Northwood, and therefore get a lot hotter. I would recommend picking up some small heatsinks and install them on your MOSFETs if you are upgrading to Prescott. We'll start seeing boards come out with heatsinks pre-applied to their MOSFETs.

The Test

We compared the new 3.4 GHz Prescott and Northwood to the entire Hyper-Threading lineup of P4 CPU's, and of course threw in the Athlon64 3400+. Let's see how that performance rating stacks up...

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: 3.4, 3.2, 3.0, 2.8 (all on 800 FSB)
Prescott CPUs: 3.4, 3.2, 3.0, 2.8 (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, NVIDIA ForceWare 53.03

Next Page: (2)