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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.31.04]
Manufactured by: Intel

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Just A Little Bit Faster

It was four months ago when Intel introduced the 925x platform, and along with it, the LGA775 CPU. The 925x platform marks some of the most important updates in desktop computing history. The addition of PCI-Express unlocks enormous potential for high bandwidth peripherals. Matrix RAID storage technology is highly useful, and performs well. Intel's 'Azalia' Hi-Definition audio standard marks the first time where onboard audio is starting to get decent. And DDR2, while expensive, is pretty amazing in how well it scales.

However, when that launch was made, the frontside bus rate remained the same - 800 MHz (200 MHz quad-pumped). Since it supported 533 MHz DDR2 (266 MHz double-pumped), most people expected a 1066 MHz FSB (266 MHz quad-pumped). After all, earlier chipsets always had the memory running in sync with the FSB.

Well today, Intel is launching the 925xe chipset. It is absolutely identical in every single way to the 925x chipset, except that it allows support for a 1066 MHz frontside bus. Therefore, if you're looking for detailed info on what this chipset can do (and in comparison to the lower end 915p chipset, which will NOT support 1066 FSB), I suggest reading our first review on the topic.

Intel has decided to launch the new frontside bus with its current flagship CPU - the only remaining Northwood core CPU - the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.46 GHz.

That's right, after only four months, the clock speed remains roughly the same as it was before. My guess is that we are at the ceiling of what the Northwood is capable of, clock-speed-wise, and the next Extreme Edition is likely to be Prescott based (since the Prescott is already running at 3.6 GHz). In a way, it's pretty impressive that Northwood has gone this far - it was introduced nearly three years ago, at 2 GHz!

The 3.46 Extreme Edition is expected to retail at around $1000, so it is apparent that the EE has one purpose only - to be the fastest CPU in reviews like this one. Until now I have largely ignored the Extreme Edition lineup, because I highly doubt many (if any at all) of our readers are going to plunk down $1000 for a CPU alone. However, since it is being launched with the new FSB, this is the only way we CAN do it!

Unfortunately, I am not in possession of AMD's competing "FX" series boutique processor at this time. However NewEgg is kindly supplying us with one for review, and I will have a full comparison of these super expensive CPU's by the end of this week.

For now, let's just look at the two 3.4-ish Extreme Edition CPU's, and find out what 1066 FSB does for it.

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