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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [05.08.02]
Manufactured by: Intel
Prices (per 1000 units):
P4 2.40B - $562
P4 2.53B - $637
P4 2.26B - $423

Discuss This Article!


Finally something to talk about!

Just over a month ago, we were talking about Intel's hottest new CPU, the Pentium 4 2.40 GHz.  We compared it to AMD's A1 CPU, the AthlonXP 2100+, and it barely squeaked out at the fastest CPU available.  In our original 2.40 review, we speculated that in early May, Intel would release their 533 MHz FSB line of CPU's, along with a new RDRAM chipset.  Well here it is! For the first time since the introduction of the Northwood based Pentium 4's, we have something to talk about besides a simple speed increase!

There will be 3 models in the 533 MHz FSB line (dubbed with a "B" to differentiate them from the older 400 MHz FSB P4's) to start with.  The line will kick off with speeds of 2.26 GHz (17X Multiplier), 2.40 GHz (18X Multiplier), and a introducing a new "Fastest CPU on the market" - 2.53 GHz (19X Multiplier).  Prices (in 1000 unit quantities) are available at the top of the page.

We all know the significance of a frontside bus increase.  The jump from 400 MHz QDR to 533 MHz QDR increases the bandwidth between the CPU and MCH from 3.2 GB/sec to 4.26 GB/sec, facilitating the bandwidth-hungry P4 processors as clock speeds increase.  The 512K of on-die cache will also be operating at a higher speed, and should then offer a nice performance increase as well.

With the new CPU's come the introduction of a new revision of a motherboard chipset from Intel.  To officially allow 533 MHz FSB operating speeds, you're going to need a board with Intel's new 850E RDRAM chipset.  This is currently the only 'official' chipset that supports the new speeds, but chances are you'll be able to run a regular 850 board at 533 MHz FSB just fine.  Just know that there are no guarantees however, since you are essentially overclocking the MCH, which was only meant to run at 400 MHz QDR.  We also expect Intel to release a 533 MHz DDR chipset very soon as well, but again, an 845D board with proper timing setups and PC2100 DDR SDRAM should work fine. 

In our tests, we used RDRAM, since it is the best way to show the true performance potential of the P4 processor. With SDRAM prices skyrocketing over the past few months, RDRAM is becoming more of a viable option if you're going the P4 route, as long as you don't have any sort of moral opposition to the somewhat questionable business practices of Rambus Inc. in the past...

A quick search for Samsung's PC800 RDRAM on iBuyer reveals a pair of 128MB sticks (remember, you must buy and install in pairs) for about $90.  Compare that to just about $77 or so for a 256MB stick from Crucial.  Considering the potential performance increase with RDRAM, $13 is certainly not a very high price to pay.

One problem though

With a 533 MHz FSB comes the need for a new spec of RDRAM.  Currently the highest spec is PC800, giving a nice fat 3.2 GB/s of bandwidth.  This matched up perfectly to the older 400 MHz QDR FSB rate, however now that the FBS is running at 533 MHz, the bandwidth between the CPU and MCH has increased to 4.26 GB/s.  In order to keep up with this, and have full performance potential, a new spec, PC1066 RDRAM, is required. 

The only problem here is, even the new chipset from Intel does not support this spec.  Motherboard manufacturers will likely support it with proper timings, but remember it is not *official*.  We did our Rambus testing on an Intel brand board with an i850E chipset, and the ram was indeed running at PC800 speed:

This is hardly a problem right now though; even at 2.53 GHz, 3.2 GB/s of memory bandwidth is plenty.  Currently PC1066 is all but impossible to get, but high quality PC800 should be able to run at PC1066 no problem.  Again, you're overclocking though, but I'm sure most people who read this site won't have a problem with that ;).

What we want to do is find out what kind of benefit the new FSB gives us today.  Let's find out!

Testing Platform - Intel

CPU: Pentium 4 2.40, 2.40B, 2.53B GHz
: Intel D850EMV2 (i850E)
Memory: 512MB Samsung PC800 RDRAM
Hard Drive: 13GB Maxtor 7200 RPM ATA/66
Video Card: ATI Radeon 8500DV AIW
Ethernet: D-Link 530TX

Testing Platform - AMD

CPU: AthlonXP 2100+
Motherboard: Shuttle AK35GT (KT266A)
Memory: 512MB Crucial PC2100 DDR SDRAM
Hard Drive: 13GB Maxtor 7200 RPM ATA/66
Video Card: ATI Radeon 8500DV AIW
Ethernet: D-Link 530TX

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