||Intel Pentium 4 2.53GHz Review
May 06, 2002 Brandon Bell
Summary: Today Intel has officially introduced its 533MHz system bus and three new processors that take advantage of this new technology. In our latest review we examine the performance of these processors as well as dabble with a little bit of overclocking. Be sure to check out the 1066MHz RDRAM scores, you'll be startled by the results!
| Introduction||Page:: ( 1 / 13 )|
Itís here! Besides Intelís Northwood core, one other new product weíve been waiting for is Intelís 533MHz front side bus. Up until now, the Pentium 4ís bus has been running at 400MHz. With 3.2GB/sec of bandwidth, the front side bus connects the Pentium 4 CPU to the rest of the components within the system. By increasing the bus from 400MHz to 533MHz bandwidth increases to 4.2GB/sec, providing the 533MHz Pentium 4 with roughly 25% more bandwidth than previous Pentium 4 processors.
With the clock speed of the Pentium 4 continuing to scale higher, Intel felt the need to increase the speed of its bus as well. After all, whatís the point of a 3GHz processor if itís waiting on another component within the system before it can execute an instruction? To accomplish this, today Intel has released three new processors that are designed to run at 533MHz (a 2.26GHz model, 2.4GHz chip, and a 2.53GHz CPU), as well as a new chipset, the 850E.
Right now youíre probably wondering if the Pentium 4 really needs a 533MHz bus. After all, AMDís Athlon architecture performs very competitively with Pentium 4 and does so with half as much bandwidth available to it (2.1GB/sec). However, keep in mind that the micro-architecture of the Pentium 4 is dramatically different than Athlon. While Athlon was designed with a balanced design, the Pentium 4 was built from the ground up to deliver breakthrough clock speeds. Therefore, the Pentium 4ís architecture literally needs more bandwidth to keep it fed with data.
With all that being said however, the Pentium 4 probably doesnít need a 533MHz bus just yet. Quite simply, software applications are just now taking advantage of 1GHz+ processors, so a 2.4GHz or 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor has more than enough power to scream through most of todayís software, not to mention that at 2.53GHz, the clock speed of the Pentium 4 doesnít quite dictate the need for the faster bus. That doesnít mean we didnít see a performance increase with the 533MHz bus. In fact, we saw a pretty dramatic increase in performance, especially when the Pentium 4 was paired with 1066MHz RDRAM. But as with all new technology, the first consumers to really benefit from the faster bus will be gamers, conventional software applications just donít push the CPU enough.
SIDEBAR: Intel was originally founded in 1968.
| Motherboard compatibility/new chips||Page:: ( 2 / 13 )|
Those of you with ABIT TH7II-RAID motherboards already know that your motherboard has supported the 533MHz Pentium 4 CPU for quite some time. If you recall our review of the motherboard way back in August, we complimented ABIT for providing so many bus options. Right from the start ABIT offered settings for the 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor weíre reviewing today.
Besides the TH7II-RAID, many of the other i850 Socket 478 Pentium 4 motherboards also support the 533MHz P4 chips (albeit unofficially, as technically the chipset doesnít support 533MHz, and some motherboard manufacturers used clock generators that may not run well at 533MHz). All youíll need to do is download the latest BIOS for your motherboard and youíll be good to go. The 850E chipset is identical to the original i850; the only difference is that it has been officially validated to operate at 533MHz. This means that i850E still offers official support for USB 1.1 as well as 800MHz Rambus RDRAM.
Just because i850E doesnít officially support 1066MHz RDRAM, doesnít mean it wonít work. In fact, 1066MHz RDRAM should work just fine in all 850E motherboards, as well as 850 motherboards like the ASUS P4T-E and ABIT TH7II-RAID.
When setting up your 533MHz system, youíll have to make sure that your memory bus is operating with the 4.0 setting enabled to run your memory at 1066MHz. If youíre using older 800MHz RDRAM you may want to try overclocking your memory modules to 1066MHz to see if they will work. Many of the newer RDRAM modules have no problem running at that clock speed, but for proper support memory manufacturers will be releasing RDRAM modules that are officially designed to operate at 1066MHz. If your RDRAM isnít quite up to snuff, simply set the clock multiplier on the memory bus to 3.0. With the system bus at 133MHz and the memory multiplier set to 3.0, this results in a 399MHz (3.0x133) clock speed for your RDRAM.
Besides the new bus speed, the 2.26, 2.4B, and 2.53GHz Pentium 4 chips are unchanged from their predecessors. This means that theyíre built on Intelís ďNorthwoodĒ 0.13-micron core and contain 512K of L2 cache. As far as we know, Intel has no official plans to offer 533MHz chips at slower clock speeds, but this can certainly change. If OEM demand is there, we wouldnít be surprised to see a 2.0GHz model creep up.
Remember, the Northwood core was originally only available at clock speeds of 2.0A and 2.2GHz. However, Intel went back and also offered 1.6A and 1.8A GHz chips. Quite simply, if the OEM market demands an inexpensive 533MHz P4 (the 2.26GHz Pentium 4 is officially priced at $423), Intel will build it. Intelís latest specification update sheet hasnít been updated with the 533MHz chips, so weíre not sure if slower 533MHz chips will be offered at a later date or not.
SIDEBAR: Keep in mind that the Pentium 4 is a quad-pumped bus, so the clock speed is technically running at 133MHz, but it transfers two bits of data on the rising and falling edges of each clock for effectively 533MHz (4 bits of data x 133MHz clock).
| System Setup||Page:: ( 3 / 13 )|
AMD Athlon XP 2100+
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz
Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz
Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz (533MHz bus)
Intel Pentium 4 2.53GHz
ABIT TH7II-RAID (for overclocking and 1066MHz RDRAM tests)
256MB Corsair XMS DDR333 CAS2 SDRAM
256MB PC800 RDRAM
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 reference board
Driver version Detonator 28.32
30GB IBM Deskstar DTLA 307030 ATA/100 Hard Drive
AFREEY 12X DVD-ROM
Windows XP Professional
Desktop Resolution: 1024x768x32
3DMark 2001 Second Edition - 32-bit color, 32-bit textures
Quake 3 Retail - High Quality
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter - Normal (32-bit) The Elephant Atrium demo
Jedi Knight II
Comanche benchmark demo, high quality settings w/ 32-bit color
SIDEBAR: The D850EMV2 has already hit PriceWatch. It can be found for as little as $159.
| 3DMark 2001||Page:: ( 4 / 13 )|
3DMark 2001 - DirectX 8
The faster bus yields a 3% performance increase for the Pentium 4 at 2.4GHz in 3DMark 2001, and allows the 533MHz chips to outpace the Athlon XP 2100+ in this benchmark (a slim 1% advantage for the 2.4GHz P4 and 3% for the P4 2.53GHz chip). In fact, the Pentium 4 2.53GHz is approaching the 13,000 mark!
SIDEBAR: Another product that recently hit PriceWatch is the GeForce4 Ti 4200.
| 3DMark2001 Framerates||Page:: ( 5 / 13 )|
3DMark 2001 - Car Chase
3DMark 2001 - Dragothic
3DMark 2001 - Lobby
3DMark 2001 - Nature
SIDEBAR: Spider-Man brought in $114 million dollars in its debut, the highest amount ever.
| Serious Sam 2||Page:: ( 6 / 13 )|
Serious Sam 2 - OpenGL
Serious Sam is one application that has traditionally favored the Athlon/Athlon XP architecture up until now. The 2.53GHz Pentium 4 is just able to outpace (3%) the Athlon XP 2100+ when equipped with DDR333 memory, while the faster bus bringing a 5% performance increase.
SIDEBAR: Other 533MHz chipsets Intel is working on are 845E and 845G.
| Quake III||Page:: ( 7 / 13 )|
Quake III - High Quality
In Quake 3 the faster bus yields a 4% performance improvement at 800x600, while the Pentium 4 2.53GHz breaks the 300 frames per second mark!
SIDEBAR: USB 2.0 support will be coming in Intelís ICH4 South Bridge chip. A variant of the 850E will eventually contain it.
| Jedi Knight II||Page:: ( 8 / 13 )|
Jedi Knight II
In Jedi Knight II, the Pentium 4 2.53GHz outperforms the Athlon XP 2100+ by 5%, and the 2.4GHz variant by 3% at 800x600. The faster bus speed brings a 5% performance boost to the Pentium 4 at 2.4GHz.
SIDEBAR: Whatís next from Intel? For the server market, Intel will be releasing the Itanium 2 processor.
| Comanche 4||Page:: ( 9 / 13 )|
Comanche 4 is the latest DirectX 8 benchmark we use for testing, and is very CPU-intensive. As you can see, this benchmark favors the Pentium 4 architecture, with the Pentium 4 2.53GHz outperforming Athlon XP 2100+ by 13% at 800x600. Meanwhile, the faster bus results in a 2% performance increase.
SIDEBAR: Star Wars Episode II tickets are already beginning to be sold online. Better buy yours quick if you plan to see it on opening day!
| Overclocking/1066MHz RDRAM Performance||Page:: ( 10 / 13 )|
Quake III - High Quality
Once we add 1066MHz RDRAM to our 533MHz 2.53GHz system, we get an additional 7% performance boost in Quake 3 at 800x600 -- thatís more performance than the 533MHz brought by itself! In fact, it nearly matches the performance of our 2.53GHz PC that has been overclocked to 2.73GHz.
SIDEBAR: While the 2.53GHz P4 was an excellent overclocker, the highest clock speed we were able to hit with the 2.4GHz chip was 2430MHz.
| Office/Content Creation Performance||Page:: ( 11 / 13 )|
In SYSmark 2002 the Pentium 4 2.53GHz outperforms Athlon XP 2100+ by a whopping 19%. Under closer examination of the scores, we see that the P4 2.53GHz achieves this result largely due to its performance in SYSmark 2002ís Internet Content Creation test. In this test it outperforms Athlon XP by 30%, while its advantage in Office Productivity testing is only 5%.
SIDEBAR: You can read more details about SYSmark 2002 on its official website.
| Ballistics Report||Page:: ( 12 / 13 )|
Northwood core: With its 512K L2 cache built-in, Intelís Northwood core brings a sizeable performance increase to the Pentium 4. Northwood chips are also built on Intelís more advanced 0.13-micron manufacturing process, making them prime candidates for overclockers. If youíre in the market for a new Pentium 4 chip, make sure itís a Northwood CPU.
533MHz bus: The new bus brings roughly a 5% performance improvement at 2.4GHz. While this isnít a huge jump in performance, the faster bus gives the Pentium 4 plenty of headroom for the future, and when combined with 1066MHz RDRAM games and other applications really scream.
Performance: Intelís 2.53GHz Pentium 4 outperformed AMDís latest offering the Athlon XP 2100+ in all of our tests, putting it in the pole position from a performance perspective. If you want the fastest CPU money can buy, the Pentium 4 2.53GHz is your ticket to bliss.
Seamless upgrade: While Intel officially wants consumers to upgrade to 850E (and later 845E) motherboards to get 533MHz support, many of todayís 850 motherboards should work with the 533MHz P4 chips just fine. Just make sure to set your RDRAM at the proper speed, as your memory modules may not be capable of running successfully at 533MHz.
Price: At $637, the Pentium 4 2.53GHz is Intelís most expensive processor to date. Thankfully its performance is just as sky high. If youíre looking for a better value, AMDís Athlon XP line continues to reign supreme, with the slower 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz Northwood chips also tempting solutions.
SIDEBAR: MSNBC recently conducted an interesting interview with Andrew House, Senior VP at SCEA.
| Final Verdict||Page:: ( 13 / 13 )|