Since the Intel Pentium 4's humble beginnings as a Socket 423 RDRAM monster with little to offer, this processor has gained strength in the market sector. Introduction of cheaper platform solutions from VIA, SiS, ALi and even Intel has made the Pentium 4 much more attractive. Even with RDRAM systems, OEM's did not hesitate to introduce the Pentium 4 into the lines, and with i845 SDRAM chipsets, the Pentium 4 has taken the desktop market. While the Willamette was good, it wasn't great. This new Northwood is definitely the big hit that has been in Intel's mind.
While I found the Northwood to give better performance that its Willamette brother (due to increasing L2 cache), it still didn't produce earth shattering performance. Stability of the Northwood was remarkable as it took over 100 applications running at the same time to crash the it.
Overclocking is the Northwood core's biggest asset. With reduction in voltage and die size, the Northwood sample we received reached a whopping 2.80GHz with only a 0.5v increase. Due to memory restrictions of the RDRAM system, trying to run 133Mhz FSB to give us a 3GHz result wasn't possible; but other chipsets may bring better luck
Overall, the Northwood is a full blown step in the right direction for Intel, and shows that they can keep the clock speeds high. This makes them an attractive feature to the first time buyer.
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Rating - 9/10
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