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Three Pentium 4 Amigos - Northwood, Gallatin and Prescott Compared

By: Cameron Johnson | Intel CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: May 13, 2004 4:00 am

Which Pentium 4? Compatibility in Question


With the Prescott already here, it comes down to a simple choice - P4C, P4EE or P4E. There are so many choices, so much hardware to choose from, or is there?


Today's motherboards have been designed mostly to suit the Northwood and Gallatin CPU. Designed with three phase power systems, Prescott support hasn't even been contemplated for some motherboards. It's only now that manufacturers are learning of the increased demand that Prescott puts on a motherboard.


Prescott, while running at a lower core voltage, actually puts out more heat and draws more currants from the motherboard CPU voltage regulators. On some motherboards such as the ABIT IC7 MAX3 and Gigabyte Dual Power System motherboard, this isn't a problem as four to six phase power regulators are supplied to keep power hungry future processors happy. It's some of the older motherboards that use small three phase voltage systems you have to be careful of. These systems can quite easily heat to the point the solder on the regulators can melt, allowing the regulator to simply fall off the motherboard, rendering it useless.


While this may not be a compatibility article, we found that the following does tend to yield successful results. If you have a three phase motherboard, ideally speaking the mosfets should be cooled with passive ram sinks. MSI, for example, has placed these on a few of their new three phase powered motherboards. Four phase or above will tend to run much cooler and yield better overclocking stability.


When it comes to chipset compatibility this is another thing. Prescott is fully compatible with all 800MHz FSB chipsets as it is shipping mostly in 800MHz FSB variants. Though we haven't seen the 533FSB version, they are said to be available. If you are looking at these and thinking of using an older chipset motherboard like I845PE, remember proper cooling for your voltage regulators or you will more than likely run into problems.


Another important issue is the voltage supply. Prescott runs at 1.3 volts. Some older motherboards aren't designed to go down this low. If your motherboard cannot support this low voltage on the Vcore level, you best to look at a different motherboard.


Now we've covered compatibility, let's see which Pentium 4 processor is best to use judging by performance numbers.


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