IntroductionIntel Pentium 4 670 and Pentium D 820
Another month passes and another couple of processors are released by either Intel or AMD. The last two months have been rather busy on the CPU front. Both rivals launched their own dual-core, consumer-level CPUs with much fanfare. Dual-core CPUs, in a nutshell, offered huge and expected gains in applications that were multi-threaded in nature, with each core beavering away at code. Single-threaded application performance, and I'm primarily thinking of gaming here, showed no benefit. Indeed, if you read our Intel Pentium XE 840 review, the ultra-expensive dual-core processor posted gaming results in line with a 3.2GHz single-core CPU. Parallelism (and the price paid for it) can be both wonderful and mediocre; it all depends upon your viewpoint and usage.
Today Intel's officially releasing Pentium-based CPUs that offer both high clock speed and dual-core loveliness, although you won't get both in one package. The Pentium 4 660, which is a 3.6GHz Prescott-based Pentium 4 with 2MB of L2 cache, will now be superceded by, wait for it, the Pentium 4 670. All the same internal gubbins; just 200MHz faster and, obviously, more expensive. On the other hand, the near-£700 3.2GHz Hyper-Threading-capable Pentium 840 gets a little brother. The Pentium D 820 runs in at 2.8GHz, sports the same dual-core setup as its bigger brother but does not support Hyper-Threading. The end result is dual-core loving that comes in at a more palatable £200 or so. Which is better? High clock speed and HT, or relatively low MHz and two cores. Are either of them worth it? Let's try to answer these and other pertinent questions with a closer look.