With the release of the 3.4 GHz revisions of both the Prescott and Northwood cores, the competition in the high end processor market has again been complicated.  With AMD and Intel willing to exchange releases with a good frequency level, you can be sure your computing experience is going to get better and better because of it, no doubt. 

Intel Pentium 4 3.4 GHz Prescott Processor Review - Processors 26

The Prescott core is still a questionable buy at this point, I would say.  With the improvements that Intel has made, there is little doubt that it will eventually out perform the Northwood across the board, but that time isn’t here yet.  Adding cache and additional instructions help in many cases, but the additional pipe stages introduced are detrimental to the performance.  Intel obviously knows this as well, as their continued releases of Northwood core Pentium 4 processors indicates.  It will be interesting to see how these performance differences between the two cores changes as the frequency ramps up.  We may do a follow up using some overclocking in the future. 

As for the Intel vs. AMD debate, looking solely at the top of the line processors that we have compared here, AMD is the clear winner with the sole exceptions coming when the multithreaded advantage that HyperThreading offers the P4 comes into play.  Yes, there are P4 EE processors out that may offer additional performance, but we don’t have one yet to test and compare.  We’ll work on getting one for the future processor articles and reviews here at PC Perspective. 

In either case, the flagship processors are going to cost you a lot money, though the Intel 3.4 Prescott can be found for about $460 compared to the FX-53’s $750 price.  That isn’t an investment that many of you are ready to make at the drop of a hat, so if you are looking for a cheaper upgrade, the Athlon 64 3200+ and 3000+ processors both have good showings while keeping the price closer to $200.  Don’t overlook the Athlon XP processor either, as it did well in some of the benchmarks as well. 

The future of Prescott offers up some interesting thoughts as well.  Looking at Intel’s recent 64-bit announcement for the Xeon processors, it shouldn’t take a lot to see that the new Xeon core based on the Prescott means that Prescott P4s will eventually have 64-bit memory and instruction support in them, if it isn’t there already. 

 The Prescott P4 core is almost ready for the big time — it shouldn’t take much longer for the performance of Intel’s 90nm P4 processor to overtake a lot of the competition.  If AMD can continue to keep up with the Intel’s ability to ramp frequency, Intel is going to have their hands full on the desktop processor battle.

Prices on the 3.4 GHz Prescott P4:

Prices on the 3.4 GHz Northwood P4:

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