Power Consumption and Conclusion
Power consumption is something that is being looked at much closer today than it was only one year ago. The Pentium M platform is one of the modern miracles when it comes to performance per watt.
Here you see that the Asus CT-479 coupled with the Asus P4R800-SE motherboard does use a noticeable increase in power over the DFI 855GME motherboard with the Pentium M 755 CPU. Keeping in mind though that the power usage under load, at the overclocked 2.6 GHz is 117 watts, and the top performer from Intel comes in at 222 watts and AMD at 175 watts, you can see that this platform still uses quite a bit less.
When we first reviewed the Pentium M 755 processor on the DFI 855GME motherboard, I had to assume that the 855GME was the fastest platform for the processor in the desktop market as it was the only platform I had tested. That is no longer the case as I can say, without a doubt, that the 855 chipset has met its match in the Asus CT-479 Pentium M upgrade kit. Coupling the Pentium M processor with the added performance and features of the i865 chipset, as Asus has done, brings a new level of performance to the platform.
At stock speeds, the Pentium M 755 did very well in our benchmarks, outrunning some of the lower-end Athlon 64s and Pentium 4s in the majority of the tests. The real power behind the Pentium M comes when overclocked though; and the Asus CT-479 enabled us to go 200 MHz faster than the the 855GME platforms had for a total speed of 2.6 GHz. At that level we saw the P-M out performing the Athlon 64 FX-55 processor in gaming and the Pentium 4 in some media tests. The power of this little mobile processor continues to impress me, and I am eagerly awaiting for Intel to adopt this basic architecture and expand on it for their entire line.
The features that come along with the Asus CT-479 upgrade kit are really courtesy of the Intel 865 chipset and the Asus motherboard powered by it. Here we have Serial ATA, dual channel memory at DDR400 speeds and AGP 8x graphics support. These features add up to give the Pentium M processor a much better overall platform than the 855GME chipset could and thus presents a much more viable solution for the Pentium M on the desktop.
The overclocking features that Asus included as well in the upgraded BIOS on the P4R800-SE also add a lot of value to the adaptor and motherboard combo. I am sure running the Pentium M at stock speeds doesn’t excite near as many enthusiasts as does running one at a 30% overclock. That 30% easily brings the Pentium M processor, in our case the 755 at 2.6 GHz, up to the level of the highest priced Athlon’s and Pentium 4’s.
Heat and Noise
As we saw above, the power consumption of the Asus CT-479 adaptor is as impressive as the DFI motherboard, and it still is much lower than the alternatives. The noise level is still very quiet using the adaptor, as the fan and heatsink are large enough to avoid the need for a very high speed fan. I would still put the DFI motherboard in the lead for absolute sound level, but both are very comparable.
Price has continually been the achilles heel of the idea of moving the current generation of Pentium M to the desktop. Intel is still keeping prices on the Pentium M processors rather high: our test processor is still priced at around $440; unchanged from a month ago during our DFI review. The good news is though that the motherboard platform is somewhat less expensive that you might expect. The P4P800-SE is priced at around $90 or so, but another alternative might be the microATX P4P800-VM priced closer to $80. Of course you have to add in the price of the CT-479 Upgrade Kit that is going to run you about $50. Total price: $580. Ouch.
For comparisons sake, let’s take the same P-M 755 processor at $440 and the DFI 855GME-MGF motherboard that can be found for $210. Total price: $650. Double ouch.
So for $70 less, you can get a better performing Pentium M platform using newer technologies with higher overclocking possibilities. It really is an easy choice if you are looking for Pentium M in your home.
The main issue I still have with recommending that everyone run out to their nearest e-tailer and buy up all these parts lies in the fact that we are still not talking about future-proof technology. Really there is no such thing, but a board board based on the 478-pin socket and AGP graphics is at least two steps behind the latest from Intel and AMD. Without a socket that is going to have upgraded processors released and without a PCI Express graphics slot to allow for future GPU upgrades beyond what AGP will see, you are buying into a platform that will not upgrade well a year down the road. While I can’t say for certain that AMD’s or Intel’s current platforms offer that kind of upgrade security, I can be much more certain that the tested Pentium M platforms are more vulnerable to being outdated faster.
Really, what we need to see for the Pentium M to take off is a desktop version of the Alviso platform — Intel’s PCI Express, dual-channel DDR2 chipset for the Dothan cores in the mobile sector. Word has it one is on its way…
Where as the DFI 855GME-MGF motherboard was the first to offer a new platform for the enthusiast in the form of the Penitum M, Asus has improved it and put it on a higher performance level. The Asus CT-479 upgrade kit, coupled with an approved Asus motherboard, offers the best performance, best overclocking and lowest cost of ownership of any Pentium M platform we have seen at PC Perspective.
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the Asus CT-479, and anything else you may want to buy!
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the Asus P4P800-SE motherboard, and anything else you may want to buy!
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the Pentium M 755, or any other Pentium M processor!