Northwood vs Prescott

Discussion in 'Processors and motherboards Intel' started by Sir Galahad, Sep 28, 2017.

?

Which is better?

  1. Northwood

    3 vote(s)
    37.5%
  2. Prescott

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  3. Potato

    3 vote(s)
    37.5%
  1. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Master Guru

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    Time to attempt to evoke nostalgia in everyone who is old enough to remember!

    I'm building another retro gaming PC.
    What was originally going to be a simple refresh of one of my old P4 machines has turned into a complete rebuild.

    Anyway, I've got most of the components now but I'm stuck on the CPU.

    It was always my belief that clock for clock, the Northwood was a tiny bit faster than Prescott in gaming.
    If you look and contemporary reviews like these:
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/1230/18
    http://techreport.com/review/6213/intel-pentium-4-prescott-processor/6

    They show the Prescott slightly behind the Northwood at the same clock speeds.


    However after reading more recent forums and watching some videos like this one from PhilsCompuerLab:


    It seems like the Prescott now outperforms Northwood in gaming.

    Is this right?
    I know the difference is only marginal regardless, especially as I'm only going to be running it with a GeForce 6600GT but I'm still interested.
     
  2. Apparatus

    Apparatus Master Guru

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    If I remember well Prescott was a bit faster than Northwood, but a lot hotter.
    It's nickname back in the era was Preshot.
     
  3. BuildeR2

    BuildeR2 Ancient Guru

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    Isn't it because Prescott has a longer instruction pipeline? Some things were slightly slower than Northwood, but most were faster and I think it also enabled Prescott CPU's to overclock further than the Northwoods could. Back in the day I had 3 different Northwood systems. I think they were 865P and 875 chipsets or something like that, and in them I had a 2.4C, 2.6C and 2.8C of the Northwood variety. Funnily enough, they OC'd in reverse order, with the 2.8C only being stable up to 3.2GHz, the 2.6C only being stable up to 3.3GHz and the 2.4C making the 1GHz OC mark being stable at 3.4GHz under my ThermalTake Big Typhoon. Late in the chipset's life I upgraded the 2.8C computer to something like a 3.0GHz base clock Prescott. While it was able to clock slightly higher and gave me slightly higher bench scores than my main system (the 2.4@3.4 Northwood), I could not keep it from getting too hot and shutting down my computer during our co-op Battlefield 2 WCC sessions.

    I suppose with coolers being better these days, if you can keep a Prescott cool then go for it. I ran all of these systems with AMD cards of the time, like 9600 Pro, 9700 Pro, X850's and had a great overall several years with all of these parts. Ahh, good times. Consider my nostalgia evoked. :D
     
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  4. D3M1G0D

    D3M1G0D Ancient Guru

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    Prescott was supposed to clock a lot higher - Intel was hoping for 4 - 5 GHz - but it never got there because of the thermals. Frankly, it would have been better had they stayed put on the pipeline length and simply went 90 nm; extending the pipeline to 31 stages meant that they had to introduce a whole lot of new, power-hungry circuitry to compensate, which produced a ton of heat and ultimately killed any headroom the CPU may have had. Intel would have probably been able to reach far higher clock speeds had they simply shrank the die, but their obsession with extreme clock speeds doomed the architecture.

    My advice would be to get a Northwood and call it a day. You'll get far better thermals on it (meaning lower noise) and lower power consumption.
     

  5. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Master Guru

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    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I have some experience with all 4 iterations of the Pentium 4 (apart from the 'Emergency Edition' of course). I had a 1.7GHz Willamette, 2.0GHz and 2.8GHz (Non HT) Northwood, 3.2GHz Prescott 2M 640 and my favourite the 3.6Ghz 661 Cedar Mill.
    I wasn't really knowledgeable enough back then to accurately measure the difference in performance between each iteration. I also paid very little attention to the temperatures until I had the Cedar Mill, which was the first CPU I overclocked (to 4.7GHz by the way).

    I'm very nostalgic over that era of computing; my first CPU was a PII 350MHz but it wasn't until the P4 era that I started building computers myself, overclocking and really getting to know the hardware.

    I'm using a Zalman CNPS7700-Cu CPU cooler with this build. It's not as good as modern stuff but it should be enough to keep a Prescott at bay.

    I like to go with period correct hardware as much as possible when I do these builds (apart from an SSD and the PSU which I always use new if I can).
    These are the specs so far:

    XFX 6800 Ultra - AGP
    Gigabyte GA-8I865GME - Socket 478 Motherboard
    Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro - with external box
    Zalman CNPS7700-CU - all copper cooler
    2 GB Corsair DDR 400mhz ram (2x1GB dual channel)
    128GB SATA SSD
    IDE DVD drive
    IDE Floppy drive
    Corsair TX550M PSU
    Windows XP Pro

    I'm also looking for a nice period case, preferably in beige!


    Anyway, getting back on topic. It was always my belief that the 31 stage pipeline of the Prescott put it at an inherent disadvantage compared to the Northwood in terms of instructions per clock. This is indicated by the contemporary reviews.

    However, could it be that it took time for programs to optimize to the new architecture like what we've just seen with Ryzen and the optimisations made after it launched?

    That would explain why Prescott seems to beat Northwood in Phil's benchmarks.

    I've heard that the Prescott was such a major reworking of the architecture that Intel could have branded it the Pentium 5 and the name would be justified.
    Such a major change would take time for programs to be optimised for.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  6. user1

    user1 Ancient Guru

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    If I recall the prescott benefits more from hyperthreading than the northwood, higher mt performance may have something to do with it (multi-thread enabled software in 2003-2006~ wasn't exactly mainstream, perhaps the version of xp/software he is using is using newer patches), of course the fastest pentium 4 cpu will always be the gallatin core based 3.46ghz Extreme Edition (different core from the prescott and northwood chips, intended for xeons), the extra cache makes a pretty big difference.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  7. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Master Guru

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    You could have a point there. I remember reading that somewhere too.

    I'd love to get a Gallatin If I could. So dam expensive though and that's if you can find one.


    I picked up a case today for free at a computer shop near me. Just sitting there in the basement waiting to be recycled.
    There was also a complete Socket A Athlon XP 1800+ build inside minus the HDD and GPU:

    [​IMG]


    I think you'll agree, it's very 2004.
    It's not perfect and it needs a cleanup but it will do for now.
    Ideally I was looking for something a bit older. Something like this:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. JaxMacFL

    JaxMacFL Ancient Guru

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    BuildeR2, luv Ya just for the "funnily" usage. Knew about it but never seen it used. Awesome!!

    OBTW, Used all cpu's from 1994 on. Very expensive to upgrade. Today, not so bad.
     
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  9. BuildeR2

    BuildeR2 Ancient Guru

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    Both cases are awesome old beasts, but wouldn't you want to use the ~2004 one to be more time appropriate to the components used? I remember back in the late 90's when my friends Dad worked at Dell and had 6 of those old P2 rigs in their back room. We would get a group of people together and play CS for days. :)

    Haha, what can I say? I'm a wordsmith! When you say "used all CPU's from 1994 on" do you mean that you have purchased and used every CPU produced since then? That would be insanely costly and awesome! Am I misunderstanding?
     
  10. JaxMacFL

    JaxMacFL Ancient Guru

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    Meant class, ie. northwood, Prescott, kentsfield..., not every individual cpu in class. Even had an amd Athlon 64 fx-59 or maybe 57. Alway had to have the latest. Not a good practice. Lately try to skip every couple of generations. But those early years, everyone in my family; brothers, nephews, cousins, all had a slightly used computer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017

  11. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Master Guru

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    Yeah, the case I have is much more in keeping with the components I'm using. But I do love those late 90's cases.
    I'm happy with it for now, especially as I got it for free.


    I've just gone and bought a GeForce 6800 Ultra. It was too good a deal to miss.

    I've also spotted a 3.2GHz Gallatin Pentium 4 EE that I'm very tempted by. It's a bit pricey (about £100 after shipping and import costs), but I think it will hold it's resell value if I ever decide to sell it.

    The system is all built now apart from a CPU and the 6800 Ultra which should arrive tomorrow.
     
  12. JaxMacFL

    JaxMacFL Ancient Guru

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    Man, what a game changer the 6800 Ultra was!!! :>)
     
  13. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Master Guru

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    Yeah, a very iconic card. I spent far too much time lusting after it when I was in year 8 at school. Rare to find on AGP too.

    Should offer the perfect performance for FarCry and Doom 3 on my 1600x1200 monitor.
     
  14. JaxMacFL

    JaxMacFL Ancient Guru

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    My first computer was a Quantex in 1995, with the brand new:



    Not counting pong and intellivision.
     
  15. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Master Guru

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    Very nice. I haven't had much experience with Win95. I heard it's a great OS for DOS gaming.

    My first PC was a Gateway 2000 with Win98 and a Pentium II 350MHz. Happy memories.
    I had it about 4 years before going to a WinXP P4 2.0GHz sometime in 2002.
    I'd love to rebuild that PC someday too.
     

  16. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Master Guru

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    I've just caved in and bought an Gallatin SL7AA 3.2Ghz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.
    Cost me £100.30 including shipping and import tax.

    A bit pricey for a Pentium 4 but the total cost for the whole build comes in at £216.04 so if you take that into consideration I don't think it's too bad.

    Thanks for everyone's help with this. I'll post back when the build is finished.

    Final specs for this build:

    SL7AA 3.2 Ghz Pentium 4 EE
    XFX GeForce 6800 Ultra
    2GB Corsair XMS DDR @ 400MHz 2-3-3 (2x1GB dual channel)
    Gigabyte GA-8I865GME Socket 478 Motherboard
    Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro
    Corsair Force GT 120GB SSD
    Corsair HX650W PSU (80+ silver)
    Zalman CNPS7700-CU
    Windows XP Pro SP
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
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  17. JaxMacFL

    JaxMacFL Ancient Guru

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    Zalman, ahh man, my go to cooler for years up to and including the cnps 9900 around 2003. Loved it, quiet and cool.

    P.S. Gateway rocked, I miss the cow.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
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