Intel Pentium D 820

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Intel Pentium D 820

Pros

  • Intel Active Management Technology, SATA II

Cons

  • Main board upgrade required, not for the performance user

Bottom Line

As it stands, the Pentium D 2.8GHz is not much of an upgrade over existing 2.8GHz Pentium 4 CPUs, but you will get a slight benefit when multitasking. It is a relatively inexpensive dual-core CPU though, retailing around $400, although it does require a new chipset to run on.

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Intel is offering its Pentium D range of dual-core processors at speeds beginning at 2.8GHz (the Pentium D 820). Each chip comes with 1MB of cache per core, 64-bit instructions and has a frontside bus speed of 800MHz. Some versions of the processor also have SpeedStep technology, which slows down the CPU cores when they're not under heavy load in order to save power and reduce fan noise.

The Pentium D series uses the LGA775 socket interface, which is the same as most current Pentium 4 processors. However, be warned that this doesn't mean that it will work on any motherboard with a 775-pin CPU socket!

Only motherboards that have Intel's 945G, 945P or more recent chipsets, or use Nvidia's nForce4 SLI for Intel chipset can run the dual-core Intel chips. It's not a simple upgrade path for those of you that may have an existing Intel platform.

We examined a Pentium D 2.8GHz chip using a pre-production Intel reference motherboard that featured the 945G chipset.

Being the slowest CPU in the Pentium D range, the results we obtained in PC WorldBench 5 do indeed indicate that the Pentium D 2.8GHz CPU is not for the performance user. Despite having two cores, it scored 86 in this benchmark, which is about five points better than a typical Pentium 4 520 machine with a 915P chipset. This performance difference was a result of the multitasking test finishing a little quicker. (Dual core processors excel at multitasking, because different tasks can be assigned to different cores, and each core is, in effect, a fully functioning CPU).

That means the Pentium D will give you a performance boost over a single-core CPU if you are a heavy multitasker, but will not gain you any extra performance in single-threaded applications.

It's important to note that unlike the Pentium 5xx series and Pentium 6xx series of CPUs, the Pentium D series does not have Hyper-Threading. If you want both Hyper-Threading and dual-core, you need to look to the Pentium Extreme Edition 8xx processors.

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