So what did I expect to see with the new Intel 845 SDRAM chipset for the Pentium 4? I did expect to see slightly less performance than I’d seen with the i850 chipset and its RDRAM, but not quite as much as I did find though. I also expected to see a chipset and CPU that did offer an advantage over current technology (the P3). Previous tests with the Pentium 3 using SDRAM and RDRAM did not show much of a performance difference between the different memory technologies (if anything the RDRAM was the slowest). In this case, the newer P4 is designed for use with higher bandwidth memory, and it does suffer somewhat with the SDRAM and it’s lower bandwidth.
But I also found that the i845 market is not that of ultimate performance due to the pricing structure. Its market is price vs. performance – the "value market". In that market the i845 seems to excel in both price and performance, as long as you keep price in mind and use an appropriately priced CPU such as the P4 1.5 or 1.7GHz.
Is the Pentium 4 a worthy successor to the Pentium 3? I’d say yes, both in price and performance. Is the i845 a good chipset choice? As long as you are looking at price vs. performance I’d say yes again, but not as the ultimate performer that some may be looking for. For that you’ll want to look at the i850 (at least if using an Intel CPU). I’d guess that mainboards like the Soyo P4ISR will be good selling products and that the P4 will be making inroads into the market over the next few months, especially with the Pentium 3 being phased out as a desktop CPU before the end of the year. Expect to see a number of P4 and i845 articles here at Real World Tech over the next couple of months. Currently most manufactures are heavily promoting mainboards based on the chipset.
And what about AMD? Like the i850 article I wrote just last week, I did not want to cloud the issue and make this into an AMD vs. Intel article. What I was interested in was how the latest generation Intel product stacked up against yesterdays Intel products. A "shootout" between the two brands will come, I just need to decide what to test in order to find the strong and weak points of both. I think that will have to wait until Windows XP is released though.