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FSB/CPU Question

Last response: in CPUs
May 2, 2007 1:52:57 AM

Hello everyone!

I have a quick question about an upgrade I am planning. I currently have a P4 2.66ghz (Northwood) Socket 478 with a 533mhz FSB. I am looking to upgrade to a Pentium 4 3.4Ghz 1MB/ 800mhz FSB (prescott) Socket 478. Is this do-able, and if so, what will be some key points to watch for (ie. Bottlenecking, temperature, etc).

Thanks! :D 

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May 2, 2007 2:06:40 AM

Are you getting the P4 for free? or dirt cheap? otherwise get a Core 2
May 2, 2007 2:10:50 AM

List your motherboard. Specifically you'll want to find out which chipset your motherboard is using. With that search Intel's website to find what processors that chipset supports.
Related resources
May 2, 2007 2:11:48 AM

Well, not for free, but certainly cheaper than a Core 2. I would love to get a Core 2, but a little bit out of my price range.
May 2, 2007 2:13:39 AM

System Manufacturer Dell Computer Corporation
System Name Dimension 4600
System S/N 25VDY21
Mainboard Vendor Dell Computer Corp.
Mainboard Model 02Y832
BIOS Vendor Dell Computer Corporation
BIOS Version A12
BIOS Date 08/26/2004


Northbridge Intel i865P/PE/G/i848P rev. A2
Southbridge Intel 82801EB (ICH5) rev. 02
Graphic Interface AGP
AGP Revision 3.0
AGP Transfer Rate 8x
AGP Side Band Addressing supported, enabled
Memory Type DDR
Memory Size 1536 MBytes
Memory Frequency 166.2 MHz (4:5)
CAS# Latency (tCL) 2.5 clocks
RAS# to CAS# (tRDC) 3 clocks
RAS# Precharge (tRP) 3 clocks
Cycle Time (tRAS) 7 clocks
Performance Mode enabled
May 2, 2007 2:59:41 AM

Well, not for free, but certainly cheaper than a Core 2. I would love to get a Core 2, but a little bit out of my price range.

Maybe switching to a cheap AMD solution would be worth it. Their processors are dirt cheap right now and most of them are faster than anything the old P4 Netburst has to offer. You would need a new board, but those can be had quite cheap as well. Just take a look at some online shops.
May 2, 2007 3:48:33 AM

Not really worth it, but update to the most recent BIOS and it'll probably work (at the full 800Mhz FSB), but it will be noticeably hotter. Make sure you do a good job with the new thermal paste and all.

Bottlenecks will be the RAM, since it's not all jazzed up DDR400. That being said, you have 1.5GB, and quantity > speed.
May 2, 2007 12:13:06 PM

Thanks for the advice--I was looking at one of those nice Zalman CNPS 9500 cooling systems.
May 2, 2007 12:16:43 PM

I have the most up-to-date BIOS available from Dell (8/04 - A12). Is there one I should be loooking for?
May 2, 2007 12:55:59 PM

don't make the change.

as stated above, The northwood will offer greater performance per clock. While there might be some noticable difference (800mhz is still a lot). The downsides will not be worth it.

First and foremost.

Your ram si now only 166mhz. it will not take advantage of the faster FSB. you would need to upgrade your RAM as well to notice any significant performance gain.

Double check that your motherboard CAN support 800mhz FSB. if it can't your CPU will be severely crippled. With the fixed multiplier the maximum speed will lower to match.

You will need to upgrade your cooling solution. New CPU cooler for the motherboard. Being that you have a dell, you are running into proprietary hardware. This may inhibit or even prevent you from using 3rd party cooling options. Especially if you're using a non standard form factor. I do not recommend using the cooler from the Northwood CPU on the Prescott. Prescotts heat output was insane. The case itself may not offer enough airflow to properly cool this CPU. A lot of dell (especially midrange) case use more passive means and aren't designed for pushing a lot of heat around.

Power supply could become an issue. Dell does not put the highest level poweresupplies in their machines. They put enough for the hardware they sell, and thats basically it. Upgrading the CPU will draw more power. the northwood draws around 65Watts of energy, But the Prescott's with 800mhz fsb and 3.2ghz use around 105watts. And again, because it's a dell, Good luck finding a more powerfull replacement. again they use proprietary components.

The advice listed above is actually very good. Buy a new computer. Usually i steer clear of this one, But the "netburst" architecture is dead. Machines based off it were relatively slow and clunky. Replacing it with anything that came out in the last year will absolutely give you the much needed performance gains at cheap costs. A well built AMD x2 system could give you modern and superb performance for a great price. I'm sure with the effort, we could put together an x2 machine for under $400 that will absolutely CRUSH a P4 - 3.2ghz

and spend more money, get a C2D and blow anything out of the water
May 2, 2007 1:31:16 PM

Wow! What an informative response!!!! Thanks to you as well as everyone for their great advice! :D 

My situation is such: I do two things on my computer, primarily. I record music with SONAR 5 Producer's Edition and game. SONAR, along with all of its plugins can be a serious CPU hog! And of course, I cannot play any new release games with 2.66Ghz P4. Most require 3Ghz (at least). I am bidding on another processor as well on eBay. It's a P4 3.06Ghz Northwood ( Comments? Ideas? I know my "dedication" to this technology is foolish at best, but financially, it is the most cost-effective for me. I would LOVE to get decked out in the latest system, but incremental upgrades seem to be my lot in life. Although, that offer to come up with a $400 system IS mighty tempting! LOL

I have a really awesome GPU on its way from Dell (Geforce 7 512MB AGP 8x--and yes I know, AGP is going the way of the DoDo--thanks for the proprietary motherboard, Dell!), and I have some other great hardware I would migrate to a new system. What would we be looking at for a new set up, mpasternak?
May 2, 2007 1:58:51 PM

First thing I must ask

Have you actually opened the system?

sounds silly to ask. But dell has a tendency of being over the top proprietary. in some of their cheaper systems, they may put motherboards with AGP technology in them, But have had the actual AGP socket removed. WHY? I dont' know. Double check.

And seriously. if you're still using the same powersupply that came with the Dell, you're in trouble. If i remember correctly, it came only with either a 350w or a 400w supply. For a P4 prescott AND a 7xxx video card, you're going to be risking a serious blowout.

You will also be severely crippled by your ram still. 166mhz ram. Especially if only running in Single Channel mode will almost negate any benefits of the CPU upgrade, And perhaps diminish your return on the Video card.

upgrading that machien is like beating a dead horse mate. it can be done. But it's not going to move you much further
May 2, 2007 2:08:19 PM

whats your budget? i dont think you rgonna see a huge improvement buying that Chip (whether its compatible with your Mobo or not) we could build you a much better system if you want
May 2, 2007 2:15:40 PM

as for a NEW setup. lets see, here's "low" end new build i'd make. it'll blow the socks off your existing system still

CPU: AMD x2 @ 1.9ghz. 59$

Motherboard: MSI K9MM-V Socket AM2 VIA K8M800 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $46.99

Ram: Kingston ValueRAM 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Desktop Memory - Retail X2. $50

PSU: Antec
Antec Basiq BP500U ATX12V Version 2.01 500W Power Supply 100 - 240 V UL, CB, CE, CSA, TUV, FCC - Retail $69.99

Total so far is $230 ish.

Move your hard drives, DVD / CD drives over and you've got a full working computer that will perform better. take whatever left and buy yourself a case that looks good to you.
May 2, 2007 2:25:19 PM

Oh yes, I have opened the system. I had a whale of a time putting the secondary hd in. And yes, Dell IS over-the-top proprietary, especially on the Dimension systems! I do indeed have AGP, as I have upgraded my vid card in the past twice.

I am staying the hell away from the Prescott CPU. Not for me. I am however putting the GPU in (until I get a new pc). It's already paid for and ordered. I figure, even if I set up a new system, I will put it in the new one.

I think I will keep the current system with the new processor as a recording-only system, and maybe set up a new system.

My budget (as a married man with a mortgage) is quite limited. I would say probably 300-350 bucks and that's about it. I know, I know, it's not a lot. :cry:  What I will probably need then will be:

Power Supply
CPU with HS and Fan
MoBo (PCI-E and AGP--is that available?)
Ram (I would like >1gb)
DVD/RW (dual layer)
Big HD (but not HUGE!)
OS (pref. XP--vista is a bit pricey)
Ethernet card
USB Card (8 or more ports)

Am I missing anything?

BTW, thank you all for being so brutally honest about this whole thing!
May 2, 2007 2:26:44 PM

WOW! That is phenomenal! So cheap! :)  I love it. See my post above for what I might need.