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Replace Pentium 4 with Intel Atom?

Last response: in CPUs
August 20, 2009 5:16:43 AM

I have an older P4 (Willemette 1.7ghz) machine with 384mb of ram in it. I've been wondering if I bought a N330 Atom Dual core would it be about the same performance if not better multitasking. I'de use the machine for browsing, backup, and possibly an internet gateway. Oh and I would use my existing IDE HDD and DVD drive and would max the ram at 2gb. I will probably get one with the 945gc chipset. Any suggestions? Oh and i run Ubuntu as my OS :love: 
a b à CPUs
August 20, 2009 6:08:30 AM

On the whole, the atom would be slower. It would be quite a bit slower on single threaded tasks, and perhaps slightly faster on multithreaded tasks. It would certainly be usable though, and it would not work too badly if the P4 doesn't feel too slow to you.

August 20, 2009 6:59:24 AM

Thanks for the advice, So for about 120$ I can reuse some older parts and have a similar system thats almost silent. Great news. Hopefully I'll be able to build a whole new system with a phenom ii x4 and a 4890 before this year is over.
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August 20, 2009 3:12:10 PM

If I remember correctly, a while back we decided that the Atom 330 should be comparable in performance to a P4-2.4GHz, at least for multithreaded applications. Single-threaded is certainly slower than my P4-3.06.

a b à CPUs
August 20, 2009 3:25:59 PM

but it is as you said, cooler and bring in possibility of a passive cooled system with just two or three giant 120mm case fan spinning at 500-800 rpm with passive CPU, GPU, PSU and some quiet HDDs
a b à CPUs
August 20, 2009 5:03:45 PM

Single threaded, an Atom is about as good as a Pentium 3 at 0.6-0.7x the clock speed, IIRC. For example, a 1.6GHz Atom is around the speed of a 900-1000MHz P3. I'm not sure how that compares to P4s though.
August 20, 2009 6:05:08 PM

Good news, My psu in my sony case (270w) has a built in 180mm fan so i'l be fine for cooling with that alone. Its sits almost on top of the motherboard in the case anyways and blows about 20cfm @ 1500rpm. As for comparing the P3 to the P4 the pentium 4 was a little bit slower clock for clock and had to run about 200-400mhz faster to be the same as P3 performance wise. I would guess from all the info that the Atom is about 20-30% slower than P4 clock vs. clock. Add HT and dual core then the game changes.
August 20, 2009 8:30:27 PM

The atom 1.6GHz single core CPU is almost roughly equivalent to a 1.6GHz Williamette P4 is some applications, and a tad bit slower in others. It's definitely faster than any PIII coppermine CPU.

The Atom 330, as stated above is roughly equal to a 2.4 GHz P4 in a multithreaded application. There are some freak instances when the Atom 330 can perform even better than this and sneak past a Celeron 420 (generally accepted as equivalent to a 2.8GHz HT enabled p4) in terms of performance, but those are rare cases.

Overall, the Atom 330 would be a good and noticeable upgrade from the 1.6GHz Williamette. The most notable improvement will be the smoothness of navigating through the operating system and browsing the internet, as the dual core aspect of the 330 alleviates the short pauses (freezes) associated with all single core CPUs when loading an application or refreshing an internet page. It will also consume quite a bit less power, as the Williamette P4s were between a Northwood and a Prescott in terms of power consumption. If the 1.6GHz P4 system has generally "sufficed" for you, the Atom 330 will not disappoint.
a b à CPUs
August 20, 2009 11:43:37 PM

If you've been happy with a 1.7Ghz P4, then you will be happy with the Atom. If anything, the extra RAM will be helpful as well.
a b à CPUs
August 21, 2009 1:38:59 PM

I just bought a shuttle x27D to replace a 2.8GHz Dell Optiplex GX270. The shuttle is a little faster, doesn't play WoW, but I have a real machine for that. I think the thing you miss by staring at benchmarks is the speed of the other old components in your old system. The little 320GB 7200rpm disk I put in the shuttle blows the doors off the 40GB that came in the optiplex. My shuttle with XP boots in about 50 seconds, loads outlook 2007 about 50% faster. I only did stopwatch timing, I don't believe in benchmark software for my own purposes as my goal is real world performance times. Hulu videos hit the processor pretty hard, but I can run full screen 1600*1200 at 480p if I use the hulu app for it. If I run it in a browser window, it chokes on 480p and gets jerky but runs fine in normal mode.

My main goal was saving space as this machine is my girlfriend's kitchen computer. I still can't believe I sold the GX270 for $120 and only spent $220 on my shuttle box and used parts lying around to fill it. Great deal, fast machine. I highly recommend ditching an old P4. Just the savings in power over a few years makes it a worthwhile upgrade.

I added some artic silver under the heat sinks. The power supply brick gets really hot, so i set a sink from a pIII on top of it. Seems to keep the area behind the monitor a little cooler and the cables aren't scary hot back there anymore. The machine itself is just warm. I love it though. I don't get the bashing of dual atoms over an old p4. I'm going to replace another machine as soon as the next gen atom is out.
August 25, 2009 6:35:34 PM

Thanks, those are some interesting Atom/P4 benchmarks.