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Review on PowerLeap adapter seems a bit "funny"

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January 9, 2003 9:38:14 AM

Link : http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20030107/index.html

What's funny?

For a start...

(1) How come they didn't specify on the BX-chipset mobo details?

(2) Why did they use a GF3? Was the same card used on the competing P4 system?

(3) Where is the spec of the competing Pentium 4 1.7Ghz?

What do ya think? Tom's trying to hide something?
January 9, 2003 12:11:54 PM

I would greatly appreciate some thoughts about the merits of trying the Powerleap Adapter in a particular motherboard (noted below) with some possible variations. Specifically, my son (off at college) has a computer I assembled for him with the configuration listed below.

What performance improvements (if any) could I expect to provide for him if I install the 1.4GHz Powerleap adapter (not sure whether to use the P4 or Celeron version, see below)?

Should I expect the same, better or worse improvement by simply adding another 1GHz PIII in the other slot and not using a Powerleap adapter at all?

What should I expect if I just toss out the existing 1GHz PIII and install TWO of the the 1.4GHz Powerleap adapters?

Here's his existing setup:

* Windows XP Pro

* SuperMicro P6DBE motherboard:
- 440BX chipset (hardware updated to take 1GHz CPU);
- AMI BIOS;
- Dual Slot 1 CPU slots, presently using only a single 1GHz PIII CPU;
- 1GB RAM (I cannot now recall whether this is 1GB EDO @ 66MHz or 1GB SDRAM @ 100MHz - I mention this because the article seemed to indicate that the bus speed makes a difference in whether to use the P4 or Celeron ersion of the Powerleap adapter, so I would like to know which to use for which, if anyone knows);
- AGP slot with Best Data Arcade FX (nVidia 4200Ti/64MB DDR);
- WD 80GB/8MB hard drive.

Thoughts/ideas/considerations of all varieties greatly appreciated.

- Paul
January 9, 2003 12:20:59 PM

I think he has run out of things to review lol....by the time you buy the converter & cpu you could upgrade to a quality system....a7n8x, amdcpu, memory for just a little more money and get alot more performance
January 9, 2003 2:14:39 PM

Quote:
(3) Where is the spec of the competing Pentium 4 1.7Ghz?

What do ya think? Tom's trying to hide something?

Not just that, but why a <b>1.7GHz P4</b>? Talk about a crap performer. I figure THG is trying to say "It's a 'cheap' upgrade that'll give you a little boost in performance." The problem is, they aren't saying that for twice as much money (maybe even less) you could more than triple that performance. They also aren't saying that spending this money on the adapter and new CPU will only extend the life of your system by another six months, where as buying new can last another couple of years.


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January 9, 2003 4:17:43 PM

amen :smile:
January 9, 2003 5:20:54 PM

I have never understood why people do those types of upgrades.

<font color=red>The solution may be obvious, but I can't see it for the smoke coming off my processor.</font color=red>
January 9, 2003 6:14:03 PM

Quote:
I have never understood why people do those types of upgrades.

Mostly lack of skill, lack of confidence in skill, or money. I run a Celeron 500 at home, and believe me, if I thought that I could run a 1.4GHz Celery in it, I'd probably at least consider it.

(Un?)Fortunately for me though it's a PoS micro ATX mobo in a PoS micro ATX case with a real annoying super-small (both size and wattage) power supply. So if I want pretty much any new processor in there, I have to upgrade the motherboard to get away from my 66MHz FSB limitation. That in turn would probably draw just enough juice from my power supply to make it unstable which would mean I'd need to replace that, but to get a better one in I'd also have to replace the case. Well by then I might as well replace the RAM and toss in a better hard drive than the really slow 4gig and 8gig ones in there. And then I'd want something other than a PCI Savage4 for video of course. And before you know it, I'd have replaced almost every single component in the thing.

So basically if I were to try to upgrade my home system, I'd end up having to just build a whole new machine anyway. So I don't bother. Hence I'm saved from being tempted to just try to upgrade my processor.

One of these days I might even have the money to just build a new system. Then again, money never lasts with me.

Anywho, I can appreciate why people are tempted to do these things. And for some people it probably makes at least a limited amount of sense, especially if it's a secondary system, not the primary. Still, there are usually better ways to spend that money. (Such as a new mobo, processor, and RAM instead of a converter and processor.)


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January 9, 2003 9:52:34 PM

Paul,

I have the same motherboard, but with two 1Ghz CPUs. The benefit is that, you can do more at the same time with two CPUs running. eg: Burn a CD, listen to MP3 and playing game at the same time.

You will also notice that the system is far more responsive.
You're using WinXP Pro so that's OK and you will need to re-install WinXP.

I wouldn't try using PowerLeap adapters yet, since no one has tested this motherboard with them.

But if you attempt to run a 133Mhz FSB CPU, you're gonna be running all the PCI and AGP cards over-spec. This MAY damage the PCI components. I know the P6DBE does not have the dividers necesary to keep things in spec. (PCI and AGP)

You can run the CPU at 100Mhz, but then the PIII-S 1.4Ghz will be running at 1050Mhz, little benefit.

Finally, you cannot mix PIII and P4 CPUs on the motherboard. (That's what looks like you're confused about)

This particular PowerLeap adapter accepts only PIII-type CPUs. And if you want to run more than one CPU with them, THEY MUST BE PIII-S ones with 512KB Cache.

In your case, its far easier to look for another CPU (same one as your existing), than spend USD$400+ for two CPUs and a pair of adapters which no one has tested on this motherboard.
January 9, 2003 10:11:00 PM

Looking at the summary of the article...

"Another critical aspect is the support for a 133 MHz FSB. Officially, the BX chipset does not officially support this speed, and setting it to this frequency would run the AGP interface out of spec, since AGP is always clocked at 2/3 of the FSB. At 133 MHz FSB, that would mean an AGP clock speed of 89 MHz - too high for most cards. Our testing board would revert to AGP 1X when running out of spec. This also explains why our Pentium III 700 was able to beat the Pentium III 866 in several benchmarks: it runs on a 100 MHz FSB, resulting in the specified 66 MHz AGP clock and, consequently, AGP 2x."

=> It becomes obvious that Tom's Hardware were running the PIII-S 1.4Ghz at 100Mhz FSB! So they're really running the CPU at 1050Mhz! What do you expect! Of course it will loose in every bench!

The deceiving part is Tom didn't label the true speed of the CPU (what its really running at).

My suspicions were raised since I know for a fact that the PIII-S 1.4Ghz EASILY out runs a P4 1.7Ghz when ran at its TRUE speed. The PIII-S 1.4Ghz is just a little slower than the Athlon running at 1.4Ghz. And we all know the Athlon spanks P4, clock for clock.

The performance of the PIII-S 1.4Ghz requires a P4 2Ghz to match and beat it.

In this case, we see that the PIII-S 1.4Ghz is mis-represented. They didn't run the BX at 133Mhz FSB, but how come they did it when they did a comparison (a very long time ago), when they benched the BX(133Mhz), i820, i840 and VIA133?
January 10, 2003 11:13:07 AM

Thanks! That sounds like great advice, particularly in light of the point about having to slow down the 1.4GHz P4
to ~1GHz. I'll look around for another 1GHz Slot 1 PIII.

Out of curiosity, how do memory and programs get allocated between the 2 CPUs? Is that something that WinXP Pro "knows" and handles or is it something hardwired into the board itself?
January 10, 2003 12:07:59 PM

Quote:
=> It becomes obvious that Tom's Hardware were running the PIII-S 1.4Ghz at 100Mhz FSB! So they're really running the CPU at 1050Mhz! What do you expect! Of course it will loose in every bench!

Wow. You couldn't have misunderstood that more if you had tried. They ran it at 1.4GHz with a 133Mhz FSB. They <i>overclocked</i> their motherboard. As the article said, their motherboard <i>will</i> allow it to be done, however because the AGP ends up running over-spec to do it, the AGP automatically reverts from 2x down to 1x in order to keep the video card stable.

Since the performance of games can be heavily impacted by running at AGP 1x instead of AGP 2x, this means that any chips that they ran with a 133MHz FSB will have poor performance in some of the benchmarks. They still ran at a 133MHz FSB, they just ran at AGP 1x instead of AGP 2x.

The P3 Coppermine 866Mhz and the P3 Tualatin 1400MHz are both 133MHz FSB CPUs, and thus both required the motherboard to be OCed to 133MHz FSB, resulting in only AGP 1x being used instead of AGP 2x.

The P3 Coppermine 700MHz and the Celeron 1300MHz are both 100MHz FSB CPUs. The motherboard officially supports that, so nothing was out of spec to support their FSBs. Thus the AGP slot ran at it's full speed of 2x.

The only thing ever 'underclocked' was the AGP port occasionally being at 1x instead of 2x. None of the CPUs were ever run under spec.

And technically, the AGP overclocked to 89MHz at 1x is still faster than standard AGP 1x at 66MHz. (But still slower than the theoretical 133MHz of 2x.)

Quote:
My suspicions were raised since I know for a fact that the PIII-S 1.4Ghz EASILY out runs a P4 1.7Ghz when ran at its TRUE speed. The PIII-S 1.4Ghz is just a little slower than the Athlon running at 1.4Ghz. And we all know the Athlon spanks P4, clock for clock.

No offense, but judging by your posts what you "know for a fact" could be fit into a thimble. You're forgetting some vastly important aspects here. First of all, we know absolutely nothing about the P4 1.7GHz system that they set up. For all that we know, it could have been run with RDRAM or even on a quality mobo with DDR SDRAM and performed <i>much</i> better than you seem to give it credit for. Second, the BX motherboard does supports <i>only</i> AGP 2x and lower. (And again, in the case of when it was overclocked to support CPUs with a FSB of 133MHz, it only ran at AGP 1x.) This would severely limit what the video card could do compared to the P4 running on a motherboard with AGP 4x. So of course the P3 1.4GHz chip is going to get 'spanked' in gaming benchmarks because of the <i>massive</i> bottleneck at the AGP alone.

But then if we also look at the memory used, the P3 1.4GHz is running with PC133. The P4 1.7GHz is obviously running with either DDR266 or better. (My guess is PC800.) So now the P3 1.4GHz is also being 'spanked' in both memory latency and memory bandwidth compared to the P4 1.7GHz.

To top it off, the P4 has SSE2 support, which the P3 doesn't have. So any applications with SSE2 optimizations (or even just P4 optimizations for that matter) are going to see the P4 1.7GHz trounce the P3 1.4GHz. And let's not forget the P4 has a <b>300</b>MHz clock-speed lead on the P3.

In a <i>properly</i> configured P3 system, the P3 would score significantly better, having access to AGP4x. (It's arguable if a VIA chipset with DDR would have helped the P3 any though.) A same MHz Athlon would have the availability of even better hardware (such as a dual-channel DDR nForce2 mobo) and have scored significantly better yet. And of course a top-notch P4 configuration would do at least as well as the Athlon when comparing PR to MHz. The P3 however is just plain old technology running on old technology, and to have run it on a BX motherboard is hindering it even more. So of <i>course</i> it got trounced by the P4. It never stood a chance. This is no way indicates the P3 having been underclocked. It's like comparing a 747 to a Concorde. Of course the 747 is going to lose in a race.


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January 10, 2003 12:40:55 PM

The upgrade is ok for people who want a fast and easy upgrade. Unfortionately, for the money, it's not a good investment.

I considered it for my BX. Why? The system is a dell and half the parts are proprietary if I want to upgrade the thing. I ended up just building a whole new system for a few hundred more that runs circles around the powerleap upgrade.

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January 11, 2003 12:10:21 AM

Tom's is living in history with some of their recommendations. Most video cards I've tested will gladly run at 89MHz bus speed. And my 3 year old Radeon LE (a cheap version of the Radeon DDR) will run at AGP cycles of up to 100MHz. Not only that, but both my Abit and Soyo boards would do it on the BX chipset while maintaining AGP2x.

<font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
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January 11, 2003 11:03:49 AM

My P2B and P3b-f both run at 133fsb and agp2x with no problems at all. The PCI is at 33mhz and the agp is at 89mhz. The Creative GF2 32mb and PNY GF2 PRO 64mb handle this with no problems.
Bot play all available games today at 1024x768x16. But not at max detail.

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