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Although we did not have a retail Pentium 4 6x1 processor for review, our initial benchmark results that we recorded in October made pretty clear that there won't be any performance benefit over the 90 nm 6x0 series because there are no fundamental technical improvements. In the single-core arena, it is safe to say that AMD remains the performance king.
Looking at the dual core sector, the Pentium D 900 is able to mix things up a little bit, but it is not capable of surpassing the Athlon 64 X2's performance at all. Thanks to a 4 MB L2 cache, it can compete with the X2 in many benchmarks, but the faster X2 models remain on top. You will have to get the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 to outperform AMD's dual core top models in some disciplines, but this has to be bought at a 50% price penalty when compared to Pentium D 950.
As far as power consumption goes, a Pentium D 950 actually manages to reduce overall power requirements over the Pentium D 840 by approximately 10%. However, a system that runs an Athlon 64 X2 and the same components requires another 20-25% less energy! To make things worse, Intel had to delay support for C1E, Thermal Monitoring 2 and Enhanced SpeedStep until the second quarter of this year, which we find really disappointing. If we had done the power measurements with AMD's Cool & Quiet enabled, it would have left Intel behind even more.
Although the new Pentium D 900 series clearly is better than the 800 family and the firm finally manages to come close to AMD, we would still recommend an AMD based system to any conscious computer buyer due to advantages offered in terms of both performance and power consumption.