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This article was the biggest project THG has ever done, the cope of which is analogous to Intel's ambitions with its eye popping number of new features. Considering the amount of snafus that arose over the course of last week, I personally would say that Intel over extended itself by insisting on the platform launch at this very moment. Four more weeks could have ensured that all components were available.
There are three different ways to look at Intel's new platform: The performance point of view, the feature point of view and the future point of view. I'm not going to talk about costs as this point, as all the components are considerably more expensive. It goes without saying that every new technology will be pricey.
Let's take performance into account first. PCI Express is definitely the way to go, as DDR2 showed its muscles and the new LGA 775 processors are slightly faster than their predecessors. So far so good, but at the end of the day the LGA 775 architecture offers no real performance gains. The next generation, 925XE, with DDR2-667 and FSB 1066 as well as a new Prescott stepping are pretty close. Into the bargain, Intel is helping to scare away early adopters by locking the devices down with overclocking chastity belts. Are we supposed to buy 775 for performance reasons? No way!
However, it's not only about performance any more. Our second point of view focuses on features. As a matter of fact, Intel is able to show off a boatload of technologies that is very palpable such as High Definition Audio and the Wireless Connect Technology (let's call it a future option for the time being). Other features like Matrix RAID or Serial ATA command queuing are equally hot, while I tend to consider these sort of past-due.
Most of the new motherboards we received are noticeably more elaborate than the last generation. If you are considering going for a new computer these days, I definitely recommend checking out the 775 generation and comparing prices carefully. The big system builders will all have mid-range systems on hand that address the feature-conscious buyers.
Now for the third way to look at the new platform. Is the new generation more future-proof? You get a new socket, new memory and PCI Express. However, there are many things to consider: There is a move towards 64 bits that hasn't really taken shape yet. DDR2 will increase clock speeds rapidly. Dual core processors are being designed these days, and only the Intel intelligence guys know if we will be able to use them in our LGA 775 machines.
I'm not trying to decry the new platform by advancing the nature of the hardware business, so let's conclude with my personal opinion: I would have preferred to see Intel launching LGA 775 and DDR2 memory now, with the 925XE chipset to introduce PCI Express this Fall.