The Iceman Cometh: P4 at 4.1 GHz

A Rocket In The Socket: The 4.1 GHz PC From Tom's Hardware

At the start of this ambitious project, our engineers asked themselves the question: how fast is fast? Or, how fast does a PC fitted with the most powerful hardware have to be in order to show a clean pair of heels to the world's best PC systems? Isn't the nondescript box of tricks on display in your local superstore fast enough already? Well, for most people the answer would be 'yes.'

However, nothing can stem the tide of progress, and when a PC is used for work, having a really fast machine is a necessity rather than an option. There are other things to consider, too. We have a never-ending fascination with the creation of ultimate machines offering us ever more power. Also, it is human nature to push physical boundaries to their limits.

When we check out the current state of the art in processors, we have Intel with its Pentium 4 running at 3.06 GHz and the AMD Athlon XP 2800+ running at 2250 MHz. Now, we all know that processor speed on its own tells us very little and that the overall design of the CPU is critical. But what if recognized benchmarks are involved?

In contrast to systems assembled by some of the industry's so-called experts, who use liquid nitrogen to run a P4 just beyond 4000 MHz for a brief moment, our system is suitable for normal day-in-day-out use. A car engine that shows promise on the test bed is all well and good, but maximum theoretical speed doesn't help much when you need to overtake quickly and safely. Here, we give you a taste of what is possible.

The 4 GHz machine achieves over 500 points with the BAPCo Sysmark 2002, the Comanche 4 3D game runs at 75 frames per second, and Quake III at 435 frames. What else is there to say? Conventional ready-built high-end systems deliver only about half of this performance.

The PC system we put together, thanks to compressor cooling, reached a processor speed of 4.1 GHz. This speed was consistently maintained.