These motherboards, which are close to their final revisions, score clearly better results than the pre-release benchmark results we published a couple of weeks ago. This is especially true of the Asus P5AD2-E, which was able to make the FSB1066 feature into a real advantage in our test labs. Other manufacturers are still fine-tuning their motherboards, aiming to deliver final products before Christmas.
However, the battle for more performance has clearly lost its velocity. Despite being a bit faster, the new P4 Extreme Edition is not able to achieve a significant difference in performance over preceding models. In terms of CPU clock speeds, Intel has admittedly hit a ceiling with the Prescott core. That also applies to the 130 nm Gallatin core, as squeezing out higher clock speeds would likely be hard to accomplish without jeopardizing yield rates.
Therefore, the balance of power between AMD and Intel remains unchanged: when it comes to gaming, Intel has nothing to thwart the dominance of the Athlon64 family in general, and the FX in particular. On the other hand, audio/video encoding tasks and synthetic benchmarks are usually dominated by Intel processors.
The three-level cache architecture of the Extreme Edition processors likely does not benefit very much from the faster FSB speed. The reason is that this design is meant to allow CPU performance to be more independent from memory performance.
Everyone interested in buying an Intel system should now insist on the 925XE chipset. It is the same price as the FSB800 part 925X, and both the 915P and 925X could turn out to be a dead-end when it comes to future processor upgrades.
Finally, we need to comment on the $999 price point that has been common for Intel's Extreme Edition processors. We must emphasize that the performance increase of the EE relative to an ordinary processor is far too little to justify spending that much money on a CPU.