Pentium 4 with Hyper-Threading or with Higher L2 Cache?

July 23, 2012 at 14:07:52
Specs: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1, 3.122 GHz / 2047 MB

Thank you for reading this post, and I appreciate all support provided; even if no support is provided, I still appreciate you reading this. Thank you very much. :)

I am planning to upgrade my 7 year old, primary computer even further, to reach the maximum specifications it can take/handle. I've already worked on the CPU, RAM, and graphics card; all which are "maxed-out", or so I believe.

I am quite sceptical whether a specific processor is better than my current or not. Therefore, I am posting this in order to find out. Again, I appreciate all support provided. Thank you. :)

Now to get straight to it. My motherboard can only take processors on Socket 478, with FSB of 533 or 400.

My current processor is a SL7PK:

Would you recommend me to upgrade to SL6PG?:

My current (SL7PK) vs SL6PG:
Pentium 4, 2.8GHz vs 3.06.
Prescott vs Northwood.
1MB L2 Cache vs 512KB
N/A vs Hyper-Threading.

Basically, should I upgrade in order to embrace Hyper-Threading, and sacrifice my L2 Cache? Or should I stick with my current processor? My current processor is overclocked CPU-Z: and I will overclock the SL6PG, where I believe I can achieve 3.3GHz.

Is the SL6PG a better processor over the SL7PK? Considering the L2 Cache vs Hyper-Threading? I do multi-task a lot, and at some times, I do require a lot of processing power to run a single-application. Which would you recommend?

Thank you very much. I hope the above made sense. Again, thank you, and I appreciate your support. ;)

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July 23, 2012 at 14:20:53
Pentium 4s with HT won't help that much, the higher cache will help a little more.

hyper threading on a P4 will equal out workloads if that makes sense but won't boost performance much.

HT will help with mutithreaded applications a little bit but not equal to a dual core CPU.
I am a hardware guy not a software guy but i try to help.

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July 23, 2012 at 15:20:47

Thank you for your response, I extremely appreciate it. :)

I understand that the Hyper-Threading technology is nowhere near the same as a dual-core, and that it equals out workload amongst various programs, but unfortunately, it's the best my motherboard takes. :( However these days, most software which support dual-core/quad-core processors often support multi-threading anyhow; such as Mozilla FireFox.

Thank you for clearing up that performance won't be affected much; but moreover L2 Cache, don't you think the processor speed/frequency is something to consider? Combined with HT? I am asking, as I often run FireFox as soon as the computer boots up, and often consumes 100% CPU Usage. I have noticed the L2 cache in play when loading Photoshop, but I don't mind waiting if I can multi-task more efficiently using HT.

Also, thank you for your article regarding L1/L2/L3 cache.

Therefore, considering my usage, wouldn't a stock Pentium 4 3.06 HT be better than a stock Pentium 4 2.8GHz?

Again, thank you for your response. I extremely appreciate it. :)

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July 23, 2012 at 15:25:03
Well a 200MHz or 206MHz increase is not a lot, if you could overclock the chip with HT, that would be better.

Anyway how much is the one with HT?

I am a hardware guy not a software guy but i try to help.

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July 23, 2012 at 15:38:14
Thank you for your response once again! :)

Indeed yes, 267MHz (3067 - 2800) is not too much of a difference; thanks, I didn't consider that. But I will overclock the HT processor, and I believe I can achieve 3.3GHz. Again, my current processor is overclocked to 3.12GHz; so the difference is still going to be around 200MHz, even if the HT is overclocked.

I can get a new SL6PG (HT) for £30; but I intend to get a used one for £10 GBP. That's about $15.7 USD. Although previously, I did spend some money to upgrade my Celeron to my current Pentium 4.

Therefore, it all comes down to L2 Cache or Hyper-Threading. I don't mind lower L2 cache, as long as web-browsing/playing videos is not affected, and I would like to multi-task more, where I believe HT will help; as I often get 100% CPU usage.

Again, thank you for your response. ;)

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July 23, 2012 at 15:44:31
For £10, thats a good deal, also are you still using integrated graphics?
I would say go for it, but i'm sure you could get it cheaper of ebay?

I am a hardware guy not a software guy but i try to help.

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July 23, 2012 at 15:45:47
I found this-

I am a hardware guy not a software guy but i try to help.

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July 23, 2012 at 15:56:10
Again, thank you for your response! ;D

Yes, I found it on eBay for £10 used. I've found some cheaper, or around the same price, but they're all located abroad; so will take longer to arrive and so on. So, I should go for it? Also (sorry for asking so many questions), does it matter if the processor is used or not? The seller states it's in perfectly working function. If it's used, and perfectly working, is that the same as new? Or has it been wearied out? Thanks.

As stated in the first post, my computer has been "maxed-out" in all areas, and I'm not using integrated graphics. :)

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x86,
Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz, overclocked to 3.12GHz with 1MB L2 Cache.
2GB RAM (maximum motherboard can take)
NVIDIA GeForce 6800, 128MB VRAM with AGP8x. (It's the best my motherboard can take).

Not bad for a 7 year old PC, huh? Windows 7? ;)

Thanks for your response again.

P.S. That's the processor I found too. Haha, thank you for searching. I appreciate your help/support. ;)

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July 23, 2012 at 16:11:28
I don't mind how many questions you ask.

Basically a used one will come with out a heatsink (or with the heatsink if stated by the seller), some CPUs will be scratched on the IHS, some will be clean, the pins should be straight, ask the seller for pics of the pins just to be sure, the one we looked at is in good condition.

Used CPUs usually come from working computers, ones that are for spares or repair are either untested or are faulty.

The CPU is probably alittle dirty from the old paste that was there, you can clean it up easily.

I say go for it, the two old ones you could keep as spares or sell them, just don't expect the heatsink, i think most people sell them seperately.

I am a hardware guy not a software guy but i try to help.

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July 23, 2012 at 16:14:11
I have not compared directly myself, but I would think that the larger cache would be more important. If the HT on had the larger cache then things would be clearer, but HT with a smaller cache would have to dip into RAM sooner to keep both paths flowing so it might actually slow things down, especially being the smaller difference in the speed. Increasing your virtual memory in Windows and even consider adding a separate small hard drive for Photoshop's scratch disk (more virtual memory) since would make a bigger difference.

I would advise you to save the money for a future build and not spend any more on a machine that old. Even with multi-core machines, it is recommended to make sure nothing is running when you run Photoshop for best performance. Photoshop is capable of using ALL of the resources on a modern Quad core machine with 32GB RAM, multiple SSD drives, a large multi-TB conventional hard drive for storage, and a really serious graphics card all by itself. Many new builds specific for Photoshop today are running Sandy, Sandy E, and Ivy core Quads, many OC to around 4.5GHz. None of the Pentium 4's, even the socket 775's are really not up to the task if you are serious about Photoshop.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.

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July 23, 2012 at 17:31:02

Thank you for your responses. I extremely appreciate them. I hope that line hasn't become cliché, as I still appreciate all your responses. ;)

I'm starting to feel a little sceptical about upgrading now, as I don't think there will be a much difference in performance. Although, I was interested in HT technology, in order to aid my multitasking on my computer. But then I was thinking, perhaps I should purchase a better processor?

I know my motherboard can't handle/take a better processor, but would you/anyone recommend a SL7PP?

It's a Pentium 4 @ 3.4GHz, 1MB L2 with Hyper-Threading. Well, why not/why didn't you state this processor earlier? Well, my motherboard only supports 533/400MHz FSB. This processor is 800MHz FSB.

My motherboard should take it, but won't support it's full clock-speed, unless I get my Bus Speed to 200MHz. By default, on a 533 FSB, it's at 133. So I will only get 2261 MHz/2.2GHz clock speed with the SL7PP. Again, unless I manage to increase my Bus Speed to 200MHz, I should be able to get it's full potential.

So some questions, sorry, and again thank you very much! :)

Would you recommend the SL7PP, even though my mother board supports upto 533MHz FSB?

I've overclocked my current processor to 149MHz Bus Speed (from 133), and it can't go any higher. With a different processor, for example, the SL7PP, will I be able to get higher Bus Speeds? Perhaps even 200MHz Bus Speed to get it's full potential?

And, if I get the SL7PP processor, and keep it at 133MHz Bus Speed; that means 133MHz * 17 = 2261 (FSB * Clock Multiplier = Core Speed). So a SL7PP at 2.2GHz, is that better than the SL6PG (the other HT processor we discussed earlier) with 533 FSB and 512KB L2 @ 3.3GHz?

Thank you. Sorry the above got a little confusing. ;)

P.S. If it makes any difference, I only use Adobe Photoshop CS2 for web designing.

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July 23, 2012 at 19:36:01
If it is not on your CPU support list then it might run but at a slower speed, but it might not run at all.

I had a P4 socket 478 800MHz and OC'd it to 3.2GHz. This computer came with a P4 1.6GHz that I used for 8+ years, and I purchased the 2.6GHz and OC'd it to 3.2GHz and though it was significantly faster than what it came with, and I was temporarily satisfied, I was never really happy until I did a complete custom build about 6 months later. That was a Core 2 Duo E7500 OC'd to 3.54GHz that is still being used as our general 'family' computer (100% stable - not a crash or freeze in nearly 3 years).

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.

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July 23, 2012 at 20:56:09
If you can get that hyper-threaded P4 for less than $15 shipped, go for it. Otherwise, don't bother. Most of today's software is optimized (read bloated) for bandwidth-rich multi-core CPUs and will choke on a P4--especially on a 533MHz board.

As a general rule of thumb, 1MB of cache in Prescott = 512KB in Northwood. Prescott has a much deeper instruction pipeline than Northwood. It needs that extra cache just to keep up with a 512KB Northwood, clock for clock. Northwood also runs cooler than Prescott.

Win7's scheduler is smarter than XP's, so hyper-threading will be put to better use today than it was back in 2003.

"I've overclocked my current processor to 149MHz Bus Speed (from 133), and it can't go any higher. With a different processor, for example, the SL7PP, will I be able to get higher Bus Speeds?"

Depends on the board. If you can lock the PCI/AGP bus in the BIOS and have DDR333 memory, maybe. Otherwise, ~150MHz will be the highest you can safely go.

"So a SL7PP at 2.2GHz, is that better than the SL6PG (the other HT processor we discussed earlier) with 533 FSB and 512KB L2 @ 3.3GHz?"

Nope. You're comparing a Netburst to a Netburst. The higher it's clocked, the better.

mATX Beast | LGA2011 i7-3930K @ 4.2GHz | 16GB quad-channel DDR-1866 | GTX 670
240GB SSD+2TB HDD | Asus Rampage IV Gene | Seasonic X560 | Silverstone TJ08-E

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July 28, 2012 at 14:22:02
Thank you for all your responses jay_nar2012, Fingers, and jackbomb (not in any specific order). I extremely appreciate them. :)

Thank you again for all the knowledge provided. I've done some research, and found that if I purchase a cheap modern £10 processor (Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4500 Mobile), it will beat the best processor my motherboard can handle. That's a let down. I understand I should purchase a new computer all together, but the thing is, I can upgrade easily for £10, but for a new computer, I'd need to fork out at least £100. :(

None the less, I will upgrade to the SL6PG if I can get it under $15; I believe I can get it for £7, including shipping. That's about $10.50.

Also, I will intend to overclock the SL6PG to at least 3.2GHz. If I set the FSB at 149MHz, the processor should overclock naturally to 3.4GHz, which is more than welcome. :)

Once again, thank you everyone for your support! I can't thank you guys/gals enough, I extremely appreciate the assistance! :D

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July 28, 2012 at 15:45:54
You are welcome

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.

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November 12, 2012 at 12:39:34
For reasons I dont think contribute to the story, I downgraded to p4 2.66ghz nortwood from my quad core 6600.

I have win xp sp3, and out of curiosity i spared a partition and installed win 7 ultimate and upgraded it fully. System responsiveness as well as general media playability is several times slower on win7. As a long time win7 supporter this came as quite a shock to me.

To illustrate the difference, when I play a 720p h264 youtube encoded video (downloaded) in VLC player- xp has no problems at all, while its a slide show with stuttering sound on w7. Moreover, xp can play full 1080p h264 videos with ease. Win7 seams to use 100% of CPU at idle for no obvious reason. Even when left for half an hour- CPU idle reaches 0%, but as soon as I would play a video it would peak again, and not decrease even when video is paused.

On XP i can view 480p streams at reasonable fps from any browser- flash included. Win7 struggles to play anything from any browser- ie8, ff, chrome and opera- all latest (november 2012)

I have 512k, 533fsb, 2.66ghz northwood with 2gb (4x512) ddr1 ram with ati 9600 pro GPU. I'm about to purchase 3.2ghz 800fsb, 1mb l2 cache, ht presscott in hopes of improving my performance.

I was considering upgrading my gpu to 6800, 7600gs/gt nvidia gpus. Would that help with online flash video streams? Only those stutter. They work fine even in full HD if they can be played via VLC (like youtube) I'm hoping that the CPU would help with that, but I recognize that a better GPU is potentially better solution.

In short win XP>>win7 for this old system of mine.

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November 12, 2012 at 14:30:49
Know what I'd do...use what you have and put the 15 bucks toward your next build. You can use your existing machine for a spare orgive it to a family member or friend who can't afford a decent rig.

Single core stuff just don't get it nowdays. In other words, what Fingers said; especially in #9.

Audares Juvo

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November 12, 2012 at 17:54:29
I moved, and on weekends I come home to my old computer. I dont need it to render 3d- altho it can do that even now- and it can play full hd movies via hdmi on my 42". I can browse the web, use 100s of tabs in firefox- all the normal bits.

What I want it to do is be able to play flash videos @ 720p+ live from a browser. This my current comp stutters at.

I got lucky and bought that 3.2ghz ht 1mb l2 cache Prescott for 7euros.

I can get 6/7x00 line of nvidia graphic cards or x1xxx ati cards for just as much. I'm not sure yet if I should do so- since I'm not about to game hard on this machine anyway and I'm not sure if those GPUs can play these dastardly live stream videos even if I got one.

I'm paying all my income for my phd and my rented room- so these little bumps in performance is all I can afford- and for the weekends- I dont need much more than that. Teamviewer allows me to use my main comp for any work I might need to do.

So, I wont be replacing this old setup unless it fails and I really would appreciate any tips on how to get flash to play nicely live and/or if any of the semi modern GPUs would help in that.

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November 12, 2012 at 19:44:31
Burn a DVD or CD with Puppy Linux and boot to that. If you like it and it plays well on your old machine, find a light version of Linux you like and install that on the machine. While XP is more suitable for older machines than W7, it may just be that a lean installation of Linux may work even better on the older hardware.
Most Linux distributions can be downloaded for free once you find the one best for you and if your hard drive is large enough, you can do a dual boot without purchasing a second hard drive (you can switch back to XP for any programs that will not run on Linux). Firefox, Open Office and many other software is available for free as well. --- Total cost = 2 blank DVD's.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.

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November 15, 2012 at 09:54:55
i just read the first 2 or 3 posts and thought of making a short note from my experience

3.06HT can be oc'd to 3.6 with stock cooling

It plays games like dirt3, codmw3 etc.. that require dual core (since it is a HT) which other P4 wont

Its better to upgrade only if its cheap

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December 4, 2012 at 13:51:08
This dosen't add to the conversation but i'll do it anyhow:
This is a true thread! No noobs, no missing information, just plain tech-talk! I love it!
P.S my 6 year-old P4 at 2.4 ghz with 1GB 333Mhz ram is still clocking up to 2.619Ghz with NO freeze-ups!!


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December 25, 2012 at 04:29:06
heck someone gave me a pc i upgraded to a pentuim 4, 3.06ghz HT cpu, 2gb of DDR1 3200 and an Nvidia Geforce 8400GS that cost me 50 bucks total in upgrades and turned it around and sold it for 150 lol.

Iron Sharpens Iron.

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