Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/846



Less than a month has gone by since AMD introduced the world to the Athlon XP processor. Although architecturally the processor is no different than the Mobile Athlon 4 and Athlon MP that were launched several months ago, its higher clock speeds and new packaging technology make it worthy of a new name. '

Alongside that new name AMD released their plans for a "new" way of naming processors; instead of being referred to by their clock speeds, they would be branded with model numbers that would be indicative of their performance when compared to other higher clocked processors. In fact this new way of naming processors is not very original and was done numerous times in history with processors such as the Cyrix 6x86 and even AMD's own K5. The argument that this time around things are somehow different has been made by many supporters of the naming system, but after having dedicated the title of our last review to our displeasure with AMD's marketing strategy we'll give it a rest. The naming system is here to stay and whether it carries on to the Hammer line of processors has yet to be seen but what can be applauded is the excellent performance of the CPU, which is after all, what we care about the most.

AMD Athlon XP Product Line
CPU Name
FSB Frequency
Clock Multiplier
Clock Speed
Athlon XP 1900+
133MHz
12.0x
1.60GHz
Athlon XP 1800+
133MHz
11.5x
1.53GHz
Athlon XP 1700+
133MHz
11.0x
1.47GHz
Athlon XP 1600+
133MHz
10.5x
1.40GHz
Athlon XP 1500+
133MHz
10.0x
1.33GHz

Today AMD continues to ramp up the clock speed of their Athlon XP line with the introduction of a model 1900+ to their present array of highly competitive microprocessors. In spite of what the name may have you believe, the processor is only 67MHz faster than the previous king of the hill and won't offer any significant performance enhancements over the model 1800+ that topped our charts last month. So for those of you that were early adopters of the processor need not worry that your dollars went wasted.



The Numbers Continue

The Athlon XP 1900+ is no different from the 1.33GHz - 1.53GHz CPUs that were launched in October other than an obvious boost to its clock speed. The processor now carries a fixed multiplier of 12.0x which is adjustable if you have the patience to connect the L1 bridges on the CPU and a motherboard that supports multiplier adjustment.

Because of the new organic packaging the two points that need to be connected on each "bridge" are separated by an actual indentation in the package; this indentation must be filled with a nonconductive material (for example, quick drying epoxy) before the connection between the two points on the bridge can be made.

Athlon MP processors don't suffer this fate as their L1 bridges aren't completed but they aren't scored either. Unfortunately purchasing an Athlon MP processor instead of an XP model, although they are physically and architecturally the same, isn't too viable considering MP processors carry about a 30% premium over their desktop counterparts.

Since the XP core remains unchanged from its launch its features remain the same. We summarized these enhancements over the Thunderbird core in our original review as:

1) Full support for Intel's SSE instructions
2) An improved hardware data prefetch mechanism
3) Enhancements to the Athlon's Translation Look-aside Buffers
4) Lower power consumption & on-die thermal diode

We have already covered all three of those improvements in great depth so rather than regurgitating them here we'll ask that you read our original overview of the improvements.

At the end of October AMD offered marginal price drops across their entire Athlon XP line of processors obviously to make way for the new 1900+. Today the street price of the 1900+ is close to what the price of the 1800+ was upon its launch. We have seen it selling for around $250 and we expect that price to fall as time goes on.



Faster XP platforms: Don't leave home without one

We conducted our original Athlon XP review using one of the first publicly available motherboards based on VIA's KT266A chipset: the EPoX 8KHA+. If you're considering an upgrade to the Athlon XP we'd strongly recommend against it unless you already have a fast platform. With KT266A motherboards selling for at or below the $100 mark, there's very little reason to not upgrade an aging KT133A to a faster DDR platform first before considering a CPU upgrade. The fact that DDR SDRAM is also so very cheap helps lighten the load on your wallet when upgrading.

Our test platform, the EPoX 8KHA+ hasn't changed in this review either. As we proved in our initial KT266A motherboard roundup, the EPoX is a very well rounded board that currently outperforms the other shipping KT266A based solutions.

The Test

As was the case with our original Athlon XP review, we have run all of our benchmarks under a final shipping version of Windows XP Professional. We disabled System Restore and followed Microsoft's directions for benchmarking under Windows XP to obtain repeatable results. We enabled all visual options including anti-aliased fonts.

SYSMark 2001 was run with the Athlon XP's SSE instructions enabled. For more information on why they are disabled by default read our explanation entitled: SYSMark 2001: The Benchmarking Controversy.

Windows XP Test System

Hardware

CPU(s)

AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)
AMD Athlon-C 1.40GHz
Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz
Motherboard(s) EPoX EP-8KHA+ ABIT TH7-II RAID (Intel 850)
Memory

256MB PC800 Mushkin RDRAM
256MB DDR266 Crucial (CAS2) DDR SDRAM

Hard Drive

IBM Deskstar 30GB 75GXP 7200 RPM Ultra ATA/100

CDROM

Phillips 48X

Video Card(s)

NVIDIA GeForce3 64MB DDR

Ethernet

Linksys LNE100TX 100Mbit PCI Ethernet Adapter

Software

Operating System

Windows XP

Video Drivers

NVIDIA Detonator 4 v21.80



Internet Content Creation & Office Productivity Performance

Internet Content Creation Performance
Internet Content Creation SYSMark 2001
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

215

213

213

205

202

198

198

194

187

181

171

163

|
0
|
43
|
86
|
129
|
172
|
215
|
258

With properly enabled SSE support the Athlon XP 1800+ was already able to offer performance on-par with the 2GHz Pentium 4. Now at 1.6GHz, the Athlon XP is able to claim a small but unnoticeable lead of 0.9%.

Office Productivity Performance
Office Productivity SYSMark 2001
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

190

184

181

173

173

171

169

164

161

152

145

140

|
0
|
38
|
76
|
114
|
152
|
190
|
228

The performance increase over the 1.53GHz model 1800+ is slightly more tangible in the Office Productivity suite of SYSMark 2001, but 3.2% is nothing significant. For a user looking to upgrade, the performance difference between the 1800+ and the 1900+ again wouldn't be noticeable.

Overall Performance
SYSMark 2001
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

202

198

193

191

185

182

181

179

169

168

162

155

|
0
|
40
|
81
|
121
|
162
|
202
|
242

Because of the processor's very large L1 cache, short pipeline and high hit-rate L2, the Athlon XP performs very well in the Office Productivity suite of SYSMark 2001. This gave AMD the advantage necessary to outperform the Pentium 4 2GHz with the 1.47GHz model 1700+ when looking at the big picture using SYSMark 2001. The introduction of the 1900+ is seemingly unnecessary from a performance standpoint; the Athlon XP already took the gold and with Northwood still not appearing anywhere AMD won't have much to worry about until next year. The current situation seems to place Northwood in the hands of OEMs early next year although it is still supposedly scheduled to be shown off before the end of this year.



Media Encoding Performance

We benchmarked three different types of media encoding: MPEG-4 video, MPEG-2 video and MP3 audio encoding. First we start out with MPEG-4 encoding under Flask.

We benchmarked Flask using the following settings:

1) The input video was a 320 x 240, non-interlaced, MPEG-1 file
2) The iDCT algorithm was set to autodetect thus selecting the fastest possible algorithm for the particular processor
3) We used the Flask MPEG v0.60 preview with the official DivX 4.01 codec available at www.divx.com
4) The output resolution was set at 352 x 288, filtering quality set to the highest possible, and audio was not decoded
5) The DivX 4.01 codec was selected in the configure output settings; since audio wasn't being decoded we did not change any audio options
6) The encoding process was started and the frame rate at the end of the process was recorded and reported below.

MPEG-4 Video Encoding
Flask MPEG 352 x 288
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

50.9

49.2

47.3

45.5

45.0

44.4

41.2

39.4

37.4

36.0

34.1

32.9

|
0
|
10
|
20
|
31
|
41
|
51
|
61

The performance domination continues as the Athlon XP scales with its clock speed. The 4% increase in clock speed resulted in a 3% increase in performance, neither of which is tangible to the end user but looks good on paper, right?

The lead over the Pentium 4 2GHz is only extended with the Athlon XP 1900+; what once was almost a 10% advantage has been extended to just over 13%. When you look at it from that perspective, the 1900+ is icing on the cake.

MPEG-2 Video Encoding
Video 2000
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

49.0

47.6

46.2

44.9

44.8

43.3

43.3

41.6

40.6

40.0

38.0

36.3

|
0
|
10
|
20
|
29
|
39
|
49
|
59

The picture doesn't change much as we switch to MPEG-2 as our chosen encoding algorithm. This time using MadOnion's Video 2000 as a benchmark we see that the 1900+ is able to hold a 9% advantage over Intel's flagship.

MP3 Audio Encoding
LAME Encoder - Time in Minutes (lower is better)
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

2.67

2.75

2.78

2.9

2.92

3.05

3.15

3.22

3.23

3.25

3.43

3.65

|
0
|
1
|
1
|
2
|
3
|
4
|
4

For our MP3 encoding test we used version 3.89 of the Win32 LAME encoder binaries. We took a 170MB wav file and encoded it using the following command-line options: -v -V 0. This created a variable bit rate MP3, varying the bit rates between 160 kbps and 320 kbps. The end result was a 27MB MP3 file that took between 2 and 4 minutes to encode.

This was the first test we looked at last month where the Athlon XP wasn't able to clearly dominate the Pentium 4. The 2GHz offering from Intel even outperformed AMD's flagship at the time, but the introduction of the 1900+ does change that. Because the top of the charts are all within a few percent of one another, the performance stats only really start to change once you pass the 3 minute marker.



3D Gaming Performance

3D Gaming Performance
Quake III Arena 1.29g 640 x 480 - High Quality
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

243.5

242.1

237.8

233.9

232.6

227.5

226.6

221.6

221.4

217.5

213.5

203.4

|
0
|
49
|
97
|
146
|
195
|
244
|
292

Here's another benchmark in which the introduction of the 1900+ tilted the scales ever-so-slightly in AMD's favor. Quake III Arena has historically been a tremendous showcase of the performance of Intel's Pentium 4, specifically because of its highly advanced hardware data prefetch logic. With the addition of similar capabilities to the Athlon XP core, AMD was able to improve their performance across the board here by around 5%. Couple that with higher clock speeds and we now have a CPU that is just as competitive under Quake III as it is under other environments.

3D Gaming Performance
Wolfenstein MP Test atdemo6 - 640 x 480 - Max Settings
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

58.1

56.1

54.2

52.3

50.6

50.4

50.4

48.4

46.0

44.0

41.9

39.6

|
0
|
12
|
23
|
35
|
46
|
58
|
70

When we introduced our Wolfenstein MP Test benchmarks in the GeForce3 Titanium Review, we mentioned that the first benchmark (atdemo6) was clearly CPU bound as it would not vary with video card performance much at all. Judging by the above performance chart, our hypothesis held true as the performance of these CPUs varies from 40fps all the way up to 56 fps. It is important to note that atdemo6 is more of an open air benchmark with many explosions thus putting a great deal of stress on the CPU. You can consider this an average of the worst case scenario performance of your system.

In spite of the highly competitive performance the Pentium 4 showed us under Quake III Arena, the picture changes considerably under the Return to Castle Wolfenstein MP Test. The reason this is so interesting is because both RTCW and Quake III Arena are based off of the same engine. The fact that they share the same engine base would make the way 3D cards perform on the two platforms similar, but it obviously has little bearing on CPU performance. The more demanding nature of RTCW seems to favor the Athlon XP over the Pentium 4 which diminishes Intel's argument that the way Quake III Arena was written lead to astounding performance in that game.

3D Gaming Performance
Wolfenstein MP Test atdemo8 - 640 x 480 - Max Settings
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

157.5

154.5

150

145.6

143.6

141

139.2

138.7

132.6

128.2

123

117

|
0
|
32
|
63
|
95
|
126
|
158
|
189

Our second RTCW benchmark is much less CPU bound and is governed much more by the performance of the GeForce3 that's in our test bed. Regardless, the performance standings do not change much and it's clear that if you're a fan of this (and many other FPSes) then the Athlon XP is for you.



3D Gaming Performance (continued)

3D Gaming Performance
Max Payne - 640 x 480
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

112.9

111.5

109.7

108.7

106.7

105.4

100.3

96.9

94.9

93.8

88.4

85.5

|
0
|
23
|
45
|
68
|
90
|
113
|
135

After introducing Max Payne as a benchmark in our graphics card reviews we were contacted by one the game's talented developers who shed some light on some of the quirks of the engine. One of those happened to be how very CPU bound the game is, making it the ideal gaming benchmark for a CPU comparison don't you think?

The story is no different from the RTCW tests; the Athlon XP and even the regular Athlon-C do very well in this game and offer a good lead over the Pentium 4. Part of this performance advantage is due to the VIA KT266A which gives the Athlon a high performing platform to run on.

3D Gaming Performance
Serious Sam 1.02 - 640 x 480
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

132.9

129.9

126.5

122.7

118.2

116.2

96.7

92.4

89.2

86.0

82.1

77.7

|
0
|
27
|
53
|
80
|
106
|
133
|
159

Our final gaming benchmark is Serious Sam and the story told is no different. The Athlons continue to perform very well and the 1900+ is once again just icing on the cake.



3D Rendering & Animation Performance

While we normally publish the entire results of the SPECviewperf 6.1.2 run, for this review we picked the three most CPU dependent viewset tests and presented you with those. The tests absent from this review are AWadvs, MedMCAD and ProCDRS which were largely video card bound to the point where there was no more than a 1% span of performance figures between all of the CPUs in this review

3D Rendering & Animation Performance
SPECviewperf 6.1.2 - DRV-07
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

24.03

23.63

23.38

23.02

22.66

22.4

21.26

20.93

20.72

20.38

20.03

19.74

|
0
|
5
|
10
|
14
|
19
|
24
|
29

No change here, the Pentium 4 2.0 is only competitive with the lower clocked Athlon/Athlon XP processors.

3D Rendering & Animation Performance
SPECviewperf 6.1.2 - DX-06
Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

38.8

38.35

38.33

38.3

38.23

38.05

37.94

37.18

36.24

35.19

34

28.51

|
0
|
8
|
16
|
23
|
31
|
39
|
47

With a 0.45 fps advantage over the Athlon XP 1900+ we have stumbled upon one of two tests that isn't topped by the newcomer Athlon XP. If this is the first then the next one must be...

3D Rendering & Animation Performance
SPECviewperf 6.1.2 - Light-04
Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)

AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)

Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)

AMD Athlon-C 1.4GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)

10.32

10.16

10.02

9.958

9.8

9.755

9.525

9.489

9.331

9.219

9.158

9.145

|
0
|
2
|
4
|
6
|
8
|
10
|
12

...you guessed it: Light-04. This benchmark is primarily dominated by the Pentium 4 and we can attribute this to either strong AGP performance of the i850 platform (the lightscape benchmark is highly dependent upon transferring triangle data over the AGP bus to the graphics card) or solid CPU performance unleashed by NVIDIA's well written Detonator drivers. Unfortunately it's the only time where we really see the Pentium 4 pull ahead of AMD's little engine that could; without Northwood to restore some balance to the competition, AMD is able to walk away a winner yet again.



Final Words

There's only so much you can say about a processor that boasts no more than a 67MHz clock speed advantage over the flagship it's replacing. What won't make much sense to the end users is AMD's insistence on releasing processors that are barely faster than one another. It's clear that the launch of the 1900+ is one that was demanded for by the OEMs looking for a processor that can be marketed as the equivalent of Intel's Pentium 4 1.9GHz CPU and placed in the same class as the 2.0GHz part.

We already know that the Athlon XP is clearly the desktop/workstation CPU to buy today, there's no question to that. What we'd like to see are some more improvements from AMD to the Athlon line that go beyond marketing or pleasing their OEMs (the latter is very important, don't get us wrong; it's the OEMs that rake in the cash). There is no reason the Athlon XP shouldn't have an integrated heat spreader much like the Pentium 4. While more avid users with experience installing heatsinks on Athlon CPUs are fairly unlikely to damage their cores, someone upgrading from an older processor without such experience may learn the hard way just why a heat spreader is important.

We'd also like to see AMD take a more active role in encouraging motherboard manufacturers to take advantage of the Athlon XP's internal diode. As we noted in our initial roundup of KT266A motherboards, not a single one read the temperature of the Athlon XP from its internal diode rather by using an external thermistor. These are fairly small complaints but if no one makes them then very little will be done. We've been more than happy with the performance of the Athlon line and the Athlon XP continues that even further, but as true enthusiasts we're always looking for more out of a product.

AMD is at the point now where they aren't only a fierce competitor on a pricing level, they are also significantly faster than the competition. AMD has already exhibited some of their leadership capabilities with the bold steps they are taking with Hammer, but it's often these little things that can help along the path to that leadership position.

As for Intel, their most likely response to the Athlon XP 1900+ is the oh-so-generic declaration of the Pentium 4 2.0GHz as the world's fastest desktop microprocessor. While we anxiously awaited the launch of the 0.13-micron Northwood processors it seems as if the CPU will only sample this year and be commercially available in January/February of 2002. Although that won't be the only interesting product made available in that time period it seems that for this holiday buying season the top motherboard, video card and CPU upgrades are as clear as they will be.

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