Intel's Pentium M on the Desktop - A Viable Alternative?by Anand Lal Shimpi on February 7, 2005 4:00 PM EST
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Problem #2: Total Cost of OwnershipIntel has always kept desktop processors more affordable to ramp up production and reduce the cost of manufacturing while charging a premium on server and mobile processors; the Pentium M clearly falls into the latter category. Using our RealTime Pricing Engine (RTPE), we pulled the following prices for the Pentium M line at the time of publication:
|Intel Pentium M 765 (2.13GHz)||$645|
|Intel Pentium M 755 (2.0GHz)||$435|
|Intel Pentium M 745 (1.8GHz)||$299|
|Intel Pentium M 735 (1.7GHz)||$245|
|AMD Athlon 64 3500+||$259|
|Intel Pentium 4 560 (3.6GHz)||$430|
The first thing to notice is that the flagship Pentium M processor is priced at $645, about the same as AMD's Athlon 64 4000+ clocked at 2.6GHz. The rest of the lineup is a bit more reasonable, but still fairly expensive. At $435, the 2.0GHz Pentium M 755 needs to be competitive with the 3.6GHz Pentium 4 560, and at $245, the Pentium M 735 needs to be able to hang with the Athlon 64 3500+.
The other pricey item for making the desktop Pentium M migration is the motherboard. Currently, only AOpen and DFI have motherboards available and, once again using our RTPE, both boards are priced at $230 - $240. That's over twice the price of desktop Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 motherboards; it's even more expensive than ASUS' nForce4 SLI based A8N-SLI Deluxe, which happens to be one of the most expensive desktop Athlon 64 motherboards.
Thankfully, memory and other components are identical regardless of whether you're building a Pentium M or a Pentium 4 system, but the price of the CPU and motherboard alone handicap the Pentium M from the start. But, if we can get beyond these issues of motherboard compatibility and price, is the Pentium M an attractive solution for the desktop?
To understand what the price premium buys you, it's easiest to look at a comparison of Thermal Design Power between the Pentium M and some of its desktop CPU competitors:
|Intel Pentium M 765 (2.13GHz)||22W|
|Intel Pentium 4 520 (2.8GHz)||84W|
|Intel Pentium 4 570||115W|
|AMD Athlon 64||67W|
Intel publishes a max TDP for their processors to aid their partners better in development of Intel based platforms, and using Intel's numbers, we see that the fastest Pentium M carries a 22W TDP, compared to the 84W TDP of the entry-level Pentium 4 520.
AMD publishes multiple TDP values for their processors based on the power states enabled by Cool 'n Quiet, the maximum of which happens to be 89W for the entire Athlon 64 line. Originally designed as a server chip, it's no surprise that the Athlon 64 is much more power-hungry than the Pentium M.
So, with the Pentium M, you get lower power consumption on the desktop, which arguably isn't as important as it is on the mobile side, but is still a neat feature to have - especially in the quest for a quiet-running PC.
But as we all know, a quiet, expensive Pentium M is useless if it doesn't perform up to par with the competition, so let's talk about performance a bit.