Compaq Deskpro with new 650-MHz Pentium III shows big performance gain over its predecessor

Compaq Deskpro with new 650-MHz Pentium III shows big performance gain over its predecessor

By Michael Cheek

GCN Staff

The new 650-MHz Pentium III processor performs almost a third faster than its 550-MHz predecessor, but there's more beneath the surface than a jump in megahertz.

The GCN Lab examined a Compaq Deskpro EN SFF with one of Intel's new 650-MHz Pentium IIIs.

Using Ziff-Davis Benchmark Operation's CPUmark 99 benchmark suite to test the processor and its closely associated memory, I found a 32 percent performance gain over another Deskpro EN I tested recently [GCN, Aug. 30, Page 31].

When Intel increases clock rate by 50 MHz, processor performance typically rises about 10 percent. So for the 550- to 650-MHz transition, 20 percent would be expected. What accounts for the other 10 percent?

Box Score ''''''''

Deskpro EN SFF

Small-chassis PC with 650-MHz

Pentium III

Compaq Computer Corp.;


tel. 800-727-5472

Price: $1,931

+ Well-designed chassis

+ Excellent processor performance

' Web management tool didn't notice

'''chassis intrusion


Features and configuration

Benchmark performance

'''ZD's Business Winstone 99

'''About 3.45 times faster than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX


The overall grade comprises scores for three factors: usability (40 percent), features and configuration (30 percent) and performance (30 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99 Version 1.1. The baseline for 10.0 Winstone units is a 233-MHz Pentium MMX. For benchmark information, go to

No credit here

If you've read the accompanying tutorial at left, you might be inclined to give some credit to the motherboard chip set. Don't.

Both systems had the standard 100-MHz 440BX chip set.

Nor is faster memory responsible. The 440BX chip set does not support the faster RAM expected with Intel's new 820 chip set.

The extra 10 percent oomph is generated from the 0.18-micron fabrication pro- cess, integration of cache on the chip's own silicon, and widening of the data path between cache and processor from 64 to 256 bits.

When the faster RAM and the new 133-MHz chip set come out, a Deskpro will show even more get-up-and-go. Compaq sent another excellent system this time around, sized in a small form factor. Remarkably easy to open with two latches on either side of the faceplate, it had a well-organized, clearly labeled interior.

Sound, networking and video were integrated'card slots were vacant for either two PCI cards or one PCI and one ISA card.

Video views

The primary difference between this Deskpro and the 550-MHz model turned out to be the video card. The integrated ATI Technologies Inc. Rage Pro Turbo AGP 2X adapter in the test unit had the maximum 8M of video memory'half as much as the earlier 500-MHz minitower's video card. On video scores alone, the 650-MHz unit was about 45 percent slower.

Therefore, overall performance on ZD's Business Winstone 99 Version 1.1 did not show quite as large a jump. Between the two systems, I measured a 5 percent gain overall on real-life tests of business applications.

To supplement its Intelligent Manageability software, Compaq now offers a Web-based Insight Manager LC program (the LC stands for lifecycle).

The new Desktop Management Interface 2.0 tool does a good, lightweight job, although chassis intrusion did not seem to be among its alerts.

Other tools included a real-time clock rollover test.

The more powerful processor and a nice, compact chassis make the Compaq Deskpro EN SFF a good client choice.

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