Intel Pentium D 840 3.2 GHz Dual-Core (BX80551PG3200FT) Processor Reviews
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Intel Pentium D 840 3.2 GHz Dual-Core (BX80551PG3200FT) Processor

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The Pentium D 840 is a FIRE HAZARD on the Socket 775 chipset.

Sep 5, 2009 (Updated Sep 16, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:3.2 Ghz, 2 cpu cores

Cons:90nm and the excessive heat that comes with it

The Bottom Line: Any Socket 775 computer processor that can hit 168 degrees Fahrenheit in a properly cooled computer case should be returned to the manufacturer, go Celeron 352.


Friday morning, in the fast paced world of IT, brought me a surprise today.  I was instructed by the company VP to find and install a high speed computer that would allow an employee to run reports during the day.  The employee’s computer was taking over an hour to run these reports and she needed a dedicated PC. 

I pulled an older Socket 775 computer off the shelf and started restoring it for limited office use.  My first course of action was to unseat the heat sink and reapply thermal compound to the CPU itself.  The old heat sink compound had dried out and caused the processor to turn the thermal paste into an epoxy like substance.  I had to use a 14” long knife blade to get the heat sink off the processor without pulling or cracking the motherboard.  The computer technician who built this system originally did not understand that a high quality heat sink compound, like Artic Silver 5, would have been a better choice because it does not dry out the same why traditional compounds do.  After this was all taken care of, I found the system had a 120 Gb SATA hard drive and Windows XP Professional SP2 already installed on it so I all I had to do was profile the system’s heat output with some benchmark testing. 

Solving The Heat Problem
I could not figure out who made the computer case because it was produced over ten years ago as a generic product in Taiwan.  The computer case features an 80MMx80MM fan port up front and a 60MM x 60MM fan port in the back.  A large, white, slip on plastic piece attaches to the front of the case and partially obstructs the air flow of the case.  Even with all of these potential obstructions to the air flow through this computer case, I have several other computers in operation with Intel Core 2 Duo's that do not have the same heat issues as this Intel Pentium D 840 processor.  To increase the air flow of the computer case and reduce the potential fire danger, I installed a MassCool Slot Fan that fits into an available full height expansion port on nearly any desktop case.  I used the first slot on the case since it was closest to the processor.  Using this upgraded configuration, I was able to product the following benchmark results that you see below.

I did notice that it could open Microsoft Excel 2007 and Microsoft Outlook 2007 with little problem.  The high clock speed of the Intel D 840, 3200 Mhz, also translates into faster than normal Windows XP boot times which is also always welcome. 

Performance Testing
To give you an idea of the performance of this processor, I used three different benchmarks:  Super Pi, the BOINC Manager benchmark and MCS CPU Benchmark 2008.  Each of these benchmarks stresses unique aspects of the processor and are heavily dependent on the supporting hardware around the processor like the memory, hard drive and motherboard chipset.  The Intel Pentium D 840 Dual Core processor was installed in a VIA P4MSD-800 (P4M800CE-8237) motherboard with 1,024 Mbs of memory operating in single channel mode across two 512Mb DDR memory sticks.  The Dell computer uses an 120Gb SATA hard drive with Windows XP Professional SP2 installed to handle the operating system tasks.

Super Pi V1.1 is an application that extrapolates the specified digits of PI into a text file.  Since the task is both processor and file system intensive it can give you an idea of how fast your cpu is.  The Pentium D 840 processor has two physical cores and 1Mb of cache dedicated to each core.  The problem is the calculation is single threaded in this version of Super Pi so you only see the performance of one processor. 

Here are the results of three runs at 1,000,000 digits of PI:
#1; 46 seconds
#2; 47 seconds
#3; 45 seconds

The Boinc Manager benchmark is designed to stress every available thread on your computer to see how many computations per second it can perform.  With the results, the Boinc Manager automatically assigns distributed computing projects to your processors.  The benchmark has been improved by scholars at academic institutions over the period of several years and is now a very reliable metric of modern computing performance.

Here the results of three runs:
#1; 1649 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 2692 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#2; 1657 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 2615 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#3; 1657 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 2665 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu

The MCS CPU Benchmark 2008 will test the entire system to give you an overall score based on CPU and file system performance.

Here are the results of three runs on the computer:
#1; 4702
#2; 4491
#3; 3923

The declining scores obtained from the MCS CPU Benchmark 2008 are reflective of the poor circulation in the computer case that this 3.2Ghz processor was installed in.  The initial peak cpu temperature was 156 degrees Fahrenheit.  I reached a peak cpu core temperature of 168 degrees Fahrenheit during the final run and we also see that the performance of this processor went down in sympathy.  You should keep this in mind if you should decide to use this processor in a poorly vented computer case. 

Compared to the humble Intel Celeron 352, which has a clock speed of 3200 Mhz as well, this processor is struggling to keep up.  The Socket 775 Intel Celeron 352 had a Super Pi score of 44 seconds and turned a high score of 3882 in the MCS 2008 Benchmark.  Clearly, dual cores and increased cache are not helping this processor at all.

You should also know that I am using the A0 stepping of this processor in this computer.  Usually, Intel releases another stepping of their processors to fix problems or to give an overall improvement to the performance of the processor.  If you want to get a more efficient micro code on your Pentium D 840, look for QEIS or SL8CM which has the B0 steppings.

Specifications
Processor Core: Smithfield
CPU Cores: 2
Hyperthreading: No
Frequency (Mhz):  3200
Bus Speed (Mhz):  800
Clock Multiplier (Mhz): 16
Dimensions:  1.48” x 1.48”
Socket 775 (FC-LGA6)
Data width: 64 bit
Level 1 cache size:  2x16Kb
Level 2 cache size:  2x1Mb on-die L2 cache
Instruction sets:  MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3
You can find this processor under the following Intel part numbers: HH80551PG0882MN, QEIs, SL88R, SL8CM

Terminology
If you are new to computers, you will see a lot of unfamiliar terms in this review.  Here are a few definitions to make your life a little easier: 

Cache is actually RAM that is built into the computer processor.  The larger the memory on the processor the fewer the calls to the external sticks of RAM on your motherboard. 

Whetstone is a synthetic benchmark for evaluating the performance of computers.  The Whetstone was created to defeat compiler optimizations in the 1970’s and has since become a standard metric of performance because some of the earliest mainframes used it to analyze their own computing potential.

Summary
After just four hours of preparation, I delivered this computer to my coworker.  She uses the computer to run reports in Dynamics AX.  Five days later, I received a phone call that the computer froze up.  After evaluation, I discovered that the processor overheated again and I had to put another fan in the computer case, just to keep it stable during the workday.

I cannot recommend this processor to anyone.  I see no situation where the potential of burning up your computer case or house is worth using this processor just to squeeze out a little more speed than an Intel Celeron 352.  Computers often go several years before being serviced by a technician, in that time dust can collect which then creates the fire hazard if the computer were to experience a large room temperature shift.  While the chances of this happening are a little remote, the risk far outweighs any gain.

Recommended Alternative Socket 775Processors For You To Consider:
Intel Celeron 352, 3.20Ghz - single core, SuperPi 44 seconds
Intel Pentium 4 915, 2.80Ghz - dual core, SuperPi 43 seconds
Intel Core 2 Duo E8600, 3.33Ghz - dual core, SuperPi 13 seconds, check compatibility first


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