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Tuesday, April 11 — What's new

400 MHz!
Intel Raises the Speed Limit Once Again

Welcome to 400 MHz. Intel's announcement of new, faster Pentium II processors today is good news whether you're a power-hungry code jockey or just looking for the most bang for your PC buck.

If you've gotten blasé about CPU clock speed increases that seem to happen every few months, consider this: coupled with Intel's "BX" chip set (also shipping today), the new 400-MHz Pentium II runs its bus at 100 MHz. That's a 50 percent increase over the 66-MHz bus speeds that have prevailed since the introduction of the original Pentium processor. The last time you saw a bus this fast, you were watching Keanu Reeves on the big screen.

For the biggest review around of these hot new PCs, look to PC Magazine's 400 MHz Pentium II PCs. It puts nine blazing fast systems to the test.

Even if you don't run performance-sapping applications that need this kind of power, there's good news in today's announcement: The performance you get in midrange PCs will creep upward once again. And history reveals that people typically upgrade when processing power triples -- so if you're using a Pentium/133-class machine, it may be time to start looking. For a primer on the differences in this new chip set, look to this ZDNet Help Channel report.

How big are the differences? This chart summarizes PC performance measured with ZD Winstone 98, which reflects overall system performance when running popular productivity applications. Equipped with 64MB of RAM, these new 400-MHz Pentium II PCs perform twice as fast as 32MB, 233-MHz Pentium/MMX machines that PC Magazine tested last fall.

(This chart shows the range of scores in each roundup. Red dots mark the averages.)

We've got more coverage of this hot story:

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