AnandTech: Intel's Pentium M on the Desktop - A Viable Alternative?
Does the Pentium M have what it takes to be as competitive on the desktop as it is in the mobile sector? Now that the first desktop Pentium M motherboards are shipping, that's why this review is here - to find out.
This is a good review of the Pentium M (codenamed Banias and now Dothan) chip. It essentially says that the chip is very good if expensive. A 2.0GHz Pentium M 755 has essentially the same gaming performance as a 3.6GHz Pentium 4. That's pretty amazing when the Pentium M burns 22 watts and the Prescott burns 110 watts.
Does point out the big disadvantages (that I've also found with my homebrew nMediaPC with DFI 855GME-MGF motherboard and 1.8GHz Pentium M 735):
* The current motherboards use an older single channel 333MHz chipset so the system is memory starved and you can't overclock the memory bus very much. I've found on my own machine that I can get to about 340MHz but not much farther. The issue here is that only Aopen and DFI have Pentium M motherboards. There is a slight nod to AOpen because it overclocks a little better. There aren't any modern 915 desktop motherboards around.
* The Pentium M itself seems to overclock fine. I've found my 1.8GHz has no problem getting to 2.2GHz for instance and is just limited to the a 18x multiplier and the bus speed. So if you can get the 915, then presumably this gets better.
* For Business applications and games, the Pentium M is awesome, but if you are doing audio encoding or anything needing floating point like video, then you are better off getting an Athlon 64. The floating point isn't very fast.
* These are expensive chips because there is no competition, so that the 1.8GHz is $300 and the motherboards are$250 compared with $200 for an Athlon 54 3200+ and$140 for a DFI LANparty Ultra motherboard.
All that being said and done, if I was building a home theater PC (HTPC), then this Dothan chipset is not a bad choice at all. It has integrated video for instance and would play games plenty fast. Moreover, it is just whisper quiet. With such a low power consumption, the most that you can hear is the power supply.