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Thread: Worst x86 CPUs over the years

  1. #1
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    Default Worst x86 CPUs over the years

    Just curious as to people's thought's on the worst x86 CPUs over the years. Let me start the ball rolling with 2 that come to mind.

    1) The original L2 cacheless Celeron. Basically a PII with no L2 cache , this CPU was worse performing than the Pentium MMX and almost sank the Celeron brand.

    2) The 486SX. Now this was not a bad performing chip, but Intel seems to have taken the defective 486DX chips and disabled the on-board FPU. They then made you pay for a 487SX, which in turn would disable the 486SX, finally give you a full 486DX. Nothing like making you pay twice for what you should only pay for once.

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    Both of those examples show that Intel would let you buy the latest and greatest motherboards with features you wanted but allowed you to skimp on the CPU (which cost a ton back then) until prices came down and you could upgrade the CPU.

    The P2-233 came out in May 7 1997 @ $636
    The Celeron 266 came out in April 15, 1998 @ $155

    Most people never used the FPU on chips so they were not needed. Its not like many people with a fast 386 ever purchased a 387 and most gamers didn't care until Quake came around in the Pentium era. A 486sx was faster clock for clock then a 386. 486sx boards were mostly sold via OEMs to cut costs and by the time people wanted to upgrade to a faster chip they wanted VLB slots too so they purchased a new motherboard with a new CPU anyway.

    I would say the original Pentium 4's were crap, same with the 503 socket XEONs.
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    Agreed, the design of P4 has been described by the term Marketecture. The Marketing people at Intel were driving it's designed and the Engineers were asked to basically perform black magic to make it work. It was originally touted to reach 10Ghz. It never even came close, with a few 4Ghz P4s being release. Add to the fact how much power the CPU drew, it was a real stinker. The only thing worse were the P4 Celerons. AMD took advantage of this and came out with the Athlon 64 CPUs and had Intel on the ropes until the 2006 release of the Core 2.

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    What about the 386s (pre double-sigma) with the floating point bug?

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    Should be socket 603 XEONs
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    Didn't the first 5v Pentiums have issues?
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    The Via C3/C7 are pretty overall terrible. I mean, I guess nobody had particularly high expectations for them, but for a CPU clocked in the 1Ghz+ ballpark it still surprised me just just how painfully, wisdom-tooth-extractingly slow they were for chips they were still selling new in the late 2000's. A six year old 500mhz PIII laptop could run rings around one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    What about the 386s (pre double-sigma) with the floating point bug?
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    Those are the good ones--the 16Mhz bad ones don't have the double-sigma.

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    I still use a Dell OptiPlex 170L desktop with a Pentium 4 HT as my main computer to this day. Never had any problems with it.
    So, the Pentium 4 is actually a fairly competent desktop CPU in my opinion.
    But not a good a laptop CPU.
    Putting a Pentium 4 inside a laptop was a HORRIBLE idea and I don't know why so many companies did this back in the day. It simply generates too much heat. The laptop's components (the LCD controller board was usually the first to go, sometimes the power supply too) were more prone to failure with no way to adequately dissipate the heat generated by the CPU within the smaller laptop form factor.
    This isn't completely the CPU's fault, however. The P4 was never designed to be used as a laptop CPU.

    So, what's the worst x86 CPU ever made? I'd have to go with the Cyrix 6x86.
    It's supposed to be compatible with P5 Pentium CPU's. Well, it's not fully compatible so programmers/companies had to release patches for certain programs to work properly with it.
    Compatibility with the Pentium was so screwed up that the CPU actually identifies itself as a 486. Cyrix even disabled the CPUID command by default for whatever reason.
    Even worse was the performance. FPU performance is absolutely [bleep]ing awful... The POS couldn't even run Quake without freezing or locking up. Yeah, not exactly stable to say the least.
    You would have been much better off getting a Pentium Pro or even an original P5 Pentium... it certainly would have saved you a LOT of frustration in the long-run.

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