Over the next several months, Intel plans to phase out the Pentium in favor of the Pentium II, the new processor Intel is touting as the next step in computing.
What does the Pentium II have to offer? First releases of Pentium II machines boast speeds of 233 and 266 MHz, faster than any Intel CPU to date. Industry analysts say most applications run at around 10 percent to 20 percent faster on Pentium II machines than on the quickest Pentium. What's more, most Pentium IIs come loaded with premium software, memory and CD-ROM drives.
Yet even with the improvements in speed, some industry analysts note that the performance gap isn't all that significant--yet. Most users won't notice a major difference between Pentium and Pentium II machines until next year. "In 1998, we expect to see the Pentium II reaching 400 MHz speeds,' says Linley Gwennap, editor in chief of Microprocessor Report, an online technical newsletter. Although the current Pentium II machines boast slightly higher speeds than standard Pentiums, the 1998 machines will likely be 50 percent faster.
If you can't wait until next year to purchase a machine, stick with the 233 MHz Pentium MMX machines; at under $2,000, these systems cost less than the Pentium II, which runs from $2,500 to $4,000. You can always upgrade next year.