What is in a clock speed?   Confined to Intel processors alone, a higher clock speed generally means faster performance.  Add AMD processors to the scene, and things become a little more complicated, at lower clock speeds an AMD processor has the potential to actually perform faster than an Intel processor, and vise versa.  Allow Cyrix to contribute to the comparison, and the microprocessor world quickly becomes a frightening place to explore, especially for those of you looking to purchase a new system. alpha_main.jpg (9351 bytes)

There is a new competitor to the desktop market, the Digital Alpha 21164PC.  What makes the 21164PC so unique is that it isn't backed by the marketing hype the Pentium II has been blessed with, and it definitely doesn't have the strong foundation in the Desktop PC market that AMD and Cyrix have established, rather, the 21164PC is sporting a feature comparable to no other desktop processor out today, a 533MHz clock rate.

While it is architecturally much more advanced than, say, the AMD K6, the 21164PC's marketing strength lies in its clock rate to those that aren't familiar with the Digital Alpha processors.  If a user is looking to purchase a new computer, would he/she rather go for a 333MHz Pentium II...or a 533MHz Digital Alpha Workstation if they were priced within $100 of each other?  Naturally, its human nature to want more, and since "bigger is better" the 533MHz Alpha would be the perfect choice, right?  Wrong.

Does this mean that the Digital Alpha 21164PC processor is a piece of junk?  Absolutely not, like any product in the Hardware World, it depends on what type of user you are, and what you're looking to get out of your system.  Anand Tech managed to arrange a review of a custom made Digital Alpha 21164PC based system, by Multiwave Direct, an online vendor located in California.  Let's take a look at the specs for the MWave System...

Multiwave Digital Alpha Specs
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