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Before the days of dual core and quad core and even hexa core’s on one CPU you had to actually have two (or more) physical CPU’s on a motherboard. These have been around for some time and the most common ones are from about the 2000’s using two physical Pentium III cpu’s but much older boards from the mid 90’s using two Pentium pro cpu’s arent to uncommon either. This setup in the days before dual cores was to enhance processing power and multi-tasking. Not common on home use computers these were mostly found on business machines, graphic design/video editing machines and servers. The idea of two cpu’s is also slightly deceiving. One would assume that two 1 ghtz processors would equal 2 ghtz but you would be wrong as the process of having two completely separate processor sharing the load and exchanging information is more like 1.5 ghtz. though under multi tasking you can tell a definate performance boost.  also only certain operating systems even support a multi cpu setup and even then an application has to be written that takes specific advantage of the second processor. The bulk of these applications were business oriented and few if any games took advantage of this.

this is my current dual processor machine. Its running two Intel Pentium III 1 ghtz cpu’s on windows XP professional. 1.5 gigs of RAM and as for the expansion cards nothing to special, for sound I’m just running a generic paradise beach sound blaster compatible card in a PCI slot and for video I have a Geforce2 MX400  in the AGP slot. the MX400 is not a bad card at all for the early 2000’s era and gives acceptable performance. obviously a much better video and or sound card can be added to this PC to make it an excellent early 2000’s XP machine.

obviously with a second physical CPU on-board your going to be generating more heat so it’s always a good idea to have good ventilation and if you can, a secondary fan nearby to blow that hot air out of the case. Also remember only certain operating systems or OS’s can “see” the second CPU and take advantage of it. The most common OS’s that can be used with a dual CPU system are Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP professional edition, Windows Vista and Windows 7 professional and up. Linux, later versions of OS/2 and several other OS’s also support the dual CPU setup. A computer with two processors running on an unsupported OS such as Windows 98 or 95 will still function but only one CPU will be detected and the PC will run as a single CPU system.

Reasons to have a dual CPU computer?

well, to be honest there’s very little reason to seek out a computer with two physical cpu’s and its mostly a novelty but there are a few reasons.

1) you’re using older business software for some reason designed for an older OS and cannot get it to operate under a newer OS. its unlikely but in this case it will probably run smoother on a dual cpu setup.

2) these boards were generally manufactured for power users and professionals so the boards tend to be of better quality then your run of the mill MB’s and also tend to support higher RAM amounts then other MB’s manufactured around the same time. they make excellent boards to have in an older backup PC running Win 2000, XP professional or even Vista or Win 7 if all you’re doing is web surfing or spreadsheets.

3) If you have a Pentium III based dual CPU PC you can make it into a dual boot system running Windows XP as well as Windows 98 giving you the ability to play more modern games in XP and a large amount of older Windows 95/98 and DOS games under Win98. in XP you get the speed benefit of the extra CPU and under Win98 the CPU is not to fast for many Windows and even some DOS games.

The list of reasons is short but if you can come across one for free or cheap and have the extra space and money they make good nerd conversation pieces and a system properly upgraded with a good sound/video card as well as maxed ram would make a good and reliable windows XP gaming machine.

*UPDATE OCT 22 2012

I recently put together another much better dual CPU PC that I’m adding here

This is a dual CPU PC based off a Tyan S2507T motherboard with 1GB of RAM. the MB has 2 1.4GB Pentium III-S Tualatin CPU’s installed, the last and fastest of the Pentium III family. the 1.4 PIII CPU is more efficient and runs faster then the early Pentium 4 CPU’s that followed it making it a very capable Windows XP Machine, which is the current operating system I have installed. The CPU and other components is also not to insanely fast or exotic that Windows 98 should have any issues so its makes a really nice Windows XP/98 dual boot system.

Nothing very special as far as sound card goes, just a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy which provides overall good and compatible sound.

The Video card I have installed is a card I always wanted to try out. It is an AGP Millinium Matrox G400 MAX. This MAX is the top of the line Matrox card in 1999 and preforms great in windows 98 as well as early XP era. Doing a search on Ebay the cheapest G400 MAX I could find was $43.99, I bought this card on Ebay for $11.00 shipped. If you’re looking for a MAX at that price just search for the common and relatively cheap G400 stock model, some sellers aren’t sure what they have and every once in a while a MAX will get tossed up and sold as a regular G400, the key is to look for cards with the fan on the heatsink as only the MAX were sold with a fan attached. It’s always a possibility that someone slapped a fan on a normal G400 but its doubtful and as in my case worth the risk of purchase for a substantially cheaper MAX card. The MAX runs faster (and hotter) then the stock card and this one comes with 32MB or video RAM. The Matrox cards are known for their excellent 2d performance and image quality and some people even use them under DOS (at the expense of overall game compatibility) because of this reason. The G400 is usually considered the best of the Maxtrox Millinium line and has a few neat features. It can display on two CRT monitors at once via its 2 VGA ports as well as utilize the ability to do environmental mapped bump mapping which is a fancy graphical ability that several games of the time supported.


  1. Even today multi-core cpus are underused, are dual cpu computers faster than single cpu computers?

    • They are better with multitasking under OS’s that support then (Windows XP pro). so for instance if your browsing the web and running a spread sheet. for games they only make a difference if the game supports SMP processing witch the vast majority do not. or if you playing a game and running a spreadsheet or something.

  2. What do you think of Audigy’s sound quality?

    • I think its okay
      . I really like the Audigy 2ZX for a Win98 sound card and I think it sounded good but after XP came out and on board sound became half decent I don’t really bother much with discrete sound cards anymore. Creative didn’t seem to have a ton of competition around the time of the audigy so its hard to compare.

        • Dinis
        • Posted June 20, 2015 at 01:30
        • Permalink

        I’ve bought a long cable to connect my stereo to my laptop and tablet and they sound much worse than my Audigy 1 and 5.1 speakers.

  3. Interesting… what do think what might happen if you tried a professional version of unix on this machine?
    If I remember correctly sun released ports of it’s solaris OS for x86 CPU’s in the late 90’s and a twin PIII setup could be a very good example of professional workstations of that era.

    • I’d expect it to run pretty well. The PIII Tualatins are some pretty powerful CPU’s for the time. I even managed to get that PC running Crysis on low settings with the right GPU. I actually have a SUN workstation i’m planning to do a write up on soon. i’m completely unfamiliar with them though.

      • Oh, hi justin, very sorry for my very, very late reply.
        got a busy life inside and outside the web.
        I think that is really cool that you have a sun system too, although i did not know this until i finally got back to may email, 3am.
        your twin cpu machine alway did look good judging by this blog, so perhaps that is not so surprising.
        you can contact me if you have any questions regarding sun systems, since at the moment i have been tinkering with a sun E250.
        I now have a website at neocities myself, although it is very ”Beta” at the moment.

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