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I hope you can get a very low price on those CPUs because you're still not going to get much speed with a 1GHz Athlon compared to a modern machine. It's best to think carefully before spending more money on a very old computer. That being said, there's an article here which explains the differences between the two CPUs. Basically it's a choice between a larger, slower, external 512K cache and a smaller, faster, internal 256K cache. The internal one is somewhat faster in most circumstances.

As for whether they would work - I'd call Compaq (HP) to make sure it will accept a 1GHz CPU. Someone went through that process in this thread. Apparently you are more likely to have compatibility problems with the 256K thunderbird than with the older 512K cache CPU. The older 512K CPU is the original design of the slot A Athlon whereas the 256K thunderbird is actually just a newer socket A CPU soldered to a slot A card. The newer thunderbird runs at a slightly lower voltage and has some other differences which sometimes causes problems with motherboards designed for the older 512K CPUs. So unless you can get specific information about compatibility with the 256K thunderbird, the 512K CPU is a safer choice.
 

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I ended up taking a risk and buying the thunderbird 1ghz L2: 256K processor and it works better than I ever imagined. Hard to believe it is only 1 ghz cuz it seems to outperform my P4 1.6ghz processor! Thanks for your help anyways though.
 
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