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Is Intel really better for non-gamers?

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April 22, 2007 5:45:04 AM

I've come across the following view in many forums: If you're on a budget, AMD is good for gamers while Intel is better for non-gamers.

Could someone please clarify if this is indeed the case? As far as the benchmarks go, the AMD 5600+ seems to beat the similarly priced C2D E6300 on practically all fronts. Moreover, the AM2 boards seem to be cheaper and more feature-rich.

Btw, please keep in mind I am a non-gamer/non-overclocker. I'm mainly interested in performance for applications like file-compression, encryption, office-applications and photo-editing. On one forum someone wrote in to say that the C2D outperforms the Athlon X2 in photo-editing and video-encoding by a much wider margin than what is presented in most benchmarking sites. Is this a genuine observation, or just an urban legend?

Given a fixed amount of money to spend, doesn't it make more sense to go with AMD regardless of whether one is a gamer or not?

More about : intel gamers

April 22, 2007 5:53:39 AM

Intel has just cut their prices (here in Australia anyway, Yankees are half a day behind :p ) and the price performance curve is right in line with AMDs X2 lineup.
http://xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/dualcore-round...

AMD's official prices have been updated and are slightly higher than listed in the article, so if anything Intel is the slightly better value CPU wise. In terms of platform price, AM2 has the advantage in motherboard price as you indicated.

However, C2D runs much better with lower spec DDR2-533/DDR2-667 RAM than AM2 does. AM2 suffers a 5 - 10% performance hit from each memory speed grade, C2D only 1 - 2%. So you can save a bit on the memory on a C2D with negligible performance loss. This is not possible on AM2, only DDR2-800 should be considered.
http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=2800&p=7
Luckily, DDR2 prices have come down dramatically in the past few months and this is not as big an issue as it was 6 months ago. Still something to consider nonetheless when factoring in the total cost of ownership.

As for photo editing and video encoding, it depends on the application, but generally Intel is a bit faster at the same pricepoint, probably due to more powerful SSE units in the uarch.
http://xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/dualcore-round...

So, to answer your question: Is Intel really better for non-gamers?

I would say, generally, but not always. There are certain applications that perform better on the X2 platform (like cryptography and scientific applications that rely on pure FPU power) but in general Intel has the edge in performance.

If anything, I'd say Intel probably has more of an edge at non gaming applications because gaming is often constrained by the performance of the GPU, not the CPU. In most games, the GPU is responsible for 80% of the overall performance, the CPU only 20%. Yes, there are certain game genres such as flight simulators and real time strategy (RTS) that are more CPU bound, and in such cases C2D can be up to 40% faster clock for clock if there is no GPU limitation in the framerate.
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a c 86 à CPUs
a b À AMD
April 22, 2007 6:28:25 AM

AMD and Intel are both CPU companies, not chips. To compare them is kinda stupid. The question should be, I have X amount of funds, and can buy either the X AMD chip, or the Y chip from Intel. Which would allow (insert measurable stat here)?

Here the "problem" with intel. Their C2D is priced to "high" for some users. Not everyone drops $200 on a CPU. Before my last build, I could only afford to spend $75 on a CPU. Looking at my options, I went with a S754 Sempron. (this was some years ago now.) The only chips Intel has in the low end market are the P4s that most people dislike. Intel is comming out with new low priced chips (they might even be here), so this "problem" is disappearing.
April 22, 2007 6:29:00 AM

Thanks a lot Epsilon84. The anandtech article about memory speeds was quite a revelation! I think this explains why some people see a wider performance difference between C2D and Athlon X2 than what the benchmarks show. I'm assuming the benchmarkers would never use a DD2-533 as many budget consumers would be.
April 22, 2007 6:40:56 AM

Yeah, some less tech-savvy people don't realise that AM2 is very sensitive to memory speeds.

Thankfully, DDR2-800 prices have dropped a lot in recent months :D , and is now only a bit more expensive than DDR2-667. Anybody considering an AM2 system should use no less than DDR2-800 unless on a very tight budget, in which case DDR2-667 would have to suffice, but with said performance penalty.

I think in lieu of Intel's latest pricecuts, AM2 has been reduced to a budget platform, for now. Under $200 they are still competitive with Intel in price/performance, but high end is all Intel until AMD shows its cards on K10.
April 22, 2007 6:58:04 AM

Quote:
Thanks a lot Epsilon84. The anandtech article about memory speeds was quite a revelation! I think this explains why some people see a wider performance difference between C2D and Athlon X2 than what the benchmarks show. I'm assuming the benchmarkers would never use a DD2-533 as many budget consumers would be.


http://www.behardware.com/articles/623-10/intel-core-2-...

There ya go, that's another article that shows the impact of memory speed on K8-AM2 / C2D performance
April 22, 2007 1:27:25 PM

If you're on a budget, why would you be comparing $180 CPUs?
April 22, 2007 3:08:57 PM

Celery vs Sempr0n ftw!

Seriously, anyone on a budget should look no further than the X2 3600+. Nothing beats it for the price.
April 22, 2007 4:32:25 PM

Well, for non-overclockers, AMD has an equal or slightly better price for the same performance, up to about $230 so for these people and this price range, I'd be more keen on recommending AMD but anything above that, they simply don't have anything to match Intel in performance for the moment and neither do AMD chips clock past 3.0-3.1GHz like Core2s do. So this the situation now.
April 23, 2007 1:45:18 AM

April 23, 2007 4:13:55 AM

Sorry, my bad. I should have been more specific. I didn't mean "budget" as in the lowest possible price. I only meant budget as in "limited wallet, so looking for VFM".

No, I wouldn't be using the PC only to surf the web... so indeed, I am excited by the kind of performance the E6600s are offering. I recently came across this
article which showed the X2 5600+ coming pretty close to the E6600 in some benchmarks while costing about $35 less. Apparently its idle power consumption is lower than the E6600's too. Add to that the savings on the cheaper AM2 motherboards.

but as Epsilon84 said, I would have to factor in the cost of high end memory if I decide to go with AMD.
a c 86 à CPUs
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April 23, 2007 6:44:31 PM

I don't follow intel that close. I know the 4300 used to be priced at the $170ish range. As I said, if your only dropping $75 on a CPU, this limits you to AMD, as Intel doesn't have any good $75 CPUs.
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