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Update: AMD or Intel

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December 23, 2000 3:49:32 PM

Around Dec 16th I asked for advice on which platform my next upgrade should be. The results (from a few forums) were about 10 to 1 in favor of AMD. Thanks to all who responded, even those who were a "little" emotional about which cpu.

I ended up purchasing a Thunderbird 900, and an Abit KT7-RAID motherboard. All AMD approved components (power supply and cpu cooling fan).

My experience may prove interesting to others who are undecided about which platform. I don't plan on starting a war, just answering those who responded to me.

I purchased a "barebones" system consisting of the case, motherboard, cpu, floppy, and memory. The cost of the barebones was less then the sum of the components. I added a GForce MX, modem, NIC card, and Sound Blaster Live.

Windows installed without a hitch. Paranoid about CPU temp, I found that at idle the CPU was at 30 degrees C (covers off). The 4 in 1 drivers that came with the board installed easily, and all drivers were installed for the peripherals. CPU temp now at 38 degrees. For my stability test, I decided to run the UNREAL FLYBY. Locked solid after 3 minutes. Rebooted, and downloaded the latest 4 in 1 drivers from VIA, and tried again. Locked solid after 15 minutes. So, I reinstalled the 4 in 1 drivers again, but this time did not use the default "TURBO" AGP mode, using "STANDARD" instead. Unreal ran perfectly (3 hours). At this time I checked the CPU temp, which was 42 degrees. I then let Unreal flyby run for 24 hours, no problems.

All my software was reinstalled (many games, Visual Studio 6.0 professional, graphic editors), and found no compatibility problems what so ever.

I placed the covers on the case, and monitored the CPU temperature. Idle temp rose to 42 degrees! My case has a 3 inch fan blowing into the case, but only has the power supply fan as an exhaust. This is not enough! I removed the case cover, and the temp when back to 30 degrees in about 1 minute. Running Unreal for a half hour with the case on showed the temp at 50 degrees. Too hot in my opinion. Removing the cover cooled it to 42 degrees in about 1 minute. Airflow is vital. I will add an exhaust fan to the case.

So, which platform do I recommend? I have built 9 computers over the past years, 6 Intel, and 3 Cyrix. They all "plugged" together, and worked like a charm. The Thunderbird was a little different, requiring proper motherboard drivers and tweaking. I have never had to test an Intel computer for 3 days to be sure that it was stable.

From my experience, if you are looking to buy a computer that will work out of the box with no tweaking, then buy an Intel processor with an Intel chipset.

If you are a hobbist (like me), then go AMD. There is a lot to tweak, and once you have it stable, it is a rock. Had I gone with Intel, I would have missed out on all the fun getting the system running well.

I would throw caution to the wind if you plan on buying an assembled AMD PC. Be sure the vendor knows how to build one. I saw many internet stores selling bargin AMD systems, with 235 watt supplies! God knows what they are using to keep the processor cool. Will they install the latest motherboard drivers and set it up to be stable? I doubt it.

A couple of things pushed me to AMD. One was price/performance. I made a budget for myself, and AMD gave me more bang for the buck. The system I have now can be upgraded to 1.5 G (when/if these Tbirds become available). Vaporware rumors say these new Tbirds will not require any active cooling. We will see.

Had I gone with a Pentium III, there is no upgrade path. The P3 is topped out at 1 G. My own feeling is that a 1 G P3 is nothing more then a 733 overclocked by Intel (no disrespect intended, let's not start a war). To upgrade from a P3 to a P4 will require a new motherboard and RAM, perhaps a case as well.

My Tbird 900 has been running (covers off, didn't get an exhaust fan yet) for 5 consecutive days. Not a burp. Stable as a rock. In a couple of weeks I'll start to play with BIOS settings to see if improvements can be made.

Thanks to all who responded! Any comments on BIOS settings?

More about : update amd intel

Anonymous
a b à CPUs
December 23, 2000 6:34:58 PM

KT7 FAQ: <A HREF="http://go.to/kt7faq" target="_new">http://go.to/kt7faq&lt;/A>

RAID Setup by the same guy who does the FAQ: <A HREF="http://www.apushardware.com/?action=articles&id=22" target="_new">http://www.apushardware.com/?action=articles&id=22&lt;/A>

BIOS Tweaks: <A HREF="http://www.athlonoc.com/KT7tweakGuide1.htm" target="_new">http://www.athlonoc.com/KT7tweakGuide1.htm&lt;/A>

A voltage mod article: <A HREF="http://www.vr-zone.com/Home/news59/news59.htm#904" target="_new">http://www.vr-zone.com/Home/news59/news59.htm#904&lt;/A>

I haven't tried much of this stuff, esp. the voltage mod.

Mike
a b à CPUs
December 23, 2000 8:33:36 PM

Yeh, my PIII system is boring from the assembly viewpoint. I put it together without a hitch, and it never crashes. In a way I regret giving up on my AMD system, because it was a lot more challenging-crashes, lockups, driver compatablity issues-but at least I don't have to worry about loosing any information in my PIII from crashes the way I did with my AMD!
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Anonymous
a b à CPUs
December 23, 2000 11:24:37 PM

I found that two, you pull your hair out for two or three days, but once you get an Athlon system stable it doesn't crash, PERIOD. (Minus to desktop software bugs of course.) And you do have to turn off AGP x4 (lost: .3FPS). Unless you have a Voodoo which doesn't support AGP in the first place.

The Intel PII 266\BX system I had froze daily.

Oh, and did I mention I got an Athlon 750MHz plus a top of the line Abit KA7 for less then a PIII 700MHz would have cost me?

I AM Canadian.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
December 24, 2000 12:21:29 AM

Do Athlon processors not work well with a video card's 4X AGP ability enabled? Or were you talking about some specific motherboard that doesn't support it? Because I'm about to build a system with a 1.1Ghz Athlon T-Bird processor and I hate to think I couldn't enable 4X AGP with my GeForce 2.
a b à CPUs
December 24, 2000 2:00:03 AM

Maybe things are more expensive for Canandians. Pricewatch shows a PIII 700 for just $50 more than an Athlon 750!
December 24, 2000 3:05:53 AM

Yeah, but can I overclock the PIII to 950 first try without a hitch, and pick up a board with ATA100 raid support for only 200 CDN more?

According to SiSoft Sandra, my Duron 750@950 is beating the PIII 1GHz. What is the price difference between the Duron 750 and the PIII 1GHz?

I am not trying to say AMD whoops Intel in the chip market. If I were purchasing 30 workstations, I would definately go with Intel processors. As was stated here, they tend to work right out of the box. And when purchasing that many workstations, the price increase is not near as much as the labor costs of having me jack with the things for 2 weeks. :) 

On the other side of things, I don't see any reason why a home user would purchase an Intel over an AMD. Price/preformance is way better with AMD (especially if you overclock) and truthfully, the intructions on all that tweaking are good enough that anyone could get one working. Nevermind the fact that my Duron 750 ran perfectly with very little playing with drivers. I just installed the 4in1 drivers the other day, and was debating whether to install them at all, as things were working perfectly well without them. Even overclocking the processor worked like a champ after the first try. 9.5x100 with the voltage pumped up 0.2v. And as for heat, ovreclocked as it is, I have only seen it hit 41C (under 100% processor load for 3 hours) once.
December 24, 2000 3:41:46 AM

I had no problems with AGP 4X. The trouble I had was with the default value of the VIA AGP driver during driver installation. It gives you 2 choices on installation, TURBO or STANDARD. Turbo is the default, and did not work for me.

By the way, I am building another machine for my brother. It will be an Intel.
a b à CPUs
December 24, 2000 4:02:05 AM

Try taking it up to 975@150MHZ bus speed! That's what you can do with a PIII 650 for only $136 and you don't have to modify it! Now think about what all that extra bus speed could do for your performance. Now, on the 700, you can run 933 at a standard 133mhz bus speed, no heat problems, no overclocked PCI buses, no problems whatsoever really. And the memory performance too.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
December 24, 2000 5:58:41 AM

I set up my amd system several months ago and I have had no problems what so ever. No problems setting it up either.

The intel system I built before that was a solid rig also.

My suggestion is that before anyone builds a system that they do their research. I researched my intel system before I built it and my amd system.

I disagree that amd's are poor for purchases by IT departments. Usually the heads of IT departments are smart enough to buy computers from a reputable box maker. If they buy from a poor quality outfit they get burned- Period. I don't see that it has anything to do with the processor.

Unless their are some real issues with the processor/mobo. For example the IT department for my cities utility bought a whole shitload of Intel boxes with the i820 boards(from a reputable outfit) and they got a whole lot more grief than they bargained for.

I hate it when IT department heads become complacent and DON'T DO THEIR RESEARCH.
December 24, 2000 6:44:46 AM

Well, you will always run into problems from time to time with any mobo/processor combo.

At least with Intel you can get P4 1.5gig with onboard sound and video (or maybe Fire GL), and you will have great preformance for CAD and office apps. In the workstation field, cost is very much not an issue (unless you are talking about a small business). I know when you are paying an engineer 50 bucks an hour, the quicker and more reliably the processor runs, the more money you save, even if the processor costs 3 times more than it's competition for a 10% speed increase and more stability.

Also, most larger companies have IT departments dedicated to writing in house software, so they are not reliant on 3rd party SSE support.
December 24, 2000 1:49:21 PM

I am using the AGP 4x. No problems. It was the TURBO mode on the VIA 4 in 1 AGP driver that had to be switched to STANDARD.

By the way, I will be building another PC for my brother. This one will be Intel.
December 25, 2000 5:52:58 PM

Alot of the problems you encountered have nothing or very little to do with AMD, moreover they have to do with VIA, so lets get that straight for starters. But, alas, if you are using AMD chances are you will also be using VIA so for purposes of debate they, in this case, are synomous. Stable out of the box is a bit of a misnomer, and it strictly dependent on the OS of choice, I imagine in this case Winblows. What we have here is a classic case of an OS supplying better more compatable drivers for series "A" chipset then Series "B" chipset. This is were the tinkering around with the AMD systems comes into place. Let it also be noted that quality components seldom, if ever, are obtained by purchasing barebones components. Many manufactorer's, In a rush to put out budget systems really scrimp on quality components and thus sacrifice system stability as a trade off. AMD exspecially gets a bad rap from this practice. If you wish to compare an $200 AMD CPU to a $275.00 Intel CPU be fair about it and put them both in a quality motherboard in the same price range otherwise the whole test is rather pointless. Myself I have both and amd system (p3 750 @825) and an athlon (clasic) system ( 950@1022), both are stable as rocks, the athlon cost less, and out performs the p3. Is the p3 junk? Heck no! But is it worth the extra money? Heck no again.

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing!
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
December 26, 2000 8:54:22 PM

I wonder if those American/non-Canadian people out there wonder why we always put that little line in in our comments?

My name is Steve, AND I AM CANADIAN!
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
December 26, 2000 8:58:15 PM

We have a $80-$110(cdn) difference between Athlon-750 and P3-700, plus 15% tax, you do the math.

My name is Steve, AND I AM CANADIAN
December 27, 2000 12:34:01 AM

Yeah, the tax is a killer ain't it? :/ 
!