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AMD/VIA incompatabilites

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January 31, 2001 4:54:14 PM

I've been browsing through articles looking for the reports of hardware incompatabilities, heat issues, HSF issues, patch issues. What I've found are dozens of REFERENCES to these posts, but apparently they've filtered out my access to them because the overwhelming reports of first hand experiences just aren't showing up. I am finding lots of "I bought Intel because I heard about AMD's [insert imagined issue here] problems" and "Haven't you seen the [insert rediculous number here] posts about the [insert imagined issue here]" I've build two Athlon systems now, and encountered no problems with either one. Both machines are still making their owners very happy. Neither is overclocked, neither is running hot, neither is having issues.

Most of the heat issues I've seen are first time overclockers trying to get their Duron 600 to hit 1GHz. They do this because there are lots of users that do successfully overclock their Durons significantly, and the processors are so cheap that you don't lose much if you fail. They fail because they don't know what they're doing, in the same way you used to hear a lot of Celeron users complaining about fragged CPUs.

A thermal sensor on the motherboard works just as well as one in the CPU. Most newer motherboards come with a drivers CD in my experience. An AMD CPU running at spec does not generate dangerous heat. Whether it is excessive is purely a matter of opinions, but if a standard HSF solution prevents it from burning up, it isn't excessive.

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January 31, 2001 5:21:41 PM

That's all well and good that YOU don't have any problems with AMD/VIA.

I however have have happened to experience a few first and second hand. (By second hand I mean providing first-hand assistance to someone who was going nuts when their computer ran into a problem.)

Case 1:
Innocent uncle purchases Athlon system from OEM. System arrives and he puts it together, plugs it in, and fires it up. System boots up lasting somewhere between one and five minutes before crashing. He can't get the system to boot up thereafter.

Uncle calls me. I come over to help. I try booting up with no luck. I open case. I notice that the heat sink is no longer perfectly seated against Athlon CPU. Guess what that means? Dead CPU that overheated.

Luckily we were able to convince OEM that system was either inproperly set up or damaged during shipping. OEM and shipping agency get to work out who foots the bill as it gets sent back and this time uncle has me actually check the new system BEFORE booting it up.

Case 2:
Cousin has old P2-400 and wants to upgrade with a faster CPU. Cousin gets P3-800 CPU and VIA motherboard. He then exchanges the hardware around so that new mobo and CPU are using old case, power supply, cards, monitor, etc. System constantly crashes. Cousin calls me.

I help cousin diagnose the problem. We found that when running a PCI video card the system worked fine, but when using an AGP video card the system would crash during ANY 3D graphics operations. We tried updating every driver under the sun. Still no luck.

Cousin later replaced VIA mobo with i815 mobo and has had no problems since, even when using AGP graphics cards.

Case 3:
I myself am using a P3-750 with VIA mobo at work, running Win2K. I have a Matrox Millenium G400 AGP video card. Every so often while running VC++ something goes nuts and the system locks up with the most amazing funky screen display you'll ever see. I thought it was the G400. Then I notice MS help article on how Win2k, G400, and VIA seem to not get along together.

Case conclusion:
Yes, two of the three problems are with VIA and not with AMD. But the fact is that some AMD/VIA systems do have problems that Intel/Intel systems do not have. In any of the above three cases had the systems been using an Intel chipset motherboard combined an Intel CPU they would have either been entirely avoided or easily fixable.

And this is why I reccomend Intel/Intel to new and inexperienced computer users and reccomend AMD only to people who sound like they can deal with a headache IF one comes up.

So right here are THREE cases for you to consider. They aren't made up. They aren't stupid user problems. They're legit hardware issues that involve VIA or AMD.

AND they also prove that just because you have an Intel chip doesn't mean that your VIA motherboard is going to work any better than it would had your chip been an AMD.

If AMD were smart enough to ditch VIA and make their own motherboard chipsets, I'd be a LOT more inclined to suggest AMD systems to people.

- Sanity is purely based on point-of-view.
January 31, 2001 5:53:21 PM

re: Case 1
We had a pII system, slot CPU, that we had to send back to a vendor to get some proprietary software repaired. When we got the box back, the CPU had fallen completely out of the slot becuase there were NO locking mechanisms on the card or motherboard. The CPU somehow survived being tossed around the case during shipping, probably due to its plastic housing, but needless to say locking a CPU into place is not even close to an AMD specific issue. It could just as easily have been a pIII as an Athlon. They both use the same mechanisms to hold the CPU/HSF in place.

re: Case 3
Matrox has notoriously shoddy cards. We had to replace a dozen or so Matrox AGP video cards with ATI alternatives because any time you closed a FoxPro window on any of these Compaq machines, instant BSoD. Driver updates did not resolve the issue. These were all Pentium II systems.

Many of the problems I do hear about with AMD systems on VIA chipsets are from a while back, when the Athlon chipsets were new. I haven't heard nearly as many issues now that their chipsets have had a chance to mature.

I still recommend Athlon or Duron systems to my friends and family. I just make sure I do my research to insure they choose a motherboard/chipset without these issues, like an Asus or Abit board.
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January 31, 2001 6:00:13 PM

<b>I notice that the heat sink is no longer perfectly seated against Athlon CPU. Guess what that means? Dead CPU that overheated.</b>
So... Does it have anything to do with AMD or VIA???
January 31, 2001 6:08:02 PM

I totally agree with Sojourn. I have also built 2 Duron systems, K6-3 systems, even a P3 system. I have not had these so called VIA/AMD problems at all, nor have I ever had a problem seating the HSF on the CPU. If anything, the Duron installs went surprisingly smoothly. My bro's P3 system continues to piss me off however, but that is another story.

Jon
"Water-Cooled CPU Runner"
January 31, 2001 6:13:09 PM

Yes, this had EVERYTHING to do with AMD.

Why?

Simple. Had it been an Intel chip, it would have had a thermal sensor so that the chip would have shut itself off before burning itself out.

I could have easily reseated the heatsink on the chip and violla: a working computer.

HOWEVER, because it was an AMD chip, it had no thermal protection. And thus the chip burned itself out when the system was powered up.

Yes, I know. You can put the blame all that you want on the shipping department or on the OEM for not using a motherboard that had a thermal sensor on it.

But in the end, you can't fail to admit that had AMD put thermal protection in their chips, I could have fixed his system and had it up and running in minutes instead of having to ship it back to the company and waiting for them to ship him another one. So it IS an AMD problem.

And as for trying to put the blame on Matrox for problems with their G400 card, I'd like to point out that everyone in my office using an i815 motherboard from the computers that were upgraded after mine have absolutely no problems with their G400 card. It's clearly NOT Matrox's fault, but instead VIA's as I've had this card in my system tested twice AND replaced with another G400. I've also updated the drivers repeatedly for both the video card and the motherboard.

And IF I could get rid of the G400, I would. But as my company ships systems to it's customers using the G400 cards, the engineers all have to use them as well to ensure compatability and for problem/bug report diagnosis.

- Sanity is purely based on point-of-view.
January 31, 2001 6:50:39 PM

I'm not saying that some people can put entire AMD systems together without ever seeing a problem.

I'm not saying that AMD is bad.

Personally, I think that for using today's software (and unoptimized software), the 1.2GHz AMD system is the fastest that you can buy. And AMD does deserve praise for that.

But that ISN'T the issue here.

The issue is: Do some people have problems with AMD or VIA products? And the answer is, without any hesitation, YES.

SOME people do have problems.

MOST of the problems are with VIA chipset motherboards.

But because 99.9% of the AMD complete systems are shipped with VIA chipset motherboards, this means that 99.9% of the people who own AMD systems HAVE THE POTENTIAL to run into a hardware problem.

Not every AMD system will run into this problem.

But for people using an Intel system with an Intel chipset motherboard, those problems never even come up. You don't hear about an AGP card not working in an i815 motherboard. You don't hear about a PCI card not working in an i815 motherboard.

So do you specifically have problems with your AMD system? Maybe not, and maybe not ever. Do other people? Yes.

Just because YOUR system works doesn't mean that EVERYONE'S works.

And you really have to be blind and closed-minded to not be able to accept that VIA has served to drag AMD's name through the mud.

- Sanity is purely based on point-of-view.
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