After reading scads of info I've come to the conclusion that many ,if not most, of the AMD heatsink/overheating issues have to do with two things; (1) not a good enough hsf and (2) overclocking. Am I right in my assumptions? I have no intention of overclocking , so should I not worry about my AMD fryin? Many of my co-workers who are puter-techies say Intel all the way, but I keep reading posts from this board and a few others who recommend AMD. I see many a posters with an AMD system in their sig=).
And, I hear the VIA chipsets now are somewhat 'bug' free. Is this truely the case? Are there new chipsets comming out in the next month or so that will offer more reliability or compatability?
I felt exactly like you when I was debating whether or not I should go for building a computer, even though I had no clue. I don't think you have anything to worry about if you're careful during installation, finding a heatsink that will match your needs, and practical. The only reason why Intel might be better is because if it gets too hot, it will shut down. AMD processors won't do that. But, AMD processors have good price/performance ratio.
That said, I know that VIA chipsets are supposedly brutal. I'm not sure about that, because my system is fine. I'm running an Asus A7V133, and I haven't had any problems. But, it might be due to the types for applications I run (not so intensive). I'm not sure about it, though. All I know is that my system's running fine. Probably because of all the overkill...
I hear that there's gonna be a new chipset coming out: the KT266A. It's supposed to be really good.
Anyways, if you're careful enough, I'm practically certain you have nothing to worry about.
Most problems people encounter with Athlons and overheating problems are due to
b) Using a poor quality HeatSink/Fan
c) Poor case ventilation
d) All of the above
One should not expect to be able to overclock a 1.4ghz Athlon using an Aluminum heatsink, a low RPM fan and no case fans. AMD platforms are very inexpensive, but there are a few ways to avoid getting burnt, and I mean that literally and figuratively
1.) Research your heatsink selection. Currently I'd recommend the Millenium Glaciator for price/performance/quiet factor. For about 35 dollars you get top notch cooling performance and without the infamous Delta whine. Use a thermal paste instead of a thermal tape for the best contact. Low performance aluminum heatsinks with thermal pads = very high temps.
2.) Install two to three case fans. Always have more exhaust than intake. A slot fan for your AGP card is helpful too.
3.) Don't try to OC your Athlon too far with air cooling. High OCing demands high cooling performance. Upping your voltage past 2.0 with only air cooling is just an invitation for disaster.
As far as VIA is concerned, I've never encountered problems with their products with both Intel and AMD. A few people around here have VIA horror stories, but no one I know has ever had any such experience with VIA. VIA's newest chipset revision for the Athlon also looks to be the fastest available, while also remaining quite affordable. I wouldn't recommend VIA for a server, but they're perfect for the desktop.
Buy yourself an Athlon... with a little foresight and research you can avoid getting a crappy heatsink or having ineffective case airflow. Intel is still not at the pricepoint where I would consider the P4 an attractive buy, although they're starting to close in on it. Until then, the Athlon is indisputably the best buy in terms of performance/price. It just takes a little know-how and necessary precautions to avoid heat issues. And knowing is half the battle
"Laziness is a talent to be cultivated like any other" - Walter Slovotsky