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AMD vs. Intel concerning stability

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January 26, 2002 8:04:03 PM

Hi!

I got wondering, you know, after reading all those reviews comparing the P4 and the Athlon XP. I think that both top models (P4 2.2 and XP 2.0+) are performing quite equally in general, although I know that each of them has got its ups and downs. But, although I am sure that a lot of persons here would like to be discussing about my previous statemant, this is not that topic I am thinking about.
In some of the reviews around the web, there are some sentences that look quite weird to me. From the review of the newest Ali-chipset for the P4 on Tom's Hardware Guide I took the following quote:

<i>"... Its weak RAM performance caused it to stick out like a sore thumb in some of the benchmark disciplines. During the test, however, the board was impressively stable day after day - the reference system didn't crash even once. ..."</i>

What can make this quote make me worry about? Well, it surprises me that it is exceptional that a system keeps up and running for some days in a row under heavy loads. If I were to buy a new system, I would be immensly dissapointed if my computer would go down like once every week. From other reviews I read, I have the impression that system stability also appears to be more of a concern on Athlon systems than it is on P4-systems. Or is that a misconception I have? One very clear example is the video you could download about removing the cooling system from a processor. P4 kept on running, more exactly, it started to walk really slowly while the Athlon went up in smoke. Although this is an extreme example, I can imagine that under less critical situations, mistakes might not lead tot total distruction, but to a system crash, or even apparent, to calculation mistakes. Is this what is the difference between AMD and Intel? Is Intel more concerned about stability while AMD pays less attention to this to be capable of lowering the prices? There must be some explanation for the higher prices, I always thought. Could it be this issue? I actually don't know, and that's why I am asking you guys around here right now. Of course I know that this is not a straightforward question, but I would be quite pleased if anybody could give me an explanation.

Thanx!

Bikeman

More about : amd intel stability

January 26, 2002 8:41:16 PM

Quote:
From other reviews I read, I have the impression that system stability also appears to be more of a concern on Athlon systems than it is on P4-systems. Or is that a misconception I have?

The Athlon CPU itself is quite stable. The platform as a whole gets a couple of points off for stability simply because of the increased risk of getting an unstable motherboard. This is generally not a problem if you get a name-brand motherboard with a decent chipset.

Quote:
One very clear example is the video you could download about removing the cooling system from a processor. P4 kept on running, more exactly, it started to walk really slowly while the Athlon went up in smoke. Although this is an extreme example, I can imagine that under less critical situations, mistakes might not lead tot total distruction, but to a system crash, or even apparent, to calculation mistakes.

Generally, this is a bit of a risk. It's a bit much to expect an Athlon to survive if run without a heatsink, but most of us have <i>never</i> been in such a situation. Having software monitoring (via <A HREF="http://mbm.livewiredev.com/" target="_new">Motherboard Monitor</A>) can cover any other heat situations, though currently nothing will throttle an Athlon's clock speed--software monitoring just does a power-off when the system approaches overheat or fan failure.

Quote:
Is Intel more concerned about stability while AMD pays less attention to this to be capable of lowering the prices?

They're both equally concerned about stability. AMD has to choose its battles, though, simply because it's a much smaller company. AMD doesn't have as much clout as Intel in getting chipset and motherboard manufacturers to uphold the QA level AMD wants, nor does AMD have the resources to keep many of their own chipsets in production.

Generally AMD systems are just as stable as Intel systems with a good motherboard, and thermal protection doesn't have to be a problem if the system is set up correctly.

Quote:
There must be some explanation for the higher prices, I always thought.

Intel costs more not because it's necessarily better, but because Intel is a known brand name. Intel markets themselves left and right to become a household name. AMD tried doing the same thing once (TV commercials et al), but they couldn't handle the increase in marketshare--they sold out of Athlons before they were ready (small company and all that). So they just concentrate on R&D, and the marketshare they already have is enough to keep their stock moving.

<i>If a server crashes in a server farm and no one pings it, does it still cost four figures to fix?
January 26, 2002 8:55:33 PM

Of course stability is more important than speed. If you're a gamer you don't need a really fast CPU anyway, just a solid chipset and a fast video card.

Either system can be perfectly stable but if you go the AMD route you'll need to do more research to make sure you don't end up with instability. You'll need to research the following:

Select a good chipset
Unfortunately there are no perfect choices here. VIA has the worst track record for stability, SiS is good but the motherboards it comes on have quality issues, ALi is stable but may be slow, nForce is unproven, AMD 760 may be your best bet for stability but it doesn't support newer features

Select a solid power supply
Despite the claims that the Pentium 4 uses more power, for some reason Athlons have more issues related to getting adequate power. 300 Watts is an absolute minimum for a fast Athlon, preferably 350. Don't go generic with AMD, get a good brand name like Enermax or Antec or something.

Select a good heatsink/fan and keep the case cool
I'm not an expert on this since I still run a P3 which is fine with poor cooling, but for processors over 1 GHz you'll need to *really* read up on this and buy the proper components. Cooling is the #1 reason for instability and blue screen crashes.

Ritesh
Related resources
January 26, 2002 10:08:18 PM

In the reviews I've seen, the ALi MaGiK 1 revision C seems to be only a few percentage points slower than the KT-266a.

Alcohol- the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -Homer Simpson
January 26, 2002 10:19:55 PM

This is a reasonable post with good questions. It has nothing to do with the CPU though so I would just read up on motherboards and their chipsets. There are a number of good ones out there for both Intel and AMD, but you do have to do your homework when buying an AMD cpu since there are bad chipsets out there as well.

<font color=red>God</font color=red> <font color=blue>Bless</font color=blue> <font color=red>America!</font color=red>
January 26, 2002 10:49:59 PM

ive found alot of times stability is what u make it.

course u have to have a rock stable platform, but beyond that you have to have the right operating system and the know how to fix / bash any glitches or issues it may have.

i.e. alot of computers at work are highly unstable, running Intel chips... cauz they use win95 or 98. even some of the new ones running XP aint that flash hot. Most likely due to a standard install with no tweaking.

my home AMD system is extreemly reliable and stable. family has commented on it. its running win2k. AND is overclocked.
ive just gone to the effort of working out the bugs, and dont tolerate ANY [-peep-] ;) 

The lack of thermal protection on Athlon's is cunning way to stop morons from using AMD. :) 
January 27, 2002 1:48:38 AM

I've had good and bad luck with AMD and with the same system w/ ifferent add ons. I can never understand the statement that it's not AMD it's just he boards. Well the chip is useless without the bouard although I as a keychian it can be a great conversation piece. I own a K7 750 and 1.2 T-Bird. Have a 2.0 w/ 512 cache coming in soon with a Intel mobo. I will see soon if it makes a difference. I puch state of the art to the limit and bought an Audigy and Radeon 8500DV prior to reading seeing realworld stability and compatability. I pay for it too. Hope Intel helps me out. I had to drop my "underdog" pride on this one. Hell I can't even o/c the FSB on this mobo but instead am opting for the "theoretical" stability.

Time will tell. In a about a week I will build once more.

<b><A HREF="http://www.seti.tomshardware.com/" target="_new">How fast is your PC</A></b>
January 27, 2002 1:52:59 AM

My Intel Pentium 233 system at work is quite unstable, crashing during heavy multitasking etc. Unfortunately the causes are obvious and can't be cured: it uses a VIA chipset and is running Windows 95 (we're not allowed to upgrade the corporate standard OS until they say so).
January 27, 2002 3:10:34 AM

What chipset were you using that gave you trouble and what stability problems were you having? Which one was good? That's the whole point of this thread isn't it? A blanket statement isn't going to do any of us any good.

The SIS 735 is rock stable, I can say that from personal experience.

The KT133 never gave me any trouble either.

The biggest problem I tend to have is (was) with Windows, but with XP even that isn't a problem anymore. Besides that I can only blame problems on my own stupidity.

<font color=red>God</font color=red> <font color=blue>Bless</font color=blue> <font color=red>America!</font color=red>
January 27, 2002 3:28:44 AM

Yeah I agree, motherboards are very important when it comes to stability and many people on these boards push amd chips even though there are only a couple of boards for them that come to close to the stability of intel's boards.

<i>Hi I am from Canada, I don't use amd cause they melt my igloo eh.</i>
January 27, 2002 4:34:32 AM

i dunno...
i havnt seen anything to match this iwill kk266-plusR...
even though due to overclocking and an old ide drive I partially fried the IDE controller, it still runs rock stable on 99% of apps.

plus its bloody hot here, mobo temp with excellent case cooling is still 32C. damn hot.

The lack of thermal protection on Athlon's is cunning way to stop morons from using AMD. :) 
January 27, 2002 12:00:32 PM

I haven't had a crash yet with the nForce chipset (MSI K7N420 Pro) and AMD processor that wasn't software related (No crashing under Windows XP!). Easy to set up and is a fast. Pop in the disk to load in the AGP, NIC, and Sound drivers. Reminds me of my Pentium 3/BX system except for overclocking abilities. For goodness sake, don't remove the heatsink with power applied!
!