Live Stress Test Rundown: AMD vs. Intel

Overall Performance

Four applications ran in tandem on both platforms over a period of 14 days. In this case Intel's top model - the Pentium 840 EE - easily outperformed its rival from AMD. The double-core CPU from Intel achieved this result primarily through Hyperthreading - the division of the two physical processors into four virtual CPU units. We knew this to be the case because when the HT function was deactivated, the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ came out on top.

This last finding is more theoretical in nature as Pentium EE systems are always shipped with activated Hyperthreading. It is not possible to say precisely what performance edge this gives AMD because of the different load distribution.

Things look different when a single application is running on both systems: Now it's the turn of the AMD system to deliver the better performance - a huge 30 percent more over the competition from Intel on average.

Stability: Intel With Intel, AMD With NVIDIA

An important topic, particularly in the professional arena, is system stability, and there were a few surprises in store during the stress test. In the Intel system a total of three boards with NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI chipset caused problems. Outages were frequent, and in one case the voltage regulator even blew. Help came in the form of a combination of an Intel CPU with Intel chipset. However, the integrated SLI graphics setup is then unusable.

The end result was that the final configuration is the safest bet - that Intel system worked for 14 days without a hitch. No problems were encountered in the AMD system though, and the nForce4 SLI setup can be considered stable here. The only piece of bad news is that the AMD platform could not be switched off by software after a long period of operation.

At the end of the day, we now know that an Intel Pentium 840 EE must be combined with a board including the Intel 955X chipset. We do not recommend using a board with the nForce4 SLI chipset from NVIDIA.

The AMD platform offers just one choice, which is also very stable: the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ with a board featuring the nForce4 SLI chipset from NVIDIA. The results of our stress test show that the nForce4 SLI chipset is better suited to the AMD platform.