AMD or Intel?

I went to BestBuy tonight and the salesperson was trying to convince us that AMD (64 Athlon x2) processors were better, and faster than the Intel Pentium 4 630 one that we were interested in buying. However, the computer with the AMD processor was also more expensive. I just got home, and went online to check it out on, the amd website, and theintel website, and the amd 64 athlon x2 is only 2 GHz while the pentium 4 630 is 3 GHz. So what is wrong with this picture? Also, the sales rep. told us that all the computers only came with a two-month trial of Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel and Powerpoint), and that after the two months we’d have to pay to renew service, which I find to be rediculous and hard to believe. So my question to you is this, Which is better and faster, an AMD Athlon 64 x2, or intel Pentium 4 630?

The clock speeds don’t mean crap between brands.

Here’s a comparison chart:

That’s grossly oversimplifying it; the type of work being performed by the processor has a lot to do with actual performance. Some tasks are closely bound to clock speed, others benefit from faster memory access, etc… (P4s have high clock speed, A64s have fast memory access, because of their respective architectures.)

In your case, you might as well pick up a lesser Athlon 64 (not necessarily a dual-core x2, though), for the same cost as the Intel P4 630 (which is a single-core model). Assuming that you’re doing typical things like games, an Athlon 64 will usually be better for the task. In fact, if you’re just doing word-processing and internet browsing, speed is essentially irrelevant, because the computer isn’t under any significant load, most of the time (right now, my processor usage is less than 2%).

As for dual- vs. single-core, it depends on how you’ll use it; games tend to be singlethreaded, while multithreadedness is generally reserved for professional software*. This refers to the ability of the program to dish out parallel tasks for a multiprocessor system; a single multithreaded program can execute tasks on several cores at once, while a single singlethreaded program can only take advantage of one core at a time. Multiple singlethreaded programs, (i.e. multitasking) can, however, make use of several cores (if the OS supports it, which XP Pro does, and XP Home should, for dual-core, but not dual-processor installations); if you intend to do two computationally-intensive tasks at once, dual cores will permit this, provided that they’re from a multithreaded program, or from separate programs. For this reason, it may be better to buy the best single-core processor that you can afford, rather than the newer dual-core.

Assuming your usage pattern is pretty typical, an Athlon 64 (single-core) 3800+ would probably be reasonable. The salesman is correct in saying that the A64 x2 would be a better performer, but he’s on commission, so it’s to his advantage to make that known.

As for Office, don’t pay for it now, if you can afford to wait until the next version (creatively code-named “Office 12”), which ought to be out some time next year. There’s a complete user-interface re-work underway, and from what I’ve seen of it, it actually looks rather good.

*There are exceptions; for example the flight simulator Falcon 4.0 (dating from 1998 or so) is multithreaded, but that, and (I think) some builds of Quake III are pretty much the only multithreaded games of any consequence. Conversely, Pro/ENGINEER is not multithreaded (on x86, at least—but it is multithreaded on SPARC), despite being firmly in the “professional software” category.

That chart completely glosses over the differences between single-core and multicore systems. The only way that you could assume those sorts of numbers, would be if everyone was always using multiple programs or multithreaded programs. Obviously, that’s not the case. In fact, the comparisons between Mac and PC hardware are quite laughable—he’s just completely wrong when it comes to his assessment of the PPC G5’s capabilities versus an Athlon, P4 or P-M. In fact, the most glaring error is right there at the top of the chart. He conflates dual dual-core G5s and dual dual-core Xeons with a supposed P4 equivalent of 6.5 GHz—this is utterly meaningless.

<pssst…> They use the same supplier(s) to make thier chip testing equipment… (trust me) so I’m guessing that both companies have the same exact chip, it’s just who can put theirs to production faster, and make a cooler name for it. MMX/Athalon, etc, etc…

AMD, period. :wink:

Seriously though, ever since I heard from The Screen Savers (TechTV a couple years back or more. I miss them, sniffle) that AMDs were overall better, and having 2 AMD computers in my house, I can compare them to the pentiums at my high school and the AMDs at home are definitely better.

I also find that it doesn’t matter what generation processor it is, AMD is just better.

Finally, I believe the reason why the salesperson may have been telling you that the AMDs were better is because Intel recently faced lawsuit from AMD because of some unlawful practice. I think it was unfair advertising, monopolizing, or something to the effect where AMD was just pushed out of view of potential buyers.


PS: this is not to be mistaken as an advertisement for AMD.

Intel is far superior to AMD. Your purchase will allow me to make more money from stock.

P.S. This should not be taken as an unbiased assesment of processor capabilities.

Definitly go with the AMD. As said before you can’t just look at the overall speed. AMDs are more expensive, however, which is what the lawsuit is about (indirectly). AMD is saying that Pentium has a monopoly on the market and companies are not giving consumers a chance to choose whether they want to use AMD or Intel.

I agree the dual core is a little over board. I recently bought a Athlon 64 2800+ and it runs everything perfectly - and stays rather cool too (37 deg. Celsius).

Also the companies don’t have the same chips - the architecture is very different. Ever notice that Intel usually comes out w/ new technology first? That’s cause they just add on to their existing chips. AMD tends to start new projects from scratch, totally redesigning their architecture - creating a simpler, more efficent chip which helps it run “better” even though its slower.

And yes I know my opinion is mixed in there. I’d go with a AMD Athlon 64 (but not the x2 unless you’re doing high end “professional” stuff).

Or, you could just skip paying altogether with :stuck_out_tongue:

It was an antitrust issue. IIRC, the gist of it was Intel “encouraging” retailers to not stock computers with AMD processors.

Anyhow, my experience with AMD vs. Intel is that AMD is a bit more expensive, but AMD also performs better. Though if you’re on a budget, a 3GHz P4 could be right up your alley.

As far a Office goes, get the student version at a college or online. I know it is at least half price.

If your not a student then you should be, go back to school and quit playing those video games. LOL Then you can afford to buy a really fast processor.

For the single core systems, it boils down to what you are doing, but don’t forget that RAM can often make a bigger impact on performance than a minor CPU difference. That said, I’d use AMD. Intel tends to overheat more than an AMD chip will. Also, if you are a eco person AMD is even better due to slightly lower power usage. But, tell us what you do on your computer, for gaming AMD whops Intel, but multi-taskin HT often gives a benefit. But don’t be fooled by HT, although it helps when using multiple different apps, it also runs some things a lot slower. As for dual versus one core, remember that you can dedicate all your background processes to one core and use the other for other things. My recommendation, for gaming either an X2 of a high end single core Athlon, word processing a lower end AMD, multitasking, sadly, Intel Pentium D HT.

AMD they have been doing 64 bit longer not to mention the amount of work that is done each CPU cycle is far greater than intel.

With an AMD to front side bus or the speed at which everything on the computer talks to each other is 2000 Mhz wheras it is i think 800 Mhz on the intel, all the components on an amd system are faster by nature and everything is faster not just the processor also with the AMD a lower clock clock multiplier is better because that creates heat and a bottle neck inside the CPU because in intel chips the info is sent to the chip at a slower rate, sped up and processed quickly then sent out more slowly again vs. AMD its sent in quickly processed at the same speed and sent right back out

No, Intel’s Itanium (IA-64 architecture—different from x86) dates to 2001; and in any case, x86-64 is based very heavily on the existing x86 standards. Being first by a few months wasn’t a big deal, in terms of the learning curve.

Not really, it’s got more to do with the number of steps that have to be executed to do a task; for a Pentium 4—and this only applies to the NetBurst architecture, not the P6*—it might be more accurate to say that it does more work, less efficiently, to achieve the same result.

The Athlon64 doesn’t actually have a front-side bus; the memory controller is on the processor die, so it doesn’t have to run through the motherboard to a separate chip. This, however, necessitates some changes in architecture, like moving the peripherals to a separate chip (which is, however, still served by a relatively fast data bus). In either case, it’s not usually the bus, but rather the processor pipeline itself that is the bottleneck; this is especially true on a NetBurst processor, where the pipeline can be (I believe) up to 28 stages, versus around 16 (again, a ballpark figure) for an Athlon64. Though you can’t predict performance solely based upon the ratios of pipeline lengths, it is a significant factor when dealing with the out-of-order execution and branch prediction routines (which basically try to optimize the execution of instructions, based on the available CPU resources); especially with the Prescott-core Pentium 4s, a bad choice in these routines will cause the processor to wait at inopportune times (while it backtracks, to correct the bad prediction), leading to poor performance under some circumstances. Actually, the branch prediction routines are very good on the Pentium 4, so this situation isn’t necessarily typical.

By the way, the Pentium 4 will generally use a FSB of 400, 533, 800 or 1066 MHz, depending on the processor. Each of these is known as a “quad-pumped” FSB, where the actual frequency is one quarter of the listed speed, but data is transferred over the bus four times per clock cycle. It’s technically more correct to refer to them as 100, 133, 200 and 266 MHz quad-pumped FSBs (but that just confuses people). The Athlon64 uses a double-pumped HyperTransport bus between multiple processors, and in some implementations (like nForce 4), between chips.

*NetBurst (or, unofficially, P7 or 786) is the name of the Pentium 4’s architecture. P6 (unofficially, 686) is the name of the previous generation of CPU core architecture, found on the Pentium Pro, the Pentium II (including Pentium II Xeons), Pentium III (including Pentium III Xeons) and the Pentium Mobile.

I recently put together my computer. In doing so, I had to chose between an AMD based or Intel Based system. I ended up using an AMD Athlon 64 3500+. Heres why I chose AMD:

1: This is likely the last computer I will be able to afford for several years while I complete college. While I don’t have any 64 bit programs, I couldn’t rule out that I might later on. So I opted to have the 64 capability should it become an issue. Besides that, there is no large price penalty for 64 bit CPUs from AMD, since they have become the company’s flagship line. Also, the 939 socket is probably going to be around for a while, and lends it’s self to future upgrades. The 3500+ may not be the fastest around, but there are many faster CPUs that will become affordable in the next few years.

2: I wanted a relatively quiet system. My dorm room is small, and droning fans get on my nerves and my roommate’s. The CPU I bought is a Venice core, which is marketed as a low power consumer. It is, and runs very cool. Most of the time, I can leave the CPU heat sink fan off and not have any heat problems. This reduces my computers noise to that of one fan in my power supply (which is speed adjustable) and what ever my hard drive is doing at the time. I like that. Note that I can only get away with this because of this CPU’s core, and I doubt that any of the other cores can do this.

3: Price. It wasn’t cheap, but I felt that it gave me the best balance of speed vs price. There were competitively priced Pentiums, but for many reasons they were not as attractive. Additionally, using a AMD system also allowed me to buy a rather inexpensive motherboard that still has many features I love. It is an ECS KN1E, in case anyone was wondering. I could write pages about this board and why I love it.

  1. AMD is a bit of an underdog. For the same reason some people love Apple, I love AMD. They are a little out of the ordinary. Their stuff is just a little bit better in some ways that matter to me, even though I know that it’s probably not enough to justify how much more I prefer AMD.

There are the reasons for my choice. I don’t think many of them matter to a lot of people, especially the ease of future upgrades. Still, I like AMD. I’ve always been satisfied with the 4 CPU’s I’ve owned from them. Likewise, I can’t say that I’ve ever had a problem with any Intel CPU either. It really comes down to the old adage:

Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?

-Andy A.

Thanks to everyone for all of your input on my decision. I have decided on an AMD, which seems to be the majority preference. More specifically, I have chosen an AMD 64 Athlon 3700+, because it suits my needs and is reasonably priced. As for Microsoft Office, because I need Word, Powerpoint and such for school, I guess that I will just go out and buy the Student Version because I don’t think that I will be able to wait until '06 for “Office 12”.

Like it, love it, worship it. Plus, it’s free. Can’t beat that with a stick.

I still use Office 97. Excel does what I want, Word has spell check. I don’t need no stinkin bloated user interface. :stuck_out_tongue:


I still use Office 2000, for the most part. I’ve got Visio 2003 and Excel Viewer 2003, though, since I needed access to some newer files. Note that I get Visio for free from school, so I can afford to make that sort of upgrade-on-a-whim.

The UI in Office 12 is going to be the first major rework since Office 97; in fact, it’s pretty much different from anything that’s come before in the Office suite. See here for some preview information.

ok, what is the difference between the 754 and 939 pin numbers? See Here… and which would you reccomend? And how can i find out which pin number type I am going to be purchasing?

the pin numbers are important. You need a motherboard with the same socket type (ie you need a 939 socket for a 939 processor)
I would imagine it says on it what type it is, but i usually buy stuff from where its all catagorized into different sockets. 939 are the more modern and more likely to continue iirc