Athlon vs. Pentium

Question

Hi. I have looked around, and I am confused about the great Pentium 4/Athlon debate. I know you must be fed up answering this question by now, but I looked around, and most of the questions regarding that are either out of date, or don't answer my question. I am going to buy a new computer, and I have picked Special Reserve's MAXX PC, on account of their great reviews and cheap price. I am a gamer, and I want the best, so I was going to spend around £1100 on their Athlon 2600+ computer. I was wondering, is this wise, or would it be better to fork out the extra £100 for a 2.8Ghz pentium? I have heard many people debating the processors, and nobody seems to know anything. Also, I want a computer that will be able to give me top performance on the latest games for a good while yet, so do you think the special reserve computer will be up to it? As you can see, it will be a huge step up from my 468mhz computer at the moment, so I think I will notice the difference! Full specifications of the special reserve computer are available at maxxpc.com . Thanks in advance.

Answer

This question was answered on March 3, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Each processor type is different and contains it's own architechture Most consumer processors types are x86, meaning that they are either i386/i486 (old), i586 (pentium 1, and older celerons, not good for games), or i686 (the pentium line and some celerons, not including itanium (future pentium line)) This is a processor line according to Intel, and most of the computers run these type of architechture If a competition wants to enter it has to emulate (mimic/imitate) the x86 architechture (microcodes, instructions and so on) or it will not be compatable with most software made for x86 line (windows only works on x86 for example) There use to be a lot of competition back in the day, many x86 clones but none of them were as fast or did the job as efficiently as Intels line, so they were the dominating chip maker for half a decade.

That is untill AMD started to crank out cheaper chips that rivaled Intels line, with only 99.9 percent compatability this proved to be a sweet deal for most people Then they started to release features that outperformed intels current lines (3d-now vs SSE), so Intell released a whole new line (pII) , and AMD released a better still (t-bird) and so on untill today.

Right now there exists only marginal difference between speeds, but the prices are still cheaper for AMD and that 99.9 incompatability still exists, although I didn't see any problems though, it's a theoretical figure and most software is geared towards both architechtures.

AMD cpu's are marketed under 2800(2600) when they really run 2.4 but run as fast or faster than intels 2.8(2.6-2.7) pentium4 but intel's got the lead with the 3.06MGHZ processor yet to be beaten by AMD (the performance increase is marginal though so it shouldn't be that hard).

Unless you are a die-hard fan of either line I recommend AMD's processors because they are cheaper and give similar or better performance of their Intel equivalents But if you got money I don't see why you shouldn't get the latest Pentium4.

The debate is just smoke now as most software support both architechtures and speed is not essential anymore as the market is getting saturated with cheap and fast processors The game now is efficiency and AMD's leading.

P.S Be sure to have extra cooling for AMD as it heats up really fast and hot.

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Author

Posted by Alex of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on March 3, 2003