Table of Contents
A Look Back
CPU Comparison Revisited
|By far, the most volatile competition right now is in the processor arena. Intel and AMD have been in competition for the performance lead for many years now. At the time of my last article on the subject, AMD was enjoying a performance lead, which made Intel a very unattractive pick for people interested in pure performance and value. At the time, performance and value was basically the only topic of interest. Times have changed, but let’s take another look at that aspect first! Intel is now all the way up to 2.8GHz, and AMD is up to a 2600+ processor at 2.13GHz. How do they compare?|
|In the benchmarks above and to the left, we show the scores in 3DMark and PCMark. In each case we paired the processors with the memory that they work with the most efficiently — the Pentium4 processors with PC1066 RDRAM, and the AthlonXP processors with PC2700 DDR-SDRAM. 3DMark scores show you approximately what you would find in terms of gaming performance, and are thus a bit scewed due to the fact that a performance gain is seen with PC1066 RDRAM, while PCMark scores are bit more application based and are more true to the actual CPU comparison values. In any case, it is quite safe to say that Intel has taken back the lead. In fact, one could argue that they took it back all the way back with their 2.53GHz processor. The Pentium4 2.53GHz processor offers roughly the same performance as the AthlonXP 2600+. That is, of course, a very simplified statement, as true performance depends on your memory type, chipset and application.|
The high end AthlonXP processors run very hot, much hotter than their Pentium4 equivalents. That requires a very large heatsink and high RPM fan in order to keep them cool, and that is the first problem. High RPM fans are loud, and we have had a lot of feedback from our clients that they wish their AMD system was quieter. Now, there are certainly things we can do to help in this area – use larger fans with lower RPMs to deliver the same airflow volume at a lower noise level, but in the end, it is a simple fact – cooling requirements dictate the AthlonXP systems will be louder than Pentium4 systems. The larger airflow necessary to cool these also creates a secondary problem – they suck a lot of dust into the fan, which creates problems over time! This of course depends on the dust conditions that the system is in (you can dramatically help this condition by not putting your system on the floor!), but we have had many problems with fan failures on AMD systems. How many Pentium4 systems have we had this problem with? None, not one. So not only are Pentium4 systems much quieter, but are also more reliable in their cooling over time. This is quite certainly the largest drawback to modern AMD processors in my mind.
Memory Comparison Revisited
Memory for AMD Systems
Memory for Intel Systems
Upcoming Memory Technology
Memory is a lot more obscure and confusing, but we can immediately eliminate SDRAM and PC800 RDRAM. Of the technology remaining, PC2700 DDR memory is clearly the best value, but high end Pentium4 systems with a need for speed can still get that performance edge from PC1066 RDRAM.