Black Viper
Black Viper
Jul 302002
 

Update May 12, 2004:

After originally posting my AMD and Intel Rant on July 30, 2002, many items touched on have become extremely out of date. I decided to take a “second look” at what both AMD and Intel has accomplished recently and hopefully provide a vision for the future. Read more…

Why no AMD?

Some people have asked me, “Even though you have a few computers, why are NONE of them AMD based?!?”

Simple. I do not like AMD.

If you feel you cannot handle what is contained in this document, by all means, do not read it.

I have, sort of, avoided this topic for sometime. Since initially posting the No Hacks, Cracks and Cheats Rant, I have received many Flames from some very voiced individuals. I am also well aware of the devoted following of AMD users. Whether those people are out to get the “best-bang-for-buck” performance, believe the marketing hype (PR Rating), always went for “the little guy,” or just gave-a-go for something different and enjoyed the result: AMD users can be… rather… Persistent or I would like to say, closed-minded.

I am not out to piss anyone off, nor slam someone’s beliefs in a product, but what I am going to do is answer the “why” I (read me, Black Viper) do not personally own any AMD products. It is not because I decided last week that I am not going to get one… It has been a long time coming. This Rant, as with the other ones, may contain some rather random and fragmented thoughts, and many of the “facts” are my observations and beliefs. Do not be discouraged. Read on.

Stability

Intel has always been more stable (IMHO) and I feel that stability is a major concern. No one can get ANYTHING done if a computer crashes all of the time. It is some hardware and some software problems, but when the majority of programs run “well” on an Intel platform, that is what I am going for.

Why does this happen? I think that since Intel is the “big dog,” they have more available resources to work with the other Monopolies on the planet (M$) to have “better” support for their products. This is not a bad thing, but
sad for the little guy to get support of their products.

This is just my opinion.

Power Use

AMD also has a history of high power usage and heat dissipation problems, which in turn contribute to stability issues. Sure, it may be a little bit more than Intel, but when it comes to keeping the inside of your case cool in the summer time, it is best not to have a fire running in it.

Pentium 4 CPU’s tend to require a bit more power, now, but I like the RAMBUS memory style and it will be my next choice
of PC.

Update 13OCT2003:

And RAMBUS memory was my next choice of PC. However, since this article was drafted, I built another system based on PC3500 memory.

AMD Performance

I remember back when AMD (and the other CPU makers) were struggling to keep up with Intel’s performance and superior floating-point instruction set. I enjoy high performance hardware just as much as anyone else, but I am also willing to pay for it.
Cheaper is not always better… in fact, I cannot come up with a “Cheaper is better” example, but I can come up with plenty of inferior examples. The AMD CPU’s were cheaper because they performed “under” the more expensive,
comparing MHz, Intel CPU’s.

I had a Cyrix CPU in my first “real” PC. I thought that the 133 MHz speed would smoke anything on the planet… but in fact, I was very wrong. My good friends P90 performed “better” than my value 133. Since, at the time, the CPU prices were exponential, a “comparable” Intel CPU that was 133 MHz was obscenely expensive, but the Cyrix was “cheap.” It was cheap for a reason. It did not perform well. I was upset. I then went to a “rather expensive” P166 later on and it was like night and day for “only 33MHz.” Yeah, right. I learned that MHz is not always a good indication of performance really early on.

The AMD Athlon was going to “blow anything Intel could put out” away. They were so much better, that no one should even think about any other possibility of getting a different kind of computer! That, as you may have figured out, was not always the case.

On AMD’s Site, they state that MHz is not everything. That is very true, as sited in my previous example… Nevertheless, they went a little too far in trying to “adjust” the publics’ perception of “how” performance should be measured with their “PR Rating.” I will state it now and again later: The PR Rating is the single reason I currently do not own AMD products. More later.

Example:

I remember when PC100 and a P2 that supported it was just hitting the streets. People were benching the “highest at the time” P233 with PC66 memory and pitting it up against an (again) obscenely expensive P2 300MHz with PC100. Wow. Not much comparison. Of course, the P2 won out… so “PC100 performed better” than PC66 did… not to mention, the computer having almost 25% more MHz behind it… That is how, I feel, the “AMD is better” comparison surfaced… after many years of the fans laying in wait. Finally, they can come out of the closet and express that “AMD IS BETTER” to all of those “Intel loving sellouts.” Wow.

“But it LOOKS like it can go 300 miles per hour!”

As with the Athlon XP, the “blah+” rating was marketing hype to attempt to compete with the MHz (well, now its GHz) battle. AMD’s “PR” rating was the final straw. Think about this: If a car company placed “V8+” on a four-banger, even though it “performs like a V8,” wouldn’t that raise some eyebrows? I was considering building a multi-processor system that had AMD’s Athlon MP CPU’s. The more I thought of the “2000+” model spec with “Quantaspeed” operating at “blah MHz” and the more I thought of how the “uninformed” is swayed by these numbers, the more I leaned toward Intel. People have E-mailed me stating that the “PR Rating” actually is not comparing to P4’s at all, but previous architecture AMD CPU’s.
Funny thing is, that type of comparison is not in any QuantaSpeed white paper or FAQ. In fact, I could not find out “what” the actual meaning of the model number spec is!

Update 25FEB2003:

AMD recently announced the addition of the Athlon XP 3000+ CPU. However, in lines with my AMD vs Intel Rant, this places another “mark” in the “hate AMD column.” WAIT! Do you know why? Trust me, I will tell you:

According to this benchmark (link removed because AMD modified the original page I was referencing) published by AMD, using DDR memory, the 3000+ beats out the P4 3.06 with an i845 chipset. Ok, sure, but the P4 was built for RDRAM, NOT DDR! How many times do I have to yell at my monitor with that fact! Every benchmark I have read (Check Tomshardware.com) has placed the 3000+ “way below” what the latest P4 can do with PC1066 RIMMS. Actually, it is below what previous models have done! Does that mean the extra cache and increased bus speed is actually “worth” the “300 to 400+ (hehe) AMD model points” from the 2600+? The 3000+ is a 2.16 GHz CPU (AMD White paper link – page 33) while the “older” 2600+ is a 2.13 GHz CPU (AMD White paper link – page 35). I highly doubt it.

In several of Toms Benchmarks, the new, as of this writing, AMD 3000+ is placed below A P4 2.53! So what the hell does the “3000+” really mean? Does it mean that they are at the end of the product cycle and cannot get any more blood from a stone (no great increase in MHz from the model 2600+), so they decided to “crank up the model number, just because they can?”

Until AMD quits making random claims as to it’s performance compared to “nothing,” and stamping a “meaningless” model number on the box, I will continue to stay away from AMD. If you are still interested in getting a new AMD CPU, check those model numbers and the CPU specs because, yes, they do “overlap” from the old to the new. One more mark in the “hate AMD column.”

Unfortunately, I built a VIA based computer with Dual P3’s. That was a total flop, but not the fault of the CPU… What?!?! CPU is not everything?!?!

I have to say that the Intel 810 chipset with a P3 1 GHz was a total flop, also. However, Intel also kicked out (yup, you guessed it), a more expensive version, how ever slight, called the 815. This powers a few of my current computers without fail.

When the Athlon XP was gaining momentum (and a cult following), it was, I feel, due to the P4 being saddled with PC133 memory. People would bench an AMD with DDR and a P4 with PC133 (No DDR support at the time) and call the Athlon a winner.
What kind of crap is that?

However, most “current” benchmarks, as of this writing, that are public have either side winning by such a small margin that performance vs cost is a factor. Yes, AMD is cheaper and you will be very happy with your system if you construct one around an AMD CPU with quality components.

Update 26JAN2003

Speaking about benchmarks, last check with AMD’s “performance” specs on a model 2800+, they were using an ASUS motherboard with Nforce2 chipset drivers and BIOS that are, and I quote, “not publicly available.” Even if they do become available later on, they are “advertising” performance numbers that consumers have no ability to match. Another mark against AMD.

The P4 was built for RAMBUS memory. In every benchmark I have viewed, P4 with RAMBUS performs very well up against a “comparable” AMD Model Blah+ and even smokes them in the most important Benchmark: Gaming. Yeah, I know… More cost… But remember, I am not in the hardware junkie category while trying to save money. Then again, even stamp collecting is going up in price.

But you can over clock it!

Sure, but placing more stress on a CPU that is already “over spec’ed,” as I feel, tends to not make any sense.

I do admit that a “different-from-norm” cooled CPU and components, as in water-cooled, is a great idea and a super geek way to go! The amount of time, effort and money to get a system up and running reliably is quite a task in itself, but obtainable, nonetheless.

I have wanted to do that just because; even without over clocking my system components… just because it is “cool.” Pardon the unneeded pun.

Oddly enough, the same person that “saves” $100 on a CPU will go and get 4 case fans, a water cooling system and pretty neon lights when they could have spent that money on a “better” CPU and quality components to wrap around it . Then again, if your over clocking efforts fail, you will not have to spend much more money on replacing your fried components.

Example:

At a LAN party (ok, I will get to that part), I had a, becoming dated by my standards; P2 300 MHz with dual Voodoo 2’s installed. I tweaked the OS beyond the call of duty and optimized the graphics settings for many games. Not once, sacrificing the tweaking  for stability, nor graphics quality… What is the point of 120 Frames Per Second if it looks like crap and the system is unstable?!?

I must admit, though, the Voodoo 2’s would put out too much heat. Without an additional case fan or a small “CPU” fan blowing between the cards, the system would lock up every so often. I also knew it was due to heat because at the previous location of the system, the room temperature was a constant 68 degrees (or, sometimes, even much cooler) and never had a bit of trouble.
After placing the 2 fans in the case (probably only needed one), I did not have another problem.

A guy arrived at the LAN party (told you I would get here), that also had dual V2’s. We exchanged many supportive 3dfx stories and both enjoyed the performance of the cards. Under usual circumstances, the V2’s all performed “very well” at many CPU ranges… This person had an AMD CPU 300 MHz (I believe K5 or 6, one of them) over clocked to 450MHz. He had the side panel “permanently” removed due to “cooling” issues. Even with that, it did not help. The system locked up almost every ten minutes (like clockwork.) Each time, I would giggle and say the customary “AMD” slam or something along those lines while he returned some Intel bashing comments and blame the “higher than normal room temp” for the crashing. He told me “If it was stable, It would smoke your system.” I took that challenge.

Finally, we decided to try and place a desk fan (read big 14 inch box fan) constantly blowing inside the open case. We were then able to play a complete game of Quake 2 without interruption.

The challenge began. We did the benchmark (demo) with the currently configured (as in, no time to “tweak” for performance) system and I came out on top… Way out on top. By around 25 to 40% increase. Needless to say, the rest of the night, I did not hear anymore “pro” AMD or “anti” Intel comments.

Once again… as AMD clearly is trying to impress upon people… MHz is not everything. However, also note that over clocking your computer’s other components may not be the solution. Check into making your system perform better without sacrificing stability to do it!

Cost

I think that the majority of AMD purchasers are not looking for “more” performance, but the cheapest they can get. AMD, hands down, wins that title… but it is not always a good title.

Looking in my inbox, I have to guess, from my experience, that about 80% of the “My computer crashes all of the time, it must be the OS’s fault” are running AMD and (usually) VIA chipset boards… Not a good record of accomplishment if you consider the “amount of market share” AMD has. If people are seeking cost reduction, VIA is the way to go… unfortunately, I have had very poor experience with VIA chipset boards, had floods of E-Mail telling me about all of the problems relating, and pin pointing to them. From AGP to USB to total system lockups, AMD and VIA are at the root cause… Take note… they are the cause for Intel Failures; also… as sited in my previous dual CPU example. Can it be fixed? I am sure, but I am not about to wait around 6 months for an updated BIOS to fix a problem that should not have been around, anyway.

Update:

www.viaarena.com is an outstanding spot to locate information about VIA chipsets. I am not about to reproduce the information here. If you are having problems, please search the Forums and FAQ for more information.

I am even considering firing up the CUV4X-D again after Service Pack 1’s release, updated BIOS, “better” drivers, etc.

Update 03NOV2002:

The Dual P3 board CUV4X-D has been running just fine for a few months, now. It seems as though my problems were solved by updated BIOS, 4in1 drivers and a higher end power supply.

A better fix for that dilemma? If you are going to reduce the cost of your next PC, please get a “High end” AMD CPU and an AMD chipset board… As with Intel, I feel that the CPU manufacture knows “best” as to how to interface
with their chip for better overall performance and stability… and the price of more money. You will thank me later.

Conclusion

I thank you for making it this far in my dribble about AMD and Intel. I am sure that, from the comments and “facts based on opinions ” that I have, I am going to get flames from the AMD supporters, but that is OK! I am not trying to tell you never to get AMD. I want you to be happy. Whether you get an Apple, AMD or an overly priced SGI, I couldn’t care less. Just remember that if you ask for my opinion or recommendations on a subject, you will get it… whether or not you agree with it is totally up to you.

Black Viper

July 30, 2002