Aces High Bulletin Board

General Forums => Hardware and Software => Topic started by: Mickey1992 on October 03, 2001, 03:23:00 PM

Title: New system choices
Post by: Mickey1992 on October 03, 2001, 03:23:00 PM
OK, a buddy of mine is building a system and sent me the following email.  Anyone have any opinions?

I'm looking to build my own PC and get a little more current with technology.  I thought I would run this by you to see if you had any opinions.  I'm looking at 2 systems:

1 - Intel Pentium 4 CPU, 1.4 Ghz, 400 Mhz front side bus Intel D850GB Motherboard, Intel 850 chipset, 400 Mhz f.s.b. 256MB PC800 Rambus RIMM memory

2 - AMD Athlon T-Bird CPU, 1.3 Ghz, 266 Mhz front side bus Asus A7A266 Motherboard, ALiMaGiK chipset, 266 Mhz f.s.b. 256MB PC2100 SDRAM DIMM memory

On paper, the first system looks better, for only about $70 more.  However, there are a couple of things I am unsure of.  First, I had heard a few comments made and even an article about the early P4's under-performing and not living up to their expectations.  It was even said that it under-performed the AMD Athlon 1.0 Ghz in certain benchmark speed tests.  Do you have any knowledge of these processors, performance, etc.?  Also, the processor speed is almost the same, but the f.s.b. speed is quite different.  But I don't know what that really means to me.  Any ideas?  Some people have said the P4 is too new and that the kinks haven't been worked out.

[ 10-04-2001: Message edited by: Mickey1992 ]
Title: New system choices
Post by: Staga on October 03, 2001, 03:32:00 PM
Title: New system choices
Post by: bloom25 on October 03, 2001, 08:28:00 PM
A Tbird 1.4 is FAR superior to a P4 1.4.  In fact a Tbird 1.4 Ghz is the equal of a 2 Gig P4 overall.  ( At (  there is a new duron 1.1 Ghz vs Celeron 1.2 Ghz with multiple benchmarks.  They show the performance of P4 2 Gig, Celerons, Durons, and Tbirds.  )

Something that most people don't understand is that clockspeed really means nothing when comparing different designs of CPUs.  Unfortunately the majority of buyers assume clockspeed is the only performance indicator you need to know.  Staga's picture above shows his Tbird @ 1.4 Ghz absolutely dominating the P4 1.5 Ghz which is also included.

The P4 is not currently (IMO) a good deal for what you get.  To top it all off the current P4 socket and design has already been phased out in favor of a new design.  Buying a current P4 system is highly unwise due to the fact that there is no upgrade path available after this year.

On the Athlon system I do not like the A7A266 board as much as the A7V266 or A7M266.  Both offer superior performance.  The A7V266 should be very competitively priced at this time.

Please do look at (  and (  articles when deciding.
Title: New system choices
Post by: oboe on October 03, 2001, 09:38:00 PM
Is there anything the Athlon doesn't do well?

For example, I heard that the next generation Athlon MP (or XP) "Palomino" has the full SSE instruction set on it, and with this, realized an 80-90% speed increase on CAD applications.  Can I infer from that that the Athlon TBird is weak on CAD/3D modelling applications?
Title: New system choices
Post by: 715 on October 04, 2001, 12:15:00 AM
A question: I've gotten the impression that gamers who build their own machines almost universally chose Athlons because they give higher performace at a cheaper price than Pentiums (and because the savings are increase by being able to use cheaper DDR SDRAM vs expensive Rambus RDRAM).  But the other thing that seems to always pop up is that Athlons generate copious amounts of heat and need very good power supplies and heat sinks.  Although it appears clear the Athlon is a faster, better, cheaper choice, my question is: are there any reliability differences?  Does all that heat in the Athlon (due, I presume, to less sophisticated fab specs, wider traces, leading to higher current draw) have any adverse impacts on reliability?
Title: New system choices
Post by: Karnak on October 04, 2001, 12:37:00 AM

The Athlon 1.3 will eat the Pentium 4 1.4 for lunch and then want dessert. To equal the 1.3 Athlon you'd need a 1.6 or 1.7 Pentium 4.


No, the Athlon has a very strong FPU unit, stronger than any other x86 CPU.

SSE increases the effect of the FPU.  Intel introduced SSE on the Pentium III and SSE2 on the Pentium 4.  AMD has a license for both and is working on integrating SSE2 into future CPUs.


The current Athlons, 1.2 and up die pretty much istantly if they are turned on without a fan. Pentium 4s save themselves by clocking down, sometimes even with a fan and while under heavy use.

With a fan on them Athlons don't have any reliability issues that I've read of.  Just make sure that fan is on correctly before turning it on for the first time.

Both the Athlon and Pentium 4 should have at least a 300 watt power supply. Mine is 400 watt.  So no difference on that front.

[ 10-04-2001: Message edited by: Karnak ]
Title: New system choices
Post by: bloom25 on October 04, 2001, 12:49:00 PM
There are no reliability problems with the Athlon itself.  (Given sufficient power and cooling has been provided.)

The only potential issues (as with all CPUs for the most part) are due to the chipset on the MB itself.  VIA constantly releases new drivers to resolve any discovered issues.  Intel does the same, but it is worth noting that Microsoft bundles Intel's drivers with windows.  VIA gets stuck with generic drivers by default, meaning you must install the 4 in 1s yourself.  AMD is in the same boat.  They have drivers as well that must be installed for top performance and stability.  Via drivers are found first at (  and the AMD drivers on on AMDs site.

The Tbird contains the most powerful x87 FPU (floating point unit) ever put into a desktop processor.  (Fully pipelined, superscaler archetecture.)  In Cad, engineering software the Athlon is nearly untouchable UNLESS the program has had an SSE2 plugin specially created for the P4.  Then the two are fairly close.  Now the new Palomino (Athlon XP, out today  :) ) includes full SSE1 support which increases the Athlon's lead even more.  (SSE1 was introduced with the P3.)  Truthfully the Athlons main strength is it's FPU, just look at Staga's above chart for his 1.4.  In standard FPU (x87) operations his CPU rates 1895 MFLOPs (Million floating point operations / second).  Using standard x87 fpu code the P4 1.5 Ghz rates a measely 895 MFLOPs.  That means that in unoptimized for P4 applications the Athlon has more than twice the FPU power.  The picture narrows somewhat if the application is SSE2 optimized.  Then the P4 rates 1825 MFLOPs, which is still slightly less than the Athlon.

The FPU intensive applications would be things like 3dstudio max, lightwaves, many games (AH, Expendible, Max Payne, etc), Matlab, Spice, CAD programs.  In these applications the Athlon will dominate the P4.  Now the SSE added in Athlon XP (and duron over 1 gig) will tend to increase the Athlons performance further on any applications which had some P3 core optimizations.  (Quake 3 is HEAVILY optimized for Intel processors.  It's always shown AMD processors being less powerful than the P4.  The new Athlon XP 1.533 Ghz is going to close the gap in Q3 with the P4 2 Gig considerably.  Currently overall the Athlon Tbird 1.4 Ghz is roughly equal to a 1.9 - 2 Gig Hz P4.  The Athlon XP is roughly 8 - 15% better overall AT THE SAME CLOCKSPEED as the Tbirds.  This means that the 1.4 Ghz Athlon XP (Model 1600) will be certainly better than the P4 2 Gig, and the 1.53 Ghz (Model 1800) will be without a doubt the most powerful desktop processor available.

Hopefully that helps some.  :)
Title: New system choices
Post by: Mickey1992 on October 05, 2001, 02:12:00 PM
Thanks for all of the replies.  I have forwarded this URL to him.   :)