TechSpot

?? Athlon 64 or Intel P4 ??

By DiM3y
Aug 27, 2005
  1. Hi people, I desperately need your help today. First, I wanna highlight the fact that I am not a computer wiz though I’ve been learning quite a lot over the past months with my IBM laptop crashing all the time. The thing is that I am looking to buy a brand new *reliable* PC. I have been going through a lot of reviews and websites over the past days and thought I had well-chosen but when I read the review AMD Athlon vs. P4 ; I freaked out. I wanted to get a 3.0 GHZ P4 775 using Asus P5RD1-V, Kingston 1024Mb DDR2 400 and Maxtor SATA 120 Gb. I am not a gamer and will mostly use my equipment for music editing, sequencing and basic mixing. Nothing professional here, just someone who plays music and wants to customize his own sounds and beats. I’ve had a look at reviews about sound cards and chose Creative Audigy 4. I’ll play my MP3s using my home stereo. I would like my motherboard to have an S-video out to use XP Media Center and play movies from my PC to TV. I will probably buy a decent video card later but will focus on sound for now.

    Just like anyone, I am concerned about upgradeability and would like to get something that won’t run out of date tomorrow morning. From what I know and have heard over the years, I thought Intel processors were the best choice but am not convinced anymore. If I choose Athlon, what socket would suit me best? Anything particular I gotta be aware of? I don’t wanna spend my $ on something that isn’t the best pick. I have read about dual core processor and would like to know if they may be useful for my needs (though I guess they are more expensive). Also, I wonder if it’s really worth having a CPU fan or should I simply get a better main one.

    So, if anyone has a comment or an advice to share, I’d really appreciate.
    Thumbs up to Techspot crew. :grinthumb

    “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know”
     
  2. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

  3. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

  4. DiM3y

    DiM3y TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I had a look at parts Didou suggests. Do I really need a dual core to run my things? I guess the future is looking forward to DC processors but the price for these is killing me (though the X2 3800 is probably the most affordable CPU in its category). The board you suggested seems very well quoted in reviews but I couldn't find whether there is a built in video card on it. To be honest, I have never heard of MSI mbs and would've stick to an Asus, Abit or Gigabyte as MB. I've seen a couple Asus A8xxx that supports Nforce 4 too and was wondering if it could also be an interesting alternative. Don't wanna be silly here, just looking for the best components & price.

    Also, can I insert an S-video jack via a PCI or PCI-E slot on a board that doesn't have S-video out on board? Thanx again! :giddy:
     
  5. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    I doubt you "need" a dual core cpu. I haven't needed one yet, my 3000+ works well for me. As long as you don't do a whole load of cpu intensive apps at once, and have a decent amount of ram(1gb+), you should be fine with single core. That said, future programs will be made to use dual core capability, so in the future it may be a nice thing to have.

    Yeah, it's called a video card :).
    Most video cards have a svideo, and if you don't need to be able to game even a $40-50 card will suffice if it has the svideo port.

    If you want to get a video card w/ svideo, then you could get any board with a pci-e or agp slot that suits your needs. Asus, Gigabyte, and Abit seem good, but many other companies make good products as well. My chaintech vnf4/ultra has been great for me, it's cheap and has been reliable and fast. I wouldn't have thought that a chaintech product would have been this good, I thought they were a "cheap" mfg before I got the vnf4ultra.
     
  6. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Dual-core is not necesity, it would just make the system smoother & if your audio applications happen to be multi-threaded the same way video encoding applications are, it would make for a nice performance boost. ;)
     
  7. DiM3y

    DiM3y TS Rookie Topic Starter

    thanks for the help guys, Precious advices! :D
     
  8. nein

    nein Banned Posts: 109

    You don't have to get multi-threaded applications to get use out of multi-core/CPU, the more window services you have running the more you'll benefit, they are inherently multi-threading.

    If your apps do not support multi-threading try running them as services when possible.
     
  9. msmith4000

    msmith4000 TS Rookie

    Go for Athlon

    Go for Athlon - with intel your paying extra for next to no advantages.

    For the best price/performance ratio thye best advice I can give is to go for a processor which is a couple of levels down from the top-of-the range model. Manufacturers always charge a premium for these. The upgrade route the processor platform is leading you should be you main basis of selection.

    This is what I would do -

    Purchase any Socket 939 NForce4 Ultra motherboard. Available from £50 - £130. You will now have a board which will accept all 939 Athlon processors from Athlon64 3000+ (£70) to Athlon FX-57 (£Mega)

    Buy the highest processor you can afford - an A64 3500 probably offers best price/performance at this time. This should last you 1.5 - 2 or 3 years depending on what you use your PC for. At any time if you wish to upgrade to higher processor or go dual core you can simply buy the new processor and drop it in your mainboard and re-attach the heatsink and your off! (All NForce4 Ultra boards should support single and dual core athlons with no more than a BIOS upgrade.) This saves you money as you dont need a new mainboard or memory and you've saved yourself 2-3 hours in labour as you wont have to fit a new motherboard etc!

    Why I dont buy Intel -

    You pay a premuim price for their processors.
    They run much hotter than Athlons of the same clock speed rating
    P4's support DDR2 memory I hear you say, Athlons dont - If you buy DDR2 just now you are paying a premium (double price) again for hardly any performance gain over DDR400.
    You'll need to buy a new mainboard for Dual Core Pentium if you wish to upgrade again later (Dual core still has a premuim price attached if you go dual core now!)
    If you are a gamer, they are not as efficient at running games as the Athlons are.

    It's only fair I highlight the P4's good points:
    Generally slightly faster at running windows than a equivelent athlon.
    Much more efficient at repetative tasks such as video encoding, music encoding and erm thats pretty much it.

    Video cards - you only need a decent video car dif you intend on playing modern 3D games titles. Otherwise a £25 PCI-E card will serve all other uses.

    CPU fans - An active heatsink is mandetory on ALL modern processors rated 2GHz+ Most require a secondary exhaust fan nearby to remove warm air from the case around the processor area. Most modern PSU's have 2 fans or a fan placed at the bottom of the PSU to help remove warm air from the processor's vicinity or a chasis fan must be fitted near the processor.

    I'm sure others will disagree with what i have posted and recommend the P4. At the end of the day its all down preference and above is my general experience and my (expert) opinion.
     
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