Athlon XP & Pentium 4 systems

By Bobes · 38 replies
Feb 17, 2002
  1. Since the introduction of the K7 (Athlon & Duron) I've always favoured AMD. I've gone through a Duron 700, Athlon 850 and an Athlon XP 1600+. But, recently, I've been using a Pentium 4 1800. Now, I haven't tweaked it much, but I've been giving it a road-test, "straight out of the box" as it were.

    Performance is absolutely terrible. I'd never had a problem running UT at high resolutions (around 1600x1200), always in 32 bit colour with settings tweaked to quality. But the new Pentium 4 system (which has the same memory and graphics card) can't seem to do anything in 32 bit colour, and doesn't like going over 1024x768. I haven't run any benchmarks yet, I'll save those for reviews of the motherboards I was sent.

    On top of this, the system is rather unstable. None of the components are overheating, yet I still get hardware crashes in games, and "kernel 32 has performed an illegal operation" in windows. I plan to try a fresh install, but after having gone through so many other motherboards based on the KT133, KT133a, ALi Magik and KT266a without resorting to a reinstall, I shouldn't really have to.

    This is not a question, just a general comment. Despite all the negative reception AMD have had over using a P rating rather than clock cycles, their products STILL outperform Intel's in normal usage, and on top of that they are less expensive.
  2. TS | Crazyace

    TS | Crazyace TS Rookie Posts: 275

    You are crazy

    Intel systems not stable?? hahahahahahah..

    Dude, I like both products and think they are both great. I have had products from both companies.

    But, your comments are kinda crazy.. For one think, Intel chips are more reliable. That is not an opinion, it's a fact. AMD chips are extremely prone to overheating, which we all know. You can run an Intel chip without the heatsink, and not kill it.

    You are ALWAYS supposed to reformat when changing motherboards. Especially when changing platforms. That goes without saying. Also, it depends on which chipset you are using. An Intel chipset along with their processors are proven to be the most reliable systems.
    My opinion:

    If I was building a server, it would ONLY be INTEL.
    Gaming machine, it depends on performance/price. Right now, it's tough to beat a P4 1.6a.
  3. uncleel

    uncleel TS Rookie Posts: 980


    That's not "exactly" true ace, sorta out of context. AMD has strict thermal requirements, AMD Thermal Solutions
    & P4's have a overheat protection circuit. P4's, like AMD, need a high quality HSFP4 Thermal Management

    What Bobes is saying has been quoted in many reviews.
  4. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    This has been argued to death, but respectfully...

    I can build an AMD system just as stable or unstable as I'd like. I could build a P4 system just as stable or unstable as I'd like.. It's up to you as the builder to make sure what you are getting works well.

    As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with Intel OR AMD. The processors are just as stable as the other. The fault lies not in Intel's P4 or AMD's XP, but the 3rd party parts used.

    My suggestion: Blame it on 3rd party components, not AMD or Intel.
  5. TS | Crazyace

    TS | Crazyace TS Rookie Posts: 275

    What I was sayinh

    I was simply commenting on the remarks about Intel being so called "unstable". I do agree with Rick strongly, he does make valid points. Although, you cannot ignore the fact that AMD cihps are frying all over the place. I was at a friends house a couple of months ago, and watched a 1.4 TBIRD go up in flames my self.

    And as far as performance, the Northwood closed the gap tremendously. As for tweakers like myself, you can make the Northwood extremely fast (1.6a). The P4 needs bandwidth, and running a P4 at 133mhz with the memory ratio at 3:4 really speeds things up.

    Now that we are on the subject, about the clock think. It all depends on what applications you are running to which system is faster. AMD's tests that they run have found to be "optimized" (the ones they determin what the call the chip). I agree that AMD chips look very fast on some games, but then again, Intel shines on the Quake 3 engine (which is used by many great games).

    I would buy either product, jus depends when I buy. I just bought a system, and right now, you can do no wrong with the 1.6a. If AMD had a cost efficient package for me at this time, I would have bought AMD. If I built a system 2 months ago before Northwood, I would have built an AMD system.
  6. uncleel

    uncleel TS Rookie Posts: 980

    Athlons simply do not fry by themselves. Recommended HSF & quality thermal compound must be used. Directions must be followed & care exercised in placement of the HSF unit.
    Money being no object, I'd love to build a P4 system. I can't afford to even build a Athy XP/DDR rig right now. My Abit KT7 & T-Bird 1.2GHz is already behind the curve. However AMD offers great value-to-cost & furthermore prevents intel from being a monopoly.
  7. Bobes

    Bobes Runner Topic Starter Posts: 60

    I'm not so sure about temperatures even. In my current P4 system, CPU temperatures are usually 60+ celcius. They never got above 40 with minimal cooling on Athlon XPs.

    Granted, I've only skimmed through the bios using "sensible" (if slower) settings, but freshly built I am not impressed with the Penium 4/SiS chipset compbination. Maybe its the chipset, both P4 motherboards I've tested are using the SiS DDR alternative. But at least I expected stability.

    The issue of third part components has been rased - well all the components bar the CPU and the motherboard remain the same. Well, actually I had to upgrade the PSU to a Pentium 4 approved one (350W) because the old 250W one I had used for so long (with many other AMD systems) wouldn't power up the P4 systems.

    But I stongly disagree with heat. Like I say, I used minimal cooling on my Athlon XP (I sometimes used to switch the fan off at night to get rid of the noise). As long as I wasn't doing anything demanding, I could get away with just passive cooling (just the heatsink).

    Athlons 1-1.4 Ghz did generate a lot of heat, but I was using an Athlon XP :)

    Again I stress I've only been using the P4 for a short while and I'm saying how I find it thus far. I'm sure once I've gone about tweaking everything it'll be better. The CPU itself has been tested independantly and was running for four hours before it crashed. I haven't really been so lucky.

    I'm not crazy Paul, and I'm sorry my experiances with this CPU/chipset combination has enflamed you. I have been through quite a few systems based on numerous chipsets and CPUs. I've had a lot worse than this (Cyrix 300 was awful), and I'm being as fair as I can. If you think there's something obvious I'm looking over, please feel free to tell me, although I'm going to use my usual methods to try to get the best out of this processor as a whole.
  8. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    Re: What I was sayinh

    Small correction, the P4 shines on Q3 period. In RTCW the AthlonXP outperforms the P4.

    Anandtech Review : AthlonXP 1900+
  9. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    I think the P4 NorthWood outperforms the AthlonXP in RTCW but onlmy by a slight margin. Yet the AthlonXP performs pretty much on par with the P4 when it comes to Q3 based games (except Q3 itself).
  10. uncleel

    uncleel TS Rookie Posts: 980

    Protection Against Thermal Death

    Protection Against Thermal Death :dead:
    Athy XP has an improved design, incorporating a thermal diode in the processor's core for overheat protection.
  11. TS | Crazyace

    TS | Crazyace TS Rookie Posts: 275


    the INTEL vs AMD debate will continue forever, and BOBES, your right about one thing. The competition is awsome!

    I am still ticked off by 3DFX going belly up!

    As far as the P4, yours sounds like its not a northwood. My Northwood is at 40c, and that is overclocked.

    The situation is a little different though. P4's can handle heat much better than AMD chips, which is fact. As far as performance go, that debate will go on forever.
  12. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    The Intel vs AMD debate is a timeless topic...

    Bobes, perhaps your HSF isn't sufficient for the processor? 60*C is terrribly hot. I really don't think it should be running quite that warm. If it is, then that is bad news.

    I've never owned a P4, so I can't cite temperatures and stability first hand, but from what I've seen and heard, the P4 isn't much cooler than an Athlon.

    For comparison, my Athlon XP 1.33Ghz, when overclocked to 1500Mhz. stays under 48*C load. This is with a 4500RPM, 21CFM fan... Pretty whimpy, huh?

    With my 7200RPM 42CFM Delta, I get 40*C under load, while running just short of 1600Mhz. Compared to CrazyAce's results, the latter runs about the same temperature. This would mean that my XP isn't twice as hot or anything.. Perhaps marginally more temperate.. Yes.. But it is not burning a hole in the fabric of our universe.

    I think temperatures are fairly hard to compare without a single, controlled environment to compare them in. Because of this, it is almost useless to contrast. If my room temperature was 94*F, then my processor would undoubteldly be a great deal hotter. The opposite goes for a place that is cold. My processor would be much cooler. The temperatures I give are "moderate" room temperature.. In the low 70's (Just a guess). I've had it swing as low as 30*C while my room was freezing... That's over a 10*C difference just because I left the window open for an hour... And it could have been much cooler.

    Personally, I'd like to build a P4 system myself. I wouldn't mind having a number of different platforms just to have fun with. I cannot afford such expensive Intel processors however and I honestly wouldn't want to afford one because it is a waste of money if you do not get what you pay for.

    It isn't like choosing between the AMD K6-2 and the P-II anymore... It's more like choosing between the Athlon and the P-III. Each have its advantages and disadvantages, but you will ultimately end up with a good system either way as long as you put the right stuff in it. It is just a matter of shopping smart and getting what you pay for. A 1.6Ghz northwood might be worth the money MHz wise, given the overclocking potential. With the Athlon XP, I don't have to overclock though and that was the basis for my decision in buying one.

    I think where Intel screws up price-wise is its higher-end line of processors. 600 dollars for a 2Ghz? I can get a comparable AMD system (The whole thing) for that much. Absolutely rediculous.

    Charge what they may though. We each have our income, loyalties, facts and opinions.
  13. TS | Crazyace

    TS | Crazyace TS Rookie Posts: 275

    Northwood 1.6a cost me $150.. But remember this: It comes with a heatsink which would probobly run about $25.
  14. Bobes

    Bobes Runner Topic Starter Posts: 60

    I'm using a northwood Pentium 4 system with the stock HSF. I did order an additional HSF but after seeing the size of the stock one (almost twice the size of the FOP38) I sent the additional one back.

    I'm STILL having problems with the system despite driver installation & a general tweaking of BIOS settings. I'll probably try a Windows 2000 installation and see if it likes that better.
  15. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Make your mind up....
    RTCW is a Q3 based game.
    Maybe bad wording... ;)
  16. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Bobes, what kind of a motherboard you have? I haven't had any problems with my new P4 system, it runs UT & others just fine (framerate stays at Vsync). However, my motherboard's manual says that it won't even boot with 1x or 2x AGP gfx card.
    And I tested this overheating thing too, I had SETI@Home running and I took the heatsink & fan (standard, came with the CPU) off. System just froze, that's all. But it didn't continue when I put them back, I had to press reset.
  17. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,704

    Actually, RtCW is a Quake III: Team Arena based game. It could be that the Q3A engine and that are different...Likely not, just AMD may have some more compatibility with the different code.
  18. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    That's what I was trying to say. On many occasions I've heard people say that because the P4 works very well with Q3A, all games using that engine ( or the Q3TA ) will always be faster on a P4. I was just trying to show that's it not the case.
  19. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,704

    I play Quake 3 Arena all the time, and I haven't had any unexplained problems with it whatsoever. I would say both CPU's are just fine for that game.
    I'm an AMD guy...I just don't have the money for a 500$ processor, and my A XP was half that.
  20. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    Re: You are crazy

    Wow am I dreaming or what? Running an Intel Chip without heatsink, you must be kidding me. The faster the chip, the hotter it gets!

    To tell you there truth, if i have the $$$$ to spare, i would take a look at Intel first.
  21. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Looks like Pentium 4 CPUs are becoming more financially viable

    Don't know about the different motherboard prices but just noticed this over at Azzo computers,

    - Athlon XP 2000 1.67GHz Socket A 266 OEM $315
    - P4 1.6G 478 pin 512k cache NORTHWOOD core Retail $177
    Which one would you pick????? :confused:
  22. Bobes

    Bobes Runner Topic Starter Posts: 60

    Doctored quoting there Arris, I got my Athlon XP for £80, they usually seem to be about a hundred, going up to £180. Intel P4s are £117 - £452. Not much difference at the lower end. I'm quoting prices from two leading UK stores.

    I'm not moaning about the price though, I got the motherboards for free :). I did have to buy a new power supply though, but I guess that was to be expected.

    Graphics card is Titan 2 Ultra (GeForce 2 Ultra), AGP 4x. The motherboard is the Soyo Dragon Ultra. Memory is 256Mb PC2400 (150Mhz) from OCZ. I'm using four PCI peripherals, one DVD rom and one hard disk, which I have no reason to believe are faulty nor the software incompatible. This (in my mind) leaves six options:

    • The new power supply isn't delivering enough power (unlikely)
    • The stock HSF isn't sufficient (given the temperatures, no)
    • Previous driver installations (eg Via 4in1) are causing problems (unlikely given that they were uninstalled, and wouldn't be used by windows with the new hardware anyway)
    • The motherboard is faulty and/or just a bad series of motherboards (which is possible, but given that I found the Dragon PLUS to be such a good board...)
    • The CPU is faulty (unlikely given tech support tested it and verified it as stable under load)


    • Windows just doesn't like this motherboard.

    The latter seems more likely given the tempermental nature of Windows 98, but as they are all hardware crashes I'm still convinced it is a problem with the processor (motherboard, CPU, memory) system. I'm going to try a fresh install of Win2k eventually.
  23. TS | Crazyace

    TS | Crazyace TS Rookie Posts: 275

    1.6 is also equipped with a heatsink , and you can get a good motherboard for $100! It's a great price, that is, if you plan on overclocking.;
  24. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    I would have thought that you would have at least checked out the links I put in before accusing me of doctoring the information.
    I thought you would also have had a higher opinion of me Bobes.

    Just incase you missed the link again.......
  25. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    They are likely higher because they are MPs... NOT your regular homebrew Athlons.

    The Athlon XPs are fairly overpriced. You might want to seek prices eslewhere than Azzo for the Athlons because they seem very, very pricey. Even when the Athlon XP first came out, I got my 1500+ for 115 dollars... Emphasis on when it first came out... And I'm talking about the very first few days they were available in the retail channel.

    Comparitively, has the Athlon XP 2000 for $257 USD and a 1900+ for $195 USD. Pricewatch returns even lower prices.

    The Pentium 4 1600Mhz is around $135 USD at NewEgg and the 1600a is $148.

    The motherboards for the P4 appear to be slightly higher than the AMD boards, but I think the cost of the massive heatsink needed for an AMD processor most likely makes up for that.

    I haven't really looked at any Northwood vs Palamino benchmarks.. Is the huge performance gap closing? Has it closed? Does the P4 outperform the XP finally? If not, then the extra price for the AMD is justfiable. If the P4 1.6Ghz system can outperform or come close to the 1.6Ghz XP, then perhaps the Intel system would be more economical in this case.
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