Which CPU?

  wags 08:43 30 Jul 03

I am looking at buying a new PC and teh jury is still out as to whether to buy a P4 or AMD based system (sorry, I know this dilema is common on this forum). Based on PC Advisor reviews, it seems that AMD win in the Power PC category , with no P4 systems appearing in the top 10. However, when I checked out Toms Hardware, I was interested to note that the lab reports conclude that for 3d performance (Unreal 2003 etc), the newish P4 2.8 with 800FSB was the best buy and outperforms the 3000XP Athlon.In fact Toms Hardware was quite dismissive of AMDs speed claims which they stated were optimistic.

Evesham currently have a new PC "Blue Lightning Evolution 2.8" at a reasonable price for the spec, which is built around the P4 2.8 with Hyper threading, as recommended by Toms Hardware. Has anyone experience with this CPU and if so are they happy with the performance? Many thanks.

  -pops- 09:02 30 Jul 03

CPU operations are now so advanced that any claims of superiority of speed etc are of academic interest only.

If you are going to spend all your computer time checking how fast this, that or the other is going, buy the most expensive, fastest CPU you can get your hands on but, remember, next week that same CPU will be old hat and being sold off in the bargain bin. If you are going to use your computer for what it is intended for i.e. doing something useful and not contemplating its own navel, buy one that which represents the best value for money at a price you can afford.

As CPUs do the same thing in the end, it doesn't really matter, from a practical point of view, whether it's Intel or AMD. Buy the fastest one of either brand which is within your budget but remember that in a short time it may well be less than half that price when it's superseded by something else 0.2GHz faster.

I remember a couple of years ago when the 1GHz "barrier" was broken. This made headlines in the national press and the units were sold at an unbelievably high price. Nowadays you are lucky if you can even find a CPU as slow as that for sale.


  The Transporter 09:05 30 Jul 03

You can get an XP2600+ for about 85 pound at komplett, even less than that maybe. I have an XP2700 and it is blindingly fast. Very impressed. Cost £110. If i had bought a pentium 2.8 im looking at £190. Its no brainer.

The thoroughbred Athlons do give a more realistic performance for the rating they are given. The Barton processors have lower clock speeds but have 512 kb of level 2 cache instead of 256 for the thoroughbreds.

Over-clock.co.uk won't even sell Barton's because they think they are underperformers.

If you get an Athlon and an N-Force motherboard you can be over clocking straight away with no wire tricks of joining L1 bridegs. Whereas Pentiums are no locked so no major fun is to be had with them anymore.

I would go with an Athlon and the money you save get an NForce mobo like an Abit NF7 -S v2.0 or


  Mango Grummit 09:39 30 Jul 03

-pops- is spot on. I have computers of varying sizes, specs and ages (oldest is about 3 yrs). And honestly, in normal everyday use there is no noticeable difference in speed, with the possible exception of moving/copying large files, and even then you're looking at only a few seconds.

Speed is a sales thing. Let's face it, with the progress made over the last few years all computers perform pretty much the same (I realise that is a bit of a generalisation) and "speed" seems to be the only new selling point for each new one launched.

  DieSse 09:46 30 Jul 03

I agree up to a point. Where I start to differ is non-speed factors, such as lack of hassle (see how many more problems come up here with Athlon systems that are difficult to set up, keep changing settings and running slow, etc.)

A also just naturally prefer a sucessful company that makes a profit, as a supplier - rather than one living on the edge and making a loss.

  wags 10:05 30 Jul 03

Thanks for all your very prompt responses. Obviously the Athlon chips are cheaper, but I don't neccessarily want cheapest and performance and reliability is more important. I have a budget of £1,200 + VAT and fully accept the point that the moment I buy, it is likely to be out of date.If I look at the current edition of PC Advisor, I see that the Superbudget winner is the Mesh 2600XP at £699+VAT, with a work bench score not that far south of the Power PC section. So is it vanity/foolish to spend more?

DieSse has made an interesting point regarding reliability. Am I to take it that a P4 based system is more relaible?

You make an interesting point and one that I am not sure I agree with:

"I agree up to a point. Where I start to differ is non-speed factors, such as lack of hassle (see how many more problems come up here with Athlon systems that are difficult to set up, keep changing settings and running slow, etc.)"

To my mind, many of the users of this forum go for AMD cpu's simply because they are into building their own or "Tweaking" what they already have. To go down the Intel route is simply more cost per Ghz for the same thing.

As to difficult to set up I totally disagree - how is a AMD system more difficult to set up than a Intel one? Dip switches, bios settings all have to be set and then it is simply down to the software. The CPU only processes the data that is thown at it whether AMD or Intel. bad data in - bad data out! You cannot blame a Cpu manufacturer for software issues.

Again, a reason for AMD systems appearing more is that AMD is the preferred CPU of "Fiddlers" (I include myself) while Intel are shifted from the likes of high Street retailers who benifit from the masive advertising that Intel undertake to the general public. (I have only seen AMD on the side of a Ferrari F1 - not a great deal of exposure unless you are into F1 AND PC's) For PC enthusiasts, AMD is just as good whereas Intel are the name that the general public associate with computers and these are the same people who will let the PC sit in the corner for word processing, email and internet and the occasional game. The majority of this forum however, are into a whole lot more and enjoy "fiddling" and so hence will experience more problems.

As to you last paragraph, unfortunately I have to agree totally but what a catostrophic result it will be if Intel end up with no competition!!

Typing the post above when you responded.

To my mind there is no reliability issues between the two. Once up and runncing and without overclocking, each is as reliable as the other - I speak form experience of both!

  The Transporter 10:12 30 Jul 03

Especially the last paragraph.

If Intel has no competition, they can charge what they like. The only reason we can buy the cpu's at the speed they are today is because intel and AMD are trying to out perform each other.

No competition = They can supply us with what they want.

  -pops- 10:27 30 Jul 03

Of the dozens I/ve built, he only computer with a Pentium as processor was the only one I could never get to work properly.

Obviously this is one instance and has no scientific basis but I still think that as a more or less general user (which you must be or you wouldn't be asking the questions) you are best looking for the best value for money whoever your CPU manufacturer is.

Regarding your references to benchmark scores, don't take these as too representative of in-use performance. These scores are obtained under strict, and artificial, conditions which rarely have a real life equal.

I'm fairly sure that almost any up-to-date, mid price computer would suit your needs and your most difficult problem is where to buy it from. You will find loads of good points and bad points about most suppliers raised in ConsumerWatch - mostly bad points as these thing tend to create more interest. Bear in mind, though, that none of the suppliers can be as bad as some threads try to infer, otherwise the company would have been out of business years ago.


  DieSse 10:30 30 Jul 03

"As to difficult to set up I totally disagree - how is a AMD system more difficult to set up than a Intel one? Dip switches, bios settings all have to be set"

I haven't had to set a dip switch or a jumper on an intel system for so long i can't remember. basically you plug them in and they work, at their rated settings.

Some of this is down to the intel chipsets, rather thasn the processor - btu they are easier to set up for sure.

The Transporter


I agree whole heartedly with the competition theory - but where will AMD be if they keep making a loss and go bust - all because they clearly sell their products too cheaply!

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