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AMD or Intel?: Part Deux
 
 
Date: December 24, 2002
Catagory: Articles
Manufacturer: N/A
Written By:
 

vs

Several months ago, we wrote a small write-up about AMD vs Intel. It was more of an editorial, and we made it pretty clear it was just our opinions, and tried to back up our various arguements with facts. Today, we're going to expand on those opinions slightly, and thanks to one of our readers, who owns an AMD 2400+, we're going to have a couple benchmarks. In Intel's corner will be a 2.4GHz Northwood. Keep in mind, this is not a CPU review, but simply, we're just trying to inform the reader a little more about your choices. Short and quick is the story today.

Heat

Last time, I mentioned the Athlon runs hotter than the Pentium 4. This may have been true at the time of writing, but a lot has changed since then. As Intel approaches 3.5GHz, their CPUs aren't getting any cooler. One thing Intel does have in its favor is their heatspreader. Although it's hot, the heat is spread out so that unlike the Athlon, it's not so concentrated in a small area. AMD will be introducing a heatspreader as well, but I don't think it will be until their Hammer chips. Another advantage in Intel's corner is their clock throttling and overheating protection built into their motherboards still seems to work better than AMD's.

Although the Thoroughbred's still have some of the heat issues we just mentioned, the newer TBred we've looked at runs a lot cooler than the first TBred (2200+). Another surprising result... the 2400+ we tested also runs cooler than the Pentium 4 2.4GHz. Using a Swiftech MCX462+ on the Athlon, and a Swiftech MCX4000 on the P4 (both with 80mm Delta SHE fans), these were our full load results...

AMD Athlon 2400+ 48C
Pentium 4 2.4GHz 49C

One thing you'll have to take into perspective is although the 2400+ appears to be as fast, but cooler, it isn't really. The 2400+ is actually a 2GHz part. People who follow AMD will already know this, but I thought it'd be a good idea to remind a few of you. Therefore, although AMD has made improvements to their heat output, the winner is still Intel. Winner = Intel

Ed. Note: I should mention that this award is more for the Intel platform, rather than the CPU. Both companies actually do provide some protection on the CPU, but the motherboard has to support it. Unfortunently, an improperly installed heatsink will still cook an Athlon, whereas I've seen P4s throttle in testing.

Quasar's Note: Sorry guys. I forgot to mention in the emails exchanged between VL and myself that although the benchmarks were done with a KT4 Ultra, the temperature tests were done with a KT3 Ultra. The reason for this is because the KT4 does not have the 4 mounting holes for the Swiftech cooler. Sorry for the confusion.

Overclocking

Both companies allow for relatively easy overclocking, but AMD does provide more flexibility. Although both AMD and Intel lock in their multipliers, it is possible to unlock an AMD processor by connecting the bridges. Overclocking is a free way to gain some extra performance, and as a lot of 2400+ reviews have shown, it is a very overclocking friendly CPU. Add to the fact that, although the gap is narrowing, the Athlon tends to be cheaper. The ability to unlock the multiplier, plus the improvements made to the TBred core makes the choice easy...

Ed. Note: Originally I gave this nod to AMD. I've discussed a few things with our reader who submitted these benchmarks, and the choice is not so clear. Although I still think the overclocking options are stronger with AMD, Pentium 4s have proven to be great overclockers, MHz wise. For now, we're going to declare this a tie.

General Performance

We fired up a few benchmarks, just to get an idea of performance. Although the test beds vary in many ways, you'll have to be aware that your results may vary.

AMD - TBred 2400+, MSI KT4 Ultra KT400, 512MB Samsung PC2700
Intel - Northwood 2.4GHz, MSI 845PE-FIR, 512MB Crucial PC2700

 
AMD TBred 2400+
Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz
SiSoft CPU
4933
3421
4601
2934
SiSoft MMX
10103
10539
9568
11603
PC Mark
6262
5897

The TBred seems to trounce all over the P4 in these tests. Like I said, these results were sent to me, and I have not done my full battery of tests, but the numbers seem consistent with what I've seen elsewhere. Anyways, I will reserve judgement until more tests have been run by myself. Winner = TBD

Availability

The 2700+/2800+ were paper launched, whereas Intel had 3.06GHz CPUs on shelves (depending where you live, but they were available soon after) when they were announced. This is actually a turnaround when AMD were shipping CPUs, while Intel paper launched. Although the faster Thoroughbred's are available, as an end user, good luck still getting them in retail. There are plenty of 2400+ CPUs though, so that does ease the pain a little, but AMD needs to work a bit on ramping up production. Winner = Intel

Final Words

As usual, there are a lot of factors when deciding what CPU to buy. I only generalized a lot of areas we've looked at today, so you're best to research in detail whatever CPU you decide to go with. Both platforms have their pros and cons. The end result is that their both fast. In general, I do find the motherboard choices more interesting on AMD's side, but right now, Intel's CPU lineup is more interesting given the SMT capabilities of their 3.06GHz CPU. AMD isn't standing idle though, and promises similar technolgy in the future. Whether you want to wait or not is up to you.

Ed Note: I just wanted to add to this article that it's merely my opinion. I do plan on actually comparing the hardware in our labs to see things for myself. I favor neither platform honestly, and will use both in my day-to-day chores.

I should also add that I will not respond to emails on this article. Actually, this is standard practice for all our reviews and articles, so if you are awaiting a response, you're wasting your time. Use our forums. That is the only place I will respond, as it saves me a lot of time answering a few dozen emails a day.

Agree? Disagree? Discuss it in our forums

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