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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,


The general consensus around here seems to be that Intel is the way to go. I was determined to go with an Athlon-based setup for some time (mainly due to the cost factor), but I'm surprised at how well P4 pricing compares to Athlon's these days.


So, here's a few questions:


(1) People generally praise the P3 for its stability, compatibility, etc. Do the same benefits hold true for the P4?


(2) Do the problems with M-Audio sound cards affect the latest Athlon CPU's and chipsets?


(3) Is RD-RAM memory optional/required/worthwhile for P4-based systems? The price of this stuff is a real turn-off, and I'd prefer to go with SD-RAM if possible.


(4) Athlon's tend to require special cooling and power supplies. How are P4's in this regard?


(5) Out of curiousity, are there any noteworthy performance differences between the two?


Thanks for the time. I should probably note that although I have followed this forum with interest for a year or so now, I'm basically a newbie to computer hardware. This system will probably be built by a store and not by myself, so being relatively hassle-free hardware-wise is quite important to me.


If I'm asking annoying things that have already been asked (and answered) many times before, then feel free to simply link me to another thread. :) I've read quite a few similar posts using the "search" function, and have tried to avoid asking questions that are constantly asked, but I'm posting this in an effort to be as up-to-date as possible.


Many thanks,


-Bon
 

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Following are opinins I've gotten my head bitten off one too many times for P4/athlon advocasy. I would personally say that the athlon XP is the better chip, but p4's are a better system **.



--- (1) People generally praise the P3 for its stability, compatibility, etc. Do the same benefits hold true for the P4?


Yes, the i845 and i850 are both praised as the most stable motherboards on the market. i850 is as stable as the BX pIII chipset.



--- (2) Do the problems with M-Audio sound cards affect the latest Athlon CPU's and chipsets?


???



--- (3) Is RD-RAM memory optional/required/worthwhile for P4-based systems? The price of this stuff is a real turn-off, and I'd prefer to go with SD-RAM if possible.


RD-RAM still is king in terms of memory bandwidth. It is more expensive, but with the prices of ram these days the price diffrence is getting smaller and smaller. Their price performace is not perfect, but it's still quite inexpensive to pick up 512 rd-ram. If rd-ram is still not your thing the i845 chipset takes sd-ram


--- (4) Athlon's tend to require special cooling and power supplies. How are P4's in this regard?


Yes, an athlon system REQUIRES power supplies that can deliver anough amps. Check AMD's website for specifics. Generally Athlons also require a 300W PS. Cooling the CPU with a stock HS/FAN is fine for most applications.


--- (5) Out of curiousity, are there any noteworthy performance differences between the two?


Athlon XP 1900 is consitered the fastest computational CPU in it's price range.


--- This system will probably be built by a store and not by myself, so being relatively hassle-free hardware-wise is quite important to me.


Stay away from VIA motherboards then. VIA makes the majority of Athlon MB chipsets, this is the ONLY reason I'm not running an athlon right now. Let me repeat VIA MB's are known for thier pickeyness.


** Their is a light of hope. NVidia are releasing thier athlon chipset the nForce and it appears to really kick some serious a$$. Fast and stable, it really works well with the new XP chips.


Cheers
 

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As above, these are only my opinions.

Quote:
(3) Is RD-RAM memory optional/required/worthwhile for P4-based systems? The price of this stuff is a real turn-off, and I'd prefer to go with SD-RAM if possible.
It seems P4 is close to the Athlon in price, but only with SDRAM. Using SDRAM with P4 does hurt performance, depending on what you will be doing with it. A 1,6GHz P4 with RDRAM is sometimes faster than a 2GHz P4 with SDRAM. See here:
http://www.aceshardware.com/Spades/r...le_id=45000214


If you're price sensitive but want performance you should concentrate on the Athlon. Just be sure to ask around for the most reliable motherboard.


If it's reliability you're after, the P4 is possibly more hassle-free. There will be DDR motherboards for it too in the future.

Quote:
Athlon's tend to require special cooling and power supplies. How are P4's in this regard?
Well, the P4 needs a specific kind of power supply too, with extra connections. Cooling demands are similar on both, only the way heatsinks are attached differ. You shouldn't need to worry about these if you buy from a decent seller.



Make
 

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Actually....


Most newer P4 MB's can get the additional voltage requirements by attaching one of the molex ( HD power ) connecters to the MB. They no longer require special ATX power supplies.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info, guys.

Quote:
Yes, the i845 and i850 are both praised as the most stable motherboards on the market. i850 is as stable as the BX pIII chipset.
Excellent. Are there any specific i845/i850-equipped motherboards you'd recommend? How are Intel's own "Desktop Board" range?

Quote:
Stay away from VIA motherboards then.

[..]

...concentrate on the Athlon. Just be sure to ask around for the most reliable motherboard.
Which Athlon motherboards/chipsets are known to be the most reliable/stable? (Last I heard on this forum, I thought VIA were the best. :) Shows how much I know...)

Quote:
Using SDRAM with P4 does hurt performance... See here:
Thanks for the link. I'm not exactly a performance junkie, but I'm convinced that i850 + RD-RAM is the way to go for a P4 system. I've read something about this type of RAM having to be "paired"- does this mean that I have to buy two of the same chip to get it to work?

Quote:
There will be DDR motherboards for it too in the future.
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but what does "DDR" mean? I've heard the term before. How does it relate to SD-RAM vs. RD-RAM? Should I be waiting for these new DDR motherboards?


Many thanks. I appreciate the help.


-Bon
 

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If you want to save some money, read this. If not, just go with the P4/i850.


Cost: A P4/i850 system will probably cost you $2-300 more than a similar Athlon. 512Meg of DDR Ram is about $50 vs. $200 for 512Meg RDRAM. The P4 and newer P4 PS will cost more as well.


Heat: The newer Athlon XP processors were designed to produce less heat and also have a thermal diode finally, so this shouldn't be an issue anymore.


Performance: In most tests, the Athlon beats the P4. When the nForce chipset hits the streets in the next month or two, that gap should widden.


From what I've read, the newest Athlon boards are very stable and don't exhibit the compatibility problems they used to have, plus they support DDR-SDRAM which is much cheaper. If you decide to go with an Athlon, I recommend the ABit KG7A or newer KR7A.


- Brian
 

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Just a quick note.


Just avoid the P4 SDR route. This is pointless. Either go P4/Rambus or Athlon/DDR.


-Steve
 

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I cannot reccoment the Athlon DDR combo enough. I have been running this type of system for a htpc with total reloability and compatibility. I am using a Soyo 8k7a motherboard and a 1.4Ghz athlon. 512MB Crucial DDR.
 

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I am new to this forum, but have alot of experiance with building/testing computer systems. I was really suprized to see how many people recommend the Intel systems over AMD systems. I am currently running an AMD XP 1800 / DDR system for gaming that is extreamly stable; and I use a dual AMD MP 1.2 / DDR system for my HTPC. I have found zero problems with either of these systems. Both systems are extreamly stable. I only used VIA chipsets (Abit/Asus boards) before the XP and MP processors, but during that time I did not use it for HTPC. Right now I'm using the Abit KG7 Raid and the Tyan Tiger 2460 which are AMD 760, 761 chipsets... no problems. I'm not sure about the M-Audio though...I'd like to get one of these cards to test it out...
 

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DDR = double Data Rate SDram


It transfers data on BOTH the rising and the falling of the clock signal.


If your motherboards Front Side Buss (CPU Buss) is 133MHz then the DDR ram is transfering data at the same a speed 266MHz buss would. (hope this helps)


A very stable Athalon MoBo is the ECS K7S5A. It is no longer the Athalon performance champ, but it is a good board.


reguardless of your choice, I HIGHLY recomend that you buy a QUALIUTY power supply.


A cheep PS wil cause funky instability problems that the P3 and sub-1GHz Athalons never were afected by.
 

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Another vote for Athlon...


For extreme value you might want to consider a SIS 735 based board like the one ECS makes. It's about $50!!!! It takes either SDRAM or DDR.


Bert
 

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Quote:
I am new to this forum, but have alot of experiance with building/testing computer systems. I was really surprised to see how many people recommend the Intel systems over AMD systems.
Its not the processor, its the chipset. Many people have had compatibility problems over the years between VIA's drivers and various sound cards (SB Live as well as M-audio), video capture cards, raid cards, etc. There always is (eventually) a fix or work around, but it is still at times a pain. HTPC builders are willing to give up the last 2fps in quake for fewer headaches.


Why is this the case? I wouldn't necessarily blame VIA...I suspect many hardware manufacturers only test their hardware/drivers on intel based platforms.
 

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Another happy Athlon DDR combo user here. I am using a Soyo 8k7v Dragon motherboard and a 1.4Ghz athlon. 512MB Crucial DDR.


Sound card issues seem to be a thing of the past with via chipsets... my audigy card has been very happy at the least...

(note: this mobo also has onboard spdif i/o and builtin 6 channel analog audio with the CMedia 8738 chip)



work_permit is likely correct on the manufacturers' testing narrowly, it costs too much to support every hw config out of the gate, if enough clamor is raised over the "semi-compatible" systems, manufacturers can always patch the product later.... note: "semi-compatible" systems are rarely listed on product packaging...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks again for the responses.

Quote:
In most tests, the Athlon beats the P4. When the nForce chipset hits the streets in the next month or two, that gap should widden.
It will probably be about mid-January when I get my new system. Will the nForce be a serious option to consider? Which motherboard brands will be supporting it, and what is the price range likely to be?

Quote:
If you decide to go with an Athlon, I recommend the ABit KG7A or newer KR7A.
The KG7 looks like a viable option. What is the difference between the KG7 and the KG7-RAID?

Quote:
I HIGHLY recomend that you buy a QUALIUTY power supply.
I intend to contact the store some time soon regarding cases and power supplies. Are there any specific brand names I should be asking about? And in general, is 300W sufficient for Athlon/P4 purposes?


Thanks,


-Bon
 

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I'm also new to HTPC, but have extensive experience with PC hardware/building systems so here's my 2 cents. If you are not going to be buying this system until January make sure you take a look at the new Intel 845 chipset that supports DDR. This will probably give you near RDRAM performance for SDRAM prices. Plus you get the piece of mind of running an Intel chipset (vs. a VIA plaform).
 

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I'm also new to HTPC, but have extensive experience with PC hardware/building systems so here's my 2 cents. If you are not going to be buying this system until January make sure you take a look at the new Intel 845 chipset that supports DDR. This will probably give you near RDRAM performance for SDRAM prices. Plus you get the piece of mind of running an Intel chipset (vs. a VIA plaform).
 

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Quote:
Sound card issues seem to be a thing of the past with via chipsets
Sadly, not true. I have an SBLive 5.1 and it doesn't get along with my VIA mobo. No combination of VIA 4in1 and SB drivers is stable. Not to mention that my CD-RW drive doesn't get along with the chipset either.


My next PC is going to be Intel.
 

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I would avoid creative sound cards if you get a via based system. I think that would be better than avoiding a via based system in order to stick with a creative sound card.
 

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Quote:
I would avoid creative sound cards if you get a via based system. I think that would be better than avoiding a via based system in order to stick with a creative sound card.
Ouch! What a tough predicament. This covers the largest group of AMD users, or the most popular sound card on the market today.


Kei Clark

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Actually the problem is not avoiding creative cards with VIA chipsets. The problem is a little bit more complex.

The original SB Live has caused many problems in many systems, but only the VIA setup got a bad press, due to the IDE bug (which is fixed by now btw.)

There were several Intel chipsets in the past (after the BX chipset) which had similar problems.


The newest problem also affects Intel chipsets. Several older grafic cards can destroy boards with newer P4 chipsets. So you can´t really say go with Intel and you have a stable system you have to look at the whole configuration and at the os and at the driver situation as well.
 
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