When you are after that little bit extra performance from your computer. Thoughts go one of either two ways. 1) Buy a new PC, 2) Upgrading. The first option can be expensive, but you do get a nice new shiny PC, which will almost definitely be faster/better/newer etc. But by upgrading your current system, better performance can be achieved with much less expenditure. Often first thoughts turn to the processor, and rightly so. After all the processor is the main "brain" behind your computer. This review/guide will help you with a processor upgrade. When considering an upgrade, as a general rule of thumb, if you need to upgrade more than 3 or 4 components, then it might be worth starting from scratch and buying a new system. If you need to update that many things, your system is probably quite old and you'll end up spending too much money, for a small performance gain. To begin with, and I can?t stress this enough. Before rushing out and buying the latest/fastest processor - ?do a little research?. Not all chips will work with your current machine. If you only want to upgrade the processor, then you will need to know what speeds your current motherboard can handle. You can find this in the motherboard manual that came with your PC, but this is often out of date. The best place to check is on the Internet, specifically the homepage of your motherboard manufacturer. If on the other hand, you want to upgrade to an even faster processor, then you?ll need to upgrade your motherboard as well. This is a little beyond the scope of this review, but I might write one later on. Keep checking dooyoo. NB Sometimes you?ll need to perform what is known as a BIOS upgrade on your motherboard. This is a really simple task; follow the instructions from the manufactures web site. But be warned, this can go wrong, and will leave your motherboard broken! I?m not taking any responsibility if th
ings go wrong. If you know what you are doing, and follow the instructions carefully, you?ll be fine. Armed with the knowledge of what processor can be used, you now have a choice. Whether to buy the fastest processor your motherboard can handle, or one of the slower ones, which might provide you with more value for money. So for instance, processor A might be £150 more expensive than processor B, but A might not be that much faster. So in that instance I would say processor B. A great site is, www.tomshardware.com. Here you?ll find reviews and benchmarks of all the processors that are available. And will help you decide just how good the processor actually is. Personally would never buy the very latest processor, they are just way too expensive. Instead I would buy maybe 3 or 4 speed lower than this. BUT, as you are upgrading, if you aren?t talking about the latest chip - because your motherboard can?t handle it - I would say get the fastest that you can afford. When you have finally decided on what you are after. Shop around; by far the cheapest place to buy a processor from is the Internet. High street store can often be 40% more expensive. Check out sites such as www.ebuyer.com, www.scan.co.uk, www.aria.co.uk and www.dabs.com.
Intel Pentium 4 Processors are now almost at the 3ghz mark as you can see from the Intel quote below "The Intel® Pentium® 4 processor, now available at 2.80 GHz, is the next evolutionary step for desktop processor technology. Based on Intel® NetBurst? microarchitecture, the Pentium 4 processor offers higher-performance processing than ever before. Built with Intel's 0.13-micron technology, the Pentium 4 processor delivers significant performance gains for use in home computing, business solutions and all your processing needs. " There is often lots of discussion with regards to who makes the better processor. Is it Intel or its main rival AMD ?? This opinion is here to help you make that decision for yourself as what suits one may not suit another. Processor speeds: As stated above Intel are now at speeds of 2.8 Ghz with there current Pentium 4 processer which compares to AMD latest release of the 2600+. Although AMD's latest offering as called the 2600+ this does not actually run at 2.6Ghz but at 2.13Ghz although this by no means indicates that a processor running at 2.13 will be slower than one running at 2.80. Different processor families can perform a different number of instructions per clock cycle which would theoretically make a bigger difference than how many Mhz/Ghz or clock cycles the processor runs at or so many would have you believe. This is refered to as clock cycle efficiency, but this is no more accurate than saying better clockspeed equals better performance. It is variable and boils down to running under ideal conditions. Current processors use something called Branch Prediction which helps them to predict what is the most likely next process that is going to be performed and prepares it for process. If this prediction is a bad one then that instruction is wasted and performance obvioulsy suffers. This applies to both Intel and AMD. This basically means that there is no clear cut way to
determine by looking at a processors claimed Ghz speed or even by how many instructions per clock cycle it performs how fast it will actually be. Reviews: Reviews help but even then only to a point. When ever you look at a review of an Intel processor, AMD processor or even a comparison between the too they often run benchmarks in the same software programs. e.g. Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, Castle Wolfenstein, 3d Mark and about ten other common programs. What does this tell you? It tell you that maybe AMD are faster at processing when running Quake 3 and perhaps Intel are usually faster at performing when running 3d Mark but by no means gives you an accurate answer to which processor is faster. How do I find out what is best for me? Obviously you want to know what processor is faster for what type of activities you perform with your PC. Ideally you need to spend a good amount of time looking for reviews of processors that test on a wider range of software. If you use Microsoft Office XP then try find a review that test benchmarks on that. If you use 3d rendering programs then ... you get the picture. The can be difficult to find but they do exist as I managed to find some that suited my needs. I afraid its not that simple though..... Try looking at the next section. Other speed factors. As far as I'm concerned speed isnt just about how fast it runs Doom or Quake 3 (if I played them) but I find loading speeds an important issue. How many seconds or even minutes Windows takes to loads how long applications take to load whilst in windows and how many you can have loaded at once before your PC starts struggling. These are affected by factors other than just your Processor. RAM/Hard Disk/HDD Controller/Bus Speed. These are really issue for another article but ones that directly affect your processer are Bus speed and RAM. Processors have a bus speed e.g. the New Intel P4 2.8Ghz has a B
us speed of 533mhz this is how fast it can communicate to other hardware. If your processor can communicate at this speed but your other hardware cannot then you are creating a bottle neck and unknowingly you are slowing down your processor. You RAM will also have a bus speed which ideally you want to match your processor (depending on type of RAM this may not be possible). Also your hard disk if slow will constantly be searching for data that your processor is requesting. As before this in detail should be in a different opinion. Cost: Intel are known to cost more than AMD but this is usually on there newly released processors if you step down a couple of models then they compare only marginally more than AMD, and are much more sensibly priced. Summing Up: After carefull consideration for me everything pointed to Intel which is what I got and deffinately do not regret it. I found that AMD are usually faster pound for pound when it comes to games but not for most other applications. So if you are a gamer then mayble you will prefer AMD if not I find Intel most suitable. From past experience aswell I can comment on reliability. In a previous job I used to make PC's for the offices and then ended up making home PC's for most of the people who worked there. (This was before there was as much competition in the PC marketplace). I must have made a couple of hundered over about a 3 year period and soon began to realise that Intel machines were far, far more reliable than AMD equivalents. Not just for hardware failures but for crashes in Windows or other programs. It is a known fact that AMD processors run about 30% hotter than their Intel counterparts and maybe this has something to do with it. My personal Choice: Intel Hopefully this will help you rule out some of the incorrect or biased reviews you see out there on the internet.
Hi, This is my first opinion, and on the result of it, i will decide if to continue to write or not. So.... if you have to buy a pc, one of the most important piece that you need, is the processor. It's the "heart" of all, here; every data, every information enter in it, is processed and exit as results. The faster the processor is, the quicker your pc will be, therefore less time you will have to wait to get results.... Only a few years ago, when class "pentium" appeared on market, the processor was something very expensive and very useful for life of your pc. Today, processors have a lot of "friends" that help them with their work.... You can find 3d-videocard, cache memory and many many other pieces that really help your processor; but even today, a slow processor, or a not good one, can easily make your pc ready for recycle-bin :) soon! What about talking about the time when that “pentium” appeared? Ok...at that time, the Intel's industries, created a chip, the "PENTIUM" that was going to change the life of our pc.... It was very quick, very reliable and that started a new era for the pc. The project of this new processor, was really superb..... "This chip has its own brain".... Why? Because , in this chip, there was a technology that learns from user's operation, so, if the user makes the same sequel of operation twice, it looks forward for the second time the sequel of operation, and it will begin to load ( in dead time ) the operation that the user asked as first. That was something wonderful.....many newroads were opened with this criteria....BUT a bug was found on the construction of this chip..... an error on the management of number with decimal (at 1*e-13 )... With this bug, INTEL was nearly to close, because the cost for changing every bugged chip was too expensive.
In the meanwhile, a new house, AMD, began to sell a sort of a chip , so similar to the intel one but with the same problem. The idea to change all processors in the world disappeared, and Intel decided to call this version (the bugged one ) with a new name: CELERON. Nowadays, we still have the same 3 kinds of processors.... Intel ( with fixed bug ), AMD ( with bug ) and Celeron ( With bug ). The main difference between these 3 chips is substantially this: - Intel Chip is the most expensive . But it's quality is greater and there's no known bug. - Amd is a cheaper version of Intel chip. The only difference is that it has this bug but only on certain operation (it happens very rarely to people who don't work with 3d graphic ). Its component is very good and very strong. - Celeron is the cheapest chip.... it's an Intel one, but with the bug on the ( e-13 ) decimal. The good thing about this chip is the price, and the possibility to overclock the speed of the processor. The overclock (teorically on every kind of chip ) is the art of improving the speed to process any operation of the cpu. For example, if we will buy a Celeron 600Mhz, we can make 600.000.000 of operation per second, but overclocking it to 900Mhz, we can make the chip work at 900.000.000 operation per second. I said that is teorically possible to make every kind of chip to overclock. But it's not really so easy… Intel and Amd, are very weak on the overclock, and often, if you try to overclock them, you can cause your pc to be damaged very seriously ( chip will melt on motherboard ). The only one that is able to make a good work is Celeron.... Its secret is that Celeron doesn’t use all the speed that it can use....so speeding it up (even with its half) doesn’t make processor to be melted. For sure, when you try to overclock your processor, you will need some more fan ins
ide your pc, so as not to allow the too high temperature to melt the pieces onto each other. I don't know much about operation of overclocking, so, you will not find here a practical guide about overclocking. The reason why i am writing this opinion, is to let me know what skill of English i have, and i believe no one else can tell me better than you can. My suggestion, if you have to buy a processor, is to look for an AMD or a CELERON one.... To spend double only to have a INTEL, is quite not useful. I hope that this opinion will be useful for someone.... To all other people....excuse me if i bore you, and thanks a lot if you appreciated my work.
My opinion is that today Amd is the best. Why? First: there is high quality, certainly. Second:With all applications and with 2D and 3D softwares and games is very good. Third: low prices. There is a good price difference between Amd and Intel and it’s very good for me. Overclock Amd cpu offer a great tollerance for overclock. Mostly the socket A motherboard allow to act on FSB (Front Side Bus) and on multiplier. For overclock often you need allow also on Vcore and the most popular motherboards permit it. But attention! This operation CAN CAUSE DAMAGE! It’s warning! In fact the cpu, if overclocked but not cooled (off), is damaged. Overclock is supported by this motherboard: Asus A7V133 (chipset Via KT133A) Abit KT7A RAID (chipset Via KT133A) Epox 8KTA3+ Pro (chipset Via KT133A) Recently there are also: Epox 8K7A+RAID (chipset Amd 761) Gigabyte 7DXR (chipset Amd 761) But I think that You not need of overclock with Amd because it’s already powerful. Finally the monopoly of Intel is closed. And I thing that so Intel carries one’s ambitions too far, but only today. Yesterday it was certainly the best and it not looking for best quality and low price. But today it is very unlike. It’s useful for us (users): low price and high quality, always.
I have just had to build two computers at work. One department wanted a AMD Athlon 1.2 Gb system and the other a Intel Pentium 4 1.3 Gb. Firstly I must say that it was a nightmare building the Intel Pentium 4 1.3 Gb. Firstly I had to locate a Intel motherboard which I have only found a few options on. I have had to us a Intel board, as other manufactures have not go a board that I can read up about. The next problem was that I had to purchase a computer case with a 300 watt power supply and then try to local a 400 watt one and change it over. This took about two days to locate. After building the system, I then started to format the software, but it keeped freezing up. When I contacted the component suppliers, they said that it sounds like the motherboard is cutting out due to the temperature of the processor. The heat sink and cooler came with the processor, so I asummed it was the right one. After three days I managed to get the system working alone with the new DDR Ram. But I must say that the system I built with the AMD Athlon 1.2Gb processor when together without ant problems, just remember that you need a 300 watt power supply and a AMD approved heat sink and fan and you will be O.K. The two systems have been runing for about two weeks now and It is my view that the AMD Athlon 1.2 Gb seems to be running software faster and smoother than the Intel Pentium 4 1.3Gb. The AMD system was identical to the Intel apart from the processor, Ram and motherboard. I would therefore conclude that If I was to build a system for myself, I would save the extra £398 and build an AMD system.
The processor by its very nature is an essential component in any PC. Until recently Intel was the leader in terms of processors but over the last few years AMD have fought their way in to the market and established a large share of it. Once upon a time there was only one make of processor on the market, all you had to do was pick your speed. Now, however, there are no less than 5 different processors available (6 if you count the Cyrix M III). This can make picking a processor very difficult. On the budget side of things there is the Intel Celeron and the AMD Duron, and on the more expensive side you have the Intel Pentium 3 or Pentium 4, as well as the AMD Athlon. Budget Processors ----------------- Intel Celeron ------------- Current Max. Speed - 766Mhz Bus speed - 66Mhz Level 1 Cache - 32K Level 2 Cache - 128K L2 Cache Speed - Full clock speed Cache type - On die Manufacturing Process - 0.18 micron Material - Aluminium Transistor Count - 28 million Price - £74 (766Mhz) Form Factor - Socket 370-PGA AMD Duron --------- Current Max. Speed - 850Mhz Bus speed - 100Mhz DDR (Effectively 200Mhz) Level 1 Cache - 128K Level 2 Cache - 164K L2 Cache Speed - Full clock speed Cache type - On die Manufacturing Process - 0.18 micron Material - Aluminium Transistor Count - 25 million Price - £73 (850Mhz) Form Factor - Socket-A Conclusion ---------- The Intel Celeron is a slow processor due to its 66Mhz front side bus. This acts as a bottle neck and means that the AMD Duron out performs it easily. The Duron also wins on price, as the 850Mhz Duron is roughly the same price as a 766Mhz Celeron. However, the two chips use different motherboards and the the Duron motherboards are generally more expensive than their Celeron counterparts. Due to Intel’s 810 and 815 integrated graphics (which come in
most Celeron systems) the Celeron is more likely to be used in very low cost budget systems where keeping the price down is important. However, I would highly recommend paying that little extra to buy a Duron sysyem as the performance increase more than makes up for any extra cost incurred when buying a system. If you are upgrading I would also recommend the Duron due to its better performance, unless you happen to have a motherboard which is compatible with the Celeron. If you have an older Pentium 2 or Celeron then you may be able to upgrade to a new Celeron without changing your motherboard. If this is the case then the money you save on buying a Duron motherboard (around £100) can be used to buy something else, like more RAM or a new graphics card. The Celeron is suitable for a general office PC or for home users who won't be doing anything too strenuous. The Duron on the other hand is OK for games and the money saved on it could be spent on a better graphics card, which is likely to have more effect of performance. Power Processors ---------------- Intel Pentium 3 --------------- Current Max. Speed - 1Ghz Bus speed - 100Mhz or 133Mhz Level 1 Cache - 32K Level 2 Cache - 256K L2 Cache Speed - Full clock speed Cache type - On die Manufacturing Process - 0.18 micron Material - Aluminium Transistor Count - 28 million Price - £200 (1Ghz) Form Factor - Slot 1/FC-PGA AMD Athlon ---------- Current Max. Speed - 1.5hz Bus speed - 200Mhz or 266Mhz (100x2 or 133x2) Level 1 Cache - 128K Level 2 Cache - 256K L2 Cache Speed - Full clock speed Cache type - On die Manufacturing Process - 0.18 micron Material - Copper Transistor Count - 37 million Price - £205 (1.3Ghz) Form Factor - Socket A Intel Pentium 4 --------------- Current Max. Speed - 1.5Ghz+ Bus speed - 400Mhz (1x400) Level 1 Cac
he - 20K Level 2 Cache - 256K L2 Cache Speed - Full clock speed Cache type - On die Manufacturing Process - 0.18 micron Material - Aluminium Transistor Count - 42 million Form Factor - Socket 423 Conclusion ---------- The biggest question at the moment must be whether to buy a Pentium 4 or to stick with the old favourites, the Pentium 3 and Athlon. In my opinion I would say that for the time being it will be best to stick with a Pentium 3 or Athlon. The Pentium 4 is still very expensive in comparison with the other chips, and this is mirrored by the RAMBUS RAM that it must use. Because of different architecture the Pentium 4 uses it is not necessarily a lot faster than the current Pentium 3 and Athlons. In normal use a 1.5Ghz P-4 is little faster that a P3 1Ghz, although when it comes to games the P-4 does have more of an advantage. A lot of this is down to a technology known as Hyper Pipelined Technology which allows the chip to run at much faster speeds (2Ghz plus) but also means that its performance is not as high as it could be. The performance will also increase when more programs are optimised to run with the technologies the P-4 introduces. On worrying problem with the current crop of Pentium 4's is that they use a Socket 423 motherboard. However, in a few months time Intel will ditch this in favour of Socket 478 meaning that an upgrade will also require a new motherboard. So providing I convinced you to go for a P-3 or an Athlon, which one is best? In terms of performance there is little to separate a P-3 and an Athlon running at identical speeds. AMD has two advantages though, firstly at identical speeds Athlons are somewhat cheaper than their Intel counterparts, and the Athlon runs at faster speeds (up to 1.5Ghz) and a 1.3Ghz Athlon costs the same as a 1Ghz Pentium 3. With the motherboards for both systems costing pretty much the same the only factor between them is price,
and the Athlon is cheaper. I have heard that some people have had compatibility problems with Athlons but these were due to the motherboard, problems which are not the fault of AMD and should be fixed by now. New systems featuring either the Pentium 3 or Athlon are likely to be very similar in price and features, although there may be a slight saving on the Athlon. A Pentium 4 system is likely to cost a lot more and at the moment the performance increases will be small. It would be best to wait until Intel make the new motherboard standard, otherwise your machine could be out of date and impossible to upgrade very quickly. As for upgrading it is worth checking what you current motherboard supports, as often early Pentium 2 (and even some Celeron systems) can be upgraded to a Pentium 3 just by putting in a new processor. Athlons will need a new motherboard. If you need a new motherboard too I would buy the Athlon, but if you can use your existing motherboard with a Pentium 3 that would be a good option too. Hope that helped you all, but just incase you were a bit baffled heres a quick guide to some technical terms. CPU – Central processing unit, just another name for the processor. Motherboard – Contains all the chips that control your PC and is where everything else is plugged in to. Cache – Where frequently used data is stored, used to speed up the operation of the processor. Level 1 cache is closer to the processor and is usually made of faster memory, level 2 cache is usually slower but bigger in size. Front Side Bus – The bus that links the processor, memory, PCI cards etc. Ranges from 66Mhz to 400Mhz, the processor must be a multiple of this. Clock speed – The speed of the processor in Mhz or Ghz. Ram Bus (RIMM) – A different kind of memory (as opposed to DIMM’s) used by Intels Pentium 4. More expensive and offers little performa
nce gain. Mhz/Ghz – Mehahertz / Gigahertz, a measure of speed. One hertz is one cycle per second, the mega prefix means one million and the giga prefix means one million
Over these past few years AMD has really come into the lime light but Intel are expecting a lot from its new Pentium 4. A couple of years ago a high performance PC would have set you back for around £3000 and just about two years ago for around £2000. At this modern age to get your filthy hands on a high spec PC you will need around £1500. A long time ago it would be an easy choice between an Intel or AMD processor ? Intel if you want fast speed and AMD if you were poor. But now a days it has all changed ever since the release of AMD?s Athlon processor in autumn 1999. AMD could finally match the performance of their archrivals Intel and their processors were too be faster and cheaper than the Intel Pentium 3. AMD from that instant started winning awards and praises in reviews, not to mention the sales. By the end of the year they had taken 15% of the processing market. They topped that in 2000 by being the first to reach the incredible speed of 1GHz beating Intel?s Pentium 3, which found it hard to scrape to 1GHz. By this time Intel foresaw the danger of AMD and they reacted with the newly released Pentium 4.The Pentium 4 can be made to run at high clock-rates. It has been released at speeds of 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz. In a recent study, it has been proven that the AMD Athlon 1.2GHZ runs faster the Pentium 4 1.5GHz. Running office productivity, surfing the web the AMD is faster but Intel is faster when it comes to running videos and rendering games graphics. Mind you when it comes to running games there is not much difference except for some first person shoot?em ups such as Quake 3 Arena. AMD?s Athlon has been estimated to reach a maximum speed of around 1.5-7GHz whereas the Pentium 4 is supposed to have the potential to reach 5Ghz! Anyway if you are getting a processor AMD is your best bet because it is cheap and fast.
So, I took my AMD K6-2 and sent it packing... but I didn't want to go back to Intel just yet. I like to think of the AMD Duron as an Athlon with a reduced cache. It still has more cache than a comparable Intel Celeron processor, has a more advanced internal architecture, is built with a .18 micron aluminum die-casting process for more speed with less power consumption at a reduced price, and has the ability to communicate with the motherboard at 200 Mhz as opposed to 66Mhz for the Celeron. The Duron requires a pretty powerful cooling fan, and I've got a heat sink in a cylindrical configuration on top of it with the fan in the middle of the cylinder. I've had to keep my case closed because this fan could easily cut a finger or paw should a cat decide to investigate what that whirring noise is. I've left this system running SETI@Home and some benchmark tests when I am at work and it hasn't triggered the cooling alarm on the motherboard yet. It's stayed pretty cool. This processor currently works with a Via KT133 chipset, and a few motherboard manufacturers have already released products with the Socket A to sink this devil's teeth into. I settled on a GA-7ZM from Gigabyte - no ISA slots at all in that puppy and sound was integrated on to it. The AGP slot says it's 4x, but who makes a 4x card yet? I even managed to trade up my PC-100 memory for PC-133 without much of a hassle even though there were jumpers I could have used to tell the motherboard to use the PC-100 and like it. Infant Mortality I don't know if this was because they rushed the things out too quickly, but both my Duron and my motherboard died when I was trying to assemble my new system around them. The parts shop swapped them under the warranty without a problem... stuff happens. Performance It's been extremely responsive compared to the AMD K6-2 550Mhz and the motherboard it replaced. I've found that my &qu
ot;recent" game purchases such as Mortyr and Ultima IX and Thief have become significantly more responsive, even though AMD would probably rather have me get an Athlon for such things. Thief has absolutely no lag to it at all in rendering at a reasonable resolution. There have been no processor-related errors so far with Windows 98. On a lark, I put in a different hard drive and tried Windows 2000 for a bit. My system was much peppier than a Celeron 500 MHz-filled iPaq I tinkered with a week ago. Just running my usual applications of Word and Outlook Express and Yahoo Messenger and so on all at once, I have yet to hit a snag unless it's been because I'm on a slow 56K dial-up line to the Internet. Price Compared to the "equivalent" Celeron processors, the Duron is settling in at prices much less than them. I got my Duron 700, motherboard with sound, and a trade of PC-100 to PC-133 for around £200. I did a little math and found that I could probably put together a system that will smoke the iPaq C500 for £400 to £500 and still provide some room for expansion in the future. If it weren't for that pesky need to pay for an operating system... but still the newsroom may be filled with Duron clones when the budget year rolls around and it's time to replace those creaking P200MMX's in Compaq cases. Still, when the major manufacturers start tinkering with Durons and don't have to deal with those suspicious Rambus memory chips, you're going to find some pretty sweet peppy systems way under £600. As more motherboard and chipset manufacturers get into the Duron game, the prices are going to come down even more. I'd suggest the 600 MHz variety of this processor over the AMD K6-2 or -3 at this point for the people needing a basic, cheap system to get their chequebook, finances, document writing, e-mail, and web surfing going. The additional cache and clock speed are worth the extr
a dollars it takes to get into the game. Later on in this product's lifecycle, you'll be able to extend the lifepan of whatever motherboard you get now with the 600 MHz with the final version of the Duron that will go into your system. I'm betting on a 1.2 GHQ version to end the run, but I could be wrong. I'll be borrowing a copy of Diablo 2 from someone this weekend to see if this Duron can handle the current crop of games.
Today the rate that processors are advancing you spend a fortune on one and it's outdated virtually the next day. They just seem to be getting faster and faster with all these companies that are in competion with each other. But do we really need the best all the time and have to spend fortunes on the best up to date processors. I don't because all you need is a fairly fast one to keep up today and in most magazines if you buy the about 100mhz faster than the recomended ones your probably fine.
Wondering which processor to upgrade to? Which is the fastest? or just curious? then you've come to the right place. This is the TzunamiBodgeIT guide to processors!!! AMD AMD are my personal favourite at the moment. They are relative newcomers, and break years of intel dominance in IBM compatibles (basically a fancy way of saying PC!) They began as far as I can remember with the K5 socket 7 chips. They could use the same motherboards as the pentium 1, and were seen as a cheap option. They were quite a bit slower than Pentium chips though. next came the K6 chips, and these were basically a small improvement on the K5. They operated at slightly higher clockspeeds and (I think) were 686 architecture - the same as Pentium 2's. However they were no match for the Pentium 2 and were soon superceded by... the K6-2- This was where AMD started to get really serious. For the first time ever, Intel faced a major opponent in the processor market. For a small drop in performance and a big drop in price, the K6-2 was a viable alternative to the pentium 2. It boasted it's own instruction extensions set which also incorporated intels MMX it was called 3D NOW! And found increasing support amongst software producers. K6-3 was the next revision to the chip. It had an increased amount of cache, and altered instructions. It was meant to challenge the Pentium 3, and while some users reported higher match for match clockspeeds, the K6-3 was beaten by the Pentium 3's SSE (Streaming SIMD extensions) yet a further instuctions revision. AMD were quick to respond however with the Athlon or K7, which also used 686 architecture. For the first time AMD had created a chip for an exclusive motherboard style, following Intels move towards slot architecture. It beat the Pentium 3 hands down for price and performance, and made a massive dent in Intel's performance processor market. It had more and faster internal cache and ran on a DDR (double data
rate) bus (200mhz!!!) and included more new instuctions. Ironically AMD again followed Intel in the move back to socket processor with it's two new versions of the chip The Athlon Thunderbird - a socket (Socket A) version of the Athlon which used smaller, faster architecture which crammed even more, smaller transistors into a smaller space. It also had more cache. It beats the **** out of the Pentium 3 offering about a 10 - 15% increase in speed for like clockspeeds. It is also cheaper. I highly reccomend it to anyone wanting to upgrade their processor. The Duron - This is essentially a cut-down version of the Thunderbird. It still uses AMD's socket A design, but has less cache. It is aimed at the same market as the Celeron, and although being comparable on price, it's performance is nearer to that of a Pentium 3 rather than a Celeron. The future looks bright for AMD. With the release of it's next generation of processors scheduled for early 2001 and set to increase the clock speed of the Athlon design to 1500mhz and beyond. But the really exciting stuff is further away. The Sledgehammer, sheduled for early 2002 is a 64 bit processor (as opposed to 32-bit present chips) Unlike Intels proposed Itanium 64-bit chip, it is designed to be backwards compatible with 32-bit architecture to allow use of 32-bit software and hardware. There are two proposed chips - the Clawhammer(for the single and dual processor markets) and the Sledgehammer which will be aimed at the four or eight processor market to rival high-end sparc Unix servers. Imagine Eight 64-bit 3GHz processors in a PC, and you can imagine why AMD has got people excited. The other good thing about AMD is that it is a European company, based in France and enlisting a lot of English help it is good support for the economy. Intel Intel are the original players of the processor market, and have long since held a monopoly on the processor market. As a result they
have built up a lot of respect and loyalty, and this is why so many manufacturers still use Intel chips. Intel chips date back further than I can remember - to when the CPU was just a small collection of non-unified logic commands. The earliest chip I remeber is the 286 (or 2x86 as it should be properly named) this operated at very low clockspeeds (4MHz!) compared to now, but at the time was the best and commanded prices of up to £2000 for one chip!!! This was followed by the 386 and then 486 which most people should remember. the 486 was stretched to it's limits and reached clock-speeds of upto 133MHz, but this involved a form of overclocking, and wasn't very viable so a new chip was needed. Enter the 585 (5x86), but as Intel finally wised up to the world of consumerisation and the increasing market for home computers they named the new chip series the Pentium (playing on the 5 in the name)these began at 66MHz and continued upto 200MHz (later extended to 266MHz) They used the socket-7 architecture which is still used by some chips todaywhen Intel hit 200MHz the thought they had hit a brick wall with the 586 architectue and in true Intel style switched to 686 design. But the new chip wasn't the pentium 2, it is the much forgotten Pentium Pro, and was aimed at the server market. It was not as much of an improvement on the Pentium as it should have been. However it did have extended amounts of cache. It was a comercial flop. Intel, keen to forget their failure came up with a new idea of adding new instructions to the chip without totally redesigning the architecture, and so the x86 series was extended with the first large-scale instruction additions - namely MMX (multimedia extensions) while Intel squeezed even more life out of the Pentium 1 (to 266MHz) Intel's second attempt at a 686 processor was much more successful. they had learnt from their earlier mistakes, and aimed the new processor initially at the power-user market. Intel use
d one of the biggest ever IT advertising campaigns (incorporating annoying dancing spacemen)They also created a Pentium Pro style version of the chip called the Xeon, which offered upto 2mb of onboard cache!!! there was also a cut down lower cache version called the Celeron. The Pentium 2 was the first chip to utilise slot architechture rather than sockets. But again this was aimed at High-end markets and servers. The pentium 2 was followed by a chip identical in almost every respect... The Pentium 3 was virtually the same as the Pentium 2, except it contained SSE (Streaming SIMD Extensions) a new set of instructions revisions building on MMX. It is a good high-quality chip, but has a price-tag to match. It is currently available at clock-speeds of upto 1.23 GHz, using a new 133MHz FSB (Frontside bus) and using copper technology. The Pentium 4 (Williamette) offers the first change in architecture since the pentium pro, and could essentially be described as a 7x86 chip. It offers newer buses and technology capable of reaching much higher clock-speeds than before, and starts at 1.4Ghz. It also includes a new set of additional instruction - SSE2 - read the full review of this chip in my opinion on it. The future Intel are also looking to enter the 64-bit market with a chip known as Itanium. This was originally announced publically about 2 years ago codenamed Merced. It is a joint effort with Hewlett Packard (HP)It is planned for release around summer 2001 (which in Intel terms means around early 2002) Surprisingly, the first chip will be released at 733 MHz, however Multi-chip pc's will be available, and Manufacturers have already announced 32 processor model plans. Instead of just adding a new set of instructions as before, Intel has decided to work from the ground up with a new system called EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction set Computing) whereby Itanium processors can work on upto 20 operations at once. This technology suonds very
promising, and if Intel can deliver what it says then there is still hope for them yet. Cyrix Cyrix have quite recently been overtaken by VIA, and produced a series of low-end chips designed to compete with firstly the Pentium and then the Pentium 2. However there have been very few recent additions. The MIII Chip currently reaches 600MHz and should be avoided if you are looking to upgrade. It is based on Intel's socket 370 architecture. SPARC This is a standard of chip rather than company. SPARC chips have utilised 64-bit technology since 1995, and are manufactured by companies such as Sun and IBM. They are aimed at high end markets and are capable of utilising many processors at once (Sun's UltraSPARC III can acess upto 1000 processors at once!!!) Obviously this sort of technology is not required for the everyday used using word and playing the occasional game of Quake 3, rather they are used by serious high-end servers and workstations - powering massive websites and Intranets or databases - such as in the MOD or Universities, or to recalculate DNA patterns or render graphics for movies such as Star-Wars. The main problem with it is, however that it is largely incompatible with the x86 32-but world. Glossary Processor - or CPU or "chip". This is the main part of any modern computer, it is a collection of Billions of logic instructions and is in effect the "Brain" of the computer. x86 - a standard of PC architect that comprises an original set of instructions that has remained unchanged for years. It is a standard that all IBM-Compatible PC's conform to. Cache - This is a small amount of extremely fast computer memory - initially placed on the motherboard, but later on the chip. It is the computer version of a notepad of post-it notes. Overclocking - A method of increasing the clock-speed of a computer to increase performance without changing the physical prop
erties of a chip. Clock-speed - This is a measure of the number of operations a chip can perform per second, but not necessarily an indication of the chip's comparative speed overall as this depends on many factors. Bus - A bus is (like a road bus) a method of transportation between components, but instead of carrying people, it carries data. The faster a bus, the faster data can be transferred. Phew, I hope you find that useful. If anyone has any questions or comments please leave your email address and I will try to get back to you if I can help you with anything. If I have made any mistakes, many apologies :-)
If you are using a socket A Athalon Thunderbird or Duron chip, the most important thing is to remember to buy an approved heat sink. Why you may ask, as you can get a heat sink, which will fit for £3, and an approved one may cost £9. Well if you look at these chips, you will see that they are not flat, the central surface of the chip is raised. If you are lucky the chip may have 4 soft rubber feet in each corner, which will help to balance the heat sink on the chip, but not all of the chips have these feet, and they have been known to fall off. If a 'generic' heat sink is incorrectly fitted to one of these chips without these feet, it can crush the corners of this delicate piece of silicon, which sits on the top surface of the chip. This usually has the effect of completely knackering the whole thing! I have seen many such chips, and each one brings a tear to my eye.... Approved heat sinks generally have either raised sides which protrude the correct amount to sit the heat sink perfectly on top of the raised silicon, whilst maintaining contact with the edges of the chip, whilst others have hollows designed so that the protruding silicon can sit within them. Both reduce the risk of the chip becoming damaged from the heat sink! So Invest in a heat sink by a manufacture such as ORB, or Cooler Master, but remember to check that they are AMD approved or at least have a look at the bottom of the heat sink first !. This does not apply to the Slot A processors, which are contained in a SECC capsule similar to that of the PII.
Somebody once said to me "buying a computer is a lot like making love to a hedgehog; it can be a painful expierience if your not careful." For people who can afford to spend £800+ on a computer there are plenty of companies who have made the task simple and this is definatly not the case but when you don't want to spend all your money on a computer they don't offer much help and the task becomes more difficult. I have put together a short guide from my experiences of buying computers to hopefully help anyone finding it hard to decide what computer they need with what money they have: When buying a computer the first things you should be ask yourself are: WHAT DO YOU NEED IT FOR? and HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU WANT TO SPEND? You must know what you want your computer to be able to do. There are so many different combinations of components you can have in computer. Only a year or two ago a 200Mhz computer was seen as sufficient but these days people are buying computers over 1Ghz. This doesn't mean slower computers won't be good enough because most people don't need over 600mhz and most of the other hardware in P.C's can't work over this speed anyway. A 486 66Mhz with 24 MB ram computer with a modem is enough to get on the internet, run basic software and even play MP3's with, and because prices have dropped so much can be bought for around £50. The most important thing about buying a budget computer is to make sure it has room for upgrade. This means checking whether the motherboard has room for more ram, better graphics card or can take a faster processor. so I have come up with two basic outlines for two different price brackets: System 1: PENTIUM 90-166mhz 32MB RAM 2-3GB hard drive £100 - £200 1-2MB graphics 24 speed CD-ROM 33.6 - 56k Modem 14" MONITOR AT or ATX case and power supply System 2: 3
00 to 500Mhz Processor, 64 MB SDRAM 6-10GB Hard drive, 4MB Graphics, £300 - £400 32 speed CD-ROM 56K Modem 15" MONITOR ATX Case and power supply The first system will run Windows '95 and is good enough to run simple software (word, dreamweaver etc.), play music and some video and surf the net without too much difficulty. The second outline could be made up of various processors, the AMD K6-2, Cyrix MII 333 or an Intel celeron 300 are three of the best in my view, and will let you surf the net, play games, video, music and run windows ME or '98 with ease. If you have the expierience or want to gain some, then building your own computer could save money but is a lot more difficult than people think. An easier root would be to buy a base unit then a second user monitor to complete it. A good place to look are auctions, on the internet or otherwise, but if you prefer a bit more security then there are still companies who sell older components and systems and advertise regularly in the computer advert magazines. If anyone else has tried to buy or has tips on building a cheaper "older" computer or know any good companies then please add your comments.
This is a word of warning to all people out there who are about to buy a new computer. The tendency for people who are getting their first computer is to buy one with an Intel processor. There is nothing wrong with this but most people’s assumption is that Intel processors are the best, this is true but AMD processors are just as good, but AMDs are cheaper. When I was in a computer shop there was a family buying a computer, a girl said “Pentiums are the best so we should one of then”. I just managed to stop myself from telling her different. My advice is buy a AMD as they are cheaper, when I bought mine I bought a printer as well from the money I had saved.
Cheap Powerful gaming computer for £500 or less This is a brief article on how I built myself a great games machine . My old Pentium 3 - 450 / Voodoo 3 - 2000 unit was struggling with the modern games , my F1 cars were behaving more like Nova's and Lara Croft was sagging a bit and looking breathless so I decided I needed something more powerful but didn't want to spend more than £500. I checked out the available processors and graphics cards and their performance characteristics etc on the net , Pentiums were way to expensive and under performed , Athlons were better but still on the expensive side , then those clever AMD people came out with the Duron CPU , these looked good on paper so I decided this was the CPU, price was going to decide the size . Next area I looked at was Graphics cards, this basically came down to three , 3dfx Voodoo , Riva TNT 2 , or Geeforce . The only affordable 3dfx card that was better than what I had was the 3-3500 but this was on the expensive side and didn't give a huge performance increase for the money . The Riva looked good but again I didn't feel it gave a big enough bang for the bucks , Geeforce looked to be the one to have as it gave a huge hike in performance but at a huge cost , Geeforce 2 was way to expensive but Geeforce 256 I thought was possible with careful shopping , also because of the way Geeforce works in taking the load off the processor, I decided this would offset the smaller power characteristics of the Duron against the Athlon . Ok I had decided what the main spec was going to be, now I looked at the rest of the system , after checking performance V price of mainboards I decided an MSI 6330 mobo was the one , it was cheaper than the Gigabyte, ASUS and Abit boards everyone was raving about yet shared the same chipset , it would also provide a decent on board soun
d system saving the cost of a sound card . to get the best out of the board and CPU I would need to get rid of my PC100 memory and replace it with PC133 . I checked out Hard disks etc and found I could get a 13 Gig 7200 rpm disk for the price of a 20 gig 5400 rpm disk , as I valued performance more than space I went for the smaller but faster disk . Lastly I would need the 300 w power supply all Athlons and Durons require to get the best out of them . Ok I had my spec now I had to buy the parts , this involved going to a computer fair looking for bargains and offers and waiting around till prices dropped (as the day goes on prices drop through competition ) , I got a great bargain with a Geeforce for £95 and managed to buy all I needed including a new case with 300w power supply for £503 ( ok so what's £3 between friends) , feeling very pleased with myself I took it all home and had it assembled and loaded in 4 hours . I then went on the net and downloaded the latest Bios and drivers for the mainboard and Geeforce etc , my build spec was as follows :- Case inc 300w power supply £30 MSI 6330 mobo + Duron 700 + fan £185 Geeforce £95 128 meg PC133 £95 13 gig Hard disk £65 Floppy £8 52x CD £25 OK moment of truth , its built, its running , it appears faster than my P3 but how much faster , for performance testing I use 3dMark by Mad Onion . com , my P3 had a 3Dmark of 2287 . 3dMark was run at default settings and gave me a 3dMark of 3608 . WOW was I pleased especially when I compared performance against a friends Athlon 750 / VooDoo 3500 combo which had a 3dMark of 3377 . Now my F1 cars go VROOM and an uplifted Lara now leaves ME breathless . Alas there is a downside to all this , three weeks after building the unit AMD announced that they are dropping their prices by up to 50% BooHoo !!!!!! my timing was crap
Want the faster processor, but at a no extra cost? Silly question really, but it really is easy. Previously overclocking has always been thought of as some sort or mysterious voodoo art as people pushed their Pentium 133 right up to 150Mhz. Well, in the modern day the gains are potentially much larger. The coppermine, one of intel’s new range and also the celerons can be overclocked in a matter of minutes if you have the right hardware. Obviously if you don’t like playing with the innards of your computer then this ain’t for you, but believe me, contrary to popular belief your computer won’t explode if you take the casing off and if the overclocking doesn’t work you chip won’t melt immediately; it’ll just lock up to start with (at which point to switch the computer off and reset the bios and try again). The tools of the trade are a good motherboard which good options on changing the fsb in small increments up to 150Mhz and a voltage adjust option, good RAM (PC133 is recommended), and a chunky fan for the processor – oh and of course the processor itself. I use an Abit BE6-II board - though the VIA Apollo series are better as they allow you to use an AGP graphics card without pushing it too much – a P600E, some PC133 RAM and a Globalwin VNS04. Overclocking works by changing the fsb, and as the multiplier on the processor is locked you multiply the two together to get you computer speed. For example, the P600E is locked at 6.0x and fsb is 100 as standard; i.e. the speed is 600MHz. Now by pushing the fsb up to 133 the speed becomes 6.0 x 133 = 800MHz – not bad eh? Of course it runs hotter, hence the better cooling fan (there are many UK distributors of overclocking supplies now – try www.overclockers.co.uk). Sometimes it takes a bit of tweaking of voltage or fan placement or fan seating, but it really isn’t much of a hassle for what should
easily be a 33% increase in speed. My 600E can actually run at 842 – but I run it at 800 with a modest fan – it’s more than enough for me at the moment, let’s not be greedy!