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Intel Core 2 Duo vs AMD Athlon X2

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libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

Before I go with the question, no I haven't been spending whole days this week roaming comparison reviews.. I did that good deal of yesterday, but I did some other work too. Not all shows immediately on sites, but it's there (like searching for mobiliberty news sources, new applications to review for nuxified (picked a few, stay tuned) and just keeping myself around (routine, news updates, replies to comments etc.) I sometimes manage to do more, sometimes less, but I'm always around with something. Eye

So.. from what I've discovered yesterday people are praising new Core Duos from Intel and saying that Intel is placing itself in the winner position for this year, which is nothing to fear for AMD fans.. AMD will be back soon enough. AMD *was* the one to force Intel to redesign itself a bit after all. AMD has been more innovative and advanced for quite a while before, which is what pushed Intel to come with something awesome like Core Duos.

But at the end of the day the performance differences for the same price range seem to be rather marginal, to a point where still a lot of the decision depends on which remaining components are used (chipset, memory) which is what will probably make up most of my decision.

If I go the Intel way it will likely be a motherboard with an Intel chipset (i945 with GMA945) which has good Free Software support (thanks to intel itself mostly). If I go the AMD way it would have to be one of the nForce, Xpress or VIA K8 chipsets, neither of which are really *known* as that well supported under GNU/Linux (I mean, especially onboard graphics, but who knows what else, it's just not as assured as with Intel), but I have also heard that they are all of lower quality than Intel chips with some bugs.

So from what I hear Intel does hold the superior position in terms of chipset quality. Is this true?

After choosing a chipset and hence a motherboard I will have to go with a new graphics card again. The thing is my current card (yes the Radeon I bought few months ago) is AGP and almost no new boards come with an AGP port these days. It's all PCI-E, so either I have to give up advanced 3D capabilities again (falling back to onboard chips "stealing" my main memory which I don't like at all) or get a comparable PCI-E card to the one I have and use that. The old card wont be for nothing though. My sisters will get it so they too can have full 3D support.

The card I mean to get is Radeon X700, which is among the newest models currently supported by the experimental R300 free drivers I use now. There is X850 which is much more powerful, but still too expensive.

This card would go in regardless of what chipset or processor I use, but I'm mentioning it in case anyone thinks ti would work better with one or the other.

The highest I currently aim in terms of processors is either Athlon64 X2 4800+ or Intel Core 2 Duo E6400. I might fall back to X2 4600 or Core E6300 to reduce price though and then a year later or so upgrade to the later models (because the slot and mbo will likely support it) like 6000+ or who knows maybe Quad Core (well, IF the mobo will support that one). Laughing out loud

What do you think?

Thanks

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Looking over some infos

Looking over some infos regarding chipsets from the Free Software support perspective, only VIA really cuts it. They release specs and even source code for their stuff, which makes it easy to support on GNU/Linux. But the VIA motherboards don't seem very popular, which is always a bad sign.

For AMD, the only really remaining alternatives are nForce and Xpress chipsets (Nvidia and AMD/ATI). Both of these require non-free drivers currently for graphics support and although I wont be using onboard graphics this certainly is a bad sign for other things too. I just don't feel very confident about it.

And what else is there for AMD really? ULi, SiS? Those are just getting too unknown to trust.. I am not sure.

So at this point in time, for a GNU/Linux user who wants good Free Software support, Intel truly shines. Not only are their chipsets supported by their own free drivers, but this year they've got awesome CPUs to go with it (Core Duos).

So, although I tend to be an AMD fan in general it seems objectively the best option to with the Intel combination now. It's not so much because Intel CPU may be faster (only slightly anyway), but when you take into account the supposed quality and Free Software support of Intel chipsets, not to mention the reputation, it does seem like a winning option. Intel CPU with an Intel chip. Intel may have not been the most innovative company before, but they might be changing to the better (and in terms of recommending the evil Vista, AMD isn't any better anyway). At this point Intel seems more of a friend to Free Software people than AMD.

Which is really driving me towards the intel side more and more... So, do you think I'm on the right path here?

Thanks

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Joined: 2006-03-28
Well, I don't have one of

Well, I don't have one of the above mentioned CPUs, "just" an AMD Athlon XP 3000+, so a normal single-core 32-bit CPU.
But I have a board with a VIA-chipset, an MSI, which in my oppinion is quite a reliable maker of boards.
There should also be boards for X2 made by MSI, though I can't name models since I don't have one (yet) and MSI seems to be pretty hard to find over here.

free-zombie's picture
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Joined: 2006-03-08
I say again that while

I say again that while nVidia may not release specs for their boards, I have no problem with my nForce4 (no graphics).

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I currently have a VIA

I currently have a VIA chipset too and haven't have much problems with it. Onboard graphics (S3 savage stuff) works with free driver too. The only thing making me pause about VIA actually is that it isn't popular enough so I'm wondering why do people switch away from it (if it were popular I would guess more motherboard manufacturers and PC stores would sell it, but their number seems to be decreasing rather than increasing or remaining stable, from what I've seen).

Still, sure nForce might work well without graphics. But if anything then out of principle I don't want to buy something I know from the get-go is crippled for one functionality already (without proprietary drivers). It's not very confidence inspiring.

Same goes for Xpress. Why are these becoming so popular? Ah, I would guess it's because of the ties with the AMD (xpress) and Nvidia (nforce) while AVI is quite independent (a true third party provider).

To be honest I don't like what I see happening on the chipsets market.. it almost leads to a conglomeration. The biggest players in the chips market in whole currently are *only* AMD, Intel and Nvidia. This isn't looking good! Where are the days when SiS, VIA and ULi actually meant something more than almost a noname provider???

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Joined: 2006-03-28
If in the end it really

If in the end it really comes down to these three I guess I'll go for AMD, just because I think that the guys who make the CPU should know best how to make a cool chipset for it.
But as long as I can still get boards with VIA-chips I tend to follow the quote "Only dead fish swim with the stream" and get these, since I made good experience with VIA and in terms of price they should be an edge lower than boards with an AMD-chipset.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
My guess is that VIA

My guess is that VIA doesn't only offer a lower price but also lower performance. (note: I wrote performance, not stability)
If people can afford to buy something slightly faster, even when the difference isn't noticeable, they'll buy that. Also, the more popular brands are also famous for their other products. If I say "AMD", you think "fast processor", and conclude their other hardware must be good too. Something similar for nVidia.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
The thing is AMD only

The thing is AMD only recently acquired ATI and Xpress chipsets are I think of ATI, right? So they were designed when the company wasn't integrated into AMD yet. Correct me if I'm wrong.

To be honest Intel still seems like the easiest option. The only disadvantage really is that their CPU and mobos are slightly more expensive (at least). But otherwise.. you get a processor and a chipset from the same company. That these are renowned for speed and quality these days, as well as Free Software support only helps make that the right choice.

But I'm still not sure.. I'm kind of thinking I could get a decent thing with AMD which will support processors many times up the AMDs current and future top line (meaning, if I would be so inclined, I could upgrade to a CPU possibly faster than anything from Intel next year or two).

Then again.. it's possible future Intel CPUs will support Intel's LGA775 port too so I'll be able to upgrade to that too.. so that kind of quashes that one benefit.

AMD screws it up biggest in the area of Free Software support if you ask me. I'd trust a chipset maker who releases specs and drivers more any time before the one who doesn't. Intel has an upper hand here, hands down. Sticking out tongue

a thing's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20
To make it even more complicated...

...AMD is a supporter of LinuxBIOS.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Yeah.. and Intel releases

Yeah.. and Intel releases free drivers.. I guess they're about equal then. There's no ideal choice in that sense I suppose.

Maybe Intel starts supporting LinuxBIOS too..

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Joined: 2005-12-20
If I were you, I would go

If I were you, I would go for AMD, but that's because I use AMD and I like them Smiling

However, sometimes, i have heard, the Intel Core 2 Duo is faster and the AMD64 x2 by quite a lot Smiling

libervisco's picture
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Well, my current default

Well, my current default thinking is to go for Intel, mostly because of their chipsets and assurance that it will have good Free Software support.

This isn't exactly final, but that's my current thinking.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Haha this feels like being

Haha this feels like being on a rollercoaster for a bit. I didn't buy yet (money isn't ready just yet), and just today AMD did something incredible: AMD desktop processors see another dramatic price cut.

Now the price of AMD Athlon X2 6000+ is the same as Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 and the performance of the two is also mostly comparable or same, if I got it right. This also means that it is faster than E6400 which I considered getting. When I translated the new price into the Croatian currency I was surprised to see it is in fact within my budget (X2 6000+!), but will probably have to wait for local stores to adjust. I am however considering going with an online store that will adjust much faster (maybe amazon) as it *could* be that the price even with delivery costs wont be much higher than from a local store. We'll see..

Ah.. anyway, AMD is the one who pushed Intel to come up with Core 2 Duos, woke them up in a way, and now they're playing quite a good game with these price cuts. In a way, AMD caused the competition and now competes decently. THIS is what I want to see, competition is just soo juicy for us end users. Smiling

So I'm thinking of maybe, in the end, going with AMD afterall. Another thing that contributed to this is finding out that LGA775 slot is according to Tom's Hardware, a bit fragile and a "band aid" solution to power problems.. which makes me slightly weary of them (or I'm just paranoid). Anyway, Tom's Hardware seems to recommend AM2 (for the slots sake) better than LGA775.

Just looking at what's going on between Intel and AMD these days is quite exciting. What a ride! Laughing out loud I hear AMD is preparing a new architecture called K10. Go AMD!! Smiling

Edit: Forgot to add the new AMD price chart for all you curious lurkers. Eye

Cheers

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Joined: 2007-04-14
I've always preferred Intel

I've always preferred Intel although there was a time not too long ago that AMD was better...but the Core 2 Duo has knocked AMD off its senses...and is now dominating lol...check out tomshardware.com...as to the prices...AMD definitely has better prices...but that is because people are buying the Intel Core 2 Duo because it's better...AMD had 50% price cut from last year...that should say it all...

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Yep and AMD cut its prices

Yep and AMD cut its prices even more just around a week ago, but I decided to go for Intel anyway, not only and so much because of its performance, but because intel chipset should be much better supported under GNU/Linux and may even be of best quality. I'm getting an E6400 (two cores on 2.13 Ghz), but the motherboard (either Gigabyte P965-DS3 or MSI 965P NEO) will support processors up to quad core so if I ever decide to upgrade I can sell the current processor and get a newer one when they're cheaper, but I doubt I'll ever feel the real need for that.

Cheers

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Joined: 2007-04-10
AMD and MS

Doesn't AMD have a covenant with Microsoft? I always thought it was not a good move by AMD to optimize their chips for Windows. I had an AMD PC once, when all the world was using intel but AMD was on the cutting edge. When I heard they signed something with MS, my next PC sported an Intel inside sticker.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I'm not sure, but that they

I'm not sure, but that they named their earlier Athlons as "XP" is some indication to that I guess, though I have Athlon XP here and it's working well..

When it comes to sucking up to Microsoft I'd say both Intel and AMD are guilty. They both still prominently feature "Vista ready" signs all over the place as if it was the only OS in the world. Of course it doesn't make me feel very good as a GNU/Linux user, but I try to ignore it.

Edit: I gotta add though, that since Vista requires a lot more out of hardware than GNU/Linux, all hardware marked as "Vista ready" should in fact work even better and faster with GNU/Linux. Eye

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Intel won

I reached almost frantic levels of undecisiveness these days. In many ways the AMD vs. Intel based systems were an ugly kind of tie. AMD was less expensive, but I don't like their chipsets in addition to them being (well slightly, but still) slower, older and less power efficient. Speed difference isn't something you can feel, sure, but couple that with these other disadvantages and you build a nice point against AMD at this point in time. In fact, the *only* thing that attracts to AMD is price.

And Intel is just about to slash that one down too.

And with that down, Intel pretty much wins on all counts possible.

Intels are more power efficient, faster (even compared to highest AMD X2s), newer and more advanced and now will be priced attractively too:

On April 22 Intel will cut its prices significantly at the same time as doubling the amount of cache on its models. Today, E6400 has 2MB cache and costs more than $250. After April 22 it will be $183 and will get a new brother for that *same* price; E6420 with 4MB cache. Imagine what a leap this is. Intel is basically giving us 2MB extra cache for roughly $60 less!

This just can't be beat if you ask me. So I made up my mind.

After April 22 I will get this:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 (with 4MB cache, 1066Mhz FSB etc.)
Mobo: GigaByte GA-965P-DS3
RAM: 1GB Any decent cheap I can find.

And I'll probably add Radeon X850 card to it later as well.

This will make up a very powerful and lasting system with a lot of upgradability potential for the future because the board supports everything up to Quad Core CPUs, also SATA drives etc. I think this system will serve me for very long which is why, even if it does end up slightly more expensive than some AMD combination, will pay off quite well. Smiling

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