# AMD Processor Performance Rating System

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Are AMD's processors generally better than Intel's? I'm a bit lost on AMD's system of processor rating. Here's a (short) article I googled: http://www.ocfaq.com/article.php/overclocking/AMD/36 So, as far as I understand, that means AMD's 3700+ performs at about ~3.7GHz, even though the actual GHz is lower. First of all, before I make a decision based on a misjudgement, did I misunderstand anything? Second of all, would anyone actually recommend AMD over Intel? Thanks for any help in advance.

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I'd go with AMD over Intel. Historically, Intel's competitors have been better at doing x86 than they have.

Of course, I'd take IBM over both. *drool* POWER, The Cell

[Edited by - igni ferroque on October 17, 2004 12:42:31 AM]

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Quote:
 Original post by v0dKAFirst of all, before I make a decision based on a misjudgement, did I misunderstand anything?

I don't think you have, no.
Quote:
 Second of all, would anyone actually recommend AMD over Intel?

Me.

This is in some ways comparable to the differences between x86 and mac processors: due to x86 being a MISC architecture, whereas mac processors are RISC, although mac processors have much smaller MHz ratings, they still operate at comparable speeds due to the fact that they can perform their instructions in less clock cycles than x86s can due to their RISC architecture.

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I was taken aback when AMD introduced their rating system for processors, but now I understand the purpose. It shows that processor business is not only a war of GHz, but it's about architecture.
I'd recommend you AMD over Intel. I've used Athlons for some time now and I'm satisfied. Specifications of the new 90nm Athlon are really amazing. I'd choose AMD.

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I too recommend the AMD CPU, especialy if you plan on using it for gaming.
There's a rather intresting article (well part of one) over at AnandTech that explains why the Athlon 64 can be faster than the P4 even though the P4 got a higher Hz rating. But keep in mind that the article is rather old, so while the information about the architecture is still valid the performance picture has changed somewhat. You might want to check out some of the later artciles (like this one) to get a better view of the current picture.

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I always go for AMD. Why? For "bang for the buck" you almost always win with AMD, and whilst their performance rating system is generally OK, you'll often find it unballanced (compare a P4 3Ghz to an AMD 3000+ at video processing for example). In many ways AMD processors **can** be faster, and in many ways **can** be slower than their Intel competition. Apps optimised for SSE2 for example trounce the AMD processors (and those apps are ususally 3D modelling apps, and Video editing, etc). However you pay a BIG premium for choosing Intel, for performance gains in these areas. Games usually seem to tip in faour of AMD, from reviews I've seen (tom's hardware usually).

Of course, I'd always recommend a balanced system. My Work PC should be awesome (its 18 months old, but still generally impressive spec wise) - 3Ghz P4, 768MB RAM, SB Live Sound card and AN ATI RAGE128 16MB graphics card! Thats right an ATI Rage 128. In almost all cases my AMD 2400+ trounces that system, (which has an 9800Pro card), for video, games - anything. Its no use getting a top notch component if you arent going to back it up.

I've not tried the AMD64's yet, but from what Ive read they're pretty awesome. If only I could afford one right now.......

Anyways,

Neil

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AMD.

AMD has constantly put better foundations into their chips allowing them to perform at the same clock speed or better as the recent Intel chips. Even Intel has given up the "Gigahertz is better!" crap. With their recent announcement that they were scrapping the 4Ghz P4s altogether (http://apnews.excite.com/article/20041014/D85NEEG01.html) and instead beginning to concentrate on re-architecting the chips themselves -- what AMD has been doing for years -- I expect the Gigahertz comparison to eventually be lost.

The only time AMD has made a blunder was when their early Palomino cores didn't include a thermal sensor. I lost a chip to this myself unfortunately so I'm probably holding a grudge -- but Intel had this support for a much longer time than AMD.

In short, AMD has put the money and cash into improving their foundries, their design, and their *long term* health and ability. Intel has sought to maintain their profit margins for the short term and now are going to suffer for it. AMD set the pace for x86-64 -- Intel cloned AMD's chipset! -- and maintains the production and deployment numbers. Intel isn't beaten anymore than Microsoft is, but they've taken quite a few sucker punches recently.

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Yeah I'm agreement with the majority here, I'd go AMD all the way, I've been using a 2 way AMD MP for ages as a work station absolutely fantastic piece of kit, I recent used an AMD64 as well, also amazing and I was very surprised at how cool the AMD64 runs.

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Quote:
 Original post by thedoI always go for AMD. Why? For "bang for the buck" you almost always win with AMD, and whilst their performance rating system is generally OK, you'll often find it unballanced (compare a P4 3Ghz to an AMD 3000+ at video processing for example).

Actuly it's generaly considerd that the Athlon 64 3000+ is faster than the P4 3 GHz thus well earnings it's 3000 naming. It is true that in video encoding (like divx) and 3D rendering (like 3D Studio Max) it is somewhat slower but in pretty much anything else it's faster, and in some areas considerably faster.
In Doom 3 for example the Athlon 64 completely trounces the P4, holding all the top five CPU spots while the most expensive P4 barly makes it into the sixt spot (P4 3.4 EE gets 87.4 fps while the 64 3000+ gets 85.3 fps on 800x600 HQ).

So if you're doing alot of 3D modeling consider geting a P4 instead, or better yet a dual cpu system. If you'r doing a lot of encoding consider buy a cheap secondary system that can crounch numbers all night leaving your primay system free for other use. And finaly if your doing a lot of gaming get the Athlon 64. For anything else it's pretty much a draw (with the A64 3000+ rougly comparing to a P4 3.2), get whichever is cheaper (you'll probably find that to be the Athlon 64).

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Depending on what you do, you may find that memory bus speed is your most limiting factor. All the Pentium IVs can be had with 800 MHz memory bus, and you can cheaply couple them with dual-DDR-400 memory (or even dual-533). Sadly, only the Athlon FX (top of the line) can give you the same memory throughput on the AMD side; all the XP 64 chips top out at 400 MHz memory bus (or did, last I checked).

Thus, right now I'd probably go for a 3.2 GHz Pentium IV 540 with a 915P chip set motherboard, and a PCI-Express graphics card of some sort (probably a GeForce 6800 GT ;-) Put in two 512 MB sticks of PC3800 RAM and you should be golden.

If you have money to splurge, an Athlon FX 53 with registered memory, or a Pentium IV Extreme Edition coupled with a 925X chip set, would be a nice upgrade -- at, like, an extra grand for the upgraded CPU, motherboard, and memory... Usually not worth it :-)

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Quote:
 Original post by hplus0603Depending on what you do, you may find that memory bus speed is your most limiting factor. All the Pentium IVs can be had with 800 MHz memory bus, and you can cheaply couple them with dual-DDR-400 memory (or even dual-533). Sadly, only the Athlon FX (top of the line) can give you the same memory throughput on the AMD side; all the XP 64 chips top out at 400 MHz memory bus (or did, last I checked).

Actuly you're almost completly wrong, in anything but syntetic memory benchmark (that mesures only the bandwidth of the memory and has close to no real world relevance) the Athlon 64 will win due to it's on die memory controler. The P4 is actuly the one to be memory starved which can be seen on the huge impact of dual chanel and the EE's cache (EE having 2 mb of cache being the only diffrence betwen it and the normal P4). To run dual chanel is deadly important on a P4 system, but it doesn't really matter that much on a A64 system (you'll get rougly 3-5% higher performance with it on the A64). To use your own argument against you, the P4 needs top of the line memory to function proporly while the A64 is happy with less expensive memory.

As for the FX being the only chip with dual chanel that's wrong. All motherboards of the Socket 939 line supports dual chanel and those motherboards support CPUs from the 3000+ up to the 3800+, and the FX line of course (note that there's a socket 754 version of the 3000+ and a socket 939 version, same for some of the higher models too, so be careful to get the right version if you buy one).

In the end it doesn't really matter that the P4 is the one to be memory starved or that Socket 754 A64s only has singel chanel ram. What matters are real world performance and in that the A64 is much stronger when it comes to games, less strong in 3D Modeling (the rendering part) and encoding and at least as strong in everything else.

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Quote:
 Original post by v0dKAAre AMD's processors generally better than Intel's? I'm a bit lost on AMD's system of processor rating. Here's a (short) article I googled:http://www.ocfaq.com/article.php/overclocking/AMD/36So, as far as I understand, that means AMD's 3700+ performs at about ~3.7GHz, even though the actual GHz is lower.First of all, before I make a decision based on a misjudgement, did I misunderstand anything? Second of all, would anyone actually recommend AMD over Intel?Thanks for any help in advance.

Seems most of the replies have just been suggestions to go with AMD, not really explanations of the rating system. I agree, an AMD cpu is by far the best choice at the moment, but that wasn't really your original question.

There's a lot more to processor performance than pure GHz. Without getting too technical, it should be pretty obvious that there are two factors. How many cycles can you run per second (Clockspeed), and how many instructions can you run during each cycle. (IPC)

The latter can vary a lot, depending on countless factors. In pipelined cpu's (whic is everything since the 486), you will occasionally waste cycles because the result from the previous instruction has not been finished yet. The entire pipeline has to stall while waiting for one instruction to finish. There are various workarounds to minimize this, but you will always take a performance hit from this. On the other hand, pipelining allows far higher clock speeds.
Further, you waste a lot of time reading data from cache, ram or harddrive. A faster memory controller helps with the ram latency, and means less time is wasted there. Similarly, bigger cache also means fewer ram accesses, and again, less time wasted. But it can also means slower cache, and then time is wasted there instead. :P

And finally, most modern processors are superscalar, able to process 2 or 3 new instructions in parallel.

As you can probably see, there's a lot of factors influencing performance. If you have an IPC of 2, then a 1.5GHz machine performs just as well as a 3GHz with IPC = 1.

That's basically the difference between Pentium 4 and Athlon:
The P4 has a high clock speed, offering a (theoretically) huge top speed, assuming everything goes well, the code is in the cache already, there are few branches in the code, you have some fast ram and so on and so on.
Unfortunately, this *never* happens. There's always something to slow you down, and the P4 takes a much bigger performance hit when this happens, than an Athlon does, mainly due to its longer pipeline and smaller level 1 cache.

In practice, the Athlon's (and particularly Athlon 64's) perform as good or better than equivalent Pentium 4's. They don't have to access slow l2 cache or even slower ram as often, and it doesn't have to stall as long when it encounters a branch, because the pipeline is shorter.

However, keep in mind that the rating system is made by AMD, and so it's not guaranteed to give an accurate impression of performance. It is generally pretty accurate, but you have no guarantee that it'll continue to be so, or that it's accurate for every single one of their chips. It's a good rule of thumb, but no more than that. The 3700+ rating doesn't neccesarily mean that it performs equal to a 3.7GHz. It only means that AMD believes it does. Still, in truth it does perform really well, and the ratings usually match the performance pretty accurately.

And hplus0603: Thats not entirely true. All Athlon 64's use a Hypertransport link instead of the traditional FSB, yielding 800-1000 Mhz, equal or above what you get with the P4. And apart from this, the Athlon's just aren't as memory-starved as the P4. Even the singlechannel memory on Socket 754 chips is able to compete (and beat) P4's performance-wise. It's just a much more efficient architecture. It's no secret that the P4 was designed with clockspeed in mind, even at the expense of performance.

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the dual channel 939 3000+ and 3200+ are extremely good buys for those who do workstation tasks ...

for those who do not do workstation tasks (such as us gameplayers), the single channel 754 2800+ can be had for $140 (and the 3000+ for$165).

all three current platforms (athlon xp, athlon 64, pentium 4) are really good, and should be more than adequate for nearly any task. The newest pentium 4 chipsets with PCIe are very nice - but beware of any motherboards using anything but DDR 400, because the DDR-II memory is still too expensive.

The althon xp line seems to be the best inexpensive line right now, with the 2800+ being worth well over its $85 price. The athlon 64 2800+ - 3200+ give great top end performance for$140-$210 and The pentium 4 2800-3200 perform well for$180-\$220.

I personally buy the AMD products because their XP line is much more affordable, and their 64 line is quite competitve performance wise, while giving the you the 64 bit future path pretty much for free. But I have friends and coworkers buying P4's and do not think they are making poor choices.

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BTW, back to the original post, the AMD rating system had completely gone to hell in recent months ... the best idea - IGNORE the rating. Simply go look at the "sweet spot" priced CPUs, then go to somewhere like AnandTech and see how they perform on the types of things you do ... like if you game, pay attention to those benchmarks more, if you do 3D rendering, pay attention to those ... because the architechtures differ enough, even between the Athlon XP and Athlon 64, that each earns it's rating or better in some tests, while falling short in others ...

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Not sure where Xai got the idea that the ratings has gone to hell.
The highest rated Athlon XP's were a bit exaggerated. The Athlon XP 3000+ barely beat a P4 2800mhz, for example. But with all Athlon 64's, the rating is, if anything, lower than what it should be. A Athlon 64 3000+ can pretty much compete with a 3.2GHz Pentium.

But of course, don't rely on the ratings. Use them as a guideline, and read up on some reviews and benchmarks to get an accurate picture.

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i've never experienced problems with my intel cpus... but i had some problems when i had an amd. this could have many reasons, not only the cpu and the 166mhz amd is long since forgotten so maybe they improved their cpus. i am an intel user since then and i never regretted it. my friends had heat problems with their amd cpu and a big heatsink, my intel p4 1.6 runs at 2.6 with the boxed hsf. i cant say anything about the latest generation cpus but i heard that intels cpus are now equally hot as amd cpus. i'll not buy an intel cpu just because its intel... if the time comes when i'll need a new cpu then i'll read some reviews and decide whom i'll give my money. i have many friends who have intel systems and some who have amd systems and i dont think any of those systems is especially bad. buy what you like. i like the intel chipsets. just make sure that you dont spend all your money only on a cpu and have no money to buy a good board and mem. as the ocfaq article says: they are nearly equal in performance... everything else is just preferation and many ppl will say amd just because its teh evil like microsoft :/

google some (not only one because many sites dont test evenhandedly) benchmarks and then decide who gives you the best cpu for your money. also have a look at the heat they produce because this'll decide if you have to buy a copper hsf or not.

if you ask me if i would recommend amd over intel... NO!
but i would also not recommend intel over amd (even though i had some bad experiences with amd systems).

EDIT: its a pity that the stupidity of the users forces amd to write big numbers on their cpus. normally the buying decision should depend on benchmarks, not on numbers. but some ppl dont want to research tonz of data before they buy something. as long as this doesnt change all new cpus from amd will be numbered as their intel counterpart. i wonder why they dont call their cpus 10000000000000+ :) some stupid users would buy it for sure. "w00t, i just bought a 1gazillomegaultrahertz cpu, ph33r me!!1! i r teh h4x0r muahahaha..."

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Quote:
 Original post by BiGF00Ti've never experienced problems with my intel cpus... but i had some problems when i had an amd. this could have many reasons, not only the cpu and the 166mhz amd is long since forgotten so maybe they improved their cpus.

They did. Their early cpu's were pretty crappy. Athlon changed that though. And to be fair, Intel has made some crappy cpu's too. The P3 that couldn't divide comes to mind... :D

Quote:
 i am an intel user since then and i never regretted it. my friends had heat problems with their amd cpu and a big heatsink, my intel p4 1.6 runs at 2.6 with the boxed hsf. i cant say anything about the latest generation cpus but i heard that intels cpus are now equally hot as amd cpus.

Not equally hot. Rather they're something like 50% hotter than AMD's.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article169-page2.html
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article169-page3.html

I agree though, the only reliable way to choose is to read some benchmarks, plenty of benchmarks. Dont trust any one site, because a benchmark can be made to show a lot of conflicting results. Use one codec, and the P4 is unbeatable in media encoding. use another, and the Athlon 64 wins. Use one motherboard, and the P4 can (almost) compete with an Athlon 64. Use another, and it lags clearly behind. Read reviews and benchmarks on all the different sites you can find, and on average, you'll be able to get an accurate picture.

At the moment, I'd say AMD is by far the best choice, having the most features, the best performance, and the lowest heat dissipation, but in one year? Two years? Who knows?

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AMD

The A64 and Axp are not as bandwidth hungry as the p4's. This is due to architechtural reasons. Since the p4 has a longer pipeline it will require it to have a much more larger cache subsystem and a faster memory interface cause the pipeline keeps stalling at times and it then has to do some memory lookup which slows it down.

The Hypertransport Bus is a Bi-directional serial Bus unlike traditional bus systems which the p4 is using now. Note however that this means that the AGP bus and all other buses will have to share the total system bandwith that is coming from the main memory in such Bus systems. There are two type of HTB. One is the one that connects to the system, the other is to other processor(cohorent links)...but that with come shortly.

Hypertransport however, is serial...it can support more than one read/write operation on the Bus meaning that these Buses don't have to wait/share the Bus, cause with traditional Buses you can only do one read/write operation on the Bus system which is a downside on current p4 systems :).

Because the A64 has a hypertransport Bus and a memory controller(memory Bus) on-die APART...the Bus systems do not interrupt each other and do not depend on each other to function. For example if you were to add PCI-Express on a p4 system with single channel memory like DDR-400..it will not be enough to feed the PCI-E Bus. PCI-E requires at least 4.0 Gb/sec of bandwith up/down to rip it's benefits(well enjoyable :)). Therefore the Bus will saturate :). But on an A64 system, i can even run it with DDR200 and still measure significant performance..why? Because the System bus(AGP,PCI...) is connected to the Hypertransport Bus not the memory Bus for they are APART unlike the p4 sys where everything runs from a northbridge(tranditional Bus). A HTB of 1000Mhz is enough to feed a PCI-E bus cause it can deliver up to 4.0 Gb/sec up/down(Bi-directinal). But think again...PCI-E is only one device on the Serial Bus...

Hehehe, Hypertransport bus can vary in speeds from 200Mhz up to 1,4Ghz with HTB 2.0 delivering over 22,4 Gb/sec to the system while still using your DDR200 memory :). And you know what's even more fun? Because the Memory Controller(Northbridge) is on-die it runs at CPU core speed :). But when it access memory it does it with a divider depending on the CPU clock speed to match the DRAM's speed. So if the CPU clock speed should increase on an A64 system, the memory latency(access time) in nanosecond(ns) goes down. At 2Ghz the memory latency is 45 ns. At 2,2 Ghz it's 40ns and so on. Unlike a p4 system that has to go over a northbridge to memory resulting up to at least 130ns of mem latency.

Also since the Hypertransport Bus and memory controller are on-die it can be easily cooled. So an A64 system will never lack bandwith unlike traditional Bus systems.

SCALABILITY OF AMD64 SYSTEMS

The AMD64 architechture is very efficient with SMP. An AMD64 processor can have more than one HTB link on die :). A desktop AMD64 has 1. A two way system has 2. One for the system the other to it's brother processor. A 4 -way system has 3. One to the system. Two to the other two brothers :).

Now, because each A64 has it's memory controller on-die...if each controller is capable of delivering up to 6,4 GB/sec then on a 2-CPU system you will see your system bandwidth climb up to 12,8 GB/sec. On a 4-way system it can climb up to over 20 Gb/sec. This is due to NUMA awareness. Each CPU is connected with a HTB cohorent link. if CPU0 needs data from CPU1's memory bank it simply 'streams' it from CPU1 through the HT link. This link currently @ 800Mhz and can transmit up to 6,4GB/sec through AMD64 CPU's. So it scale very well...unlike xeon's.

Let me explain. An Xeon system not only uses the older bus system bus it is shared. if the northbridge is only able to deliver 3,2 Gb/sec from memory then if i was to add another xeon CPU they will have to 'Share' this bandwith. With Four CPU each Xeon will have only 800Mb/sec left :(. That's why they always come with large caches...so that it doesn't have to fetch too much from the memory.... so this is the end of my long rant.....:=)

[Edited by - Ohmy on October 17, 2004 4:02:44 PM]

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One thing to keep in mind regarding the 'rating system' is that it is not really a rating system. The numbers are the model numbers of the processors. However, due to Intel's influence and market share, AMD was forced to used model numbers which convey a sense of performance relative to the Intel CPUs.

This is no longer relevant since Intel has now moved away from the 'GHz' rating scheme.

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Rating or no rating system, AMD would kick intel's ass any day of the year :-p

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I run Maya6 on an Intel P4 3GHz with the 810 chipset and also an AMD athlon64 2800, the intel system beats the the AMD easily in render times. This is my benchmark.. Oh and if I open another program during render on the AMD it bombs, the intel system will happily run I-tunes & maya (during render)albeit slowly!. Looking forward to Intels multicore products......

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Quote:
 Original post by gordon7upI run Maya6 on an Intel P4 3GHz with the 810 chipset and also an AMD athlon64 2800, the intel system beats the the AMD easily in render times. This is my benchmark.. Oh and if I open another program during render on the AMD it bombs, the intel system will happily run I-tunes & maya (during render)albeit slowly!. Looking forward to Intels multicore products......

And so we can conclude that *everything* Intel does is faster at *everything*? It's not quite that simple.
For one thing, the Athlon cpu you compared with is only rated 2800+. Second, the rest of the system plays a role too. Are they using equally fast ram and harddrives? Is Maya optimized for Intel only?

However, I believe that Intel does pretty well in 3d rendering. How much of this is due to optimizations in Maya/3DS I don't know.

As have been said before, look at benchmarks. Plenty of benchmarks. Dont trust what you read or hear from any one single source. Not me, and not anyone else on this thread. Get a general overview, and trust that. And decide on what you're going to use it for. If it's for games, programming or general desktop use, Athlon 64 is far faster. For some media encoding (depending on codec) and some 3d rendering (depending on the application you're using), the P4 is faster.

Of course, this may or may not matter to you, but the Athlon 64 uses relatively little power compared to equivalent P4's (Especially P4 Prescotts, but also compared to Northwood), and with Cool 'n Quiet enabled, power consumption goes even further down. This means it's a lot easier to keep cool, and it puts less stress on your PSU.

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Maya is not optimised for any specific processor, I bought the 64 2800+ because it was pitched by AMD as a 3ghz equivelant (maybe but not at intensive math computation i.e. software rendering), didnt say that Intel was better/faster in general due to this, I think if I was buying a new system I would look at forum threads like this and take each users own bench marks i.e. if I was looking to buy a system for 3d rendering then the P4 would be my choice simply because a few folks (as well as myself) here have each stated it does the job better.

cheers,
Gordon

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Considering this is a developing forum this benchmark might be of some intrest. Of course you won't really notice the three second difference betwen the AMD fastest and the Intel fastest, but it's still a intresting benchmark.

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I have went 100% with Intel in the past.. and I've always been happy with the system performance. They have some really great boards and chipsets, and I've probably used about 10 Intel systems over the years. Honestly I mean benchmarks mean nothing, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between my 2.6C and 3.2C when using it in daily use.

If I were to buy a new system in the next few months, it would be an AMD 64. Although, I would wait until the new nForce chipset with PCI-Express just to make sure the board isn't outdated before I buy it :)

Right now the Intel chipsets seem to be a little ahead due only to PCI-express, other than that I believe in every other department AMD has the lead.

If I had to buy a system RIGHT this second, I would most likely go Intel due to PCI-express and upgradability without having to swap the board... I mean the performance differences between AMD and Intel are negligable. Although if at all possible I would try to hold out for the PCI-express chipsets for AMD, which will be the best performer overall, and leave you with upgradability.

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