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P4 or Athlon XP. Which one to choose?...(18 posts)

P4 or Athlon XP. Which one to choose?...Bruno
May 1, 2002 7:15 AM
For about the same amount of money I can buy a P4 1.6 or an Athlon XP 1800+. Main use is internet and office products. My priority is stability but I also like to play games so performance is desired. Please advice.
flip a coin. they will both be obsolete in a few years anyway (nColnagoFE
May 1, 2002 8:08 AM
1 computer year = 10 bicycle years so a few is quite a lot. (nm)Bruno
May 1, 2002 8:40 AM
May 1, 2002 9:02 AM
We just bought a Dell P4, 2 gigahertz, 40 gb hd, cdwr, 256 mb ram, 64 mb video, Soundblaster, modem, 10/100 ethernet, 17 inch .25 dp monitor, Windows XP and Small Office XP, for $1150.

The thing is screaming fast, the fastest computer I've ever seen. Everything is instantaneous. It has not locked up yet.

We are extremely happy with it, and the price is phenomenal.
and still in 3 years it will be considered obsolete (nm)ColnagoFE
May 1, 2002 10:24 AM
true, but what do you do? nmDougSloan
May 1, 2002 10:29 AM
No easy solution but here's what I've doneColnagoFE
May 1, 2002 10:36 AM
I usually buy near the top of the line (but not THE top as they are too overpriced) and then just assume I'll need another in 3-5 years. A new computer will usually always cost me around $2k (I do development though so your needs might not be as great) I don't upgrade system software--assuming that Gates will come out with some other OS that will come bundled with the new computer anyway. Basically you just ammortize it over a fairly short period of time rather than looking at it as a long term investment.
try the "leap frog" methodTig
May 2, 2002 3:00 PM
Unless someone is made of money, there is no need to keep up with the latest, greatest computer technology. I like to "leap frog" and buy every other big jump in design. Sometimes I'll even wait and skip 2 generations if what I have is still getting me by.
same hereDougSloan
May 2, 2002 3:17 PM
We went from a Pentium 120 to the Pentium 4 2.0 ghz. How many generations is that?

The 2.0 is at a great price point. Screamingly fast for the money, and more money won't get you much more speed, until the whole platform changes, for what I read.
hmph!JS Haiku Shop
May 2, 2002 11:28 AM
in 1993 i was working in a mailroom and taking the public bus to work (few take the bus 'round here). i got a $2500 loan (at 21% interest!) to purchase a packard-bell 486/50 with 4 mb ram and a 420 mb hdd, 1 mb video ram, soundblaster/game card, 15" svga monitor, 9600 internal modem (proprietary/built into the motherboard). t'was a screamer at the time.

faithfully made montly payments, all the while screwing up the op/sys and/or installed apps, and pestering the tech guys at the office for *hints* toward a solution to what i'd done to the poor thing. my wife commented recently that i should throw that old boat anchor out, since it's only good as a door stop/large paperweight these days, and mused that i'd blown a bunch of money on something that was totally obsolete (and not worth the sum of its parts) in a year from purchase. i reminded her that it was a $2500 investment (plus 21% interest) in my future. i'm a third-tier propeller-head these days.

breaking stuff and figuring out how to make it work again is the most efficient way to learn and become competent.
P4, no questionterry b
May 1, 2002 10:37 AM
Since most of the P4s come out of the plant where I am sitting here writing this, I'd have to say the choice is obvious.

There are some obscure tech benchmarks that give the nod to the P4 as well. AMD is now in the habit of naming its chips to give the impression of a performance spec that is greater than it is e.g. the Athlon1800 is really running at 1.4Gig. Not that this makes a whit of difference though - anything that is running between 1 and 2 Gig should be indistinguishable. My personal benchmark is how fast the cards clear when you win Freecell, and either of these chips will do that so fast as to be invisible.

So, your best best is to buy the P4 because I, as a fellow RBR reader, can personally vouch for the manufacturing quality of the chip.
P4, no questionPMC
May 1, 2002 4:16 PM
Terry - Did you ever work on the P3 Xeon chips? I'm running a Xeon 550 with 512k L2 in my workstation at home and it's been the best processer I've ever owned.
yepterry b
May 2, 2002 7:58 AM
I've had a hand in every Intel processor going back to the 386. Xeon is a great product.
AMD XP all the wayViperRulz
May 2, 2002 1:45 PM
I'm going to go against the norm and say AMD. AMD makes a quality chip that performs more instructions per cycle than the P4. People get too caught up in the MHz race. You have to remember that it's not just how fast, but what you do in that time. It's like 2 people pedaling in different gears--one may have a very high cadence (the P4), but the other guy may be going faster (the Athlon XP) Between a P4 1.6 and an Athlon XP 1800+, the 1800+ will outperform the P4 by a significant margin. In fact, a 1600+ would outperform it. The ratings system that AMD uses is not based on how the Athlon XP compares w/ the P4, but how it compares with the previous version of the Athlon (which was faster than the P4 at the same clock speed). I actually have a P4 and an Athlon XP (yes, I'm a HUGE computer nerd), and I give the nod to the Athlon. If you're buying a prebuilt system, make sure that the components are good. It doesn't matter how fast the processor is if the components (like the video card) can't take advantage of it. Now, I'm going to be a real nerd and talk about overclocking your chip because this is where you'd want a P4 (specifically the P4 1.6A--the A is important...). If you have any more questions, just email me at
And the winner is: AMD....Bruno S
May 2, 2002 8:38 PM
For about the same amout of money than the P4 1.6GHz I got an Athlon XP 1900+ (1.6 GHz) with a really good motherboard (DDR 333, ATA 133, etc.) I've read that the Athlon XP is faster than a P4 of the same frequency, as stable and there are no mayor compatibility issues. A similar Pentium 4 system would have been almost $200 more. I really like Intel but its not a good value. Who's paying for all those P4 commercials in primetime TV? I'm not.
Shimano vs. CampyDougSloan
May 3, 2002 6:16 AM
Like components, I'm guessing you'll be happy with either one.
yep, Intel or nothing!Tig
May 2, 2002 2:55 PM
As an old IT fart from the 8088 days, I've seen consistantly better performance from the Intel products, period.

Keep up the good work.
Listen to Viper...dustin73
May 12, 2002 9:40 PM
if you want to overclock that bad boy, P4, and you'll be running faaaaaast. BUT, being that you're asking about which to buy, i'm gonna assume you won't be overclocking anything. in that case, i'd also go with AMD. keep in mind, if you've got a friend that knows his way around comps, BUILD IT YOURSELF. you'll save mucho money. i was gonna build up a machine around a 1.6 P4, 256mB rdram, ASUStek mobo, G-Force 3, SB Live 5.1 (or was gonna buy my friend's Platinum), ASUStek MB, and a dandy Viewsonic 19" Perfectflat, for like $1500. would've set me back over $2000 through Dell.