At this point, it looks like Intel should have the edge. But AMD argues that gigahertz is a poor measure of system throughput because Athlons execute instructions faster than Pentium 4s. The company typically emphasizes different system features than Intel-for example, this quarter it will release a new HyperTransport bus six times faster than its 266MHz frontside bus.
AMD has dropped clock nomenclature from its new chips, claiming that even its 1.33GHz Athlon XP 1500+ will outperform a 1.8GHz Pentium 4. Most experts agree Athlons deserve some kind of speed premium-though maybe not that large. Anyway, what's a few megahertz when the slowest of your chip options is two to three times faster than what you have now, and you can find two dozen system configurations between $800 and $1,500?
Suffice it to say that AMD can deliver Pentium 4 performance, and brand names like Compaq and Hewlett-Packard testify to their quality. Reliability is no longer an issue even among so-called white box PCs, adds Margevicius, so expect to get four good years out of even the slowest power PC featured in this month's "Buyer's Guide"
Most observers agree that you're better off shopping a system's memory instead of its processor-DDR SDRAM being the sweet spot. An additional bank of memory closes most performance gaps and is better use of your dollars, especially under Windows XP.
Beyond that, feel free to shop on price and peripherals. It's hard to find a bad-or slow-PC these days.
- Cahner's In-Stat/MDR