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Friday 17 October 2003

Death to AMD [lurks]

When a tech vendor produces a product which stinks and you get burnt laying out good money for poor results, there is a certain momentum to overcome in swinging your favor back to that company. ATI are probably a good example. Nice hardware but shit drivers, we refused to believe they were any good for a good part of the time after they had got their act together.
There's another company, though. AMD. AMD used to mean Intel beating price to performance ratio and overclockers dream. Unfortunately for me and a number of others, it was also synonymous with unstable systems. Locked up AGP busses at random, endless stupid driver updates for VIA mobo chipsets and so on. I would have fucked off to Intel but they were just not competitive in any way in the P3 era. However, since I've had a rock solid AMD system for a good deal of time, when Intel pulled ahead with the P4 (for media encoding and games etc), I stuck with my trusty AMD - mainly for the saved cash.
So I bought an Athlon XP 2500+ Barton core and modestly overclocked it so it ran at a shade over 2GHz. Fast, cool, stable, right price. AMD teh win!!!1 ? Or maybe not... Today I boot up my PC and I have apparently got an Athlon XP 1900+. So I demolish the machine, check that conductive silver thermal paste hasn't monkeyed up the multipliers. I check the pins. I check the mobo. Reseat. Same deal.
Further elimination called for. Monkey with multipliers by hand. Just wont work. It's locked at a multiplier of 11 and that's it. What the hell is going on? Maybe my mobo is fucked? More likely than the CPU surely? So I put the CPU in an Asus Terminator system. It had the FSB at 100MHz for a Duron, sure enough it says 'That's a 1.1GHz Athlon'. Consistent with this CPU just magically re-wiring it's multiplier.
I decide to check the mobo again. I dig up an old 1700 sitting in a draw, slap it in the machine and sure enough it posts correctly and then promptly fries itself since I wasn't holding the CPU heatsink on properly. I type this from my lair, surrounded by that ominous burnt lacquer smell you get when electronics overheats.
So I put the Barton back in and just crank up the FSB and shrug. It's tipped me over the edge. Fuck your Athlons, fuck you AMD. It's time to get a new mobo and CPU. And maybe we'll talk about Athlon 64 this time next year, you wankers. Time to order some decent Intel gear.


  1. Right, ordered an Asus P4C800 mobo and a Pentium 4 2.8GHz from Dabs (btw, check out Dabs nifty new store which launched this weekend). Bizarrely Dabs don't carry decent coolers, so I ordered a Vantec VP4-C7040 from (yes, not overclockers). I guess I'll ebay my Epox 8K3A+ mobo and the ninja copper cooler and stuff. Unless anyone else has a need for it?I just got completely robbed. Scan today only had a hsf and P4 combo deal and the Asus mobo. Combined, even with my special Dabs account, they were a good £50 cheaper. I've still got a better cooler than the one Scan were doing but bleh all the same!Update: Had some funny stuff happen with this upgrade. The Vantec cooler had a duff fan and my 410W Enermax PSU didn't have a P4 12V connector. So I got the fan on the Vantec replaced and got a new PSU. It's all working now and very nice it is too. Unfortunately XP's repair install wouldn't work so I had to do a clean install. Oh well.It's bastard fast. I just selected 10% overclock preset from the Asus BIOS. Bosh, 3080MHz system. Now given my previous Athy idled at over 70C at 2GHz, with a blowdrier and an all-copper heatsink - how warm do you reckon a 3.08GHz P4 would be? Try 31C. Under load it climbed to 41C and wouldn't move. Jesus wept.The moral of the story is this. Don't even buy a flash cooler, the stock Intel one is fine. It's really easy to fit, no pissing about with horrid AMD clips. It's fast as hell in games and media encoding and of course it wont lock up for 50 years and neither will the CPU suddenly decide it's a Celeron 266.

  2. 41oC under load? Impressive. My 1.3GHz TBird is ten degrees up on that. Sounds like a gorgeous system. So, a question about OS reinstalls - I keep my data on its own HD seperate from the OS. Is this what you're doing, only in an external firewire unit? Or do you just move stuff around your LAN? Do you keep games on the same partition/drive as XP?

  3. I switched the wifes box from athlon to intel the otehr week. No reinstall required. XP barely noticed, coupla new drivers and I was done.

  4. Few things here. I keep my games on a seperate partition from XP but it's all on the same drive. Mostly because drives are just so big now I can't justify having two drives in. I actually do backups on DVD-R now. I have a big external drive on Wench which is basically movies and MP3. When I reinstalled, I just installed to same partition keeping filesystem intact. The installer vapes the Windows dir but leaves Program Files intact. So I can salvage any data but programs need reinstalling to run.
    Slim, I didn't actually think to try that. Just had the whole blue screen boot thing because of different third-party chipset drivers when changing mobo in the past. I can bet that Intel stuff would work as a fallback mode type thing and it'd boot anyway... I must try that next time.

  5. I think I'm going this route as well now with the same Asus P4C800Canterwood mobo but non-RAID for me I think. CPU wise it's also goingto be a 2.8c p4. I will probably bang a zalman flower cooler on it andget a 400w psu from Quiet PC since noise is something I dislike in mypc's. Now the one thing that is confusing me is memory. I'm supposingI want to get dual channel DDR 3200 acshun going but all the usualsuspects like Kingston and Crucial are only showing CAS 3 and CAS 2.5memory at this rate while Ocz on are showing CAS 2.What's anyone's thoughts on this?
    It's looking like whole-new-pc time here so I will probably also go fora Quiet PC midi case, a dvd multiformat r/w and whack in the 120 gigdrive I got orf Lurks the other month. That will enable me to retire myp3-450 box and strip guiness (1.2 athlon) to mail server / music appsand irc stuff as well as storage. Crikey - whole new PC time and I'veeven got a week off next week to build it. Now the only question is howdo I get all the parts past the missus......

  6. Isn't the duel channel accross multiple sticks of ram? You don't buy duel channel ram, you just buy two sticks on a duel channel mobo?

  7. Yep it's across two sticks but the kingston site has a specialdesignation on stuff 'K2' which it says you have to choose to get theright matched pair i.e. you can buy a stick individually but you mustchoose 2 of them with the K2 designation so that's sort of what I wasreferring to there. It's still the CAS and speed (3200 right?) that'sconfusing.While we're at it, I'm currently on an original GF3. I'm tempted toupgrade to a 9800 pro or 9800 and it looks like no-one reckons the XT'sare worth the extra money. I'm thinking it's better to go for extrapipelines than the 9600xt revision which is half-way house?

  8. I wouldn't worry about the memory being CAS 2 or anything. Just buy what you can get got a reasonable price. Don't bother with the Zalman flower, the stock HSF isn't that noisy. You can always fit one after if you decide it is. Oh um, I also have a very nice quiet 420W Enermax PSU going spare when, err, I removed it from my PC and... found the P4 12V power connector tucked around behind. Bleh!
    Graphics wise, the 9600XTs aren't worth the extra money for the extra speed they go as stock but they like to clock like a bastard and running them faster gives nice results in the DX 9 games upcoming. But yeah, 9800 Pro prices have fallen a bit and they'll fall a bit more. If you can push the boat out, they're obviously still the nuts.

  9. XP repair instal is teh devils work!! Never worked for me and its supposed to be mong proof.