Processor Purchases

Published Date
01 - Jan - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jan - 2006
Processor Purchases
Heating in AMD processors is no longer an issue; in fact, the latest Venice core Athlon 64 processors run cooler than their Intel counterparts

Every month my mailbox gets flooded with all sorts of queries-about the best motherboards, cell phones and even peripherals. Of late, processors seem to be the hot topic, and everyone is eager to know what's happening with dual-core processors.

The Intel vs AMD debate continues, and people only want to know which processors from their favourite company are a good buy. While most think Intel is reliable, runs cold, and has good resale value, others prefer AMD for what they consider superior gaming performance and overclocking abilities.

All this made me realise there's a lot of misinformation floating about in the markets, and even dealers do not seem to know any better.

This time round my task was, therefore, not just to find the cheapest deal in town, but also to put the mess of rumours around the whole processor debate to rest.

As usual, I decided to take a trip to Mumbai's Lamington Road to find out what dealers were saying. Although I have also received complaints about not visiting other cities, I don't think the need arises, as the answers you get from different vendors across cities are almost identical-albeit in a different language!

The Questions
My first stop was this swanky new shop, proudly proclaiming to be an AMD dealer-someone had finally mustered enough courage to do it! I asked for an AMD solution and was offered three choices: Sempron, Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 X2.

I was told they have a good scheme wherein a combo of a Sempron 2500 and a motherboard would cost me around Rs 5,000. Initially I thought the scheme was for clearing the older stock of Socket 462 Semprons, but to my surprise it was the new Socket 754 series.

This is great for people building entry level PCs-a complete PC could be assembled for just Rs 16K. The AMD Sempron 2500 seems to be very popular right now, and is the most widely available-higher-clocked Semprons are a rarity.

Similarly, the shop also had schemes on Athlon64 processors. A combo of a 754 pin 2800 Athlon 64 and a motherboard was retailing for Rs 7,500; without the offer, the CPU would cost Rs 5,000. The dealer also told me that 939-pin Athlon 64 CPUs were in now, as they supported dual-channel memory. 

A 939-pin Athlon64 3000 retails for around Rs 6,700, whereas an Athlon64 3,200 costs around Rs 8,700. Though these guys had heard of the dual-core Athlon64 X2 processors, they hadn't started stocking it yet, due to lack of demand.

Since he was an AMD-specific retailer, I asked him about the reliability and resale value of AMD processors. According to him, AMD processors are as reliable as Intel processors, and he hasn't come across a single problem. He said the resale value for AMD processors was still a problem, but only because of misconceptions and lack of information. "Heating in AMD processors is no longer an issue; in fact, the latest Venice core Athlon 64 processors run cooler than their Intel counterparts," he proclaimed. I was impressed-finally, a dealer that does his homework!

Intel processors, on the other hand, are omnipresent, and you should be able to walk into any shop and get one. That's exactly what I did: I walked into another shop that seemed as swanky as the AMD retailer's, just to try and keep things fair. I asked for a Celeron processor and was promptly advised to buy a 2.6 GHz Pentium IV processor, as the price difference isn't much-the Pentium IV 2.6 GHz costs around Rs 5,200, while the 2.6 GHz Celeron retails for Rs 3,650.

"The older processors have 478 pins, and should plug into an existing motherboard if you're upgrading. The newer processors are based on the LGA 775 socket, and are pinless. The 64-bit Intel Pentium IV processors (which fall in the 6XX family, and have model numbers such as 670, 672, etc.) have all the latest features such as HT, 64-bit capability, power-saving SpeedStep technology etc.," I was told.

The dealer conveniently forgot to mention that 478-pin processors have been discontinued. "Really?" was his unconvincing reply when I informed him about this.

Across the market, I found that the Pentium IV 2.8 GHz costs about Rs 5,700, the 3 GHz Rs 8,100, and the 3.2 GHz Rs 10,500. When I asked around for the Pentium D dual-core processor, I was told it's currently sold as a combo-an i945 motherboard and a Pentium D processor together cost about Rs 18,000.

At the end of the day, I reached the conclusion that for the average user who wants gaming and various regular desktop applications, the following processors are good buys.

For AMD fans: Socket 939 AMD Athlon 64 3000
For Intel lovers: 3 GHz Pentium IV 630
For those on a tight budget, a Sempron solution is ideal-it's fast, cheap and reliable. Those who swear by Intel should opt for the Pentium IV 2.6 GHz over a Celeron processor.

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