's new Pentium 4
range, the Athlon range has pretty much been left in the dust
. First of all, the P4
has upped its Level 2 Cache to 512 K, and its Front Side Bus
) has been upped to 533 MHz, over the meager 266 MHz of the Athlon. On top of this, the P4 range
now exceeds 2 GHz, going up to 2.6 GHz in pure clockspeed
, while the Athlon range is still struggling
to break the 2 GHz milestone
Despite this, as AMD continues to avidly market, its not pure clockspeed that counts. As such, they do not advertise clockspeed, simply having model numbers such as Athlon XP 2200+. So even though the Athlon XP 2200+ runs at a pure clockspeed of 1.9 GHz, its actual performance is the equivalent of a P4 2.2 GHz. But this still doesn't match the blitzing performance of the newer 2.4 GHz, 2.56 GHz and 2.6 GHz P4-Bs, and of course there are other disadvantages.
First of all, the XP 2200+ costs about as much as a P4-B 2.56 GHz, and its not running at the same speed. Second of all, it doesn't support the super fast RDRAM, and although no motherboard to date can take full advantage of its incredible speeds, an Athlon motherboard can only take advantage of 266 MHz, whereas a P4 motherboard up to 533 MHz. This also means that the newer DDR SDRAM that runs at 400 MHz will also be incompatible with the outdated 266 MHz FSB of the Athlons (although DDR 333 MHz is compatible with some of the newer boards), whereas the P4 range can take full advantage of both these speeds; even the older P4s can do so.
Although its unfair to focus primarly on their disadvantages, because there are some advantages. The biggest one is the simple fact that for overclocking, the Athlon range is a beast. It is so versatile that not only can the FSB be overclocked, but also the multiplier, unlike the rigid Pentiums who's FSB can only be overclocked. Therefore, an Athlon XP 2200+ could be made to run at over 3 GHz, theoretically, but of course one would require alot of cooling, and with it would come the increased risk of failure and a shorter chip life.
Overall, the Athlon range has a decent chipset, but I believe it is simply decent, and nothing special, especially for someone such as I who steers well clear of overclocking. I convinced myself to stray from Intel once, who I had been ever so loyal to throughout the years, and I found myself yearning for the old, reliable, Pentium range, but this is simply my perspective.