AMD 64 vs Intel

My son wants to build a nice gaming computer.  His friend built one with an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Socket 754.  Seems ok.  But it was close to half the price of my Intel 3.4GHz Northwood I used in my computer.  ($160 vs $310) The AMD doesn't even mention GHz, how are you supposed to compare.  Also, their gimmick is the 64 bit computing, but do any games use 64 bit yet?  Does anything?  Is there some disadvantage to AMD?  
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Hi mark876543,
Personally, I use Intel but there is nothing wrong with AMD at all. You can find all the information with respect to the "rating" and actually GHz measure on AMD's website. No games currently use 64bit processors, you will inevitably run the CPU in 32bit mode, but you will get a performance increase over most natively 32bit CPUs. AMD Opteron is a fine choice, but you want to make sure you get one that is not crippled. The $160 price range Opterons are not on par with your Northwood in the slightest.

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Microsoft hasn't even released Windows for the AMD 64 chip yet - it's coming, but not here yet.  The standard Windows will work and as NetworkArchitek suggests, performance shouldn't really be an issue.

AMD rates it's chips based on how fast they would appear to be if they were Intel chips.  So the AMD Athlon 64 3000+ is SUPPOSEDLY going to run about as fast as an Intel P4 3.0 GHz CPU.  

Here's some reviews for you to read.  And once Windows 64 bit for AMD is released I would expect it to outperform your intel. Until then, not so.  Of course, games and such will have to be recompiled for AMD 64's architecture - and that won't happen much any time soon, in my opinion.

If your son wanted to run Linux, Unreal Tournament 2003 has a native version for the AMD 64 bit chip for Linux.  so there are 64 bit games... at least one major title.  But I would still expect MOST games won't be optimized for it for some time.

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Just to be clear:

games and such will have to be recompiled for AMD 64's architecture - to see any noteable performance increases.  They should work as is right out of the box.
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Well, actually, hasn't Unreal been recompiled for 64bit. There actually may be some games out there, I have just been out of touch with that community.
Oh I didn't see leew's post about Unreal. Neat, answer my question too =)
I always run AMD when I build machines because I can get the same performance for a lot less $$. AMD gives you more bang for your buck. What I have found to be the case with AMD's is that you have to pay closer attention to keeping the CPU COOL. They tend to run hotter and will fail much faster if there is a cooling issue than INTEL. Make sure you get a really good heatsink and Fan for your AMD especially if your going to overclock it or push it hard running games. To get my AMD to run the best I keep it really cool and add lots of RAM.

Just a couple of things to clear up:

The AMD PR rating is *not* for comparison to Intel Mhz - it's a common mistake. It actually refers to performance relative to the earlier AMD XP chips. An A64 2800 will easily outperform a P4 2.8 in everything except en/decoding.

Also WinXP 64beta has been about for about 6 months, but does lack driver support and is of course a beta :-)

Also remember for gaming, especially DX9 games GPU choice is very important and *very* expensive. If you must have the lastest then it's going to be an Nvidia6800GT or ultra (or the new gen ATI X800 cards, but they are slightly slower for the money). Imho a Radeon 9800 pro at £110 is a bargain :-)

There are plenty of choices as usual, and everyone has their opinion. If you don't care about overclocking a good cheap system will be a winchester core (socket 939) XP3200, a nice reliable board from ASUS, Epox or Abit and and CAS2 PC3200 ram - there is lots about.

Good luck

mark876543Author Commented:
All are really good answers, thanks.
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