Wogg’s Update on the PC Market – CPU Platforms

If you haven’t shopped for a computer in a year or two you’ll be stepping into a market that has moved so fast your previous assumptions on what’s the best out there are likely to be completely wrong. To help navigate this mess I’ve put up a little article on what’s out there NOW.

Multi Core, the new norm

Here’s what’s out on the market right now you, in descending order of general performance:

Intel I7 – Top dog
Intel’s I7 CPU combines the incredibly fast Core 2 guts with the architectural advantage of an on die memory controller. It’s taken them a long time to catch up with AMD’s little design advantage, but with the already superior execution core, these chips are unbeatable. The new architecture requires a updated socket type and hence all new motherboards. Sorry, no upgrade path from LGA775 systems.

Intel I5 – Speed for the mainstream
The I5 was released as a cut back version of the top dog I7 architecture.  It dropped a channel of memory controller and switch up the cache a bit to cut costs and require yet another socket type.  Fortunately, the motherboards based on the required P55 chipset are reasonably priced around $100 and benchmarks show that the loss of the memory bandwidth will not be noticed by many typical programs.

Intel Core 2 – AMD Killer
Intel’s release of this processor in 2006 quickly put the smack down on the previous king of the jungle, the AMD Athlon X2. The chip features a completely revised design that makes quick work of tasks despite it’s relatively low clock speed as compared to it’s predecessor the Pentium D.  The quad core chips has been outclassed by Intel’s I5 and I7 series for about the same cost and is outperformed by cheaper AMD solutions these days. Look for motherboard using socket type LGA775 to support this type of chip in a desktop or tower computer.

AMD Phenom II
The Phenom has been eclipsed by Intel’s multi core offerings, but is still pretty good in the bang for buck category. It has excellent memory performance due to the on die controller architecture that AMD successfully implemented back with the original debut of Athlon and Opteron. In server class world, the Opteron still holds up quite well and even outperformes anything Intel has to offer in 4+ socket varieties.  If the price is right, these are not a bad choice at all.

AMD Athlon II
AMD has been relegated to the budget bin once again, but for a pretty small amount of cash, you can get some really fast enough performance. They have now release 3 and 4 core versions under $100 making these the fasted CPU’s you can get for that amount of money.  Intel simply does not compete in the budget space so if your tight on cash, this is the way to go.  Look for Socket AM2+ and AM3 systems.

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