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View Full Version : Athlon vs Athlon64 which to buy.



bdunward
22nd March 2005, 12:46 AM
Okay, I have posted to ask people about replacing two machines. Now, I am considering whether to go with an Athlon or Athlon 64. I need two solid machines with not a lot of garbage to deal with. I am looking for opinions and experience. I am also looking for recommendations for motherboards and rock solid components. There are two machines, one a server and the other is the workstation.

The workstation will be used for development when I get into it, some video edition, and light game playing. The server is a small business/home server with basic services like DNS, NFS, and light web server work.

Again, I am looking for rock solid systems so I need some advice on Athlon vs Athlon 64 first, then MB. Which chipset to pick, ets.

Thanks in advance.

BD

Dog-One
22nd March 2005, 02:29 AM
I suppose it depends on your budget and how long you intend to keep the hardware before you consider it obsolete. I built an Athlon 64 machine a while back, based on the cheapest CPU (single channel memory controller, i.e. 754 pin) and a basic nForce3 chipset. Cost me about $600. It made an excellent FC2 and FC3 server machine. It quickly became apparent that I could use this machine as a workstation and a server. Just recently, I decided to upgrade to something that could support 4 concurrent SATA drives so that I could setup a large RAID-5 array and have some high-end games run nicely. So I bought a nForce4 motherboard with the dual-channel Athlon 64. This upgrade wasn't cheap and I could have easily bought two nForce3 machines for the same price.

So in your case, there are things you may want to consider early in your decision making process. Will you ever want to hang on more services, more disk space or try to use one machine as a dual-role machine like I'm doing? Do you want to be a little closer to bleeding edge, so that you are able to utilize your investment longer? There is a sweet-spot where you can retain your equipment for quite a long time and yet not pay through the nose up front. That's what I would shoot for.

Other little things that may be of interest: Networking--your newer machines all have GigE NICs onboard and plenty of SATA controllers onboard. You certainly can buy this stuff later if needed, but it will cost you more to add it, than to get it up front as part of the chipset.

Speed-wise the Athlon 64 is clearly faster than an Athlon or mid-level P4 for that matter. If you do software RAID on your server, you'll see a difference in file serving. The 64-bit buzz is in the air again, but this time it's for real, so it's your choice to take advantage of it if you want to.

The server in question is really the easy one, IFF you just use it as a server and not dual-role. If you know what the disk capacity needs to be and speed isn't too much of a factor, most any hardware you can get your hands on will work running something like Fedora Core. The workstation is a bit tougher because you need to see the future somewhat. It's more a factor of budget than anything else. Bigger, faster, newer is better as long as you don't cross that line where you throw money away on it.

I'm rambling here, so I'll leave it at that unless you have some more question. Hope some of what I said helps you.

Cheers,

bdunward
22nd March 2005, 03:16 AM
So, nVidia chipset is well supported with Core3+? Two years ago I tried Linux on an Asus A7N8X-Deluxe and was not impressed, it was a real dog and a pain to get working. That sort of burned me to nVidia.

Lets suppose I wanted to go with something like the LanParty nForce4 board with an Athlon 3000+ with a 1GB dual channel memory. With your experience would you see that as rather slow?

BD

Dog-One
22nd March 2005, 04:11 AM
I'm running a MSI K8N Diamond (http://www.msicomputer.com/product/p_spec.asp?model=K8N_Neo4_Platinum/SLI&class=mb) (nForce4 SLI) with an Athlon 64 3200+, 1GB dual-channel. Slow it's not. With all my system services running, DHCP, DNS, NFS, rsync, sendmail, cyrus-imap, FTP, Samba, even Folding@Home, I can still play UT2004 (using a nVidia 6600 GT PCI-E) and get quite reasonable frame rates and only minor slowdown for LAN workstations accessing the server. This particular motherboard, has two incompatibilities with FC3: One, the forcedeth Ethernet driver doesn't seem to get recognized during the install, but works fine once things are up-n-running. Two, the Audigy LS (ca0106) sound device is only good for output right now and is fairly incomplete. SATA, power management and all the rest of the hardware runs great. Keep in mind that FC4 isn't far away and I expect even more improvement to Fedora Core.

bdunward
22nd March 2005, 04:27 AM
Thats helpful, I will give it a try. Am I right in believing that one needs two sticks of memory to work together? That is, 1GB needs two 1GB sticks?

bdunward
22nd March 2005, 04:33 AM
Forgot to ask, do you thing the SLI is worth the money compared to just a faster video card? What is PCI Express? Is it really better than AGP?

BD

Dog-One
22nd March 2005, 04:15 PM
Thats helpful, I will give it a try. Am I right in believing that one needs two sticks of memory to work together? That is, 1GB needs two 1GB sticks?That's correct you need two sticks, but the total memory is still the sum of the two sticks--so two 1GB sticks would give you 2GBs of system memory. You want to look for memory that is packaged as two sticks, matched in timing specs. I use OCZ "dual-channel" DDR400, low-latency. I could go more generic or higher performance--but again, it's that sweet-spot I'm after.
Forgot to ask, do you thing the SLI is worth the money compared to just a faster video card? What is PCI Express? Is it really better than AGP?I went overboard with the SLI purchase. It isn't necessary, but it does give you an upgrade path that you otherwise wouldn't have. It's also proprietary in that I believe only nVidia supports it. Still the idea that you could put in two graphics cards and have them work together to render a single screen image at high frame rate is pretty cool. It may prove to be a dead end though, so consider that at purchase time.

Currently, PCI-E (especially 16x in use now) is very much underutilized. The bandwidth it can haul probably never reaches 25% usage. So AGP is still in the game. The factor here is in two years when some really cool game comes out that you want to try, can you find an AGP card capable of handling it. Certainly there will be a PCI Express card available, but I wouldn't be too certain about an AGP version. So technically, AGP is still plenty good, but if the market share for it drops off fast, it may quickly turn into a dying horse. There you'll be with a motherboard that's nearing it's end-of-life all because your upgrade path has run out.

Then again, for half the cost of a new graphics card, you could get a whole new motherboard--maybe one that supports dual-core Athlon 64s. It's a bit of a tough call, but if you choose wisely now, you'll save money and have more options later.

snurckle
22nd March 2005, 06:16 PM
Do you guys think SATA or EIDE actually degrades the speeds you are capable of with the PCI-E and 64 bit systems?

I would think that the hard drive would be a key limiting factor, but perhaps I'm wrong.

I've been contemplating building the dream machine, but wanted to do it with a SCSI, and not SATA.

cybrjackle
22nd March 2005, 09:14 PM
Do you guys think SATA or EIDE actually degrades the speeds you are capable of with the PCI-E and 64 bit systems?

I would think that the hard drive would be a key limiting factor, but perhaps I'm wrong.

I've been contemplating building the dream machine, but wanted to do it with a SCSI, and not SATA.

For the price, go SATA. I have 4 box's at home now running SATA drives and I wouldn't use anything else now :D

james_in_denver
22nd March 2005, 09:23 PM
I use SCSI, the "mean time between failure" for my drives is something like 91.5 years.....

Haven't seen anything like that in the ATA world where disks usually die after 2-5 years.....

Dog-One
24th March 2005, 03:13 AM
I have a Seagate SCSI Cheetah drive that I've used on and off for about five years now. It's loud and runs hot, but still works. Maybe you're on to something james--though I think 91.5 years is a bit more than anyone should expect a drive to last. ;)

Truthfully, the interface shouldn't play much of a factor in the MTBF stats. I would think it comes down to bearing life, media adhesion to the platters and lastly how well the unit is sealed from foreign particles entering the drive. There is that little unknown of quality. It's quite possible that the more expensive SCSI drives have better quality--yet get what you pay for...

multiboot
25th March 2005, 10:36 PM
Well this is my 2 bits.
Server: Get a solid machine don't worry about processor. This is where SAFE data is stored, a database maybe, and music? This will come down to bandwidth not processor. You could put 3 NIC's in it and load balance them. 2 internal 1 external, 1 for default gateway the other for file and print.

Workstation: Buy the best board and reduce the processor a little so you can upgrade the processor if needed. Get a 939 board and processor with 2 512 sticks of matched RAM minimum. I can't believe the hardware guys are doing ePCI for the general public, yes you can get great performance out of a dual video system but what do you really need? Not what do you really want, what you need!
I have AGP and still kick but in DoDUO.

I have an old Compaq Proliant 2500 as my server it is dual Pentium Pro 200/512, 384mb RAM, but it is setup with a Compaq 2P raid controller. My data and web site are safe on a RAID 5 set, if a drive fails I replace it LIVE! Servers don't have to be powerful just reliable for web, file and print, and such.