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                                                                                        BY:   GURU   DAVE SMITH



 PC Magazine has gotten hundreds of emails and Web postings debating which is faster,

 the 1.2-GHz AMD Athlon or the 1.5-GHz Intel Pentium 4.


Speed depends on what you are doing with a CPU. Recent tests in labs showed the

Athlon can beat all comers at most office applications, especially in systems with double data-rate memory, which should be available soon. But the Pentium 4 leads in some high-end applications, particularly those used for creating streaming video and audio content or for manipulating large images.


Neither company is standing still. From Intel, coming soon 2-GHz and faster Pentium 4s by the end of the year, along with chip sets supporting less-expensive memory than the RDRAM used in current machines. AMD is planning faster chip speeds for Athlon, culminating with a revision of the basic chip toward the end of the year.


Meanwhile, 64-bit computing is getting a bit more solid. Intel is shipping the first of its Itanium processors, and we expect to see machines based on that chip this year, followed by the first samples of AMD's 64-bit x86 chip. Initially, these chips will be used in servers and high-end workstations, but competitive pressures should bring them down to desktop prices eventually.


For an in-depth comparison of today's processors and another round of the speed debate by two longtime PC Magazine staff members, read the complete review. PC Magazine breaks down the top desktop, notebook, and server processors from AMD, Intel, and Transmeta for business and personal users.


If you want to build a system, go with a new mother board/chip combo we'd go for an 800 to 1.2 GHz AMD Athlon and an Asus A7V mother board.

Unless you can purchase a AMD 760 based motherboard and DDR RAM. Again, it's a question of how much you want to spend.


Looking for an Intel ?  We'd go 800 to 1 GHz PIII with an 815 based mother board from Asus or Abit.