Intel Core 2: To buy or not to buy?

There’s been an awful lot of talk recently regarding the release of the new Intel Core 2 chips. So far only the Duo (dual core) version has been released, but the Quadro (quad core) is apparently just around the corner. There’s a nice review (including benchmarks) of the Quadro over at Tom’s Hardware.

The articles that have been released so far all show that this new breed of Intel chips is going to take the computing world by storm. They’re a tasty performance increase over the old Pentium 4 platform, a power usage decrease, and they are giving even the top-end AMD chips (including the awesome FX-62) an absolute hiding. Tom’s Hardware has a massive list of tests in their Summer CPU Charts, arguably the difinitive CPU performance lineup.

So far, AMD hasn’t made a serious attempt at countering Intel’s huge advances in the CPU field. The only plan that they’ve released to the public so far is their 4X4 (and 8X8) plan, as talked about here. The 4X4 plan is to put two dual-core (not necessarily the AMD X2) processors on a dual-socket motherboard and use a modified version of hypertransport between the two sockets. 8X8 is essentially the same, only with two quad-core processors. There has been mention that this could be very powerful, but there are concerns about latency between CPUs as a result of having them seperated.

The only real problem, especially for geeks who haven’t upgraded in a while, is that not just the CPUs are changing. Soon we’ll need to be buying RAM which is faster than DDR2-800 to make use of front side bus speeds which are set to rocket past the 1066MHz mark (1333Mhz is already on it’s way). Personally I run a Socket 478 Pentium 4, an AGP video card and 184-Pin DDR Ram, none of which are compatible components with what’s currently on offer – so if I decide to upgrade I’ll essentially have to throw my old machine away and replace it outright with a Core2, a 1066FSB Socket 775 motherboard, a PCIe video card and some lightning fast 240-Pin DDR2 Ram. Not a cheap endeavor.

So, should we geeks and gamers upgrade our entire platform and get a Core 2 Duo? Should we wait for the Core 2 Quadro? Should we wait for AMDs impending counter attack? Or should we try something different (my personal choice) for our next upgrade? Who knows. The only thing that seems certain at the moment is that there are great things afoot in the PC hardware world, and that it’s going to cost us a hell of a lot of money.

To round things off, here’s a stack of reviews for your reading pleasure: Tom’s Hardware Guide, AnandTech, Hexus, Hardware Secrets ,OCAU, Tweaktown, HotHardware, Tech Report, Trusted Reviews, Legion Hardware, bit-tech, Extreme Tech, Legit Reviews, Sharky Extreme, HardOCP, PC Perspective, GotFrag Hardware, Game Pyre, X-Bit Labs, tbreak, noseeker, and Byte Sector.

The huge list of links was borrowed from a SlashDot article, everything else is from my head.


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