Athlon CPUs and photoshop

Discussion of all forms of processors, from AMD to Intel to VIA.

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Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2002 1:37 pm

Presently I'm on a macintosh G4 450. My primary applications are photoshop, painter, and bryce. I also want more access to games (mainly RPGs) and I'm not real pleased with the pricing of macs lately ....so I'm thinking that my upgrade this time might be over to a whole new system.

I can build an incredible Athlon system for $1200 to $1500 (having to buy the case, powersupply, graphics card et al...there's nothing I can transfer over since I'm on a mac right now).

How well do the Athlon chips stack up against the powerpc in FPU calculations and photoshop realworld actions? I have found scads of benchmarks comparing the Athlon to the pentium 4's and scads comparing the pentiums to the PPC, but no direct comparison of the Athlon versus the PPC.

I have a friend (windows user) who's just sure that I'm getting ready to make a mistake if I build a windows box. She feels that the hardware will be great, but the OS is so corruptable that my games will fudge up the system. She tells me that the premium for a mac system is worth is because the OS is better and "stuff just works". Since I haven't used windows I don't know if this is true or not. Am I in for a headache configuing a windows machine? And will the Athlon keep up or do better at graphics apps that the PPC?

Thanks for any advice.

Ceci
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Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2002 1:51 pm

I don't know about any Athlon to Mac comparisons, but as to OS's... Just make sure you get a _good_ Windows OS (Windows 2000 Professional, for example). Anything based off the 98 line (95, 98, Me) is crap and will give you as much pain as your friend imagines. On the other hand, 2000 is a very nice, stable OS (I use it both at home and work). I don't know about XP, but since it's still so early for it I would recommend 2000.

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Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2002 2:49 pm

yeah...I was thinking about getting Win XP home edition. It looked fine to me. I'm not averse to a little bodging if windows seems to require it, I just don't want to end up with conflicts where I can't add my scanner unless my printer is disconnected, corrupted registries due to poor installs or uninstalls...stuff like that.

I looked a bit closer and found out that if I feel unadventurous and don't want to build my own box, I can order a compaq dressed out with an Athlon XP1900 for $1500...about $200 less if I build it myself. Not bad considering a mid level mac tower runs $2300 for a 933 mhz PPC.

So...what I need to seal this deal (my S.O. is giving me grief right now) is some sort of comparo with the Athlon XP 1900 or near about versus the 800 to 1Ghz powerpcs. Does anyone out there have a feel for how the Athlon looks with regard to rendering and pixel pushing?

Ceci
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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: cecirdr on 2002-02-08 16:34 ]</font>
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Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2002 3:01 pm

One thing to remember in the PC world is that the CPU doesn't change how you'll see things, it's all based on your video card. An Nvidia card will look the same on a P4 or an Athlon, but will look different than an ATI card on either processor type.

Unfortunately there are few programs out there that are really cross-platform. Damage did a report a while back of some PC platform Photoshop vs a (I think) G3 Photoshop, and showed that in only two filters was the G3 faster. The rest of the time the PC platform spanked it handily. You may want to look through the article archives here and see if you can dig it up.

On the whole, I would expect the Athlon to give you perfectly good performance on anything you're planning to do. Make sure not to pair it with a really underpowered video card, though; that can be at least as big a factor on 3d performance, if not more, than the processor.

The biggest problem with XP as opposed to 2000 is that there are still a lot of drivers out there that haven't been pushed forward. Since you won't have any legacy PC hardware coming into this, though, that shouldn't be an issue.

What all does the Compaq come with? $1500 seems like it must be a pretty darn nice system (although I haven't bought a monitor in ages so if that's included it sounds reasonable :smile:. Just remember that the CPU is not necessarily the most important component, and many big system manufacturers shove very underpowered components into a system that has a big CPU just so it sells based on the CPU number.

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Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2002 3:12 pm

The compaq I priced out didn't include the monitor, but it did have the XP1900, 512 mb ram, dvd and cd-rw, a geforce 3 ti 500, and a sound card. I haven't found out what mobo their using though nor the power supply.

I figure that it's possible that my hand built system might have a better mobo and powersupply, but I don't know that for sure. My totally decked out system that I build would run about $1200. The good thing about windows based systems though is that future upgrades should involve just a processor change or at the worst case a mobo and processor change. I could afford that much better than the apple way of requiring I buy a totally new system.

Ceci


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: cecirdr on 2002-02-08 15:14 ]</font>
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Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2002 4:44 pm

As per your OS choice, all I can say is go with win2k pro. It will be the best decision you ever made. As for the hardware, if you really want to build a system for minimal cost, check out http://www.pricewatch.com to price your items.
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Postposted on Sat Feb 09, 2002 10:25 pm

Ok, I can say several things on this topic.
#1) Avoid Compaq. Seriously. I have to support both private and corporate installed machines of all types, and no major manufacturer gives me more fits than Compaq, and I have to worked on at least 150+ (out of 1000+ machines total) of the things by now. Their problem is that they use proprietary components, especially their motherboards and PSUs. Their PSUs are typically underpowered; when 200-250W PSUs were standard in a mid-tower, Compaq was speccing 120-150W; Athlons are notoriously power hungry, so if you ever try to upgrade that machine, the proc will become rather unstable. For this reason alone, build your own machine.
#2) If you build your own machine, you will know exactly what is in it, because you installed it. You won't be looking thru obtuse manuals or sprawling web sites for specifications. This means if you have any issues, you can drop back into this forum, (or others), and supply us with your system specs, and get an answer. It also means that if you get the upgrade itch, you can check the various component manufacturers for known incompatibilities with new hardware or software.
#3) For productivity purposes, never use a Microsoft product that has the 9x code base (95, 95A, 95B, 95C, 98, 98SE, ME). They are really 16-bit MS-DOS, with a pretty 32-bit shell on top of it. Use a true 32-bit OS, one that utilizes the NT codebase (NT 3.51, NT 4.0, NT 5.0 aka Win2K, NT 5.1 aka WinXP).
#4) For productivity purposes, never use a Microsoft product prior to the release of Service Pack 1. Windows 2000 is on SP2, and SP3 should be out in a few months time; while WinXP still hasnt seen SP1 (it should be out at the same time as SP3 for Win2K).

I'll hunt down some Instructions Per Second (IPC) for you, so you can see how the procs stack up.
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Postposted on Tue Feb 12, 2002 8:09 am

Thanks for the advice about buying compaq versus building my own. I found Monarchcomputer and they seem to have a good selection of mobos, cpus, cases etc. I think I'll go the build it myself route. We have an extra W2K license so I'll probably install that for an OS.

As far as specs go...I think the Athlons will probably give the PPC a run for the money...may even be as good at FPU and graphics type calculations on a mhz to mhz basis. Since the Athlons are at 1.6 Gz (a good bit faster than the PPC) and I can choose to go dual...I would think it would spec out faster than the PPC I could get now from Apple. The Athlon absolutely spanks the pentium 4 in FPU, rendering and graphics performance...even easily bests the northwood pentium 4.

Thanks again for your advice. I'm glad I found this forum. It looks like a good place to get help once I start building my new tower.

Ceci
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Postposted on Tue Feb 12, 2002 9:18 am

Late in the game, but some practical graphic design notes:

The Athlon (particularly dual) will be very pleasurable in Photoshop - because the file sizes can be so ridiculous you can't have enough RAM or a fast enough HDD interface: I would recommend saving pennies for SCSI; the max throughput is not much better than IDE, but the "crispness" (seek and re-task) time matches the Athlon and the disks, SCSI are a bit better built, will handle PS flogging for years and years.

If you're feeling worried about building your own system (and, by the way, the Compaq problems mentioned above I have had with HP's and Dells, too; they all put the highest number of meega-hurtz with the lowest-quality peripherals (particularly memory and PSU) to make a corporate profit margin; it's shameful.) a decent alternative is to find a local computer shop (read; one location) willing to build a custom computer; bring them the "shopping cart" screen from your chosen parts vendor and offer an extra 10% for the machine...most will be happy to oblige, and may save you some trouble by being personally familiar with components that don't like eachother, etc.

Good luck, you won't be disappointed with the move to a PC, even if those BillBorg implants do cause skin irritation...
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Nietzsche: "Against BOREDOM even the gods content in vain"
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