There is no best processor ~ It's all what you want to do with it
Jul 10 '00
Processors today are so advanced it really doesn't matter what brand you buy but more what you are going to be using it for. What I mean is, you can get the same satisfaction of writing a book report on a AMD K6-2 at 350MHz as you can on a Pentium III at 933MHz. This type of application does not require the speed of the 933MHz processor and if that is what you are mainly using your computer for, you would be paying way too much for what you need.
The best thing to do to determine what type of processor you need is to make a list of all the things you want to be able to do with your computer, then start with that.
If you are going to be using the computer mainly for web browsing and email, with maybe some light gaming, you may want to consider the cheaper AMD K6-2 and K6-III series of processors. These processors range from 300MHz to 550MHz and perform as well as a Pentium II at a lower cost. These processors also take advantage of the the 100MHz frontside bus of the Super7 motherboards that they use with the faster PC100 memory. AMD's design of these chips includes the 3DNow! instruction set that greatly enhances multimedia applications, sound and games. The K6-III adds the advantage of having the level 2 cache on the processor die as well as the level 1 cache making the processor even faster and still retaining the low cost.
Moderate to Heavy Use
If you are looking for a home computer to do a little bit of everything, you may want to consider a Pentium III or an AMD Athlon processor. Both offer speeds from 500MHz up to 1000MHz and are capable of running any resource-hungry, Windows based software you may want to run. They both have special instruction sets built into the processor to enhance multimedia and are excellent processors for 3D gaming and MP3 recording/playback as well as DVD playback and web design applications.
They are also great processors for video editing and graphic design as well as being able to handle all your office work and internet applications. They differ technically in many ways and have changed in design from their original plans since their introduction to make them better. Personally I prefer the Athlon, but I will not go into an Intel/AMD debate here. For most all purposes they perform very well and one is just as good as the other for any home or office use.
Extreme Heavy Use
If you are thinking of using a computer for a large network server, you may want to consider using a Pentium III Xeon processor. Even though these processors are much more expensive than the Pentium III processors, they can handle much more multitasking and make excellent processors for the demanding job of a server. It has the same 32k of level 1 cache as the Pentium, Pentium II and Pentium III but it is designed with 512k of level 2 cache built on the processor die and running at the full clock speed of the processor. The Xeon series is specially designed for input/output data processing and (like the Pentium II and III) can be used in conjunction with other Xeon processors of the same speed to maximize efficiency for network servers.
Whatever you plan to use your computer for, there a couple processors I would warn you against. One is the Cyrix family of processors. These processors are cheaply made and commonly burn out their cache and most of them are clock rated too high for their actual performance. Many people have bought a 300MHz Cyrix M2 processor to have the cache burn up. I have a friend who had such a problem and after receiving his third processor under warranty and still having trouble with stability, the Cyrix technical support told him to jumper down his clock speed. This is totally unacceptable. They wanted him to Underclock his 300MHz processor to 266MHz. What a joke!
Another processor to stay away from is the Winchip. I personally have not had the dishonor of using one but many people I know have had nothing but problems with Winchips. This is especially a problem with laptop computers using the Winchip. The processors don't burn up like the Cyrix processors, but they are extremely buggy and do not perform well at all for most high end games and resource demanding office applications.
Finally, I want to also remind you that having a good processor is only one important part of the whole computing solution that is right for you. Consider what you will be using your computer for and make sure you get the right components and peripherals as well. For example, if you are intending to use the computer for extreme gaming and buy the Pentium III 1000MHz processor but only buy a 4MB video card, you are going to be very disappointed with the performance of your computer with 3D games. A good video card is a must for this type of use as well as the appropriate amount of memory and so on.
I hope this helps you decide which processor is right for your needs. Good luck and happy computing.