Ed, You Incompetent Slut

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(Ed. note: This is a merge (with some minor editing) of an exchange between myself and this person, who builds systems for a living. My comments from the article are in italics, my email comments are in bold italics
are in italics, his comments are in plain print. The person builds Athlon systems, and has very definite opinions about the merits of AMD system, and the demerits of those who differ. I’ve left some questions unanswered because
I’ve answered them elsewhere and to give him the last word. For those of you who
have had quite different experiences, I think both you (and he) ought to think a bit more deeply as to why these experiences differ so much.)

Where to start? I suppose I should take it from the top.

We have two groups of people out there, those who need machines that have to work, and those who don’t. If you’re playing a game, you can live with a machine that fails on you every once in a while. Sure, that will get you mad at the time, but normally, it’s no big deal. There’s always the next game.

I believe everyone needs a computer that is reliable. Why should anyone put up with an unstable system?

If every crash costs you money, though, you can’t afford to have a machine that does that once a day or so. You can’t afford to have CPUs blow up on you. You can’t afford to hope that you’ll get a “good” motherboard rather than a bad one.

I agree with you 100% on that. That’s why I only put high quality components I know and trust into the systems I build.

That’s the biggest problem we face right now with the Athlon systems. They just aren’t reliable enough for the second type of person.

You’re dead wrong there. In my experience AMD systems have been much more reliable than Intel based systems, even ones with VIA chipsets.

Between Joe and I, we’ve worked with about fifteen Via-based boards. About a third of them came with or developed major motherboard-based defects (for instance, multipliers not working correctly).

Multipliers not working correctly? Please elaborate on an instance of that. That could mean a few things. I would assume you are talking about the “pencil trick”. It cannot be blamed on VIA or AMD that something they do not authorize or guarantee on their product will work. There should be no need for adjusting the multiplier in an AMD/AMD or AMD/VIA system, all the motherboards I’ve ever used have gone to whatever the CPU is rated at unless it was unlocked. Don’t really get many unlocked CPUs, but I always set the multiplier correctly just to be thorough.

I don’t read about Intel CPUs blowing up left and right. That was and is a great rarity. It happens too often with the Athlons. Granted, most of them are caused by users, but I’ve seen too many cases of these things dying for no good reason not to believe the reliability standard is a bit lower than what we were used to a few years back.

I have not heard of any CPU blowing up, ever, of any kind. If by this you are referring to cracking the cores of the T-Birds and Durons then you should say what you are talking about. The cracking of cores has been due to improper user installation. I have not had a cracked core in over 100 Socket A systems that I have built. You must not be capable of proper heatsink installation if you have damaged any CPUs in that way.

I asked the audience about this a few weeks ago, and got hundreds of responses. For sure, most of them were due to users, but a significant minority were not. Of those failures, most weren’t as spectacular as that, they just stopped working after a couple weeks or months.

I would like one iota of evidence that this “significant minority” of failures of AMD CPUs are not due to user error. People will lie when they did something stupid which broke their system. I’ve seen it before. It’s human nature to try to cover up embarrassing mistakes.

I wasn’t counting cracked cores.

You must not be capable of proper heatsink installation if you have damaged any CPUs in that way.

I haven’t had a CPU failure, but others have. The ceramic is far more fragile, though, and people with plenty of experience putting heatsinks on Intel chips have managed to crack a few here and there.

Once again, I’ve not had a single problem, nor has anyone I know.

Put in this driver; stick in this fix, put in that fix sometimes, put in another fix another time, and if you don’t perform the ritual exactly right, sometimes you’ll have to start all over again. I’m installing a motherboard, not a bishop.

You mean hardware is supposed to just instantly work without installing a driver for it? How is the software supposed to interface with it without any instructions on how to do so? Pathetic.

When we get to multiple fixes, not improvements, fixes for a fairly wide variety of problems, then it gets to be a bit much for the average person who may or may not even know of their existence.

All hardware is bound to have issues due to the wide variety of hardware and software it will be used with. When I build a system, I make sure everything is working before I’m through with it. That way these issues never show up for the people I build for.

So you don’t like it when Microsoft doesn’t package in drivers for the latest VIA hardware and you have to install a driver pack? You must not be the type who updates drivers to ensure maximum performance and stability. Perhaps that is why you have had such bad experience with VIA, since you never update hardware drivers.


Absolutely to the contrary, but why does Via have to come up with a bunch of new fixes all the time?

Why does AMD? Why does NVIDIA? ATI? Abit? Asus? MSI? How about anyone who makes any kind of hardware or software. Issues will arise as it is used on different system configurations. Driver and BIOS updates resolve these issues, you’ll find AMD and Intel based systems have various issues, most of which are easily fixed through a BIOS and/or driver update.

Fixes, eh? I have never needed to install any VIA “fixes” on any of the systems I’ve built. If by fixes you mean drivers, then I believe I covered that in the above paragraphs.

No, fixes, to handle hardware flaws. You should be aware of them if you’re as conscientious as you say.

Oh, like the software fixes for hardware issues in early Pentium III chips, as well as i815 and i820 fixes. If I recall correctly the i820 had some serous RAM issues. No recalls there, only software fixes. What about the 1.13 GHz Pentium !!!, quite a bunch were out in peoples hands before the recall. I believe they were pretty unstable, especially when you were trying to compile a Linux kernel.

Why is it AMD/VIA get nailed for for issues in their products (which have been promptly fixed in my experience) but Intel can have major bugs in their products and hardly anyone thinks much of it. Most people just forget all about it after a while, as you apparently have.

Please do tell me what fixes you have installed and for what bugs?

Let’s see, we have the MS USB patch, the MS Win2K hard drive patch or two, Via finally has drivers (after about six months) that supposedly enable ATA100 in Win2K; Others need the fix for hard drives not transferring properly if you happen to have an SBLive card. Of course, you have to disable ACPI if you don’t want most of your devices sharing IRQ11.

The USB has never been an issue on any systems I’ve worked on. I personally believe it was an issue with some power supplies, since I have seen the issue twice on KT133 chipsets and both times it was resolved after putting in a good power supply.

The poor Windows 2000 hard drive performance is one thing I am really upset with VIA about. I never really had any problems with it myself since I used AMD 750 boards for most of the time it was an issue.

The SB Live and 686B issue has been really bizarre. There are various resources on the internet which I’ve used to eliminate the problems on systems I’ve encountered. I’ve seen it a couple times but I’ve seen many systems with SB Live cards and the 686B which work flawlessly. But again, new BIOSes have all but eliminated this issue.

Even if you have or even know to have all the necessary drugs, that still doesn’t guarantee you a healthy patient. Too many of these boards are just bad. Not most of them, too many of them.

When you say “Too many of these boards are just bad.” what do you mean exactly? Like DOA boards? Or are you referring to low quality boards which may have speed and stability issues? Either way, you should only be buying high quality boards. If you want stability over all speed you should go with MSI. In my experience they are rock solid boards. Probably due to their generally lesser tweaking ability, so there are less things you can put too fast to get instability.

I have had three MSI boards. The first caught on fire immediately upon applying power. The second had numerous problems I detailed in previous articles before it finally died within two months of operation. The K7Master is the third, and sorry, while it’s not bad, this board is not rock-solid. I’m averaging a crash a day.

Caught fire, eh? Something tells me it wasn’t exactly as it seems from your statement of it catching fire. I’ve had two DOA IBM hard drives, one IBM hard drive developed a bunch of errors and all the data was irretrievable. Their SMART diagnostics/repair program fixed the drive, though all data was lost. I’ve had a DOA SB Live, and another which locked systems up randomly. I’ve had a Viewsonic monitor die on me after 4 months.

Basically, I’ve had a bunch of name brand hardware die on me. There are bound to be defective products shipped out. Some on us seem to get unlucky and receive them more than others. You can’t base a company entirely on your sole experience with them, as you are a miniscule part of the people they serve. If they average 5 dead board per quarter that slip through then you got really unlucky and got 2/3 of their defective hardware. Based on my experience a while back with IBM I could go spouting off about how I got some defective drives and say they stink, but I know it is just my experience, and stuff like that is pretty rare.

To me, the issue is not “Does Via make a quality product” or “Will Via make a quality product?” it’s “Can Via make a quality product, and does it even want to?” I think the answer is “No.”

They do make a quality product. The KT133, KT133A, and KT266 are all great chipsets which have been very reliable in all the systems I’ve built with them. You obviously think wrong.

No sir, either you have a lower standard of reliability than I, or you’ve been particularly lucky and/or conservative. A higher proportion of people are having headaches with these products. We’ve had more headaches with these products, and we’ve tested quite a few, all from brand-name companies, across the board.

Maybe it’s just my touch. 🙂 But really, I’ve never had so much trouble as you describe with any system I’ve ever worked on.

. . . . Add to that AMD changing standards every five minutes, and you get what we got now.

What standards are AMD changing frequently? I don’t think they have changed any standards. I can’t think of a single thing to support your claim of “AMD changing standards every five minutes”. Please explain to me what you meant by that.

Hmmm. AMD750, KX133, KT133, KT133A, AMD 760, KT266. All in a bit more than a year.

AMD750 and KX133 were for the original Athlons. One offering from AMD and one from VIA. I would hardly call that changing standards, since they were pretty similar.

A new CPU demands a new chipset. KT133, KT133A, AMD 760, and KT266 are all for the same CPUs. Two are DDR and two are SDR. You also left out the ALi chipsets.

Anyway, AMD has released two chipsets in the past year, one for the Athlon and one for the new Duron/T-Bird. I’d hardly say there are changing standards every 5 minutes. AMD does not want to be the sole provider of chipsets, and encourages VIA and ALi to make chipsets for their CPUs. If you look at Intel you’ll see it is similar, except Intel hates it when someone else releases a chipset for their CPUs. Just take a look at all the VIA and ALi offerings for Intel CPUs, throw that in with the Intel offerings and you got a lot more than you have with AMD, and the ones for Intel vary a lot more in what they have to offer.

I can’t think of a single thing to support your claim of “AMD changing standards every five minutes”. Please explain to me what you meant by that

None of this may bother the heterodyne at all, and that’s perfectly OK. If it doesn’t bother you, I’m not suggesting it should start.

What you are saying does bother me. It tells me that you are out there building and maintaining systems and you clearly aren’t qualified to do so. This is obvious from how you cannot seem to get AMD or VIA systems running stably, and are pouting about having to install drivers for the hardware. A good systems builder will install the latest drivers for all hardware in the system and will gladly do it for their customers. It only takes a few minutes and also ensures less problems which the customer will need you to service the system.

I don’t regularly build and maintain systems for others, but I’ll tell you about the couple I have done.

If you don’t regularly do it then you definitely shouldn’t be posting articles bashing AMD or VIA based on your very limited experience.

I had an Asus AU which was pretty decent, so that went into my sister’s system. It’s working fine.

Personally I’ve had a few issues with the AU, the ones I did build took a bit longer than the MSI or Abit systems I’ve built, but the Asus systems are chugging along rock solid.

More recently, I’ve had a friend who wanted a new system, and I recommended an ILL KKK, due to good experiences we had with one of the them. The first would only work with a multiplier of default and 8.5X. The second only worked with a multiplier and 11X. The processors used have been tested on different machines with no multiplier problem. Please explain to me how my obvious incompetence caused that. We’ve had similar problems with about a third of the boards we’ve used. So have many others.

I’ve had a few issues similar to that with the Asus A7V. It turned out to be a conflict between a couple settings on the motherboard regarding manual and auto detection of settings. This showed up frequently on the A7V, which is why I do not recommend that board any more. If anything you should be judging IWill on that, not VIA. The problem has nothing to due with VIA or AMD. You really ought to think more before you take the easy way and blame VIA. Just because you have not run into so many issues with Intel systems doesn’t mean they aren’t there. You should realize that is true from your limited experience building and maintaining systems.

This is obvious from how you cannot seem to get AMD or VIA systems running stably, and are pouting about having to install drivers for the hardware.

No, I’m talking about the number of patches needed to fix flaws in the hardware, as I’ve outlined above.

Not everyone has the issues, so it isn’t always a good idea to bundle it all into one patch. The VIA service packs fix and problems that occur most of the time. For an experienced system builder it’s no problem to install a couple more drivers or fixes. There have been Intel based system which required several patches before things were fixes in drivers and BIOS. From your limited experience you must think it is isolated to AMD/VIA.

A good systems builder will install the latest drivers for all hardware in the system and will gladly do it for their customers. It only takes a few minutes and also ensures less problems which the customer will need you to service the system.

I am not complaining about installing 4-in-1 drivers. Per those, any complaint deals with their need to fix items that should have worked in the first place.

AMD, Intel, or VIA. Problems slip through the limited in house testing. It’s inevitable. In my experience I’ve seen most of these issues in VIA and Intel chipsets. AMD chipsets have been rock solid 99% of the time in my experience

Look at this from the perspective of an IT person. When it comes to desktop systems, he has one and only one top priority: no headaches, or at least no new ones. He couldn’t care less if your Intel system is 10 or 15% slower than an AMD system; he’s not using it. He couldn’t care less if your Intel system costs more; he’s not paying for it.

You clearly aren’t an IT person. The people who buy, build, and maintain systems for a company will usually treat it like it is themselves in the position of buying the systems. I know I don’t build anything for a business that I wouldn’t be satisfied with as one of my personal systems. Most of the IT guys I know feel the same as I do about such things.

Right now, the AMD solution means more effort and more headaches. That’s not a winning combo.

Wrong there, AMD system take me roughly the same amount of time to build as Intel systems, if anything they may take less time. I don’t sit there with a stopwatch which I’m setting it up though. I am usually working on multiple systems at once. Headaches are part of the job, if you can’t handle a finicky computer (Intel or AMD) now and then you shouldn’t be building systems.

Right now, there is a tradeoff buying AMD platforms. Higher speed and lower cost in return for lower reliability, and that’s a perfectly acceptable tradeoff for many, but not for all.

The only tradeoff I know off it more money for less speed when going with Intel.

Right now, I can’t say to someone whose hardware must work all the time, “Buy AMD.” I just can’t.

Then you clearly shouldn’t be building systems, or recommending parts for people to use in their systems if you can’t get an AMD system working.

I’m quite capable of getting a system working. However, none of the Via systems I’ve put together and worked with has been as stable in my daily routine as an IWill 815 board. A couple have gotten close, but no cigar yet.

Then you obviously haven’t tried everything you could have to make them stable.

Now most people aren’t really in that situation; reliability is desirable, not critical, and other factors are more important. That’s fine. You may have an AMD machine that does everything you want flawlessly. Good for you, but you are not the universe.

Apparently you have a problem thinking that you are the “universe”. You think based on your incompetence which resulted in your repeated problems with AMD system that AMD cannot be a reliable system.

No, I’ve been mostly relying on the thousands of emil and forum posts I’ve read about systems. Even after excluding user error, there’s still clearly a higher level of problem with the Via systems.

How many people with systems that work great do you think will be asking for help?

I personally have 5 AMD based systems. I leave them all on 24/7, except when changing hardware and whatnot. My main system has been on 24/7 for the past month without a reboot. The only reason I rebooted last month was to add more RAM. Here is my system:

AMD T-Bird 750 at 825, 1.85 volts
Alpha PAL6035 w/ YS-Tech 26 CFM
Abit KT7-RAID
256 megs Crucial PC133 CAS 2
2x Western Digital WD205BA in RAID 0
Guillemot 3d Prophet DDR~DVI at 250/160
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live Value
Creative Labs Dxr3
Creative Labs 6x DVD / 24x CD
Linksys LNE100TX
Enermax EG-451P-VE
Viewsonic P775

I think the gist of your message is that anybody who has problems with an AMD system must be incompetent.

You may have gotten that impression but that certainly is not my thinking at all. What I basically mean is that anyone who has such a high rate of failure to get an AMD based system running reliably must not be too good at building systems, and should not be building systems until they can get an AMD systeworkingig reliably. My “procedure” for setting up an AMD system is identical to that of setting up an Intel system. I do nothing special for each type other than installing the appropriate drivers for the chipset. Everything else is the same.

There are occasions where a system may be unstable, or may have other quirks. Most of the time they are relatively simple to fix and not terribly time consuming. Sure, on rare occasions I may come across a system which is just really stubborn and can eat up a bit of my time, but I’ve found they are equally spread across Intel, AMD and VIA chipsets.

I won’t do this unless you say OK, but would you mind if I put up your email as an article along with your email address without any comment on my part? I think you might get a different perspective on the matter.

I would love for that to happen. I believe I would get a good deal of support from blind AMD crazy people. There would also be the chunk of logical thinkers who are very good system builders. They go with AMD because they offer a superior product for a much lower price than the competition. Of course there will be guys who just prefer Intel, but realize VIA and AMD make a great product. Just for their own reasons they prefer Intel. And there will also be the Intel guys who are completely blind to all reason and bash AMD and likely VIA as well. Anyway, please do post this, I would look forward to the input from others.

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