Brand loyalty in the PC World

Hardware-Chip-iconWe have seen it in so many areas of life.  Coke v Pepsi, PlayStation v XBOX (Nintendo is as Nintendo does as are their fans).  Like footy teams we pick it, we stick to it and we will hopefully never let our belief waver that we have picked the wrong side by providing any number of logical and very much unorthodox arguments over the choice of one said team over another.

I was looking at PC part prices as I wanton to do and I saw a special for an AMD Radeon card.  If someone was close to me they would have heard me mumble I will never buy and AMD card again.  It dawned on me on this loyalty and if I was rightly justified in my belief.  I have used AMD hardware before, so I believe I have a valid reason for not wanting to go down that path again.  Though to the fan boys out there it would seem petty and because I wasn’t going to show it love, then I deserve not have have the love returned.

Why no AMD?  I have used three AMD devices in the, a CPU from the old days and 2 video cards, one being a desktop the other being a laptop.  Back in the days with the CPU, PC parts were VERY expensive and one was looking for the next upgrade without the least expense.  I was looking to upgrade my current Intel 486 DX2-66 this lead me to the AMD Am5x86 chip. 

It sat into the slot on my motherboard, which was handy, didn’t need to worry upgrading that part, it gave Pentium performance and was cheaper than Pentium which at that time was having Floating Point issues and also required a different motherboard than I had.

Why did Intel name their new processor the Pentium instead of 586?  Because on a Pentium when you add 100 to 486 you get 585.99999999999999. 

So I did it.  I drop what little cash I had, put the chip in, using careful levering of the old chip out and the new one in.  I turned it on, I knew at worst I would have to re-install my Operating system, which was Windows 95 at the time but I was hoping for it to work.  And…

It did, until…

I am wanton to rebuild my PC from time to time, by that I mean, perform a clean install.  There are a couple of reasons one being I find that a clean machine is a lean and mean machine, the other is also about backing up and making sure I have access to all my data offline, since I am often performing a low-level format of the disk during this process.  Must scrub clean all that nasty pornography so the police don’t find it.

So, I decided that this day was the day I needed to perform my re-install.  Found all the disks, Windows 3.11, MS DOS 6.22 and my Windows 95 upgrade disc, I got it and Office 95 for free, I still have the box of Windows 95 Smile yes cool and nerdy.

The path was, Install DOS, Install Win95, when prompted for upgrade use the Windows 3.11 disk when prompted.  All was good, install DOS, first problem.  DOS installer wasn’t working as expected.  These were also the days when the Internet was not common on all PCs and I did have it on my Windows 95 machine but, well it was not even running DOS yet so no good.  One just had to plod through the issues and get it working.

I will not go through this problem but suffice to say, 3 days later I got Windows 95 running.  Phew.  First time I had issues.  Before with my old Intel chip, I had done 2 re-installs without issue.  So, this put me off.  There was also a problem my friend had with a Cyrix Processor.  So, since I had no issues with Intel CPUs, I have stuck with them.

Intel 486DX2-66, Pentium II, Pentium III, Pentium 4 HT, Pentium Core2 Quad, i7, I have not has issues with any of these processors and my first foray into overclocking happened in the Pentium III when I overclocked my Pentium III from 450MHz to 550MHz a 22% gain in performance not too bad.

My next test into AMD was the AMD Radeon 5770HD with 1GB of DDR5 VRAM, it was a great bang for buck card with the research I had done.  Lots of recommendations on it.  It wasn’t too expensive and it was a considerable bump in performance from my NVIDIA 9400GT.  When I got this there were a couple of games I played regularly, in that I mean I come back to them frequently, I still do now, so any system I have needs to run these games.  One is The Movies, by Lionhead Studios, Age Of Empires II by Ensemble Studios and Knights of the Old Republic by BioWare. 

The Movies gave me hope since it would come up with an ATI logo when starting which meant that ATI supplied them cards and it did.  Age of Empires, it is solid and works, I can even run it in a Virtual Machine.  Knights of the Old Republic was the issue.  Upon looking around the internet, there were workarounds for this issue, it related to the OpenGL drivers for the ATI Cards.  I needed to copy the OpenGL driver into same folder as the game. 

That was strike 2, I shouldn’t need to do that.  I didn’t have to do that on my NVIDIA card why should I on an AMD one.  So, one last chance to impress.  Not long after that I was in the market for a laptop.  I saw in the paper a sale on, I went there, my Wife didn’t want to come in happy doing word puzzles in the car, I went in and game out with a brand spanking new HP DV7 laptop.  It was faster than my Intel Core2Quad at home as it had an i7 in the guts as well as an Intel 3000 HD video card and an AMD 6770M 1GB DDR5 chips as well.

It was a nice machine, nice and quick, I upgraded the HDD in it as there were 2x 750GB 5400rpm drives in it, I made them 7200rpm drives.  Performance wise it is nice, I can overclock it, it gets a little warm but I use it mainly for playing SWTOR while I am away from home and it did the job until a driver update from HP went awry and SWTOR stopped playing.  Putting this at a driver issue from HP I though I would go get the Mobility driver from AMD…. NO.  I can’t do that as I need to download the verification tool, which I did and it told me it isn’t compatible.  Thankfully, I was able to get SWTOR running again, I rollback the driver and it worked, but performance (which was the reason for me upgrading) was terrible.

One might think this is HPs fault, and that is what AMD say.  We let companies use our hardware but we are not responsible for the way they are implemented or the drivers they supply.  The other issue is also they do not provide a fall back either.  Which is poor service on AMDs part.

HP Driver Release – 2011-11-18 , Version 8.882.2.3000

AMD Driver Release – 2013-12-18, Version 13.12

Yes a large difference between the driver versions.  Now NVIDIA devices in notebooks, work with NVIDIA drivers, no issues.  But to Install Reference Drivers, Install New drivers, re-install reference drivers, update driver from Device Manager.  To do this just to get the driver working and at proper performance it bad not only from HP but also from AMD who simple washed their hands of the matter.

Strike 3 Thumbs down

So, this experience has put me squarely into NVIDIAs camp and Intel’s camp and I might pay more for it but I haven’t had issues.  I have also maintained loyalty on Seagate drivers as I have had some issues with WD devices.  Strange how these problems can create loyalty in one brand or another.

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Posted on February 4, 2014, in Article, Michael Rogers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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