First post, by hifidelitygaming
I'm trying to put together a somewhat canonical list of which cpu and chipset was best as we step back through the eras of gaming. Information about performance of various video cards and such seems to be a bit easier to find - but i've had more difficulty trying to look back to old information that was probably widely known at the time, but likely forgotten shortly afterwards when it was no longer so relevant.
There's no real point or purpose to my list except trivia and fascination with older hardware, wanting to know what was basically the definitive killer rigs of their time. 😀 Value for the money doesn't apply too much with things a decade older, i'd be surprised if there were big differences anymore unless something was a real obscure anomaly. I'm not seeking specific motherboards of anything - just chipset info. I'm also curious just what else was in the running - there were mobo manufacturers or chipset makers who were making things for awhile and then stopped. I couldn't even tell you when SiS last made a chipset for instance...
I'll share the factoids i'm pretty sure about, if you disagree please tell me, and if you can fill in holes going back please do so as well as there will be plenty. I have practically zero knowledge of the 486 or earlier era for instance. Random interesting factoids are fully welcome and encouraged, i'm looking to widen my knowledge of PC hardware history. 😀
The Core 2 Duo era pretty much belonged entirely to Intel. Clock for clock and clock for watt they were superior to what AMD offered. The main two chipsets i'm aware of were intel and nvidia - intel seems to be the sole provider any longer. Nvidia for awhile had SLI options that werent available on intel with the 680i/780i/790i series for earlier cpu's.
AMD64 was the king vs the later Pentium 4 time, so much so that intel would have to adopt their instruction extensions instead of the other way around. Clock for clock and clock for watt they were superior to what Intel offered. I'm not sure who had chipsets specifically for amd, and who besides intel had chipsets. AMD had dual cores at a time before intel as well with the later socket 939 stuff.
Athlon XP was ahead of the Pentium 4 in the early P4 era. I know there were chipsets by AMD (the 760) and nvidia (nforce) at this time for amd both of which I seem to remember being the top performers for XP. (not sure which was best for intel, but I seem to remember hearing of the intel 965/975 in this era being best?). I remember hearing VIA chipsets after the kt133 were endless trouble - they couldn't make one single good chipset at all until the point that I stopped even caring about what new chipset they offered anymore. I think SiS had chipsets but cant remember for who or if they stood out much. Did anyone else even make chipsets?
During the Pentium 3/Athlon Thunderbird and overlapping Slot A Athlons i'm a little less sure. I know the P3's were better than P4's clock for clock and watt for watt. I think the Athlons were better performers at the same speed, but possibly used more power and made more heat - not as sure there. They were considered the value leader at a time nobody cared about efficiency, just performance. The intel i815 was supposed to be the best for the later pentium 3's. Not sure who was best for AMD chipsets but the VIA KT133a was I think the last good chipset VIA even made.
At the time of the Pentium 2, the 440bx chipset was considered king as near as I can tell, beating even chipsets that came out later and being usable for earlier to mid pentium 3's sometimes with modifications. Not sure what the AMD chipset equivalent was in Super Socket 7 at the time but I seem to recall the Pentium 3 being superior once it was out just more expensive. Not sure about the Pentium 2 though.
Before this point memory is fuzzy and articles hard to find... I remember AMD, Cyrix, and Pentiums battling it out. The first two often claiming an advantage (being rated higher in performance per clock) but can't remember if that was when they had a floating point/3d deficit. Not even sure what chipsets were out or who all was making them at that time. Intel went to the pentium 2 slotted cpu's, while others or at least AMD continued with the Super Socket 7's on the K6-II and K6-III's all the way up to 500mhz or so still using PCI and older cards. (dont think they ever saw AGP.. or did they?) MMX came out early, and 3DNow came out later - i'm not even sure what 3dnow did (technically - obviously it was for 3d!), or how successful it was, or if it was included on later cpus (would an early 3dnow cpu run 3d games of the era better than a higher speed later one?) but I remember it being pushed..
486 and earlier - I mostly remember the AMD 486 clones and such going to higher speeds than Intel, but otherwise AFAIK being essentially the same performance at the same clock rate. No clue about chipsets or anything. I'm told there were VLBus pentiums fighting it out too, does anyone know if if this was just pentium overdrive-type boards, or were there "real" pentiums (of higher than 83mhz potential) ever put on a VLbus supporting board?
Add your own anecdotes, comments, and fill in any notable blanks I have...