I'm not entirely sure about that
What kind of a fight does a Phenom really put up against an Intel with equivalent specs? One thing it depends on is what is being done. The Phenoms will consume less power than the Core 2 Quads, one of the reasons being that the Core 2s have three times as much cache. For lighter tasks, the lighter Phenom might outrun the Core 2 by a slight margin. But turn up the heat, and you'll find the Phenom has a performance cap that it cannot surpass. Compare it to a stock Corvette vs a Caprice with a big block. The Corvette is lighter, and may accelerate faster; but the Caprice's 502 Rat will catch up and proceed to pull ahead, the Vette dropping farther and farther behind. Vista is not light by any means; even with an unadulterated MS installation, it'll still take as much as 768 MB of RAM just to sit there and look pretty. And if you go x64, then you're going to want 4 GB minimum. 2 gigs will not cut it; x64 takes a few hundred megs more than x86.
The Phenoms are still built on K8 architecture, and cannot utilize anything more than 4 MB cache. In addition, they can't get much faster than a couple gigahertz. To further complicate things, Intel is slashing prices on the low end, while making up for it on the high end where it has no competition. AMD has held its position in the past by launching a price war, but they can't afford to do that now. If you have a link to a review that shows the Phenom keeping up with a Core 2 clock-for-clock, I'd like to read about it. What I'm finding is that AMD continues to slip behind. We won't even talk about the i7, because it's in a class by itself. Besides, most of us don't want to pay for it anyway.
I agree that Vista will continue to mature. Since SP1, it is already running faster and considerably more stable than the '06 release. XP got slower with SP2, but of course performance had nothing to do with its release. The goal at that time was security (which means little against modern malware, hence the launch of Invincible Windows), and SP3 sped it back up a bit. But Microsoft knows what people have to say about Vista, and I suspect performance will remain on the to-do list at least until Windows 7 assumes control of the market.
You're right about device drivers. And I'm glad you mentioned it, because I'd completely spaced it out. I don't know what your position is on this subject, but personally, I trust Toshiba and HP the most. IBM is considered best in the mainstream, but like Sony and Apple, I think they charge too much for too little. While we're still on the subject of devices, I will go back to graphics controllers. Yes, AMD's processors have better integrated video, but that's only necessary if you're doing something beyond watching DVDs and playing games with low-end to middle-of-the-road graphics requirements. For most users, X3100 is all you need. If you need more, you might as well get something with a GPU and leave a little growing room. You'll need it before long.
Personally, I don't believe in tweaker programs. It's easier and safer IMO to go through which autostart programs and services are/aren't needed via the standard routes (including Admin Tasks, not just Configuration). I use WinDoctor after installing software (and Revo to uninstall), and you could also run EasyCleaner along with NTRegOpt to clean and defrag the registry, but not before backing it up. One thing Vista does to boost responsiveness is cache a bunch of frequently used programs to memory, saving HDD seek time during the session. But the pagefile is still an issue, as is bootup. I swear by PerfectDisk.
I believe I mentioned in a previous post that having no antimalware monitors makes a huge difference in performance (and stability). If you leave UAC enabled, Vista will be pretty much invulnerable to drive-by downloads and buffer overflow attacks. If you still need something to scan e-mail attachments (I prefer VirusTotal myself), or if you occasionally download something from a potentially dodgy Web site, then you could install something like AntiVir and disable the Guard. You'll still have automatic updating and a right-click context menu, but without the unnecessary performance hit.
Tweaker programs have a tendency to make your system unstable, if not make you do without. To each his own, but like I said previously, I have very high standards for performance and stability, as well as usability. If I only needed to surf the Web and open e-mail, then I'd save myself some money and go with Linux. But I do too many different things on my machines (like using a scanner, for starters).
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