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Readers speak out about Intel

A majority of readers say they would buy an non-Intel product to keep competition in the chip market alive.

With Intel in the FTC's hot seat for possible monopolization of the semiconductor market, CNET's NEWS.COM readers are keeping an open mind toward the chip giant's competitors. By a margin of 62 to 38 percent, poll respondents say they would be more likely to buy a Cyrix- or AMD-based machine if vendors were to push them.

Looming large among respondents' concerns is the threat of an Intel monopoly.

"If I were buying a PC right now, I would go out of my way to purchase one with a non-Intel CPU," wrote Pierre Billon. "Monopolies always work to the detriment of the consumer: when you own the market, why spend to develop truly innovative new technology? And if consumers don't like it, where else are they going to go?"

Another respondent, who identified himself as "Davy," predicted that if Intel gained more than 80 percent of the market, prices could jump by as much as fourfold. "I seriously would like to see more competition," he wrote. "If Intel has over 80 percent of the market share, everyone in the world will hurt badly."

Readers with less global perspectives were more concerned about what was in their computers. Among these respondents, a difference of opinion emerged over the comparable quality of non-Intel products.

"I have bought an AMD chip before, and was unhappy with it," wrote Brian Knotts. "It consistently overheated, even with a Peltier cooler."

By contrast, Thomas Buckland wrote that "AMD chips are faster AND cheaper than Intel chips." And Mac user Lee Hassler weighed in with the opinion that "everyone has the image that Intel with its wacky commercials has the fastest chips in the world, which is a false statement. Motorola is making chips faster than Intel's on the MacOS platform."

But as the tortoise showed the hare, speed isn't everything. One respondent wrote that he's sticking with Intel chips because they work consistently.

"Performance can be argued but reliability cannot," wrote Peter Wolfley. "Personally, I don't care about a 5 percent to 10 percent boost in CPU speed or a slightly lower price. I just want the damn thing to run. All the time."

Consumers should protest monopolies with their purchases
If I were buying a PC right now, I would go out of my way to purchase one with a non-Intel CPU. Monopolies always work to the detriment of the consumer: when you own the market, why spend to develop truly innovative new technology? Just keep gouging customers with last year's overpriced merchandise...Or come out with an 'incremental upgrade,' and make sure they pony up for it big time. And if they don't like it, where else are they going to go? Right now, buying Intel is a bad long-term strategy for me, the consumer.
--Pierre Billon

Market it and they will come
If a respected manufacturer offers a model featuring a non-Intel CPU, then it seems obvious that will enhance the prospects of the competitor's chips selling. So the onus is on these competitors to create a marketing campaign that attracts both consumers and computer manufacturers to their CPUs.
--David Emile Lamy

Don't settle--buy Intel
In a constant struggle for compatibility and a decent set of hardware standards, I for one would be far more inclined to buy Intel than any other brand. Also, when purchasing a processor, why pay a little less for an inferior design? AMD and Cyrix, for example, seem not to meet Intel's standard for performance and quality that is always such a key issue in the computer industry. Although many applications do not require "the best," in a market where diversity seems to thrive unabashed (causing problems all along the way), It seems we should not settle for anything less.
--Blake

Intel is behind the times and behind Motorola, too
Intel doesn't really make the best chips in the world. Intel runs on a 20-year technology called CISC which is real old and barely making the grade. People have never thought about Motorola, which makes high-tech RISC chips on the MacOS platform for Apple. Everyone has the image that Intel with its wacky commercials has the fastest chips in the world, which is a false statement, when Motorola is making chips faster than Intel on the MacOS platform.
--Lee Hassler

Stick with the standards-bearer
I personally wouldn't buy any non-Intel PCs because Intel is always setting the standards in the PC market.
--Pavel Skrinnikoff

Prescription for competition
I believe AMD and/or Cyrix should do one of two things:

1. Start making laptop computers, since the Pentium II can't be put into a laptop and AMD and Cyrix chips can, and they're faster than the regular Pentium chips by Intel.

2. They should try and make their own Pentium II-type chip. Both companies already have faster regular Pentium computers, so they have the knowledge to do so, they just have to stop feeling sorry for themselves and get to the drawing board...Work together in making your own concept, make it better, and patent it so Intel can't use it.
--name withheld

Choose AMD
Regardless of the results of the FTC investigation, I would prefer to buy a system based on the AMD K6 processor. The K6 is better than the Pentium, and equivalent to the Pentium II, and it costs much less. I am not concerned with compatibility. My home system currently runs an AMD 486 chip at 80MHz, and it has never exhibited any signs of incompatibility with my software. I regularly run MS-DOS, Win95, and OS/2 on this system.

For me, AMD has proven themselves. They make a high-quality product that is 100 percent compatible with Intel's products, and costs a lot less.
--David Charlap

Intel monopoly threatens the world
I would not like Intel to have more than 80 percent of the market because the result could lead to price jump by 2 to 4 times. Since everyone will buy more than one computer in a lifetime, I seriously would like to see more competition. Moreover, Intel will more likely introduce its new technologies. If Intel has over 80 percent of the market share, everyone in the world will hurt badly. The situation will be very hard for any competition to go head to head with Intel.
--Davy

Is Intel Inside everlasting?
I generally purchase the most advanced chip I can buy when I buy a new computer, figuring that it will last longer before becoming obsolete. Intel always offers the most advanced chips with new systems. Why do I want to buy from another vendor and not buy a computer with "Intel inside"?
--name withheld

What's in a name?
Although I voted 'yes' in your poll, it was primarily because, given the choice, I would prefer a RISC PPC chip over any Intel chip. They're simply better than Intel. With Intel, you're paying for a name, not quality. I could go on to claim that the quality of their commercials represents the quality of their product, but that would just be an easy way to whine about idiot-oriented advertising.
--Jared Thomson

Intel is cooler
I would prefer to buy non-x86 hardware. It's just difficult, since OS/software vendors concentrate so heavily on x86-compatible. I have bought an AMD chip before, and was unhappy with it. It constantly overheated, even with a Peltier cooler.
--Brian Knotts

Cut Intel off at the knees but no higher
Yes, I would be more likely to buy non-Intel-based machines. I for one do not like for one company to be dominating the market. The policy of companies today is to buy and bury--in other words, they buy a better product and then hide it away so that it can't be used against them. I know that AMD k6 chips are faster AND cheaper than Intel chips. If all three companies got together and made a standard to be used by all developers, like x86, then there wouldn't be any compatibility issues and everything would rely on performance. I don't want Intel to be totally cut off because competition is healthy.
--Thomas Buckland

Intel wins on reliability
I've always bought Intel products (actually, computers containing them) and have done so for the past 15 years because I have never had any problems. Performance can be argued but reliability can not. Personally, I don't care about a 5 percent to 10 percent boost in CPU speed or a slightly lower price. I just want the damn thing to run. All the time.
--Pete Wolfley

Cloners need to match Intel's graphics speed
As both a game player and developer, the speed of the floating point parts of the chip directly influence the speed of 3D graphics, which more and more games are using. Bus speed also plays a large component in game speeds, as the whole scene must be redrawn under times of fast action. Intel's in front in those areas, but if the cloners can get on par or really beat Intel, they'd definitely get more attention from me.
--Nathan Mates