Index

Today, we release our fourth Buyer's Guide in the last 4 weeks. You can look forward to Buyer's Guides during the middle of every week and then, after the end of each month, we will retool our guides to reflect the new hardware and pricing of that particular time period. In case you haven't read our new Buyer's Guides yet, here's the basic format of them to be released on a weekly basis:

Week 1: Entry Level System
Week 2: Mid-Range System
Week 3: High End System
Week 4: Overclocking System

For every component that goes into a computer, we offer our recommendation for a piece of hardware as well as our alternative on that type of hardware. We've added alternative hardware picks to our guides because it allows AnandTech to recommend a wider variety of hardware (especially for those willing to spend a little more than what we budget for a particular system). Alternative picks tell you just that - your alternatives, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in some cases, will not be. But at the same time, we can still be assertive enough with a first place recommendation so that new buyers aren't indecisive or confused about what to purchase. Most of the prices listed for the hardware that we recommend can be found in our very own RealTime Pricing Engine. Any prices not found in our engine can be found on pricewatch.com. We list pertinent parts of our RealTime pricing engine at the bottom of every page of our Buyer's Guides so that you can choose the lowest prices from a large variety of vendors all by yourself.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides. If you feel we are not including a wide enough variety of systems in our guides, please let us know and we can see if it warrants an additional weekly Buyer's Guide.

Overclocking

What we're going to tell you here are probably things you already know. For example, if you're considering overclocking, you're probably someone who has at least an interest in computer technology and most likely, are someone who just wants to squeeze as much performance as possible from their system without spending big bucks. If you're considering overclocking, you probably also know that overclocking hardware is never guaranteed; sometimes you'll receive components that overclock through the roof and sometimes you'll receive a dud. What you should know and keep in mind is that overclocking can damage your hardware and your data, and usually isn't covered under warranty, often times voiding warranties. Also keep in mind that this isn't an overclocking system meant for people who have cash to burn, so you're not going to see elaborate water cooling setups or ridiculous liquid nitro cooling solutions; our overclocking systems are cooled by air (fans). Granted, we're recommending the best air cooling available.

Keeping that information in mind, our overclocking systems always put stability before performance. While that may sound contradictory, knowing that the whole point of overclocking is to basically gain more performance from your system, a high performance system is nothing if it's unreliable and crash happy. Therefore, with stability first and performance a very close second, price is a more distant consideration. Remember, though, that price is still important enough that this is not meant to be a high end system, even though it'll perform better than one. For more information on our picks for high end components, take a look at last week's High End Buyer's Guide.

Now that that's all clear, read on to find out our picks for best overclocking components this week...

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations
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  • bigtoe33 - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    Evan

    2.5-3-3-7 at ddr500 will eat 2-2-3-5 at 433 anyday...3-4-4-7 maybe slower but i wasn't talking about that.

    The 3C's are reported on a few forums.ABX is one yes...

    The DFI with single sided dimms is the NF2 king at the mo..Oskar is working on bios files every 2weeks and the speed just gets better and better.I have run ddr500+ with BH5 and 262fsb with 4200EL at 2.5-3-3-8 timings..its just an awesome board with awesome support..DFI really care about the enthusiast..i can't wait to see their NF3 250 boards.;-)

    Regarding Winbond based modules, Winbond are leaving the DRAM business and CH5 will run out in a month or so..this is going to force everyone to look else where.While i could go on about OCZ i won't but i will say we have already got a replacement that we think is pretty damn good.

    With regard to me dropping by..you can alsoways chat to me on IM..just get my details off Wes if you don't have them or drop me an email to oczguy2@ocztechnology.com.
    Reply
  • TauRusIL - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    Guys, this might be a little off topic, but i need your help: I am one of those dinosaurus that is still using Abit KT7A-Raid board with SDRAM memory. I havent used DDR so far. I plan to upgrade to Socket 939 boards as soon as they come out. My understanding is that A64 CPUs work with single channel DDR sticks: what would be top two three models/brands of DDR sticks for Athlon64/Socket 939 solution? Thanks a lot. Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    siamesenick,

    Level II isn't widely available, at all. There are lots of Level One modules at major vendors (Ewiz, Newegg, Monarch, etc.).

    bigtoe,

    Hey, long time no chat. :)

    - What about the DFI is better exactly? I tested only the ABIT but I hear the DFI is one of the best as well.

    - 2.5-3-3-8 definitely isn't low latency, but sure, not high. But 2-3-2-5 or 2-2-2-5 between 400-433MHz performs basically the same as 2.5-3-3-8 at 500MHz, and that's if you can get those timings on the DFI (which I'm not sure you can, I haven't tested with the latest BIOS).

    - Where are these reports of 3.0C wonders that can do 250MHz FSB (ABXZone?)? 3.8GHz on air sounds pretty crazy. Though, 3.0C is on average $40 more OEM, which is stretching the worth of (at best) of the additional 150MHz you'll get with a supposed wonder 3.0C.

    You need to drop by more often bigtoe. ;)
    Reply
  • deathwalker - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    I just found it at Newegg for $98. Reply
  • deathwalker - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    I haven't been able to find a 2500 mobile on pricewatch....where do you find these little puppies? Reply
  • bigtoe33 - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    Evan

    Barton mobile is a good choice..DFI NF2 LP(B) is better than the abit though..much better bios support etc and the goodies you get in the box are swesome.

    3700Gold rev2..most does 2.5(3)-3-3-8 at ddr500..i wouldn't call this high latency.CH5 production is about to stop so we may all be looking to other IC's.BH and CH IC's are going the way of the DoDo..we all need to face up to that.

    The 2.8C and P4C800E are a good combo but it seems a new wonder 3C is out with most hitting 250fsb with ease..i would say it would be better to keep an eye on the forums to see whats the latest favourite.

    Overall though I would say your recomendations are solid..just slightly out of touch with the forums being right on the cutting edge.
    Reply
  • siamesenick - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    My OEM audigy came with a gameport bracket, FYI.

    I notice they recommended Mushkin Level One instead of the Black Hi Perf "222 Special". The 222 is only 5 dollars more for 512MB. Isn't it worth it? I know the 222 is bh-6, but I don't know what the L1 uses.
    Reply
  • Nighteye2 - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    While it's mentioned that the motherboard supports SATA RAID, why isn't it recommended in the storage section?

    2 Western Digital 1200JB 120GB 7200RPM (8MB cache) ATA disks on the integrated RAID controller is still cheaper than the alternative that got mentioned, the Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA.
    Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    Pumpkinierre,

    Nope, not that I'm aware. I believe it's only the retail version.
    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    Is there a gameport bracket included with the OEM Audigy2?
    Reply

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