Index

Today, we release our eighth Buyer's Guide in the past 8 weeks. You can look forward to Buyer's Guides in 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. Today, we are continuing the refresh of our Buyer's Guides to see what has changed, if anything, in the past 4 weeks. 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 other 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 that 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 that 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, 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.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations
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  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    Doormat,

    3.0C is more of a crapshoot, not to mention more money than a 2.8C. The overclocking difference between the two is no where near 400MHz, either. Look at our 2.8C overclock as just one example.

    Jeff7181,

    Spending well over $100 more for less storage and only occasionally noticeable access time increases just isn't reasonable. At least, IMO. :)

    PrinceGaz,

    I disagree. We're not claiming this overclocking system will meet everyone's needs. However, we make an attempt to fit as many needs as possible. It's impossible to please every buyer's (or in this case, overclocker's) needs. Some people will find this system perfect, while others won't. Not a whole lot we can do about it.

    Muzzy,

    Newegg listed the incorrect speed. It's 1.87GHz.
    Reply
  • Muzzy - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    Hum, I went to newegg. I found that the mobile 2500+ is clocked at 1.83, not 1.87 as suggested by the article. Am I missing something here? Reply
  • Doormat - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    The 3.0C isnt that big of a price increase from the 2.8C, $30 according to the chart at the bottom of that page. Especially since the guys at the overclockers.com forum have bought several and shown that average overclocks are 3.7G. One guy bought 4, one ran at 3.65, two ran at 3.75, one ran at 3.9+ (P95 stable, all on air). Those are pretty favorable numbers when you look at it. If a 2.8Cs averages at 3.35, and the new 30 cap 3.0Cs average 3.7, the $30 is worth it for the extra 400MHz. At least to me. YMMV. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    I spose the XP-M 2500+ is really what this article recommended and everything else was just padding.

    Unless you're talking high-end overclocking in which case water-cooling is only the beginning and peltiers aren't far behind, then the typical overclocker is looking to save money by getting something that stands a good chance of performing reliably at higher than rated speeds. Thats what the XP-M 2500+ offers as its almost a dead cert to overclock like a trooper when set to normal non-Mobile voltage, and all without needing to worry about extra cooling as you're not really overclocking it (you're just setting it to what is in effect its default voltage on what would otherwise be an underclocked chip). Stick it in your mid-range system of two weeks ago and you've got something a lot closer to what a typical cost-driven overclocker would probably consider and they'd save quite a bit of money too by avoiding certain premium components that give relatively small returns in terms of how high the CPU will go.

    The problem is theres all types of overclockers and an article which attempts to target a mixture of them usually ends up missing the mark on most counts.
    Reply
  • TheDigitalDiamond - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    *Gasps in horror at the case reccomendation*

    Anyways... Guys, the majority of overclockers do it to save money when getting higher performance, not to get higher performance at all costs. 3.0GHz P4C's, Raptors, those are all touchy expenditures when you're lookin' to save a couple hundred bucks.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    I still don't agree with the Raptor being the 2nd choice... I still think if you're concerned about speed at all, which overclockers are, you have to get a Raptor. Then you get a larger slower drive for storage.

    But hey... it's your article and your website =)
    Reply
  • solsys - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    If you happen to be an NVIDIA fan, its worth taking a look at the 5900XT. Most of the people I have seen with the card can overclock it to within spitting distance of the highend 5900 or 5950 parts. Kinda nice for a ~$200 card. Reply
  • Scwarzenegger - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    The radeon 9800 se should be mentioned, through drivers it can have all the hardware pipes enabled to perform as fast as (if successful) a 9500 pro (128bit mem) and even a 9800 if it has a 256bit memory bus.

    If this is incorrect let me know!
    Reply
  • Doormat - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    Oops....

    Anyways, I'm surprised the 3.0Ghz C chip wasnt recomended for the intel overclocking system. A lot of people have had great results, most get to 3.6, many can get to 3.75 on air, and water and better cooling get to 3.9, 4.0 (though it doesnt seem many get past 4Ghz). The ones that have 30 caps on the bottom, those seem to provide the best OC regardless of scode.
    Reply
  • Doormat - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    Reply

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