Introduction

There are a few things that we tend to take for granted in life: death, taxes, and a lack of overclocking support on PCs from major OEMs. Certainly, there are many people that don't need overclocking, and those are exactly the people that tend to purchase name brand PCs in the first place. If your typical computer use doesn't get much more complex than surfing the Internet, the difference between a massively overclocked CPU and the stock configuration is hardly going to be noticeable. What's more, overclocking tends to come with drawbacks. System stability is frequently suspect, and outside of a few boutique computer shops that factory overclock systems, you will generally void your warranty by overclocking.

Conversely, overclocking gives those willing to take a chance the ability to squeeze extra performance out of even the top performing parts. Alternately, consumers can save money by purchasing a cheaper processor and running it at speeds that would normally cost two or three times as much. Intel's latest Core 2 processors have rekindled interest in overclocking, in part simply because they overclock so well. In the past, the benchmark for highly overclockable chips has generally been set at 50% or more, with good overclocking chips achieving a 25% to 50% overclock. Core 2 Duo blows away some of these old conventions, with some chips like the E4300 managing even massive 100% overclocks! And they manage this without breaking a sweat. With chips that overclock so well, it seems a shame to run them at stock speeds.

Over the years, we have seen a few factory overclocked systems, but rarely from a major OEM. The big OEMs like Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. tend to play it safe, but Gateway has broken with tradition by releasing a significantly overclocked Core 2 Extreme QX6700 system. What's more, they have done it at a price that is likely to turn a lot of heads - and yes, the factory warranty remains intact. We talked in the past about the type of people that actually can make use of a quad core system, and the people that are likely to want a quad core processor are often the people that stand to benefit the most from additional performance courtesy of overclocking. With Intel's QX6700 already reigning supreme as the fastest multi-core configuration on the market, why not add another 20% performance? We've seen similar configurations for sale from boutique manufacturers, often with astronomical prices. While the QX6700 certainly won't be cheap no matter how you slice it, Gateway offers their 20% overclock for a modest $100 price increase. Considering the price difference between the Q6600 and the QX6700 is $150 for a 266 MHz speed increase, doubling that speed increase for a mere $100 is a real bargain!

A super fast processor sounds great, especially if it still carries a factory warranty. However, warranties don't mean a lot if the system won't run stable. Besides the processor, however, there are many other components that can affect system performance. The type of work you plan on doing with the computer will also affect how much benefit a fast CPU gets you. We'll assume right now that anyone planning on purchasing a quad core system routinely needs a lot of CPU power, but unfortunately there are still CPU intensive tasks that can't properly utilize multiple processor cores. In order to see just how much faster this Gateway system is compared to other options, we will be comparing performance results with the test systems used in our AMD Quad FX article. Before we get to the actual performance, however, let's take a closer look at the FX530.

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  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 09, 2007 - link

    I've used a Dell XPS 410, and other than the top-end 700/710 most of the XPS cases are pretty drab as well. That said, I'm one of those people that prefers function over form, and in some instances PCs that others think look great I find to be downright gaudy. It's all up to personal preference, and the case is generally well designed in my view. Unfortunately, BTX appears to work well for cooling and noise but doesn't do much for compatibility.

    I can't say that I've had any experience with Delta Electronics beyond supporting a ton of PCs and laptops that used that brand (all Dell systems). Many PSUs failed after a few years, but that was in a warehouse environment where dust was a real problem. That they could last even two years is pretty good, and the failure rates were probably only on the order of 5% or so (compared to a motherboard failure rate of at least 15% after three years). However, I don't have any equipment to really test PSUs, so I can't speak from any standpoint other than personal experience when discussing what PSUs are good and which aren't.
    Reply
  • Operandi - Friday, February 09, 2007 - link

    Dust will kill any PSU regardless of quality. Typically speaking Dell builds very reliable machines so the fact that Dell would source Delta is a testimate to their quality. Reply
  • sprockkets - Saturday, February 10, 2007 - link

    They used to use Delta all the time, then, like HP and probably others, went to using HIPRO, and those die all the time. Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, February 09, 2007 - link

    Dust kills, how so? How important is it to keep computer in general clean? Only time I ever clean is when I rebuild them- about every 6 months, not due to any kind of failure though. TIA Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 09, 2007 - link

    Dust buildup on heatsinks reduces their ability to dissipate heat. I've seen a few GPUs where the fans literally melted because they got too hot! Besides that, dust can gum up the insides of the fans, causing the bearings or whatever else to stop working. I can't even guess at how many fans I've had fail over the years due to dust. So, if you live in a dusty environment, a good cleaning every 3 months probably isn't a bad idea. Most parts will last at least a year, even with neglect, but after that a lot of parts will start to fail if they aren't regularly cleaned. Reply

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