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  • xsilver - Monday, April 23, 2007 - link

    A quick mention of the possible headroom on the 2x1gb Jetram would have been nice?
    eg. does it overclock to cas 4? or does it OC to ddr900? or both? or none?
    Reply
  • amking0 - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    with all the recent price cuts and rebates floating around, i've finally decided to leave my single core a64 system behind and do an upgrade to something along the following lines:

    e6600
    650i board (probably)
    2 gb corsair ddr2-800
    old 7800 gt for the time being

    just wanted to comment about the x-fi issues you mentioned in the article tho (since i just ordered one on sale + a $50 rebate) ...you have me worried now D:

    i'm also pondering the move to vista, but i guess i might be sticking with xp a little longer now.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, April 23, 2007 - link

    Why not just use onboard Audio ? I find it hard to belive that anyone could tell the difference between onboard, and descrete audio. regardless, I have had my last several system, all with onboard audio, and dropped in the random audio card, only difference I could tell, was about 3-5FPS in Oblivion, other than that, no difference. Reply
  • FrankM - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    "We tossed around several brands, including SeaSonic and Silverstone, but in the end we selected the Corsair 520W."

    Actually, that Corsair is a rebranded SeaSonic...
    If only reliability and stability is the issue for the PSU for overclocking, there are cheaper quality PSUs available; the real strenght of the Seasonic/Corsair is the high efficiency and very low noise.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    I actually did know that (that it's a rebranded SeaSonic), but didn't think it was necessary to go into the details. Basically, I was looking at some PSUs in the range of $100 shipped, and figured at that point the extra $15 was money well spent to get a very high quality PSU. The SeaSonic model was $15 more than the Corsair, IIRC, so no reason to pay more for the same PSU. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, April 23, 2007 - link

    The Antec EA500W earthwatts PSU can be had for less than $50 usd(after rebate), and had a very favorable review from JonnyGuru. I use one myself, but I am not exactly using it harshly (midly OC'd Opteron 1210, and a 7600GT, 7 HDDs, and an optical). Seems fine so far, but is only about 3-4months old. Reply
  • deathwalker - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    Good grief, since when did a $400 video card fit in the catagory of a Mid-range product? Im going to have to research past guides for mid=range systems to see if AT has just completely broken the mold. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    It specifically is targeting the gaming market. As mentioned, the 8800 GTS 320 is a $120 cheaper option that you might consider. For games, though, the GPU is the bottleneck 95% of the time, so you should get as much GPU power as possible. Reply
  • Ronson - Friday, June 08, 2007 - link

    If a $400 Graphics card is gaming then what are the cheaper cards for? Office use? A $200 Graphics card would have been more reasonable. The $400 card really just belongs in the High End guide. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link


    AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ Brisbane - $72.00
    ABIT NF-M2 nView - $94.99
    CORSAIR XMS2 2x1GB DDR2 800 - $122.00
    Seagate Barracuda 250GB - $67.99

    Total - $356.98

    Migrate optical drive, Case, PSU, Keyboard, mouse, and monitor from old system, because if you're reading here, you have a computer already, OR, you are using a friends PC, in which case you need to buy a Dell. All parts are free shipping, from newegg.

    I have to say, I must question your choise of motherboard for the 'budget'/ entry level AMD system. It has been my experience, that anything this inexpencive from ASUS, or ASROCK, is nothing but a piece of junk, with very little driver / BIOS support, if any at all. Not to say the ABIT board I have chosen has had much driver / BIOS support, but it is rock solid, and has many features that put other boards a class or two above to shame. Anyhow . . . </fanboyism>
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    I'd take the features of the 690G over the older nForce 61x0 boards... but then I like that HDMI connection. If you're willing to spend a bit more money, getting the Biostar is the way I'd go. Or spend even more money and just get an entry level GPU, but that would add at least $100 if you want something that can run most games at moderate detail settings. NVIDIA is supposed to be working on an updated IGP, so I'm interested to see what they come out with. If they actually put 8 pixel pipes in an IGP, I'd be ecstatic.

    As for abit, your abit fetish is well known. ;) I wouldn't get the entry level ASUS for overclocking, but I've got their 939 equivalent (6100 chipset) and it's been running fine for a year or so... even with a 20% overclock on a 3800+. Sometimes I need to boot twice because the first POST will fail, but if it boots it's rock solid. Anyway, ASRock is quirky in my opinion, but if you're willing to go with basic parts and not overclock they're usually fine as well. Just stay away from the VIA chipsets.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    Forgot to mention: has proven to work for me for over 10 years. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    I really liked abit back in the socket 370 era (and the slot 1 timeframe as well). Their Pentium 4 boards didn't do as much for me, and only recently have they started to recover in my opinion. I haven't tried the latest boards, but Gary's experiences with the initial release BIOS on several has been less than stellar. Like most companies, they have hit and miss products these days.

    My old Abit IT5H with a Pentium MMX 200 at 250 MHz was a great system back in the day. I had that system running for at least 5 years - first for me and then for my brother. BE6 and BE6-II were also decent boards, but I had both models fail from leaky capacitors. Abit was good enough to replace the boards (even though one was three years old), but I think the caps issue seriously hurt them for a while. They must have lost a ton of money replacing boards.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, April 23, 2007 - link

    Oh, by the way, we recently sold a system, used, to a customer, that had a BE6 board in it, still works great. We also have ~10 other ABIT boards, all lying about, out of service, but still functional. Then again, we also have some Tyan, and Intel boards(dual slot workstation/server boards), that are fairly old lying about also . . . Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, April 23, 2007 - link

    RIGHT_NOW, we have 5 systems, all using ABIT boards, all working great. These include an AS8, an AW8-MAX. 2x NF-M2 nViews,and an NF7-S2G. Two of these I own personally.

    The NF7-S2G had to be replaced, it died a premature death, from what I can tell, it was becasue I was using a very old compaq keyboard ( I still love this keyboard ), that kept comming out of the PS2 port, and eventually, the board died because of it. The AS8 is owned by my business partner, he bought it becasue the ASUS board he bought was dead out of the box (that made 4 in a row for us, over the course of a year, so we stopped using them period). Anyhow, the AS8 exibited dailey lockups, and crashed, we couldnt figure out what was happening for some time. Turned out, it was not the board that was at fault, but the ATI 9600 Pro card, drawing too much power off of the AGP port (found the fix on ABITs forums, the system has been flawless since). The other systems run next to perfect, if not perfect, all are very stable.

    I have owned boards made from just about any manufactuer you can think of, and have had some by companies that are no longer in business, and the reason why I keep going back to ABIT, is because I get tired of the hassles other board OEMs make you go through. However, it is not like ABIT boards are perfect, but I have yet to run into an ABIT board, that was really not at fault, or if it was at fault, the issue was easily correctable. Jarred probably knows about my most recent exploit outside of the ABIT realm, which invloved an ASROCK board, which to say, this ABIT NF-M2 nView replaced . . . and I am very happy I did replace it.

    I have also owned one of the 'leaky capacitor' ABIT boards, and since my business partner here has been an EE for nearly 30 years, he replaced the caps for me, no problem, although, the board has become otherwise unstable, and I am not sure why(does not really mattter, it was a socket A board, that I hacked the BIOS on to run the next generation of socket A 2000+ XP processor on anyhow, but the board ran fine for 5 years). That being said, this was not JUST ABIT this happened to alone, it happened to many OEMs that used japanese caps around this time, and I bet the company responcable, is no longer in business.

    I have good will towards many motherboard OEMs, MSI, Gigabyte, Tyan just to name a few, and if ABIT were to go out of business right now, I am not sure which brand I would be using next, but it would probably be one of those, but I have YET to run into the random problems people claim they have with the random ABIT board, and I usually chalk it up to inexperienced users, trying to build a system. Although, I suppose there could be faulty boards, in a good line . . . My biggest latest problem with ABIT: my NF-M2 nView WILL_NOT boot with a USB HDD powered on , and attached. Well sometimes it will, but it will never make it into windows, until I power down the USB device. Not sure what the problem is, and I suppose it could be fixable to changing a BIOS setting (maybe setting USB devices compatable with thge USB 1.1 standard i nthe BIOS?), but this issue is really, really a minuscule issue in my opinion.

    Maybe my luck with ABIT has just been good ? If that is the case, something is going on, becasue like I have said before, I have been using almost exclusively ABIT boards (yes, there are a few exceptions) for the last 10-11 years. If I am a 'fanboy', that would be the reason why.
    Reply
  • Zirconium - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    I still remember the BP6 days when Abit was the only one with 1 MHz clock speed adjustments. I still remember how (nerd) pimp I thought I was, running dual 300 MHz celerons OC'd to 450 MHz. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    quote:

    As for abit, your abit fetish is well known. ;


    Yeah, I not unlike other people stick with things that have proven to work for me. It is pretty much that simple.
    Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Thanks for updating the guide Jarred. I think you got the price points just right this time, even if you named them wrong. It really isn't an AMD Gaming vs an Intel Overclocking, it's just the smartest decisions for each at a $1500 price point. Too often in the past the guide hasn't stuck to a set price, instead just calling it "midrange", and therefore AMD's $1300 midrange configuration would get outclassed by Intel's $1600 configuration. Keeping the prices closer helps us see that while we'd all rather have Core 2 Duo in our machines, it does necessatate trade-offs to keep the price competitive.

    Now if you can, how 'bout making these come out a bit more often?
    Reply
  • tacoburrito - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Considering that the Penryn and Barcelona are coming out later this year, which will mean lower prices for the current generation of procs, is now really a good time to buy and build based on current procs?
    Reply
  • KeypoX - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    i agree it isnt a good time ... we are in the middle of another transition and we should wait till it levels out. I think the marketing job intel is doing with these price cuts is awesome though. They are about to make a boat load of money. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    I agree with Jarred somewhat, but I have always said: 'buy now, with upgrades in mind'. Meaning, if you are tired of waiting to upgrade, buy what you want now , based on what is currently availible, and make sure the components you choose, will give you as much flexability towards upgrading a CPU here, more memory there, a video card a year down the road, whatever.

    It has been sometime now, since you could buy parts, without feeling like you just wasted a wad of cash on something that is going to be outdated in ~6-12 months. SO . . . buy with upgrades in mind, which means everything I have said above, and 'research' on your behalf, since you are the only one who really kows what you really want/need.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    I always tell people to wait until they don't feel they can wait any longer, because new products are always coming out. Intel will be releasing some new Core 2 models in the near future, cutting prices, etc. and AMD will be coming out with Barcelona at some point (sounding like maybe late July?) The same goes for NVIDIA and AMD/ATI. If you're ready to upgrade/buy and you need something right now, though, Then go ahead and take the plunge. I don't think Penryn is going to be as big a deal as the initial Core 2 launch - slightly faster, slightly cheaper, but nothing revolutionary (though the video encoding numbers are looking promising, and overclocking as well should be improved at least slightly). Reply
  • MarxMarvelous - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Nice article - just in time for me to start prepping for a new rig...

    In any case a couple of comments:

    1) Re: Vista Drivers.

    Personally I haven't had any issues at all with driver support. I'd say unless you have components that are 4+ years old you will be fine, especially if you are buying a brand new system.

    2) Optical drive

    Noticed that you are recomending a Pioneer across the board which is EIDE. SATA DVD-R drives are now around the same price and seem like a better choice.

    http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82...">http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the heads up - I may have to get one of those for my next PC purchase. But I didn't recommend Pioneer across the board (Lite-On in the cheaper builds to save a few dollars). Personally, I just don't do enough burning to care all that much about optical drives these days. All of the drives I have work fine, and I haven't had a drive fail in a few years (knock on wood).

    As for Vista drivers, there are still games that have performance issues under Vista (OpenGL especially), and certain things like SLI support on various cards (6000 and 000 GeForce lines) is still missing last I heard. I know most game issues can be worked around with a bit of effort (I think there are some registry tweaks to get STALKER to run properly, for example), but that's not the same as just *working* properly. I don't like having to jump through hoops to get CrossFire or SLI to work, and I don't like constantly putzing about trying to get games to run properly. For those reasons, I'm generally shying away from Vista still. I also have at least one system that totally locks (and then BSODs on restart after the failed install) if I try to install the latest (or any version actually) X-Fi drivers, so I have to use integrated audio in Vista on that setup. I pulled the card and put it in a different system now.

    It seems to me that Vista is fine for some people, but the more you push your system and applications, the more high-end your setup, the more problems people seem to have. It's mostly usable, but it still has a few more quirks than XP in my limited experience. Maybe in about six months I'll be ready to switch.
    Reply
  • MarxMarvelous - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Whoops, I didn't look through all the configs so I didn't spot the Lite-On (I've pretty much decided on switching away from AMD :). Anyhow, I also don't do a whole lot of burning but was just happy to be able to switch away from those fat EIDE cables and also be a little more future proof in case I ever want to switch the drive to a mobo with no EIDE connectors (will happen someday!).

    As for the Vista drivers, yeah it sounds like you're definitely more on the edge (SLI/Crossfire, OpenGL, X-Fi, etc). All of the systems I'm running it on are pretty standard (either laptops or desktops using onboard audio + single video card). All have been pretty rock solid thus far (knock on wood).
    Reply
  • ancolboy - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    The article said it support 1333MHz, how so? MSI website never mention it. The article also said the board could allow overclock, but the board doesn't even allow user to change FSB frequency. Or did I miss something? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Sorry - got some products mixed up and it didn't all come out right. The MSI board doesn't OC at all right now, you're right. I was debating between that and the Gigabyte S2 board, but the text didn't come out right. I've edited this now. Reply
  • ancolboy - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Thank you for clarifying it fast :) I am considering between intel or amd solution right now. Torn between performance and price, to top it up, linux compatibility.

    Hoping Gary's matx roundup (still writing it I guess) could help me decide which way to go.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    If you want OC and performance, I'd say the Gigabyte S2 is probably the best bet. If you're okay with less performance, I'd seriously consider the Biostar and ASUS 690G options with an X2 processor. Quite handy with the HDMI ports as well, if that's something you're interested in. Reply
  • najames - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    I would swap out the Asus M2A-VM for the Biostar TA690G for a few bucks more. It is a solid overclocker/undervolter if you are inclined. The layout on the Biostar allows for wide passive cooled video cards too, plus you can still use both PCI slots. I am actually strongly considering buying a second TA690G setup.

    I'd also add 2GB of RAM for only $35 more.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    We debated this choice. We feel like the Biostar 690G board is an excellent choice and is probably our favorite 690G board although the Sapphire board has been impressive with the latest BIOS release. The debate originally was to spend a little less on the Asus board and get the 3800+ X2 instead of the 3600+ X2, in the end it was the Asus/3600+ and moving up to a nice 19" monitor to come in under $700. Reply
  • OrSin - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Sorry but buying the slow C2D and then pairing it with $70 HSF to me is counter productive. Why spend almost 60% of the CPU+hsf combo on cooling. The intel stock cooler with a faster CPU will still OC fine and get to atleast the same speeds and the 4300. With more head room and lower voltage. Also their are several after market HSF that cost under $30 that work great. Sorry I dont see paring this monster HSF with the lowest CPU. Reply
  • iluvdeal - Monday, April 23, 2007 - link

    I'm thinking the same thing, the escalating cost of some HSFs are muting the price/performance you are getting out of your CPU. You might as well spend that extra $70 on a higher CPU and just use the stock HSF.


    Maybe AnandTech can do an article involving much overclock you get for your money? For example, if you can achieve a 20% OC for "free" using the stock HSF, how does that overclock increase as the price of the HSF goes up?
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    60%? Try 34%. 70/(135+70) Reply
  • MarxMarvelous - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    I agree - especially when you can get a Scythe Ninja for $40.

    http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82...">http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Different strokes for different folks....

    I like to get a top-quality HSF if I'm serious about overclocking, and I'd say there's a reasonable chance you *won't* get 3.6GHz out of the E4300 without it - about 50/50 depending on CPU. As for cost, an E6400 with Scythe Ninja as an example will end up costing a bit more, but to 3.6GHz you will also need a board and RAM that can run at 450 FSB/DDR2-900 without issues. More likely than not, you will end up spending more money on the RAM just to be safe, and in the end performance is about the same.

    Anyway, we have our separate review sections for a reason, and people still don't come to a single consensus on individual parts. When you have to then put together a complete build, every little decision can be debated. Going with a Tuniq 120 for $50 seems like a better idea than a Scythe Ninja if you don't want the Ultra 120. I just like the fact that you get to choose a fan that suits your needs with the Ultra 120 - either for quiet or for maximum OC or somewhere in between. The heatsink only runs about $50, but I figured another $10-$20 for the fan is typical.
    Reply
  • OrSin - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Oh yeah still good article. It give people a very good picture of where things are.
    Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Did I miss it, or is there no discussion of the Raidmax case in the article? Anyone know which brand PSU that case uses? Reply
  • Zepper - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    The PSU in the Raidmax Apex - I can't read the "E" number under the RU seal so I could check it out on the UL.com site. IAC, it's a junk-bucket with less than half its watts available on its one +12 rail - not even designed for a modern system where the 12V rail is king. For some reason Jarred never acts as if the PSU is the cornerstone of a stable system. I'd be ashamed if I was Jarred.

    He got lucky on the fancer system as the PSU in the Athenatech is made by Topower. Not great by any stretch, but not a junk-bucket either.

    .bh.
    Reply
  • Chunga29 - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    It's a budget PC for God's sake! Look at the components and tell me with a straight face that even a low-end PSU is going to fail to provide enough power. If you can do that, then I have the name of a shrink that can help with your uhnealthy PSU obesession. IGP + no overclocking + 1 drive = about 110W power draw. Reply
  • Zepper - Monday, April 23, 2007 - link

    You don't have to pay a lot for a decent PSU. The iStar TC-350PD1 is under $40 right now on sale. Even Athenatech has some lower end cases with Fortron/Sparkle PSUs. But you don't act like PSUs are important when testing them separately and then turn around and recommend a junk-bucket even for a budget system.

    .bh.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    The case + PSU is $65 shipped. It's actually a pretty decent looking case as well, all told. Now, the iStar costs about $45 shipped at eWiz, which means that you need to find a $20 case that you're happy with or else spend more money. I freely admit that I skimp on PSUs on budget systems, but that's really nothing too surprising. An $80 motherboard with IGP is "skimping", 1GB of RAM is "skimping", etc. They'll all still work fine for most people, but anyone looking to add a GPU, better PSU, etc. quickly vaults into the midrange prices.

    I supported Dell PCs for several years at another job, and I think they skimp at least as much as anything I've listed here. One year, almost all PCs were fine. Between 12 and 24 months, we had probably 10% fail, many with motherboards and several with PSUs. Past two years, I think the failure rate was approaching 20%, again on mobos and PSUs primarily. I feel a lot worse about cutting costs and quality on a motherboard than I do about going with cheaper PSUs, at least in the budget sector.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    Oh, and for that matter I think the LCDs on the low end are suspect as well. I tried to go with ones that are getting favorable ratings, but a lot of people basically seem to say, "Wow - LCDs look cool and it only cost $180! 5 stars!" The thing is, for people that don't go beyond that sort of critique, it probably *is* a five star LCD! That's the same with PSUs and cases. I don't think any serious enthusiast is going to build a decent PC using a budget case and PSU.

    For the record, the few times I've used Raidmax cases and PSUs (whatever brand they happened to be), I have never had a complaint. Both systems are still running (Athlon XP 2500+) after four years or so. Not bad for a cheap $65 case and PSU. Was I just lucky? Maybe, but that's my experience with budget systems and Raidmax cases. (And also for the record, the people I built those PCs for thought the case looked "l33t" and specifically chose it; I thought it looked gaudy and stupid. No accounting for taste.)
    Reply
  • jay401 - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    quote:

    The E6350 and E6450 will increase the amount of L2 cache while keeping the same clock speeds and bus speeds as the E6300 and E6400...

    That would be the E6320 and E6420. The 50 series doesn't come out until August and will sport higher clockspeeds and higher FSB (1333MHz).

    And the question: Any word yet if the Ultra 120 Extreme has been updated to address the concern you guys listed in the review (something about a bracket when trying to mount it on s775 boards)?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • redbone75 - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    I actually saw the E6320 and E6420 available at Newegg.com on thursday night. Strangely enough they aren't listed there tonight. Both processors are available at zipzoomfly.com, though. Reply
  • jay401 - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    Dear AMD,

    This is the final proof you have delayed your R600 GPU series for too long: You didn't even get them out in time for the rarely seen Anandtech Buyer's Guide!

    Sincerely,

    Disappointed in Delaware


    :D
    Reply

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