Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1267
Price Guides March 2004: CPU and Motherboardsby Kristopher Kubicki on March 15, 2004 1:00 PM EST
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Welcome to another edition of the price guides. With new CPU and motherboard announcements, we took some time to write our thoughts and recommendations for this week. As always, feel free to check out our RealTime Price Guide for up to the minute deltas and prices.
There has been a lot of exciting news for AMD CPUs lately; hopefully everyone got a chance to check out or AMD CPU Roadmaps and Updates. Keep in mind that the upcoming A64 launch is later this month and next, so for those of you looking for an enthusiast purchase may wish to hold off a new purchase for a couple weeks. Socket 939 is on its way, but still a couple months off (we may see samples a lot earlier than that though!).
Overclocked Athlon XP-M chips have become all the rage recently; the already low voltage and no multiplier lock allow die hard overclockers to pull 2.5GHz (and much more) out of a processor that normally runs at 1.8GHz. The Mobile Bartons force you to pay an extra $20 premium, but if overclocking is your thing, you are essentially assured a good processor to do it with. We recently added a complete lineup of mobile Athlons to our price engine.
If you need a stable processor with no real intention of overclocking, the normal desktop Athlon 2500+ is still our CPU of choice. You just can't go wrong for the price. Unfortunately, all week there has been very little activity on Athlon 64 processors, so do not expect many new price breaks there.
Interestingly enough, we already have seen Athlon FX-53 preorders start to show up. The official release is not scheduled for a week yet, but what interests us the most is the price point.
Yesterday we posted another Intel roadmap so those of you interested in Xeon and Centrino CPUs can better decide how to design your future purchases.
Unfortunately, 3.4GHz Prescotts still have not shown up yet; it appears their original delay of 2 weeks has turned into 30 days. There have been no cuts in Intel CPU's since the Prescott launch. Sadly, even when the 3.6GHz Prescott is launched at $637 with Socket T, the roadmap does not forecast any new price cuts either.
This week's Intel recommendation goes to the 2.8 Northwood 800FSB. Prescott has the larger L2 cache, but Prescott just isn't a Socket 478 chip; particularly at such a relatively low clock. You may wish to check out Anand's coverage on the Prescott launch.
Early this month we saw the first PT880 motherboards show up; VIA's new northbridge with a dual channel memory controller. The new, dual channel memory controller is a first for VIA, but the chipset is still a "value" chipset in the Intel arena. We are more excited to see the next evolution of VIA's Athlon XP chipset; KT880. Dual channel memory on Athlon XP platforms from VIA looks very promising. Look forward to these boards showing up in retail channels before the end of the month.
This week we added several VIA AMD mainboards to our tracking engine.
We do not necessarily recommend buying a new K8 motherboard so close to socket 939's announcement. However, if you have no other option there are some good boards available right now. Our inexpensive favorite, the MSI Neo-FIS2R is a great stable board. If overclocking is more your thing, our own Wesley Fink recommends the AOpen AK86-L.
Many readers have commented on Chaintech's nForce3 250 motherboard that showed up earlier this week. Manufacturing issues have plagued the nForce3 250, and thus some manufacturers decided to go with an earlier stepping of the nF3 250 chipset (we saw working samples back in January). We are very anxious to see more solutions from Gigabyte, DFI and ASUS in the upcoming weeks.
We added several new NVIDA AMD motherboards to our tracking engine.
Since not everyone is in the market for Athlon64 yet, for budget oriented Athlon XP buyers we recommend the DFI NFII Infinity. This board has one of the best sound packages available, good performance and, most importantly, a great price.
News on the Intel motherboard scene has been relatively quiet as vendors and manufacturers are waiting for Socket 775 (Socket T) to show up. Unfortunately motherboard manufacturers claim there will be another several week delay.
A few weeks ago, we saw another new motherboard manufacturer enter the US, Foxconn. Foxconn has been well known for their component and OEM manufacturing for years (sometimes under the name Hon Hai). Even though we have only seen budget boards from the manufacturer so far, they could be healthy, quality competition for ECS. Check out this thread in our forums on first reactions from some of our forum members.
There are many good Intel choices this week. If you are crunched for a budget but for some reason decide to go with Intel, the ASUS 848P received a great review from our own Wesley Fink. If, however, you are looking for something a little nicer the MSI 875P Neo and the 875P DFI LanParty Pro both received very good reviews, but they are unfortunately very expensive.