CPU and Motherboard Alternatives

CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2500+ (retail)
Motherboard: ABIT NF7-S Rev.2 (nForce2 Ultra 400)
Price: CPU - $80 shipped (retail). Motherboard - $98 shipped

For a mere $26 more, you can pick up an Athlon XP 2500+ that runs at 1.83GHz on a 333MHz DDR FSB and comes with a 512K L2 cache. In contrast to the Athlon XP 2000+, the 2500+ runs roughly 167MHz faster, comes with double the L2 cache, and has a FSB that is 67MHz faster. All this adds up to noticeably better performance, though depending on what applications you run, you may not notice. Still, there's no denying that if you're willing to spend a little more, you will definitely be getting a better performing processor.

Other differences between the Athlon XP 2000+ and the 2500+ is the 2500+'s higher Vcore (1.65V instead of 1.60V) and larger die size. Another nice thing about this processor is that it's quite an excellent overclocking CPU, and has been for months now, even if they are shipping multiplier locked these days. On a side note, this is the retail version of the 2500+, so your HSF (heatsink and fan) cooling is included for $80 shipped.

Since we've adjusted our original format from runner-up picks to alternative picks, our alternative picks for this refresh are different; in this case, ABIT's NF7-S Rev.2 instead of their KV7. The NF7-S Rev.2 is a better budget board than the A7N8X-X due to its better feature set (SPDIF, MCP-T South Bridge for superior sound), but it lacks a price as competitive at $98 instead of $69 like with the A7N8X-X. $29 is quite a big difference, but if you don't need better sound and/or SPDIF, then you have absolutely no reason to pick this motherboard. Though, if you're an overclocker, you have every reason to look at this motherboard, but that's probably not the case if you're reading an entry level guide like this one.

Listed below is part of our RealTime pricing engine, which lists the lowest prices available on the AMD CPUs and motherboards from many different reputable vendors:

If you cannot find the lowest prices on the products that we've recommended on this page, it's because we don't list some of them in our RealTime pricing engine. Until we do, we suggest that you do an independent search online at the various vendors' web sites. Just pick and choose where you want to buy your products by looking for a vendor located under the "Vendor" heading.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations Memory and Video
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  • Baldurga - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    About second option for GPU, I think a 9600SE 128Mb 128bit for 67 is a great deal. You can find it here:


    Ok, is not Tier 1 brand, but with 128bit and 9600 core it is a very good price/perf optio on budget.
  • Octoberblue - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    "Western Digital continues to make well priced budget drives that aren't noticeably slower than the 5400RPM variety"

    - Don't understand this comment. Did you mean not noticeably slower than... something else. This is a 7200rmp drive...?
  • ehanneken - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    "Motherboard: ASUS A7N8X-X (nForce2 Ultra 400)"

    Minor correction: The A7N8X-X uses the single-channel nForce2 400 chipset, not the dual-channel nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset.
  • Pumpkinierre - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Newegg have got the Duron 1.8 at $43 conspicuously missing from your roundup. I'd sooner have MHx than cache anyday and the nearest A-XP is the 2200+ at $62 so youd save a few bucks which could go towards a full dx9 card- cut down 9600 or 5750. As dx9 takes a lot of the computation onto the gpu, a full dx9 card favors a weaker system so that's where the money should be spent.
    The Duron also runs at 1.5v, 0.1v below the A-XP and combined with smaller L2 cache makes it cooler and if desired more overclockable.
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link


    Bah, changed and properly updated. :)
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    According to the real-time price engine, the XP2000+ is the same price as the recommended XP1800+ ($49) and that the price hasn't changed in the last week. So the XP2000+ would probably have been a better recommendation (I assume the article is under a week old).
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Agreed guys, I'll change PC2100 to PC2700 next time. Even though it means squat for entry level users, you're right, might as well go with the faster memory if the price is identical.

    Originally though, Crucial PC2100 was $35 (Newegg if I remember right), so you would save $5 versus PC2700 and $10 versus PC3200. But Newegg upped their prices after the guide went online. You guys should be wary of those types of things in the future, because vendors will do that on occasion.


    Were you using the LCD to compare the 9800 Pro to the Shuttle board's nForce IGP graphics? You're definitely a rare case if there's no noticeable difference between the two in terms of text sharpness.
  • Zebo - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    I have the MN31N and notice zero blurred text on the benQ LCD it runs on.. I also have saphire 9800 ultimate edition and BFG 5900NU so I think I would have noticed by now.

    Here's my rec for overclockers and silent budget system.... Plus you get DVD drive, MCP-T, and better case too.

    CPU & Cooling AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (OEM) - $49
    Cooler Master HSF - $10 $59
    Motherboard Shuttle "MN31N" for $85
    Memory 256MB Buffalo PC3200 - $44
    Video Card Onboard - $0
    Monitor Samsung SyncMaster 763MB $146
    Computer Case Antec SLK1600 - $46
    Sound Card Onboard sound $0
    Speakers Creative Labs SBS270 2.0 $20
    Networking Onboard 10/100 Ethernet $0
    Hard Drive - Seagate 7200rpm 40gig- $59
    CD-RW Samsung CDR-W/DVD Combo Drive,- $47
    Bottom Line - $506

    Then crank it up:)
  • gherald - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Text sharpness is definately a concern, good call AT on the R9200.

    But I also think PC3200 should be used instead of 2100. The price difference is small, and it will give you much greater flexibility when it comes time to upgrade, cuz 3200 can actually be used by most modern processors like the P4, A64, and Bartons

    You can even run the 3200 @ 333mhz if you want it synced with a non-OCed 2500.

    I'm kicking myself for having bough a couple PC3000 sticks last year, instead of PC3200. Now I can't use those sticks on new systems...
  • Zebo - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Ya medfly I agree..Imean what the point of buying a 3200 capable chipetted board and crippling it with 2100. Ch-5 buffalo PC3200 is only $44 at newegg.

    I also would have gone on-board graphics.. Probablly the smoking Shuttle "MN31N" for $85!! Has the MCP-T/soundstorm for great sound has GF4 MX for video and plenty of overclockers features.

    Oh well can't please everyone. Other than that I loved it.:)

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