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 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.


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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  • stoneranger - Thursday, July 22, 2004 - link

    I built this, and I luv the thing. I used a gig of mushkin instead of 512, also used a 9800pro. and a asus deluxe rev 2 board. I have an abit nf7, but I really wanted to keep it quite, and wanted the dual net. So I used the asus. I spent about the same thing, well withen 20 bucks of what was posted. I built it to run quite, but I have run it up to 2.5mhz. and my scores are fantastic. I now have it tuned down to 2.2 mhz, at the lowest voltage my board will register. And I am still getting well over 17000 on the 3d2001 mark. I love flight sem, halo, and far cry. And its quite till I crank the sound. Actually one of the quitest I have ever built.
  • gimper48 - Thursday, June 3, 2004 - link

    When are we going to see the new Overclock guide? Are we going to get into 64-bit overclocking like the DTR or mobile?
  • Kittcg - Friday, May 7, 2004 - link

    What alterations would you make to this current setup if you were to optimize it for gaming?
  • Etacovda - Sunday, April 18, 2004 - link

    Wow, im surprised actually. The FIRST motherboard ANYONE with knowledge will recommend for a mobile is either a DFI lanpartyII B or a DFI infinity board... 270fsb is nothing to sneeze at with active northbridge cooling.

    Whats with the 9600pro again? the 5900XT totally destroys it in 90% of tests, its obviously a better card... in saying that, the gainward ultra 5900 isnt much more and has 2.2ns ram, the card is known to go over 5950 speeds. Take it one more step and you've got the 9800pro etc... im sure an overclocker will not be happy with a 9600pro, thats for sure.

    Its always nice to see reviews/suggestions like this, good work :)
  • ceefka - Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - link

    Yes indeed, #23 and #24, that would be nice. It would clearly show the bang for your buck factor. Maybe a nice idea for the closure of each cycle since this looks like a monthly thing.
  • ceefka - Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - link

    A rather late post, that I intended to put here much earlier. Well let's hope people still read this.

    This is a very helpful topic of course in getting an idea of what to buy for a such and so PC. The thing I am missing here is the qualification in terms of use.

    Wouldn't it be an idea to specialize a machine for say DAW purposes, Video Editing, Gaming and maybe other demanding tasks. This makes choices in hardware rather different, I assume. Is that something that can be done here on AT or does anybody know sites where they do this. I am especially interested in DAW and Video editing.
  • timebecomes - Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - link

    I agree, I think that benchmarks between the guides would be helpful. I would like to see how the overclocking system stands up to the athlon 64 system specifically.
  • gimper48 - Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - link

    I would like to see benchmarks as well between the 3 guides..
  • Dantzig - Monday, April 12, 2004 - link

    Why recommend the Athlon XP-M 2500+ over the 2400+ and 2600+ parts? The 2400+ is a good deal cheaper and only spec'd for a few MHz below the 2500+, and the 2600+ is spec'd for a full 2GHz with only 1.45v and is only $10 more than the 2500+. I'd say that the 2600+ is definitely the best overclocking buy right now since many people are getting ~2.5GHz @ 1.65v and 2.6-2.8GHz with higher voltage.
  • DannyOcean - Sunday, April 11, 2004 - link


    That was the same comment I meant in reply to timebecomes' reply on the 2.4A's 533 FSB - which, with half-decent cooling, can go above 800 FSB.

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