Weekly Buyer's Guide: Overclocking System - April 2004by Evan Lieb on April 8, 2004 10:47 AM EST
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IndexToday, 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 pricewatch.com. 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.
OverclockingWhat 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.
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Jeff7181 - Sunday, April 11, 2004 - linkOh, and DannyOcean... you say the mobile Athlon XP's only have a 266 Mhz FSB. So what? Mine's running on a 432 Mhz FSB right now... just cause at stock speed they run at 266 Mhz doesn't mean you HAVE to run that at that speed.
Jeff7181 - Sunday, April 11, 2004 - linkMuzzy... no, you're not missing something, newegg is... they're wrong if they have it listed at 1.83 Ghz... it's not, it's 133x14 which is 1862 Mhz.
DannyOcean - Sunday, April 11, 2004 - linktimebecomes,
The mobile Athlon XP's only have a 266 FSB, what's the point?
A Northwood P4C certainly does run faster clock-for-clock, but I would argue that you will not find 2.4C-2.8C P4's (which all clock quite similar) clocking higher on average then a 2.4A Prescott. The 3.0C-3.4C P4's are a differant story, though, and they do clock quite high. They also cost more then $75 over a 2.4A.
timebecomes - Saturday, April 10, 2004 - linkI was just saying that it may drop the price of the existing cards out there such as the 9800 pro that was rated as an alternative at about $200.
Evan Lieb - Saturday, April 10, 2004 - linkTrogdorJW,
Yeah, I think we'll include an "Alternative" chart next time. As far as your other comments go, I agree to a point that we should include benchmarks. However, this is a still a "guide" and not so much a "review". Certain guides demand testing (mostly just the overclocking ones). Still, we'll give this more consideration. :)
The 2.8C is a better overclocking processor and isn't that much more. The 2.4A is slower per clock and draws considerably more power at high overclocks. Plus, the 2.8C actually overclocks better.
Yes, but you can always say there is something around the corner. Plus, with video cards, sometimes you just never know with a new core how good initial driver support will be, among other early issues that arise with new products.
timebecomes - Saturday, April 10, 2004 - linkMay want to also hold off on the vid card if Nvidia and ATI are expected to release new cards in a week or two. It may dump the price of the 9800 pro enough to make it worth it.
timebecomes - Saturday, April 10, 2004 - linkYea... but it only has a 533 FSB...
DannyOcean - Friday, April 9, 2004 - linkAnandTech should consider placing the Intel 2.4A (533 FSB) Prescott w/ 1MB L2 Cache CPU as an Intel alternative to the Mobile Athlons. The 2.4A (not to be confused with the earlier 2.4A that had a 400MHz FSB) has shown excellant overclocking headroom for a $150 Intel CPU. With decent air or water cooling it's capable of reaching 800 FSB (200MHz x 18 for a 3.6GHz overal speed). It's costs less then a 2.4C and offers a high multiplier that allows users to use low-latency DDR400 without needing a 5:4 or 3:2 ratio.
TrogdorJW - Friday, April 9, 2004 - link#11 - and also to Evan and the rest of the AT crew....
What we really need are the *benchmarks* from these systems. What many people fail to understand is that an Athlon XP at 2.5 GHz is much faster than the Athlon XP 3200+. I would wager that the overall performance of the AXP 2.5 GHz is going to be the same if not better than the A64 3000+ (2.0 GHz and 512K cache). In fact, the 1 MB of cache on the A64 3200+ really only helps a few applications, so AXP 2.5 GHz could very likely equal that as well.
So when are we going to get a set of benchmarks for all of the systems that are being recommended in the Buyers' Guides? I'm thinking that a five week cycle would be nice, unless you can just put the benchmarks into a chart for all the systems. Ideally, what you would have would be one set of pages that would automatically update with all the latest results from each of the systems. That would be pretty slick. Put a link to that in each guide, and we could just go check out the results for the current "recommended configurations". I for one am very curious to see how the OC system compares to the high-end system!
And if it's not too much to ask, how about the total cost of the "Alternative" configurations? The "Alternative" is almost always higher performance, I think, so just have two tables at the end of the articles, one with the recommended setup, and one with the alternative. (And include the alternative setups in the benchmarks, if those are ever done.)
Wow, I'm such a demanding twit. Sorry. Great job on these guides, though!
pgx - Thursday, April 8, 2004 - linki don't understand the why anyone would want to oc currently to save money unless i'm missing something. a 3000+ amd 64 is only just a bit more($90) but it is guaranteed to work. the savings in ocing just doesn't seem to be very good when compared to the added risk. instead of the system listed you could get an amd 64 3000+ w/ 1GB 3200 ram, and basically similar quality components for practically the same price. you could even oc it a little for even more performance.