CPU and Motherboard Recommendations

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 2800+ 512K L2 1.8GHz retail (heatsink and fan included)
Motherboard: MSI K8N Neo Platinum (nForce3 250Gb)
Price: CPU - $186 shipped. Motherboard - $131 shipped

This week, we have finally switched from recommending Athlon XP processors to Athlon 64 processors. The two biggest reasons for this change are: 1) prices on "low-end" Athlon 64 processors have come down noticeably over the last few months, and 2) motherboards to support Socket 754 Athlon 64 technology that were worth buying (namely VIA K8T800 Pro and nForce3 250Gb chipsets) have finally become available from major motherboard makers in acceptable quantities. AMD's Athlon 64 2800+ running at 1.8GHz and coming with a 512K L2 cache is a very fast mid-range processor that has a distinct advantage over Intel due to its ability to run 64-bit operating systems and 64-bit applications if the need were to ever arise. Microsoft has officially and unofficially supported AMD's move to 64-bit desktop computing for years now, and even Intel themselves said they would make their future Prescott processors compatible with AMD's 64-bit technology (dubbed x86-64). So overall, as a mid-range processor, you simply cannot beat the value of an Athlon 64 2800+.

This choice was more difficult to make. Epox does offer a similarly great motherboard to MSI, and so to us, it was indeed almost a tossup. But MSI's K8N Neo Platinum was ultimately chosen because it offered a few extra BIOS features and a slightly lower price. Anyway, offering the nForce3 250Gb chipset itself is easily the biggest feature that the K8N Neo Platinum motherboard carries. This one-chip solution offers native Firewall capability, 4-drive SATA/IDE RAID, and native GbE (Gigabit Ethernet). MSI adds in features like IEEE 1394 FireWire support, 8-channel sound and superb BIOS features and overclocking ability, making this, simply put, an awesome motherboard. MSI plans on using this type of blueprint for their Socket 939 motherboards too, as well as for the nForce3 250Gb Ultra (which adds official 1GHz HT support), and that can only mean more good news for MSI's Athlon 64 market from top to bottom. For more information on MSI's K8N Neo Platinum and Socket 754 motherboards, take a look at Wesley's MSI K8N Neo Platinum review here and Wesley's Socket 754 roundup here.

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.

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View All Comments

  • gherald - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    Hmm, in the article you say:
    "Recommendation: Western Digital 800JB"

    but then in the summary:
    "Hard Drive Western Digital 800BB (80GB) $67"

    I assume you meant to put the JB model in the summary...

    Well I think a SATA drive would be a worthwhile upgrade. I don't understand the use of 2x256mb DIMMs on a single-channel platform... 1x512mb would make much more sense. And the case selection could use some work as per usual but otherwise this system looks perfect.

    Good job Mr. Lieb.
  • Nighteye2 - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    Why is there no mention of the possibility of using SATA RAID if you have a little extra money to spend on an extra HD? It would be a great recommendation for the load-time-conscious gamer.

    As to suggestions for future guides: how about guides for a Gamer System and an Office System, without specific budgets, aimed at getting a system that will 3 years after buying it still suffice for it's purpose at a good price\performance ratio?
  • mino - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    ehm, sory for some spelling mistakes, I wrote it in hurry. ;) Reply
  • mino - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    Why the Hell have chosen 2*256MB memory instead of 1*512 when U are recommending Single channel CPU ???
    With 2 modules installed it it will be problematic to upgrade memmory in the future and 2 module provide no advantage here.

    Also for Storage I will go for at least 120G SATA drive, since price difference is negligible, but value much bigger. Also WD drives are the ones that nave BANN at me since it is not acceptable to end day with headache from their famous whine anymore.

    Last poit is that I see no reason to go for 3.0C, 2.8C will suffice and provide better OC if requested

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