As we detailed in our last few Guides, the guides for High End System and Overclocking System will now come from Wesley Fink, AnandTech's Motherboard, Memory and Chipset Editor. Once the new schedule is in full swing, Wes will have a new guide for each area once a month. Evan Lieb will continue the Entry and Mid-Level Buyer's Guides. Evan will also add some new guides, with the goal of a new Buyer's Guide every week once the new guides are launched. The final Buyer's Guide additions are still in the works, so if you have a recommendation for Evan for a Buyer's Guide that you would like to see, then email your ideas to Evan.

Overclocking recommendations are really quite different from High-End recommendations. We would not recommend a 2.8GHz P4 CPU for a High-End system, but it might be a natural choice for an OC guide if that 2.8 routinely reached 3.8GHz on air cooling. There are really two points to overclocking, and they are sometimes in conflict. The first goal is to squeeze the absolute best performance possible out of a given setup, and this can involve some expensive components. The second goal is to reach the highest performance possible with the cheapest part possible, which represents the best value. Sometimes you can't accomplish both of these at once, so you may see some recommendations with what, at first, appear to be strange alternates. We also can't be all things to all overclockers, so we will spell out some ground rules on the next page.

As in past Guides, we offer a recommendation for every component that goes into a computer. Our recommendation is our First Choice and we will try to explain why we chose that component. For some components, we will also offer an 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. This is especially true for those willing to spend a little more or to recommend a cheaper component that is of outstanding value. Alternative picks provide you other choices, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be.

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. Relevant parts of our RealTime pricing engine are listed 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.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides, and the changes that you are seeing here are the result of suggestions from our readers and Editors.. Considerations for future guides include a Buyer's Guide for SFF (Small Form Factor systems), Gaming System, and Laptop/DTP (Desk-Top Replacement). If you have other suggestions, let us know by emailing them to Evan; the Guides are to help you with your buying decisions.

Overclocking Ground Rules


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  • vaeren - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    Well I decided to try the EVGA card for 389 from Went to the site, lo and behold the card is stated there at 389. I go to buy it and it rings up 409. Ok, so I see it's backordered and I send them an e-mail basically asking them to honor the homepage. They essentially tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about and the page is now fixed. I don't think I'd recommend them in the future as an accurate price guideline. Granted Anandtech doesn't guarentee prices, but I think poor business practices should be addressed. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    Just a slight error in the article regarding the Mobile XP 2500+

    "However, the FSB speeds and multiplier are also a fortunate accident on the 2500+, since 11X is also the same multiplier as the top 3200+ Athlon XP. Since the 2500+ runs at 166 FSB, 3200+ performance is often as easy as setting the FSB to 200 from the default 166. Most, but not all, 2500+ can easily reach 3200+ speeds. The 2600+ mobile also looks even more promising as an overclocker, though we have not yet tested it. With specifications of the same 45 watt power consumption, a 12 multiplier, and 166FSB, it is hard not to be tempted when it is less than $10 more than a 2500+."

    The desktop version of the 2500+ does run at 166*11 (1833 MHz), but the Mobile version has a 133FSB default. Thats not a problem because as you say in the article, they are unlocked so you can set the FSB and multiplier to whatever you like. But you will need to lower the multiplier with the Mobile 2500+ to run it as a 3200+.

    The Mobile 2600+ is probably a much better choice because it has a much higher default speed than you'd expect,
    Desktop 2500+ 166*11 = 1833 MHz
    Desktop 2600+ 166*11.5 = 1917 MHz
    Mobile 2500+ 133*14 = 1867 MHz (1.45V)
    Mobile 2600+ 133*15 = 2000 MHz (1.45V)
    the Mobile versions of both chips have a slightly higher clock speed than the desktop versions to compensate for the lower default FSB. In particular the Mobile 2600+ is a whole 133MHz faster than the Mobile 2500+ to compensate for the ever diminishing returns of higher multipliers.

    For an overclocker that means the Mobile 2600+ is an unlocked chip that is guaranteed to run easily at 2GHz while still at 1.45V. That pretty much guarantees it will reach 2.3GHz, and maybe as much as 2.5GHz at the desktop 1.65V. And you can always give it a little extra juice if that isn't enough :)
  • roostercrows - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    #2 bluedart
    i did some research about a month ago on the synthetic diamond heatsinks and it seems they have been used for many decades (40+ years)."Swans" research was extremely helpful. i would like to know what material you are coating the diamonds on and also if you are infiltrating the diamonds with copper etc,(if you are makeing one you know what i mean). i have one ordered using tungsten and 6%cobalt as the base metal, 1mm to 1.5mm thick. i'm glad to hear someone else is playing around with this. btw, the specs that i looked at were 7x better than silver, using single crystal. also, what size are you using and are you using an existing product or are you starting from scratch? have fun.
  • Pathogen03 - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    I like the writting style and thought processes behind the review.. It definetly was the most fun, and most detailed one ive seen.


    Your Recommendations are shaky at best. When you argued the 2500+ over the 2600+ for the mobile chip, it made sense, but the inclusion of the FX-53 over an Athlon64 just completely eludes me.. Id suggest you talk to some people on the forums before you do your next one, to doublecheck you have all of the current overclocking trends down. Oh, and a true overclocker would never even CONSIDER a Speeze heatsink.. If you want to talk about the article I can try to give you my opinion, you have my name in the forums just PM me.
  • TrogdorJW - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    I have to say that this is by far the best of ANY of the guides that you and Evan have put together for Anandtech, Wesley. Perhaps it's the inclusion of four system options (with prices for all four, even!), or maybe it's just that I'm an overclocker at heart? Anyway, I'm not too sure about the FX-53 on the performance end, as it's just way too expensive, but that's about my only complaint. You mention the 3500+, and for the price, I would think that's the way to go.

    I have to agree with the suggestion of just making suggestions for the five basic platforms, though. I mean, you already have done that, with the exception of the socket 754 system. Add in a motherboard (MSI K8N Neo Platinum?) and CPU (3200+ 1 MB?), and you're pretty much done.

    Anyway, great job! I'm seriously looking at a socket 754 overclocking setup in the near future, unless someone can convince me that the extra $120 for the 3500+ over the 3200+ (not to mention the motherboard probably costing ~$40 more for S939) is worthwhile. Any takers, or should I just go with a 3200+? I won't be buying for at least another month, Wesley, so you can address my needs in your next OC guide! :)
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    MSI just sent the following reply to our request for information about when the K8N Neo2 would be available for purchase by our readers:

    "I am sorry for this kind of situation and inconvenience. My first shipment of K8N Neo2 will be this coming Tue. (Aug 3rd). Most on-line etailers (newegg, ziproomfly, .......) will post the board on Wed. or Thu to allow customers to buy it.

    We will also modify the product page from "available soon" to "first week of AUG.""

  • Parc - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Great article as always. These are my favorite because it is exactly what I look to your website for the best of the hardware out. Key word out. The MSI board is not out and now had been delayed to somewhere around August 9. By August 9 the board will probably be delayed again. Why do you keep putting a board up that no one can get? The 6800s are hard to get but can be gotten . This just a suggestion. Still great article except board. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    The Coolermaster CM stacker is not an all-Aluminum case, but a mixture of 1.0 mm steel plate for strength and Aluminum alloy. The description has been corrected in the article. Reply
  • Anemone - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Agreed Shinei...

    I'm looking at the 3700 EB (3-3-2-8) and then at the new 4000 Rev 2 (2.5-3-3-?) and curious how they compare. Had a chance to look over the new 4000 Rev 2 yet Wesley?

    Loved this article totally - as well as the 939 reviews. OC'ing on the new 925X boards has a host of connected issues with pci-e and sata, so bye bye Intel...

    Another great AT article for sure
  • Shinei - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    T8000 has apparently never read any of the Socket 939 benchmarks AT did, or he'd know that the AFX's stomp out Intel at media encoding (along with just about everything else). Anyway, moving on from Trollville.

    I agree about the 3500+ being the better price/performance part over the FX53. Of course, I don't own one, so I can't comment on performance, but based on AT's results, it looks like a promising component...

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