As we detailed in our last few Guides, the guides for High End System and Overclocking System are by Wesley Fink, AnandTech's Motherboard, Memory and Chipset Editor. Wes will have a new guide for each area about once a month once the new guide schedule is in full swing. 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 from him every week. If you have recommendations on a Buyer's Guide for Evan, 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 is to squeeze the absolute best performance possible out of a given setup, and this can involve some expensive components. The second is to reach the highest performance possible with a given processor with the cheapest part possible, which represents the best value. Sometimes you can't achieve both these things at the same time, so you may see some recommendations with what at first appear to be strange alternatives. 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.

Overclocking Ground Rules


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  • MemberSince97 - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    ^^GJ^^ WF... Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    #10 - I just checked the ORB for 3DMark2001SE and the highest placing Intel was #10 - the 9 top scores were AMD. 2001SE IS sensitive to CPU speed and memory speed and is useful for comparing CPU's.

    3DMark2003 is not very sensitive to CPU and Memory, so it is excellent for testing pure video performance. Intel does lead in many of the top ten 3DMark2003 scores, but that is a result of Video card performance since 03 is very video centric. Consider the leads there the result of Intel's chipset prowess in graphics support. Looking at the top 20 it is like 50/50 AMD/Intel in 03.

    #17 - The DFI is already for sale in the US. The problem is it is selling out very quickly. Additional production is on it's way to resellers, and DFI is gearing up more production for October.
  • gnumantsc - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    Just a little typo in regards to 2 x 74GB Western Digital 74GB Raptor 10,000RPM SATA RAID (148MB Total) Should be 148GB not MB.

    Unless there is a raid system to make your 2 HDs 1000 times smaller :)
  • helopilot - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    Wesley: What an *excellent*, well written article! Full of very
    useful info, specs, opinions and lots of general observations and
    tips. I think this is one of the best pieces I've read on a
    hardware review site. You must have invested considerable time on
    this article!

    I especially appreciate the level of detail you've incorporated and
    the tables, diagrams, graphics etc. that really help to get the
    information across to the reader. You deserve high praise indeed
    for this level of tech writing.

    Keep up the Good Work!

  • PolaroidPaul - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    Great review but one issue that bugs me. I am looking into building a value OC system and it sure seems like the DFI board is a good one. Unfortunately, it is practically vapor ware at the present time.

    Maybe parts that are not readily available should not be on the recommended list. I hate having to wait for parts to show up in distribution while every article tells me how good the sample was. Tell me about what is comming but don't put it on the list if it does not show up as availalbe on your real time pricing list.

    Just my humble opinion!
  • Illissius - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    I will repeat the stuff about the value RAM. You say yourself that the A64 isn't as sensitive to memory bandwidth, and the doubling of it with socket 939 only results in 2-9% performance gains. 'Enthusiast' memory is a lot less than twice as fast, so you can extrapolate how much extra performance that would gain, and it makes little sense to spend double on it when that money would be much better spent on a faster processor or video card*.
    Actually, you should just split the memory into Performance and Value, same as with the processor. Ballistix and EB for Performance, and standard value RAM from someone reputable (eg Corsair Value Select) for the Value. Hell, why not seperate /every/ component into Performance and Value? 9800Pro/6600GT and 6800GT for the video card, WD Raptor and random 120-200GB drives, and so on.
    ...I'm starting to think that the best thing to do would be to just flat out split the Performance and Value into seperate buyer's guides. They're at least as different as the mid- and high end guides are.

    One more thing, and then I'll stop - the HSF has much more significance in the overclocking equation than you seem to be attributing it. You don't need to give it a seperate section, just mentioning a list of the better choices would be nice (afaik, Zalman CNPS7000A-(Al)Cu, Thermalright SLK-947/8U, SP-94/7/8, and XP-90/120, and possibly others), because for the person just getting into the whole overclocking thing, they may not know ;).

    * Contrary to a common misconception, you don't need faster memory to overclock the processor. Most boards can lock the memory at stock speeds, or otherwise can use a 5:4 ratio or something.
  • iversonyin - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    i would fork out a little more for 2800+ athlon 64 then usin the sempron

    hes right on the money $20 more, u r better off with 2800+ 64 then sempron
  • thebluesgnr - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link


    it's actually:

    X300SE = 9600SE
    X300 = 9600
    X600PRO = 9600PRO
    X600XT = 9600XT

    No 9200 in PCIe.
  • DEMO24 - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    This is to poster #2. You CAN buy a x300 or x600. its called the 9200 for a x300 and a 9600 for the x600. Theres nothing speical to the x cards below the x800 cuase they are all jsut old cards made to fit PCI-e. A good way for ATI to make money and look good. Reply
  • ksherman - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    Yippie! someone finally OCed a Sempron! Ive been wondering how well those cheapos would do... Sounds amazing! Reply

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