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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  • jeeptrkr - Friday, December 10, 2004 - link

    Perfect timing and very infomative article. I'm looking to buy a MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum w/ an AMD 64 FX-55 cpu.
    How would Crucial Ballistix PC4000 2.5-4-4-8 compare to PC3200 2-2-2-5 on the MSI mb? Faster bandwidth ver tighter timings?
  • decptt - Thursday, September 30, 2004 - link

    Thank you, Fink.
    I ran Athlon64 Mobile 3200 2.0@2.55 Vcore 1.8

    I will drop to 10x250 vcore1.7 for safer :>

    Ballistix run@ 1:1 2.5-4-4-8 (I don't want to set 2.5-3-3-5 like the review for make sure that it works fine)

    I'll tell the testing result again.

    P.S. I had reached to 10x260 V1.8, windows works but Prime95 doens't work stable.
  • southernpac - Sunday, September 19, 2004 - link

    If Raid 1 is used (mirrowing), is the slow down negligble for a simulations gamer - or would it be noticable? Would the same be the case with 7,200 rpm SATA's?

    I also notice that you listed the eVGA 6800, but the July High-End Guide listed the Gigabyte 6800 (Ultra). Have you noticed performance or manufacturing differences between the 6800 vendors?

    The photo of the Crucial Ballistik PC3200 512 memory has a CL113V.X1 part number on it. I can't find that part number listed on the Crucial web site. ? Bill Mackay
  • thebluesgnr - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link

    This is one interesting article, but I wish it had the same idea of a "Value" system as other AT articles. The Value system of this guide is too much for me, here's what I came up with:

    AMD Athlon XP Mobile 2400+ 45W $77
    ASRock K7V88 Raid $44
    512MB (1 X 512MB) Corsair Value Select DDR400 CAS2.5 $79
    128MB GeCube Radeon 9550XT $99
    Antec SLK3700-BQE Black ATX Midtower w/ 350W PSU $90
    Seagate 80GB 7200RPM SATA (8Mb Cache) – ST380013AS $71

    HSF not included, total of $460.

    One could change that system to a Chaintech VNF3-250 + Sempron 3100+, but I would rather upgrade the video card first.
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link

    #25 Wesley Fink- its great to hear a Value RAM roundup is being planned, listening to and where necessary addressing your readers comments is one of the main reasons AT is such a valuable website.
  • Gholam - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link

    You have a mistake on page 13 - you list CM Stacker as an all-aluminium case, while it definitely isn't. It has aluminium panels, but the chassis frame is made of steel. It also weighs 14.9kg... ouch. On the other hand, there is no other case where ducting the PSU is as easy...
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link

    #24 - I mentioned in the Value conclusion that you can cut $300 by choosing a cheaper case and an ATI 9800 PRO instead. Perhaps I should make those recommendations part of the Value OC chart in the future.

    #22 - I recommended one 512MB stick of Crucial Ballistix to get the cost down on the lowest priced system and still have great overclocking. We do plan a Value RAM roundup in the future.
  • cnq - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link


    Keep up the good work!
    Only nit is that like last time, you "forgot" (maybe it was intentional) to present a value video card. The price of the video card stuck out like a sore thumb in the summary pricing table for the value system!

    The power requirements are ugly, but consider putting the 9800pro in the summary table for the value system next time. Until the X700XT and 6600GT's come out (and in AGP), you can't do better for $190. [Or at least you could have downshifted from a 6800GT to a 6800 to save a hundred bucks on the value system.]
  • ksherman - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    you know what would kick arse? doing comparison tests! Compare all the different rigs you guys reccomend and see who the winners are. i.e. Performance OC vs your high end setup etc.
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, September 17, 2004 - link

    I really don't know why anyone here is so keen on the Sempron 3100+. You'd be a fool to buy one when the A64 2800+ is available at only a slightly higher cost, has twice the L2 cache, and most importantly 64-bit support. Anyone who buys a Sempron 3100+ today will regret it in a year or two when x86-64 Windows is supported.

    If you only keep a CPU for a year or so though, it makes even less sense getting something like the Sempron 3100+ with hopes of high overclocks unless you like always having an overclocked substandard processor.

    The non-high end memory issue is important and really needs to be covered, CAS 2.5 modules form the likes of Corsair are available at very competitive prices compared to CAS 2 modules. We need an article that looks at CAS 2.5 and also CAS 3 PC3200 modules from the major manufacturers so we can see how far they overclock, and at what voltages and timings. Most people don't buy CAS2 modules unless they're getting a top of the range CPU (2.4 GHz A64 or 3.2+ GHz Prescott), so if you look at an A64 3200+, you need to look at the memory most people will use with it.

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