Overclocking Buyer's Guide - August 2004

by Wesley Fink on 7/27/2004 11:24 AM EST
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  • rwinder - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    I think it is a wonderful guide. Kudos for having the nads to do it, knowing that there would be "experts" that would give you crap about your recommendations. Don't let them deter you.

    One suggestion: Could you benchmark the performance of your recommendations (and alternatives) so us readers can make the price/value judgements?
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, August 02, 2004 - link

    Seems kinda like we had to read whole article to get to the end, no?

    The point is, primary suggested parts were NOT appropriate for a "value o'c" system. Value does not mean merely not to choose most expensive parts in one or two areas. FOr the described value system there would be zero benefit to spending the extra $150 (over what needed spec parts would cost) on fancier case/PSU, and only a half-dozen %, at best difference in memory costing twice as much... that's not value at all, it's much higher than avg cost for new system in the market today.
    Reply
  • lazerasa - Monday, August 02, 2004 - link

    You people whining about the case, memory, and video card on the value selections... read the systems summary page, there are other, cheaper recommendations there. Read the whole artice before you start your whining. Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, August 02, 2004 - link

    CM Stacker is a nice case but c'mon, who's going to build a value o'c system and spend $262 on case + PSU?

    Likewise, someone would have to be kinda stupid to spend $300-odd $ on high end memory for the value o'c system unless /required/ by the particular 'board just to get 1GB or more stable. Other suggested systems would be a more appropriate platform for that memory.

    BTW, the OCZ 520W PSU is not all that great. It IS fancy, but the base design (including after the cosmetic tweaks) cannot support 520W. Sadly it may be no better than a Sparkle 350W yet priced 3X higher. Don't be fooled by a $3 big anodized heatsink or "good" reviews where they don't subject it to a heavy load... after all that was the whole point of 520W, no? TO someone who knows PSU, it only takes a very short glance at that PSU to know why it can't support 520W.
    Reply
  • cnq - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    Wesley,

    I agree with many of the comments: we may not agree with all your picks, but we really like the enthusiasm and obvious energy that you've poured into your picks and your writeup.

    Now for a little more feedback :)

    There wasn't any "value" video card pick.
    Was that intentional, or an oversight? I can understand that the next gen vid cards are *so* far ahead in performance that you would urge your readers to spring for one, but still it seems that you should toss in a value pick.

    So, thinking of the Athlon2500 buyer who (presumably) can't spring $400 for a next-gen vid card, what would you recommend in the $175-$199 price range? My picks would be a 9800pro followed by a 5900XT. (True, the 5900XT was born to overclock [390-->500 seems the norm ], but that doesn't mean it catches up to an overclocked 98pro in absolute performance.)
    Reply
  • rjm55 - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    29 and Wesley
    Thanks for clearing up the Athlon XP mobile info. I was a bit confused with the difference in the specs with desktop Barton, but now its clear. If you gotta have a XP, it looks like the 2600+ Mobile is now the one to get.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    #29 - You are correct and I actually do know better. The multipliers and FSB have been corrected in the Athlon XP section on page 6.

    #31, #32, and #33 - I fully understand that many look at overclocking to bring more value to their computer buying. There are also others who use overclocking to bring new performance highs to their computer platform. As I stated in the review, these 2 goals are often at odds. That is exactly the reason I have done BOTH Performance OC and Value OC recommendations and alternates.

    If Value is your main OC concern, then throw all the rocks you like at my Value picks, but please don't assume the Performance OC buyers don't exist or don't matter. I can assure you from emails and discussions on Forums that Performance OC is also an important concern for many buyers who OC their systems.
    Reply
  • WheelsCSM - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    I agree with Z80. While I understand that different people view value differently, I can't see how a $390 video card or $175 case can be considered value in anyone's book. Other than that, I think this was an excellent article, and I look forward to future overclocking system recommendations. Reply
  • Z80 - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    I'd say that most of your readers, like me, see overclocking as just another means to squeeze more "bang-for-the-buck" out of our PC dollars. We like to run well in the benchmarks but at the same time spend half of what a typical Dell customer might spend for the same performance. In my opinion, you missed your "Value OC" goal by a mile. If it wan't for your last statement "go with a cheaper case for $100 less. Second, buy an ATI 9800 PRO for $200 less and overclock the heck out of it. Third, go for one of the CAS 2.5 value DDR400 memories from Corsair, Geil, OCZ, Kingston, and others; this could save you about $125. These three substitutions reduce the price by $425 and get the core system price down to $836" Maybe you should look at factoring in a bang-for-your-buck cost comparison factor like you did with a recent video card review. Reply
  • Z80 - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    I'd say that most of your readers, like me, see overclocking as just another means to squeeze more "bang-for-the-buck" out of our PC dollars. We like to run well in the benchmarks but at the same time spend half of what a typical Dell customer might spend for the same performance. In my opinion, you missed your "Value OC" goal by a mile. If it wan't for your last statement "go with a cheaper case for $100 less. Second, buy an ATI 9800 PRO for $200 less and overclock the heck out of it. Third, go for one of the CAS 2.5 value DDR400 memories from Corsair, Geil, OCZ, Kingston, and others; this could save you about $125. These three substitutions reduce the price by $425 and get the core system price down to $836" Maybe you should look at factoring in a bang-for-your-buck cost comparison factor like you did with a recent video card review. Reply
  • vaeren - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    Well I decided to try the EVGA card for 389 from www.buyxg.com 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 :)
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.

    BUT,

    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.
    Reply
  • 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! :)
    Reply
  • 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." http://www.msicomputer.com/product/p_spec.asp?mode..."

    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • danidentity - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    ...for sale either online or in stores, I meant. Reply
  • danidentity - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Wes, do we have ANY idea when we'll start seeing PCIe X800's? Reply
  • Pollock - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    I would have expected to see the 3000+ in there with the recent price drops... And I'll second #6, even if you did mention CAS 2.5 ram on the summary.

    I also think that you shouldn't focus on clear cut categories, but perhaps design one for each of the sockets that appeals at the time. Basically what I'm saying there is that you've got to get socket 754 in there but you don't have to cut anything else out.
    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Agree with #15 Wesley, you've added passion to the buying guides.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    #15 - The price in the Guide has always been $389, which is certainly close to $390. New Egg shows the eVGA 6800 GT expected tomorrow 7/28 at a price of $410. Pricewatch shows this link for $389 with an ETA of 7/30 - 3 days away - at http://www.buyxtremegear.com/vc129114.html. The PHY brand is also shown at $389 with an ETA of 8/10 at http://www.futurepowerpc.com/scripts/details.asp?P... Reply
  • kherman - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Awesome article! Love the concept even though I'll never do an OC rig. It's interesting to read about though. Reply
  • RobJ - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    But the 6800GT is not listed in the real-time pricewatch list because eVGA's website says that the GT won't be available until September 2nd and that it will cost $390, not $380. I have been able to find it on some websites for markups as high as $460. I'll wait until the price comes down to $380. Other companies are even selling the GT for $500 and above. That's crazy. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    #12 -
    The only reason I did not list this in the guide is because we will be making some HSF recommendations in the next OC Guide. The HSF I had in mind for $12 was a "SPEEZE 80mm LED CPU Cooler for Socket A, Model "5F353B1L3GL" -OEM" which has an 80mm fan. A quick check shows you can now buy this Speeze for $9.99 from a reputable on-line retailer. I have found the 80mm fan HSF move more air and do a better job of cooling than the more common 60mm fan models - even the expensive ones. The 80mm are also normally lower noise.
    Reply
  • trexpesto - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Wonder what 12$ HSF is used for the DFI Infinity?

    "Overclockers will also be happy to find the 4 mounting holes around the CPU socket for heavy-duty cooling; although, we do find the CPU area has too many components around the socket that could interfere with some of the larger cooling solutions." - http://anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=2138&am...
    Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    #9 Thanks....

    While only a couple mobos seem to have found a work around I appologise for my ignorance Wes. Still have issue with the presshot not because of heat, the northwood/canterwood is so much more mature and even a bit faster clock for clock,. The price factor of course.
    Reply
  • bluedart - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    It does say the price. Read from the top of the page:

    AGP Overclocking Recommendation: eVGA 256MB GeForce 6800 GT
    Price: $389 shipped

    BTW FX53 is a good choice at overclocking. Keep in mind this is with air. But if you utilize other forms of cooling the FX will go even higher, approaching 3GHz with proper cooling (see THG's review). This makes it one FX58. That is absolutely a grand overclock, seeing that FX58 speeds will not be here for another year or so.
    Reply
  • danidentity - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    #4: Did you read Anandtech's article on breaking the overclocking lock? Almost all companies have broken it. It is very possible to reach those speeds with the stock HSF.

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...
    Reply
  • devonz - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Why isn't the 6800 GT card in the price list on that page? Or am I missing it somehow? Reply
  • T8000 - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    I think recommending an Athlon FX for overclocking is a joke. Those things do not even manage a 5% overclock, and their real world performance is only close to a P4 at 3.4 GHZ, as gaming at 640x480 is not very common among people spending this kind of money. And at a realistic setting of 1600x1200 and 4xFSAA, the CPU is not really the bottleneck in todays games. When you do encoding, where CPU speed does matter in the real world, the P4 is head and shoulders above Athlon FX. Reply
  • yzkbug - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    How about a VALUE OC DDR section? Paying $300+ for 5-10% performance increase over ~$150 regular DDR is a waste, imho. Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Peferformance
    ------------
    1. 2.8 P4C to 3.6 $180
    2. A64 3200 to 2.5 $223

    Value
    --------
    1. Duron 1.8 to 2.4 $44
    2. Mobile XP to 2.6 $89

    :)
    Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Wow recommending a P4C over a moblie barton in the value section.Twice the price for roughly the same OC performance I don't get it. It's the inverse of price to performance. must be an error is all I can imagine.

    Then recommending a Socket 775 presshot. Lets see this 3.8- 4GHZ OC with stock HSF. I don't think so. Then the overclock lock issues which hav'nt been settled, have they? My understanding is 10% over stock FSB, yeilding about 3.4 Ghz far from 4ghz, the system crashes!! What kind of overclockers choice is that?

    Reply
  • chuwawa - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Perhaps it's time to start recommending the Athlon64 3000+ for the value OC alternative. Reply
  • bluedart - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    This is a great guide for overclocking, although I believe that there needs to be some more acutal testing with the 755 and 939 sockets to give us a better picture of how they perform. It is especially difficult when PCIxpress and ddr2 aren't widely available yet.

    If anyone else has some REAL data on overclocking these new platforms, I would like to see those posts.

    Currently I am making a heat sink out of synthetic Diamond (better heat transfer than copper and silver by 2x) and will be testing it on the FX system. If there are any other reccommendations I would be more than happy to hear them.
    Reply
  • expletive - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    I would cast a vote for the A64 3500+. If it can reach 2.6 like an FX53 at half the price that's tough to beat.

    The 3500+ is currently retailing for $390 shipped online. I know thats not quite a 'value' but to get FX53 gaming performance for half the price, that can't be denied....
    Reply

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