Today, we release our fourth Buyer's Guide in the last 4 weeks. You can look forward to Buyer's Guides during the middle of every week and then, after the end of each month, we will retool our guides to reflect the new hardware and pricing of that particular time period. In case you haven't read our new Buyer's Guides yet, here's the basic format of them to be released on a weekly basis:

Week 1: Entry Level System
Week 2: Mid-Range System
Week 3: High End System
Week 4: Overclocking System

For every component that goes into a computer, we offer our recommendation for a piece of hardware as well as our 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 (especially for those willing to spend a little more than what we budget for a particular system). Alternative picks tell you just that - your alternatives, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in some cases, will not be. But at the same time, we can still be assertive enough with a first place recommendation so that new buyers aren't indecisive or confused about what to purchase. 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 We list pertinent parts of our RealTime pricing engine 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 all by yourself.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides. If you feel we are not including a wide enough variety of systems in our guides, please let us know and we can see if it warrants an additional weekly Buyer's Guide.


What we're going to tell you here are probably things you already know. For example, if you're considering overclocking, you're probably someone who has at least an interest in computer technology and most likely, are someone who just wants to squeeze as much performance as possible from their system without spending big bucks. If you're considering overclocking, you probably also know that overclocking hardware is never guaranteed; sometimes you'll receive components that overclock through the roof and sometimes you'll receive a dud. What you should know and keep in mind is that overclocking can damage your hardware and your data, and usually isn't covered under warranty, often times voiding warranties. Also keep in mind that this isn't an overclocking system meant for people who have cash to burn, so you're not going to see elaborate water cooling setups or ridiculous liquid nitro cooling solutions; our overclocking systems are cooled by air (fans). Granted, we're recommending the best air cooling available.

Keeping that information in mind, our overclocking systems always put stability before performance. While that may sound contradictory, knowing that the whole point of overclocking is to basically gain more performance from your system, a high performance system is nothing if it's unreliable and crash happy. Therefore, with stability first and performance a very close second, price is a more distant consideration. Remember, though, that price is still important enough that this is not meant to be a high end system, even though it'll perform better than one. For more information on our picks for high end components, take a look at last week's High End Buyer's Guide.

Now that that's all clear, read on to find out our picks for best overclocking components this week...

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations
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  • greendonuts3 - Friday, March 26, 2004 - link

    Thanks for this guide. I used it to build a nf-7 and 2600xp-m system and am pleased as punch with it. I'm at 400 fsb and 100f cpu temp.

    I have some feedback about the stinkin'
    Thermalright SP-97 Copper Heatsink with Heatpipe :

    Incredible cooling, but designed by sadistic sons of female dogs, including:
    --tiny, windborne, nearly invisible clear plastic washers (you only get 1 extra).
    --screw holes that are nearly inaccessible through the maze of heat pipes unless you have 3 hands (or use needlenose pliers to load screw)
    --instructions that read "use needlenose pliers to tighten heatsink nuts to back bracket" which caused me to gouge my mobo cutting 3 traces. This was on the nf7-v2 which has no room for a socket wrench between the zif lever and the heatsink nut.

    Nevertheless, thanks for the good work and keep the guides coming.

  • magratton - Thursday, March 25, 2004 - link

    BTW: I noticed that there is an extra little tab that is sticking out on the SLK-947U. It is sticking out about a millimeter or so. Pulled out my handy-dandy dremel tool and ground it down so that it is flat with the rest of the aluminum mounting plate and voila! no longer touching the capacitors.
  • magratton - Monday, March 22, 2004 - link

    The thing that I am most worried about is heat. After a pass at installing Windows XP (not completed) my CPU is at nearly 40 degrees C. I have the SLK-947U with AS5 paste in between. Any thoughts? Aside from removing CPU/heatsink from mobo and checking that it seated properly... just paranoid too much in and out of cpu/heatsink, I am gonna zap something.
  • magratton - Monday, March 22, 2004 - link

    #29 - I noticed that mine was essentially "pushing" the capacitors as well. I was able to secure it though. VERY tight fit.
  • Furse001 - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    Nice article. I decided to try out the system. Problem is the thermalright heatsink will not fit on the abit nf7-s Rev.2 motherboard… Went to the manufacturer’s website and it states the same thing. Anyone want to but a spanking new SLK-947U heatsink? Anyou have any suggestions to an alternative that will fit? Thanks.
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - link

    I have my Muskin PC3500. It doesn't run at the default specs... 216 Mhz at it's rated 2-3-3 timings is unstable. Prime 95 crashes within within 4 minutes. If I let it run at 200 Mhz, adjusting the multiplier to keep the speed of the CPU the same, or slightly higher, it runs indefinately with no errors.
  • matt426malm - Sunday, March 14, 2004 - link

  • noxipoo - Sunday, March 14, 2004 - link

    I don't see the NF7-S mobo for sale anywhere for $82, they are all 100+
  • Zebo - Saturday, March 13, 2004 - link

    all that's left is to decide on the video card. "to spend or not to spend? that is the question." no time to hurry. ;)
    Come join the community..theres a video forum with plenty of advice.:) Good luck with your mobile.

  • DAPUNISHER - Saturday, March 13, 2004 - link


    How about adding the SoundStorm comment to the article? Lumping it in with the audio on the P4C800-E just ain't right! You should have mentioned how good SS is when hooked via SPDIF and doing the HTPC thing. Certainly we all know that but many who read that guide may not. They could use that $70 to get the 9800pro if they understand that SS will be a very nice solution for integrated. At least it'll give them a choice to weigh instead of the heavy handed feel of "you're missing out if you don't get the Audigy2"

    Other than that I say it's a great guide that will give neophytes the info they need to build and overclock a budget system that will kick some butt.

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