December 2009 Overclockers Buyers Guide

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Just in time for the holidays!  If you are looking to get started with overclocking but aren’t sure what components to put together, then you have come to the right place.

All of the systems below focus on achieving the highest possible processor overclock for the least amount of money.  They are each listed as complete systems to make it easier for beginners who are looking for a brand new build but less attention was spent on actual system performance.  Technologies like RAID and Multiple GPU setups are outside the scope of this guide but should also be considered depending on your specific needs and budget. Each list of parts also shows an OC/$ metric which is the Average OC % divided by the Total Cost.  The Average OC is obtained from the HWBot listing.  It’s not an exact science but it does give a quick way to compare the different setups.

Each build also includes air cooling by default because these are aimed at beginners.  The air cooling will definitely limit the maximum clock speed that can be reached, so be aware that there are other options, like water cooling or phase change cooling, which are also outside the scope of this guide and will generally require more expensive components to handle the extra voltages applied to the processor and RAM.  Obviously, if you are benching, you’ll be considering something like liquid nitrogen or dry ice, which is really outside the scope of this guide.

All of the processors highlighted can be compared at HWBot. All prices shown are in US Dollars and do not include taxes or shipping.

Budget

This price sector aims to get the buyer in to overclocking for the very least amount of money.  Consequently, these cheap processors have the potential for some very extreme overclocks.  These systems will handle light gaming but the processors aren’t the fastest, even when overclocked.

Intel

Processor Intel Celeron 430 Conroe-L $39.49
Motherboard ASUS P5Q Pro Turbo $84.99 after mir
Memory G.Skill DDR2 2x1gb F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK $49.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS9900LED $43.84
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-550VX $79.99 after mir
Video Card XFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU $154.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $618.26
Average O.C. (%) 115.60
OC/$ ratio 0.19

AMD

Processor AMD Sempron 140 Sargas $36.99
Motherboard DFI LP DK 790FXB-M2RSH $137.00
Memory G.Skill DDR2 2x1gb F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK $49.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS9900LED $43.84
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-550VX $79.99 after mir
Video Card XFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU $154.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $667.77
Average O.C. (%) 40.83
OC/$ ratio 0.06

Mid-Level

The mid-level systems are very well suited for gaming as well as other tasks.  They offer very good overclock per dollar potential and good performance.  Keeping costs down is still a main issue with these setups, so extra hard drives and multiple GPUs would best be left out.

Intel

Processor Intel Core i5 750 $199.99
Motherboard Biostar T5 XE CFX-SLI $134.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH $105.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS10X Extreme $59.99
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-550VX $79.99 after mir
Video Card XFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU $154.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $900.91
Average O.C. (%) 68.92
OC/$ ratio 0.08

AMD

Processor AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition $119.99
Motherboard DFI LANParty DK 790FXB-M3H5 $169.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH $105.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS10X Extreme $59.99
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-550VX $79.99 after mir
Video Card XFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU $154.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $855.91
Average O.C. (%) 36.48
OC/$ ratio 0.04

High End

These high end systems are still focused on OC/$ ratio but offering better performance for gaming and other computing needs.  These systems would benefit from RAID, SSD hard drives, and multiple GPUs.

Intel

Processor Intel Core i7 860 $284.99
Motherboard MSI P55-GD80 $204.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH $124.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS10X Extreme $59.99
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-850TX $99.99 after mir
Video Card XFX GTX 260 GX260XADJC $189.99
Sound Card Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer $69.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $1,199.90
Average O.C. (%) 79.86
OC/$ ratio 0.07

AMD

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition $165.99
Motherboard ASUS M4A79T Deluxe $179.99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH $124.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS10X Extreme $59.99
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-850TX $99.99 after mir
Video Card XFX GTX 260 GX260XADJC $189.99
Sound Card Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer $69.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $1,055.90
Average O.C. (%) 37.30
OC/$ ratio 0.04

Extreme

These systems are the pinnacle of the technology available today and offer the very best stock performance.  Water cooling should be considered for these setups to allow for more headroom when overclocking.

Intel

Processor Intel Core i7 975 Extreme Edition $986.99
Motherboard EVGA X58 SLI Classified $394.99
Memory Corsair Dominator-GT CMG6GX3M3A1600C7 $258.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS10X Extreme $59.99
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-850TX $99.99 after mir
Video Card XFX HD 5970 HD-597A-CNF9 $629.99
Sound Card Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer $69.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $2,665.90
Average O.C. (%) 47.59
OC/$ ratio 0.02

AMD

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition $195.99
Motherboard Asus Crosshair III Formula $195.99
Memory Corsair Dominator-GT CMG4GX3M2A1600C7 $169.99
Heat Sink Zalman CNPS10X Extreme $59.99
Case CoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP $29.99 after mir
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-850TX $99.99 after mir
Video Card XFX HD 5970 HD-597A-CNF9 $629.99
Sound Card Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer $69.99
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS $89.99
DVD Burner Plextor PX-880SA $44.99
Total: $1,586.90
Average O.C. (%) 44.81
OC/$ ratio 0.03

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