The 2007 Box, Part I . . .

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We said a while back that the OC machine for 2007 would most likely be one based on the upcoming E4300 Conroe.

(To refresh some memories and inform others, the E4300 will a 9X multiplier, 1.8Ghz Conroe with 2Mb cache.)

We now have some additional details about when and how much this is going to cost. The E4300 will show up in January, and will initially cost $163.

That’s a little sooner than expected, and it costs a little more than hoped, but $163 isn’t bad for a CPU that will probably overclock 75% with no fuss at all, and perhaps around 100% without too much fuss.

Yet $163 is just the beginning of the story.

One problem with going to a Conroe system is that motherboards and memory have proven to be quite expensive, too. The Conroe motherboards of OC aficionados have been boards based on the Intel 975X chipsets, and the prices on those have usually been north, and sometimes well north of $200.

Yes, one can buy a “cheaper” (though $150 is hardly a trifle) 965 chipset mobos, but the price tags on those start at $150 and up, sometimes way up.

There are cheaper nVidia boards available, though they don’t overclock much at all.

The other part of the expensive equation is RAM. Buying 2Gb of RAM able to handle 500MHz or more 1:1 is currently a very expensive proposition, and as
these recent tests by Xbit Labs show, there’s little to no real-life benefit to these sticks compared to lower-latency RAM running at 800MHz.

Buying an E4300 helps the cost problem in two ways.

First, since it has a 9X multiplier and runs at a 200MHz rather than 266MHz FSB, a target overclocking speed of 3.6GHz means an FSB of 400 MHz, not over 500 MHz, which is the case with the lowest-price E6300 Conroe, which cheaper mobos are more likely to hit (it’s also likely that 965 and/or the few R600 mobos available in January will be cheaper than the current $150)

Second, prices on 800MHz RAM, even low latency RAM is likely to be a good deal less than anything claiming to be good for 1000MHz or more (and good, even cheaper 667MHz memory may well prove good enough).

So it’s not a matter of waiting another three-four months just to save $25 on a processor, but more like saving $225 for the overall cost of the system.

Tomorrow: The FUD

The real problem with the 2007 box isn’t the CPU/mobo/memory; these are just annoyances that will remedy themselves with a little patience.

Nor is it Vista, though it will no doubt come out somewhat less than half-baked and in any event effectively double the amount of RAM you’ll need for your computer.

The real problem is going to be found in video, and we’ll talk about that tomorrow.


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