Cutting Edge or Cheap?

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The Springdale boards are officially released today. They look like fine boards which are suitable for many moderate purposes.

However, in the long run, we think that hardcore overclockers would be better off with Canterwoods, for the following reasons:

The Cost Isn’t That Much Different

You can pick up a complete-enough (unless you need Gigabit CSA Ethernet) Abit IC7 for about $150 today. Springdale boards will probably end up being around $110. The long-term price difference looks to be about $30-50.

The Highway Now Starts At 200MHz FSB

All new Intel CPUs from now on are going to run at 200MHz. Seriously overclocking them will require sustaining FSBs close to 300MHz and memory speeds approaching 240MHz. This is true of the Pentium IV Cs; it will be just as true for the early Prescotts.

What do you want when you’re doing this? A chipset that passed 200MHz tests, or one that failed them?

PAT is only available with Canterwoods. It helps but a little, but every little bit helps.

A Real Cutting Edge

For the next year, serious PIV overclocking is going to push the envelope on what the current technology is capable of.

With 133MHz FSB CPUs, the CPU is the bottleneck. With 200MHz FSB CPUs, it becomes the memory and the motherboard. The low-end 200MHz CPUs actually has more headroom than either. Push that to the max, and everything pushes the envelope.

The PIVs will be run as quickly as .13 micron PIVs are likely to get.

Memory will be run as quickly as DDR-I is likely to get.

FSBs will be run as high as these boards are capable of doing.

200MHz CPUs pretty much toss out the concept of modest equipment demands for overclocking. Overclock a modest 30% using what will be the standard 5:4 FSB:memory ratio, and we’re already talking about 260MHz FSB and a 208MHz RAM speed. wEven a modest 25% overclock will have you running at 250MHz FSB doing things unheard of a couple months ago.

That means you can’t be bargain-shopping when buying equipment. Quality is going to count, both with the motherboard and especially the memory.

Wanting To Go To Heaven But Not Wanting To Die Buy

The only people who will spend more money than those who lay out a lot to begin with are those who try to save money.

If you think you’re going to buy a 2.4GHz C1, a Springdale, and two cheap sticks of DDR400 you can find, don’t do this. You’re going to spend what is a lot of money for you, then likely find out you’ll have to spend more because (by far most likely) the memory won’t work at the speeds you want or the motherboard won’t crank up as high as you like.

People who have bought quality equipment throughout are having enough problems as is with even good memory working properly at very high speeds (or sometimes at all). The envelope is getting pushed.

Don’t try to save $75-100 by scrimping on the mobo and RAM. Say to yourself, “Am I willing to pay about $500 for the CPU, mobo and RAM?” If the answer is “No,” don’t try to cut corners.

If money really matters, go instead with a 133MHz FSB CPU, a Springdale (or even an 845PE) and your cheap RAM. It won’t be cutting edge, and you won’t get hyperthreading with a low-end 133, but the end results probably won’t be too far away from it, maybe 5-10% away.

A Demanding Girlfriend

Buying a 200MHz FSB PIV is like going out with someone who demands a serious commitment from you. If you think you’re going to BS your way past that, it’s going to blow up in your face (and a lot quicker than the girlfriend).

If you don’t want to say “Yes,” consider going out with a 133MHz PIV. Not quite as good-looking, but doesn’t ask anywhere near as much from you.

One or the another is fine. Just don’t expect to get Number One on a Number Two budget.

Ed

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