December 2009 Overclockers Buyers Guide

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

ProcessorIntel Celeron 430 Conroe-L$39.49
MotherboardASUS P5Q Pro Turbo$84.99after mir
MemoryG.Skill DDR2 2x1gb F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK$49.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS9900LED$43.84
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-550VX$79.99after mir
Video CardXFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU$154.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$618.26
Average O.C. (%)115.60
OC/$ ratio0.19

AMD

ProcessorAMD Sempron 140 Sargas$36.99
MotherboardDFI LP DK 790FXB-M2RSH$137.00
MemoryG.Skill DDR2 2x1gb F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK$49.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS9900LED$43.84
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-550VX$79.99after mir
Video CardXFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU$154.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$667.77
Average O.C. (%)40.83
OC/$ ratio0.06

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

ProcessorIntel Core i5 750$199.99
MotherboardBiostar T5 XE CFX-SLI$134.99
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH$105.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS10X Extreme$59.99
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-550VX$79.99after mir
Video CardXFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU$154.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$900.91
Average O.C. (%)68.92
OC/$ ratio0.08

AMD

ProcessorAMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition$119.99
MotherboardDFI LANParty DK 790FXB-M3H5$169.99
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH$105.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS10X Extreme$59.99
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-550VX$79.99after mir
Video CardXFX GTS 250 GS250XZDFU$154.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$855.91
Average O.C. (%)36.48
OC/$ ratio0.04

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

ProcessorIntel Core i7 860$284.99
MotherboardMSI P55-GD80$204.99
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH$124.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS10X Extreme$59.99
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-850TX$99.99after mir
Video CardXFX GTX 260 GX260XADJC$189.99
Sound CardSound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer$69.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$1,199.90
Average O.C. (%)79.86
OC/$ ratio0.07

AMD

ProcessorAMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition$165.99
MotherboardASUS M4A79T Deluxe$179.99
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 2x2gb F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH$124.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS10X Extreme$59.99
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-850TX$99.99after mir
Video CardXFX GTX 260 GX260XADJC$189.99
Sound CardSound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer$69.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$1,055.90
Average O.C. (%)37.30
OC/$ ratio0.04

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

ProcessorIntel Core i7 975 Extreme Edition$986.99
MotherboardEVGA X58 SLI Classified$394.99
MemoryCorsair Dominator-GT CMG6GX3M3A1600C7$258.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS10X Extreme$59.99
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-850TX$99.99after mir
Video CardXFX HD 5970 HD-597A-CNF9$629.99
Sound CardSound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer$69.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$2,665.90
Average O.C. (%)47.59
OC/$ ratio0.02

AMD

ProcessorAMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition$195.99
MotherboardAsus Crosshair III Formula$195.99
MemoryCorsair Dominator-GT CMG4GX3M2A1600C7$169.99
Heat SinkZalman CNPS10X Extreme$59.99
CaseCoolerMaster Elite RC-330-KKN1-GP$29.99after mir
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-850TX$99.99after mir
Video CardXFX HD 5970 HD-597A-CNF9$629.99
Sound CardSound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer$69.99
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB ST31000528AS$89.99
DVD BurnerPlextor PX-880SA$44.99
Total:$1,586.90
Average O.C. (%)44.81
OC/$ ratio0.03

splat

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