• Welcome to Overclockers Forums! Join us to reply in threads, receive reduced ads, and to customize your site experience!

The Overclocking Buyers Guide

Overclockers is supported by our readers. When you click a link to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn More.

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
The Overclocking Buyer's Guide

Last Updated: 12/2/09
Format changed! I thought it would just be easier to piece everything together in full systems instead of breaking everything out like it was before.

Prices are current from Newegg.com at the very second I typed them down, manually. Actual prices change frequently and this guide is not automatically updated, so prices on Newegg.com and other websites will most likely differ. I recommend using the OCForums "official" shopping engine, Google Product Search, or straight up Newegg.com for all of your shopping needs.

This guide is merely a collection of SUGGESTED system setups. The most important things to consider when building a system with the intention of overclocking are the processor, motherboard, ram, heat sink, and power supply. Everything else is just an accessory. If you want to use a different video card, sound card, case, hard drive, etc. then that is your choice. Obviously, there are tons of choices for each component.

My stance on the issues:
  • Dual Core? Quad Core? I still do not recommend buying any processor with more than two cores for general computing/gaming. Games are starting to pop up that take advantage of multi-core setups, but at the same price, I would recommend buying a dual core that is clocked faster rather than a slower quad core processor.
  • 2GB, 4GB, 6GB RAM? 2GB is the absolute minimum I would suggest buying, and for most people this will be all they need. DDR2 is extremely cheap right now, so upgrading to 4GB won't stretch your wallet too much. As far as overclocking goes, the less stress on the system the better, so I'd recommend sticking with a 2x1gb memory kit. DDR3 is still very expensive so I'd recommend staying away from it unless you are putting together a Core i7 system. If you do end up buying 4GB of RAM or more, you should be using a 64bit operating system.
  • ATI? NVIDIA? I recommend NVIDIA video cards because of the Linux support. There are plenty of ATI cards that compete well with, if not beat, NVIDIA cards, so pick what suits you the best.
  • SLI? Crossfire? Personally, I don't think it's worth the money unless you aren't pleased with the performance of a single top of the line card. For the cards lower down in the line-up, you can generally buy a single card that surpasses the performance of a cheap multi-card setup for right around the same price. Obviously, use your judgement as to if it's worth it for you.
______________________________________________________________________________

compare all the processors in this edition of the guide at HWBot
______________________________________________________________________________

budget

intel
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $618.26
Average O.C. (%) 115.60
OC/$ ratio 0.19

amd
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $667.77
Average O.C. (%) 40.83
OC/$ ratio 0.06​

mid level

intel
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $900.91
Average O.C. (%) 68.92
OC/$ ratio 0.08

amd
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $855.91
Average O.C. (%) 36.48
OC/$ ratio 0.04​

high end

intel
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $1,199.90
Average O.C. (%) 79.86
OC/$ ratio 0.07

amd
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $1,055.90
Average O.C. (%) 37.30
OC/$ ratio 0.04​

extreme

intel
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $2,665.90
Average O.C. (%) 47.59
OC/$ ratio 0.02

amd
Total: (tax & shipping not included) $1,586.90
Average O.C. (%) 44.81
OC/$ ratio 0.03​
 
Last edited:
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
Here is some more detailed information on power supplies. Thank you to Super Nade and Oklahoma Wolf for the superb information.

** Updated list from Super Nade - 1/18/08
original post: http://www.ocforums.com/showpost.php?p=5438543&postcount=64
In the PSU list, I would use the Corsair550VX in place of the Antec NeoHE. It is the best bang for the buck unit in its class available today.

An updated list of good/safe units would be (no particular order, excluding Etasis, Zippy and Turbocool's):
  • Corsair VX550, HX520, HX620
  • Ultra X-Pro, 1kW, 1.6kW
  • Thermaltake 1kW, 1.2kW
  • Silencer series from PCP&C
  • Silverstone Olympia (Seventeam) 1kW, 1.2kW
  • Silverstone DA/OP 650W
  • Seasonic S-12,M-12
  • Acbel > 500W units, Coolermaster Real-power Pro.
  • Hiper (still use Fujjhyu crapacitors, but have vastly superior cooling, hopefully minimizing failure)
  • Gigabyte Odin series
  • Antec Quattro series
  • Tagan Silverpower series
  • Low wattage Enhance units
List is by no means complete, but it should satisfy most users.

  • Oklahoma Wolf's List of recommended OEM's in order of reliability * updated 2/27/07 *

Oklahoma Wolf said:
  1. Zippy (Superb regulation, good efficiency and exceptional built quality!)
  2. Etasis (Silverstone fanless, ST56ZF, ST75ZF, ST85ZF)
  3. Win-Tact (PC P&C Turbocool)
  4. Andyson Server Grade (high watt Hiper, Ultra X-Pro 600W, X-Finity 800W, and X3)
  5. Seventeam (some Thermaltake and MGE units)
  6. Delta (some Chieftec units)
  7. Silverstone/Enhance - Olympia except OP1000
  8. Lite-On (Supermicro/Ablecom) This is my current unit. You can find a small review of it HERE (link).
  9. 3Y Power (OCZ Evostream, ProXStream)
  10. Seasonic (PC P&C Silencer, Corsair, Antec Neo HE). [The silencer series brings PCP&C's superb QC at a budget price, to the table. Starts at $140]
  11. Enhance (Akasa, Silverstone Strider and Zeus 520W and 600W)
  12. AcBel Polytech (some Coolermaster)
  13. FSP
  14. Andyson (non server grade - low power Hiper, Sunbeam)
  15. Jou Jye (American Media Systems)
  16. Wintech (low power Ultra X-Finity, V series) -- Ultra is still using Wintech for the low end.
  17. Heroichi/HEC/Compucase (some Thermaltake)
  18. CWT (Antec except Neo HE)
  19. Enermax
  20. Superflower/TTGI
  21. Topower (Tagan, BeQuiet, Mushkin, Epower, A+GBP) [The Mushkin 550W is just crap.]

Tried to re-arrange it somewhat to reflect changes and recent developments. Topower's getting pretty darn close to dropping off my list entirely... ever since the Powerstream 470W, their units haven't impressed me once. Took Inwin off - they haven't impressed me either.

Listed Andyson twice - not too impressed with the low watt stuff, but man can these guys ever design the good stuff at the high end.

I would characterize a poor design as follows (or things one should look for, in no particular order):
  • Quality of Caps. Cheap caps imply shorter life span. Higher the ESR, more likely the impact on regulation.
  • Size of the Caps. Most complaints with regulation and ripple are due to undersized primary or secondary caps.
  • Insufficient cooling. This is a biggie. You would want to keep the unit cool for obvious reasons (i.e keep components within their working temps).
  • Poor quality Voltage regulators. Although this issue is almost a non-issue these days, you still find the occasional burn out.
  • Poor quality inductive elements i.e chokes and transformers. Imporoper winding or using smaller guage wires as the winding. Rare.
  • Poor soldering. This is very very common.
  • Bad circuit design. Really, there is not much you can do here, unless you are willing to do a complete rebuild.
  • Poor PCB's being used as the logic board. This is not critical, but worth a mention.
  • Under sized rectifier diodes. I don't understand why didoes are still being used instead of composite bridge rectifiers. Diodes also need to be cooled.
These are the points I think are pertinent.

Points to note before you buy a PSU:
  1. Figure out what you intend to power. This is very important if you are on a tight budget.
  2. Do NOT skimp on quality. Poor PSU's would just hose your entire rig.
  3. Look for a beefy single 12V rail (> 30 A) if you plan on running SLI or CF
  4. Try to identify the OEM of the unit. You cannot go wrong if you pick a good OEM.
 
Last edited:

speed bump

Member
Joined
May 11, 2004
Location
Montana tech Butte mt.
Don't buy the corsair 6400C4s becuase currently they are using promos chips which overclock like crap compared to D9s. link

If you want good overclocking ram look at either the Gskill's with d9GMH or the Team group which are only a few bucks more and usually clock better than the C4s with D9gmh chips did also. link

Also on your budget intel system the Gigabyte GA-965-S3 is a much better clocker that is also conroe ready and is only $115
 
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
speed bump said:
Don't buy the corsair 6400C4s becuase currently they are using promos chips which overclock like crap compared to D9s. link

If you want good overclocking ram look at either the Gskill's with d9GMH or the Team group which are only a few bucks more and usually clock better than the C4s with D9gmh chips did also. link

Also on your budget intel system the Gigabyte GA-965-S3 is a much better clocker that is also conroe ready and is only $115

interesting about the corsair c4's. I originally had the Gskill HZ's there, but I changed them to the corsair at the suggestion of another member, sighting they were D9's for cheaper. Btw, the kit you linked to is the ddr2 667 kit, is there a kit in ddr2 800? *edit: these? http://www.tankguys.biz/2x512mb-44410-800mhz-p-1644.html?osCsid=3891fa19290dfb2b1d440f68446b3d60
*edit: and I mentioned the Gigabyte DS3 in the discussion as a good alternative, but I picked the il8 because of cost.
 
Last edited:
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
just updated to include the TeamGroup memory w/ D9 chips
 

Super Nade

† SU(3) Moderator  †
Joined
Aug 30, 2004
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
Good job splat. I have not done much to help splat apart from the PSU blurb, so all this is pretty much his effort. When I get back from school, I'll give a format you could use to make this more readable/presentable.

:thup:
 
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
added a sound card section...some how that slipped by
 
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
I was just browsing thru the updated Anandtech budget system guide http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=2861 and I realized that I don't have suggestions for a monitor, speakers, keyboard, or mouse. I think that these things are really user preference and definitely don't have an effect on overclocking, but I also think that I could highlight one product in each of those categories, much like I did for other non-overclocking specific categories that I included in my guide. I think it would make the guide more complete, but I was wondering what everyone else thought.

Should I leave the guide as it is now or should I include a speaker, monitor, mouse, and keyboard section?
 
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
alright, you convinced me. I added the ultra-120 in to the "discussion" of the air cooling, but left the Scythe since it is a few bucks cheaper.
 
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
I've seen reviews that go both ways, and there are plenty of posts on the forum that show how great both are, so I think it's really a toss up.
 

7keys

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2001
Location
Montreal
I think this is a great idea….Nice job!

But instead of having only one alternate choice, how about three or four of the top overclocking products in each category. Sometimes it’s hard to find a particular item in your area.
Much like the list that Oklahoma Wolf made for OEM PSU’s, lot’s of choice.

What you have right now is perfect, just add a few more alternatives.
 

Super Nade

† SU(3) Moderator  †
Joined
Aug 30, 2004
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
I would also add a few ATI cards to the mix. ATI and NVIDIA run neck and neck so it is not fair to leave out one in favour of the other. :)
 
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
alright, I added two ATI card picks. I still think Nvidia is the better buy for the money across the board, but i know people like to stick with the brand they trust.

Any thoughts on adding a monitor, speakers, keyboard, and mouse section since this is evolving in to a complete system guide?
 
OP
splat

splat

ASCII Moderator
Joined
Apr 6, 2002
just updated to include a blurb about the new X1650 PRO and XT cards. There were several reviews released on them today, and they should compete with the 7600gs and gt, except it looks like their prices are a little inflated.
 

icurfatass

Registered
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Is it time to purchase the budget system? If I wait, will all the opterons go away? Or will the price drop any lower, since more AM2 products will come out by December. Wait another month and risk all the good stuff go bye bye? hmmm I am stuck =\ I hate myself for being cheap =[
 

speed bump

Member
Joined
May 11, 2004
Location
Montana tech Butte mt.
Wait another month the good stuff wont go away and possibly memory will get cheaper.

Also the am2 opterons have dropped close to $80 in price so that would be they way to go unless you want to wait a month when we will *hopefully* see 65nm CPUs that will clock well.

Also the 8800gtx is coming out shortly so we should see some large price cuts on older v-cards.