We’re going to try a different approach to this recommendation roundup.
We’re going to give two recommendations; one for right this second, and one for what we think
we’ll be recommending within the next three months. If we really think it’s worth waiting three months
for something, we’ll put that in bold print.
Now: 1333 Mhz AYHJA stepping TBird: They’re cheap and they can often get past 1500Mhz. Unless the programs
you use have heavy SSE optimization, or you plan playing Noah’s Ark in an SMP setup, that’s what we would get right now.
Within Three Months: 1533Mhz Palomino It may take close to 90 days, but they should be out by then.
A .13 PIV may or may not fall into this timeframe. Whenever it comes out, though, the total package will probably be a lot pricier than the AMD competition, but that is
something for those less concerned about costs to keep an eye on.
Now: Don’t Unless you are really hurting machine-wise and you do professional work where time really is money (in which
case you have the 1.2Ghz Athlon MP), wait at least a month for the 1.4Ghz AthlonMP to come out.
Within Three Months: 1.4Ghz or better AthlonMP or Morgan If this is more “want” than “need,” you have a very good reason to wait more like ninety days: if the Duron’s successor, Morgan,
is SMP-capable, you might well decide to get two of them to go with what will probably still be a pretty pricey SMP motherboard.
(more on that below).
Desktop Palominos might also fit the bill, but we don’t know if they’ll be SMP-disabled.
CPU (Intel diehard)
Within Three Months: Tualatin Intel really doesn’t want to make this a desktop chip, but if Via is accurate and it will work on some BX boards, it
could be the Penultimate Upgrade CPU. Penultimate means second to last, the ultimate (or really last) upgrade CPU will be when Tualatins get turned into Celeron IIIs early next year.
CPU Cooler (AMD): Millenium Glaciator/Thermalright SK6 If you don’t like noise and don’t mind detaching it if you do some serious lugging around, choose the first. If noise is not a concern, and you need hassle-free mobility, buy the second. If you want the best of both worlds, it doesn’t exist.
CPU Cooler (Intel): I’m going to have to ask Joe about this. The AMD-tamers are overkill; I need to find a good cheap one good enough to handle the PIII/Tualatins. We just haven’t worked with PIV coolers.
Now: AMD760 motherboards They seem pretty reliable on the whole, and will be as fast or close to it as anything else that will be out shortly. The Epox EP-8K7A motherboard seems to have
the best feature/performance mix at the moment, and this bios which allows a PCI divisor of /5 is icing on the cake. However, the Abit KG7 is supposed to become available within the next ten days or so, and unlike the other AMD760 boards out there, it will have four (though
you’ll need to buy registered DDR for a little extra to fill all four slots).
Within Three Months: nForce motherboards These might be wonderful; they might be awful. On paper, they have considerable potential. Who knows what the reality will be?
Now: Don’t. Within a very short time, though, there should be 815 stepping-B mobos available that are Tualatin compatible. Unless you like wasting $150 rather than spending an extra five or ten minutes making absolutely sure of that, make absolutely sure you’re getting a board
the company says is Tualatin-compatible.
Within Three Months: It’s a confused picture from the PIV end. Forget PIV/SDRAM unless there’s some sort of magic key which lets these boards handle DDR right away. Via says they’ll have a PIV/DDR board out, but they’re treading into lawyer land, so who knows (never mind whether it will be any good.)
Now: IBM 60GXP We like these, a step behind is the Western Digital WD800BB, and a step behind that the WD WD400BB.
Within Three Months: Seagate Barracuda ATA IV There may be others coming out, and we’re just basing this on a press release (we don’t get as much advance data on hard drives as other equipment). We’re guesstimating roughly 10%-12% faster than the 60GXP. Seagate is also claiming it will be “virtually silent.” Well, we’re going to have to see about that, but at least they’re trying.
Now: Don’t. We know most of you don’t want to shell out $300 for a video card, so a GF3 isn’t in the picture yet. Though we’re hardly sure about this, we suspect the next major price move won’t come until the Radeon II comes out.
Within Three Months: GeForce3 MX, Radeon II, GF3 Depending on how they perform and/or are priced, we think it likely you’d buy one of these three in a few months. We suspect the GF3 Ultra will be pricey and not terribly worth it. If you want to spend a lot on a video card, wait until early next year, when the next real generation of NVidia cards come out.
Memory: Crucial PC2100 It does just about as well as anything else; while being cheap, but more do you want?
Within Three Months: PC2700 We expect to see a PCI divisor of /5 become commonplace in the next few months, and expect overclocking FSBs to be approaching 200Mhz or maybe a little better.
I think if we go beyond what we’ve covered already, we begin moving into areas that either aren’t so clear (CD-RWs), are more prone to subjective opinion (monitors, cases), or frankly, we don’t know what we’re talking about (sound cards).
For CD-RWs, if you see me mention a high-speed CD-RW for sale without caveats, buy it. That means somebody who knows what he’s talking about likes it 🙂
For monitors, what do you do with a computer? You look at the screen!! Most people buy a monitor with whatever’s left over in their budget; it should be the opposite.
Don’t buy a monitor before you look at one. People’s eyes are different, what your neighbor likes may be terrible for you.
I personally love Trinitron monitors and think they’re a great buy now, but some people go stark raving mad over the two faint lines on the screen that come with every single one of them. It’s like whether you’ll be brave or a coward in combat; you won’t know how you’ll react to a Trinitron until you see one.
I love full-tower cases and can’t see why others want something smaller. This is obviously a subject upon which reasonable men can disagree. 🙂
In a few other areas, I’d rather be safe than sorry: take power supplies. I have caused scenes in computer stores a couple times over power supplies. If that’s not ubergeek; I don’t know what is. I don’t feel all that comfortable with 300-watt power supplies with these 1.5Ghz furnaces anymore.
However, while I feel pretty safe saying that you shouldn’t buy a $40 case and “300Watt” power supply for an Athlon system, maybe my approach goes too far the other way. I know it works for me, but somebody else may have a less pricey solution.
If a lot of you are really lost over a particular item, I can always research, and add on to this later, but that’s all it’s going to be. We focus on the core components. Anything else, you’re probably better off finding a place that really concentrates on that area.