Hi, Currently I'm faced with a choice between 2 different rigs. Which would be the better choice given that I plan to OC whichever I get? I want the best stable performance using stock cooler + air cooler (case).
e5200 (2.5 GHz)
ASUS P5KPL-AM/PS (max 8 GB ddr2)
e5700 (3.0 GHz)
ASUS P5G41C-M LX (max 8 GB ddr2/3)
Which should I get? I heard that the e5200 is better with OC's, but that might be when you're talking about extremes. I'd be happy with a 3.6-4.0 GHz one.
#2 is where to start. It uses a more modern chipset (the G41 instead of the G31). But unless you already have some DDR2 RAM, I suggest trying to find a P5G41T. The T uses DDR3 only, which is not a real problem. DDR3 is substantially cheaper than DDR2 right now.
Both CPU's are from the same series, so if you can afford the faster one, get it.
The G31 and G41 chipsets have a poor reputation for overclocking. The G41 is an economy chipset with a limited FSB frequency (about 340 - 360 MHz). That means a CPU with a 333 MHz FSB is a poor choice. But you have the potential to build a really fast, relatively cheap system with an E5200 series chip with a 200 MHz FSB.
I prefer the Gigabyte GA-G41M-ES2L. I have three in office systems. Solid boards and, within their limits, good overclockers.
You want go into the BIOS and take the CPU voltage and memory voltage off Auto. Then set the ram voltage to manufacturer's specs.
Then take the RAM settings off Auto.
I am not quite sure how you will change the RAM clock, but you need to set it so that when your CPU FSB is at 200 MHz (stock freq), your RAM clock is at 800 MHz for DDR3 RAM. The utility CPU-Z should indicate a CPU:RAM ratio of 1:1 in the memory tab.
Now you can start pushing the CPU FSB upward. If you are using the stock cooler, that will be your limiting factor.
You need to keep your CPU voltage under 1.45 volts and your CPU load temperatures under 70 C.
It's not worth switching to DDR3 once you're settled in because that would require a new mobo that supports DDR3, which would neither be easy or worth the money. So just keep with what you get then do a full upgrade when the time comes.
I'm pretty sure the second option with the E5700 has a better CPU and better mobo. I'd go with that one.
Chipsets are the same (more or less), but the G41 has 2 more RAM slots and better colors (colors usually indicate a higher product line). I didn't look at how many capacitors it has or read reviews, which would be more telling of the product line ranking (lower vs. higher in comparison to similar ASUS products).