If you want gaming save every penny and get a good video card, that's more important than anything. It's also a good idea to get an AMD Athlon 2500+ (to save money) and a good video card. What computer are you upgrading from/what parts do you already have?
AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Retail $240
MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R Retail $126
Corsair XMS 1GB PC3200 Memory (2-3-3-6) $211
Fortron 530W Power Supply Retail $69
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Retail $298
WD 36.7GB SATA WD360GD HDD OEM $117
WD 80GB IDE WD800JB HDD OEM $72
Now here are my comments. The performance of this CPU matches the Pentium 4 3.2c in gaming. The only area were it will fall behind is video encoding, plus it is more future-proof than any Intel processor right now. Having in mind how much the P4C800 Deluxe costs, as well as PC4000 memory that you will need in order to overclock a 2.6c to 3.2GHz, then the A64 is a cheaper solution, with even better performance. Moreover you can overclock it to 2.2GHz, gaining as much as 7-8% in games (article <A HREF="http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/athlon64-3..." target="_new">here</A>).
I've also included a Radeon 9800 Pro which is an excellent card for any gamer, a Fortran 530W PSU which from what I hear is at least as good as the TruePower (if not better) but much cheaper and the HDDs you chose. Let me note though here that I don't think a Raptor (WD360GD) is necessary for you, especially since from what I understand money is an issue for you. Simply get the WD1200JB instead of the two other HDDs and you will be very happy with it, saving a lot of money this way too.
I will suggest getting the 2.6C over the 3.0C. You can go to www.overclockers.org and ask the people over there. With good cooling (water cooling), mobo and memory, there are people of manage to overclock their 2.6C to over 3.5Ghz. Some even get to 3.7Ghz. I use AMD myself, so I can't advice you what to do for Intel. Like I said, go to overclockers.org forum and the people there will be more than willing to help you. They can advice you what mobo, memory, and cooling to get. Also, the 2.6C is much cheaper than the 3.0C. You can use the additional money to get a better video card. If you are choosing Nvidia, get the FX5900 non ultra because they are just around $200 which is in the price range for the FX5700 ultra and the ATI 9600XT/Pro. Just make sure the memory is the 2.2ns version, not the slower 2.8ns version. Personally, I will recommend a 9700 pro or the 9800 non pro if you want to make sure you won't have problems with directx9 games in the future. Games nowadays are more dependant on the grahpic card than the CPU.
I will not advice you to get the AMD FX51 or the Opteron. AMD is still choosing the architechure for their processor. It might be obselete the moment you buy it. AMD also stop producing their very overclockable Thoroughbred B versions of their Athlon XP, and their Thoroughbred Bs and Bartons are all locked after week 39. Some week 38 are also locked too.
Explain me this. What difference does it make if a Barton is locked or not, when someone is interested in overclocking it? Don't the P4s also have their multipliers locked? Btw, if he heads for water cooling, where will the "additional money to get a better card" be found?
I already have the mobo on hand. I know this motherboard will support the new intel comming out in a few months. However it will not support the other fine things that come with the new boards. I just couldn't figure out if I would have been better with a 2.6 or 3.0. Now that I have got some responses I will get the 2.6 and OC it to atleast 3.2.
Of course, ideally, the best/recommended way to overclock the CPU is to increase the FSB. But sometimes, we probably can't increase the FSB too much because of either the mobo or memory. Take my setup for example. My rig's spec is as shown below.
AMD 1800+ o/c to 2.26Ghz 16*141 FSB
A7V8X with KT400 chipset
Samsung PC2700 512 MB (Probably PC2100)
If the FSB increase to more than 141, the computer will not be stable with Prime95. I did hear that the KT400 chipset is not really good for overclocking. The other possibility could be the ram too. I bought it from a website, and they could have "lied" about the products. For all I know, they could have sold me PC2100 ram. It's just that with unlocked CPU, you have more ways and options to overclock. It's not a must, but good to have an unlocked CPU.
Even for AMD, when some guys managed to overclocked the 1700/1800 and 2500 to above 2.5Ghz stable, they also use water cool. On average, I believe the Intel 2.6C can overclock to 3.2Ghz at least, with good memory, using air cool (not with stock heat sink and fan).
Everything you said stands for Intel as well. A proper chipset, good memory (at least PC3500) and some good air cooling is needed for overclocking one of their P4 (Rev.C) CPUs. So, please don't mention again all that "AMD is so bad for locking their multipliers" thing!
Relax dude, you don't have to get soooo upset over some opinions on a tread in a forum. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinions. pittpens is asking for advice, and he should listen to both sides of the story and make his decision. You don't see me flaming at you for your comment, right? If you read carefully, I didn't say that AMD is bad bad bad bad for locking their CPUs. I did say that it's not a must to have an unlock CPU, but a plus to have that option. Since they lock their CPU, you lose that particular advantage for overclocking. I did give you an example why it is good to have an unlock multiplier on a CPU. There is a reason why AMD do that. This is because there are people out there who are modding the CPU itself (connecting and cutting the bridges on the CPU) and selling them as a faster CPU on ebay. For example, there are people who modded the 2500 to a 3200 and sell them for more profit on Ebay. There are treads in www.overclockers.org that talks about that.
Yeah I was not trying to start an AMD/Intel war on here. I have an intel board and just wanted some insite. I just wanted to know If I will gain anything for getting a 3.0 over a 2.6. I play alot of games or should I say used tyo till my old P3 wouldn't take it any longer.
I just thought if a 2.6 will oc to 3.2 on stock fans or should I get more to do this. Or, should I not put up with all the extra and buy the 3.0.
OK, first of all, you're trying to save a little money, right? You could save some money buy getting the Abit IS7, it has nearly as many features as the board you've choosen, but around $45 less. Then you could afford to use OCZ PC3700 or PC4000. And overclock that P4 2.6C to 3250MHz.
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My friend uses the Zalman CNPS7000 and he likes it very much. It does not make much noise. The all copper version is quite heavy and you should remove it when you are moving your computer. Otherwise you can go with the aluminium copper mix. But pure copper will dissipate more heat.