best CPU/MB value for 3d rendering

I am researching CPU/MB combos for additional render nodes and was wondering if anyone knows the fastest processing per dollar out right now? I would only need to buy the MB and CPU as I already have all the other pieces from older computers. My guess is it might be a sempron? But which MB and CPU and overclocked to what? I don't care about wattage, video performance, or upgradability, only raw 3d rendering power. Also where can one get the dragon .max file that Tom uses in his benchmarks? Thanks for your wisdom and time :)
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  1. it would be used for a 3d studio max render node, i currently have an old XP 1800, P3 1Ghz, AMD Mobile 1400, and a AMD 800mhz, all of these are just old computers in my garage, I was thinking the 1800 should be good as is and the P3 could be upgraded with a new CPU/MB
  2. You'll have more render process power with any intel HT than with those AMD's you are using, you must upgrade your system to a newer if you are seriously thinkin in rendering as a job. How much are yo plannig to spend, cause all depens on that. For me, the best CPU/MB value is P4 2.8/3.2GHZ "NORTHWOOD"(not prescott), if you are comparing it with Xeon´s and more expensive cpu's. Curiously im an AMD Fan but have to accept that intel´s HT leads on RENDER PROCESS (ONLY!!!! hehe).
    I work with MAX also and im telling you this by my experience, my 3800+amd finally beats my old p4 3.2 but even a 3500+amd cuouldn´t beat it, so, take a step ahead with your old CPUS, maybe you can sell those and get a better one.
  3. OH!!! i forget sorry!!!!
    LOTS OF RAM!!! will help.
    It seems that you are planning to use some pc100 chips "from old computers", so its the same as the cpus.
    If you can´t afford a new computer then dont do less than 512 (less than 1GB for a new system, better 2, better 3...)
    IF you can, then get 1GB DDR (2x512) to work in dual channel.
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