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Do-It-Yourself PC System: CPU & Motherboard

Tom's Hardware PC: Assembly And Costs

First of all, the total cost of all components we used in our self-made PC is around $995. We only used components, which we had already tested thoroughly for test reports. Our main aim was to build a very competitive PC at a comparatively low cost, such as you won't be able to find at any PC retailer. Even well known discount retailers such as Dell or Gateway can't compete with Tom's Hardware PC when looking at the price/performance ratio. What is the reason for this, you may ask? Manufacturers such as Dell are attached to certain hardware components so that their systems can stay below those vital price levels. Furthermore, we overclocked the CPU and used a powerful CPU cooler. No PC manufacturer will work that way, as they'd invalidate the component manufacturer's warranty at once. All steps for assembling our PC are documented in detail in the images below.

Best Platform: Intel Or AMD?

Whoever builds his own PC has to decide on the fundamental processor platform for his/her PC system. We decided in favor of Socket 462 (Socket A), which allows use of all AMD CPUs such as Athlon and Duron. The next decision concerns the motherboard to be used. We chose the Asus A7V, which produced excellent results in many earlier tests . A decisive factor for using this particular board in our PC system was its overclocking capabilities. With Asus A7V, the user may easily change the clock multiplier of a Duron or Athlon CPU by using DIPswitches. The table below lists a few other motherboards that are currently available, which come with a lot of good features as well.

MotherboardPlatformChipsetSettings for OverclockingPrice
Abit KT7Socket AVIA KT133Core Voltage, FSB$135.00
Asus A7VSocket AVIA KT133Core Voltage, FSB, Multiplier$145.00
MSI K7T Pro2Socket AVIA KT133Core Voltage, FSB$130.00

Note: Socket A is also known as Socket 462

This list shows good motherboards with Socket 462 for AMD Athlon/Duron (Prices as of January 2001).

Asus A7V is a good compromise between useful features, stability, upgradeability and performance. Its only disadvantage is the high price tag - the board comes at $145.