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Do-It-Yourself PC System: CPU & Motherboard

Ideal CPU: AMD Athlon 800

Having chosen the perfect motherboard, we're now looking for the appropriate CPU. We certainly could take the fastest AMD CPU for Socket 462 - an Athlon rated at 1200 MHz. This CPU costs a whopping $279 and would drastically reduce our PCs price/performance ratio. (Compared to Intel this is still very cheap). We listed different Athlon processors below.

CPURated CPU clockOverclockable toPricePrice/Performance
AMD Athlon 700700 MHz950 MHz$97.00good
AMD Athlon 750750 MHz950 MHz$99.00good
AMD Athlon 800800 MHz1000 MHz$109.00very good
AMD Athlon 900900 MHz1050 MHz$139.00good
AMD Athlon 10001000 MHz1150 MHz$186.00satisfactory
AMD Athlon 11001100 MHz1266 MHz$227.00acceptable
AMD Athlon 12001200 MHz1400 MHz$279.00poor

Comparison of available Athlon CPUs (prices as of January 2001).

We concluded that AMD Athlon 800 offers the best price/performance ratio. Only $109 buys a very powerful CPU, which is also well suited for overclocking. We've overclocked Athlon 800 (manufacturer's clock multiplier = 8) to 1000 MHz by setting the DIP switch of the Asus A7V accordingly. It is no secret, either, that AMD recently made drastic improvements in their CPU production, so that most of their CPUs are designed to sustain at least 1000 MHz CPU clock. Only laser coding of the CPU surface pins effectuates lower clock rates.

Overclocking Power

One thing is for sure: Athlon 800 can be safely run at 1000 MHz by increasing the clock multiplier (from 8.0 to 10.0) as well as core voltage (up to 1.85 Volts)! Increasing the core voltage also means increasing energy loss, which is expressed by increased CPU heat generation. To counter the extra heat we need a high-performance cooler. We used the winning cooler from our CPU cooler test , the Swiftech model that can be used on all Socket motherboards.