Budget overclocking is back!

Posted on 30th Nov 2009 at 10:50 by Antony Leather with 25 comments

Antony Leather
I’ve felt a little lost over the last six months or so. AMD still hasn’t come back with a definitive answer to Intel's Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs and even they have been prohibitively expensive for many looking to upgrade from a Core 2 system.

Gone, it seems, are the days of the Core 2 Duo E1200 which could be bagged for less than £40. After a 100% overclock, it could turn into something that gave £150 CPUs a run for their money. I've used the CPU in several systems that I've built for people over the last few years, coupled one of the many budget uberclocking LGA775 boards that were pushed off the production lines.

In fact even the likes of the Asus Maximus II Formula and the Q6600 seem like bargains compared to what you’d have to fork out for an LGA1156 or LGA1366 system.

With Issue 76 of Custom PC now in the shops and featuring a mammoth labs test of funky peripherals and loads more besides, James and I have turned our attention to finding out if some of the new, cheaper LGA 1156 motherboards are worth a stab. Focussing on the sub £100 category, we’ve taken a look at ten of the blighters. I have to say I’m suitably impressed with most of the boards too, with many capable of overclocking a Core-i5-750 to 4GHz and beyond.

Budget overclocking is back!
The creation of awesome LGA 775 overclocking motherboards such as the Maximus II Formula mean that Intel will have to drop Core i5 prices if more enthusiasts are to upgrade from their 'tried and tested' Core 2 systems.

I’m also relieved, because until now the thought of upgrading my Core 2 system was filling me and my wallet with dread. That said, Core i5 still has a little way to go before it can be considered bargaintastic, as the bottom-end CPU, the Core i5-750 still costs £150 (not quite an E1200 or E5200 killer) and you’ll probably have to fork out for some DDR3 memory too, although as Richard showed us recently, there’s little need to spend mega bucks here.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had some decent Intel motherboards through the labs for less than £100. While Core 2 will probably be at the heart of my system till well in to 2010 (mainly because I can’t be bothered to pull apart my recently pimped watercooling), recent benchmarks we’ve done here at bit-tech have clearly shown that there’s some serious performance boosts to be had from these newer CPUs.

While there's light at the end of the tunnel, I suspect cheaper CPUs will start the real upgrade-fest from Core 2 though as the Core i5-750 is far from cheap enough to win the hearts of budget overclockers. After all, half the fun in overclocking is getting something affordable and turning it into something that might otherwise be out of your financial reach.

Are you sticking with Core 2? Are you planning to upgrade soon and if so, to what? Would cheaper LGA 1156 motherboards persuade you to part from with your trusty Q6600 or E8400? Let us know in the comments.


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Psytek 30th November 2009, 11:28 Quote
Definitely sticking with core 2 for a while. I contemplated getting a core 2 quad, but money is tight, so I'm just waiting it out for i5/i7 prices to drop.

The main thing for me is the price of the motherboards. New cpus tend to always be the same price, but even the cheap 1156 boards are way more expensive than 775 boards were a couple of years ago.
mi1ez 30th November 2009, 11:45 Quote
Perfectly happy with my Q6600. might wait for a price drop, might wait till I'm struggling to play a certain game. Chances are the 4870 will be changed before mobo/cpu/ram
Centy-face 30th November 2009, 11:50 Quote
I'm thinking about a completely new system in the new year and I think I'll probably end up going with an i5 I mean it's getting harder and harder to buy the decent core 2 chips now.
dicobalt 30th November 2009, 12:34 Quote
I am getting the new PDC E6500 2.93GHz to replace an old c2d E6300 1.8GHz@2.8. That was a wallet friendly $95 usd. I figure I should be able to get at least 3.8GHz without going over 1.3625V.
wuyanxu 30th November 2009, 13:00 Quote
price-wise, a q6600 still rocks.

but in terms of raw performance, you can't beat an i7 or i5. besides, the Nehalem architecture is so good, i don't see any reason not to own it.

i personally go for the latest, greatest architecture i can afford. GT200 was the greatest (in its size) and now the Nehalem (cos it's the latest and best)
Jack_Pepsi 30th November 2009, 13:24 Quote
I won't be upgrading to a new board & CPU for at least 2 years. I have absolutely no need. My Q9550 is more than enough and I haven't had all the fun out of it yet. I'm debating to buy a new motherboard as I believe my current P5E3 is causing some issues with my HDDs.

My next purchase will most likely be an PCIe SSD if the other half buys me a certain DX11 card for Chrimbo.

munim 30th November 2009, 14:47 Quote
My E8400 @ 3.6 and 4890 play Crysis at max with 4xAA @ 1680x1050 and with consolification, I won't need anything faster for years to come. Woohoo!
Sheiken 30th November 2009, 15:30 Quote
Budget overclocking!

Phenom II 550 BE @ 4 cores running 3.6ghz happily!

beat that
Neophyte4Life 30th November 2009, 15:39 Quote
Originally Posted by munim
My E8400 @ 3.6 and 4890 play Crysis at max with 4xAA @ 1680x1050 and with consolification, I won't need anything faster for years to come. Woohoo!

I don't know about that. I believe a certain someone said, "You'll never need more than 64K of memory". I bet he is scratching his head now. I just upgraded to an i7 a couple of months ago and couldn't be happier. It wasn't cheap but i love being able to run server 2008, backtrack, and xp inside vista x64 and still have enough power to spare. Although i have had to postpone my W7 upgrade........
Originally Posted by Jack_Pepsi
My next purchase will most likely be an PCIe SSD if the other half buys me a certain DX11 card for Chrimbo.

I think you will need several more halves to afford that.
Sifter3000 30th November 2009, 15:56 Quote
Originally Posted by Neophyte4Life
I think you will need several more halves to afford that.

+ rep for that :)
SteveU 30th November 2009, 16:22 Quote
I'm more than happy with my recent upgrade to an E8400 & P5Q-E, currently at 3.8GHz stable at stock vcore. It's more than fast enough for me as I'm not a big PC gamer.

I'd love an I5 but it would have cost double my current setup for me to upgrade what with having to buy new ram too.

Primoz 30th November 2009, 17:45 Quote
THinking about a Clarkdale system with a mATX mobo (and a 5770) to change my Abit QuadGT (which doesn't have a sound and a network card anymore), E6750 @ 3,2 GHz and a 7900 GTO... No point in staing on LGA-775 anymore i think, but yeah, a new system is quite expensive.
Shagbag 30th November 2009, 18:15 Quote
My single core Opteron 144 does everything I need. Virtual Box runs WinXP for the wife with very little performance hit. I would like an IntelVT or AMD-V CPU but I'd have to upgrade my mobo and RAM as well as the CPU and that's just not worth it for me.
Arkanrais 30th November 2009, 20:53 Quote
I built myself an E5300/4GB ddr800/1TB/GTX260+ a few months ago and haven't gone too hard at overclocking yet (got 3.9GHz, but temps creeped up to 80+ and wasn't fully stable, settled for 3.4GHz). I'll be sticking with that till I get a job with a decent amount of disposable income, which will probably be in time for LGA1366 6 core equivalent of the i7 920 (and need to find a new place to live, so that'll bugger the upgrade process for a while).
I built an i7 920/6GB 1866mhz/ 1TB/ 8800gt system for a mate before I built my system, and he couldn't be happier with it, aside from having to RMA his ram cause of one dead stick. his last system was an athlon x2 4800+ machine.
sadlydefiant 30th November 2009, 21:14 Quote
My newly built e5200 / gts250 system is fine, has no problem playing crysis at my prefered settings.
i5 and i7 is way to expensive for me and will be for some time.
If I was going to build a new system it would be a budget AMD quad core for about $130AU.
What I would like is a descent 775 HSF setup but the problem is they cost more than the cpu I have only just purchased.
xaser04 1st December 2009, 10:22 Quote
I jumped ship to a core i7 920 setup earlier this year (actually around the launch of the i7 in the UK). It is currently running @ 3.6ghz (Corsair H50 cooling) alongside 2 overclocked GTX260-216's in SLI (had them up to 740/1600/2500 when benching) all contained withing my recently purchased Fractal Design R2.

I was thinking about chopping out the GTX260s for a pair of HD5850s but I realised that no game I play at the moment really stresses the GTX cards enough to warrant upgrading (everything is more than playable).

My next move is porbably a Intel X25-m 80GB SSD and windows 7 X64 (running Vista X64 atm) but, tbh, everything works just right at the moment and I doubt I would notice enough of a difference to warrant the outlay (north side of £250).

Whilst the core setup was expensive (CPU & motherboard) the rest of the system was pretty well priced. I managed to get the two GTX260 cards on offer at £120 each whilst the case was around £80.
Xtrafresh 1st December 2009, 10:23 Quote
For budget overclocking, it'll be really intresting to see the upcoming i3 CPUs. The i3 530 for example. Dualcore Nehalem with HT and 2,93GHz stock speed at just 100 euros? Yes please! Here's hoping they scale the range all the way down like they did with Core.
H2O 1st December 2009, 15:50 Quote
My E8400/X48 is going into a media/backup server and my gaming rig is going to get a i7 920/X58.
dec 6th December 2009, 23:32 Quote
im planning on upgrading in like 4 or 5 years so then lynnfield will be like how pentium 3 is now.

if i was to do it now id go with AMD. im not gonna pay $1k for an unlocked multi
David 7th December 2009, 12:28 Quote
I'm sticking with Core 2 for a while. I managed to pick up a cheap QX9650, which performs brilliantly and was much cheaper than shelling out for the new board and RAM that i5/i7 would require. . Plus, my H2O 220 Compact won't fit i5 or i7 (the i7 boards with LGA775 mounting holes have awkward backplates that prevent proper fitting); so the additional expense of upgrading my WC kit has also been avoided.

I think I'll wait for the next generation to come along, and maybe buy a new graphics card next year to keep things ticking over.
Tony_Stark 8th December 2009, 01:17 Quote
I hope in a low price for Gulftown.......
Armand-[79th] 8th December 2009, 21:43 Quote
I'll be looking at upgrading a Pentium D 930 in the new year, so this definately makes me think seriously about my options.
Skutbag 9th December 2009, 02:46 Quote
Bought my mobo about 4 years ago making sure it'd be ready to go to quad core when I wanted- so all this i5/i7 stuff should drive the top of the line quad core chips prices right down! Cheers Intel!
venus 1st November 2011, 08:46 Quote
Hi . i'm just waiting for my build with 2700k to be finished but review has me worried as you failed to get a good OC on the same mobo as my build is using, weve got the corsair hydo 80 as cooler but as we were wanting 5ghz the reviews worried us

BTW (no HT) comp is for computer chess so no HT is needed for it

Anyone know why OC failed with that mobo(Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 ) ?

hat i need other than a pc literate brain is a reasonable priced ($150 )mobo with on board graphics that can be OC to stable 5 ghz
debs3759 1st November 2011, 16:43 Quote
I think you posted your comment/question in the wrong thread. This 2 year old thread had been dormant since long before Z68 was released, and refers to socket 1156 and socket 775 systems, so the only thing your question has in common with this thread is that both refer to i7 chips.
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