April Hardware Recommendations


Well, the short answer is that I wouldn't buy a computer just yet because there are so many changes in the AMD product line in the next few weeks and then AMD are making big changes in 2H04. So if you can, wait a little for the near updates and get a better idea in about 4 weeks in terms of what specific hardware to buy. Here are the changes:
* AMD core changes on the horizon. The main news here is that they are going from the Clawhammer chipsets to the Newcastle. This means that clock rates are going up, but the Newcastle is half the cache. So the Athlon 64 3200+ is going to go from a 2.2GHz/1MB cache to a 2.4GHz/500KB cache. Benchmarks will show if the tradeoff is worth it.
* "nVidia nForce 250 Pro":http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/chipsets/display/nforce3-250.html and "VIA K8T800 Pro":http://www.anandtech.com/cpu/showdoc.html?i=1985. The current chipsets nForce 150 Pro and VIA K8T800, had the VIA part winning. Neither of the current chips did a great job at overclocking, but the upcoming new motherboards might. The 250 should be faster and the K8T800 Pro hasn't been reviewed yet.
* In May, AMD switches to socket "939":http://www.anandtech.com/cpu/showdoc.html?i=1985. These 939 socket systems are supposed to be slightly faster than todays 754 pin sockets.
Finally, there are the longer term vagaries of Intel and what they'll do in Q304. That's harder to forecast. Some like "Xbit":http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-ad-astra.html take a pretty cynical view about things. Intel will introduce PCI Express (but will it be faster longer term), DDR2 (twice as expensive as DDR now, but faster longer term), Prescott (hotter and faster longer term). You get the picture.