Since I still have the cheap-ass mentality from college, I know I'm definitely going to buy a low-speed processor and overclock the hell out of it. Let's take a look at our choices.
Note that our price estimates don't reflect the lowest you'll find online, but they're a pretty good guess of what we think the fair price would be.
The Duron is AMD's value line of processors. Designed to compete against Intel's Celeron, the Duron does its job very well. The Duron manhandled the Celeron in our recent 600 comparison. We'd get the Duron 600. In our limited tests, we've found that the processor can reach the 900MHz-1GHz range. For only $60, the Duron 600 is probably the best CPU bargain available. Currently, the Duron is multiplier locked, but the lock can be easily circumvented with a pencil
As for the T-Bird Athlon, we'd have to go with the $135 Athlon 700. It's the slowest speed available, and therefore the cheapest. Fortunately, as with all the other processors, the T-Bird is a great overclocker. The T-Bird Athlon 700 should be able to hit speeds in the 800MHz-1GHz range. As with the Duron, the Athlon currently features the same easily defeated multiplier lock.
The Intel Celeron is a little more expensive than the Duron, but there isn't a huge price difference between the Celerons at the lowest speeds. For that reason, we'd pick the $85 Celeron 600. The Celerons should reach the 800MHz-1GHz range. Of course, a fast clock speed and only make up so much for an inherently slow processor. The Celeron is multiplier locked, but since the processor uses a 66MHz default FSB, there's plenty of room to overclock. The 600's 9.0 multiplier only needs a 100MHz FSB to hit 900MHz.
Last, but not least, we have the Pentium 3. Our top P3 pick would have to be the $185 P3-700E. The 700's 7.0 clock multiplier is high enough to provide a comfortable 933MHz clock with a 133MHz FSB. The P3-650E is cheaper, but its 6.5 multiplier will require a much higher FSB speed to reach the higher frequencies, and that isn't a good bet with generic PC133 RAM.
For the Intel chips, we could go with either a BX board or an 815 setup. The BX solution is cheaper by far, but many would want the 815 for the additional features and the extra AGP clock divider. We like the $115 Abit BE6-2 BX motherboard. It's inexpensive, and it has DMA/66 support. You will, however, need to purchase a $15 FCPGA->Slot1 slocket adapter to use FCPGA Celerons or Pentium 3 processors with the BE6-2.
If you want an 815 board, we'd have to go with the ASUS CUSL2. Be prepared though, the CUSL2 goes for upwards of $140. Combine that with an already expensive Intel processor, and you have a very pricey combo.
If you go with an AMD processor, we highly recommend the Abit KT7. It has the jumperless settings that make overclocking very easy. The basic KT7 goes for $140 and the RAID version goes for about $155.
The $140 ASUS A7V motherboard is a close second since it's the only other Socket-A motherboard that currently offers multiplier adjustments.