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The AMD Duron is one of the most powerful CPUs on the market today for the money. A 1.3Ghz chip can be picked up for around the £40 mark.
The processor will only fit in a Socket A motherboard, so if you are currently an Intel user you would need to buy a new motherboard to install it. There are no instructions to speak of unless you buy the retail version but its a doddle anyway. Just open the lever on the socket. Drop the chip in (it only fits one way) close the lever, clip the fan assembly over it and your away!.
I have a Duron 800Mhz chip in my machine and its fully compatible with Windows XP and every application I run. The Duron has less cache on board than the Athlon but it doesn't really make much of a difference performance wise, if you compare the two chips at the same clock speed.
The Duron can be overclocked but its difficult unless your motherboard will let you change the system bus speed (usually reffered to as FSB) the processor just ignores the change if you try changing the multiplier. Some companies suplly modified Durons which do allow the clock multiplier to be changed but these usually cost a lot more than they are worth.
Temperature wise they run fairly cool. My 800Mhz duron peaks at about 40 degrees, I managed to overclock mine to 950Mhz and the temperature rose to about 55 degrees, and was still stable. It is now back at 800Mhz because I feel that it is more than adequate for todays processing needs.
Unfortunately, the Duron is only available up to 1.3Ghz so it might not be upto everyones speed requirements, however nothing usually requires more than 700Mhz at the present time and for less than £40 for an OEM version of the 1.3Ghz chip, its well worth the money.
Overall, you can't really go wrong with a Duron and AMD are now as trusted in the processor market as muhch as Intel.