Computer Buying Guide

Since there are lots of questions here on what parts to buy or what to buy in a particular budget I thought I would write another guide for the various price ranges. I did this before back in August 2006, but much as changed now so let's have an updated look. The following assumptions will be made:

1) The user already has/will purchase a monitor on their own
2) The user lives in the United States or has someone with access to Newegg or similar sites. (Of course, they guide can work anywhere, but prices will vary)
3) The user does not have an OS and has decided to go with Windows Vista. (XP can of course be subbed in- but the systems will be built with a min requirement of being able to run Aero)
5) The user will provide his own input devices.

Let's start with the budget or around $750-800 PC.

Even at the basic level, this machine will provide a nice all around experience in Vista. Limitations are the 1GB of RAM and rather small hard drive. The AMD CPU isn't the fastest around either, but its $60 cheaper than the E6300 and the motherboard is only $80 which helps to keep the cost under $800. Gaming will be quite viable with the X1950GT video card.

The Specs:
AMD Athlon64 4000+ (65nm)
Asus M2N AM2 Motherboard
1GB Wintec DDR2-667 memory
250GB Seagate 7200.10 Hard drive
LG 18X DVD burner
Sonta II Case w/ 450W Modular PSU
256MB Sapphire X1950GT video card
Windows Vista Home Premium
Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
$797.88 shipped/$737.88 bottom line
($50 case MIR and $10 video card MIR)

Moving right along- the Gaming System (Mid Range)
E6600 Conroe
ASUS P5B Deluxe
2GB OCZ DDR2-800 memory
250GB Seagate 7200.10 Hard drive
LG 18X DVD burner
Antec P180B Case with 600W Seasonic PSU (M12 SS-600HM)
320MB EVGA 320-P2-N815-AR 8800GTS video card
Windows Vista Home Premium
Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
$1564.24 shipped/$1539.24 bottom line
($25 Memory MIR)

Obviously in the extra $800 or so we spent- we added some nice features. The 6600 will tear through applications and the 2GB RAM will help Vista run more smoothly. The video card is now fully DirectX 10 compatible, and for $299 the 8800GTS is really a steal. The hard drive is still only 250GB but I have concluded this is sufficient for most users.

As we move to the top system- this will be the ultimate system for your money. However, this is not going to be one of these $4000 systems- it will be reasonable while giving amazing power.

Q6600 Quad Core (2.4GHz) CPU
EVGA 122-CK-NF68-AR motherboard (680i chipset)
2GB OCZ DDR2-800 memory
250GB Seagate 7200.10 Hard drive (3 in RAID 5)
LG 18X DVD burner
Antec P180B Case with PC Power and Cooling 750W PSU
EVGA 768-P2-N835-AR GeForce 8800GTX x2 in SLI
Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
Windows XP Media Center
$3279.93 shipped/$3254.93 bottom line
($25 Memory MIR)

Now on this high end system- you might ask why in the world did he choose XP? Well to put it simply- SLI performance sucks in Vista right now. XP comes with a free upgrade to Vista- and Ultimate can be had for $169 more.

Maybe someone will make this a sticky. Feel free to comment or add more than 3 systems (like maybe one in the $2500 range).

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  1. Yea cawll thiat a mid range? LOXD
  2. :P soo what would you call it? lol
  3. Might be high end for a student, might be low end for an IT junkie.....depends on your perspective ;)

    Good stuff.

    Take a look at this, it's generally updated regularly with current pricing, they break down different systems, quite good actually:
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