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System Builder Marathon: Low Cost System

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March 24, 2008 5:19:17 PM

It's time to build a new low-cost system, and we build, overclock and test the best PC we can for under $1000. Next we do mid-range and higher-cost systems. Then we compare them and look at price performance. Stay with us all week.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/03/24/system_builder_marathon/index.html
March 24, 2008 6:08:37 PM

This would cost someone more than $837. Windows Vista Ultimate is NOT FREE :-)
March 24, 2008 6:13:30 PM

I'm seriously confused.
Isn't this article titled "Low Cost System"?

Why would you spend $190 on a CPU that will perform most tasks slower than many CPUs running $100 less?

Perhaps you would be looking at a $200 CPU in a Mid Range System.

$230 for an Low Cost System? Are you Kidding me?
The 8800GS comes in at about 1/2 that price (As low as $110 on New Egg.)

$95 is not that much for a HDD, but why not save $30 more and get something like at 250gb or 320gb?

Why a PSU that only has a TWELVE MONTH WARRANTY?
A Relatively High Wattage Minimal Quality PSU is questionable.

Save a Few Watts and get a Nice Seasonic, Corsair, PCP&C that usually come with a SIXTY Month Warranty.

The Mobo only has a Single PCIE-2.0 Slot, so SLI is not something you are going to be doing.

Related resources
a b K Overclocking
March 24, 2008 6:17:17 PM

Hmmm, did you do any stress-testing of that "600W" Tier-5 PSU?
With a few assumptions, I got 292W on the PSU calculator. I could run a 500W Apevia/Aspire at that load 24/7 for months...
a b K Overclocking
March 24, 2008 6:20:39 PM

I agree with Zenmaster. The article's reasons for using a Phenom 9500 were interesting and useful, but not valid in this context. A separate article on that chip in a build would make more sense.
March 24, 2008 6:46:06 PM

Congrats for trying to be different, but this = epic fail.

Phenom over a C2D (even an E21x0)? No.
3870 over a 9600GT? No.
Cheapo Nzxt case over a CM 690? No.
Cheapo Nzxt psu over a similar priced/better VX450 or VX550? No.

I realize everyone's got their opinions but there's a difference between an opinion and 'picking worse parts for the same amount of money'.

The $500 pc article last year was great. A couple of the SBM ones were good as well. This is just sub-par. You guys at THG must be having writer's block on articles lately (starting with the lackluster cpu cooler roundup a month ago).
March 24, 2008 6:52:00 PM

$837? Low-Cost ??? haha

And benchmarks need more than 1 sort of hardware for comparison,
how does this _low_cost_ hardware compare against (dare i say it) expensive hardware?
March 24, 2008 6:58:01 PM

I thought the low cost system for these things had a budget of 1 grand they came in 160 under budget not bad especially if you do need to pick up an OS. Its not a 500 - 600 dollar build.

I would have gone after more performance and less space with the hd isn't the WD 400gb aaks a better performer for the same price? But I understand the comp not built for a specific task.

I would also have gone with a different psu but at least you guys as switching it up a bit which is great in my opinion.

I always find these builds very interesting and can't wait to see what else you come up with for the mid and high.

also I really want another 500 dollar gaming build (with lots of gaming benchmarks this time)
March 24, 2008 7:18:53 PM

the compys that I spec out usually start with the SonataIII w/500w EarthWatts {manufactured bye sea sonic} $99 CAD at my local store.

Phenom over any other option is a NO {maybe later in the year} I might as well shove in the extra dough for: an E8400 which is great for budget gaming, or a cheapo X2 that has a higher clock at half the price of the Phenom.

the WD 500GB HDD is good for storage but make a good secondary disk, I would go with a slimmer starter drive as well.

I would go for the 9600GT, unless there is some significant improvement with the hybrid crossfire X, {probably not}

I'd like to see this spec redone for best bang for the buck: Gaming focused, HTPC focused, and a for cheaper general user {Internet, WOW}. The spec now seems like a megatasking / gaming spec {that does neither well}.

need to add the evil OS price {I'd use XP w/ windowsblinds}, unless you plan on running ubuntu.
March 24, 2008 7:32:15 PM

radguy said:
I thought the low cost system for these things had a budget of 1 grand they came in 160 under budget not bad especially if you do need to pick up an OS. Its not a 500 - 600 dollar build.

I would have gone after more performance and less space with the hd isn't the WD 400gb aaks a better performer for the same price? But I understand the comp not built for a specific task.

I would also have gone with a different psu but at least you guys as switching it up a bit which is great in my opinion.

I always find these builds very interesting and can't wait to see what else you come up with for the mid and high.

also I really want another 500 dollar gaming build (with lots of gaming benchmarks this time)


Well, if the Budget was $1000, they did an even worse job of picking.
If you are on a Budget, then this not the system.
Gee, This card handles 1900x1200 - That's Nice.
Monitors at this price start at $320 and Up at New Egg.

The Fast Single Card Solution from AMD & one of their most Expensive CPUs for a "Low Budget" Solution?
I'm sorry, but that is not a "Low Budget" system.

The 780G Motherboard is nice, but you lose the onboard GPU benefeits once you go with a high-end card like that.
Might as well as spend a couple more dollars and get a system that is expandable to Cross-Fire.
That could easily be done by buying a NON-Factory OC'd GPU.

You could slash 25% off the price of this computer and still have a decent gaming/general purpose system.

I can only conclude that is is likely just the test sytem they had laying around from the 780g Mobo test and decided to toss in some GPU they had laying around. It was not really any attempt to design a system for the article.

March 24, 2008 7:33:50 PM

coldmast said:
the compys that I spec out usually start with the SonataIII w/500w EarthWatts {manufactured bye sea sonic} $99 CAD at my local store.


I love that Case/PSU combo, especially since it's frequently on Sale for little more than the PSU alone.
March 24, 2008 7:40:23 PM

coldmast said:

Phenom over any other option is a NO {maybe later in the year} I might as well shove in the extra dough for: an E8400 which is great for budget gaming, or a cheapo X2 that has a higher clock at half the price of the Phenom.


No kidding, this sounds like a Phenom feel good story. Sorry, no tasks someone would be building a low-cost PC for would take advantage of a Quad-Core cpu. Let alone one that underperforms against any E8000-cpu in all games.

Also, who building a "low-cost" system wouldn't want to know they can overclock their system? (all be it safely...) This person is trying to get the most for the money, so overclocking potential IS a big deal!

E8000 for the masses... No question. Maybe a BE 5000+ for low-low cost.
March 24, 2008 7:46:16 PM

BSMonitor said:
No kidding, this sounds like a Phenom feel good story. Sorry, no tasks someone would be building a low-cost PC for would take advantage of a Quad-Core cpu. Let alone one that underperforms against any E8000-cpu in all games.

Also, who building a "low-cost" system wouldn't want to know they can overclock their system? (all be it safely...) This person is trying to get the most for the money, so overclocking potential IS a big deal!

E8000 for the masses... No question. Maybe a BE 5000+ for low-low cost.


If building a REAL lowcost system, the BE 5000+ might not be a bad choice with that Mobo and a Low Cost GPU that can actually make use of the built in GPU on the mobo.

It would not be a monster gamer, but if you were looking for an AMD build with that Mobo that would work for me.

a b K Overclocking
March 24, 2008 8:14:35 PM

This is what a low cost system should be:

(Newegg prices)
E2180 = $80
P35-DS3L = $90
Corsair 450VX = $70
Crucial Ballastix DDR2 800 (2*1GB) = $63
8800GT 512 = $220
COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 = $50
Seagate Barracuda 250GB = $70
Total with out rebates = $686
Total with rebates = $621
$216 savings over the Toms build and better imo.


All high quality and very good for OCing. Mainly aimed at OCing actually.
March 24, 2008 8:26:52 PM

I read the first three pages of the article. Actually I didn't even finish reading the third page before I concluded this series of articles are/will be useless garbage. Articles such as "System Builder Marathon" are the reason THG is less advertised and promoted in Instructional Learning Text books as an Internet source for quality information.

Low Cost System?
I don't think so.
It looks like a mainstream system upgrade build with the least expensive hardware bought off the Internet.

There are a few critical parts missing from the low cost system build. The system built in the first series of the System Builder Marathon isn't functional.

It's missing: the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, an "Operating System", maybe the end user would like a printer.

I'm very disappointed with the quality of the "System Builder Marathon: Low Cost System" article.

March 24, 2008 8:37:09 PM

cruiseoveride said:
$837? Low-Cost ??? haha


For our system builder marathons, yes. Low cost is under $1000, mid-range under $2000, etc.


cruiseoveride said:
And benchmarks need more than 1 sort of hardware for comparison,
how does this _low_cost_ hardware compare against (dare i say it) expensive hardware?


We do mention that is coming later in the week, when we compare the low-cost, mid-range, and high-end builds against one another.




I understand why alot of you have problems with choosing a Phenom, I really do. However, after using it I also truly believe it makes a pretty great sub-$200 CPU. Am I saying that the E6750 sucks? No, no I'm not. But I think the Phenom is viable in the price range, especially for mutithreaded apps that can utilize quad cores.

As far as the Radeon 3870 goes, keep in mind we have to request this hardware a while before the article is written. Prices have gone insane since the 9600 GT was released. I made it pretty clear in the article that a cheapo 9600 GT or 3870 for ~$160 is a perfect budget deal for today, but we stuck with the ICE-Q anyway; it's an interesting card with some kick to it.

Do you have to agree with me? Of course not. But this is a fine ~$850 system and the benches will prove it when compared to the higher-end stuff. Some configurations would be better at specific tasks but the Phenom has it's place and I stand by it. We all know it's not going to be a monster overclocker, but that doesn't mean it's a bad CPU for folks who don't overclock.

For the record: all the hardware was requested for the article, so it's not like it was lying around the office and we made a frankenstein box out of laziness.

My two cents anyhoo. like I said, you're certainly entitled to disagree. Keeps things interesting, just be polite about it. :) 
March 24, 2008 8:43:41 PM

zpyrd said:

It's missing: the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, an "Operating System", maybe the end user would like a printer.


It's not really missing those things; we chose to not include them. They don't really have an effect on the system's performance. (you could argue OS I guess. But who am I to tell people they can't get a free copy of Linux?) ;P

If you like I could calculate an amount to add to the price for those items, if that makes the article feel 'complete' to you...
March 24, 2008 8:47:58 PM

For $230 you could of got an 8800GT that handily beats even that overclocked 3870. Really, what the hell guys? I know the 9600GT was only 13% slower, but if you are jumping up to that price point anyway go with the 8800GT. I can't say this is good journalism/common sense for you to use the 3870 at $230. Damn.

Second, I do have an 8800GT and a E4300 at 2.4 gigahertz. I get Supreme Commander at 50fps at 1280x1024. Clearly, that Phenom is not helping anyone.

Lastly, wasn't your budget last year like $600? This year its $800, and the economy is down?
March 24, 2008 8:49:42 PM

Scratch that, I'm seeing an 8800GT on Newegg for $199, and thats before a $20 mail in rebate. Why the hell did you include an $230 3870 again? Hello?!
March 24, 2008 8:52:12 PM

scryer_360 said:

Second, I do have an 8800GT and a E4300 at 2.4 gigahertz. I get Supreme Commander at 50fps at 1280x1024. Clearly, that Phenom is not helping anyone.


I suspect that wouldn't be the case if you benched like we did. Supreme Commander is one of those titles that scales extremely well the more cores you add, with a large difference even between 2 and 3 CPU cores.

Even the quad-core intel CPU in the mid-range system was brought to it's knees in the supcom bench.
March 24, 2008 8:53:52 PM

scryer_360 said:
Scratch that, I'm seeing an 8800GT on Newegg for $199, and thats before a $20 mail in rebate. Why the hell did you include an $230 3870 again? Hello?!


Told everybody why a few posts above. Made it clear in the article that cheaper cards were great choices too; sorry if that isn't good enough for you, but oh well, can't please everybody. ;) 
March 24, 2008 8:55:50 PM

I'm a little disappointed in the price you chose for the "low-cost" system. I feel that you should have aimed for 500-600$ for low cost, and that a sub $1000 machine is more mid-range. Almost 900$ is not a low cost PC.
March 24, 2008 8:57:39 PM

Shadow703793 said:
This is what a low cost system should be:

(Newegg prices)
E2180 = $80
P35-DS3L = $90
Corsair 450VX = $70
Crucial Ballastix DDR2 800 (2*1GB) = $63
8800GT 512 = $220
COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 = $50
Seagate Barracuda 250GB = $70
Total with out rebates = $686
Total with rebates = $621
$216 savings over the Toms build and better imo.


All high quality and very good for OCing. Mainly aimed at OCing actually.


Definitely more of a low cost system, and more of what I was looking for in the article.
March 24, 2008 8:57:42 PM

I can see alot of feedback in that vein this go-round.

Might try for another $500 machine in the next SBM; by then the 9600 GTs will have fallen even more, or the Radeon 3830's might even be available.

Should be interesting.

On a side note, for argument's sake I'd say that the low-cost system shadow proposed is a little heavy on the graphics card. A 9600 GT or 3850 might be a better fit for a balanced system, unless you're specing out a low-cost dedicated gaming rig.
March 24, 2008 9:04:50 PM

Those of you with opinons as to the costs, how about the following tiers for the next SBM:

low-cost: $650
mid-range: $1300
high-end: $2600

Also, did you want us to do a dedicated gaming build next time? Or an all-round build?

thoughts and comments appreciated gents...
March 24, 2008 9:27:48 PM

Shadow703793 said:
This is what a low cost system should be:

(Newegg prices)
E2180 = $80
P35-DS3L = $90
Corsair 450VX = $70
Crucial Ballastix DDR2 800 (2*1GB) = $63
8800GT 512 = $220
COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 = $50
Seagate Barracuda 250GB = $70
Total with out rebates = $686
Total with rebates = $621
$216 savings over the Toms build and better imo.


All high quality and very good for OCing. Mainly aimed at OCing actually.


^^ I completely agree. I dont like what tomshardware thought about a "low cost system". I didnt like the artical at all. A 600watt Tier 5 PSU?! are you kidding me? A Phenom? wow
March 24, 2008 9:33:38 PM

have you tried a different motherboard to see if that is the problem with the one benchmark? And for a Quad-Core I think you could not have built a better/cheaper computer. Also keep in mind that there is hidden performance with the Phenom sence the L3 cache runs at the speed of the north bridge raise that to 2.2-2.4GHz and you'll be on par with Q6600 at 2.4GHz CPU speed. Somthing THG should test is how much performance boost will the NB give the Phenom if clocked higher.
a b K Overclocking
March 24, 2008 9:34:37 PM

SuicideSilence said:
^^ I completely agree. I dont like what tomshardware thought about a "low cost system". I didnt like the artical at all. A 600watt Tier 5 PSU?! are you kidding me? A Phenom? wow



^ Exactly. I guess toms never considered OCing in the start at all.
March 24, 2008 9:47:24 PM

I am just amazed at how much these same whiny arguments about hardware X not being included and choice Y was bogus keep coming up no matter what the article says. I would guess that you could take this thread and compare to the last low-cost one and they would be so similar as to be interchangeable... right down to someone coming on and making a comment about all these complaints being repeated. ;) 

This is not isolated to Tom's... but rather I think it's an internet-as-a-whole issue. Too many ppl that post before they think. They read one word that sets them off and then never truly "read" the rest as they are too mad about a single jot or tittle and overlook the logic following it.

The majority getting miffed about the phenom... He explained in that article pretty clearly why it was chosen and yet everyone is upset over not needing 4 cores or not as good as the core2 quad... all valid arguments but c'mon guys, the logic of the choice is there as well. Honestly, if a dual core intel was chosen just as many screamers would be here complaining over not having 4 cores or not being cheap enough.

griping about all of this instead of stepping back and looking at the logic is just wrong. If you are always set on an idea and never entertain other viable options then you might actually miss a better setup than what you hold true-to. Just basic wisdom IMO.

I am just finding all of this funny... what I see is that there is no way that an article could be written that would please all the forum lurkers. No way at all.
March 24, 2008 10:17:31 PM

cleeve said:
Those of you with opinons as to the costs, how about the following tiers for the next SBM:

low-cost: $650
mid-range: $1300
high-end: $2600

Also, did you want us to do a dedicated gaming build next time? Or an all-round build?

thoughts and comments appreciated gents...


I think those prices may be a bit better.

#1) The $650 could very well build a Good Gaming Machine if you only include the components you are listing.

#2) To get to the VERY HIGH Builds, you might need an Extreme Edition. At This point, Any CPU more expensive than the Q6600/E8500 is really pointless with the E8xxx series tough to find. Perhaps when the Q9300/Q9450/Q9550 etc.. when the are actually available then more expensive CPUs might make sense.
As a result, I could see your Mid-Range build as now designed going to the Q6600. Just about anything you select for the very high-end will be money thrown away. I'm not opposed to perhaps paying a premium for premium performance, but there is just stupid spending. I can't recall the last time anyone has ever recommended an extreme edition to anyone, even those who claim to have the money to blow.

#3) The 3870 is not a bad card, but there are so many other good cards that could be part of a good system for alot less money. There are so many cards in the low to mid $100s now that were not options even a few months ago that it seems crazy to spend so much. There was a time when the gap between the 8600xxx and the 8800xxx. Now there are a slew of Options that can handle stuff.

We need to keep in mind that a 19" 1280x1024 monitor is going to be what most folks are playing on.
Maybe 1680x1050 with a nice 22" Wide Screen.
The first is a reasonable monitor for an entry build and the second a nice step up.
We need to be considering the Monitor that will be used, even if you are not going to include it in the build price.

Note: Instead of Picking a Budget and then Doing a Build, it might be more of going back and forth.
Put together a reasonable entry system that you think will be able to perform reasonable on modern tasks.
See what it totals, Then tweak it to fit a good target price.
March 24, 2008 10:20:22 PM

My biggest problem with this setup is not the parts they picked, but they don't work properly!

Not having Cool N' Quiet working is a deal breaker for me. I want my rig to throttle down when its idling, and then fire back up when needed.

That and the fact it would not finish a benchmark you have run a thousand times? Something is fishy with the setup. Maybe if AMD could actually sell some of these chips they might figure out how to make them work....
March 24, 2008 10:33:30 PM

celltech said:

That and the fact it would not finish a benchmark you have run a thousand times? Something is fishy with the setup.


I'd agree with you if it was a crash, but Lame just sort of stopped itself befiore the bench was complete.
It is a beta release after all, I'd be more inclined to hypothesize the problem is in the lame code.

Cool & Quiet not working - that is a strange problem and I agree with you there in principal. However it's pretty much got to be a BIOS issue, we're telling Gigabyte about it and hopefully they can fix it in a future release. We'll keep you posted on that.

Zanmaster: thanks for the comments, I'll keep them in mind. Anyone else who wants to weigh in, please do so. :) 
a b K Overclocking
March 24, 2008 11:05:18 PM

@cleeve: Was OCing a main consideration in the builds?

And also you definently need to ditch those low quality PSUs. It is a Tier 5 PSU. See:
http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10...
Remember More Watts do not mean it's better ;) . I would rather have a 450W that is in tier 1 than have a 1kW in tier 3.
March 24, 2008 11:11:32 PM

that is great price range for system, that is where i have always kept my 7 builds under, and done very very good.
I am baffled at the test score for dvd encoding for 2 min (my whole interest in a newer sytem is mpeg2 to mpeg4- what a freakin tedious task)
I was surprised to see I would gain NOTHING if not lose! to upgrade my p42.8e with 1gb dual channeled pc 3200. I thought I was all outdated, completely. I even run a single 100mb ata100 wd hdd, no sata.
I like your articles, it helps me decide to evolve or not. I am always low budget no my goal. :) 
It looks like I go for the western digital customer discount to pair up my current 80gb with a twin (who wants to see something amazing in benchmarks?) A little "trick" since the late 90s for me...and what is up wiith that dual channel ram and dual twin drives anyway.... :pt1cable: 

As for pondering the test for dvd encode, I am assuming it is using not the potential of the quad core for now...I meet those speeds and eve greater with "mp4v" or h264 with hadamard off (just "sad" math)
anyway great article.
March 25, 2008 12:35:18 AM

FWIW, I’ve been gathering pieces for the new family machine since my 12 yr old son fished a wire into the last one and let the smoke out about a month ago. I ordered the last couple of pieces today:

CoolerMaster Elite 330 case
Antec Earthwatts 430W PSU
GigaByte P35-D3SL Mobo
Intel E8200 (retail box for the warranty)
CoolerMaster Hyper TX2
Corsair XMS2 PC2 6400 2GB Dual Channel kit
MSI OC 9600GT 512MB Video card
(2) Pioneer DVR-115DBK DVD burners
Seagate 160GB SATA HDD (retail; I have a file server for mass storage)
Super Talent INT-AIN1-C media card reader
Windows XP Pro SP2C - OEM

Total investment, with shipping, of about $875 (includes new OS). I did some sale shopping but that also includes about $75 in rebates. I could have easily shaved off $100 if I’d wanted to (OEM vs. retail; one DVD, etc). I intend to OC this somewhat, though probably not much beyond 3.2GHz. I don’t game at all but my son (the handyman with the wire) does game.

If necessary, I can use an extra Antec Nine Hundred case I have kicking around but the CM case is much more “normal” in size and if I can keep the machine cool, that’s all that matters here.

Thoughts?
March 25, 2008 12:55:20 AM

Wow, poor zenmaster trying to tame the masses; and I thought I had a tough job!
March 25, 2008 1:03:16 AM

Wow, poor cleeve (sorry zanmaster) trying to tame the masses; and I thought I had a tough job!
March 25, 2008 1:29:01 AM

I read these reviews to find the most flexible build, as in to build a pc that can handle most any task in a descent time frame and with less input from me to make it work correctly. That being said, I am glad the form manager chose the hardware he did simply because I wouldn’t have and am curios of the outcome.
March 25, 2008 1:33:23 AM

Shadow703793 said:
@cleeve: Was OCing a main consideration in the builds?


In the higher tiers, it becomes more of a consideration. For the lowest tier, we knew the Phenom wasn't going to cut it, but we thought it's make a good stock box.

I think next time around with the tighter price points, people might find the articles a bit more satisfying. it also seems like people are more interested in dedicated gaming rigs than anything else.
March 25, 2008 2:07:22 AM

i added this thing that u forgot.
Shadow703793 said:
This is what a low cost system should be:

(Newegg prices)
E2180 = $80
ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED = $before rebate 80, after rebate 56
P35-DS3L = $90
Corsair 450VX = $70
Crucial Ballastix DDR2 800 (2*1GB) = $63
8800GT 512 = $220
COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 = $50
Seagate Barracuda 250GB = $70

Total with out rebates = $766
Total with rebates = $677
$160 savings over the Toms build and better imo.


All high quality and very good for OCing. Mainly aimed at OCing actually.

now u can overclock nicely. of course, u can choose another HSF. depending on budget. but i thought investing on a good cooler never go waste.



March 25, 2008 2:52:14 AM

cleeve said:
In the higher tiers, it becomes more of a consideration. For the lowest tier, we knew the Phenom wasn't going to cut it, but we thought it's make a good stock box.

I think next time around with the tighter price points, people might find the articles a bit more satisfying. it also seems like people are more interested in dedicated gaming rigs than anything else.



I think generally people are more interested in dedicated gaming rigs when it comes to budget builds because gaming is a hobby, a fun way to pass some time and everyone has to spend/budget their 'entertainment' dollars accordingly. But if you were to look at someone who does photo editing or video rendering, it's more likely they do it for work-related purposes and so price becomes less of a concern since their system is "needed" more than a gamer "needs" his gaming rig.

I understand that many people don't overclock their systems and run them at stock speeds, but I just have to disagree that the budget system should be built with this primarily in mind. I think the budget build should be VERY overclocker-friendly since it's all about the best performance possible per dollar, and you might even be able to give someone that extra bit of motivation/confidence to give overclocking a shot if they've been on the fence about it (IMO almost everyone should be doing it since it's really not too difficult these days and the gained performance is great, even from most mild OC's).

I like lowering your build prices, starting at the $650ish area because just the monitor and OS can jack that up quickly (which I think is best to either leave out but mention, or tack on the prices to each segment)

Things like the 500gb vs 320gb HDD is a very questionable upgrade for a budget build IMO.. I think for the Budget Build, going with the 320gb or possibly 250gb (better $/gb of the two) is the way to go.

I'm not sure if factoring in "upgradeability" is really possible, but with CrossfireX and Tri-SLI potential I don't know if it can be ignored either. It's a tough call and may not be a factor until the Medium build, but for example getting an X38 vs P35 with either a 3870x2 or single 3870, there's then the option to add in a second one during a sale (Black Friday, Boxing Week, etc) in a year or two for a decent performance boost. That would definately provide better perfomance/$ in the long run, but would likely be a nightmare/impossible to score in this kind of article.

March 25, 2008 2:55:42 AM

marzzes said:
Wow, poor cleeve (sorry zenmaster) trying to tame the masses; and I thought I had a tough job!


I think a "Different Title" would have Helped.
$1000 Core HardWare Build vs "Low Budget".

My biggest issue with the Build Vs the Title is that you can build a Really Nice system for alot less money.
If you have a "Low Budget" that is what you are going to do.

I can see the reason for a sub $200 Quad Core in the event you want to do some quad stuff.
However, unless that is specfically why you are building the computer for that tast, you would be better served with something like a "BE-5000+" if you wanted to stay AMD and save $100.

I'm not even going to Begin to tell Cleeve about GPUs since he knows more than I could hope to, but again but starting near the top of the ATI line with the X3870 we are bypassing a number of worthy cards that could go in a "Budget System".

Why do the items I view as "luxary" appearing in a "Low Budget Build" bother me?
Maybe it's because I used to be cash strapped.
Maybe it's because I now have to get approval for large computer purchases from the My Wife.
(She would never say no, but my Honey Do List could get Quite Long :>>>)
March 25, 2008 3:02:36 AM

$837 is ridiculous for a budget system, as just about any reader here knows. The following rig totals $252.36 and might overclock as high as 328x11=3.6 GHz.

E2200 2.2GHz 800MHz 1MB LGA775 CPU, OEM
$78.19 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=E2200&c=fr&pid=2a7118e...

Biostar P4M890-M7 TE Core 2 Duo/ P4M890/ DDR2-533/ A&V&L/ MATX 2xATA133 2xSATA
$37.08 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=MB-890M7TE&c=fr&pid=2a...
(see http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2055&p... for overclock)

WINTEC AMPX 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2-800
$19.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Broadway Com Corp 808PA-BKGY Black/ Gray Steel ATX Mid Tower 450W
$29.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb
$47.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sony NEC Optiarc Black 20X IDE DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X
$12.15 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=CDU5225-10&c=fr&pid=2a...

Rosewill RCX-Z775-LX 92mm Ball CPU Cooler - Retail
$14.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Fan 8 (AF8) 80mm Case Fan - Retail (rear exhaust)
$5.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Fan 8 (AF8) 80mm Case Fan - Retail (in lower 2 DVD bays for front intake)
$5.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you are a gamer, you could add this vid card (recommended by Toms) bringing the total to $327.35, a full $500 cheaper than Toms "budget build" and probably performing pretty closely for most uses.

SAPPHIRE 100208L Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
$74.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
March 25, 2008 3:34:27 AM

dspear said:
$837 is ridiculous for a budget system, as just about any reader here knows. The following rig totals $252.36 and might overclock as high as 328x11=3.6 GHz.

E2200 2.2GHz 800MHz 1MB LGA775 CPU, OEM
$78.19 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=E2200&c=fr&pid=2a7118e...

Biostar P4M890-M7 TE Core 2 Duo/ P4M890/ DDR2-533/ A&V&L/ MATX 2xATA133 2xSATA
$37.08 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=MB-890M7TE&c=fr&pid=2a...
(see http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2055&p... for overclock)

WINTEC AMPX 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2-800
$19.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Broadway Com Corp 808PA-BKGY Black/ Gray Steel ATX Mid Tower 450W
$29.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb
$47.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sony NEC Optiarc Black 20X IDE DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X
$12.15 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=CDU5225-10&c=fr&pid=2a...

Rosewill RCX-Z775-LX 92mm Ball CPU Cooler - Retail
$14.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Fan 8 (AF8) 80mm Case Fan - Retail (rear exhaust)
$5.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Fan 8 (AF8) 80mm Case Fan - Retail (in lower 2 DVD bays for front intake)
$5.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you are a gamer, you could add this vid card (recommended by Toms) bringing the total to $327.35, a full $500 cheaper than Toms "budget build" and probably performing pretty closely for most uses.

SAPPHIRE 100208L Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
$74.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The problem with going too cheap is that you create an Achilles Heel in your system and at some point your system is going to malfunction. Also how long will your above system be good for? Six weeks, 3 months. Hell it will be fairly slow for gaming unless you over clock the hell out of it, throw in some more memory and pick up a mid range video card. I think people want systems that will last them a year or so.

I mean if you really want to go cheap you can go to a state surplus store and pick up an entire system for like 20 bucks. It will probably have windows 98 on it but hell you can't beat the price.

I think the problem is putting it in a category to begin with. Just call it a $837 dollar system. I would stay away from saying budget system etc. Just use a price range. I think that is what is getting people miffed. Like I said if you just want a very basic computer system you can get a computer for next to nothing.

If you use categories you can try the following.

1. The free computer.
2. The 100-200 dollar computer
3. The 200-300 dollar computer............etc. etc. etc.
4. The 100-200 dollar over clocking computer.
5. etc. etc. etc..................

See where I am going with this. You can have numerous categories and I don't think Tom's has the time to do all of these. So they do a review of a system and you read it and learn from it and it is what it is and nothing more. Then you being of free mind and will go out and build your own system the way you want to.
March 25, 2008 3:34:34 AM

dspear said:
$837 is ridiculous for a budget system, as just about any reader here knows. The following rig totals $252.36 and might overclock as high as 328x11=3.6 GHz.

E2200 2.2GHz 800MHz 1MB LGA775 CPU, OEM
$78.19 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=E2200&c=fr&pid=2a7118e...

Biostar P4M890-M7 TE Core 2 Duo/ P4M890/ DDR2-533/ A&V&L/ MATX 2xATA133 2xSATA
$37.08 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=MB-890M7TE&c=fr&pid=2a...
(see http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2055&p... for overclock)

WINTEC AMPX 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2-800
$19.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Broadway Com Corp 808PA-BKGY Black/ Gray Steel ATX Mid Tower 450W
$29.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb
$47.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sony NEC Optiarc Black 20X IDE DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X
$12.15 http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=CDU5225-10&c=fr&pid=2a...

Rosewill RCX-Z775-LX 92mm Ball CPU Cooler - Retail
$14.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Fan 8 (AF8) 80mm Case Fan - Retail (rear exhaust)
$5.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Fan 8 (AF8) 80mm Case Fan - Retail (in lower 2 DVD bays for front intake)
$5.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you are a gamer, you could add this vid card (recommended by Toms) bringing the total to $327.35, a full $500 cheaper than Toms "budget build" and probably performing pretty closely for most uses.

SAPPHIRE 100208L Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
$74.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



I think you took the "Budget" to a more extreme than most did.
It's a very nice build, but I don't think we need to take THG to task for not going extreme budget.

#1) 2GB of RAM
#2) Get the Abit P35 for $60 From NewEgg. It's been priced at that for over a month now.
#3) A Nice Case and Power Supply. Shop for one of the Antec Bundles with the Earth Watt for Quality.
#4) A Slightly Larger HDD. 160GB goes fast.

I still agree with your point, but I don't think it was an article about "How Low can You Go".

But I think part of the issue was the use of the term "Low Budget", which clearly is so subjective.
Part of my criticism likely arose because of my view of "Budget"
March 25, 2008 3:49:30 AM

I must say, for a budget build YOU FAIL! so here we go, a real budget build.

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($50 when in stock, can be found elsewhere tho)
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($65, can upgrade later to a Phenom)
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($85, Black ed 5000+ oc for now)
HSF: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($20, decent Air cooler for AMD)
HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($90 for a 500Gb SATA HDD)
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($80 and worth it, 4Gb)
DVD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($26, 20x DVD burner SATA)
VID: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($50, upgrade later)
OS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($90 Vista home 64bit)

Total: $556 + S&H (not counting bundle deals, or MIR)
March 25, 2008 3:51:07 AM

I should state, that I can do cheaper than this! ^
March 25, 2008 4:10:41 AM

You folks have to understand... For budget quad core you are going to have to use the Phenom. Its just the fact. The phenom IS the budget choice. Sure they chose an over priced 3870, a poor MB, poor HD... Any of the regulars here can build a budget phenom alot cheaper for sure and end up with a nice AM2+ highly upgradable budget machine. That aside the performance information is what we should be looking at. Then we can apply our own budget hardware choices and get a better cost per $ ratio.
March 25, 2008 4:16:22 AM

Ok don't know why I am going to try this again but
1st doesn't Tom's consider these builds to be for a system builder. I think most of us upgrade our boxes (just the boxes) more often than the output and input devices on the computer.

2nd So Last time it was
budget = $500 (no comparison even though i wanted it)
low cost = $1000 => 990 last time
mid cost = $2000 => 1545
high cost = $4000 => 3590
I understand you guys think low end and go straight for 600 bucks (or less) but 850 doesn't mean mid level either. Considering the article is ment for mostly computer enthusiast (which I don't necessarily relate to overclocking thats me) 837 is not mid level. They set a price on the build and considering what they got last time this is a really interesting comparison.

3rd This time i'll say it like this
I wish more people would ask for another 500 budget gaming rig article(actual gaming article) rather than harrass them about how they spent too much money here. I like the price ranges and until the 9600 gt came out and prices dropped I didn't think an overclocked 500 dollar build would compete with there old 1000 dollar build (but still wanted them to show it even if its more work). These builds are interesting and I like to read peoples suggestions on this stuff its just another area where I can learn peoples opinions but get over the price range already.

4th phenom sucks for an overclocker but its nice to see different stuff.

5th does anyone think they should have put in 4gb ram?

March 25, 2008 4:41:31 AM

I think a good way to go about this whole 'best build' thing is that you realize a few things first

1 - You can't go too cheap, that'll make a crappy build, and you can't go too expensive, that'll go over your budget

2 - Following the 'Best Rated' products at places like Newegg, Frys, etc is generally a good idea. The people who buy from them are mostly hobbyists and people like us who surf hardware sites and generally research their parts before buying or at least have some idea of what they're getting and tend to have some computer knowledge and experience.

3 - If you can make a build that's good for gaming, then chances are that build is also good for most anything else. Gaming takes a lot of CPU and GPU power, so if you're making your system for that purpose, then you've basically made it able to perform most any task sufficiently. The only thing I can think of that a dedicated gaming rig might have trouble with is heavy-duty 3D graphical work like with CAD and Maya since that takes more money and more CPU/GPU cores than a typical gaming rig might have.

4 - The AMD CPUs (except for the Phenoms IMO) are very nice for the low end. An AMD Athlon X2 5000+ Black Edition can serve both the stock box people and the OCers just fine for a budget build and it comes in at just under $100. Granted, you need to get a separate HSF, but a those aren't that hard to get for a nice price and getting nice performance out of them.

If I have time, I might post my own suggestion, probably keeping in around $600 - $700 (for just the PC, no peripherals).
!