The $500 Gaming Machine, 2007 Edition

AMD Processor: Athlon 64 BE-2350

AMD's Athlon X2 BE-2350 is based on the well-known AMD64 architecture, using two cores and two dedicated 512-kB L2 caches. It runs at 2.1 GHz and supports all current processor features such as Cool'n'Quiet to save energy, the NX bit to prevent buffer overflows and - this is something that's not supported by the Intel processor we selected - virtualization technology. Most BE-2350 processors can be overclocked by a lot.

This particular processor utilizes AMD's 65-nm DSL SOI manufacturing process, which has allowed the firm to offer processors with extremely low idle power. That also applies to the BE-2350. We took a look at the Athlon X2 BE-2350 in June and found that it is an excellent choice due to its low-power requirements. It allows your $500 Gaming Rig to consume less idle power, less maximum power and less power over time than the system based on the Intel platform does. However, its performance also is slightly behind. Whether or not the AMD processor is the best choice for you really depends on where your priorities lie. If you care most for low power consumption, then go with the AMD. If performance is more important, then the Pentium Dual Core should be the better choice. In any case, you'll spend less than $100, so it doesn't really matter that much if you decide to upgrade to a fast Athlon X2 or Phenom X2 later on.