Benchmark Results: Integrated Gaming
The Radeon HD 3000 (HP and Compaq) continues to perform at the head of the pack, and you'll get relatively smooth performance in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm as long as you stick with lower resolutions and quality settings. Once you go above 1280x720 using Fair quality, performance becomes close to intolerable.
On the GMA X4500HD, smooth performance means you're playing at the lowest quality setting (Good) at 1024x768.
Meanwhile, the EL1850-01e pairs a GeForce 6150SE with AMD's Athlon II XE 255. Unfortunately, this combination offers poor performance at every resolution and setting we try.
The scores in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Crysis 2 tell a similar (but more pessimistic) story. While these games don't crash, the frame rates are almost like watching paint dry. On any pre-built system under $500, gaming in a first-person shooter is an unrealistic expectation.
Just Cause 2 performance is the worst-case scenario. On every system except the s5704y, the game crashes to the desktop despite having updated graphics drivers. But this still isn't a win for HP. Even when we dial a back to 1024x768 and lower quality settings, we can't seem to get more than 5 FPS.
I just configured an iBuyPower rig for $489. It has Athlon X2 250, 4gb Ram, 500GB HDD, 500w Power Supply, Liquid cooling, Radeon 6570. For $24 more bucks I could get a 6670.
I know its not a killer machine but it puts these big box vendors to shame.
Also if you already have windows OEM you can get it reactivated on a new PC if you get the right Microsoft rep, also lie about motherboard dieing and not replaceable... Some will choke up a code.
I know you mentioned the discrepancies in the article, but if you aren't going to try a little harder to make a good comparison you shouldn't even make the article. Shop around online at better retailers than Best Buy, find the very best systems you can that cost about $550, THEN compare those to your own system.
I still expect the prebuilt systems to fall behind, but the article we have here isn't even a real comparison.
All you did was compared the systems performance and then list the Custom-built specs at the end without any benchmark comparison.
I was going to use this article for ALL of my friends to understand why they should build their own. But, since you guys compared the rainbow of feces available at Best Buy without showing the splendor that is home build, it's useless.