System Builder Marathon: Low-Cost System


System Builder Marathon, March 2008: The Articles

Here's a list of the System Builder Marathon (SBM) articles in this five day series.

It's that time again! The System Builder Marathon is once again upon us, an excellent opportunity for us to examine what's out there on the PC hardware landscape and pick and choose what we think will make the best machines for the dollar. As usual, we will be launching the marathon with the low-cost system build, followed by the mid-range and high-end systems later in the week. And of course - at the end of it all - we will compare these three systems with one another and see which accomplishes the most for the money spent. We test all at standard speeds and then we over overclock each.

This time around we have made some interesting choices in the low-cost PC category, and you might find it intriguing. Before we continue with our justifications, let's have a quick overview of the components we chose for our low-cost build, and the price of these components:

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Current SBM Low-Cost PC Component Cost
CPUAMD Quad Core Phenom 9500$190.00
CPU CoolerCooler master HyperTX 2$25.00
MotherboardGigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H$100.00
RAMWintec Ampo DDR2 PC2-6400 - 2 GB$43.00
GraphicsHIS Radeon 3870 ICEQ Turbo$230.00
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar 500 GB$95.00
SoundIntegrated high Definition Audio$0.00
CaseNZXT Apollo$70.00
PowerNZXT PP600W$70.00
DVD-RWSony Optiarc DVD-RW$14.00
Total Price$837

(Compare Prices on Radeon Graphics Cards)

Join our discussion on this article!

  • romulus47plus1
    Paying $230 for a 3870?
    Get the 8800GT for that price!
  • Retrogame
    The $500-$700 system is more important than you realize: it's an extremely important price point in the "Consoles vs. PC wars"

    For about $500, you can buy a top of the line current generation PS3 or XBox 360 with a few accessories.

    Of course, there are always games better on one platform than the other; and naturally, your PC is a lot more versatile; i.e. it's a "REAL COMPUTER!" Even so, it's nice to know that you can actually put together a low cost machine, overclock it a smidgen, and still run this games representative of this year's crop of PC titles... and if you were to actually scale down the graphics settings to the same level that the consoles would be running things at, probably end up with better frame rates and the advantage of using a nice monitor instead of a TV.