CPU And Cooler
Processor : Intel Pentium E2180
Both AMD and Intel offer attractive options to consider for a $500 system. For this System Builder Marathon, we chose the Intel Pentium E2180.
The Intel Pentium E2180 fits well in our budget, and paired with the right motherboard, should reach the same maximum speeds as the E2200. Both are based on the Allendale core, have 1 MB of L2 cache, and operate on an 800 MHz front side bus (FSB). The difference between the two is that the E2180 has a 10x multiplier, making it run at 2.0 GHz, versus an 11x multiplier and a 2.2 GHz clock speed for the E2200.
We don’t intend on running stock clock speeds for long, and also do not anticipate using a motherboard that will limit our FSB, thus the 11x multiplier is not a big advantage for this system. Overclocking is to some extent left to the luck of the draw with each individual chip anyway. Rather than making sacrifices elsewhere, it was an easy decision to save $10 and choose the E2180.
While on the topic of budget, it’s worth mentioning that the Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale may very well eventually find its way into an upcoming $500 PC, but it was $20 over our budget when we ordered the components for our low-cost system earlier this month.
CPU Cooler : Cooler Master Hyper TX2
The Cooler Master Hyper TX2 has repeatedly proven itself to be an excellent air cooler in past Tom’s Hardware tests. This quiet cooler provides stellar performance and simple installation, so it once again is awarded the job of cooling our CPU and directing that heat toward the case’s rear exhaust fan.
Another option is the very popular Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, which shares a similar design. The $5 savings of this also excellent cooler would not have allowed for any significant component upgrades to our configuration.
Those who do not plan on overclocking their system will not reach the same performance levels, but they could use the bundled retail coolers and spend the money they save on a faster processor. They may also want to consider building around the 3.0 GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ and a compatible socket AM2 motherboard.