Many computer enthusiasts have the funds to build cutting-edge machines, but the majority are probably faced with the same financial pressure being exerted worldwide right now. Naturally, picking PC components that offer the best price to performance ratio is a smart play. As evidenced by all of the “green” and “energy-saving” marketing going on, an increasing number of power users are setting aside their need for speed in favor of protecting their pocketbooks.
Thus, we were presented with a challenge to start off 2009: build a desktop PC for less than $750. Achieve the best performance possible while using the least amount of power, yielding optimized performance per watt. The challenge was not only to the US team, but also to the Tom's Hardware Germany, France, and Italy, making this a bit of a competition.
With each of the three criteria weighted equally, winning wasn't going to be an easy task, though. Finding the best blend of speed and power consumption would mean any component chosen must not increase energy usage at a higher ratio than it increases performance.
Keeping this goal in mind, we set out to gather the best components for this challenge. We felt the key to success would be striving for performance, but avoiding quad-core CPU’s and dual-GPU graphics cards, suspecting that neither would shine consistently enough to justify the added power consumption. Let’s take a look our selected components, and then we’ll follow up with a closer look why each was chosen.
|USA System Components|
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 @ 3.16 GHz||188|
|CPU Cooler||Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro||19|
|RAM||G.SKILL PI Black 4GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)||50|
|Graphics||Sapphire 100245L Radeon HD 4850 512 MB||150|
|Hard Drives||Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB 32 MB cache||110|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio||0|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking||0|
|Case||Antec Three Hundred||50|
|Power||Antec EarthWatts EA 380 380W ATX12V||40|
|Optical||LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04||22|