Case, Input Devices, System wrap-up

Case

Generic Case with 450W power supply - $ 50

Rather than recommend a specific case, I have left it up to the reader to decide. The market in the $50 range is absolutely flooded with excellent options, so with performance and functionality basically leveled off, it really becomes a matter of aesthetics to the buyer. With a 450W PSU, you can get a good mid-tower case for as low as $25. So pick out something that looks good to you and comes with a decent warranty.

Input Devices

Microsoft Wireless Keyboard and Mouse combo - $ 45

Take note that this bundle can be extremely overpriced. You can easily find it for under $50 if you look around enough, but otherwise could end up paying as much as $120 or more for it.

With that detail out of the way, input devices is hard area to make recommendations. A lot of it has to do with the end-user’s choice of feel, hand-size, and other factors. But at under $50, Microsoft’s wireless mouse and keyboard kit is an excellent buy. The mouse is ambidextrous with 3 buttons and uses optical tracking. The only real problem that we have heard of is interference from similar parts. So, if you live or work with someone who has this same kit, you need to keep your computers at least fifteen feet away.

Future Considerations

With Conroe being released, you can expect CPU prices to fall significantly the rest of the year or at least we are hoping for it. AMD has already made some of this price cuts effective however X2 processors still remain more expensive than comparably performing Core 2 Duo models, this is in part due to Intel’s aggressive pricing strategy from the very begining. That’s why our recommendation went with the massively under-priced Pentium D, while the Core 2 E6300 was our pick for the upgrade option.

Also, with the possible release of DX10 GPUs in the months to come, we can expect to see mid-level GeForce 7 series card prices to drop significantly. This has the potential to open up enthusiast level gaming on budget prices.

Putting it together

It should be noted that these prices do not include an operating system or shipping/taxes. A license of Microsoft Windows XP Professional can be picked up for about $130 from online retailers. The pricing information used in this article was gathered using the TechSpot/Pricegrabber engine, and does not represent the absolute bottom price available, but a reasonable price from where such component can be bought from reputed retailers.

Entry-Level

Item

Product

Price

Case

Generic Case with 450W PSU

50

Mobo

ASRock 775Dual-VSTA Socket T

60

CPU

Intel Pentium D 805

100

RAM

Corsair ValueSelect DDR2-667 1GB (512MB x 2)

90

GPU

Gigabyte ATI X1300PRO 256MB

75

Sound

Onboard Audio

0

HDD

WD Caviar SE 120GB

74

Optical

LG 16x DVD-R+/-RW

40

Input

Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse

45

Monitor

Acer AL1717 Abm 17" LCD

150

Speakers

Integrated Monitor Speakers

0

 

 Total

$684

And there we have a solid, home-build computer for just under $700, which will be good for gaming, music, movies, or anything else you can think to do with it.

If you got a little extra cash, read on for the Fully Loaded edition:

Fully Loaded

Item

Product

Price

Case

Generic Case with 450W PSU

50

Mobo

ASRock 775Dual-VSTA Socket T

60

CPU

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300

170

RAM

Corsair ValueSelect DDR2-667 1GB (512MB x 2)

90

GPU

eVGA GeForce 7600GT 256MB

175

Sound

Diamond XtremeSound XS71DDL

55

HDD

WD Caviar SE 120GB

74

Optical

LG 16x DVD-R+/-RW

40

Input

Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse

40

Monitor

Acer AL1717 Abm 17" LCD

150

Speakers

Logitech X-230 32W 2.1 Speakers

35

 

 Total

$939

For under $1000 you can definitely get a competitive performance-oriented machine. The combination of the E6300 and the GeForce 7600GT will deliver mid-range to high-end gaming performance for a very reasonable price. Also, the overclocking potential of this CPU is tremendous. On the stock heatsink/fan combo, it can reportedly reach stable speeds of up 2.59GHz and with better cooling options can easily go higher. All of the results for overclocked E6300s that I have seen make this processor look faster than even an AMD FX-62 across the board. For the price, this is the best CPU you can buy today.