TechSpot PC Buying Guide - August 2009

By on August 28, 2009, 6:37 PM
Whether you are a first time builder seeking guidance or a seasoned enthusiast lacking the time it takes to compare the seemingly endless pit of hardware available, we've got you covered. TechSpot's PC Buying Guide provides an in-depth list of today's best hardware, ranging between four unique and yet typical budgets.
Granted, if you just need to create a few documents and check your email, you can get by on much less than a $500 desktop. Yet if you follow our Budget build to the T, you'll have a system acceptable for any role apart from running graphically intense applications. This box should prove to be an excellent companion for running general applications and a sufficient solution for even the newest games on the market, albeit with a bit of its eye-candy tuned down. Our Enthusiast's PC incorporates a flavorful blend of both the Budget Box and Luxury System, making this the most harmonious of builds. Our intent is to keep this system within the grasp of the average computer enthusiast, essentially offering a fully-loaded PC minus some of the unnecessary bells and whistles that could set you back an additional grand or two. Here we have a screaming edge system lacking any virtual price cap - a dream PC that is down to earth both in terms of price and configuration. Every component in the Luxury System guide was thoughtfully scrutinized in order to offer you the most for your greenback. If the additional money didn't bring about a justifiable performance leap, it didn't make the cut.




User Comments: 21

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VonDisco said:

It was this single feature that encouraged me to build my first PC a few months ago. I went for the mid-range i7 920 rig and certainly havn't been disappointed!

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Good stuff - thanks for putting this together. One item I'd like to suggest is if anyone's look for some primo PC speakers at a great price, I'd recommend these Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers. I have a set and they rival the best stereo speakers I've ever owned. My neighbors hate me when I'm playing Unreal Tournament 3 using these. These are demo models that are only $150 compared to the normal $300 price. https://www.springboardstore.com/store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idprod
ct=641&idcategory=0

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

I agree with most of the items in this guide. I have small nitpicks, but again, that's just personal preference.

Great job you guys!

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@Rage_3K_Moiz: Don't be afraid to share them. Nitpick or otherwise, constructive feedback is always welcome.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

great article Matthew, i always enjoy your buying guide

Guest said:

Good article. This site and articles like this is what Tom's Hardware used to be like when TH was a good site. Keep up the good work.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

Well for starters, I would have preferred an AMD build for the budget build, with an X2 240\245 and an inexpensive motherboard like the GA-MA74GM-S2; it would provide for a better upgrade path IMO.

Also, I would have recommended the GA-MA770T-UD3P for the Entry-level Gaming Build; it is usually found as cheap as the MSI board on mWave, and Gigabyte boards are usually much more reliable than others (coming from personal experience). In addition, the Corsair 450VX is a better option for said build compared to the OCZ PSU; build quality is far better on the Corsair, and rebates are almost always available on Newegg that bring the price down below $50.

For the Mid-Range Build, I would prefer using OCZ XMP modules, since they provide the user with the option of running an XMP which makes the modules run at 1800MHz with a simple setting in the BIOS, while being only $10 or so more expensive than other modules. I would also have preferred going with the Sunbeam Transformer or NZXT Zero 2 full-tower cases instead of the mid-tower Antec Three Hundred.

And lastly, regarding the High-End Build, I would have gone with the Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB drive instead of the WD Caviar Green, due to the significant speed advantage of the Barracuda drive over the WD drive. Also, I would have chosen a modular PSU like the 850HX; the extra $40 is worth it for this kind of system IMO.

That is a lot of nitpicks eh?

But hey, you asked for it!

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Excellent feedback Rage. As you can guess we have our reasons for not going with some of the products you mention, or at least reasons for recommending the ones we posted on the guide instead, like the AMD budget setup vs. the Pentium dual core.

Some others are very interesting and we will be checking them out in more detail like the PSU recommendations and the 1.5 terabyte HDD in the high-end guide.

bwchato said:

i just bought a new video card,processor,memory,and mother board for $433.95.now i'm where things at the store are but you would pay a lot more for what i listed and the parts i already had in the case,which is a full tower with 8 fans.

eafshar said:

i feel like an ssd should be put in a midrange system. they just boost overall performance too much to be left out. on my nearly 2 week old build, i got a 60gb ocz summit ssd, and 1tb caviar black sata HD.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

eafshar: I agree - however, trying to squeeze one into the $1,500 budget is more difficult than you might realize. We gave it a consideration, but decided too many sacrifices would have to be made.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@eafshar, I also agree, and that's why we give recommendations for them at that price point but don't include it in the $1,500 budget as it's hard to accomplish on a well balanced system that also features the Core i7 920.

Although we usually make quarterly updates to our PC buying guide, it may be worth updating it a month from now when P55 motherboards and Core i5 processors make it to market. That's a more suitable platform for the mid-range system and may leave enough leeway for us to include a SSD on the stock configuration.

Ritwik7 Ritwik7, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Great read! Just a thought, the HD4850 is approximately 120$ at the moment. Would it not be a better recommendation than the HD4770 for the Entry Level Gaming Box?

Also, knowing however that the stated price range would be exceeded, the Antec 300 should also probably be the best choice of case even for this system.

Anyway, great job. Thanks.

Guest said:

Will you wait again until April to post a new guide? I know it's still early into the new p55 motherboards and Lynnfield cpus but I am wondering what you would recommend now. Would you still suggest the mobo and cpu in the guide or go with a cheaper one?

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

We are planning to update it much sooner than next April (almost surely before the year is up). I would recommend building around the Core i5 750 for the mid-range system at this point in time (assuming that's what you're referring to).

Sansan said:

How can you recommend an optical drive with ATA (IDE) interface to be used with a mobo that has SATA only?

Sansan said:

sansan said:

How can you recommend an optical drive with ATA (IDE) interface to be used with a mobo that has SATA only?

Have to retract this comment; just found out that the board has one IDE connector as well. Sorry...

WorkinMan said:

How often are the buying guides updated here? I mean, the technology is always changing and the current builds on this site are over two months old. In the entry level gamer build they talk of a P55 motherboard/processor which will come out in the next few weeks or a month. The P55 is out there now... and if we were to go ahead and buy that, would we be looking at other changes in the build as far as other parts? Perhaps there are better bang for the buck items to replace in the August 2009 build as well. Will I run into compatibility issues if I do upgrade certain parts of the list of items to purchase for the build and keep others that are in their list as of August 2009? I know, I'm sounding whiny, but I've never built a PC from scratch and would like to do it right the first time as money is tight for us now (like I'm sure it is with many others too). I'm just curious if there are newer builds to look at even perhaps at another site which will give me the best possible solution for the money.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

They can't be updated weekly or monthly; they are updated quarterly or a bit later IIRC.

It's no different from any other site like The Tech Report or FiringSquad.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

That's right Rage, we update our buying guide quarterly. However we are working on improving that and soon we will have a buying guide that is updated weekly so this doesn't happen anymore, a buying guide which you can use anytime and make sure you are getting the most up to date information.

For now, you can probably couple our current buying guide with our most recent reviews. That includes for example the Core i5 and P55 platform in the mainstream sector. The latest Radeons both in the high-end (5800 series) and budget (5700), since we always wrap-up our reviews with buying recommendations and value comparisons.

Ritwik7 Ritwik7, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

How often are the buying guides updated here? I mean, the technology is always changing and the current builds on this site are over two months old. In the entry level gamer build they talk of a P55 motherboard/processor which will come out in the next few weeks or a month. The P55 is out there now... and if we were to go ahead and buy that, would we be looking at other changes in the build as far as other parts? Perhaps there are better bang for the buck items to replace in the August 2009 build as well. Will I run into compatibility issues if I do upgrade certain parts of the list of items to purchase for the build and keep others that are in their list as of August 2009? I know, I'm sounding whiny, but I've never built a PC from scratch and would like to do it right the first time as money is tight for us now (like I'm sure it is with many others too). I'm just curious if there are newer builds to look at even perhaps at another site which will give me the best possible solution for the money.

Why don't you just post a thread on building your new rig. I'm sure you'll get the best possible advice from the people here. It wouldn't be the best idea right now to maybe follow the Buying Guide as there are newer / better components available.

Or you could wait a while till the Guide is updated.

For now, you can probably couple our current buying guide with our most recent reviews. That includes for example the Core i5 and P55 platform in the mainstream sector. The latest Radeons both in the high-end (5800 series) and budget (5700), since we always wrap-up our reviews with buying recommendations and value comparisons.

That's very sound advice there. Take out some time to read the recent hardware reviews at Techspot. There's a lot of information there which will keep you updated.

I also recommend that you definitely go through this great post before you start building your system : http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic133075.html

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