TechSpot's PC Buying Guide - A Major Revamp

By Julio Franco ยท 107 replies
Dec 21, 2009
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  1. kakarot27

    kakarot27 TS Member Posts: 80

    antec 900??? really? haf 932 would be a better by for just an extra 20bucks....and dont worry about the budget changing....the intel x25 80gb is at 210 not 225 anymore...okay so fine it does change by 5 bucks but eh
  2. What is the benefit of having the solid state drive as well as the HDD? Is it worth the extra money when trying to trim cost without losing too much performance?

    Great guide by the way :) appreciate it.
  3. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,667   +987

    Glad to hear you enjoy the guide.

    The SSD is recommended for speed and the standard HDD is there for storage. If you have a more limited budget, you can do without the SSD, however it's an obvious upgrade for those performance-minded consumers that can afford paying a premium for the current generation of solid-state storage.

    If you would like to learn more about the difference in performance and SSDs in general, check out our recent storage devices reviews:
  4. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96


    I hope by the next update of this guide, Seagate would have rolled out their Momentus line of Hydrbird HDDs for PCs as well; I think for the time being they may in fact turn out to be great solution for most of the users.
  5. johnehoffman

    johnehoffman TS Enthusiast Posts: 27   +35

    Your Buyer Guides are extremely helpful. Thank you very much. Being a senior citizen who has used computers since before there were PCs, I've bought many over the years, but plan to build one myself for the first time within the next couple of months.

    One request: Your builds appear to be directed towards gamers. How about some comments for those who use Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc. I suspect we need more RAM and more hard disk space than gamers do, but what about graphics cards? I don't need high 3D frame rates, but how does one maximize processing speed for high computation processes such as stitching panoramas, HDR, content-aware fill, etc.?

    Any advice on what hardware is best for such purposes would be greatly appreciated.
  6. ETA for an update? That is, if you release updates per x months rather than if a new product line is released. Thanks.
  7. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    The guide was last updated this Sunday, June 13. Any time we update the article the date is reflected on the intro page:

    It's typically updated every two weeks, give or take.
  8. A nice guide, and I usually catch it within a week each time it updates. Although its kinda hard to tell what has changed. It could really use a change log for those of us who try to catch every update. Otherwise, keep up the good work.
  9. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    That's not such a bad idea, we'll look into keeping a public changelog. In the meantime I'll give a quick overview of the most recent changes:

    I gave the guide a pass last night but almost everything was in order. I fixed an error on the Luxury build table (the Asus PT6 Deluxe was priced at $170 instead of $270) and updated the pricing across all builds (this is done every time the guide is revisited).

    I also tweaked wording throughout the article, added a few sentences (in the RAM portion of the Entry-Level Rig, for instance), and changed the recommended displays for the Budget and Entry-Level systems.

    About two weeks ago, I added text for the new Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive, our recent mouse roundup review and more.
  10. r3claimer

    r3claimer TS Member Posts: 74

    You guys really should create something between the entry level and enthusiast. The $700 price difference really is far too large. Don't get me wrong, I find this helpful, but I think the Entry Level really ought to be $1000....
  11. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,667   +987

    Thanks for the feedback...

    There might be instances where this doesn't hold to be true, but I'd say that 95% of the time adding more price points in-between is not going to do any good. Just take the entry level system and slap a faster videocard or mix it up with other components of the enthusiast build and you get a middle priced system with an emphasis where you find it convenient, be it a larger monitor, faster CPU or GPU, etc.
  12. arkantos

    arkantos TS Member Posts: 46

    there should be an intel specification for "budget box" because that amd core unlocking is too "technical" to consider. it may put alot of risk on someone's system; to do the overclocking as something that they look forward to.
  13. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,667   +987

  14. Arkantos, if you are building your own system, it shouldn't be to hard to unlock a couple cores.

    Also, if you guys can aquire many graphics cards for free, inter card but intra range shootouts would be a good idea for the more popular cards (e.g. 5850/460) so we can tell which manufacturers' cards are the best bang for buck. It would help make your guide much more comprehensive, at least to my mind. Hopefully that made sense.

  15. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,667   +987

  16. Why not include a buying guide for a straight up gaming PC? With two proven and easy to interface graphics cards, a decent core 2 duo or i3 and a good mobo with sli or crossfire support. Maybe add a link to an overclocking guide and a newegg link with some good offers on it? Awesome suggestions though. Im going to be more creative with my case and buy a solid white case and draw a ton of mac haterspeech on it around my sharpied on apple symbol. Also add a guide to a ventilation guide since thats a real touchy issue especially in do it yourself systems.
  17. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    Our system recommendations are slanted toward gaming -- all the way down to the Budget Box. Granted, it's missing a discrete graphics card by default, but the rest of the components are chosen to be sufficient for gaming and other demanding tasks with the addition of a budget GPU.
  18. Julio,

    I should clarify what I meant earlier: for the most popular cards, you should have manufacturer shootouts - like 6 to 10 of the cards here: This allows viewers to choose their level of performance within a certain card range. You (probably) would find some spectacular deals, or uncover some rip-offs. Of course, this wouldn't be viable for every card, but for the most mainstream it would be suitable.

    I have a feeling these sort of comments sound very rude, and I'd just like to say I really appreciate the care you take of this site and the level of detail in every review that you do.

    Thanks a lot.
  19. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,667   +987

    I get it now, you want a graphics manufacturer shootout... similar to what we've done a few times lately with motherboards using the same chipset. However there is a significant difference, and the reason we haven't really done anything like this on the GPU front.

    I'd say 90+% of the time graphics manufacturers don't bother to customize and opt to use Nvidia's and ATI's reference designs, which means there is no tangible difference between them in terms of features or performance. Because of this we concentrate on the GPUs themselves to highlight where your money is better spent.

    We don't blame manufacturers because price competition is fierce and margins are slim enough already. Ultimately the customer benefits with lower prices when you have two competing GPUs in the same range, but differentiation beyond some kind of software bundle and manufacturer warranty is hard to come by otherwise.
  20. Just wondering, did you think about adding/mentioning the Intel X-25V? For a boot drive it seems the perfect fit, at least for the Enthusiast Box. You could even splash out on a better graphics card or processor or case or whatever you think is best.

  21. gonzy3

    gonzy3 TS Rookie Posts: 38

  22. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    What about Alienware gonzy?

    As for the 40GB SSD, I don't think it's worth buying over an 80GB+ drive because it's simply too restrictive for anything beyond the OS and a few apps. That said, it certainly could be mentioned as an option. I'll try to include something on the next update (this week).
  23. Omnislip

    Omnislip TS Rookie Posts: 91


    There is also an 80GB model reportedly coming out in Q4, which would really make for some difficult choices.

    An interesting featuer to run would be the differences between running an X25V versus an X25M as the boot drive and for running games, apps etc. Furthermore, I'm sure many people would appreciate a guide on how to remove as much junk as possible from their SSD (i.e. user files etc.)


    Oops, also forgot to suggest putting an antec 902 case on the enthusiast spec as well. It's only $20 difference.
  24. gonzy3

    gonzy3 TS Rookie Posts: 38

    what about alienware's Area-51 ALX desktop? is it too costly? does it not pose a threat to other high end desktops?
  25. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 5,332   +101

    Maximize SSD Performance with the SSD Tweak Utility

    Buying an Enthusiast PC: DIY vs. OEM

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