Index

Currently, we are experimenting with our Buyer's Guides to see if we can improve on meeting the needs of a wider range of users, both in terms of the components that we recommend and the prices of those components. We will continue to produce an Entry Level, Mid-Range, High End, and Overclocking system each month, and have decided to add SFF guides and perhaps some type of mobile-related guide to our arsenal as well. For now, though, we will keep with our current format until we get a feel for what our readers want. So, if you like to let us know what you want to see in terms of component picks and price points in future guides, go ahead and write your feelings in our comments section, located at the bottom of the page.

We are still going to continue to evaluate products like we have in all our other guides over the last few months. That is, for every component that goes into a computer, we offer our recommendation for a piece of hardware as well as our alternative on that type of hardware. We've added alternative hardware picks to our guides because it allows AnandTech to recommend a wider variety of hardware (especially for those willing to spend a little more than what we budget for a particular system). To be clear, alternative picks tell you just that - your alternatives, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be. But at the same time, we can still be assertive enough with a first place recommendation so that new buyers aren't indecisive or confused about what to purchase. Most of the prices listed for the hardware that we recommend can be found in our very own RealTime Pricing Engine. Any prices not found in our engine can be found on pricewatch.com. We list pertinent parts of our RealTime pricing engine at the bottom of every page of our Buyer's Guides so that you can choose the lowest prices from a large variety of vendors all by yourself.

Mid-Range

While entry level (budget) systems should mainly be constructed with reliability and price in mind, with performance a fairly distant third consideration, mid-range systems have a slightly different order of priority. Reliability is still #1 priority, but performance and price are in a sort of a tie when building that mid-range system. Performance isn't of the utmost importance in this type of system, but it's also not ignored nearly as much as a plain, old entry level system is. Similarly, price isn't of utmost importance either, but buyer's building a mid-range system must be mindful of the price of components nonetheless. Performance and price don't lag too far behind reliability for mid-range systems, in other words.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations
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  • Pollock - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    Unless I'm mistaken, that's not a picture of the Antec BQE, but rather a slightly different Antec case.

    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?desc...
    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?desc...

    Of course, Newegg could also have the pictures wrong, I just don't feel like looking anywhere else.
    Reply
  • jediknight - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    #4:
    Chances are, if you upgrade to a dual channel (I'll assume within 2 years):
    a) Your DDR memory will be obsolete - everything will be DDR2 or it's successor
    b) 512MB of RAM will not be enough, even for an entry level system

    Best to recommend a single 512MB stick, IMO.. gives you room to upgrade.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    Just got done building a new PC to act as a home video server + console emulator, and I have a few recommendations:


    NewEgg.com
    -- Aspire cases ~$55 shipped, very nice for the price
    -- Geil 512MB PC3200 6-3-3-2.5 for ~$82 shipped

    eBay
    -- Radeon 9700 Pro $132 shipped (have to be somewhat lucky)

    Also, why recommend a PATA drive when SATA drives tend to create less clutter and perform a bit better? I really wouldn't recommend a raptor for a new mid-range system - games have multigigabyte installs these days, and then you need space for music, CDs, movies. IMO it's better for load times to rip your game CDs to a ~3x larger hard drive.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    The Casedge TS1 is NOT $40 shipped at pcclub. It's $20 shipping to New York and $11 tax/shipping to California. Reply
  • ir0nw0lf - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    PrinceGaz, this is a mid-range system, 1 GB of RAM is overkill for this. 512 MB in a single stick would be ideal here. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    Generally very good recommendations I'd agree with, and the first choice of hard-drive (120GB Seagate) is an improvement over a noisy 80GB WD.

    However, the choice of memory is still poor. 512MB isn't enough for this sort of system so you have to go for 1GB (2x 512MB modules). Only the high-end system should be using considerably more expensive low-latency modules as they don't offer enough extra performance to justify the increase in price over regular memory. I know it must be tempting after reading all the memory reviews on AT to go with the best memory available, but it offers only a very small real-world performance increase that doesn't justify the much higher price. Go with 2x 512MB sticks of regular brand-name memory (not cheap and nasty no-name memory).

    Even if you do only want 512MB for some reason, you should get a single 512MB stick if you're building the AMD system as the K8N Neo Platinum (like most S754 AMD boards) only has three DIMM slots. You certainly don't want to limit your future upgrade options by filling two of them with 256MB sticks.

    Apart from the memory suggestions, an excellent guide.
    Reply
  • kherman - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    I hope that 3D card you recomended can play Doom!

    Then again, people can always upgrade on their own.
    Reply
  • Degrador - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    I'd have to agree with the memory thing. Time and time again we're shown that the benefit of low latency memory is relatively little, especially considering the premium you pay for it. I always suggest to people buying computers that for the extra cost of low latency, you'd be better off either doubling the ram to 1GB, or upgrading the video card, or getting a faster processor - whatever, all of these will give better performance than low latency memory ever will.

    Also getting 2 sticks of 256MB is as mentioned relatively pointless. A mid-range user is not likely to upgrade anytime soon, meaning either they'll want DDR2 when they do, or they'll want more than 512MB memory. Perhaps if this was an overclocking system, or a high-end, then you could consider them upgrading in future, and what will benefit then. But certainly not for midrange.
    Reply
  • StormGod - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    I will continue to ask AT to assemble these systems and run some benchmarks on them. Reply
  • mino - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    #4 Evan,

    You are wrong with that assumption about memory.
    If anyone wanted to upgrade, from this setup to dual, then it makes much more sense to buy another 512 module also, since anyway CPU and MB will have to be replaced.
    256 module as it stands now, are just for office comps (w/256M) or when someone doesn't have left money for 512 module and plans to buy one in the near future.
    For Combo I will also opt for Toshiba parts rather than LiteOn's.

    Overal, except this little nonsense, pretty good guide.
    Reply

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