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  • fire400 - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    you'd expect quality comprimise for higher end parts, but here, it's the worse of both worlds. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    The price seems very reasonable to me. I went to Newegg and selected the absolute lowest priced components in each category, and got two prices (due to no X4 820):

    With 2.8GHz X4 630:
    With 3.0GHz X4 945:

    Shipping to a California zipcode added ~$30, so you're looking at either $610 or $650.

    Compare that to $635 with free shipping on the Acer, and the Acer looks like a great deal. You could get better price/performance by spending a few hours looking for deals and perfectly balancing components, followed by another few hours assembling it all and installing an OS (and maybe a few more hours troubleshooting things if bottom shelf components don't work perfectly), but unless that kind of thing is fun for you it's probably not worth it.
  • mariush - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    So what you're saying the system should be 600 $ if you factor in the shipping.

    Well, for 600$ you can do much better, for example at power supplies, video card and a slightly better motherboard.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    As pointed out in the conclusion, though, you can either save $100 and get an HP with very similar performance (provided you don't really want the 5450), or spend the same amount for a slightly slower CPU but get a GPU that's more than twice as fast. It's not a terrible system, but it's definitely budget through and through. If it had a 450W PSU then at least upgrades would be feasible. I'm sure you can run a 5770 in this system, even with the 300W PSU, but I'm not sure how long the PSU will last under such a load. I'd wager the current configuration idles at around 70W and load is probably pushing 200W, and I wouldn't want to exceed that with a 300W PSU. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    I completely agree that the configuration probably isn't ideal and is nowhere close to what I'd select for a personal build. My (very badly made) point was that the system doesn't have a price problem, if anything it has a component selection problem for most uses. In other words it's a niche market system, which doesn't make it a bad product so much as a generally bad fit. Reply
  • blackbrrd - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    I have been running a system on a 400w PSU that is rated for 30A on 12v for about 3.5 years now, and it has a 8800gts and an overclocked core2 in it. I haven't had any hiccups from the PSU. As far as I have calculated, the system runs at about 300w under load... I don't see why you need so much extra power just to be safe... Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    What brand PSU though? Given that this is likely built with the cheapest PSU they could find, it is unlikely to hold up as well as a decent PSU you would purchase stand-alone would. Reply
  • Taft12 - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Did you include an OS in your total?

    I will say this Acer machine is a reasonably good value, but the features on the motherboard are where you really see a difference between Asus and Gigabyte's lowest-end offerings and the ultra-low-end Foxconn-built trash.
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    OS, KB, mouse, and card reader were all included. The cheapest 880 board at Newegg was a step up from a generic OEM POS, but only a very small one. :) Reply
  • nafhan - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    Yeah, but the thing is if you're building your own budget box, you can shop around and look for deals rather than just going with the standard retail pricing on things. I put together a similar machine last October for less than $450 (including OS). Less RAM and slower CPU, but much faster GPU and a quality PSU. Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Never expected to see those on consumer hardware in 2010... Reply
  • KillerInTheRye - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    512GB Video Card? HOLY CRAP. I'll take two. Reply
  • numberoneoppa - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Thanks, I needed a good laugh to start my day. :) Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link


    It's for doing complex 3D renders. ;)
  • Aikouka - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    You mentioned the Blu-Ray drive, but I think that might raise the cost too much. I mean, just speaking with NewEgg prices in mind, you'll pay about 3x as much for a good BD-ROM/DVD+RW drive than you would for a simple DVD+/-RW drive. Another problem you hit is the software. Now, I think they typically use older software... I've seen some that I believe are an OEM variant of PowerDVD9. The thing is, this is just another added cost when you can be cheap and just let Windows handle CD and DVD burning with a DVD+/-RW drive :P.

    I definitely understand your sentiment on the Radeon 5450, although I use that drive in my HTPC (a tad bit different than this...) because passive 5450s were a dime a dozen when I bought it! :)
  • arnoldra - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    This was an interesting article, and being a new reader to the sight I find it very engaging. After listening to them discuss the possibilities of what you can get if you do a build, I'm eager to know what that would look like. I went through the guides section, and didn't see a "Budget Build Guide". I'm not much of a builder myself, I have friends who have scary towers of power that blaze the latest games in all their glory... but that isn't what I'd be interested in building a tower for. Light gaming, occasional multimedia work (no 3D), and the rest of general web content, watching movies, etc. I'd love to see AnandTech do a guide like that, and even set a price cap. Say 500 bucks? Reply
  • Lunyone - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    I have been waiting for a $500 budget build, but haven't seen one in a while. Another website had one about 3 years ago, but started lifting the budget to "fit" in Intel builds. Not that a Intel build is bad, but they generally are a bit more for similar performance. If your looking for a "Budget" build around $500, your better option is usually an AMD based one (around an AM3 mobo). This will allow you more upgrade paths than current Intel based builds will allow you.

    Now with your $500 budget do you include the OS or without it?
    Do you consider a monitor, keyboard, mouse included or assumed you already have one?

    I generally build "Budget" gaming builds for friends/family when I build. Most budget builds assume that you already have a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and sometimes the OS, but it varies.

    I always use a quality PSU (Antec, Seasonic, Corsair, OCZ - most of them) and try to get the best mobo that meets my needs.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    It's been my experience that generally when quoting budget builds, you're talking about JUST the machine proper. As Tech Report puts it, the rest are "matters of religion and taste."

    I will say in recent experience that $500 can buy you an awful lot of machine from AMD.
  • anactoraaron - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    I may not be too familiar with Acer's desktops (or others for that matter), but 3 things about these OEM's desktops have never changed.
    1. Poor system case (little to no airflow, everything packed in to the smallest space possible, 37lbs!!)
    2. Power supply is an afterthought (shame especially considering the lack of airflow)
    3. Bloatware- and in some cases no windows disc (gee, thanks. I wanted to have to uninstall all of that crap again...)
    With the PS you really can't do too much for upgrades (already mentioned), and if you do so you will likely fry it (see bad airflow comment). But this thing weighs 37lbs??? I can't remember lifting a pc that was that heavy. IF your grandma wants to edit video she will still call you to cram this thing into her 12 year old computer desk (you know, the tiny little hole that was designed to only fit a tower with no clearance for your hands to plug in all of her cable-shortened peripherals...)
    Budgetwise, AMD has always been a better option for CPU and mobo. And I always add the OS into the cost of a system
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    I agree with you basically, but at least with the Acer I bought, you do not get a windows disk, but the Acer recovery management system prompts you to make system restore disks the first time the machine is used. I used these disks to restore to factory original configuration when my hard drive failed, and they worked perfectly. Reply
  • fishak - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    So you returned your system to factory config, loosing all your settings, programs, and tweaks. You had to reinstall everything you liked, and again dump everything you didn't.

    I suggest using a free imaging tool, like Macrium Reflect, and make an image of your OS/program partition once you have it set up the way you like it. That way, it's very simple and fast to return your system to your specs- and not the factories.
  • frozentundra123456 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    Not really. I had a backup using Acronis that I used to restore data, photos, etc. I did not restore from that because I was having some problems with some programs when I made the backup, so I restored to factory original and just restored my data. Reply
  • anactoraaron - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    I still prefer WHS :) Reply
  • Bonesdad - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    You say you can build a better machine than this Aspire, then do a machine for $650 and put it to the test against the Dell and the Acer. I bet it might exceed both of these machines. Reply
  • mckirkus - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    If you don't mind a generic power supply and generic motherboard (probably where they're saving money) then it looks like a deal. But if you want a system that lasts those are the only two items I think about. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    I have an acer with an E4500 and probably the same 300 watt power supply. I am running a low power 9800 GT without problems, although a quad core CPU will use more power. I would think the reviewed system could use a GT240 or HD5670. If they could have included one of those cards instead of the 5450 it would have made a much more functional system.

    The power supply in OEM systems is one thing that really irritates me though. How much could it cost to make the unit 400 or 500 watts instead of 300W. If it is the same as the one in my comp, the unit in that computer does not even have 2 four pin leads to use with an adapter for a 6 pin connector.
  • reapergato - Thursday, August 05, 2010 - link

    Yea... Amazon is quickly becoming a FAV for CA residents.... kinda like the same way Newegg is the fav for WA state residents..... I cant stand that nearly 10% sales tax in WA state so i refuse to buy anything from Amazon. They nail me on tax and shipping.... Newegg is usually free shipping... and no tax. =) Reply
  • Phate- - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    300Watt is more then enough, for anything. If there is a problem with the power supply it'll be the quality or the lack of connections for a better GPU. But with 300Watt you can run anything, except HD5870 (or higher) and GTX465 (or higher), if it's a decent power supply. Any decent power supply can provide (a lot) more then indicated on it's label and in the very least, it's made to provide the power indicated on the label, non-stop.

    An extreme example is the Corsair VX450, a review of it on
    They pull 570Watt from it while it still is operating WITHIN ATX-standards, without to much ripple/noise and still having an efficiency of 81%.

    I'm not saying I would recommend someone buying a 300Watt PSU, when his config requires 280Watt, but if it's a decent powersupply, there is no problem, at all. I can understand the complaint about the PSU, but the wattage is not the important factor here.
  • frozentundra123456 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    Yes I wonder this too. Except for the prompts that pop up automatically, I dont really think having the extra stuff there is a problem with all the processing power of a new computer. I benchmarked Company of Heros with my system in the usual configuration, security essentials running, etc, and then used game booster to shut down all unnecessary programs. I could not tell any difference in the frame rate. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    The acer 300 watt power supply is not a very good one, and as I stated, I could not find even 2 x 4 pin connectors for an adapter, much less a 6 pin connector. The total amps on the 12 volt rail is only 18. So I think you could run anything that does not require an extra power adapter, but you are out of luck otherwise.

    Just a theoretical question. What if you used something like a HD4770 or HD5750 that has an adapter but uses very little power? Would the computer know the adapter was not plugged in and give an error message, or would it work ok unless the card overloaded the power supply?
  • strikeback03 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    My wife had a friend build her current desktop for her before I met her, one day last winter I upgraded her graphics drivers and was greeted by a message saying the 6-pin cable to her 8600GTS was not connected and graphics performance could be degraded until it was. The PSU had a 6-pin cable, the guy just didn't use it for some reason, but in everything she did with the system that configuration still worked. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    I don't think your particular example of a power supply is a good one, though. Corsair's power supplies are notorious for being underrated and handling power draw well over spec.

    The power supply will age, and continuing to run it at an extreme load can substantially reduce its useful life. A 300W cheapo power supply like the unit used in the Acer doesn't have a whole lot of room to grow, is probably horribly inefficient, and with too much load placed on it will be liable to burn out...right after the warranty is up.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    And as a sidenote, while it's true that I think hardware enthusiasts tend to grossly overshoot their recommendations for power supplies, decent power supplies for home machines pretty much start at 380W anymore. The power supply should have a little breathing room, room to grow. The 300W - again, not a decent power supply but a bargain bin one that couldn't hope to actually produce that much power under actual usage conditions - in the Acer is starting out bad and just going worse from there. Reply
  • cjb110 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    We all like to rag on the bloatware installed, and I've yet to find any one that's actually had a use for any of it. But does it actually harm? Is the performance actually degraded?

    Could be a basis for an article? esp if you can get the manufactures input as to why they bother? Do they actually recieve anything? Are their machines better recieved by the public? Does Norton/McAfee pay them? Does ebay pay just for an icon?
  • awaken688 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    They did run a recent RAM used at startup. A clean Win 7 used like 750MB, but the other OEM machines were running 1GB+ from Dell, etc... It would be nice to see a benchmark though. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    One of the often overlooked things with systems that have a lot of bloat is the effect on power consumption of the system. Idle power consumption can be dramatically higher which can add to electricity/cooling costs while making the system more sluggish in general. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    This is impressive, but the enthusiast can not be beaten.

    I got a similar build for under $500 (after rebates and shipping) with no OS, keyboard or mouse. I used Newegg to do it. It has 3 combos, 2 coupons and 4 rebates.

    Antec Nine Hundred (-$15 coupon) (-$20 rebate)

    WD 640GB Caviar Black (-$20 coupon)

    EVGA GTX 460 768MB
    OCZ 2x2GB 1600MHz DDR3 (-$20 rebate) (-$17 combo)

    OCZ Gamerstream 500W PSU (-$15 rebate)
    LITE-ON DVD Burner (-$20 combo)

    Intel i3 530
    Biostar TH55B HD H55 Motherboard (-$10 rebate) (-$49.98 combo)

    Yes, that's a brand new GTX 460 768MB. You could save quite a bit if you cut that out, but I'm a gamer. If you desired, you could probably get a quad core CPU in there if you got a cheaper graphics card.

    And I understand this is an incredible hassle for such a deal. I know first hand. I purchased a Dell 7100 for my parents (before it was reviewed here) for $700 on sale just because it was convenient.

    Hurray for affordable computing!
  • silverblue - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    Nice build, but I'd go for the 1GB flavour of the GTX 460 - better chip, more memory. :) Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link


    You have to draw the line somewhere, eh?

    Oh and the build is under $600, not $500. Typo on my part.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    But you really do have to include OS for sure, and probably keyboard and mouse, if you want to be fair in the comparison. Sure, lots of people "have an OS lying around" (code for pirated software usually), but even if you really have a legit spare copy, that copy cost you money at some point. That's like saying, "Oh, I have a good case and PSU, so I can get the cost down to $400."

    Anyway, we'll see about getting a new budget guide up some time in the near future. I just need to ping a few cohorts and see who wants to write it. Maybe Dustin can do it.... :-)
  • strikeback03 - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    Unless it really is just an internet and email machine for the grandparents, in which case you could use some flavor of Linux or other free OS. Of course you also wouldn't need a quad-core CPU or a discrete GPU then either. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    If I wanted a more fair comparison, I would drop that 460 in a heartbeat. That frees up $200 right there.

    If you are comfortable with using the double upgrade method (legal and supported by MS), you can get a copy of Win7 Home Premium for under $100.

    There's also a ~$30 HD5450 just to be fair. The integrated graphics would work fine for most people.


    I'm sure you could find a mouse and keyboard for $100, eh? :)

    I can't wait for a good budget article! Too bad you can't freak out the readership with a few combos and some coupons. /That's/ how you can really get the price down!
  • Lunyone - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Well you could look like this:
    $185 - $20 MIRc = $165!!
    AMD Athlon II x3 445 3.1 GHz
    AMD 4670 1 GB GPU

    $100 + 13 shipping = ~$113
    Asus EVO AM3 mobo
    Antec 300 case w/1x120mm & 1x140mm Fans

    $51 shipped!
    Antec NEO 400w PSU

    $89 shipped!
    GSkill CAS 9 (at stock voltage) DDR3 1333 mHz RAM

    $55 shipped!
    SAMSUNG F3 Spinpoint 500 gb HD

    $19 DVD Burner
    LITEON 24x DVD Burner

    Total $512 shipped - $20 MIRc = $492!! Now that is a good solid budget gamer build. You can find more savings if you shop some more, but this gives you an idea on a good starting (budget gaming) build.
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    I think my 500w PSU is comb'd with a free DVD Burner and my harddrive is about$10 more for the famous 640GB Caviar Black. I also suggest losing the 1GB on the 4670. It's money down the tube. Its 128-bit bus really only needs 512MB.

    I also suggest reviewing your choices for combos with similar RAM. I almost always find a good combo with RAM. While making my build, I actually found a different pattern of combos that allowed me to use EXACTLY the same items and save about $30.

    Newegg is just cool like that. :)
  • Lunyone - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    That was just a quick example where you can save some $ and still have a good budget gaming system. As I stated, you can get better deals with some extra time and work. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    That sounds like a challenge, Jarred. ;)

    And I do so love a challenge.
  • Lazlo Panaflex - Friday, August 06, 2010 - link

    "McAfee, intent on taking over the antivirus market using any means other than actually producing quality software, is of course accounted for here."

    Man, that made me LOL! Two thumbs up, sir ;-D
  • Mercury Joe - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    The RS880 chipset supports Hybrid CrossfireX.

    Is seems to me that you can enable that and use both the IGP AND the HD5450 in a Hybrid CrossfireX and get some ok graphics out of this. You never said if it was enabled or not.

    The posters here seem to want to slam this machine because it can not play high end games. People who buy machines like this are LIGHT gamers and internet browsers/e-mailers.

    If I was a betting man, they have the HD5450 to support Flash hardware video acceleration for You-Tube. It is the cheapest and lowest powered solution to provide hardware acceleration. It also nicely complements the Hybrid CrossfireX solution.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    I admit I could be mistaken, but it's my understanding Flash hardware acceleration runs off of the decoder hardware and not the shaders. If that's the case, Flash wouldn't see any improvements from going with the 5450 vs. the 880G.

    The 5450 just doesn't make sense in this build. The light gamer would be better served with a 5550 or 5570, and everyone else would be fine with the 880G.
  • pbr35586 - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Last year right before Windows 7 came out. I bought a Dell Inspiron 546 MT for $346.00 on sale. It came with a Phenom 9650 quad core, 4 GB of ram, 500gb hard drive. I also got a free upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium 64 and free shipping. I added a $60.00 GB ATI 4670 card free shipping. Runs fine on my stock 300 watt power supply. It also came with a keyboard and mouse. This system may not be all that to some of you. But i can play COD Modern Warfare 2 @1920x1200 4 a/a. For light gaming and general computing this thing is fine and it was way below $500 including the sales tax i paid to Dell. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    And this is where the real deals are to be had. Once you get above $400-500 the home builder that takes quite a bit of time to research deals (probabably not buying all at the same time) can come out ahead (or the same price for superior components). But on less than that, and especially if the OS is needed, there is just no way to compete with the volume sales of the large builders.

    Fantastic deal you got there!
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  • adonn78 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    It would ahve been better to go with an athlon II x4 chip and got a system with a 5770. It would ahve been able to play any game then. I understand that this is a pre-built system you probably found off newegg. They also got a $710 plus $20 shipping ibuypower pc with the above specs I mentioned and can play just about any game out of the box at 1920x1200. An extra $60 goes a long way. in fact there are systems with better GPU's for less than $635 such as a 5750. Anything less is unacceptable even for a casual gamer. Reply
  • MrCrispy - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    People who CAN build a pc are never going to look at a prebuilt, least of all an Acer.

    People who can't (and who you don't want to!) don't care about upgrades, overclocking, component quality etc. They will buy a pc every 3-4 years then get a new one. During this time the pc will be supported by warranty and do everything they want.

    For these people, its much cheaper and a better option than 1) building one 2) asking someone else to build one

    Thr pc is an appliance for most folk, how many times do you upgrade the video card in your tv or the cpu in your car?
  • rgriswold - Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - link

    If this puppy has 6 sata connections on the motherboard, is it not possible to use a sata cable extender to have a port or 2 on the outside of the case? esata hard drives seem to be the way to go for external backup.

    As far as this system goes, I think it is a fair price. I bought one for $600. I do not play games on my pc. I have a ps3 connected to a 52" HDTV. So, the ATI card is fine for me and has to be a little better than the integrated graphics. 6 gig vs 8 gig, will I really feel the difference? I think 6 gig will be fine. I am not multitasking 5 things at once.

    BTW, anyone ever used one of those current/wattage (kill-a-watt) meters on a pc? Just curious as to how much current is actually being used when running various apps.
  • CrimsnTide09 - Sunday, August 22, 2010 - link

    So for $299 (without available coupons) it must be a steal!!!!

    Received it for $292 shipped to my front door!
  • No Saint - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I no longer see this in M'sia but they seem to replace it with Aspire M3400-655X7.
    AMD Phenom ll x 6 1055T / AMD 880G chipset / 2GB DDR3 / 500 GB HDD / Radeon HD4250
    One PCI Slots, Two PCI Express® X1 slot & One PCI Express® X16 slot
    10 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Dsub VGA, & 2 x PS/2

    You get the idea...

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