Introduction

You do the research on the products. You read all the reviews. You even discuss with friends. But even with all that information, building a perfect, personalized system from scratch can be quite a daunting task. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that we’ve had request after request to provide some system recommendations.

Continuing our recent tradition since the third edition of the Buyer's Guide, the AnandTech Buyer's Guide is now split into two parts, one for value systems and the other for high-end ones. The Dream System will be included in the high-end part of the article. This is Part 1, featuring the value systems, while Part 2 with the high-end systems will be published in about two weeks.

In spite of the slight format change, the Guide will continue to provide some system recommendations in 3 categories – small office / home office (SOHO), gaming, and professional. Remember that these are just a few recommendations from us if we were building the systems. Obviously, each individual’s needs will vary greatly, but that’s the beauty of building a custom system - it can be tailored to fit those special needs.

Every component, from the motherboard to the case to the monitor, is covered for each system. Sample prices based on a review of popular vendors and price search engines across the web are included as well. Note that shipping is not included in these prices. An OS recommendation is included, but that price is not included in the total system price listed. Components that are not readily obtainable were automatically out of the running for any system in the Buyer’s Guide. Where possible, we’ll link to reviews of the individual products on AnandTech for more in depth information.

This Month

The biggest change this month is NVIDIA's GeForce2 MX which is finally out in full force and readily available. This is the perfect graphics card for the value gaming and professional systems. On the gaming side, it provides the performance equal to or greater than a GeForce 256 SDR, but at only $120. From a professional user's perspective, the 175 MHz 2nd generation T&L core of the GeForce2 MX performs nearly as well as a full fledged GeForce2 GTS in situations where memory bandwidth is not the limiting factor, as is the case in my professional 3D modeling applications.

Like last month, AMD's Duron processor continues to dominate our gaming & professional value system recommendations. The big difference this month is that the Duron CPU's themselves as well as the supporting motherboards are much easier to find compared to last month. There's also a number of new motherboard options this month for all Socket-A CPU's, compared with the sole option we had last month.

In spite of the Duron's introduction the Celeron is still present in our Value SOHO system since you can use that processor with a highly integrated i810 board and not have to worry about paying for a video card. Once boards based on VIA's KM133 chipset start popping up things may change, but for now the Celeron + i810 platform makes the most sense for the Value SOHO market segment. The i815(E) is an option as well, but since the 133 MHz FSB/memory interface won't be taken advantage of by a 66 MHz FSB Celeron, we decided that the price premium for the i815 simply wasn't worth it. The AGP slot for graphics upgrades on the i815(E) is a feature that should also be taken into account in this decision, but if you just need 2D graphics as is intended for the Value SOHO system, then the i810E should suffice for quite a while.

Value SOHO

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