This week, we are relaunching our Buyer's Guides due to popular demand, and honestly, we've been wanting to bring them back for a while. We've reworked our format a little bit and have added an overclocking guide for enthusiasts. Every week, you'll see a new Buyer's Guide, and after the end of each month, we will retool our guides to reflect the new hardware and pricing of that particular time period. Here's the basic format of our Buyer's Guide:

Week 1: Budget System
Week 2: Mid Range System
Week 3: Cutting Edge System
Week 4: Overclocking System

For every component that goes into a computer, we pick our favorite piece of hardware as well as our runner-up piece of hardware. We've added runner-up 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). At the same time, we can 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 In addition to our Buyer's Guides and RealTime pricing engine, we suggest that you peruse our Price Guides so that you are not only informed about the best hardware for your computing needs, but also where to find the best deals on that hardware.

We are always taking suggestions on how to improve our Buyer's Guides. If you feel we are not including a wide enough variety of systems in our guides, please let us know and we can see if it warrants an additional weekly Buyer's Guide.

Budget Computing

Our Budget systems are mainly concerned about pricing, with reliability a close second consideration. While we certainly take into account performance, we do not consider it a vital part of building a budget system; it is merely something that is considered when price and reliability have been established. This is not to say performance is ignored because that is just not the case. We like to think that we will end up picking a balanced array of hardware based on price, reliability and performance, in that order, for today's Budget Buyer's Guide.

Read on to find out more.
Budget System
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • everman - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Linux not even OS runner-up? This is a budget system, why not save $275 and use

    Knoppix would be mindlessly easy to install on that system for example.
  • Locutus4657 - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Nicely put together system. I do have to contend with one of your selections though... I just had ship me a 80GB IBM/Hitachi deskstar HD 2MB cache for 68 bucks. While your selection is a bit cheaper, I don't think it's so much cheaper that it's worth giving up 2x HD capasity. 40GB can fill up quick these days! Other than that excellent choices for a budget system.
  • eyeguy - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    I agree that a budget deal is just get a computer with OS from HP/ Compaq for less than $400. Somehow MS does not want us to buy XP except in a bundle - otherwise get an n-force2 so you can upgrade to dual channel and OC if you want. Onboard nforce2 video is fine in an office (and free)
  • dutchdabomb - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    What's the deal with the .bmp images? Why not PNG or JPEG?
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Might add the InWin cases like a few others have now fan ducts on the side so when air is drawn in the processor fan gets it first.

    I would spend an extra $15 to have Muskin PC3200 Blue Line ram just for when you would upgrade or for that matter PC3200 is almost the same anyhow since it is the current higher selling memory speed.
  • Regs - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    And of course, when everybody thinks Budget computer, they think of their budget computer.

  • sprockkets - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Well I would never get that Foxconn Case. A computer was made with this case for a friend of mine from CompUSA, and the covers on this case do not fit perfectly and the metal used is easy to bend. Not to mention the power supply in the case sucks.

    The InWin cases are very sturdy and precise fitting. Unfortuneately they do not come with Sparkle power supplies anymore.
  • johnsonx - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    The Radeon 9100 is another good budget choice for about the same price. It's just a relabeled 8500, and is very similar to the 9000/9200, but I think it's faster than even the Pro versions of the 9000/9200 chips (depends on the application I guess). I put one in my kid's computer; works great for his games.

    Also, anyone who has access to a Fry's Electronics should check their newspaper ad (or just go in anytime from Friday through Tuesday). They almost always have an AthlonXP 1800, 2000 or 2200 (T-Bred B each time I've bought) paired with a ECS K7VTA3 v8.0 (KT333CF) board for $55 to $70 total (yes, barely more than the price of the CPU or MB alone). They often have similar bundles for higher Athlon's and P4's, but the deal isn't nearly as good.
  • medfly - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    use maxtor hard drives instead, fluid bearings. The low end wd drives are ball bearing and after some time get damn loud with bearing whine. Use an albatron nforce 2 board and save about 8 bucks.
    if you dont care about gaming at all, radeon 7000's go for about $30 at new egg. Also, never buy a retail copy of M$, get it oem and save a huge chunk of change.
  • andreasl - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    I was in this situation just a month ago when buying a budget system. But I ended up with an XP2500 and a Radeon 9000Pro. The 9000Pro cost about as much as the 9200 but is clocked higher. The only other difference is AGP 4x vs 8x. So if you can find a 9000Pro for about the same price I really recommend getting that one instead.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now