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
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  • ITdude - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Nice System doesn't include a Monitor though.

    I would have gone with:
    AMD XP 2500 Barton (+$30.00)
    Nforce 2 IGP built in Video (+$25.00)
    Skip the Radeon 9200 (-$58.00)
    and if at all possible get 512MB RAM (+$35.00)
  • taleril - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    How about keyboard and mouse choices? Just go generic and cheap?
  • anilphv - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    I prefer eMachines or HP pre-Configured PCs for this budget. These machines look nice and comparable hard ware and software configurations. There are lot of better deals for these machine in the web also.

    CPU: AMD Athlon™ XP 3000+ Processor
    QuantiSpeed™ Architecture operates at 2.167 GHz
    512KB L2 cache & 333MHz FSB
    Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition
    Chipset: NVIDIA® nForce™2
    Memory: 512 MB DDR (PC 2700)
    Hard Drive: 160 GB HDD
    Optical Drives: 48x Max. CD-RW Drive; 16x Max. DVD Drive; 3.5" 1.44MB FDD; 8-in-1 Media Reader(USB 2.0, Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Micro Drive, Multimedia Card)
    Video: NVIDIA® GeForce4™ MX graphics (1 AGP 8x slot available)
    Sound: nForce™ 6-channel Audio
    Modem: 56K* ITU v.92 ready Fax/Modem
    Network: 10/100Mbps built-in Ethernet
    Peripherals: Premium Plus Multimedia Keyboard, 2-Button Wheel Mouse, Amplified Stereo Speakers
    Dimensions: 7.25"w x 14.125"h x 16"d
    Internet: AOL 3 month membership included, click here for details
    Ports/Other: 5 USB 2.0 ports (4 in back; 1 in Media Reader), 1 Serial, 1 Parallel, 2 PS/2, Audio-In & Out
    Pre-Installed Software: Microsoft Works 7.0, Microsoft Money 2004, Encarta Online, Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™, Microsoft Media Player, Real Player, Power DVD, Internet Explorer, Netscape® Navigator, MSN®, CompuServe®, AOL (with 3 months membership included**), Norton AntiVirus 2004 (90 day complimentary subscription)
  • NeoGodless - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Can not view Page 4. Causes IE to crash.
    Otherwise, similar to budget systems I have built. I used the Shuttle, and prefer putting 512MB systems in Windows XP... which allows for the nForce2 chipset to make use of dual channel memory. I've seen several Radeon 9200SE cards with poor 2D image quality and never recommend them to anyone. Spend the extra $5 to $15...
  • kuk - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    This takes me back to SharkyExtreme's guides ...
  • shiftomnimega - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    I would hae definitely gone with XP home and heck while you're buying all those parts get the OEM version for around 90 bucks.
  • Ecmaster76 - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    I recommend the Shuttle AN35 series of motherboards. They are a little on the plain side, but they use the nforce2 ultra ($60 single or dual for about $5 more). They also include integrated sound and nteworking.
  • Bonesdad - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Seems like an alternatie OS is in line too...linux or WinXP Home. Especially if this is budget. I guess if this is destined to be an office PC, XP Pro is good, but if it is a home PC...savings can definately be had.
  • elturco - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    isnt it funny that you are recommending a $270 Os for a $520 computer? if it is a budget system, you should recommend a decent linux OS.
  • KillaKilla - Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - link

    Well put.
    Personally I would have liked to see a performance system buyer's guide, but that's just me.

    Also I would have suggested an 80
    (or 120GB, it's like ~$10 more, I think) GB WD SE HDD, but that's assuming you're using it as a storage/backup system.


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