Budget System


Recommendation: AMD Athlon XP 1800+ OEM (no heatsink)
Price: $49 shipped (add $10 for cooling)

These days, it's nearly impossible not to recommend an AMD Athlon XP processor for a budget system. The prices on low-end Athlon XP processors are just too good. Knowing this, we are of course going to recommend an Athlon XP processor for today's budget system, specifically the 1800+ version running at 1.53GHz. This processor is no performance slouch; budget users who surf the Internet, perform general office-related tasks, and those who play the occasional video game will experience very few (if any) slowdowns with an Athlon XP 1800+ processor. For more information on exactly how your 1800+ might perform, you can check out AnandTech's very own Budget CPU Shootout from last December. Of course, you can't forget your CPU cooler, and in this case, pretty much any AMD approved cooler will do. The Cooler Master DP5-5G11A is just $10 shipped from several online vendors.

Runner-up: AMD Athlon XP 1900+ OEM (no heatsink)
Price: $55 shipped

The Athlon XP 1900+ (1.6GHz) runs just 66.67MHz faster than the recommended Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz) for only $5 more. However, the 67MHz bump in core clock speed will likely end up being almost completely unnoticeable in any application that a budget user uses. However, if you have $6 or so to spare, the 1900+ will fit perfectly as your budget processor. The Cooler Master DP5-5G11A will work just fine with this processor as well.


Recommendation: ASUS A7N8X-X (nForce2 400)
Price: $69 shipped

It's always tough to generalize which motherboard is right for users when so many different people have such a varying range of needs in a motherboard. But after some extensive research, we came to the conclusion that the A7N8X-X has the right combination of features, price, and reliability that budget users demand. It's hard to go wrong with a $69 price tag and the performance that comes with an NVIDIA nForce2 400 chipset. Of course, the reliability of ASUS motherboards is well known around the industry. No motherboard manufacturer is perfect, though, and even ASUS produces a lame duck now and then. However, after having tested at least 3 different versions of ASUS' nForce2 motherboards over the last 12+ months, not to mention the fact that this article is being written on a computer based on the ASUS A7N8X-X motherboard, we can confidently say that you aren't going to encounter many motherboard-related problems.

Runner-up: ABIT KV7 (KT600)
Price: $66 shipped

We took an in-depth look at the KV7 last September, where we basically concluded that it was a solid budget board with good features and average performance. Performance still hasn't changed much since then, though BIOS updates to the KV7 has increased performance slightly. In addition, the price of ABIT KV7 motherboards, and KT600 motherboards in general, has gone down significantly since then, nearly 20% in fact. These two developments, in addition to the fact that the KV7 was already an excellent budget board, convinced us that the ABIT KV7 was good enough to be named this week's runner-up in the motherboard category.

Index Budget System (continued)


View All Comments

  • 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? Reply
  • 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 ... Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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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