Today, we release our fifth Buyer's Guide in the past 5 weeks. You can look forward to Buyer's Guides in the middle of every week, and then, after the end of each month, we will retool our guides to reflect the new hardware and pricing of that particular time period. Today marks our first refresh of our Buyer's Guides to see what has changed, if anything, in the past 4 weeks. In case you haven't read our new Buyer's Guides yet, here's the basic format of them to be released on a weekly basis:

Week 1: Entry Level System
Week 2: Mid-Range System
Week 3: High End System
Week 4: Overclocking System

For every component that goes into a computer, we offer our recommendation for a piece of hardware as well as our alternative on that type of hardware. We've added alternative 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). Alternative picks tell you just that - your alternatives, which in some cases will be better suited for your needs, and in other cases, will not be. But at the same time, we can still 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 We list pertinent parts of our RealTime pricing engine at the bottom of every page of our Buyer's Guides so that you can choose the lowest prices from a large variety of vendors all by yourself.

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.

Entry Level Systems

The main concern for our Entry Level (or "Budget") systems is pricing, with reliability as a close second consideration. While we certainly take into account performance, we do not consider it a vital part of building an entry level system; it is merely something that is considered when price and reliability have been established. This is not to say that performance is ignored, because that is just not the case. We also believe that you're more than likely going to be keeping this entry level system for quite a long time without modification (read: at least 1.5 years), so some of our picks may be geared towards that type of mentality. Overall, we like to think that we will end up picking a balanced array of hardware based on price, reliability, performance, and longevity, in that order, for today's Entry Level Buyer's Guide.

Read on to find out more...

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations
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  • medfly - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    for video card for non games, i would of used a radeon 7000, you can save 10-15 bucks there.

    Also pc2700 mushkin or kingston memory from newegg is $39 or $40 with free shipping, theres ZERO reason to use 2100 anymore. If you want 3200, its only 3-5 bucks more for decent brands.
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link


    Primary reason we didn't choose onboard video (nForce IGP, SiS, etc.) is because 2D IQ is usually well below a good ATI Radeon 9xxx card, and most entry level users definitely do care about text sharpness.
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - link

    I would have chosen a motherboard with onboard video... that would have put it under $500... but oh well :)

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