Currently, we are experimenting with our Buyer's Guides to see if we can improve on meeting the needs of a wider range of users, both in terms of the components that we recommend and the prices of those components. We will continue to produce an Entry Level, Mid-Range, High End, and Overclocking system each month, and we have decided to add SFF guides and perhaps some type of mobile-related guide to our arsenal as well. For now though, we will keep with our current format (Week 1: Entry Level System, Week 2: Mid-Range System, Week 3: High End System, Week 4: Overclocking System) until we get a feel for what our readers want. So, if you feel like letting us know what you'd like to see in terms of component picks and price points in future guides, go ahead and write your feelings in our comments section, located at the bottom of the page.

We are still going to continue to evaluate products like we have in all our other guides over the last few months. That is, 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). To be clear, 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.

Entry Level

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 toward 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.

CPU and Motherboard Recommendations


View All Comments

  • jamesey - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    i think the buyers guide should be titled by price and there can be 4 of them

    $600 and less - budget/entry level
    600-1200 - mid range
    1200-1800 - high end
    1800-up - overclocking/luxury
  • aw - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    I second the motion for the SFF guide!!! Reply
  • mcveigh - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    how setup spme parameters for the systems?

    like the budget box will be under $600
    mid-range under $1000, or 1200

    the high end system will be under $5000

  • GP40X - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    Aw come on guys, The laste "Overclocked" system guide was April 8th. I'm starting to suffer withdrawl here. Two full months of guides & not a single one of the Overclocked system.

    Oh, I almost forgot. Recommend the 80 Gig. $10.00 isn't going to break the bank on this system. Cost vs. benefit shows to be a really good deal. More bang for the buck than the other alternatove recommnedations.
  • cKGunslinger - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    I'm going to agree with the 80GB HD suggestions. It doesn't make much sense to save $10-15 and only get *half* the storage space. 40 GB just doesn't go as far as it used to anymore. Especially with bloated OS and applications, MP3s, video clips, games requiring 3 CD for install, and the proliferation of Broadband access (which is assumed, since no modem is included.)

    Onboard video might also shave a few $$ off the price, as long as the MB still has an AGP slot for some upgradability. The current Entry System has a pretty good upgrade path. If the user decides he wants to get into a little heavier gaming, an XP 2500+ and Radeon 9600 can be added for relatively little scratch and you'd have a respectable system. Actually, you'd have something resembling my main gaming rig. :)
  • cosmotic - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    Why not use an NF2 board with on-board video, it would take the price down quite a bit (relitivley) and still be pretty nice video. Reply
  • ZobarStyl - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    I'll have to agree with MAME even though it's a completely budget-oriented system a 10 dollar premium for 80 gigs is worth it; it would be a lot more tangible benefit than a processor upgrade and a lot of people these days are filling up these low-end HDD's fast. Reply
  • buckcow - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    I would like see the average price of the mid range system go up a bit. Below is the data of the last 3 months of guides, and the prices of the systems. Column 1 is low end, 2 is the middle, and 3 is the high end system. The 4th row of data is the average of the 3. I would like to see the mid range price really be about half way between the low and and the high end. Keep up the good work.

    552 934 3034
    527 935 1965
    504 833 1979

    528 901 2326
  • Booty - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    Good call on that... of course, would it be a high-end or budget SFF? Or maybe one geared to home theater usage? Reply
  • MAME - Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - link

    Guys, just recommend the 80 gig WD. It's $10 more than the 40 gig one and has an 8 meg buffer (instead of 2).

    I know you're keep prices low but seriosuly...$10!

    I just can't see any justification for letting someone get the 40 gig flavor when $10 provides twice the storage and a much larger cache

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