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 systems,guides. In addition, we will be adding SFF guides and perhaps some type of mobile-related guide to our arsenal. For now, though, we will keep with our current format until we get a feel for what our readers want. So, if you want to let us know what you'd like to see in future guides in terms of component picks and price points, write your thoughts 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. 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.

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 keep 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

  • thebluesgnr - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    The recommended Seagate ST380013AS is a SATA drive, as the last letter in its name implies. It should be noted that there's no ATA-100 8MB buffer 80GB drive in Seagate's newest line, the 7200.7.

    I personally disagree with the motherboard. You can find nForce2 Ultra 400 from reputable makers and with much better power regulation for the CPU for less than the A7N8X-X.


    the 9200 with a 128-bit memory interface is about 30-40% faster than the 9200SE with a 64-bit memory.


    not everyone is a gamer. Having said that, you could upgrade this system to 2x256MB (preferably on a KT880 or nForce2 Ultra 400 board) and a Radeon 9550 128-bits ($70 on newegg) and it would play pretty much every game out there. Maybe not with high resolutions or filters, but people who care about those things can upgrade gradually.
  • Cocophone - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    Ok here is a budget system that I just bought.

    MB Shuttle AN35N Ultra $56.00
    RAM Corsair Value 512 MB $77.00
    VGA Sapphire Radeon 9200 128MB $64.50
    CPU Barton 2500 $87.00

    Total $284.50 from Newegg

    I already have a case, hard drives, and monitor.
    But I think with a little creative searching on the hot deal websites you could spend about $200 for those items.

    I've been reading the Entry level guides for a couple of months and decide I wanted something between Entry Level and Mid-Range.
  • skiboysteve - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    Illissius you seem to have simply had a bad experience with your passive cooled card, I use a 9600 nonpro in my shuttle box and it is passive cooled, no problems. My brother also uses a pasive cooled card with no problems.

    Cosmotic, a integrated solution as been talked about in many buyers guides but they are simply not as good as you think. The performance is very very poor, worse than the add in card mentioned here. They also lack features like DX8 or DX9 (depending on which, but you are refering to the DX7 nforce2 IGP) Also, they have problems with acceptable 2d image quality at higher resolutions like 1280x1024.

    Link for performance comparisons:

    I know toms sucks but the R9200 shows a 40% or so performance advantage over the IGP, not to mention DX8.1 and higher 2d image quality.
  • skiboysteve - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    The NF7-S rev2 is NOT the AN7 like you say here:

    "the ABIT NF7-S Rev.2 (also known as the ABIT AN7) "

    The AN7 is a more feature rich version which also includes "uGuru" tech.
  • Illissius - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    Here's a factor for the video card I haven't seen being considered: I would not ever again want a card with passive cooling. I had a 9200SE with such, and it routinely overheated, usually during games but sometimes just in windows, and not only on hot days. The config came without a case fan, and adding one helped matters a bit, but it merely caused it to overheat less often - not stop doing it.
    Seeing as the primary goal for the budget system is stability, I think this should be taken into serious consideration, even if it runs a bit counter to the quietness thing - that's entirely secondary in comparison.
  • cosmotic - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    Ok, seriously, why arent you guys recomending at least dual channel? Its going to increase performance without increasing price! GOD! And again, integrated nVidia Video cards with nForce2 is cheaper and better than these shitty add-in cards. This is so close the the last price guide for budget, yet it still has the same problems that I pointed out last time. You can make a budget system for 400 bucks with monitor shipped... with the same performance as this... Why arent you recomending it? Reply
  • john1022 - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    Re: The CaseEdge TS1 case.

    pcclub shows this at 39.99, plus shipping to my zipcode of @5.00 for a total of 64.99.

    NewEgg is offering the SLK3700AMB with 350 watt power supply for $66.00 delivered.

    Considering the relative quality, especially the power supply, this seems to be a much better deal to me.
  • AtaStrumf - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    Where's the feakin' Sempron OC article we were promised ASAP almost 2 weeks ago. Damn it, I realy need to know how the 3100+ overclocks.

    Damn that Doom 3 week! GRRRRRR!
  • kherman - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    IMHO: Even a value computer these days should be able to play Doom 3. Why not a higher end video card? Reply
  • GhandiInstinct - Monday, August 9, 2004 - link

    In my opinion, better to save up for a system that can actually run good games than spend $542 on this system.

    I think buying systems that are near high-end today, so that you are good for some months to come, makes more sense than buying a system that is out of date performance wise.

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