When it comes to Entry Level systems, there are two types of customer. One is the person who's looking for a computer strictly for business -- office work, taxes, email, Web browsing, etc. The second is the customer who's looking for a system that fills all those needs while also serving as a quality gaming machine. While a budget gaming PC can handle all of the typical office and Internet tasks, the reverse isn't necessarily true. As in the past, this month's Entry Level Guide will give a several option for each component. However, rather than simply listing recommended components and alternatives, we will be focusing on suggestions for home office and gaming configurations.

Only you can decide what your actual wants and needs are. If you have no interest in playing games on your computer, our Office recommendations should provide more than enough power. On the other hand, if you are building a PC for the whole family and would like something that can be used by mom and dad as well as the kids, take a look at the Gaming configuration. PC Gaming is not an inexpensive hobby, however, so expect to spend a little more money if you want to add gaming capabilities.

Our end goal is to put together a budget Office PC for around $500 and a budget Gaming PC for under $1000. That might seem like a large margin, but it is very difficult to build a reasonable gaming computer for anything less than $750, and we have included upgrades that we feel will enhance the overall experience as well as the life cycle of the resulting machine. This is an Entry Level Gaming PC that should manage to run most of the cutting-edge games for the next year or more at reasonable rates, provided that you are willing to turn down the graphical complexity a bit.
CPU and Motherboard - Office


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  • kmmatney - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    We are going completely small form factor at my office, using either the ASUS Terminator or, lately, ASUS T2-P with Celeron-D. They've all worked great, and no problems using on-board graphics.

    The ASUS Terminator + Duron is simply an incredible value. The ASUS T2-R is also nice, with ATI Radeon 9100 graophics.
  • kherman - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

  • kherman - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    Left kinda confused. I see alot of areas I simply didn't like. In particular, for a true Office rig, where data intergretty is VERY important, I'd suggest 2 hard drives and a software RAID solution. Same total cost for hard drives, but it's justfied in terms of budget. Spend the same amount. for gaming, go for fast loading. For office, go for redundancy. The Office rig would actually have more alloted to the hard drive, but isn't that the critical component in an office rig?

    I say this every time I see a write up. You really need to start mentioning it, even if it's simpyl an alternative office solution that costs more. Most people using a PC for home office use, don't have a server running RAID 5 available and it almost seems as though it's an assumption.

    Other than this, I loved that article. Also, for home office, I can't see recomending 17" monitors. You need to generally run higher resolution and see more of the screen to be efficient in a home office.

    To be honest, I have to say that "a "budget rig" for office shouldn't be much cheaper than he gaming rig. Monitors and redundancy are important factors here where gaming rigs need a killer video card.

    Please consider this in the future.
  • boomerang - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    Very happy with the more in-depth explanations and choices given in the guide. I very much depend on these guides when building systems.

    You are to be commended for a job well done!
  • iversonyin - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    since we in the entry level budget, why not get a generic case+ PS. generic case usually got for ~$35
    i would not run XP with 256 MB RAM even its only for office use. IMO
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    On the last page in the Additional Alternatives table, the Power Supply Upgrade has the wrong item name. Reply
  • Iger - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the nice guide, I love explanations too :)
    About monitors - there actually are Samsung 795 DF ones, which handle 1280x1024@75 for a few more $ :)
  • Gholam - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    $14, Bayfield is just way too expensive - why not use a D865GVHZ if you're determined to go Intel? Reply
  • Gholam - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    $14, Bayfield is just way too expensive - why not use a D865GVHZ if you're determined to go Intel? Reply
  • Scarceas - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    I've had seen at least one business app that didn't run right on an nForce motherboard. It was wierd.

    Anyway, I never seem to have any trouble with stability or configuration when using an Intel-branded motherboard with an Intel CPU.

    It does cost a bit more, but the in the total cost of ownership equation, the hardware itself is definitely not the largest factor, especially on a budget near this one.

    The previously mentioned application is a good case in point: the money saved in hardware was easily ate up in service/support to troubleshoot the program.

    I like the Intel D865GBFL motherboard, and if you're going budget, a Celeron D 320 will fit nicely ($165 shipped from Newegg).

    In an office environment, the performance delta is not so critical, and I don't mind spending $35 more if it reduces support issues.

    Just something to conside...

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