Buyer's Guide: Value Systems - May 2001by Mike Andrawes on April 25, 2001 12:55 AM EST
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- Fong Kai FK-603 - $75
We loved the Fong Kai FK-603 when we first tested it, and it’s the perfect case for our value systems. It’s only $75, but has plenty of space for everything in our system. What makes it the clear choice is the ease of access to the interior and excellent cooling for a case this size. It also features an AMD approved power supply which is perfect for the Duron in this system.
You could also go with a microATX case to save a bit more money, but the price differential isn’t worth being locked into such limited expansion.
For more information, read our Fong Kai FK-603 Review.
Sound card - Integrated AC97 Audio - “free”
The host-based AC97 CODEC will get you by for basic sound needs, but it eats up precious CPU resources when in use and the sound quality is less than ideal. If you really need to keep the cost as low as possible, stick with this, but otherwise get a “real” hardware PCI sound card, even if you just want to play MP3’s.
Speakers - Generic - $20
The AC97 CODEC isn’t of the highest quality either, so there’s no need to go with a hi-fi speaker set here. We just need something to get us by for basic Windows sounds, so just go down to any local store and see what you can find for $20 or less.
Ethernet - Linksys EtherFast 10/100 - $20
We use Linksys products here in the AnandTech lab all the time and have never been disappointed. Besides, at just $20 for a card with full support directly from the manufacturer under the major OS’s, including Linux and Windows 2000, the EtherFast 10/100 is a deal that’s impossible to pass up.
Hard drive - IBM Deskstar 75GXP 30GB - $125
We still maintain that hard drive speed is one of the biggest bottlenecks in a system, so we won’t skimp in this category. As such, we’ve simply chosen a smaller version of the drive in our high-end system, the 30GB IBM Deskstar 75GXP, which also happens to be the fastest IDE drive available today and even includes a Ultra ATA/100 interface. There is no performance difference between this drive and the larger versions other than the available disk space.
If you simply need more space, you can either drop down to a 5400rpm drive or pay a bit more for a larger 7200rpm model. Larger 75GXP's can be had for only $20-50 more. For more information read our IBM Deskstar 75GXP Review.
CD-ROM/CD-RW/DVD-ROM - Name brand 40X - 50X CD-ROM - $40
While many will suggest going with the cheapest CD-ROM you can find, we highly recommend going with a name brand, not just the cheapest generic. Our experience with the no-names is that many of them do not perform as advertised, and even have trouble reading less than perfect discs. Acer, Creative Labs, Toshiba, and Teac all do an excellent job.
- Windows 2000 - $250
You want to get work done, right? Well you definitely don’t want your system crashing and destroying unsaved work all the time. Windows 2000 is the only way to go for rock solid stability.
Bottom Line: $795 (without software)