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This week marks the first week that we bring back a once popular and highly missed section of AnandTech, the buyers guide. Our last buyers guide was actually published almost a year ago. In August 2001 we published our most recent Buyer's Guide: Value Systems which consisted of a single article covering the full range of value systems we look at: value SOHO, value gaming, and value professional 3D. Typically this article was followed up with a Buyer's Guide: High-End Systems article that was composed of the high-end range of system types. Although we are going to keep the key aspects of the buyer's guide that many readers enjoyed, this time around things are going to be done a bit differently.

What we will keep doing is brining you up to date system configuration suggestions on the type of system that you are interested in. Although it is impossible to suggest a single configuration for each individual in each situation, what we can and will do is provide you with recommendations towards a system setup; recommendations which can be altered appropriately for each user's specific needs. We will do what we have always done in buyer's guides: spec out a system using reliable components from reputable vendors. Remember, these prices are not necessarily the lowest prices on the web but are meant to be representative of what is out there and representative of what we think is the best solution in one of the six categories.

Changing this time around will be the format of the buyer's guides. We will maintain the six specific categories, value SOHO, value gaming, value professional 3D, high-end SOHO, high-end gaming, and high-end professional 3D, but this time around the recommendations will not be lumped together. Instead, we will be publishing one recommendation from each category weekly. We kick off the buyer's guide with the value SOHO category and will continue next week with the value gaming category. After the value and high-end recommendations are made we will do one article on a dream configuration. At this rate, new recommendations for each system will come every eight weeks so in eight weeks from today you can expect an updated value SOHO buyer's guide. Not only does this keep the system recommendations fresher, it also keeps the price estimates more accurate.

Every component in a recommend system, from case to monitor, is covered. The only hidden costs are shipping costs, which can add anywhere from 5% to 10% to the total system cost depending on what you get and from where. The best way to keep shipping costs down is to order as much as possible from a single vendor or pick things up locally. Be sure to take a look at the AnandTech Hot Deals Forum to see if any AnandTech readers have posted a special deal on a piece of hardware in the recommended system. Also be sure to check out our Weekly CPU & Video Card Price Guide and our Weekly Memory & Motherboard Price Guide to see if prices have been updated since the buyer's guide was last posted.

Like before, an OS for each system is recommended but the OS price is not included in the final system price listed.

This Month

This month we take a look at the value SOHO class of machines to determine what configuration would best fit a large number of value SOHO computer owners. The small office/home office machine has a unique set of requirements. It must provide quick and snappy 2D performance and be very stable. The keys to good performance on such a machine is lots of RAM and a fast hard drive. This system should be able to run almost anything that most business users might throw at it. Obviously when looking at any system in the value market, we are concerned with price as well as performance. As a result, the value SOHO configuration will not consist of the latest and greatest hardware but rather hardware to help you work faster and more efficiently.

As this is the first buyer's guide in almost a year it is not too surprising that the system configuration of our value SOHO recommendation has changed quite a bit. A few things do remain the same, including the type of processor used and the recommended optical drive solution, but the other recommendations are a bit different today. We knew we did want a couple of things in our value SOHO configuration: a DDR capable motherboard, a good quality display, and a fairly fast hard drive. Let's see what we came up with.

Value SOHO
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