Intel Entry-level PC

While Intel still owns the top in the CPU performance, the area from entry to upper midrange is very competitive between Intel and AMD. As pointed out in our Phenom II Guide, the only area still dominated by Intel is the very top, with CPUs at $300 and more. The one advantage that remains for Intel is that their processors generally overclock much better than current AMD CPUs, but that has changed with Phenom II in the midrange. This is not normally a consideration in entry computers, but it could be for some buyers, and at the lowest rungs of the CPU ladder Intel processors remain the best overclockers for now.

Intel Entry-level PC
Hardware Component Price
Processor Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5200 Wolfdale
(2.5GHzx2 65W 2MB L2 800 FSB)
Cooling CPU Retail HSF $-
Video On-Board $-
Motherboard ECS GF7100PVT-MT NVIDIA GeForce 7100 HMDI $60
Memory G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2-800 $37
Hard Drive WD Caviar GP WD5000AACS 500GB $59
Optical Drive Samsung 22X DVDRW/DL SH-S223Q $25
Audio On-Board $-
Case HEC 6K28BSOH48D Micro ATX Mini Tower 485W Power Supply $50
Power Supply Included with Case $-
Base System Total $304
Display Hanns-G HB-175APB Black 17" 8ms Widescreen LCD Monitor Built in Speakers - Retail (1440x900) $99
Speakers Built-in Monitor $-
Input Microsoft CA9-00001 Black PS/2 Standard Keyboard and Optical USB/PS2 Mouse - OEM $16
Operating System Microsoft Vista Home Premium OEM $99
Complete System Bottom Line $518

Our choice for the Intel entry CPU remains the excellent 2.5GHz dual-core E5200 Wolfdale. This 65W rated CPU is built on Intel's 45nm manufacturing that begs you to overclock. The E5200 is rated 800FSB, so right out of the box the first option for overclock, if you are inclined, is to bump it up to a 1066 bus. Even if you never overclock you will be very pleased with the performance of the E5200. The E5200 is an easier choice now that the price is $10 lower at $73 than it was just three months ago. We do not recommend going lower than an E5200 in an Intel system because the trade-offs in performance for the few dollars saved are too great. The E1200 at $50, for example, is dismal compared to the E5200, and certainly not a good choice in performance for the $23 saved.

Unfortunately our favorite Zotac N73PV-Supreme board has been discontinued by Zotac. This was a real surprise considering how well the $60 board sold. The NVIDIA 7100 used in the Zotac is a good chipset choice for an entry Intel 775, so we have chosen the ECS GF7100PVT-MT at the same $60 for the entry Intel system. There is currently a $10 rebate that lowers the price to $50. The ECS provides HDMI output with a DVI to HDMI adapter. If you prefer a real HDMI output on the rear panel you can choose the Gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2H LGA at $69.

The case for the Intel entry system is the solid HEC 6K28BSOH48D Micro ATX mini-tower. HEC is best known as a manufacturer of power supplies. Some are sold under their name, but most are manufactured for other well known power supply brands. HEC includes a 485W PSU with this attractive mini-tower, which should provide plenty of power for your entry Intel build. If you prefer a mid-tower case HEC uses the same PSU in the $50 HEC 6C60BSOH48. You could also choose the Sigma La Vie Aluminum mid-tower featured in the AMD build on the previous page. The rest of the components are virtually identical to the AMD entry-level system.

If we compare the two entry-level systems, the winner depends on what is of value to you. The Intel system is a bit more powerful, but you can move up to a high-end Athlon 64 X2 or a low-end AMD Phenom X3 for comparable performance at less than $100. The full-size AMD ASRock board offers more flexibility for future graphics expansion, with two x16 PCI-E slots and CrossFire X support. If you are a gamer on a strict budget the AMD entry system offers you more for future graphics expansion. For the typical entry-level PC right now and for what the system is typically used for - internet, office, low-end gaming, and low to mid graphics - you can go either route and be very happy.

AMD Entry-level PC AMD Budget
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  • Spivonious - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    What's the point of an HTPC if you're just watching movies on it? Just get a $300 blu-ray player and a $200 Xbox 360 to stream movies from your existing PC.

    The only reason I would build an HTPC is to do the above PLUS act as a DVR. For that you need a tuner card, even if you're not using the actual tuner on it.
  • erple2 - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    Interesting. How many tuner cards support CableCARD's? I don't really know of any that you can buy yourself (without the rest of the computer from an OEM, that is). If I want to watch some encrypted stream (like HBO, Comedy Central, etc), there aren't any options.

    Therefore, the ripping aspect is what I'd wind up using the HTPC for, I'd imagine. That, or the ubiquitous hulu or other ... ahem ... legal means for watching TV shows...

  • Hrel - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    Don't know why you guys didn't include a gaming machine for this price point... so I'll list out some components for you.

    Part : Price
    Antec 300 Mid-Tower computer case : $60
    Scythe S-FLEX SFF21D 120mm Case Fan : $15
    Silverstone ST70F 700W PSU : $125-rebate=100

    GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R Intel P45 : $115-rebate=100
    Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz : $165
    Kingston HyperX 4GB(2 x 2GB) DDR2 800 : $48

    XFX GS250XYDFC GeForce GTS 250 512MB : $130 w/ free game
    Seagate ST3640323AS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache: $70
    LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Blk : $24

    Grand Total= $752 Total with rebates= $712

    Throw in a second hard drive and set up a RAID 0 configuration for 50 percent faster load times and your total is still only $782!!!!

    Add SAMSUNG 2233SW Monitor for $200 ($180 after rebate) and Logitech S-220 17 Watts 2.1 speakers for only $23 and your total is still only $915 or $985 with RAID!!!

    You can even add a TV Tuner for $50-$80 and make it a media pc as well and ur total is STILL only about $800.

    Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1250 Hybrid Video Recorder 1196 PCI-Express x1 Interface
    Hauppauge WINTVHVR1600 Dual Tuner White Box 1101WB PCI Interface
  • Knowname - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - link

    I just bought the Tuniq Potency 650w PSU, it's got 2 pcie connectors (one is 8 pin) and is like 88% efficient at the low end. for $45 after $40 rebate it's a pretty darned good deal. Much more bang for your buck than what you got.">

    here is another one that is 630w, modular, 80-plus bronze efficient, 2pcie's and only $40 after rebate. I've not tried it but it's got good reviews.

  • Hrel - Saturday, March 21, 2009 - link

    yeah, both of those seem pretty good, but they both have fewer 12V rails, they both have less total Wattage and they both have a shorter warranty or none at all. Not to mention Silverstone is reliable high quality, honestly I don't really know if those are any good, in todays market I assume they're not terrible; but the silverstone one hav tons of wattage plenty of amperage, it's modular, it's 88 percent efficient; and that's a reliable number, and it's quiet. I don't know how stable the voltage is on those psu's and I don't know how loud they are. But 100 bucks for a high quality 700W PSU with 4 12V rails that runs silent and has 4 PCIEx6pin and 1PCIEx8 pin connectors is very fair. The other ones only had two PCIE-connectors, so you won't be SLI'ing any 9800GTX+'s or GTX260's. Don't every skimp on mobo or PSU, EVER!
  • Knowname - Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - link">
  • Hrel - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    If your really concerned with noise, you should get this case.
    NZXT HUSH Black SECC Steel/ Aluminum/ Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case">

    it's awesome and priced fairly.

    Don't care about noise and want good cooling? Get one of these.
    Thermaltake V9">
    Antec 900">
  • Hrel - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    You can take another ten bucks off that price if you use this case instead: Thermaltake WingRS 201 VJ60001N2Z Black, it's $50; but it's out of stock right now.
  • Hrel - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    Not really dude: If you want to game, spend an extra 20 bucks and get the Wolfdale CPU, double the cache and a faster FSB AND a higher clock speed. They've got you spending an extra 20 bucks on the motherboard for no reason, there's no reason to their Gigabyte board instead of the one I listed. They have you paying for 1066MHz DDR2 instead of DDR2 800, which doesn't matter if you don't wanna overclock; and I'd rather have Kingston DDR2800 over any other brand of DDR21066 if the prices are about the same.

    With my system you get an extra 140GB of storage for only 10 bucks and your getting Seagate instead of WD, that doesn't really matter as far as quality, but Seagate generally has a better Warranty. They've got you buying a Samsung DVD drive when for one dollar less you can get an LG drive; so that's a pretty obvious choice, LG beats ALL!

    I've never liked Cooler Master cases, every single one I've worked with has felt like is was built using cheap materials. Antec 300 is a much better choice for cooling quality noise and room. The power supply they use costs less, but it's lower wattage which means more noise, and the fan makes more noise. The Silverstone 700W PSU, that anandtech reviewed, is almost always the way to go; unless your building a low end system or stupidly high end system.

    I don't know if any of you have tried to deal with Viewsonic when you have to return one of their products or get warranty work done, but they're impossible to work with. We used to use them at the computer store I worked at, but we switched to only Samsung and LG because even though Viewsonic is cheaper, their warranties are worthless because they just won't help you; and the quality is lower. For 5 bucks I'd rather have the speakers I picked, but those are good too. I didn't list a keyboard mouse combo, but Logitech all the way. The one they used for HTPC computers was a good choice at a good price.
  • 7Enigma - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    The problem is they are building a complete system. $20 here and $20 there, having a monitor, and keyboard/mouse, and suddenly you've increased the price by >10%.

    I like these builds because it allows me to say, "Well I already have an existing case/mobo/monitor/keyboard/mouse/OS, so I can look at the Budget Build but cut the cost in 1/2".

    I think most of us that build systems rarely have a completely new system from scratch to build (unless you are building for someone else). We normally keep the case for a couple builds, monitor for a couple, and personally I use the keyboard/mouse until they die. I only recently upgraded the HD from my 80gig Maxtor to a 250gig WD because of the huge size of Vista and the ever increasing size of games. So while we will probably always argue over the exact components, rarely are we going to be building a complete system like in the guides.

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