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)
$73
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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  • VaultDweller - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    Yeah, the GA-EP45-UD3R motherboard used for the Intel Budget does not have on-board video. That's a pretty critical omission. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    Ha, that's hysterical! I didn't even catch it (and just built my gaming rig with the UD3R), but that is quite a big omission. Funny story, I had been so used to my previous builds having even rudimentary integrated graphics I built the barebones system (cpu, ram, psu, hd) and turned it on hoping to get to the bios screen....only to realize there was no integrated graphics! I hate that first power on and like to have the least things possible in case of a short, but had to plug in my nice 4870 to POST.

    But yeah, fix that one guys! It's a great board, but doesn't fit this article. Running my E8500 @ 3.85GHz, stock voltage.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    Deja vu, didn't they do the same thing in one of the guides last year? Reply
  • 7Enigma - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    I believe so. This is a problem that would never happen if the systems were actually built as opposed to just mixing and matching parts. It's been a constant request in the comments section, and while it would require shipping some parts around, it would be nice to have these systems built so some baseline benchmark comparisons could be made (ie instead of saying the AMD and Intel systems are similar in performance for price, you could show in this benchmark Intel is better, in this one AMD is better, and then select the components based on the individual's needs).

    More importantly it would prevent component incompatibility.
    Reply
  • SpaceRanger - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    I was going to pass this article around to a couple of people who were looking to make a budget machine, but with inaccuracies as egregious as this, I can't do it.

    Slowly but surely I'm losing faith in AT as a site.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 16, 2009 - link

    The error is corrected and we are sorry the editing mistake disappointed you so much. The ability to correct errors in real-time is one of the real advantages of web-publishing, but we certainly don't want to abuse that capability.

    I think it is now safe for you to print and pass around the article.
    Reply

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