PC Buyerâs Guide â Low End
PC Buyerâs Guide â Low End
The budget for this gaming PC is $1000 US. This is a guide to putting together a complete computer, which means speakers, keyboard, mouse and monitor are included.
This is a guide to putting together a complete computer, which means speakers, keyboard, mouse and monitor are included. For this guide I have tried to put together the computer that will give you the most reliable PC and the best overall gaming experience, AS IS. That means I am assuming that you will not be overclocking the system (since most people do not!). So please, no flames concerning âthis [name of part here] is a better overclocker than [name of part I recommended]!â
Wondering why I didn't recommend the 2.4C GHz Pentium 4? While an excellent overclocker and a good value when compared to other Pentium 4 processors, it will cost you double what this
Heatsink and Fan â Thermaltake Volcano 7+
Nothing takes care of cooling the Athlon XP like a solid copper cooler. This heatsink will amply cool the Athlon XP. It has a manual fan controller allowing you to decide the air flow and fan noise.
Motherboard â nForce2 Ultra 400
Since its release last year, no other chipset for
Hard Drive â Western Digital âSpecial Editionâ 80 GB
The Special Editionâs 8 MB cache offers boosted hard drive performance, always a plus. This drive also carries a three year warranty, nice considering in recent months most hard drive manufacturers have shortened their warranties to only one year.
Memory â 512 MB Corsair XMS TWINX512-PC3200C2
Corsair has a reputation for producing high quality, overclockable memory modules. Their XMS series boasts lower memory timings to allow for increased bandwidth. The TWINX series is designed to take advantage of the nForce2âs dual channel memory controller. This
Video Card â
With the new GeForce and Radeon cards on the market, the previous generations of cards have started to drop in price, as usual. For those not familiar with this model, this card is a Radeon 9800 Pro with half of the pixel pipelines disabled (so only 4 pipelines instead of 8). It does, however, still use the 256 bit memory interface meaning lotâs of memory bandwidth, which is always a good thing (Note: many manufacturers are selling models using only a 128 bit memory interface, meaning a big drop in performance!). Its performance and price is around that of the Radeon 9600 Pro. What makes it a more attractive buy is the possibility of soft modding this card (easily done by using the Omega
If you donât feel like taking the risk, go ahead and buy yourself a GeForce FX 5900 XT (sometimes called the 5900 SE). Like the Radeon9800SE it uses a 256 bit memory interface, give it a significant performance advantage over the similarly priced GeForce FX 5700 Ultra. Priced the same as the Radeon 9600 XT and significantly faster, it makes an attractive buy. As an added bonus, NVIDIA recently announced select 5900s will be bundled with the game âCall of Duty.â
Not an NVIDIA fan and want an alternative to the 9800SE? Then look no further than the Radeon 9500 Pro, which can still can be found here and there. This card has been on the market quite a while now. A Radeon 9700 with only a 128 bit memory interface, it still holds an large advantage over the 9600 series since it features 8 pixel pipeline as opposed to the 9600 series' 4. As an added benefit, if you can find the right card, the 9500 Pro can be softmodded to a 9700 (re-enabling the 256 bit memory interface).
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Sound Card â Onboard NVIDIA SoundStorm or Audigy ES
Part of the MCP-T Southbridge on high end nForce2 motherboards, NVIDIA SoundStorm is Dolby Digital certified 5.1 sound. In terms of audio performance it falls somewhere between an Audigy and an Audigy 2 and indeed in benchmarks offers lower CPU utilization than the Audigy 2. What sets this onboard sound solution apart from others is the use of an Audio Processing Unit, eliminating the need of the onboard sound to rely heavily on the CPU for processing power. It does however lack some of the advanced audio features of the Audigy line (like EAX Advanced HD and 24 bit audio capabilities).
For those of you who donât wish to use onboard sound and are looking for an add in card, the Audigy ES (a cheaper version of the Audigy that lacks the Firewire port) comes in at a price tag of around $40 US, an excellent low cost Dolby Digital 5.1 solution. For those of you yearning for Dolby Digital 7.1 sound, the Hercules Fortissimo
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Every computer today needs a CD-RW drive; fortunately CD-RW drives have become incredibly affordable (I still remember when my Plextor 40x12x40A cost me $150 US!). I chose the Samsung model not only because it supports the fastest burning speeds, but it is one of the few CD-RW drives that comes with an increased 8 MB buffer (a normal drive only has 2 MB), allowing for better burning performance. It also includes Nero 5.5, an excellent piece of burning software.
With prices so low, there is no excuse to go ahead and put a
Network â Onboard 10/100 NIC
The nForce2 motherboards offer excellent onboard network solutions, no need to go and purchase a separate network card. For those of you wondering where the modem is, let me say this: gamers donât use modems! Get broadband!
Case and Power Supply
Okay Iâm going leave this one open to your decision. Find a case you think suites you. The most important thing is to make sure it has a reliable power supply though, or purchase a case without a power supply and purchase a power supply seperately. Make sure to get at least a 350 Watt power supply, I recommend the following brands: Antec, Enermax or Thermaltake.
If you want my personal choice I would recommend the Antec Lanboy. An aluminum case (aluminum offers better cooling and is much lighter than the traditional steel), side window, a carrying strap for when you want to haul your rig to a
Monitor â 17â
While an LCD monitor may be nice and definitely save on desktop space, its way too pricey for a budget gaming machine like this. For a
My personal recommendation: the Samsung SyncMaster 755DF-T/T. A sleek black and silver monitor featuring an extremely good .20 dot pitch, a flat screen and supports resolutions up to 1280x1024 @ 65 Hz. All this makes this low-cost monitor an excellent choice for a low budget gaming PC like this.
Speakers â Logitech Z640 5.1 Speakers
Regardless of what choice you made for your sound, you will want a good set of speakers. The quality of sound can really add to the gaming experience so donât sell yourself short on the speakers. You want to hear when someone is sneaking up from behind you in multiplayer, enjoy the theater experience watching
Keyboard and Mouse â Logitech Premium Desktop Optical
This low cost keyboard and mouse bundle features the Logitech Black Internet Keyboard and the cordless Logitech Optical Wheel Mouse Pro. An optical mouse is a must for a gamer, as it offers the enhanced precision you will need in First Person Shooters. And cordless is always a nice way to go when you are trying to cut down on the clutter of cords on your desktop.