PC Guide

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Well, it is Christmas time, so this might be a good guide for those of you who want to give the gift of computing. As usual, we’ll cover a “high value” system and a “low cost” system. The best value means the best price/performance for a computer but it is more expensive. The “low cost” means it not insanely cheap, but as low as you can get without really sacrificing either quality or good performance.
Ironically, most “high value” systems seem to come out at $1000-$1500 while the “low cost” ones come out at $500-750 no matter how I do it. I mainly use Anandtech and pricegrabber as guides for this. They are the best at this analysis so far. In each case, we’ll use overclocking to improve the overall performance.
The main references are:
* AnandTech: Price Guides November 2004: CPU and Motherboards. The socket 754 for low cost and the socket 939 for high value.
* “Optical and Disk Drivers”:http://anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=2267. Not many changes here, but the big splurge is going two spindles for the high value system. For both systems, the $70 NEC 3500A is a great choice. Dual Layer, 16x DVD writer, what could be better?
* “Video and Memory”:http://anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=2259. Memory-wise, last month the Crucial “Ballistix 3200”:http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=2145&p=9
* “19” LCD Monitors Reviewed”:http://anandtech.com/displays/showdoc.aspx?i=2289. Good review of wonderful monitors.
h3. High Value PC
Ok, the main controversial recommendation here is to have a two disk drive system. Disk to me is the biggest achilles heel of performance right now. Having two spindles makes things really, really fast as swapping is the single biggest detriment to performance. It is expensive, but super worth it.
| Part | Cost | Comment |
| Athlon 64 3200+ | “$198”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=4605951&blsrt=1 | 2GHz |
| OCZ Platinum Rev 2 | “$270”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=3762101 | Fast CL2 2×512 |
| “Gigabyte K8NXP-9”:http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2273 | $130 | K8NXP-SLI coming |
| “NEC 3500A”:http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2260&p=18 | “$67”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=3648375&blsrt=1 | DVD Burner |
| “Maxtor DiamondMax 300”:http://www.storagereview.com/articles/200410/200410087B300S0-2_1.html | “$196”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=3173558&blsrt=1 | Fast and big |
| “Western Digital 740GD”:http://www.storagereview.com/articles/200401/20040126WD740GD_1.html | “$172”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=1733497&blsrt=1 | The fastest |
| nVidia 6800GT | $400 | Not as fast with Half Life, but can SLI |
| nuTech 691 | $410 | Get a pair and live! |
| “Seasonic Silent Silencer 460”:http://silentpcreview.com/article28-page3.html | “$109”:http://www.newegg.com/app/searchProductResult.asp?Submit=Go&Range=1&InnerCata=58&DEPA=0&bop=and&description=seasonic&Order=priceD | silent power supply |
| “Ever Case 4252”:http://silentpcreview.com/article75-page2.html | “60”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=647955 | |
| Total | $1715 |$1315 without monitor |
h3. Low Cost PC
This is a PC optimized with good, but not expensive components. The performance is still amazing, but the drive is the cheapest that is good enough.
| Part | Price | Comment |
| Athlon 64 2800+ | “$129”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=2440485&blsrt=1 | 10% slower |
| Crucial Ballistix 3200 | “$143”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=3762101 | CL2 very fast, but expensive |
| “DFI LanParty nF3 250GB”:http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2198 | “$104”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=4335859 | nForce3 and 8xAGP |
| “NEC 3500A”:http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2260&p=18 | “$67”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=3648375&blsrt=1 | burner |
| “Samsung Spinpoint 1614N”:http://www.storagereview.com/articles/200410/20041016SP1614C_1.html | “$85”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=1224163 | quiet |
| “nVidia 6600GT”:http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2277 | “$220”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=4927855&blsrt=1 | or a $40 Radeon 9200 if not a gamer |
| “Seasonic Silent Tornado 350”:http://silentpcreview.com/article28-page3.html | “$71”:http://www.newegg.com/app/searchProductResult.asp?Submit=Go&Range=1&InnerCata=58&DEPA=0&bop=and&description=seasonic&Order=priceD | |
| “Ever Case 4252”:http://silentpcreview.com/article75-page2.html | “60”:http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=647955 |
| Nutech Monitor | $420 | 19″ LCD |
| Total | $1289 | Add $879 without monitor |

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