TechSpot PC Buying Guide - June 2008

Whether you are a first time builder seeking guidance or a seasoned enthusiast lacking the time it takes to compare the seemingly endless pit of hardware available, we've got you covered. Our buying guides provide an in-depth list of today's best hardware, ranging between three unique and yet typical budgets.

Entry Level Box (<$1,000)
As the title implies, this is not a top-grade machine, however, it is (in our opinion) the best system $800 can buy.

Mid-range Enthusiast's PC (<$2,000)
Essentially, it is a fully-loaded PC minus some of the trinkets and bobbles, offering the majority of those reading this confidence that it will plow down nearly anything shoved in its path.

High-end Luxury System
Here we have a screaming edge system lacking any virtual price cap. Every component in the Luxury System guide was thoughtfully scrutinized in order to offer you the most for your greenback.

View: TechSpot PC Buying Guide - June 2008

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12 Comments

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nvida kicked their own arse with the 8800gt...the price to power ratio is still incredible and the kind of stuff ppl will talk about for years to come. what are they thinking with the gtx series though...at that price! the new series offers little improvement over the 9xxx series. ati just might be starting to finally get their game in gear with some of the new tech...time will tell. great hardware plauged by horrible drivers is the best way to sum up the damit story

(Digix said @ #6)
this is for enthusiasts only has no consideration for general customers/users of computers.

The only lack of consideration is that their numbers are so far off, it makes me wonder if they have ever heard of PriceGrabber (or even comparison-shopping in general), considering that I severely undercut them with a parts list that all but the most e-penis-envious gamer would not turn his/her nose up at.

I basically undercut their entry-level box price with midrange-class parts!

I've already designed a $750 (including tax) quad-core crossgrade for any system with a DVD burner and ATX case (and it still stays under $800 if the case doesn't cut the mustard, and $1000 as a completely-from-scratch build)

Core components:

Corsair XMS2 DDR-2 800 DIMMs (1 GB x 2)
Intel Core2Quad Q6600 (retail-boxed G0)
Gigabyte EP35-DS3L motherboard
Antec EarthWatts 650W (80+ Certified) PSU
Western Digital 500GB SATA-3.0G HDD
Visiontek HD4850 PCIe graphics card

Total cost for core components (pre-tax): $719.94

Adding NZXT's Alpha ATX Mid-tower case ($39.99) and Pioneer's BD reader/DVD-CD writer ($199.99) pushes the pre-tax total to $959.92.

Rather have 45nm? Add $100 (swapping Q9450 for Q6600, also retail-boxed); the same motherboard takes 45nm, too.

So, we're still talking sub-$1500 including keyboard, mouse, decent 22" LCD display, and even Vista Ultimate x64 (OEM, of course; this is a completely-from-scratch).

All at MicroCenter (http://www.microcenter.com). (While the Q6600 price is in-store-only, the Q9450 price is either in-store or online.)


good choice on the motherboard...save yourself a few bucks and get a dual core e8400 wolfdale and overclock the heck out of that biatch...matter of opinion but id opt for the 8800gt or gts but if your a ati fanboy then i totaly understand....everything in that setup is sick....word out

I can get better for less!

My idea would be to buy that "entry-level PC" but remove expenses on case, keyboard, mouse and monitor since a new PC would simply take the place of my old one. I would spend the money I save on buying a 200$ processor and 250$ graphics card. It would tally up to the 800$ range and be as performant as the 1500$ "mid-range" computer.<

I also dislike the article's use of the expression "lacking any virtual price cap" as the price of a computer can reach great heights. Really, the idea of "entry-level" and "high-end" is still too subjective.

I now realise how much the auhtors decision to include monitor, sound system and other accessories sort of brought down the article. I mean, when it comes to keyboards, case and speakers, it's no longer a question of performance, but just a question of preference, as really almost anything will do.

I think most people building their own systems would end up with a mix of these components. A more expensive keyboard isn't going to make your computer faster and unless you're into graphic design, spending over $1000 on a monitor seems a waste.
That's the problem with these "best" systems, they usually end up being a lot of expensive parts slapped together.