$800 Budget PC Buyer’s Guide -- Updated Prices and Parts For October 2008

Maximum PC Staff

As some of you may recall, we featured a Budget Badass Buyer’s Guide at the beginning of the month to provide some guidance to those looking for solid performance at what we, Maximum PC, would consider to be a reasonable price. We read your responses to the build and many felt that $1500 was a bit over what the typical user would consider “budget.” So, we took it a step further and created a Budget PC below the $1500 mark. In fact, we even dropped it under $1000. At $800, we couldn’t quite figure out if it would even be possible to construct a PC that could play the latest games or even do some basic photo-manipulation in Photoshop. We stepped up to the challenge and built this Budget PC and put it to the test against our hardcore, $5000 machines to see how they match up.

Since we are still in the process of assembling the rig, benchmarks have yet to be run. For now, we give you our parts list. Check back soon for the results from our tests!





(Prices as listed on Newegg)

Videocard

Visiontek Radeon HD 4850
$185, www.visiontek.com

Named the Best of the Best mid-range video card, the Visiontek Radeon HD 4850 offers everything you need in a sub-$200 video card.  Don't be afraid to toss the latest games at this GPU, just don't expect Crysis to amaze you with anything over 10 FPS.

Motherboard

MSI P45 Neo3
$110, www.msicomputer.com

Sporting Intel's latest P45 chipset, the P45 Neo3 is a toned down version of the popular P45 Platinum . The board only has one 16x PCI-E slot leaving the idea for SLI or Crossfire in the dust, but with our budget at $800, adding another video card to the equation is definitely out of the question.

CPU

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz Wolfsdale
$170 (Retail), www.intel.com

A few years ago, purchasing a PC with a Pentium 4 3GHz processor for under $800 was nearly impossible. Now, we can easily slip in a Core 2 Duo at a fairly low price. The E8400 Wolfsdale core features a 6MB L2 cache and 45nm technology allowing for a larger memory bandwidth. The chip also has massive overclocking potential.

Memory

Corsair 2GB DDR2 800
$37, www.corsair.com

We've recommended 4GB in our past build-it guides for the hardcore users, but with a budget of $800, 2GB will suffice for this system. With quality memory from Corsair, the XMS series will provide great performance for the budget user.

Case, power supply, hard drive, and optical drive on the next page!

Case

Antec Three Hundred
$55, www.antec.com

Antec has always had a solid series of chassis. While the Three Hundred lacks a few features such as screwless mounting and a fairly cramped interior, it still offers plenty of cooling and a sturdy design. And for $55, we can't really complain since it's half the price of its budget case rival, the NZXT Tempst .

Power Supply

Antec EarthWatts 500W
$50, www.antec.com

We're usually a little weary on "green" hardware for our PCs, but the EarthWatts series from Antec is no joke when it comes to energy efficiency. With its 80 PLUS Certification and stable power output, not only will you be saving money building your PC, but you'll also be saving on your energy bill.

Operating System

Windows Vista 32-bit Home Basic
$100 (OEM), www.microsoft.com

Ubuntu Linux
Free, www.ubuntu.com

Hard Drive

Seagate 500GB Barracuda
$70, www.seagate.com

Seagate's popular Barracuda series has still yet to disappoint. So, when we were looking for a budget hard drive, we first turned to this 500GB Barracuda. 500GB may not be enough storage for the hardcore users out there, but it is plenty to the average user.

Optical Drive

Samsung SH-S223F DVD Burner
$26, www.samsung.com

We've hyped up this drive for the past few build-it guides. With it's solid performance and affordable price, we feel this burner is suitable for any system or budget.


Total: $803

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