Budget Badass Buyer’s Guide -- Updated Prices and Parts For October 2008

Maximum PC Staff

Since our last Budget Badass update back in July, the hardware industry has made some dramatic turns as far as new technology goes. With the release of the energy-efficient Penryn core from Intel, we took a side step away from the Kentsfield core and took a swing at the Q9300. While the Q9300 sports a slightly smaller cache than the Q6600, we found the Penryn to perform better in our tests. With the extra leeway we had in the budget from the previous configuration, we also swapped out the Radeon 4870 for a beefier GTX 280 while keeping the final price tag under $1500. Now this, my friends, is what we would like to call a Budget Badass!


BFG GeForce GTX 280 1GB
$389, www.bfgtech.com

With the drop in video card prices, we couldn't help but to move up the graphic card chain to the next best thing . The GTX 280 is faster across all benchmarks against the Radeon 4870 and features all the video-processing capabilities available on the 9000 series cards.


MSI P35 Neo2-FR
$120, www.msicomputer.com

One of our best budget motherboards to date. Offering stellar performance with a price tag hovering around the $100 zone, this motherboard will meet all your budget standards and more.


Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.5GHz Penryn
$259 (Retail), www.intel.com

Despite the chip's smaller cache size, the 5-percent clock-speed advantage and its faster benchmark results were enough to put this chip ahead of the Q6600.


Patriot 4GB DDR2 800
$80, www.patriotmem.com

Memory seems to be getting cheaper and cheaper these days, giving one more reasons to go for the full 4GB. Since Vista is known for it's memory thievery, it wouldn't hurt to stock up on the extra GB.


NZXT Tempest
$110, www.nxzt.com

This budget case offers a very spacious interior, screwless hard drive bays, and plenty of cooling for the budget user. There's a reason why this chasis received a kickass verdict.

Power Supply

PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610Watt
$110, www.pcpower.com

PC Power has been known for it's no-BS wattage output, and since we are Maximum PC, we concur with no-BS.

Operating System

Windows XP Professional
$140 (OEM), www.microsoft.com

Alternatively, you can buy the cheaper OEM version of Windows Vista Premium or save a hundred bucks with Ubuntu Linux.

Windows Vista Premium
$110 (OEM), www.microsoft.com

Ubuntu Linux
Free, www.ubuntu.com

Hard Drive

Samsung F1 HD103UJ 1TB
$135, www.samsung.com

It's our Best of the Best hard drive, and since we can't cram a pricey Velociraptor into our tight budget, we feel this 1TB of storage goodness is the next best thing.

Optical Drive

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

We were sad to see the SH-S203N model discontinued after such a good showing, but we were quickly condoled with the SH-S223F and its remarkably fast speeds.

Sound Card

Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
$91, www.creative.com

It's not quite at the level of the Xtremegamer Fatal1ty Pro , but for almost half the cost, this one will tickle your ears just fine.

Total: $1,460

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