Even the Intel fanboys have to hand it to AMD once in a while. After Intel deftly dropped a Core i5 anvil on Phenom II’s head, AMD did a quick drop to floor and now fires back slo-mo style with its own chip: a $99 quad core.
Dubbed the Athlon II X4 620, this 2.6GHz quad core isn’t just leftover parts swept off the factory floor, either. The Athlon II X4 is based on the familiar K10 microarchitecture in the Phenom and Phenom II, but it’s actually a newer, smaller die. In fact, the new chip has less than half the transistors of a Phenom II X4 processor. Much of the shrinkage comes at the expense of cache. While the Phenom II packs 6MB of L3, the budget Athlon II X4 features none.
The TDP of the new Athlon II X4 chips (there are two, but only one is sub $100) is also considerably lower than the top-end Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition chip at 95 watts versus 140 watts. Other than the TDP and lack of L3 cache, the CPUs are essentially the same as their Phenom predecessors.
Read on for our full analysis, review, and benchmarks!
Back in December, we gave you the low-down on how to build a kick-ass $800 gaming PC. Well, lately the economy has been in a bit of a shamble, so we’ve lowered our price ceiling to spec out a tightly budgeted $500 rig that will deliver admirable gaming framerates and still leave you some cash to actually buy some games and pay off that credit-card debt.
The last time we conducted a $500 PC build-off (October, 2007), we matched a Allendale-based Core 2 E4300 CPU with a Nvidia 8500GT, which gave us pathetic FEAR and Quake 4 benchmark results. That build cut so many corners that we even opted out of a case and used a cardboard box instead (in retrospect, a really bad idea). Almost two years later, the tech is better and prices for some component categories have dramatically dropped. A bit wiser and gutsier, we were determined to build a PC that could actually play modern games.
In order to keep the machine under $500, we factored out the price of purchasing an operating system, and assume that you already have a copy of Windows XP, Vista, or the Windows 7 Beta lying around. And obviously, we were forced to restrain ourselves from choosing the high-end premium parts that we would normally recommend to readers. But despite the low cost, we actually didn't have to make any real compromises to get a solid gaming machine. Our (relatively) cheapo PC actually surprised us in our benchmark tests -- scoring close to our zero-point system -- and made us feel confident that a rock bottom price doesn’t automatically mean rock bottom performance.
Join us as we take on the $500 Gaming PC Challenge!
It's been far too long since we've run a Parts and Price Guide on the website, but we're now ready to get back into the groove of monthly component recommendations for your next PC build. This month, we're starting off with a $1000 PC. You'll be surprised at how much power and storage you can get for a grand -- even we're hesitant to call it a mere budget rig. In the following weeks, we'll also be running guides for $1500, $2000 systems, and will even try assembling and benchmarking a $500 configuration for the really budget-conscious (the troubled economy pretty much mandates it!). But for now, take a dive into our choices for a respectable system, and sound off on how you would build your PC differently!
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!
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!
We thought maybe Jointech's $99 mini laptop would be the first sub $100 notebook to make it big in the market, but Gartner analysts say that the prices of mini-notebooks are unlikely to drop to that magical price range for at least another three years. Analysts warn, though, that the focus of breaking the $100 barrier should be shifted to other issues related to mini-notebooks such as determining relevant hardware specifications and power requirements.
Annette Jump, research director at Gartner, believes that the declining prices of hardware along with the increased demand for the devices could potentially reduce prices by 10 to 15 percent in the next two to three years. Will this decline in prices be enough to break the $100 barrier? Jump believes that in order for mini-notebooks to be successful in the consumer and business realm, they should not be considered a computing device but rather a device to explore the Internet and a way for people to work, play, and communicate.
“We expect to see increased product innovation in the PC market during the next few years,” said Ms. Jump. “Mini-notebooks will create opportunities to reach many buyers across all regions, both in mature markets as additional devices, and in emerging markets as PCs.”
Back in our April 2008 issue, we showed you how to configure and build a $1,500 no-compromises PC. Our budget badass wasn’t just an affordable “lean machine,” it performed admirably in our system benchmarks, earning respectable scores in comparison to our desktop testbed. Now that it’s several months later, and we wanted to give you an update to our component recommendations. Not only have hardware prices dropped since we wrote the story, but new technologies and products have also emerged that give you more for your money. In fact, our no-compromises $1,500 PC now only costs $1,320, that’s including upgraded parts. By Grabthar’s Hammer, what a savings!
Read on to find out how we configured our new Budget Badass.
Selecting the perfect computer case is like scouting the grocery store for a bottle of wine. And as oenophiles of all knowledge levels and palates know, you can’t judge a bottle by its price. In that sense, we’re scooping from the bargain bin in this month’s mega-roundup of computer cases: Only chassis priced at $100 or less are eligible.
Just because a case is cheap doesn’t mean it’s poor. So before you plunk down a pile of cash on your next case, see how these sub-$100 boxes stack up against their pricier brethren.
We find ourselves wondering how a company like NZXT can do a better job of creating a budget version of Antec’s gamer line than Antec itself. That’s not to say the Three Hundred is a bad case; it just has little that’s special.
Hit the jump to discover what, if anything, the Three Hundred has to offer.