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 Building an Entry-level PC

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Number of posts : 209
Age : 32
Location : CDM,IndiA
Job/hobbies : Till now Student
Registration date : 2008-10-21

PostSubject: Building an Entry-level PC   Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:03 pm

Building an Entry-level PC


Exams are over, market is looking stable, post budget prices (with whatever little changes) are in effect, there have been a handful of new releases on the hardware front too; I believe it's time to shop for a new PC. Let's start with an entry-level system. Mind you, I am not talking about the cheapest computer one can buy, but a good all-round system that has a little bit of something for everybody, and at the same time, isn't too taxing on the wallet. So let's begin.

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (Rs. 3,600)

The Athlon X2 4800+ was once AMD's flagship model when they introduced their dual core CPUs. It now sells for way under 4K; a price tag hard to imagine back then. This processor has 2 cores running at 2.5 GHz with 512 KB of L2 cache each. That is more than sufficient muscle for an entry level system. Also, the motherboard that we plan to use in this system, gives us the flexibility of upgrading to a Tri-core or a Quad-core Phenom CPU at a later stage.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H (Rs. 5,500)

The 690G chipset from AMD was a big hit here. We tested a handful of motherboards based on that chipset and were quite pleased with their performance, features, stability and value. Now, they have launched their next generation chipset - the 780G which strives to take all of the above parameters higher by a few notches. Gigabyte promptly launched a motherboard based on this very chipset, and today, we will recommend the same for this system.

The Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H is what I would term as a complete board in terms of features. Being a Socket AM2+ platform, it supports the entire spectrum of AMD CPUs that are compatible with Socket AM2 and AM2+, right from your Athlon to Athlon X2 to the Tri-Core and Quad Core Phenoms. Feature list includes 5 SATA ports, 4 DIMM slots for DDR2 memory up to 1066 MHz, x16 PCI-E slot, 2 PCI slots, x1 PCI-E slot, loads of USB ports, Firewire port, eSata port, HDMI output, integrated ATI Radeon HD3200 based graphics with support for Hybrid CrossfireX with certain ATI cards, onboard Unified Video Decoder for high definition video processing making it HDCP compliant the list continues.

RAM: Transcend 2 x 1 GB DDR2 800 MHz (Rs. 2,000)

This may be an entry-level system but having ample RAM to play with is always a good thing. Also, we will be sharing some amount of main memory with the onboard display, so we better go for 2 GB. And since the price of memory is pretty low, we won't even feel the pinch. Opt for two strips of 1 GB each to make use of the Dual Channel feature the motherboard offers that theoretically doubles the memory bandwidth and provides a significant boost in performance.

Hard Disk: Hitachi or Seagate 250 GB SATA Drive (Rs. 2,500)

Like RAM, Hard drives have also become affordable. So get at least a 250 GB SATA drive from Hitachi or Seagate for this system. Both drives have an 8 MB buffer and are fast and silent operators. If you feel you need more space, opt for a higher capacity hard drive. My pick would be the Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500 GB drive which is an amazing combination of performance and value.

Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 793S (Rs. 4,300)

The tried and tested Samsung 793S retains its place yet again. With excellent color reproduction and contrast, and admirable picture quality, this monitor remains a very good buy. Those who wish to buy an LCD will have to spend another 5K. ViewSonic VA1912WB or VA1926WB would be good options.

Graphics: Onboard ATI Radeon HD3200 (N.A.)

The AMD 780G chipset boards happen to be the first ones to bring DirectX 10 compatibility to onboard graphics. This board has an ATI Radeon HD3200 based chip to do the graphics processing. Since it's a derivative of the Radeon 3xxx series, it is fully compliant with DirectX 10. Also, it is arguably the most powerful onboard GPU till date. It is capable of playing a lot of recent games at low resolution. Don't expect it to run Crysis though.

In order to boost the graphics performance, the board has a PCI-E x16 slot. You can either use it to plug in a powerful 3D card from the Geforce 8/9 series or the ATI Radeon HD38xx series or if you are on a tight budget, you can simply plug in a basic ATI Radeon 3450 based card and run it in conjunction with the onboard 3200 chip to obtain higher performance than a standalone 3450 card. Say Hello to Hybrid Graphics. A point to note - the hybrid graphics currently work only with the Radeon 2400 and 3400 series of cards from ATI. Other PCI Express cards will work in standard mode.

Sound Card: Onboard Realtek ALC889A 8-channel audio (N.A.)

The motherboard is equipped with a Realtek ALC889A 8-channel sound chip. It produces a good quality output. It boasts of HD capabilities and a 106dB SNR. The performance is more than satisfactory when you couple it with any decent speaker system.

Speakers: Artis S111R 2.1 Channel System (Rs. 1,100)

A good multimedia experience is incomplete without a good set of speakers. Since we are on a budget, I wouldn't recommend anything extravagant but a good 2.1 channel speaker set is always within reach. Hence I would recommend the good old Artis S500 but these days, it's a bit hard to find. So the other alternative would be Artis S111R. They offer good value for money and also come with an inline volume control and an integrated FM radio module.

Optical Drive: Lite-On 20X SATA DVD Writer (Rs. 1,400)

No changes here. The DVD writer takes care of all your CD and DVD Read Write needs and is extremely affordable too. And this Lite-On drive is arguably the fastest one around.

ATX Cabinet with Powersafe 300 Watts SMPS (Rs. 1,400)

A decent looking, spacious cabinet with 300 Watts of power will take care of all the components. For the above setup, 300Watts of power should be enough. However I would recommend a 400 Watts SMPS from the Powersafe Gold series or Zebronics Platinum series if you intend to add a Graphics card or increase the number of hard drives.

Logitech Standard Keyboard (Rs. 300)

Add a sturdy and ergonomic keyboard for your typing needs or gaming sessions. The Logitech spill-resistant keyboard is a good choice and is also designed to let liquids go through, just in case you spill some.

Logitech or Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse (Rs. 400)

A basic optical mouse for your clicking needs. Logitech and Microsoft both have decent offerings in this segment. Either of them would be a good choice.

LAN: Onboard Ethernet Adapter (N.A.)

The motherboard has an onboard LAN chip if you need one for your internet connection or to get your PC on the network.

Configuration Revisited

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ CPU (Rs. 3,600)
Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H Motherboard (Rs. 5,500)
Transcend 2 x 1 GB DDR2 800 MHz Memory (Rs. 2,000)
ATX Cabinet with Powesafe/Zebronics 300 Watts SMPS (Rs. 1,400)
Hitachi or Seagate 250 GB SATA Hard Disk (Rs. 2,500)
Samsung SyncMaster 793S Monitor (Rs. 4,300)
Onboard ATI Radeon HD3200 based Graphics (N.A.)
Lite-On 20X SATA DVD Writer (Rs. 1,400)
Onboard Realtek ALC889A 8-channel audio (N.A.)
Artis S111R 2.1 Channel Speakers (Rs. 1,100)
Logitech Spill-resistant Standard Keyboard (Rs. 300)
Logitech or Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse (Rs. 400)
Onboard LAN (N.A.)

Total - Rs. 22,500/-

Cost of software extra, be it an operating system or licensed copies of games.

There you go. You can use this system for your everyday work, as a media and entertainment system that also includes a bit of gaming and at the same time, it has a fair headroom for upgrade. Just add a decent graphics card and it also becomes a good entry level gaming PC. As I said before, it has a little bit of something for everyone.
Enjoy your shopping.

Source: TechTree
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