Home Systems February 2003

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
February 16, 2003
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20709
Home systems are a different animal. While gaming may rely on sheer speed, quality and stability are the keypoints here. We threw in some speed anyway. Check out the Home guide for Feb 2003!
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Page 1
<B>Intro</B>:

You are lucky that I didn't start the guides, or else I would've started with a probably very long intro. I'll keep this one short though. These guides are to help anyone looking to build a complete system. By complete, I mean from the cpu to the speakers. This is only our opinion, and you may not like what we pick out, and that's fine. I'll be focusing on home systems. What a home system to me is something that can keep every member of the family happy. It isn't too hard to do this with whatever level of budget you have. Let's get started with the budget system.

<B>Case</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Case</td><td>While I was browsing around Newegg I found <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduct.asp?description=11-125-406&DEPA=1">this case</a>. It is a Chenming ATX-301KB-A w/380W PowerSupply. I don't have a clue of the quality of the case, but I wouldn't mind it for $54 shipped, it even comes with a nice wattage PSU. That takes care of two things with one purchase.</td></tr></table>

<B>Motherboard</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Motherboard</td><td>The central part of the computer needs to be very stable and a bunch of features would be great for a home system. That means that VIA is out of the question. While VIA has some nice and fast boards, their stability is a bit lacking. I choose the <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=13-127-144&depa=1">Abit NF7</a>, a nForce 2 solution without built in graphics. The board provides LAN and sound, all for a nice price of $106. You can save some money by going with a cheaper board, but the stability of the nForce is good.</td></tr></table>

<B>CPU</B>:

<table><tr><td>System Guides CPU</td><td>You can't beat the price of an Athlon XP right now. You can't go wrong with a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=19-103-353&depa=1">1800+ Throroughbred retail</a> CPU. It comes with a heatsink and fan for $72. For another $15 you can get a better heatsink/fan, the Volcano 7 (which is what I use right now), but you shouldn't need to.</td></tr></table>

<B>Memory</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide RAM</td><td>There are many types of memory and many different speeds. Even though the CPU that goes with this system is only 266Mhz FSB, we'll use 333Mhz RAM for headroom. <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=20-145-056&depa=0">A 256MB stick of PC2700 Crucial memory is enough to power that system of yours</a>. The cost if only $47.99, and most likely will be going down in price also.</td></tr></table>

<B>Video Card</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Video Card</td><td>I choose features over speed for the home system, especially for budget. We want good 2D and nice 3D as well with DVD decoding and more! I choose the <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=14-131-204&depa=0">Powercolor Radeon 9100</a>. The Radeon 9100 has excellent 2D with enough 3D power for the gamer in your family. All this for $73.</td></tr></table>

<B>Optical Storage</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Optical</td><td>A home system should be an entertainment center, not just a computer. I choose to buy a DVD and a CDRW drive in this system, and still keep the price low. Rebates are your friend though. Staples has a Buslink (which are usually Lite-On drives) <a href="http://instorespecials.staples.com/staples/listing_detail.asp?listingid=-2098682179&storeid=2279028&offerid=">52x CDRW drive</a> on sale for $19.98 (+tax) after a $50 rebate. For the DVD Drive, you can't beat the quality of a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=27-131-109&depa=0">Lite-On 16x</a>. This one is priced at $44.</td></tr></table>

<B>Magnetic Storage</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Hard Drive</td><td>Even though you can find some pretty good deals on Hard Drives with some work, it is difficult without price matching and other tactics. With this in mind, I stuck with a <a href="http://instorespecials.staples.com/staples/listing_detail.asp?listingid=-2098682177&storeid=2279028&offerid=">Maxtor 40GB 7200RPM</a> drive. It is $49.98 (+tax) after a $40 rebate.</td></tr></table>

<B>Monitor</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Monitor</td><td>A monitor is very important for a home system. You'll want a nice and flat CRT for a budget system. <a href="http://instorespecials.staples.com/staples/listing_detail.asp?listingid=-2098682159&storeid=2279028&offerid=">This Envision EN775E</a> is perfect for a home system. I use an Envision LCD and they are great with their products and support. It is $89.99 (+tax) after a $60 rebate.</td></tr></table>

<B>Mouse, Keyboard, Speakers</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Mouse</td><td>Systems Guide Speakers</td><td> Systems Guide Keyboard</td><td>Altec Lansing AVS500w are nice 4.1 speakers on the cheap. Good quality, and the price is right at $35.18 (CompUSA +tax). While your there, pick up one of their Cordless Optical mice for ~$30. They work great, we use two at home here. Don't forget a Logitech Acess Keyboard for $14.09, also at CompUSA. Yes, you'll get screwed on the tax, but it is better than waiting for stuff to get sent to you... (Even though you will with Newegg anyway)</td></tr></table>

<B>OS</B>:

If you want my recommendation, I'd say Linux. In fact, I have Lycoris on one of my boxes and it handles everything nicely, Open Office and MP3, movies and more. That's free! But you'll probably want <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=37-102-014&depa=0">Windows XP Home</a> for another $97 at Newegg.

<B>So in summary, for this month's Home Budget System</B>:
Chenming ATX-301KB-A w/380W PowerSupply $54
Abit NF7 $106
Athlon XP 1800+ Retail $72
Crucial 256MB PC2700 $47.99
Powercolor Radeon 9100 $73
Buslink 52x CDRW $69.98 -$50 rebate (+tax)
Lite On 16x DVD $44
Maxtor 40GB $89.98 - $40 rebate (+tax)
Envision EN775E 17inch $149.99 -$60 rebate (+tax)
AVS500w $35.18 (+tax)
CompUSA Cordless Optical Mouse $29.99 (+tax)
Logitech Access Keyboard $14.09 (+tax)
WinXP Home $97

Total: Without rebates - $883.20 (+$23.36 tax) Minus $150 rebates = $756.56.

And you have a great system for less than $800 (after rebates). Next up is the midrange system.
Page 2
<B>Midrange</B>:

For the midrange system, we've got basically a $1200 or lower budget, so let's pick and choose parts from the budget system to upgrade. The things that come to mind are the Hard Drive and Video Card, and the input devices. We'll see what we can do with another $400.

<B>Case</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Case</td><td>We'll keep the same case. <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduct.asp?description=11-125-406&DEPA=1">This case</a>. It is a Chenming ATX-301KB-A w/380W PowerSupply. Once again, it is $54 shipped with a PSU.</td></tr></table>

<B>Motherboard</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Motherboard</td><td>I choose the <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=13-127-144&depa=1">Abit NF7</a>, a nForce 2 solution without built in graphics. The board provides LAN and sound, all for a nice price of $106. You can save some money by going with a cheaper board, but the stability of the nForce is good. Since the nForce 2 is good in quality, we'll keep it with the midrange system</td></tr></table>

<B>CPU</B>:

<table><tr><td>System Guides CPU</td><td>Since we want a bit more speed, a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=19-103-334&depa=0">2200+ Throroughbred retail</a> CPU is your best bet. It comes with a heatsink and fan for $117. For another $15 you can get a better heatsink/fan, the Volcano 7 (which is what I use right now), but you shouldn't need to.</td></tr></table>

<B>Memory</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide RAM</td><td>There are many types of memory and many different speeds. Even though the CPU that goes with this system is only 266Mhz FSB, we'll use 333Mhz RAM for headroom. <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=20-145-056&depa=0">We'll use 2x 256MB sticks of PC2700 Crucial memory is enough to power that system of yours</a>. The cost is only $47.99 x2, and most likely will be going down in price also.</td></tr></table>

<B>Video Card</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Video Card</td><td>With the extra money, a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=14-102-256&depa=0">Radeon 9500 Pro</a> will give you the best bang for the buck. It has everything an ATI card should have plus amazing 3D speed. All this for $197.</td></tr></table>

<B>Optical Storage</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Optical</td><td>A home system should be an entertainment center, not just a computer. I choose to buy a DVD and a CDRW drive in this system, and still keep the price low. Rebates are your friend though. Staples has a Buslink (which are usually Lite-On drives) <a href="http://instorespecials.staples.com/staples/listing_detail.asp?listingid=-2098682179&storeid=2279028&offerid=">52x CDRW drive</a> on sale for $19.98 (+tax) after a $50 rebate. For the DVD Drive, you can't beat the quality of a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=27-131-109&depa=0">Lite-On 16x</a>. This one is priced at $44. Same as the budget system</td></tr></table>

<B>Magnetic Storage</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Hard Drive</td><td>A nice jump is space is needed. You should get a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=22-144-122&depa=0">Western Digital 80GB 8MB </a> drive. It is $107.</td></tr></table>

<B>Monitor</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Monitor</td><td>A monitor is very important for a home system. You'll want a nice and flat CRT for a midrange system. <a href="http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?product%5Fcode=50123522&csearch=&cmid=&pfp=srch1">This NEC Accusync 95F 19inch</a> is perfect for a home system. NEC has great quality monitors. You can pick this up at CompUSA for $237.07 (+tax).</td></tr></table>

<B>Mouse, Keyboard, Speakers</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Mouse</td><td>Systems Guide Speakers</td><td> Systems Guide Keyboard</td><td>We'll keep the same AVS500w speakers, but we'll up the keyboard and mouse to the Logitech Cordless Elite Duo, which I use right now. I notice no delay in the mouse and it is simply the best keyboard I've ever had.</td></tr></table>

<B>OS</B>:

If you want my recommendation, I'd say Linux. In fact, I have Lycoris on one of my boxes and it handles everything nicely, Open Office and MP3, movies and more. That's free! But you'll probably want <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=37-102-014&depa=0">Windows XP Home</a> for another $97 at Newegg.

<B>Summary</B>:
Chenming ATX-301KB-A w/380W PowerSupply $54
Abit NF7 $106
Athlon XP 2200+ Retail $117
Crucial 2x 256MB PC2700 $95.98
ATI Radeon 9500 Pro $197
Buslink 52x CDRW $69.98 -$50 rebate (+tax)
Lite On 16x DVD $44
WD 80GB 8MB $107
NEC Accusync 95F 19inch $237.07 (+tax)
AVS500w $35.18 (+tax)
Logitech Cordless Elite Duo ~$50-99 (depends on where you get it) (+tax)
WinXP Home $97

Total: Before Rebates: $1153.21 +Tax - $26.47 - $50 Rebate = $1129.68 A nice price for a great system.
Page 3
<B>High End</B>:

We are going all out on this one, we've got another $800 to blow, it looks like we're gonna need a hefty amount of storage and a DVD burner. Price is almost no option here.

<B>Case</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Case</td><td>For the high end, we have a very nice and moderately expensive case. <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=11-129-115&depa=1">This case</a>. It is a ANTEC Performance PLUS Model PLUS1080AMG- with Antec Original TRUE 430W P4 Power Supply ATX12V Retail . Once again, it is $146 shipped with a PSU.</td></tr></table>

<B>Motherboard</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Motherboard</td><td>For a very high end board, we've got Granite Bay. It is a Dual DDR Intel board.<a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=13-131-437&depa=0">Asus P4G8X</a>. This thing has everything you ever wanted in a motherboard, with a price to match. $289.99</td></tr></table>

<B>CPU</B>:

<table><tr><td>System Guides CPU</td><td>While the 3.06Ghz is the fastest on the market, it and the new Bartons are just way to overpriced. Get this <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=19-116-147&depa=1">2.8Ghz P4 retail</a>. It comes with a heatsink and fan for $381. I have found that Intel heatsinks are great compared to the ones offered by AMD.</td></tr></table>

<B>Memory</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide RAM</td><td>We want dual memory for this system. <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=20-145-056&depa=0">We'll use 2x 256MB sticks of PC2700 Crucial memory is enough to power that system of yours</a>. The cost is only $47.99 x2, and most likely will be going down in price also. If you want, you can double each stick, but I don't notice any improvement over 256MB anyway.</td></tr></table>

<B>Video Card</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Video Card</td><td>With a top of the line system, you need a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=14-102-250&depa=0"> AIW Radeon 9700 Pro</a>. Nothing is better on the market right now, nope. Not even the Dustbuster FX. It has everything an ATI card should have plus amazing 3D speed. This card has EVERYTHING. All this for $389.</td></tr></table>

<B>Optical Storage</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Optical</td><td>For this high end system, we need a DVDRW drive. At OfficeMax, you've got a HP 200i DVD+RW for $199.99 (tax) after a $50 Rebate. For the regular DVD Drive, you can't beat the quality of a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=27-131-109&depa=0">Lite-On 16x</a>. This one is priced at $44. Same as the budget system</td></tr></table>

<B>Magnetic Storage</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Hard Drive</td><td>A nice jump is space is needed. You should get a <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=22-144-129&depa=0">Western Digital 200GB 8MB </a> drive. It is $249.</td></tr></table>

<B>Monitor</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Monitor</td><td>A monitor is very important for a home system. You'll want a nice and flat CRT for a midrange system. <a href="http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?product%5Fcode=50123522&csearch=&cmid=&pfp=srch1">This NEC Accusync 95F 19inch</a> is perfect for a home system. NEC has great quality monitors. You can pick this up at CompUSA for $237.07 (+tax). We'll stick with the same monitor, and I don't like LCDs that much.</td></tr></table>

<B>Mouse, Keyboard, Speakers</B>:

<table><tr><td>Systems Guide Mouse</td><td>Systems Guide Speakers</td><td> Systems Guide Keyboard</td><td>Now, we want some BIG sound coming out of this. You want some of the <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproduct.asp?DEPA=&submit=Go&description=logitech+z560">Logitech z560s</a>, and you'll wet yourself! And don't forget the Logitech Cordless Elite Duo, which I use right now. I notice no delay in the mouse and it is simply the best keyboard I've ever had.</td></tr></table>

<B>OS</B>:

If you want my recommendation, I'd say Linux. In fact, I have Lycoris on one of my boxes and it handles everything nicely, Open Office and MP3, movies and more. That's free! But you'll probably want <a href="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=37-102-014&depa=0">Windows XP Home</a> for another $97 at Newegg.

<B>Summary</B>:
ANTEC Performance PLUS Model PLUS1080AMG $146
Asus P4G8X $289.99
Intel P4 2.8Ghz Retail $381
Crucial 2x 256MB PC2700 $95.98
ATI Radeon AIW 9700 Pro $389
HP DVDRW $249.99 -$50 rebate (+tax)
Lite On 16x DVD $44
WD 200GB 8MB $249
NEC Accusync 95F 19inch $237.07 (+tax)
Logitech z560 $139
Logitech Cordless Elite Duo ~$50-99 (depends on where you get it) (+tax)
WinXP Home $97

Total (Prepare for spending spree): GRAND TOTAL: $$$$ 2367.03 Which is way over $2000, but hell, this rocks!!! AND! It'll be outdated in a month anyway.

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide, please leave us some feedback!

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