With the holidays looming around the corner, and a bit of money burning a hole in your pocket, we here at HotHardware.com thought we'd do what we could to ensure that you spent your hard-earned cash in the most appropriate manner.
Before we begin, it makes sense to outline our approach and illustrate what we're trying to accomplish. It is critical to have reasonable expectations here, as no $1,000 system is going to compete with a $4,000 SLI monster. However, as you will see a budget system does not necessarily mean lackluster performance. In fact, every system we reference in this article would be more than capable of playing any game or running virtually any business/professional application on the market with very fluid performance, at respectable settings.
Those of you who have configured your own systems before might be surprised to see what sort of performance you can purchase on a given budget. As you might expect, the flagship system with its unlimited funding is an absolute monster capable of annihilating any game or benchmark you might throw at it. However, there are a few more surprises in store with the other configurations that might catch your interest.
With the flagship system plan in place, we opted to configure an overclocker's ideal system as well, that would be acceptable for the vast majority of our users. As a result, we opted to avoid using any exotic cooling methods (phase change, water-cooling, peltier, etc.) as it is questionable whether the majority of our readers would want to undertake such an involved process. With that consideration in mind, we decided to use the latest and greatest air cooling hardware and match it to the most overclocking-friendly products we could get our hands on. Obviously, there will be occasions where someone's personal preference might warrant using a different brand or product. However, one can be sure that the system we configured will match our flagship system's performance at the very least and will do so for a fraction of the overall cost.
The final system we configured is perhaps the most exciting of the bunch. For under $1,000 you'd have a system that would offer excellent performance in any application you could possibly throw at it. Going through the configuration, you'll find that we allocated a healthy amount of our budget towards the graphics card. The fact that you can find some extremely capable Athlon 64 processors for a very reasonable price allows us to use an incredibly fast graphics card without the risk of having any serious CPU bottlenecks. Surprisingly enough, there was even enough remaining room in our budget to accommodate a DVD+/-RW, 1GB of memory, a gaming mouse and keyboard, and even a set of solid 5.1 surround speakers. Overall, it's safe to say that many of you will be surprised at what kind of performance you can get for under a thousand dollars these days.