Buyer's Guide: Value Systems - June 2000by Mike Andrawes on May 29, 2000 1:17 AM EST
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– Intel Celeron 500 - $80
The Celeron makes the perfect choice for our value SOHO machine– it’s cheap, but you still get a relatively fast processor for the applications this machine will be used for. If you're interested in overclocking, consider paying the premium for an FC-PGA model, either a 533A or a 566. These CPU's seem to hit 800 and 850 MHz, respectively, with minimal effort.
For more information on all Celeron processors, read our Celeron 600 Review.
Motherboard – AOpen MX3W
As long as gaming performance isn’t involved, the i810 offers more than sufficient power for a basic home or office system. Boards with the i810E currently cost about $50 more than comparable i810 boards, and we don’t need the 133 MHz FSB speed for our 66 MHz FSB Celeron anyway.
Since this will be a work machine, quite possibly the most important factor in a motherboard is stability, and the AOpen MX3W was one of the most stable i810 boards we’ve tested. It’s easy to find and costs under $90, making it a good choice for our system. It is, however, a microATX board, so if you need a lot of expansion, look for something in a full ATX form factor.
For a bit more, you can go with an i440BX based motherboard. However, you'll then have to pay for a video card as well. This route will give you better performance and better expandability, but at a greater price.
For more information, read our AOpen MX3W Review.
Memory – 128MB Mushkin
or Corsair PC133 SDRAM - $125
Never underestimate the value of RAM – it needs to be high quality, high speed, and most importantly, you need lots of it. Not too long ago, 64MB seemed like a ton, but with prices so low today, 128MB is the real minimum you should accept.
As for the exact brand of memory, we recommend Corsair or Mushkin modules. We use them in our test systems and have had absolutely no problems with them.
Video card – Integrated
i810 Video – “free”
Although the integrated video on the i810 is not incredibly fast, it is more than sufficient to power basic Windows 2D applications.
For more information, see our i810 Chipset Review.
– CTX VL950SL - $300
Monitors are one of the few computer components that you can usually hang onto for years to come. With that in mind, we didn’t want to go with anything smaller than a 19” on our value SOHO system – besides, once you’ve worked on a monitor this big, there’s no going back.
The best deal we could find on a 19” monitor was the CTX VL950SL, which will run you about $300. It’s a shortneck model that uses the same 0.26 mm dot pitch tube that many of the bigger brands use. For a bit more, just about every monitor manufacturer is offering a value 19" model that would fit the bill.