The $1500 Home System attempts to accommodate the day to day uses of a family. Finances, internet access, word processing and gaming all come into play.
Intel leads the CPU market right now, and the quad core Q6600 processor is just too much of a deal to pass up.
Cooling: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro
Arctic Cooling has consistently impressed me with their high performance and low cost units. I’m tempted by massive towers of copper and aluminum but the price scares me off.
Motherboard: Asus P5N-D Nvidia 750i SLI
This is not the top of the heap Nvidia chipset as the 790i motherboards go for about $320, or more than double of the P5N-D. The 750i chipset gets the job done with PCI-E 2.0 SLI, 1333 MHz bus support, passively cooled and DDR2 support. It’s full featured and a decent overclocker.
DDR2 RAM continues to be dirt cheap, so two 1024 MB DDR2 RAM DIMMs are installed. The OCZ kit has great timings and a solid warranty.
Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD753LJ 750 GB
Hard drives are another item that gets cheaper by the day: price to storage ratio puts 750 GB at the sweet spot. The HD753LJ has won a ton of awards for it’s performance made possible by its high platter density. I’ve been a big fan of Samsung’s drives since they introduced SATA models and this one is a winner.
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-S203S
The Samsung SH-S203S is a full featured DVD rewriter with Lightscribe.
Removable Storage: Mitsumi FA404M
The Mitsumi reads all flash storage and has a 3.5″ floppy drive built in: I just can’t let go for some reason.
Video: BFG GeForce 8800GT OC
Video is handled well by the Nvidia Geforce 8800GT; best bang for the buck in the middle to high ground. Attached to this is a very nice wide screen 24” Dell LCD monitor; they’re always on sale so watch for the best deal.
Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 2253BW
Budget allows a 22″ TN panel monitor and that means the SyncMaster 2253BW: exceptional performance and value.
Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Gamer
The Creative X-FI Xtreme Gamer is on the low end of the X-FI line but delivers what we want: perfect sound and full EAX support.
Speakers: Logitech X-540 Digital 5.1
The Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Gamer sound card delivers surround sound to our Logitech X-540 5.1 Speakers. This definitely gets the job done, and gives great features.
Input: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000 and Microsoft Media Center Remote and Receiver
Input is handled by two Microsoft products generally available in OEM bundles. This is one of the most personal areas of a PC build, so best to try out as many models and designs as you can at a good shop before making a decision. The Microsoft Media Center remote and IR receiver let you take advantage of Vista’s multimedia GUI from a distance.
Chassis: Antec Sonata III
Wrapping it together is an Antec Sonata III mid tower with a 500 watt power supply. This is a quiet model that combines a good price with high end features.
Operating System: Microsoft Vista Home Premium (64 bit)
Windows Vista Home Premium is the star of the show, with full multimedia capabilities via the GUI, getting everything you need done without paying the crazy premium for Vista Ultimate. To take full advantage of future upgrades get the 64 bit version: all hardware in this build has 64 bit Vista drivers. As well take a look at eBabble’s free software bundle.
Last but not least is a basic UPS (uninterruptible power supply); nothing like losing power and seeing open files disappear. Don’t run any mission critical PC without a UPS in place. The SmartPro 1000VA is a compact model with USB connectivity and shutdown software for your PC. This will last you a few systems so if you already have one spend the money saved on extra RAM, faster CPU or video card. Or get yourself a scanner or new printer.