Building a $1,000 Core 2 Duo PC

Here's a question I received by email the other day: "I want to build a general purpose Core 2 Duo based PC that costs no more that $1,000. How would you spend the cash?"

Here's a question I received by email the other day:

"I want to build a general purpose Core 2 Duo based PC that costs no more that $1,000.  How would you spend the cash?"

 

The first place to start is to choose a CPU out of the Core 2 Duo range.  Here's a table listing the features and approximate prices of the Core 2 Duo processors:

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo E6300Intel Core 2 Duo E6400Intel Core 2 Duo E6600Intel Core 2 Duo E6700Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800
Clock speed (GHz)1.832.132.42.672.93
FSB (MHz/MT/s)266/1066 QDR266/1066 QDR266/1066 QDR266/1066 QDR266/1066 QDR
Pipeline stages1414141414
L1 cache - (total per core (KB)6464646464
L2 cache total (MB)22444
Thermal Design Power/TDP (W)6565656575
Instruction Set Architecture (ISA)x86
x86-64
SSE-SSE4
x86
x86-64
SSE-SSE4
x86
x86-64
SSE-SSE4
x86
x86-64
SSE-SSE4
x86
x86-64
SSE-SSE4
Operating voltage (V)1.2 -
1.3625
1.2 -
1.3625
1.2 -
1.3625
1.2 -
1.3625
1.2 -
1.3625
Approx price ($)1802253205301,000

To me, the Core 2 Duo E6600 is the best option for a general purpose PC - it's powerful, cheap and has tons of room for squeezing more power from it through a bit of overclocking.

OK, so that's $320 spent.  That leaves $680 left to spend!

Next. a motherboard.  I'm partial to ASUS motherboards so my choice would be the P5W DH Deluxe. It's a bit pricey at $270 but at present there aren't an awful lot of choices and I like the overclocking tools that come with ASUS boards.  I also like this board because it offers ample scope for future upgrades (more RAM, hard drives, etc).

$410 left to spend.

Next tough choice - graphics card.  If I were building this system as a general purpose PC that was going to be used for gaming I would fit a Sapphire Radeon X1600PRO. For $100 this would give the system all the graphics power it would need while keeping the cost at a reasonable level.

2 x 512MB OCZ Gold Series 240-Pin DDR2 800 is darn good value at $100 and is enough to make sure that Windows Vista will run on the system just nicely.  We're now left with $210 to spend.

What's left?  Well, we still need storage.  A 160GB Western Digital SATA drive costs about $65.  Plenty of storage space at a reasonable price.

We still need a few bits.  A PSU in the 500W range should be more than ample and a decent one will cost about $40, while a DVD writer (16x) costs about $30.  The total for the system is now $925, leaving $75 for a chassis and any miscellaneous bits and bobs (like cables).

System Summary

ComponentDescriptionPrice
CPUIntel Core 2 Duo E6600$320
MotherboardASUS P5W DH Deluxe$270
Graphics cardSapphire Radeon X1600PRO$100
RAM2 x 512MB of OCZ Gold Series 240-Pin DDR2 800$100
Hard drive160GB Western Digital SATA$65
PSU500W$40
Optical driveDVD 16x writer$30
MiscChassis/cabling/etc$75
 Total cost$1,000
That's how I'd spend $1,000 on a Core 2 Duo system.  How would you?