Exams are over, market is looking stable, post budget prices (with whatever little changes) are in effect, there have been a handful of new releases on the hardware front too; I believe it's time to shop for a new PC. Let's start with an entry-level system. Mind you, I am not talking about the cheapest computer one can buy, but a good all-round system that has a little bit of something for everybody, and at the same time, isn't too taxing on the wallet. So let's begin.
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (Rs. 3,600)
The Athlon X2 4800+ was once AMD's flagship model when they introduced their dual core CPUs. It now sells for way under 4K; a price tag hard to imagine back then. This processor has 2 cores running at 2.5 GHz with 512 KB of L2 cache each. That is more than sufficient muscle for an entry level system. Also, the motherboard that we plan to use in this system, gives us the flexibility of upgrading to a Tri-core or a Quad-core Phenom CPU at a later stage.
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H (Rs. 5,500)
The 690G chipset from AMD was a big hit here. We tested a handful of motherboards based on that chipset and were quite pleased with their performance, features, stability and value. Now, they have launched their next generation chipset - the 780G which strives to take all of the above parameters higher by a few notches. Gigabyte promptly launched a motherboard based on this very chipset, and today, we will recommend the same for this system.
The Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H is what I would term as a complete board in terms of features. Being a Socket AM2+ platform, it supports the entire spectrum of AMD CPUs that are compatible with Socket AM2 and AM2+, right from your Athlon to Athlon X2 to the Tri-Core and Quad Core Phenoms. Feature list includes 5 SATA ports, 4 DIMM slots for DDR2 memory up to 1066 MHz, x16 PCI-E slot, 2 PCI slots, x1 PCI-E slot, loads of USB ports, Firewire port, eSata port, HDMI output, integrated ATI Radeon HD3200 based graphics with support for Hybrid CrossfireX with certain ATI cards, onboard Unified Video Decoder for high definition video processing making it HDCP compliant the list continues. For the entire list of features and specifications, check this link.
We will soon publish a detailed review of this motherboard.