How much PC can you get for $999? We test five desktops to find out.
By Sean PortnoyHow much would you spend on a new PC?
That’s the question we asked ourselves when we decided to round up a group of new desktops to review. A lucky few may be able to drop $5,000 on the latest maxed-out quad-core rig, but most of us need to spend less on a new computer. A lot less.
At the same time, we don’t want to spend too little, only to find out the PC doesn’t have the computing power we want or room to upgrade components in the future. So we put out a call to PC makers asking them to send us their best desktop priced under $1,000. We gave them only two requirements for the system, apart from the price ceiling: The configuration should come with an LCD monitor, and it should run a version of Windows Vista.
The five desktops that showed up at our lab presented us with a good range of possibilities: everything from the slim but well-configured Dell Dimension C521 to the bold case design of the Cyberpower Gamer Ultra 8500 SE. Read on to find out which could be the right desktop for you when a budget system is too little PC, but a high-end model is too much.
HOW WE TESTED
We ran four benchmark tests to gauge the performance of these desktops. We used Futuremark’s PCMark05 to determine overall system performance; its tests check everything from hard drive performance to how quickly Web pages are rendered. Maxon’s Cinebench 9.5 test is another measure of a PC’s performance, while our Windows Media Encoder 9 test records how long it takes a computer to convert a digital video file. Finally, we used the built-in performance tester in the recent game Company of Heroes to capture how well the desktop can handle the latest graphics-intensive games. (Company of Heroes automatically determines the optimal settings for the PC to play the game.)