PCs for Five C's: Page 2

Posted February 28, 2008

Eric Grevstad

(Page 2 of 3)

Among style- and status-minded vendors, Apple doesn't have anything priced below the Mac Mini ($599 with no keyboard or mouse), and Fujitsu's laptop line doesn't dip below $849. Sony's 15.4-inch Vaio FZ notebook starts at $900, while Sony's most affordable desktop is, er, less than four times our budget amount.

Lenovo is observing February with a "Leap Into Savings" sale through March 10. Even so, the company's R Series notebooks started at $634, while a ThinkCentre A61 desktop was $472 but its specifications were pitiful: a 2.1GHz Athlon 64 X2 4000+ processor, 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard disk, and a DVD-ROM drive instead of a DVD burner.

Toshiba laptop shoppers will want to hit their local superstores instead of shopping online: The most affordable system at the company's site was a $649 Satellite A210 that matched the specs of Circuit City's $500 Satellite A215, except for a bigger hard drive (160GB).

The ZT Affinity brand made another appearance at Wal-Mart's Sam's Club warehouse outlet, with a Pentium Dual-Core E2140 (1.6GHz) desktop fitted with 1GB of memory, a 250GB hard disk, and Windows Vista Home Premium at the low, low price of $365.

HP's Compaq Presario SR5350F was the only under-$500 desktop Sam stocked, but it was a good deal: For $470, you got a 1.8GHz Pentium Dual-Core E2160 CPU, Intel's vintage 945GC chipset with Graphics Media Accelerator 950 integrated video plus a PCI Express x16 slot, a 320GB hard disk, LightScribe DVD±RW, and 2GB of PC2-5300 memory, so the supplied Vista Home Premium OS might actually manage to multitask. (For real penny-pinchers, we later found the same system for $10 less on HP's own site.)

Evildoers Can't Hide From ... Visionman!

Our new favorite PC brand is Visionman, discovered amid a lot of refurbished rather than new desktops at online megastore Tiger Direct: For $500, the far-seeing vendor delivers Athlon 64 X2 4000+ power, an AMD 690V chipset with ATI Radeon X1200 graphics, a gigabyte of memory, a 250GB hard drive ... and, for you Linux fans and Windows XP diehards, no preinstalled operating system.

By contrast, Tiger also stocked two $500 HP business desktops -- one with Windows Vista Business and Intel's Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.8GHz) processor, the other with Windows XP Professional and AMD's Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.6GHz), and both with measly 80GB hard disks. A Systemax Ascent PC from Tiger Direct's in-house brand resembled the latter HP but boasted 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive for the same price.

Antique shoppers might like one of the Famous Brand Off-Lease laptops in TigerDirect's notebook department -- a 1.6GHz Pentium M processor! 512MB of DDR/266! -- but we held out for 1GB of memory for the same $500. That search turned up an HP 530 notebook with a 15.4-inch screen, Celeron M 520 CPU, and a 120GB hard disk.

Costco's "New Items and Limited-Time Offers" aisle had neither a desktop nor notebook other than the Asus Eee below our price ceiling. But the site's configure-it-yourself area offered a likable desktop -- one of HP's pint-size Pavilion s3300t slimlines for $490 with a modest Pentium Dual-Core E2160 processor but free upgrades to a not-so-modest 2GB of DDR-2/667 and 500GB hard disk.

Page 2 of 3

Previous Page
1 2 3
Next Page

0 Comments (click to add your comment)
Comment and Contribute


(Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.



IT Management Daily
Don't miss an article. Subscribe to our newsletter below.

By submitting your information, you agree that datamation.com may send you Datamation offers via email, phone and text message, as well as email offers about other products and services that Datamation believes may be of interest to you. Datamation will process your information in accordance with the Quinstreet Privacy Policy.