Budget All-round PC - December 2016
The all-round PC is a PC with comprehensive features for around $800 - $900 that can do a little bit of everything. It should have enough speed and capacity to meet your needs for some time. Currently it can run all applications, and you're able to upgrade it with small future investments when you need more power or storage capacity.
Surfing, gaming, business applications, photo and video editing should all be possible on the all-round PC without giving you the feeling that it's lacking in performance.
This means a fast processor and graphics card with an excellent price/ performance ratio, in combination with more than enough memory and storage space. Let's not forget a good computer case and a power supply that will remain energy efficient and silent enough for some years to come. Since the monitor, mouse and keyboard will be used daily you should definitely not skimp on these peripherals.
It's essential that an all-round PC is balanced. It's less important that you picked the fastest components than that they work well together and are on the same level of performance. If you have bigger budget, than you could have a look at our All-round Deluxe PC as well.
Please note: the PC Buyer’s Guide is compiled based on independent component tests performed by Hardware.Info. If no new, superior products are
released that should replace one or more of the components, then the component(s) will remain the same as the previous month.
If you want to know more about how we compile our PC Buying guides, have a look at this article.
The new AMD APUs aren't available yet for the consumer market, so Intel stays the best choice for this system - at least for now. Of course, an APU like an AMD A8-7600 still offers about 25 percent better graphics performance than a Core i3 6100, but the CPU performance of Intels offering is no less than 40 percent higher. You can compare them extensively over at CPU-World.
The Intel Core i3 6100 is a dual-core Skylake CPU at 3,7 GHz, without Turbo Boost but with HyperThreading. Software will recognize it as a quad-core, so games that don't want to start on a dual-core won't be a problem. The integrated GPU is nice for some online gaming and older games on low settings, but for serious gaming you'll need to buy a discrete videocard.
Overclocking isn't an option with the CPU's locked multiplier, and Intels boxed cooler isn't noisy, so we would say an alternative cooler isn't needed. If you still want a quieter system, you can always invest in an affordable, decent after market model like the Gelid Tranquillo Rev.2.
You're good with 8 GB memory for the overseeable future. Crucial sells this RAM module with a clock frequency of 2,133 MHz for a really nice price. If you want, you can spend a few extra bucks on a stick with a cool-looking heatspreader, but that isn't necessary by any means.
The switch to Skylake requires a new 100-series mainboard. The MSI H110M Eco is a basic model, but offers enough USB and SATA ports. On top of that, its manufacturer was willing to send us a sample of the H110M Pro-VD based on the same PCB, so we could verify the quality of the VRM. A nice extra: it's the most energy efficient Skylake board in idle we've ever tested. The H110M Eco just fits this system a little more when it comes to the available outputs.
Graphics card - Integrated
The integrated GPU is good enough for playing a game on lower resolutions and settings, or games that don't need much GPU power. You could add something like a cheap RX 460 to make this PC more suitable for gaming.
However, if you want to start gaming in the future, this system will definitely support a separate graphics card. And if you know you will be gaming a lot right off the bat, you're better off with our Budget Game PC.
We think that an SSD fits better within the budget of the all-round PC than a dedicated video card. With an SSD, the boot times of your pc will be shorter and all software will run faster. You'll also get a noticeable improvement in its 'responsiveness'.
The OCZ Trion 150 is a bit slower than popular SSDs like the Samsung 850 Evo, but also cheaper. You probably won't even notice the difference anyway. The low price makes us able to include a 240 GB SSD with this Budget All-round PC.
Marketing isn't the strongest part of Toshiba, looking at the name of this product, but its price is a little more friendly than those of Seagate's and WD's alternatives. Our test results were good: the DT01ACA200 is fast, silent and pretty energy efficient. It's a nice choice for data storage.
Optical drive -
We don't recommend an optical drive anymore, but we tested a lot of DVD burners and memory card readers in the past months. So if you wanna buy one of those devices, we have a list of best choices:
Internal DVD burner: Samsung SH-224FB
External DVD burner: LG GP70NS50
Card reader: Kingston FCR-HS4
With the N200, Cooler Master delivers a compact Micro-ATX chassis with an attractive price. In the review, we were especially satisfied by the good cooling performance and the, for its price, extensive feature set: one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 connectors at the front panel.
Be quiet's System Power 8 400W is a fine PSU, efficient and with low noise production. Nonetheless it is affordable and thus recipient of a Great Value award. Thanks to the PEG connector, a future upgrade with a discrete graphics card remains a possibility.
From our recent test of desktop sets, we learned that there is quite a bit of variety in quality in the currently sold models, even with similarly priced competitors.
However, Microsoft's Wireless Desktop 2000 is affordable as well as solidly built, with a decent keyboard and mouse. Both connect wirelesly and respond fast to commands. A nice extra is the encryption for the wireless connection, a comforting thought these days.
Unless you're a gamer or frequently watch movies on your PC, you're better off with a 2.1 (stereo + sub) set than a 5.1 speaker set. The Creative Inspire T3250W also comes with a built-in Bluetooth receiver. That can be practical for streaming music from your phone or tablet. It's reasonably priced, and in our test, we were positive about the balance between the lows and highs. The most important downside is the lower maximum volume.
It's quite impressive how much monitor BenQ manages to deliver for the small price of this display. The GW2470H has a fine AMVA panel, which provides excellent contrast and good color reproduction. It lacks luxury features like Freesync and height adjustability, but that's not what you buy this monitor for.
If you want a smaller display, the 21.5" Samsung S22E390H is an even cheaper option.
|Processors||Intel Core i3 6100 Boxed||$117.48|
|CPU coolers||Intel Boxed Cooler||–|
|Memory modules||Crucial 8GB DDR4-2133 CL15||$67.49|
|Motherboards||MSI H110M Eco||$55.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||OCZ Trion 150 240GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Toshiba DT01ACA200 2TB||$69.00|
|Cases||Cooler Master N200||$49.99|
|Power supplies||Be quiet! System Power 8 400W||–|
|Keyboards||Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000||–|
|PC speaker sets||Creative T3250W||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$359.95|