Media playback, social networking, office suites, image viewing – an entry-level PC is ideal for such tasks. Building such a PC with the latest-generation components isn’t possible when a new platform has just launched. However, you have multiple options when entry-level and mid-range processors and chipsets are available in the market. The top-end Intel Core i7-3770K was the first to appear on shelves, followed by the Intel Core i5-3570K. A few more Ivy Bridge processors are yet to arrive, but the most affordable model at present is the Core i5-3450. Priced at around Rs.12,000, this dual-core processor has the muscle to drive entry-level and mid-range PCs. We used it along with a low-cost Intel 7-series chipset motherboard to build a fairly powerful PC for under Rs.40,000.
This configuration will give you an idea about the budget you need to upgrade your old PC to the latest platform and the ideal pricing of PCs with a similar hardware.
CPU – Intel Core i5-3450, 3.10GHz (Rs.12,100)
Intel Core i5 3450 – one of the most affordable Ivy Bridge processors
Currently, this model is the most affordable Ivy Bridge processor. What you get is DirectX 11-capable HD Graphics 2500 and Turbo Boost speed of up to 2.5 GHz, which is 400 MHz up from the stock speed.
Motherboard – Gigabyte B75M-D3H (Rs.4,900) / Integrated Intel HD 2500 graphics
The new 7 series motherboards offer additional features
Although Intel H61 and H67 chipsets support third generation Core processors, I strongly recommend going in for a motherboard based on the latest Intel 7 series chipset. The biggest advantages are native support for USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s. The Intel B75 chipset is perfect for building low-cost PCs for homes and offices. It also supports Intel Small Business Advantage, which is a big bonus for small businesses with up to 99 PCs.
RAM – Kingston DDR3-1333 – 4GB (Rs.1,400)
Entry-level DDR3 RAM has become very affordable. You can buy a 2 GB DDR3-1333 stick for less than Rs.1,000 and a 4 GB stick for less than Rs.1,500. Kingston, Strontium, Transcend and Zion are some of the reputed brands.
Hard disk – Seagate Barracuda 7200 – 500 GB (Rs.4,200)
Storage enough for most applications, games and media
The prices of hard drives recently dropped by a few hundred rupees so a 500 GB hard drive is the most affordable option.
Optical drive – LG GH22 DVD-writer (Rs.950)
A DVD writer is a must if you want to install software and burn discs
It's the cheapest component, but it plays a very important role – media playback, data backup, software/game installation, among many other functions. The average price of a DVD-writer with SATA interface is around Rs.950 and there's hardly any difference between the available models. We chose this drive because it's popular.
Display – LG E2041T, 20-inch LED (Rs. 6,700)
A resolution of 1600×900 is more than enough for most tasks
Between an 18.5-inch and a 20-inch monitor, we recommend the latter because the resolution is higher. The LG E2041T is an LED-backlit monitor with a resolution of 1600×900 pixels. It features DVI and D-sub video inputs.
Keyboard / Mouse – Logitech Media Combo MK200 (Rs. 760)
This combo by Logitech features USB input devices. The keyboard sports a conventional layout and has a panel of dedicated hotkeys for media playback, volume control, a web browser and an e-mail client. The mouse is a basic three-button optical type with a scroll wheel.
Speakers – F&D A510, 2.1 stereo (Rs. 2,050)
F&D's A510 offer good value for money
Fenda Audio has some very good 2.1 speakers in the entry-level segment. The F&D A510 has a total power output of 52 watts (16W satellites and 20 W subwoofer). The sound quality is very good and it's great value for money.
PC Case – Circle Lush (Rs. 2,300)
Circle's basic looking Lush chassis
This elegant-looking cabinet from Circle can accommodate a full ATX motherboard. It features two exposed 5.25-inch bays, six internal 3.5-inch bays, two 80 mm fans and a power supply unit. This cabinet is available in dark blue and red.
Power supply – Included with PC case
The bundled power supply has a power rating of 250 Watts, which should easily be able to power this PC. It is backed by a three-year warranty.
Operating system – Windows 7 Home Basic (Rs.4,300)
A basic version of Windows for the rig, built on a budget
The price of this PC without the operating system is Rs.35,360. With the price of a Windows Home Basic license added, the grand total comes to just a little less than Rs.40,000.
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