Aug 30 2013 - Mainstream desktop PCs are now more of the performance category than they once were thanks to improving technology. In general, these systems will provide the best overall value for your dollar. Below are my selections for the various systems depending upon what your usage for the computer will be. The systems in this list cost between $700 and $1000.
Dell's XPS 8700 may look very similar to past models but they have done some important internal fixes to correct some shortfalls in the past model. This new version still offers lots of performance with its new Core i7-4770 quad core processor. The difference is that they use a more performance oriented chipset that allows for better future upgrades such as SSD caching. The graphics card is probably the weakest aspect of the system with just a Radeon HD 7570 that is only suited to casual gaming but the power supply can handle some upgrades. The price ranges from $800 to $900. For those that can spend a bit more and aren't concerned with upgrading after purchase, the Acer Aspire AT3-605-UR24
feature twice the ram, twice the hard drive space and SSD caching but has only a GeForce GT 640 graphics card for around $1000.
Priced at $800, the Maingear F131 FM2 Stock may not appear at face value to be one of the best values. Its performance tends to fall short of many others because of the use of the AMD A10-6800K processor and its reliance on its integrated Radeon HD 8670D graphics. The thing is that it provides more than enough performance for the average user. Even in its default configuration it is capable of PC gaming but at lower resolutions. What sets the Maingear apart is the excellent build quality, high levels of support and its clean Windows installation. This is definitely a solid platform for a PC that can last for years and has room to grow. If you want an alternative with some forward thinking features, the HP ENVY 700-060
can be found for roughly the same price with a solid state drive but lesser graphics performance.
Avatar Gaming is a relative newcomer when it comes to the larger PC markets but it is offering some decent configurations for those that want to game on a budget. The i5-4667K offers a solid gaming experience for anyone using the typical 1920x1080 resolution monitor thanks to its Core i5-4670K quad core processor and AMD Radeon HD 7790 graphics card. Now much of the rest of the features are pretty standard fare but what makes the Avatar have more potential is its 650 watt power supply for those that might want more 3D graphics performance in the future. It is priced around $850. Now if you want faster 3D graphics but aren't as concerned with potential upgrades, the Cyberpower Gamer Xtreme H100
features the same processor but a higher powered NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 graphics card and is similarly priced.
Photo and video editing are much more demanding on storage and processing than many other PC tasks. Because of this, it is important to have a system with a fast multiple core processor with lots of memory and a sizable hard drive. The Acer Aspire AT3-605-UR24 meets all of these thanks to its Core i7-4770 quad core processor, 16GB of DDR3 memory and a 2TB hard drive that is paired up with a 24GB SSD cache. It even features an NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 graphics card with 4GB of video memory that can be used to help with the CPU during video and photo editing. Pricing for the system is around $1000 which puts it on the more expensive price point. For those on a tigher budget, the Dell XPS 8700
can be found for $800 with the same i7-4770 processor but with half the memory and storage space without any SSD caching.