Top 10 budget PCs
September 16, 1999
by Andrew Brandt and Alan Stafford
(IDG) -- Encompassing the best PCs under $1200, this list should be a valuable tool if you're looking for a low-cost computer. Three systems on the list earned PC WorldBench 98 scores of over 200 -- respectably fast for running business applications. And any of the Top 10 PCs would make a nice upgrade, especially if you're still using a four-year-old Pentium-60.
A processor power-struggle: K6-lll versus Pentium lll
In recent PC World tests, systems equipped with AMD's latest K6-III processors have outperformed systems with Pentium II and Pentium III CPUs of the same clock speed -- a trend that could bode ill for processor giant Intel. Surprisingly, we've seen this phenomenon occur not only in low-end budget systems, but in all classes of PCs.
Case in point: This month, we tested the Sys Performance 450 K3, powered by a K6-III-450 processor. This system (which didn't make the midrange chart) scored 231 on our PC WorldBench 98 tests. The similarly configured Axis Systems Orion 100C DVD, which uses a Pentium III-450, garnered a WorldBench 98 score of 210 (and placed eighth on the midrange chart). The average user will notice the Sys's 10 percent speed advantage when running standard business apps. Though this particular Sys costs more than the PIII-450 Axis (because Sys configures the Performance 450 K3 with more-expensive, though performance-neutral, components), the average AMD system costs significantly less than comparable Pentium-based computers.
AMD's introduction of its new K7 processors -- code-named Athlon -- may fortify its competitiveness. K7 chips feature a 200-MHz system interface, 128KB of primary cache, and an estimated price point of $200 to $400 below those of comparable Pentium IIIs. In our first tests of the chip, a Compaq Presario running a K7 outpaced Compaq's own Prosignia PIII-600 by 10 percent (see "600-MHz Athlon bests the PIII," link below). Though most PC makers will likely stick with Intel chips in the short term, especially for their top-of-the-line PCs, the K7's performance numbers suggest that AMD could turn out to be the David to Intel's Goliath.
Beyond the top 10
Top 10 home PCs
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600-MHz Athlon bests the PIII
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