Why Buy an Economy PC?
Simply put, an economy PC can get the job done without costing more than your car. An economy computer performs basic functions such as utilizing the Internet and running common programs, so you can pay your bills, do homework and access the Internet without breaking your budget.
These desktops probably won't satisfy hardcore gamers, multi-taskers or avid video editors; nevertheless, they perform all basic functions and don't require a large computer budget, like high-end multimedia systems. An economy PC is perfect for standard home computing, student use or as a basic office computer.Here's what an economy PC can do:
- Schoolwork/Education: Economy computers can easily handle the day to day tasks of students. Applications like Microsoft’s Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint will all work with ease on an economy PC. They will also be able to handle children’s educational programs and games such as Animated Storybooks and Activity Centers.
- Finances: Nearly all finance and spreadsheet applications will work on an economy PC, since they do not include complex elements like video. These systems can easily handle programs like Quicken Deluxe, TurboTax or Microsoft Money. They can also effectively open, modify and create spreadsheets using Excel or Lotus.
- Internet: All economy PCs are Internet enabled, whether via modem or network card. With an Internet Service Provider (ISP) you can browse the Web, check email, chat, and download online content.
- Manage Media: Most basic PCs now have the ability to organize and edit photos or display video and download music and podcasts.
Here are a few things basic systems struggle with:
- Gaming: Graphically intensive games like Half-Life 2, Company of Heroes, and Oblivion will likely produce slow frame rates and poor resolutions on an economy PC. Always check the recommended system requirements of the games you buy to make sure they’ll provide a playable experience on your machine. Pay close attention to the processor, memory, and video memory requirements. Online gaming may also be affected by the speed of your Internet connection.
- Video Editing: Introductory PCs generally do not have enough memory to efficiently run programs like CyberLink's PowerDirector, Adobe’s Premiere, or ShowBiz DVD.
- Multitasking: If you need to run multiple programs simultaneously, such as an antivirus application, several web browsers, an email application, all while listening to your favorite tunes, you may want to look for a computer with a dual core processor or additional memory.
In this site, you'll find articles on buying economy computers, news stories and comprehensive reviews on economy PCs that will help you make an informed decision on which desktop is right for you. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™
Economy PCs: What to Look For
There are many economy PCs advertised for under $500; however, we found that most of these systems are not complete packages. It is true that you can get a computer for less than $500, but keep in mind that you may need to add a monitor and software to complete the package.
We compared ten of the most inexpensive introductory systems we could find, to determine which package offers the highest quality for the lowest price. All of these low-end systems can perform basic functions such as accessing the Internet, sending and receiving emails and running basic programs like Microsoft’s Office products. We looked at the processor, memory, graphics card, input/outputs, peripherals, and warranty; then rated the value for the price.
Below are the criteria TopTenREVIEWS used to evaluate economy computers.
The best economy computers run at around 2 GHz and have an AMD Athlon 64, an Intel Pentium 4 or Core Duo processor.
The top products in this review offer up to 1GB of RAM. In terms of hard drive storage, most basic systems include 80GB hard drives; however, some PCs in this price range include 250GB of storage.
We looked at the type of graphics (video) card, as well as the video memory. Most budget systems have 128MB integrated graphics cards, which will run most applications except complex games and video editing programs. Most sound cards are also integrated and have the ability to connect up to five speakers and a subwoofer.
Input and output devices include keyboards, mice, monitors, external drives, media card readers, and speakers. Many basic systems include several I/O devices; however, few will come with peripherals such as scanners or printers.
We compared the quality of the PC to the price. So a machine that comes with low-end components with a high price tag would score lower than a good basic machine with a moderate or low price.
First rate manufacturers offer reliable warranties of a year or more. Additionally, they offer easily accessible help and support through documentation, email, phone and chat.