Systems like the Alienware Area-51 7500, the Falcon Northwest Mach V, and the Velocity Micro Raptor DCX put Core 2 Duo chips to high-end use: you'll enjoy great 3D frame rates and excellent overall performance but at prices that are less likely to provide any level of enjoyment. Luckily, Core 2 Duo desktops span a variety of price points. We've reviewed about a dozen Core 2 Duo desktops since the chips were introduced. Four of the six PCs grouped here range in price from $899 to a still reasonable $1,399. We included the Dell XPS 410 and the HP Pavilion d4600y as well; although the configurations we reviewed cost more--$2,000 and up--the baseline configuration for each is much lower.
With a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600, the PC Club Enpower Sabre Extreme EN-SE6 boasts the best processor of the bunch for the price (the Dell and the HP we reviewed use the same chip, an upgrade from the baseline models' E6300 chip). The higher end of the two Velocity Micro systems uses a 2.13GHz E6400 chip, and the remaining two PCs use the entry-level 1.86GHz E6300 processor. Forget about the Dell and the HP for a moment; each of the other systems here provides 1GB of memory, discrete graphics, and a spacious hard drive, which means you'll have plenty of room for all your music and digital photos and video, plus the ability to engage in some gaming at lower resolutions. (Making up our Dell and HP review units' higher prices are upgrades that include 2GB of memory, dual hard drives, and Media Center extras, such as a TV tuner and a remote control.) Each of these desktops is well positioned to make the transition to Vista next year, too, though you may want to add more memory once Microsoft's next-generation, resource-hungry OS finally arrives.
Before you rush out and break the bank on a new Core 2 Duo desktop, read our reviews of the six PCs listed here. You should be able to stay well within your budget while still getting the features and performance you need.
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