ECS AMD690GM-M2 MotherboardFormer staff writer -
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Everyone would love to have an extra computer lying around the house, but to many, the cost of purchasing a new computer or even building a new computer can be quite hard on the pocket. In this series of reviews, we will be focusing on two factors: building a low cost efficient computer that can be functional for everyday use and also having the option of using it as a low cost HTPC.
Many of us have extra computer parts lying around the house, which either collect dust, or when a friend needs something, we give it away. Sometimes we complain that our children or wives are hogging up all the time on our computer and it just isn’t fair that we can’t get online to check to see if Juventus beat Manchester United in the European championship game. So why not take those extra components and build yourself that computer?
Of the three motherboards tested, the ECS AMD690GM-M2 happens to be the least expensive, while it includes onboard video and has the capabilities to manage multiple adapters. With its DVI output, digital signal is available and you also have the option to add another video card if you choose. So what do you lose when you are shopping for budget overclocking ability? The ECS 690G is not made to overclock and even though there are options in the BIOS to try some small performance boosts, I wouldn’t recommend pushing it. I was able to achieve a 15MHZ boost on my front side bus, without having to increase voltages and the board does limit you to only 33 mhz. So if you absolutely, positively, have to overclock, at least you’ll be able to say you did.
Without losing site of why we are building this computer, let's go over cost. The board costs approximately $64.99 with onboard video, so you don’t need to purchase an extra video card to run it. So right there, this is saving you money already. If you don’t have an extra AM2 processor, you’ll be able to find a new one for about $60.00 and a 200 GB hard drive is about $55.00. RAM can be had for as cheap as $30 for a gigabyte and if you don’t have an extra CD/DVD ROM lying around, that would only cost $25.00. Most of us have an extra case and power supply lying around, but if needs be, you can buy a micro case that has a PSU for about $60.00. This brings you to a total cost of $294.99.
Again, this is assuming you have no extra parts lying around.
So what’s the perk? You can’t even buy a cheap Dell for $300.00 and now you have a computer that will allow you to surf the internet, play games if you wish and even be powerful enough to run Photoshop.
Now, the other option to all this is an HTPC. Let's face it - most people who build an HTPC build it with spare parts. What are the benefits of running an HTPC? Storage, High Definition TV and decreasing the amount of home theater components in your living room. With an HTPC, you’ll be able to watch your favorite DVD’s in HD, while not having to go and find the case that you misplaced two months ago. Depending on the size of the hard drive you choose, you could store hundreds of movies right on your system. There is also the ability to store all those mp3s in one spot, not to mention even surfing and playing games on the internet with a wireless or cabled connection.
My question is this what are you waiting for? Get out of your office and get back into the family. There are many options you have and an integrated motherboard is a start.