It’s great to see the latest, greatest gear and drool over what they can do, but here’s the truth: I’m not made of money. That’s when I got the idea for “The Budget Project.” Every so often, I’m going to cruise through the HP store and try to configure a good machine…my budget this time is $800 (before tax). I’ll also try to tell you why I’m picking which parts….and who I’m designing that build for at the time.
All-in-One machines are awesome little space savers. They also happen to look pretty awesome. Now, I know that I’ve profiled the high-end, high-spec TouchSmart 610 a bunch over time. I’ve also recently played around with the sleek, glassy ENVY 23. But those are premium products! If you’ve got modest needs, you can save yourself a couple bucks and still get all your needs addressed. If you don’t care for touchscreen PCs (really?), check out the Pavilion 23. BUT, for the sake of today, I wanted to take a closer look at an All-in-One that is also a touchscreen machine…the TouchSmart 420.
The TouchSmart 420t is a good all-around, all-in-one machine. When set up right, it should have ample power for handling what might come up in everyday use. But let’s take a slightly closer look at the machine I chose and how I specced it out...
1GB NVIDIA GeForce 520M (or 1GB AMD Radeon HD 7450A) – You need to opt for something better than integrated graphics if you’re getting a 2nd Gen Core processor. So I set aside money in my budget for discrete graphics. That means you’re set for everyday tasks, videos...and some gaming. Just bear in mind that you would likely need to adjust the resolution on games to 12 by 7, medium settings (that means many games should run and look roughly as good as an Xbox 360).
FREE Upgrade to 4GB DDR3 System Memory (1 Dimm) – If someone offers you free RAM, take it! What I like about this is that it is on 1 Dimm – that means you’ll be able to upgrade the RAM later if you wanted. Granted I don’t crack open all-in-one PCs often, but it is very easy to access the DIMM sockets after removing the rear cover by undoing two screws. That’s it.
1TB 7200 rpm Hard Drive – Pretty good deal on storage right now….a ton of space PLUS on a relatively speedy 7200rpm drive.
No additional security software- THAT SAID, it does come with 60 days of Norton Internet Security. That gives you a little time to figure out what you want to do.
SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support – believe me, I was tempted to jump up to a Blu-Ray drive into this, but I needed to focus on the bottom line. If you have a big Blu-Ray collection and don’t mind stepping outside the $800 limit, consider it.
802.11 n WLAN (1x1) – I am one of those guys that actually uses a number of Bluetooth products and try to get them working with my computer….so I find myself wanting to pull for the upgrade. But it’s not a crucial upgrade if you don’t rock many Bluetooth products.
One last thing I should mention: I soooo wanted to add a TV tuner. It is more of a personal preference. If you were setting this up in the kid’s room or even a college dorm room, the extra $50 for the TV tuner upgrade is a no-brainer. It turns this touchscreen into a computer that serves double-duty as a TV. Very handy if you’re trying to maximize what you can do in minimal space!
Final price on the site: $789.99 Build date: 8/13/12
BIG caveats for my little experiment: There are always some sales happening at HP’s site (or at the many retailers who sell HP notebooks). These deals are very much subject to change -- so think of these builds as helpful suggestions for what you could do when customizing your own machine. I will always mark final prices (and dates done) when I’m configuring PCs.
Is there a type of computer that you’d like some help with configuring? Do you have a need for a new PC, but scratching your head about how much PC you actually need? Let us know in the comments. We’re here for you!