Dollarshops Budget Office-Student PC Review

Others/Miscelleneous by jmke @ 2007-10-17

AMD and Intel have been flooding the market with highly affordable hardware for the past year, manufacturers of motherboards, memory and other PC components have also brought down the overall cost, the positive outcome of this competitive behavior can be seen in our test today, a complete system for a mere €315. What do we get for this price and is it enough for the budget minded user out there? We find out.

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Powering on: BIOS

Choice of System and BIOS options

With AMD and Intel providing similar priced models all over the performance spectrum it was interesting to see an AMD CPU inside this system. Price wise the Intel Pentium E2140 will surely give this AMD a run for its money, at a similar budget. We hope Dollarshops will provide an Intel based budget system in the future to give the end user more choice.

The AMD AM2 system comes with a Jetway motherboard featuring onboard VGA based on the NVIDIA 6150 GPU, a 6 series video card at a time where we are waiting for the 9 series and are enjoying the 8 series does mean we have low expectations when it comes down to gaming. For office usage however the GPU does meet requirements for running Windows Vista with Aero enabled, and in our tests the system could handle HD content up to 720p (x264 codec) without issue.

Madshrimps (c)

Before we start our performance benchmarks, let’s dive into the BIOS to see if this budget board offers any tweaking options. Scanning the Phoenix Award bios we notice an interesting menu choice in the right column, the “Power User Overclock Settings”

Madshrimps (c)

Seeing such a menu in the BIOS of a budget motherboard is quite surprising, the amount of available adjustments is almost on par with that of more expensive AMD enthusiast motherboards. You can separate control PCIE clock, select negative memory dividers, change CPU ratio and vcore, adjust LDT, Northbridge and DRAM voltage.

  • PCIE clock up to 150Mhz
  • FSB up to 400
  • DRAM at 400/533/667/800
  • Vcore up to 1.5v and possibility to add another 14.5%
  • LDT voltage up to 1.23v
  • NB voltage 1.37v
  • DRAM voltage up to an impressive 2.42v

    Detailed options for the memory timings can be found under another submenu:

    Madshrimps (c)

    DRAM configuration screen is quite complete, at the bottom (not shown in in photo) you can set Command rate 1/2T

    Madshrimps (c)

    The VGA settings menu displayed an interesting option:

    Madshrimps (c)

    The default speed of the 6150 GPU is 525Mhz, the BIOS allows you to change it from 400~625 in 1Mhz steps!

    Madshrimps (c)

    Last section of the BIOS worth mentioning is the PC Health sub menu, where you can control the CPU fan, allowing you to let the fan spin slower when the CPU is idle and thereby reducing overall noise.

    Madshrimps (c)

    Setting it to Idle Temp 50°C and Full Speed 65°C had favorable results. Speaking of which, time for some performance tests ->
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    Comment from Sidney @ 2007/10/17
    It is good to see smaller localized businesses are taking on Dell and HP alike. Bring me back to the good old days of the early 90's when small system builders provided good service could make a living.

    Let's hope manufacturers will give the small business owners a chance intead of kissing the behinds of Dell.
    Comment from SuAside @ 2007/10/17
    well, decent rig for the small tasks. though i do hope no one falls for it as a gamerig... Dell/HP/etc always tend to sell 'multimedia' and 'game' pcs that are more or less like this. doesnt take the buyers too long for find out it's not exactly the powerful gaming machine they were promised.

    still, if it's used for normal student tasks, this rig has very good value.
    Comment from jmke @ 2007/10/17
    if you add the €97 VGA you do have a decent gaming rig though, not top, but decent