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PC Games (Games) The Almighty Buck Hardware

How to Build a $500 Gaming Machine 305

Posted by Zonk
from the cutting-edge-just-isn't-necessary dept.
bacterial_pus writes "Tom's Hardware has a very interesting article on how to build a $500 gaming rig. 'Instead of the newest killer rig from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc... how about a system for the rest of us with a realistic budget starting from scratch? We set out to build a reasonable gaming system that will get you through today's game titles without breaking the bank for around $500.'"
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How to Build a $500 Gaming Machine

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  • the punchline (Score:5, Informative)

    by randyest (589159) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @02:50PM (#13905488) Homepage
    Couldn't find a printable link, so to save you from 8 clicks on "next->" and more ads than I could count (they went over budget by $16.49):

    Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3000+ $146
    Motherboard: ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 $69
    Memory: Corsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB) $52
    VGA: eVGA 256-A8-N340-TX Geforce 6600 256 MB $113
    Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB $57.50
    Optical Drive LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM $19.99
    Power Supply: SeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W $59.00
    Total: $516.49

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2005 @02:52PM (#13905499)
    Seeing as I had it in another tab at the time:
    Part Product Price
    Processor AMD Athlon 64 3000+ $146
    Motherboard ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 $69
    Memory Corsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB) $52
    VGA eVGA 256-A8-N340-TX Geforce 6600 256 MB $113
    Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB $57.50
    Optical Drive LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM $19.99
    Power Supply SeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W $59.00
    Total $516.49
  • by Browzer (17971) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @02:53PM (#13905513)
    $500 will get you CPU+MB+RAM+HD+CD/DVD+VGA+P.S.

    Does anybody read the article anymore before posting, or FP is more important?

    Link to the conclusion, if you don't have the attention span to read a 400 word article.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/howto/20051014/the_500 _gaming_machine-08.html [tomshardware.com]
  • Dell Coupons (Score:3, Informative)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @02:54PM (#13905516) Homepage Journal
    Check out Dell coupons, do a google search, dell has some good deals as long as you dont buy upgrades from them. Monarch or Newegg are my favorite low cost, and top pricewatch listings for lowest price.

    I wanted a Dell 24inch LCD, Dell had a dual core 2.8ghz system with 24 LCD for 1199. So, basically I got the computer for a 2-3 hundred above a 24 inch on sale. Or free on normal prices. (160 HD, Dual DVD/DVR, ATI 300, system)

    I picked up a 7800 GT/OC for 350, almost 7000 3dmark, every game can run 1900x1200 or 1600x1200 with AA/AF on. And it included Call of Duty 2.

    Figured I can always build an AMD X2 system later and put the GFX card in it, and bump upto 8500-9000 3dmark, next year when the prices drop.

    I missed running dual core, since my dual P3-800, so nice.

  • Re:Pirates! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Praxx (918463) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @02:58PM (#13905537)
    Students at my university (who are also more likely to appreciate a $500 gaming rig) can get a Windows XP license for $6.
  • by gbulmash (688770) * <.semi_famous. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:03PM (#13905558) Homepage Journal
    The Gaming-tuned WINE variant is called Cedega [transgaming.com]. I've also read some comments that it kicks Crossover Office's butt on running productivity apps, but I haven't seen any reputable pubs do a head-to-head on them.

    - Greg

  • by JoshRosenbaum (841551) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:07PM (#13905578) Homepage
    I usually check out www.sharkyextreme.com [sharkyextreme.com] for some information on systems built to a certain price. It has a few different options like low-end, gaming, high end. (Don't exactly remember.) Helps a bit even if they aren't one of the top hardware sites. I've always found their guides to be very useful.
  • Ars Technica (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kesh (65890) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:15PM (#13905618)
    I'd rather use the Ars Technica System Guides [arstechnica.com]. They tend to be a bit more realistic and don't hype up a specific price point. Plus, they get all the components in. ;)

    Their Budget Box [arstechnica.com] is comparable to the one Tom's built, and actually includes all the necessary parts in the price.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:15PM (#13905619)
    THG's assumptions on reusable parts:
    keyboard
    mouse
    speakers
    case
    cables
  • by inkdesign (7389) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:20PM (#13905635)
    AMD Athlon 64 3000+ $146
    SRock 939Dual-SATA2 $69
    orsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB) $52
    Geforce 6600 256 MB $113
    Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB $57.50
    LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM $19.99
    SeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W $59.00
    Total $516.49

    There's the article, without a bunch of bullshit.

    Dunno wtf they expect you to do without a case though.
  • by g_adams27 (581237) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:26PM (#13905654)
    Sharky Extreme does this kind of thing on a regular basis, usually every month.

    Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide ($1000 budget) [sharkyextreme.com]

    High-end System Buyer's Guide ($2,500 budget) [sharkyextreme.com]

    Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide ($4,000 budget) [sharkyextreme.com]

  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:40PM (#13905701) Homepage
    RTFA

    It clearly says "Instead of the newest killer rig from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc... how about a system for the rest of us with a realistic budget starting from scratch?" on the very first page.

  • by Rasta Prefect (250915) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @03:43PM (#13905715)
    FPS doesn't suck on consoles. I'm sure you hate Halo 2, but there is a reason it's sold over 5 million copies.

    FPS sucks on consoles. Halo 2 has sold a lot of copies because it's the best FPS available for a console. This does not in anyway negate the suckage of FPS on consoles.

  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:31PM (#13905923) Homepage
    Because we all know how much Goldeneye sucked on the N64... (Prove that you hate karma by giving me some good mod points)

    Yes, it did. It really shows if you've ever played an FPS on a PC prior to playing Goldeneye. Goldeneye feels like you're stuck in molasses.

    In addition to Goldeneye being so freaking slow, the mouse is much better at turning and aiming than a gamepad is. There's no noticable limitation on how fast you can turn with a mouse.

    I know someone is going to bring Halo up, so I'll beat you to the punch:

    The PC version will feature a faithful port of Halo's acclaimed story-based campaign that won't be changed in any substantive way. However, conventional mouse and keyboard controls give PC players an advantage that would make the game too easy if the difficulty settings weren't rebalanced somewhat. Pitchford mentioned that the harder settings might need the most tweaking, since the legendary difficulty should still be terrifically hard. Bungie is working closely with Gearbox and has provided some insight on how to maintain the game's balance.

    Source: Gamespot Article Halo PC Update [gamespot.com], emphasis mine.

    Exactly what did they change?

    However, the team found that the simple step of removing the auto-aim assistance from the game (necessary to compensate for the inaccuracy of the joypad) ramped the difficulty up sufficiently, and no other balance changes were required.
    Source: Eurogamer Halo PC Preview [eurogamer.net]
  • Re:Pirates! (Score:3, Informative)

    by ottothecow (600101) <.ottothecow. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday October 29, 2005 @04:45PM (#13905978) Homepage
    The average gamer is going to probobly have their preffered monitor/keyboard/mouse and simply no longer have a system capable of playing the newest games.

    They have all their software and accessories but they just dont have enough muscle for the newest stuff so they need new internals and nothing else.

  • Re:Pirates! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Solkre (787360) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @07:46PM (#13906701)
    That's true, but you just screwed yourself on upgradability.

    I'm probably running on my last version of this setup (939 board) and that's because this mobo doesn't have a PCI-E slot. It's a great machine, it's just not upgradable for the future.

    I don't think it's wise to build a new machine that you don't think you'll be able to upgrade at least once. Also the idea of budget game machines makes me think of those people who'd come into my shop needing upgrades for the newest Sims. Gag I swear the Sims caused more computer upgrades than newer versions of Windows.
  • by stilz2 (878265) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @08:20PM (#13906797)
    Actually there are quite a few decent, budget cards to be found. I myself just recently purchased a refurbished Leadtek 6800LE online. Even at stock speed, it should be able to handle most games fine at mid-high quality settings at 1024x768 resolution. These cards are quite popular with the budget overclockers/gamers, as there's chance to unlock their hidden 8 pixel pipelines and 2 vertex units. In my case, I was only able to unlock 2 vertex units, but with stock cooling the card went up to 400mhz core and 800mhz memory. It is no 6800gt/ultra, but still plenty fast for $95. But yeah, if you ask me I'd still say the best bang for the buck gaming system for $500 is an Xbox360/PS3.
  • Why pay retail? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ndkchk (893797) on Saturday October 29, 2005 @08:59PM (#13906907)
    If I'm building a system with a budget like that, I'm not going to pay sticker prices for all of this. Here's a system that's better than that for the same price--actually, a little less.

    CPU: AMD Athlon64 3000+ Venice core, $139 at Newegg.
    Motherboard: Foxconn NF4K8AC-RS-1.0, $65 at Newegg, and with the processor, $5 off, taking it to $199.
    RAM: Buffalo Select 512MB DDR 400, $32.25 after rebate at Newegg.
    Video Card: Connect3D Radeon X700, $70 after rebate at TigerDirect. Or, if you're Nvidia, try the XFX Geforce 6600 256MB, $102 at Newegg.
    Hard Drive: Seagate 250GB 7200RPM 8MB, $70 after rebate at TigerDirect.
    Optical drive: NEC 3540A DVD+/- DL, $39 at Newegg.
    Power Supply: Antec SmartPower 2.0 400W, $55 at Newegg, and it won't catch fire when you put something else in that system, unlike their power supply.

    Now, with the Nvidia card you're at $497.25 after all rebates and before shipping. With the ATI, $465.25, leaving enough for another 512 MB of RAM so FEAR will actually run.

    So we have 250 GB of hard drive space, a DVD burner, more RAM, and a real power supply, all for under $500, leaving you that $15 they went over for a cheap case. Enjoy.

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