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The 500$ gaming rig.

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March 16, 2006 5:23:18 AM

Hey everyone, This is my first post here and hopfully not my last.

I have a goal of building a dencent maching for some games (WoW, CS:S) I have a price budget from 500$-800$. What would you guys reccomend for memory, HDD, Processor (AMD), Motherboard, PowerSupply and GFX. The 500$ machine doesn't look like a bad machine but if you had a couple more dollars what would you upgrade? I think 1gb of ram would be good but I am lost for the CPU and motherboard?

Thanks alot

Bvlaar

More about : 500 gaming rig

Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
March 16, 2006 6:36:51 AM

I seriously doubt that you will be able to build a decent gaming machine for 500 bucks...
March 16, 2006 7:20:09 AM

US$500 = apx AU$670

Cost effective mainboards:

http://www.foxconnchannel.com/products_motherboard_2.cf...

http://www.foxconnchannel.com/products_motherboard_2.cf...(SI%20Bulk%20Pack)

http://www.asrock.com/product/939Dual-SATA2.htm

Included one with AGP and PCIe slot, in case you need to scrounge a 2nd hand AGP 8X video card, then migrate to PCIe x16 later on. This particular board has excellent AGP and PCIe performance (unlike other chipsets/boards that connect AGP in a dodgy way).

The two top ones include GeForce 6150 IGP (enough for WoW, and CS: Source in mid detail, and playback of HD-WMV files with 5:4 deblocking - vs the 3:2 other onboard video provides), but they both have PCIe x16 slots so can be upgraded to GeForce 7900 GTX / Radeon X1900 down the track if need be..... or anything more mainstream.... like a Radeon X800 XL or GeForce 6800 GS perhaps ?

The GeForce 6150 is no-where near as bad as people say, especially if your budget is in this level and you want to play World of Warcraft and some Half-Life 2 / Source games.

There are many decent boards in the lower end price range with performance equal to boards that cost two, or even three, times as much. They might not overclock as well, but as they do not require active (fan) cooling they have less moving parts and tend not to fail. (Although many inexperienced hardcore gamers might argue otherwise, in favour of active cooling. Chipsets these days do not require or benefit from it, and they certainly do not benefit from a failing chipset fan :p )

Low cost Athlon 64 / Socket 939 processors:

- Athlon 64 2800+, 939 pin, if you can find one.
- Athlon 64 3000+, 939 pin, easier to get.

Cost effective memory, with good gaming performance for the price:

- G.Skill Standard DDR 1Gb (2x 512Mb Pair) PC3200 G.Skill OEM
- http://www.gskill.com/indexen.html


Specifications
Package : 1024MB (2x512MB) dual channel pack
CAS Latency : 2.5-4-4-8 (PC3200) (You don't need more than this for gaming, and upgrading to 2 GB later will be affordable).
Test Voltage : 2.5~2.7 V
PCB Board : 6 Layers PCB
Speed : DDR400 (PC3200)
Type : 184-pin DDR SDRAM
Error Checking : Non-ECC
Registered/Unbuffered : Unbuffered
Quality Control : Comprehensively tested in pairs in a dual channel environment
Warranty : 3 years


Video Solutions:

- Use onboard GeForce 6150 IGP, in lower / medium detail settings and resolutions. Should run World of Warcraft fine at even higher detail, and Counter-Strike: Source well enough at more low / mid settings until you can afford something better.

- Buying a cheap / dodgy video card will only give similar performance to the above anyway, while increasing costs possibly beyond what you are looking to spend.

- You can always upgrade later (without needing to buy a cheap card in the first place) to GeForce 7900 / Radeon X1900 if you wanted to. (PSU permitting)

- Or find an older video card, possibly even AGP 8X, and use it on the Asrock 939Dual-SATA2 board instead.

Other parts - HDD, Case, PSU, etc:

- Scrounge what you can get
- Any 80 GB HDD is enough for a starter, but ideally 160 GB+
- You'll want a decent 350 to 480 watt PSU.

See how much these Case + PSU combinations will cost you:

- http://www.antec.com/us/pro_en_solution.html
- http://www.antec.com/us/pro_en_perfTX.html
- Lean towards the: http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=61640 ; Antec TX640B if you can though, it may save you issues later on.

- Also get a decent surge protector for $20 or so, eg: Belkin Surge Cubes do the job, are very cheap and easy to replace. They'll save your investment from power spikes, etc... esp during electrical storms.

That should be enough get you started, and I wish you well in your quest for a cost effective gaming machine, with upgrade potential.
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March 16, 2006 1:47:43 PM

Quote:
Hey everyone, This is my first post here and hopfully not my last.

I have a goal of building a dencent maching for some games (WoW, CS:S) I have a price budget from 500$-800$. What would you guys reccomend for memory, HDD, Processor (AMD), Motherboard, PowerSupply and GFX. The 500$ machine doesn't look like a bad machine but if you had a couple more dollars what would you upgrade? I think 1gb of ram would be good but I am lost for the CPU and motherboard?

Thanks alot

Bvlaar


So 500 to 800 dollar gaming machine. Sounds like a fun challenge, lets see what we can come up with :) .

All prices are from Newegg and do not include shipping.
Motherboard:
Asus A8N-E $94.99

CPU:
Athlon64 3200+ $159.00

RAM:
Corsair ValueRAM 2x 1GB $140.00 (2x 1GB - $65.00)

Hard Drive:
WD 250GB SATA II 16MB cache $96.00

Video Card:
eVGA 6800GS 256MB PCI-E $169.00 + $15 MIR

Case:
Aspire Case with 350W PSU- $58.99 + $10 MIR (I run this basic setup, and 350W works fine).

DVD
NEC DVD burner- $38

Keyboard/Mouse/Windows- bring your own :) 

Total Cost: $755.98 (Under $800 heyhey!)

If you want to cut some cost you can :
1) Like the other poster suggested get a board with on board video.
2) Only purchase 1GB of RAM instead of 2. That cuts the price in half for RAM.
3) Go with:
Asus A8N5X Instead of the one suggested and save $15. DFI makes a board very similar in the $70 range. What you lose is SATA II and the Ultra chipset.

Hope all of this information helps you!
March 16, 2006 2:51:22 PM

best suggestion for a low cost rig I have seen on this site! Exactly what I would reccomend. I would definitely go w/ the onboard video until can afford better card. I have seen the 6150 perform very well in WoW as well.

You will no go wrong w/ Tabris' suggestions above. You might even have enough to get a slightly higher proc...?

The only thing I would add is to buy as much as you can afford. He is right about the low end video card not doing much more than that onboard one, so if you cant get to a 6600gt or above stick w/ the onboard. If that is the case, then spend the rest of your budget where it will do the most good like in more processor or ram, or definitely in better power supply/ case combo. (stay away from "generic" ps... save you heartache in the long run. the antec stuff he has above is rockin)

I too wish you well on your quest.
March 16, 2006 4:44:50 PM

Xbox 360 Core System Console :lol: 
March 16, 2006 4:59:39 PM

Core system destroys friendships.
March 17, 2006 3:27:03 PM

Quote:
- Use onboard GeForce 6150 IGP, in lower / medium detail settings and resolutions. Should run World of Warcraft fine at even higher detail, and Counter-Strike: Source well enough at more low / mid settings until you can afford something better.
For a gaming rig, a decent video card is not optional, I fear. I would cut down on the processor if needed, get 1Gb of RAM instead of two, and get a 6600 or a 6600GT. Someone has managed squeezing a 6800GS in a configuration under 800$; that would make an awesome gaming system.
March 18, 2006 1:30:10 AM

I think you are going overboard on the video card, and consequently, substantially upping the cost needlessly. How about this?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
(Albatron Geforce 6600 256MB DDR PCI Express x16 for $92+ship)

I game a lot and this is more than adequate. Will you be able to play @ 1600x1200 with all eye candy turned up to max? No, but it will do just fine at resolutions normal people play at.
March 18, 2006 1:32:38 AM

Quote:
I think you are going overboard on the video card, and consequently, substantially upping the cost needlessly. How about this?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
(Albatron Geforce 6600 256MB DDR PCI Express x16 for $92+ship)

I game a lot and this is more than adequate. Will you be able to play @ 1600x1200 with all eye candy turned up to max? No, but it will do just fine at resolutions normal people play at.
'

Nice find.. I didnt see that one. Yeah, that would work just fine too and give $70 out of the cost almost.
March 18, 2006 2:47:35 AM

some good sugestions on components. Might want to look at a couple items. I had a list for gaming/back up rig totaled 600.00 but splurdged and spent 1,100. Guess i wont build another this summer. But some of the items i selected for the budget were follows: main intent was gaming, and if had a descent gaming rig, every other app (I) would use would have no probs. Gaming needs are in this order(my opinion) vid crd,memory,proc,psu and of course a good mobo.

Vid.crd. 100-120.00 refurbs/oems go quick. x1600,x800gt.x800gto

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductCompare.asp?Compar...

mem-value(2x512) $66.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

case/psu Good value $49.00

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductCompare.asp?Compar...

HDD $ 53.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

The 3000-3200+ amd would be good enough proc.
I like the asus A8N-E board, but is 95.00.
March 18, 2006 3:26:39 AM

The 'GeForce 6600' is only half as fast as the 'GeForce 6600 GT' btw - I never recommend the 6600 'non GT', nor the 6800 'non GT/GS' models, to gamers, for these reasons.

Since a GeForce 6600 (non GT) and GeForce 6150 perform fairly closely, especially in mediumish detail, may as well pocket any extra money, and put it towards 'at least' a GeForce 6800 GS, if not a GeForce 7600 GT/GS or Radeon X1800 GTO in the no to distant future.

Additional: The board costs no extra, and sports a PCIe x16 slot, so if 'they crave maximum detail' there is no financial risk at all, just spend the extra and install a better video card. Only downside is the wait for the new card to arrive, if, they decide the onboard isn't enough. Very often they do, then end up sending the 6600 (non GT) back, as the boost in performance is not what they expected.

Sure the Ultra models are not much better than the GT/GS, but the ones that lack any extention, or use XT (nVidia only), LE, SE, etc are all impaired cards. Onboard GeForce 6150 is just as good for what he wants.

Of course the main exception is that ATI use 'XT' to designate 'better than normal', nVidia just use XT on their lower end cards to try and get people to associate XT = bad..... a rather crude (and ineffective, as people are not that observant in general) market tactic. ATI use Pro, XL, XT, XT PE, XTX, etc to designate 'better than the OEM basic model', which is sometimes only half the power of the Pro/XL varient. (Hey, if people are buying a full 'brand name' PC they generally don't know video card model numbers off the top of their heads.... in detail) :p 

================================================
Anyways, back to the core subject at hand.....
================================================

Either spend the extra US$70 (or whatever) to get a GeForce 6800 GS, or GeForce 6600 GT, or Radeon X800 XL, whatever takes your fancy,... or just use onboard GeForce 6150 (performance will suffice fine in World of Warcraft, and Counter-Strike: Source on mid detail) until you can afford a 'significantly' better video card, likely next generation GeForce 7600 GT/GS not to far down the track, esp since you can go well under your US$800 budget if it is mostly an upgrade and you are resourceful.

If you were not resourceful, you wouldn't be trying to build a US$500 - US$800 PC.... at least that is the way I see it.

Being resourceful, and saving for the 'big fish' at the 'right momment' (hint Octoberish any year, and Aprilish any year) will, within 3-9 months depending what you are after, get you a system you don't even think you can afford, let alone one 'your rich friend' can afford.... if you get my gist. :wink: 8)

I did the same thing ages ago. Radeon 9000 Pro (far better than 9000 plain, just like the 6600 GT kicks the crap out of the 6600 'plain vanilla'), and held out to get a Radeon 9700 Pro not much longer afterwards. Ultimately the system was better than I was expecting.... instead of settling for a sub par card.

The difference between the GeForce 6150 onboard (with decent dual-channel memory) and the GeForce 6600 (non-GT) is not that significant.

If he is 'addicted to WoW' then he might as well benefit from that addiction :wink: , and when / if he/she gets tried of WoW and wants more 'pretty' in Counter-Strike: Source, and beyond upgrade to a GeForce 7600 GT for all the new stuff they are going to be doing in the HL2 / Source engine come 2007.

Heck, just look at the stuff Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is suggesting for decent performance, and the features in the new CS: Source and DoD maps (which can be turned off btw, and would need to be off on a 6600, even the 6600 GT, for decent performance anyway....).

The GeForce 6150 has access to the memory controller on the Athlon 64, which despite not being 256 bit x 1.2 GHz GDDR3 memory (not that the 6600 is offering anywhere near that anyway :p ), is still a fairly decent memory controller.

Anyway, the system I suggested is only hitting his minimum wall budget, he could just add a GeForce 6800 GS or GeForce 7600 GT to it now, and still be fairly close to budget. :) 

History: I didn't get to my current system (see rig) without scrounging every last dollar on my earlier rigs. I certainly didn't spend money on 'sub par' parts when the increase over a 'basically free' part was minimal.... and then just save for the big fish while having 'acceptable' performance in the mean time.

A little bit if patience, and selling my old systems before they devalued, combined with my above notes is what got me a 4-processor core Opteron system today. 8) (bling, bling).

Heck, my 1st real PC was a Celeron 466 (MMX only), clocked to 583/83, PC100 at 83 using damn fast timings, with a 8 MB Vanta (nVidia Riva TNT2 core basically), as 8 MB video memory then was heaps, AGP could use system memory for the low res textures of the time, and it kicked the crap out of every Voodoo SLI system at the time for the same, if not lower, cost).

That 8 MB TNT2 lasted me ages and only cost AU$70. (US$50 or so at the time). Then moved to GeForce 4 MX-400 (32 MB), early, when the card was quite good, then Radeon 9000 Pro, then 9700 Pro, then 3 x 9800 Pro (multiple PCs), then Radeon X800 XL. <-- They where my main tactical buying choices, bear in mind I'd sell stuff if it devalued too much, well before it was worth 'almost nothing' and use that money in the 'next project'.

To re-iterate: My signature system is where those 'tactical buying choices' got me today. 8)


UPDATE: ... and back then TNT2 Vanta 8 MB was the best choice as a starting block, because boards with GeForce 6150's 'for free' did not exist back then. Onboard video back then really was 'the dogs arse'. (As the board is so cost effective the video costs nothing bar the 64-128 MB drop in available system memory, which with 1 or 2 GB of decent PC3200 DDR-SDRAM is not going to hurt) .

But yes, onboard video, except in 'rare' cases, usually does suck in performance.
March 18, 2006 4:10:42 AM

Quote:
some good sugestions on components. Might want to look at a couple items. I had a list for gaming/back up rig totaled 600.00 but splurdged and spent 1,100.


Hey, I've used the same logic!

Good idea to keep a running spread sheet to keep yourself honest. A fan here, a fan controller there... Add another HD or maybe a new mouse and all the sudden the cost has jumped up (again).
March 18, 2006 4:34:09 AM

Don't forget the software configuration side either:

Also, forget to mention I've got a 'method' to almost double performane of the GeForce 5000 series (lower end) and GeForce 6000 series (lower end) in Half-Life 2 and Source games.

Higher end cards will only see mabye +10% using it.

It involves adding "-dxlevel 81" to the start up of each source game, you can barely notice the difference in detail, the water looks almost as good, but on the GeForce FX 5200 this will give +50% to 'almost double' the performance. (depends on rest of system, etc).

Anyone with a GeForce FX 5200, or even up to a GeForce 6600 and Half-Life 2, just fire me an e-mail or MSN me, and I can run you through the process (If I am online).

It is not just using inexpensive hardware to get the performance you want, there is also usually a software configuration component involved aswell. (eg: Use medium detail textures, etc)... but in the case of Half-Life 2 / Source on lower end video solutions, Valve technical support also recommend this, but the game defaults otherwise, to use Direct X 8.0, or 8.1 for rendering on the lower end video solutions via the method above ^.

The game still requires Direct X 9.0 (software) be installed, but the rendering engine only requires a Direct X 8.0, or 8.1 GPU (hardware) to provide more than enough eye candy.

I'd rather a low end GPU, even with SM 3.0 support, render a 'good' image quickly, instead of a 'fantastic' image slowly.

Offering Shader Model 3.0 support is one thing, but keeping SM 3.0 shader performance high on lower end GPUs (including the GeForce 6600 'plain') is ..... ironic. Most people with such cards end up leaving those features off just to get better performance.



Don't people ever wonder why a game console half the spec of their PC can 'outperform it' while providing very similar visuals ?
March 18, 2006 11:13:44 AM

Quote:
I think this is supposed to be cheap. $102 and $5 shipping for a X800GTO.
yay


didnt think to look at 128mb cards. Man thats a great price for R430 chip. If your buildin a gaming rig like the topic of your post says, yeah, you can save money usin onboard video, but your GPU should be your first concern for gaming rig. that 800gto either 128 or for $20 more the 256 mb, is a awsome card. I think it really has 16 pipes, with 4 locked, that you could prob unlock. Just go to a overclockers forum and make post. Maybe try Rage3D.com You should have no prob buildin a system for under 800.00 like you said was max u would spend. Could look at 754 socket w/semperon proc, but thats old tech, so would advise against.you wanna make sure u get at least 800mhz FSB.

The other cost that is usally not posted , but is a necessary evil for ur puter to run, is an OS (operating system) Hopefully ur like many others of us and have an avenue/resource for one that didnt cost u a thing. Nothin worse than giving the richest man in the world a couple more bills.

Also, u should , as an idea,(worked for me) make a list of components u want that fit budget, and look for sales/deal, just ordered another A8N-E mobo 2 days ago, and is now $5.00 cheaper. Got some (2x512) xms on a one day sale for $91.00 now is $93.00 with a $ 15.00 manifactuer rebate.
March 18, 2006 12:38:39 PM

You should check E Machines website. www.e4me.com
They sell a model 3304 that is complete and has a Nvidia 6100 chipset w/ PCI-e slot for upgrade. It is $349 after rebate.
(It has a Sempron)
You could slap a 6800GS in that cookie and be sailing for .....around $500
after all is said and done.
E Machines and Gateway share hands these days, so any worries about quality should be minimal.
(I would recommend tossing the Bestec PSU and get something stronger.)
OK $500 man, there's a cheap solution.

My spec's below are just what I added/upgraded to my E machine.
I am Very happy with it! (Yea, I've spent some $$ to upgrade)
March 18, 2006 12:59:51 PM

If using a Socket 754 Sempron you'll only get single channel memory performance (3.2 GB/sec).

By comparison the Socket 939 Athlon 64 sports dual-channel memory (6.4 GB/sec).

Still some acceptable systems on the E Machines website.

The memory performance isn't usually a major issue though, I'll agree. However, if an onboard video solution is going to be using system memory, and thus being limited by the CPUs integrated memory controller performance, you'll likely want a Socket 939 for gaming, with 6.4 GB/sec (dual-channel, over 2 DIMMs).

Frankly I would lean towards a NVIDIA® GeForce™ 6150 and NVIDIA nForce™ 430 platform.

You can compare the GeForce 61xx + nForce 4xx series for differences at: http://www.nvidia.com/page/gpu_mobo.html

As above, my pick for the cheap boards is still:
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/products_motherboard_2.cf...

================================================

The main benefits compared to the GeForce 6100 + nForce 410 models are:
- MPEG-2/WMV9 Playback high-definition (1080p/1080i)
- Video Scaling high-quality (5x4)
- RAID 0,1,0+1,5
- Ethernet 10/100/1000

The benefits listed above are worth the few extra dollars IMHO, and won't stretch the budget. 8)

Also suggest researching into GeForce 6800 GS, GeForce 7600 GT, Radeon X1800 GTO video cards, see where you can get best bang for buck.
March 18, 2006 1:31:12 PM

Quote:

My spec's below are just what I added/upgraded to my E machine.
I am Very happy with it! (Yea, I've spent some $$ to upgrade)


Seems like only thing left of your E-Machine is the case. :)  Hope you took out a pen knife and pealed off the E logo. Just kidding/well not really.
Getting a mass produced puter always a option for a 'cheap' route machine. BUT, U always gonna get some old tech with it, and takes all the fun and excitment away from the BUILD. And theres nothin more iritating than finding locked bios.
NOT trying to be-little at all. He was asking for options and gettin a puter made by someone else is an option. My father told me, after he heard I sunk $1,200.00 into components for a rig, that I should have got a Dell for $700.00 and it would do everything I could ever want :lol:  He has no idea of the demands of BF2 and FEAR not to mention all the games that are gonna be coming out in the near future. And I sure wouldnt put my x1800xt in an e machine and wonder where my bottle neck is.

What the original post maker needs to do is a lil research, then make a post of components he selected ( hopefully staying on budget $500.00-800.00) and ask for compadibilty issues. He should have no probs gettin a descent rig that all he need to in future is upgrade to either a 1xxx or 7xxx card and 2x 1gb mem, to keep up with the times.

Corsar has a 'how to build a pc' from ground up, that shows how easy it is.
http://sysbuild.corsairmemory.com/report.aspx?id=2&sid=...
March 18, 2006 1:44:32 PM

[quoteAs above, my pick for the cheap boards is still:
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/products_motherboard_2.cf...
.[/quote]

You know, that board dosnt look that bad at all for a budget board. Was trin to figure out how I never saw when ever I did components search, and noticed it had to be because its a micro form factor. I thought that micros mostly for LAN boxes. Is there any probs using a micro in a regular ATX (12x9.6) case ? Are most mobo trays adjustible? Askin and respondin alot to this post because although i blew the budget on my budget gamin rig, but my brother wants to build one and dosnt have the time to do the research. Is foxconn a descent company?
March 18, 2006 2:16:46 PM

A microATX will fit in pretty much anything, it just uses less space.

Upsides are:
- More airflow
- Easier to get to cables and HDDs, etc
- Passive cooled chipset is going to last longer than one with a fan bearing, and make less noise

The screw hole layout is an industry standard, formfactor.org (if still around) should have the schematics.

If you think Leadtek Winfast are a decent company, then you can't really say Foxconn isn't.... because they are the same company.

Expect Foxconn to take storm around 2007 (2H), but they've been around for quite some time. I figured, as usual, get in early and get the deals before anyone else knows about them. In Taiwan they are already huge, but Taiwan like to keep things secret for a little while. I suspect Winfast Leadtek / Foxconn are run under some huge plastics company... but I could be wrong.

I'd also expect Abit to make a comeback in 2007 around the same time, for various market forces reasons.

Don't get me wrong though, Foxconn have some boards I would avoid, but they have a few 'rare gems' like this one aswell. Their 'boards to avoid' would stand out to you, they look different (thank god) and have cheaper active cooling. Sort of like comparing a decent Asus board to a dodgy Asus board. (Do Asus still make good ones now though ? :p  - Kidding, but you prob get my gist)

They appear to be taking a very honest approach to the market, and that is something I respect, but overclockability (at least on this GeForce 6150 board) is not going to be 'extreme', (Though no other GeForce 6150 + nF 430 or lower board has 'good' overclocking anyway :p ) their later models will be aimed at that segment, with SLI, etc though.

I honestly suspect they may phase out the 'Leadtek Winfast company' and phase in a global Foxconn video cards + mobo company to go with a new line of mainboards and their new image come 2007 or earlier.
!