Need advice on an extreme budget gaming rig!

Hello Folks - I am completely new to this forum.

I need advice on building a n extreme budget PC that would let me play games like THE WITCHER, HL episode 2, HELLGATE, COD4, OVERLORD, STALKER. Now I would like to hold on to my sound card , CD/DVD drives, casing, PSU if possible. Processor, MB, memory and video card are the things that I will be changing. Unfortunately, my max budget is AUD$ 500! (australian dollars). I am tolerant to the 1024*768 res and do not always want blazing graphics. I also don't overclock. I just want another year of gaming from my new rig.

My current PC is like this:

1) Athlon 2.5 Ghz XP+
2) ASUS A78NX motherboard
3) I GB generic RAM
4)75 GB HDD
5) ASUS 6600GT 256 MB AGP card
6) Audigy LS
7) A generic 500W power supply
8) WIN XP sp2

Its not much but has given me 2-3 years of sporadic and decent gaming. (U guys r laughing by now - right?)
I am confused as to the realm of c2d, quad core, Intel or AMD (though I am personally soft towards AMD). I will b getting my stuff from chinese run shops in Australia, so 500 aussie should about cover my dementia. So guys, PLZ ADVISE! What should it be? INTEL or ATHLON? AGP or PCIE? Suggest the power supply; the memory and motherboard also.

Here's an available price list

E2140 / E2160
79 / 93
E4500 / E4600
148 / 169
E6550 / E6750 / E6850
205 / 228 / 325

AMD Athlon64 AM2 940pin CPU (Genuine Retail Box)
AM2 x2 4000+ / 4200+ / 4400+
80 / 90 / 104
AM2 x2 4800+ / 5000+
121 / 134
AM2 x2 5200+-2M /5600+-2M /6000+-2M

512M-800 Generic-Retail
1G-800 Transcend-Retail /Apacer-Retail
30 / 30
1G-800 KINGMAX / A-DATA(Hynix) / Samsung
2G Kit-800 (2x1G) Apacer
2G Kit-800 (2x1G) A-DATA–Heat Spreader
1G DDR2 1066 PQA “HOT”“HOT”
512M-667 Generic/Kingston/Corsair/Samsung
1G-667 Generic/Transcend/Apacer/Samsung
1G-667 Kingston / Corsair
31 / 34
High Speed “A grade” Flash Memory
2G-667 A-DATA(Samsung) / Kingston
69 / 119
1G Kit-667(2x512M) Corsair /Kingston
60 / 60
2G Kit-667(2x1G) Kingston / Corsair
62 / 65
4G Kit-667 (2x2G) Kingston

AGP slot

128M FX5200 Inno3D / Sparkle // 256M Sparkle 6200A
34 / 40 / 58
512M Inno3D 7300GT
256M 7600GS Inno3D // 512M 7600GS Inno3D
105 / 121


128MB 7200GS Generic / ASUS
33 / 45
256MB 7200GS ECS / 256MB 7300GS ECS
49 / 50
256MB ECS 7600GT // 512MB ECS 7600GS
109 // 75
256MB 8400GS ECS /Leadtek /Gigabyte /ASUS
49 / 58 / 58 / 58
256MB 8500GT Generic /ECS /G-B /Asus /Leadtek
512MB 8500GT Generic /Asus /Gigabyte /Leadtek
88 / 96 / 96 / 104
256MB 8600GT Gerneric /Gigabyte/Asus/Leadtek
512MB 8600GT Generic /Gigabyte /Asus /Leadtek
256M 8600GTS Generic /Leadtek /Asus /Gigabyte
320MB 8800GTS Generic /Gigabyte/Leadtek/ASUS
640M 8800GTS Generic/Leadtek /Gigabyte /ASUS
768MB 8800GTX Generic/Gigabyte/ASUS/Leadtek
768M 8800Ultra Generic /Leadtek /Gigabyte /ASUS

128M ASUS X1050
256M 2400XT Gecube / XpertVision
87 / 87
512M X2600Pro Generic / Gigabyte
93 / 128
512M X26600XT Generic


Gigabyte VM900M All-In-One
Gigabyte 945GCM-S2L/G31MX-S2 A-I-O
59 / 94
ASUS P5GC-MX/1333 (v3.02) All-In-One
Asus F3SV-136G T7500/2GB/200GB/15.4”/11G/VUltima
ASUS P5K 1394
ASUS P5K Deluxe WIFI 1394
ASUS P5K Premium WiFi 1394
ASUS P5E-X38 / Striker Extreme
289 / 399
Gigabyte P31-S3L

G-B P35-S3L / P35-DS3L / P35-DS3
Gigabyte P35-DS3R / P35C-DS3R
157 / 165
Gigabyte P35-DS3P(Pro)
Gigabyte P35-DS4 / P35-DQ6
215 / 269
Gigabyte X38-DS5 / X38-DQ6
309 / 345

Ok people - I am in your able hands now. Laugh away and help me out!

129 answers Last reply
More about need advice extreme budget gaming
  1. I'd Get

    Intel Core 2 Duo or Quad ---> E6850
    2GB Memory minimum ---> Corsair Dominator 2GB 800mhz
    Nvidia 8800 series ---> 8800GTX 768MB
    500W Power Supply ---> Thermaletake Purepower 500W W0100RU
    680I chipset mobo ---> Gigabyte GA-N680SLI-DQ6
  2. 1) Learn To OC :> Sorry to say it, but on your budget you will need to learn how to do it. It's not hard or dangerous to your system nor does it involve any extra costs for cooling, etc....

    2) For the Cards Listed, the 8600GTS is the min. card you can get. The 1950pro is likely a better option but was not listed.

    3) You will need 2gb of DDR2 RAM - Preferably DDR2800 (DDR2667 if Intel and not OCing.)

    4) Get at least a 450w PSU & make sure its not garbage. See JonnyGuru.Com for quick lookup of PSUs.

    5) AMD chips will give you better bang for the buck if not OCing, but none of the chips you can select will run all that great on clock in your price range.
  3. Thank you very much for your input, NeouxBlu1. However, ur suggestions overshoot the budget. Also, availability becomes an issue.

    Thanks again.
  4. Thanks Zenmaster for ur insight.
    I have never OC-ed. Any sites that can give me OC 101?
    So, u r suggesting a PCIE card? What motherboard do u suggest?
  5. You can find a great overclocking guide here:

    You definitely need a PCI-E card, yes. Get an 8800GT if you can swing it. It outperforms the GTS and is cheaper.

    You can find some decent prices on P35 is one example:

    Look into at least a tier 2 PSU like a Corsair HX520w or even the 550VX.
  6. A fellow aussie, don't worry, I feel your pain. Prices here suck.

    Remove the AGP cards (and AGP motherboards) from the list, there is NO reason you would get one in a new system, more expensive for the same card as a PCIe one, and limited range and upgradeability. Even harder to find is an AGP motherboard, which will disappear altogether soon I'd say, at least there will be no new ones.

    I'd suggest:

    CPU - E2160

    Motherboard - P35-DS3L

    Video card - Hard decision, but an x1950 pro is about the same price as the 2600XTs you listed ($150-160), and I have found 2600XTs nearly $40 cheaper in Australia.

    Power supply (PSU) - Pretty hard to get decent cheap ones in aus, take a photo of the sticker on yours and we can see if you need to replace it or not. If need be, the corsair VX-450 is an excellent choice, there is no need for a HX-520 for a budget system like this.

    RAM - Any 2gb set of the cheapest DDR2-800 you can find. DDR2-667 is only a bit cheaper, and if you do overclock, you will need higher quality stuf. You won't even be able to reach full DDR2-800 speeds if you run the RAM (jargon alert, look up those guides ;)) 1:1 with the FSB, and therefore you can buy cheap stuff and tighten the timings.

    Without the PSU, getting under $500 is pretty easy. Once you throw in a PSU, you start making things difficult. I'd look at trying to get an x1950 pro if you can, but we need to see that power supply sticker.

    Hope this helps :)
  7. Thanks a lot frm the bottom of my heart, ibleet and randomizer.

    ibleet: I am not to keen on overclocking and I truly don't want to. Mostly I am happy with games at 1024*768.

    randomizer: wud the e2160 cut the games of today like COD4, mate? U r suggesting the radeon chipset gpu not nvidia? Let me get back on the PSU. I am using a 500W SHAW power supply that I got for 25$! Thanks on the motherboard choice. I quite did not get the RAM jargon bit :-)

    So talk 2 u guys laters. Thanks again.
  8. Guys one mor ething - wud I need 2 change the casing as well for the PCIE card and the PSU?
  9. My $.02. Sell what you have. Take that money add to what you have then build a Socket 775 system with PCI-E GPU, and DDR2 Ram. Only thing I would keep is your XP copy, case, and CD/DVD drives. You should be able to have a nice system, that will be upgradable for some time.
  10. First off I'd go Intel right now. For gaming save money on the CPU to get a better video card. I'd get the Core Duo 2100 series around $75. If you want better the Q66xx series quad cores are what I'd take. They are great for only under $300. Gaming video card is a breeze....the GeForce 8800GT. I'd get 2GB of RAM. The cheapest DDR2-800 that is name brand and lifetime warranty. OCZ, Corsair, Geil, etc... Can be had for under $100. Harddrive I'd go for a Seagate 400GB or so SATA2. Seagate has the best warranty and quality drive. Get a SATA DVD-RW. Pioneer is good. Power supply, get a good Modular one....the Corsair 550W is not bad and was going for $69 with mail in rebate. Look at modulars 550-650W and choose by brand and price. DOn't go for a no name brand. Silverstone, Antec, Corsair, Enermax, etc.... they all make good PSU. Case doesn't's jsut a place to screw all the peices together. But the Antec 900 gamer's case is nice. Also the SIlverstone HTPC cases are good and can be rack mounted. Get what you like in a case and buy the PSU seperate so you don't end up with garbage. Last thing is Motherboard. Abit is the only brand I consider. Best warranty, support, web page, etc.... After 20 years I will still only use Abit and have been since their first board in 1998. The IP35E is a good board at a great price. No need for a sound card with an ultra budget system...use onboard sound for now. Good luck. I hope this gives you some guidance.
  11. I would go for if less than $500... from

    Foxconn GF8600GTS 256M - $180
    AMD AM2 6000+ - $185
    2G Generic DDR2-800 RAM - $58
    Albatron KM61S-AM2 Mobo - $69

    Keep all your other existing parts, Your case will most likely be ok and your PSU will probably be ok for this setup, however with $8 spare change & you might get $50-$100 selling your old can get a new PSU if you have too
  12. Thanks 2 every1. So far I am only decided on the motherB which is
    ASUS p35-DS3L @ 125$AUD.
    2G generic DDR2 800 RAM

    COnfused abt processor and PCIE card.

    Chickenfillet - any ideas where I can sell off my old parts?

  13. Xanadu, you could sell on ebay...
  14. That reminds me. If you are using a PATA (fat ribbon cable) hard drive and cd/dvd-rom drive, then you have a problem. Most (if not all) new motherboards only have one PATA port, meaning both would need to be on the same cable. Bad bad bad bad bad. The whole channel will be slowed down because of the hopelessly slow technology that is optical drives. This will decrease hard drive performance. This is the predicament I'm in at the moment. Of course, if either your optical or hard drive (or both) is SATA , then theres no problem at all.

    Now, the E2160, although not a performance chip, will obliterate your XP. The very fact that it has two cores (and all recent and new games are multi-threaded) will mean it is leagues ahead. A quad is just too expensive and already digs over half way through your budget. Since this is a budget build, the processor is not as important, you want to save your money for a card, and there aren't any really good ones until you reach the $130-150 mark.

    The 8600GTS, although now trading blows with the x1950 pro, is more expensive. The 2600XT is about as low as I'd go for a gaming build, and is usually a bit behind the previously mentioned cards, though it can get very close in some games.

    The suggestion to sell your old parts is good, though I'm not sure how much you'd get.

    Really do need to know how much power that PSU can provide, and it's not an easy thing to find on the net. Being a 500W PSU means nothing, and I'm not going to go into more jargon about combined 12V rails, it would be easier if you posted a photo of the label :)

    @gondo: Dude, there is no way all that is going to come under $500. And mail-in rebates? If you find an Aussie store that does mail-in rebates you let me know k?
  15. WOE is me randomizer ...

    And to think I don't want CRYSIS; just the latest releases of THE WITCHER, COD4, OVERLORD, HELLGATE HL epi2 @ a decent res (not over 1024*768). And no overclocking too.

    I mayb able to squeeze in an 8600 GTS or GT - which do u suggest?

    With the ram, MB, processor and a 8600 GT or GTS - my pricing comes close to 500$. I cud mayb put in a PSU. But the the new predicament - is daunting!

  16. E2160 processor overclocked.
    X1950 pro PCIe vid card if available.
    2gb Kit Kingston or Corsair DDR2 800
    Gigabyte P35 DS3L
    Corsair 450vx power supply if available.

    The above vid card assumes you will be keeping Windows XP. No DX10 card needed for XP.
  17. That's another issue - DX 9 card or a DX 10 card?
  18. ok -

    ASUS p35 D3SL
    2G DDR2 800 RAM
    DX9 card - PCIE 8600GTS (GTS or GT guys?); the 8800 GTS is too expensive!
    Shud I stick to the e2160? I seriously cannot overclock!

    Let me get back 2 u on the existing PSU and the PATA issue. At the moment I am out of the city. So, when I am back, I will holler at u guys.
    I hope the PATA issue doesn't hold true 4 me. That wud mean HDD change!

  19. Here is a revised minimum spec list based on no overclock. It won't win any awards, but it should be "playable".
    Gigabyte VM900M
    2gb kit Corsair or Kingston DDR2 667 "value ram"
    ATI X1950 pro 256mb PCIe vid card
    Corsair 450vx PSU
    Windows XP
    You can reuse the PATA.

    The MB is low end, but will do just fine for no overclock. I have the ASUS version myself. DX10 will not run on Windows XP. DX10 requires Vista which I would not run on this machine. The x1950pro is a very good XP/DX9 card. It will beat all but the 8800 series cards on your list above. Over here it is in the $130 range.
  20. Unfortunately the HD3850 is ridiculously overpriced in Australia, so it is out of the question.

    Avoid the 8600GT, it is a poor performer. The 8600GTS is ~= x1950 pro, sometimes better, sometimes worse. It costs more though. Since you don't intend to overclock, what RAM you get really doesn't matter, though DDR2-533 is hard to find and about the same price (sometimes more) than DDR2-667. The above listed system looks good if it comes under your $500 budget.

    Might I suggest you take a look at as it will help you find the cheapest prices. It's just a price search engine. Type in the product and away you go. :)

    When you work out what you are getting, let us know what place you are getting them from. Theres a few places I'd avoid.
  21. Thanks tmlck + randomizer.

    Previously, I did quite a bit of purchase from and Jantech. I found both to be reliable - MSY offered generally lower prices whereas Jantech had good bargains on selected items.

    Ok, I like the ATI 1950XT pro. I did find it @ 143$ frm Jantech manufactured by Jetway. I have no experience with ATI drivers (I always used nvidia) - so driver-wise and manufacturer wise - is this a good choice? The memory I am getting quite cheap via a friend. I am not seeing the e2180 for a decent price.

    The reason I don't want to overclock is I really won't know what to do. I have to see it to do it. And I have never much assembled core 2 duos either. Is it really hard to overclock? IS there anywhere I cud go and see it being done?

    Wud I need any extra cooling with tmlck's config or an overclocked config?
  22. Go ahead with the E2160. It will be OK at stock to start with. When you get ready to try overclock, go to Chapter 4 of the manual. You will see how easy it is. Let the machine run for about a week to settle in before attempting an overclock though. Kind of like breaking in a new car engine before driving on the highway extensively.

    The stock Intel Cooler will actually do fine for a mild overclock. Never really seen a good overclock video as the process tends to vary from MB to MB. Here is a good video on how to install the heat sink and processor though.

    After all is said and done, you might find the machine runs just fine for you at stock speed. It will definitely blow away your old machine, guaranteed. I ran an Athlon XP 2600+ for years. It does not even come close to my E4300 which is approx. the same as your E2160.

    Good luck to you!
  23. Thanks tlmck - if I choose to overclock - what ram shud I use?
    I take it that 'stock speed' refers to the speed in the manual?
  24. DDR2 667 is okay with the E2180 for overclocking.

    I recommend getting a good power supply, because it can take with it all your investment if a cheap one burns out.

    Top Tier PSU:
  25. I quite cannot figure it out from the website.
    Evongugg - what PSu wud u suggest within 100USD?

  26. xanadu said:
    Thanks tlmck - if I choose to overclock - what ram shud I use?
    I take it that 'stock speed' refers to the speed in the manual?

    The 667 ram chosen will be fine. Stock speed refers to the standard "out of the box" rated speed of the component, as opposed to "overclocked" speed. The stock speed of the processor is 1.8 ghz. A mild overclock you take it up to ~2.4 ghz(actually 2.394).

    At any rate, as I said, run it for a while at stock speed to see how you like it. When and if you get ready to overclock, we will all be here if you need any more help.
  27. For the PSU, get the corsair VX-450. For that price point (in Australia that is), theres is little if any competition with regards to build quality and stability. All corsair PSUs are manufactured by Seasonic.

    The stock cooler, as long as you seat it properly (which you often don't on the first go), will handle any overclock on stock voltage (stock again referring to "out of the box" voltage that the CPU is supplied with). Even a small voltage bump it should be fine with. Though don't expect to be hitting 3GHz with amazing temps though :D Chances are 2.4GHz will be enough to run any video card that you can afford without bottlenecks.

    If you are keeping XP, drivers from both nvidia and ATI are good, vista drivers still need some work but are getting better.
  28. I think I can manage to get the e4500 - what do u guys think?

    SUGGEST me a motherB 2 go with it. Not a very lo-end, but mayb a notch higher than that.

    Where in AUS can I get the CORSAIR PSU frm ?

    And how does every1 feel abt x1950 Pro frm JETWAY?
  29. The E4500 is an excellent choice, with double the cache and a higher stock clock, it is already quite a bit faster than the E21x0. It uses the least power off all the E4x00 series too, because it runs at a lower voltage.

    HB outlet have the PSU in stock (apparently), though if you search for it on staticice, there are a few places up to $10 cheaper, though they are in different states. Shipping prices vary depending on what state you are in and where the retailer is, though it should be $10-$20 for most places for the weight of this thing unless it's across the country, then it would be more. I'd try to get a place in the same state as you.

    The Jetway x1950 pro will perform the same as other x1950 pro's, but it is quite noisy because of it's small heatsink and therefor high speed fan. Unfortunately, they are the only cheap (price) card available, the other manufacturers are more expensive. This powercolor card uses the accelero X2 cooler, which is very quiet, but it is about $30 more. It depends if noise is a problem for you.
  30. Thanks Randomizer.

    Still waiting on a choice for MotherB.

    Is the noise on the Jetway too much? Or a constant humming? Whirring? My current PSU gives a constant hum.

    I do have another predicament though - assembly! Taking out the old stuff and putting in the new stuff. I have never done such elaborate an operation. How do i get around that? Anybody can help?
  31. I guess google can help with assembly, without pics it's a hard thing to explain.

    As for the noise, I read it was a whine, which is quite noticeable.

    For mobo (sorry missed that last time) I'd just stick with the P35-DS3L, solid board and surprisingly, it overclocks pretty decently. I've seen it get to 450-460FSB, long past what any allendale (E4x00 or E21x0) could really do without dropping the multiplier heaps.
  32. YouTube has numerous computer assembly videos.

    Here is another on doing the Intel processor/heat sink.
  33. Awesome, the work is done for us :)
  34. Randomizer - do component prices dip during the year end (christmas, new yr) in Australia? What do u think? Shud I wait a bit to see which way prices r heading?

    My friend got me TWINMOS memory 2* 1G modules DDR2 667. Shud that suffice for my purposes? Or shud I sell those and go for DDR2 800?

    Is their any other alternative to the corsair PSU u suggest? Bcuz the bulk of stuff I want to get frm MSY computers which is customer pick up only. Now they do not corsair on their list. Also they have a MSI X1950 Pro that is on clearance from 199$! Shud I grab now or wait? Any thoughts?

  35. Well $199 is about as cheap as you are gonna find an x1950 pro at MSY it seems, and it's probably worth grabbing if you can afford it.

    As for the PSU, how much money do you have left to spend on it? There is not alot of decent variety at that price point, though if you include $15 shipping, you are up around $120 for the corsair anyway. So for the moment, the antec earthwatts 500W is a decent replacement (still checking on this, but I'm pretty sure it's good).

    Component prices dip when the manufacturers drop prices or when products get older, that's about it. We don't get mail in rebates and other garbage like that from anywhere.

    The DDR2-667 is fine for an overclock to a 333MHz FSB, and since the E4500 and E2160, whichever you get, both run on a 200MHz (800MHz "quad-pumped"), that leaves you 133MHz of room to overclock in, as long as you set the memory to run 1:1 with the FSB (we'll get to that when you get the stuff ;)). Neither chip is going to get that high anyway without very good cooling and lots of voltage.
  36. On my PSU:

    SHAW ATX 12V P4

    AC input 230VAC 10A 50~60Hz

    DC +3.3V +5V +12V -12V +5VSB
    Output 30A 35A 18A 0.5A 3A
    Max 550 W

    Tell me what u think. Also pass me ur final verdict on the ANTEC Earth watts.
  37. @ randomizer:

    1) What happened 2 the small, black cap on your kitty?
    2) Why is any1 not suggesting AMD chips (those r cheaper)?
  38. zenmaster said:
    1) Learn To OC :> Sorry to say it, but on your budget you will need to learn how to do it. It's not hard or dangerous to your system nor does it involve any extra costs for cooling, etc....

    I have my Celeron 1.7@2.3 with NO extra cooling & on stock voltage. OC'ing isn't hard, and it is rewarding to have a faster computer than you payed for.
  39. How do ppl feel abt this config:

    >AM2 x2 5000+
    >Antec Earth Watts 500W
    >TwinMOS 2G DDR2 667 RAM
    >ATI X1950 pro PCIE

    Wud I b able 2 use my previous HDD and audio card? (Athlon 2.5 Ghz XP+; Asus MoB)

    Don't want to overclock.
  40. Come on guys - some more feedback pls...
  41. Regarding your SHAW PSU: 18A is not going to cut it with an x1950 pro, I already tried ;)

    Now, I'm not familiar with AM2 motherboards, so somebody else will need to help you there. Everything else in that list appears nice though, the X2 will give you greater performance than the E21x0 CPUs, and similar performance to the E4x00 CPUs. Though in games it's not going to matter much. RAM can be as cheap as you want it, all RAM, even generic, has to run at it's rated speed, only things like warranties and overclocking separate the cheap from the overpriced. Chip quality (which affects lifetime) may also be a factor, but I have old PC133 generic RAM still running overclocked a little.

    The sound card should work fine, though with likely ancient drivers there may be a problem. Trial and error will have to do here. The HDD will have it's transfer rates crushed if it runs on the same cable as the DVD drive, so upgrading that would be something to think about in the future. I am unsure what difference running at PATA 33 will make vs the likely PATA 100 it would normally run, but it could slow your loading times down a fair bit... could.
  42. There goes my HDD and the cables frm it. I hope u can make it out the power cable and the thick data cables.
  43. Yep if you don't have a SATA DVD drive you are gonna be running them on the same channel (cable) and that is gonna kill your hard drive transfer rates. So better to upgrade to a SATA dvd drive and/or SATA HDD.
  44. slowly slowly - it seems I wud have 2 replace the entire system!

    I can only keep my copy of XP. Arrrghhhh!
    I think I have 2 think about a completely new CPU.

    @ randomizer - what happened 2 the black cap on your display kitty?
  45. It annoyed me so I got rid of it and stuck with the original image.

    You don't have to replace the hard drive if you don't want to. I'm not sure whether the difference in real world performance will be that great, only the theoretical performance is much lower. You may not notice it at all. I wouldn't worry about it for the moment, and if you must buy something to get the two drives off the same cable, you could upgrade the dvd drive instead. That will be much cheaper, just make sure you get a SATA one. The problem is that motherboard manufacturers have reduced the number of PATA ports on new motherboards to 1 instead of 2 like a year or so ago. It's annoying, but thats how tech goes. I've got the same problem and about the same amount of cash to spend as you, but I have a PSU and video card already, so that saves me a fair bit.
  46. Hmmm... one more thing. C2d motherb's have built-in audio? In such a case, wud I need xtra audio acceleration?
  47. No, but an add-in card often sounds better. It depends how old it is, really old sound cards may be worse than the onboard, but most recent ones are superior.
  48. 'really old' - meaning how old?
    I have an Audigy LS frm 2.5 yrs ago? That is old, right?

    What wud b a modestly priced new card?
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