Looking to spend extra on the $500 Gaming PC


I've managed to convince she who holds the purse strings to let me buy a new PC at the end of this month. I was looking at the $500 gaming PC from http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-graphic-game,1810.html and thought that would be a good place to start as I'm not adverse to overclocking but would like it to not be too complex :) In the past I have just picked up a Dell PC using my companies discount but this time I felt like being adventurous and trying to get the max bang for my buck.

However, it appears I have about twice as much to spend (1500 NZD =~1050 USD) so I was wondering where to go from there.

The $500 PC uses these components:

CPU: Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2160 (was going to get E2180)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX2
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L
RAM: Wintec AMPO PC2-6400
Graphics: XFX 8800GS
Hard Drive: Seagate Baracuda 7200.10 250 GB
Case and Power: Antec NSK4480B
Optical Drive: Phillips SPD2513BM/17 20X DVD Burner

I'll be using to PC for gaming mostly (LOTRO mostly) and would like some future proofing as the purse strings are hard to get undone.

I was thinking about upgrading the following:

Graphics: Radeon 4850
RAM: 4 GB same kind
Hard Drive: Maybe up to 1000 GB, at least 500 GB

Where I fall down is the CPU and Motherboard. Not sure where to go with those, and then is the case/PSU and cooling still sufficient?

I would probably need to slip a Vista Home in there too and monitor.

Any recommendations please?

22 answers Last reply
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  1. The P35 is a great motherboard, the next step might be to go to a P43/P45 which shouldn't be much of a strain on your budget. The CPU next step up would be the E7200. I don't usually use that much HD space since i use flash drive/DVDs to save data and keep junk off the disc. The 380w PSU in that case is weak for a HD4850. Can you upgrade it to an Antec with a 500w PSU ?
  2. Yes, you pretty much need to look at a better PSU right off. Your choice of graphics card also has to be balanced against PSU.

    I realize you can't go with newegg, but I'm picking parts that should be around for you.

    A great HD is this one:

    Get this case if you can:

    My favorite budget card today:
    Actually faster than an 8800GT in certain conditions... although usually not. GREAT COOLING. EVGA is a good company for service and warranty.

    (I suggest this 9600 GT to you in case you need to trim down your budget.. the 4850 is the first pick)

    Some Antec cases come with OK PSUs. There is one company you can rely on for any PSU they make.... PC Power and Computing. If you can find them there, look for something from them.

    In any event, let us know what choices you can find. A PSU is your most important part. Don't trust any PSU review you read. They need to be reviewed by people who know how to test them right. Like right here AND http://www.jonnyguru.com/
  3. Thanks for your advice so far guys :D Starting to put together an updated list based on what i can find in the online shops here.
    One things I can't find at all here is the HyperTX 2 cooler. Is there a good alternative for around the same price?

  4. This is a really great list. These guys have a unique way of testing all the coolers.


    I favor #2 (Xigmatek) currently, because a bracket can be purchased separately so that the cooler can be screwed down.
  5. If you have space problems, here are some small heatsinks:

    Top 5 Low Profile Heatsinks on Frostytech

  6. I would definitely upgrade the graphics card, and the aftermarket cooler is a good idea.

    You probably could step up that CPU to an E7200 also.
  7. In addition to PC Power and Cooling, other reliable manufacturers include Corsair, OCZ, Seasonic, Silverstone, Antec, and Enermax. There are more; let us know what is available to you. You'll want something in the 550W-600W range for greatest efficiency and future-resistance, but a quality 450W-500W unit would be enough.
    I've become a big fan of Mushkin RAM. It will run at the JEDEC standard of 1.8v; no muss, no fuss. I've currently got this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146731.
    For CPU, default to an e7200. If it is comfortable, e8400.
  8. Wow you guys are really great, thanks a lot for the quick replies :)
    Here is what I am looking at now...

    Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Wolfdale 2.53GHz 3MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
    Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
    Antec Three Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    GIGABYTE GA-EP45-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
    G.Skill F2-8500CL5D-4GBPI Dual Channel Kit 2x 2GB PC8500 DDR2 (1066Mhz) Memory CL5-5-5-15 (there is also 4GBPK but not sure about the difference)
    Vista Home Premium 64 bit
    Sapphire Radeon 4850

    Still considering PSU and cooler.
    Also is that the right memory to get to match the Motherboard? From reading I think so, but a bit confusing.
    Also looking at an Acer AL2216WD monitor but it's very expensive here :s
  9. I would just go for some DDR2800 (PC6400) memory if I were you -- yours is faster and unneccesary unless you're doing serious overclocks. Anything by Corsair, Crucial, GeIL, G.skill, Mushkin etc will be fine.

    Other than that I would recommend an Antec Sonata III case w/ 500W Earthwatts PSU. Great value for a moderate budget. Everything else looks good.
  10. Wish I could buy from newegg, at this rate I'm going to be buying from several different vendors in NZ but not all from my city.
    Unfortunately not many places stock mushkin or g.skill as it turns out. Corsair or Crucial should be okay though.

    Do I really need to upgrade to the EP45 over the EP35? Does it give me much considering what I'll be putting on it?
  11. I just say yes to everything.
    Resources are well allocated for performance and economy.
    The Antec 300 is a good case - match it with the Antec Earthwatts 500w PSU or - if budget allows - go with foxrock's slightly more expensive but better Antec Sonata III suggestion comes with the same PSU.
    For cooler, also consider Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro (which I have). If you don't plan overclocking, you could comfortably use the the one that comes with retail CPU however and save a little.
    The 4850 is the best video card in its price range - if budget allows anothe $100 step up to 4870. With your build the video card is the next upgrade to go for anyway and you could save if you can "upgrade" now.
  12. P35 is fine. P45 adds Crossfire, which is better done on an X48 IMHO.
    No need to upgrade.
  13. superbicycletony said:

    Do I really need to upgrade to the EP45 over the EP35? Does it give me much considering what I'll be putting on it?

    No. The 35 (which I purchased several months ago) will handle everything your system has. You will see no benefit now. May down the road in several years with later video cards, but I would use the savings to help upgrade video to the 4870 now instead, if possible. Go to the Gigabyte website and you will find a link to compare cards side by side

  14. get a E8400 or a Q6600 cpu,

    I have a 8400@ 3.6 and im extremely happy with it for gaming.

    Investing in a 4870/ 260 GTX would also be worth it.
  15. Thanks for all the replies. I haven't been able to get back here for several days because I crashed my car and have been taking care of that but now everything is sorted.

    Anyway here is what I am looking at with still a couple of questions:
    Monitor: Viewsonic VA2226w


    WD6400 640GB


    2x2GB OCZ Reaper HPC DDR2 800 PC2 6400
    2 X 2Gb DDR2-800 Corsair XMS2 *XMS2-6400

    Gigabyte GV-R485-512H-B Radeon 4850

    Asus DRW-2014L1T

    Antec Three Hundred
    Antec Sonata III

    Cooler Master Hyper z600
    Thermalright Ultra-120

    + vista home premium 64bit.

    Ok so my questions :)

    Is the 500W PSU in the Sonata III going to be enough to handle the components?
    If not what would be the best to go for out of these available items between 500-599W

    Other question.. is this all gonna fit in either of these cases? :)

    Thanks a lot guys your help so far has been very much appreciated.

  16. The PSU exceeds recommended wattage, but that's not saying much. I think it will work, and nothing on that page you linked (that is in stock) is better.

    Scrolling down, I see that you can buy Zippy PSUs. They are supposed to be the best in the world.

    The only thing that really stuck out as a significant and affordable upgrade was the Corsair 650TX, which is out of stock.

    Corsair and Seasonic also have 550s that are out of stock, that might be slight upgrades.
  17. Ok so the Sonata III should be okay. It's looking much cheaper than the Three Hundred + separate PSU.

    Might also contemplate the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro as mentioned above for a cooling unit as it is about 1/2 the price of the other 2.
  18. For the cooler, go for the Xigmatek S1283. It cools as well as an Ultra 120 and simply can't be beat for the price.

    Hope you weren't hurt in the crash!
  19. No we escaped with no injuries thankfully.

    Unfortunately I can't find xigmatek coolers at all in this country :(
  20. I was lieing, I found someone who sells Xigmatek, but only the S1284. Waiting to see if he will see me a S1283.

    It looks awfully big though, will it fit int the Three Hundred or Sonata III case?
  21. 300 should be OK, Sonata could be tight.
  22. I've decided to not get the cooler just yet. Will leave the overclocking for while until I can get a xigmatek from the States. Nothing I play at the moment will need it I think.

    Might be able to upgrade up to an E8400 if I can squeeze some discount out of the store.

    Will go for the Sonata III with the PSU as it seems like a good deal. If the xigmatek can't fit it later then I'll go for something smaller.

    Unfortunately the jump to a 4870 is out of the question, more than $150 NZ and nothing I can really shave off to get that i think, upgrade to E8400 is only $60NZ from the E7200.

    I'd love to not get the 22" monitor which would free up ~$350 but then I'd still be stuck with the 19" CRT I've got at the moment :(

    Still I think this machine will do me for a long time. I've got great use out of my P3 3.2 machine I bought in 2003 and the games I currently play (LOTRO, CIV IV) will be comfortable on this I believe :)

    Thanks again, hopefully will be picking these bits up over the next few days :)
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