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Moderate gaming on $500? Can it be done?

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February 28, 2010 10:31:53 PM

Hey all.

I'm heading into my 3rd build and have found this community to be very helpful indeed. I figured I would post a question and listen to thoughts and opinions.

I am getting married in July, and my fiance has been playing my PC games on my PC every since I introduced her to games like Dragon Age: origins. It's time for her to get her own rig, and give me back my system!

But, we're young and broke. I'm wondering if it's possible to put together a decent machine on $500. Both of my previous 2 builds are still going strong (mine and my brothers) and they came in around $750 (2 years and 1 year ago respectively).

Here's my predicament.

1.) Can a decent machine be built on $500.

2.) Is it worth waiting until closer to the wedding in July? I priced out all the parts I used for last years system and it would cost more to build it now than it did then. Fricken bizarre to me... I worry that waiting will end up costing me. But new tech is new tech. Worth waiting til May/June?

3.) if a decent machine can be built. I'd love to see you guru's take a shot at picking out some parts. Since my last build almost a year ago i haven't been near TigerD or Newegg. I honestly don't even know what an i5 or i7 processor is, or if they are worth getting. Seriously. ^_^

Any and all comments welcome and appreciated!
~xRome!

More about : moderate gaming 500

March 1, 2010 7:29:14 PM

Anyone willing to offer their thoughts?
March 1, 2010 7:31:03 PM

500 is a little short if you increase it to 600 it can be done.
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March 1, 2010 8:15:48 PM

i have only built systems on Intel boards/CPU's.

I assume if I want the cheapest price for decent performance I need to go AMD?
March 1, 2010 8:47:48 PM

xrome said:
i have only built systems on Intel boards/CPU's.

I assume if I want the cheapest price for decent performance I need to go AMD?


Yes, it would be the only way to go, if you would want to be able to upgrade the system later, something like this might work, but it is without an OS!

ASRock M3A770DE AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail - $60

AMD Athlon II X3 435 Rana 2.9GHz + XFX Radeon HD 4770 512MB - $165 (using mail-in rebate)

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Retail - $105

LITE-ON Black 18X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA DVD-ROM Drive Model iHDS118-04 - OEM - $20

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $55

Antec TWO HUNDRED S Black ATX Mid Tower + Antec earthwatts EA500 500W - $80 (using mail-in rebate)

Now, we do not know at what resolution she will be playing, and the level of detail you expect, but this would be around the budget you have set, and I am sure you or others could come up with tweaks to make it even better.
March 1, 2010 9:00:09 PM

btw props you found a girl that plays games, nice
March 1, 2010 11:05:04 PM

Thanks for the replies so far!

Scione:
Heh thanks. First time she ever invited me to hang out she busted out her SNES for some mariokart goodness. lol. She wasn't really a gamer, but she's turning into one.

graphics cards:
I have had terrible experiences with ATI... i was originally thinking this for a budget card: 9800 GTX+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

How's that one do on price/performance? or perhaps a nvidia GTS 250?

We would be buying a 1080p monitor to go along with the system. ideally playing full res of course, but i know thats a tall order :) 

She's "used" to my machine... but she also will settle for whatever I build her. LOL
March 2, 2010 12:04:36 PM


Well, if you can stretch the budget to include that card I would go with the EVGA 01G-P3-1158-TR GeForce GTS 250 1GB instead, it is basically the same card but with 1 GB of ram.

If you look up other GTS 250s keep an eye out for core clock and memory speed, as many are running below reference specs.
March 2, 2010 6:02:55 PM

Right, you realy realy need to go ATI for this one. Nvidia is in a huge hole last year, not one Nvidia card makes sense right now.
March 2, 2010 6:18:46 PM

builderbobftw said:
Right, you realy realy need to go ATI for this one. Nvidia is in a huge hole last year, not one Nvidia card makes sense right now.


Hmm. if there is an equally performing Nvidia card for the same price as an ATI, why do i really need to go ATI?

not criticizing, just trying to clarify your point :) 
March 2, 2010 6:20:49 PM

Thats the thing. Ever since the making of the 4xxx cards, and in particular the 4870 1gb, there hasn't been a "equal" Nvidia card at the same price. Nvidia used to dominate, but those days are over.
March 2, 2010 6:33:11 PM

Just looking at the clocks between the powercolor 4850 and the evga gts 250 seems worth the $20 to me.

4850: core - 625, mem - 1900
250: core 738, mem 2200

Both 1gb both 256-bit. I know i need to save money, but is the GPU the place to do that?

Please keep in mind I'm still a novice in this game :) 

Again, thanks for replies!
March 2, 2010 6:36:08 PM


Since the cards are build on different architecture, you really can not compare them like that, only way is to run some real world tests, or read some reviews testing both cards.
March 2, 2010 6:39:45 PM

The primary reason that people will recommend going with ATI right now is that nVidia doesn't have a DX11 card at the moment. That will change soon, when nVidia launches their Fermi line (maybe this month?).

If you are an nVidia fanboy and want a DX11-capable card, I would suggest waiting for the release. Of course, at a $500 budget, you probably don't care about DX11 anyway.

My recommendation would be to look at the THG Best Cards for the Money, Feb. 2010 and see what fits your budget.
March 2, 2010 6:41:17 PM

If you are going to stretch the budget to fit the GTS250 then why not the 5770?
March 2, 2010 7:02:09 PM

Wait, I clearly don't know as much as I thought I did...

How can a 128-bit card beat out a 256-bit card. Is it the difference in GDDR3 VS GDDR5? i really don't know. its been too long since I paid attention to hardware stuff.

They are recommending the 1GB 128-bit 5750 over the 1GB 256-bit GTS 250 and over the 1GB 256-bit 4850. Since I don't anticipate ever having the money to have 3 monitors to utilize eyeinfinity, is there any reason to listen to such a suggestion?
March 2, 2010 7:10:26 PM

Go with the 4850. And the 5770 is leaps and bounds faster than a gts 250.
March 2, 2010 7:11:13 PM


Take a look at this review, it includes most of the cards that you should consider.

As you said yourself, you have decided upon a NVIDIA card as you have had problems with ATI driver support (I know where you are coming from, but saying something like this usually start an ATI/NVIDIA flame war), but right now, not counting the driver problems, the ATI card offers DX11 and a more capable GPU where the pro for the NVIDIA card would be PhysX.
March 2, 2010 7:14:13 PM

There just isn't a good reson to buy Nvidia right now, and there hasn't since the 4xxx seris.

GTS 250 512mb vs 4850---- The 4850 wins by a large margin at a lower price.

GTX 260 vs 4870 1gb- The 4870 wins at a lower price.

Gtx 275 vs 4890- The 4890 wins at al ower price.

Radeon 5770 vs Gtx 260- The 5770 wins, with DX 11, and a 150$ price tag.

5850 vs GTx 285- The 5850 owns the gtx 285 by leaps and bounds, at a much lower price with Dx 11 and Eyefinity.

4870 xfire vs gtx 295- The GTX 295 wins, but loses massivly in price/preformance.

5970/5870 vs Gtx 480/470- The Fermi chips arn't out, so ATI wins DX 11 unconstested for now.

Final score:

ATI- 7

Nvidia- 0
March 3, 2010 1:41:30 AM

lothdk said:
Take a look at this review, it includes most of the cards that you should consider.

As you said yourself, you have decided upon a NVIDIA card as you have had problems with ATI driver support (I know where you are coming from, but saying something like this usually start an ATI/NVIDIA flame war), but right now, not counting the driver problems, the ATI card offers DX11 and a more capable GPU where the pro for the NVIDIA card would be PhysX.



i dislike ATI not because of drivers, but because i have actually had cards die on me right after warranty. Physically.

One of them the fan shorted out and poured smoke into my room. yeah. ATI and I have a bad history.

Course that was my x800xl iirc, so it was a few years back.
March 3, 2010 4:03:56 AM


How does this look?
You can get 4gb of ram for another 50$. (I would since the mobo only has 2 ram slots)
Also, a 5770 for another 16$ (without 10$ rebate) can be had.
And another case could easily be chosen as well, this one is just a random cheap case :p 
March 3, 2010 4:12:25 AM

How about this:

CPU: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
MB: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
Case: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
Dvd Burner: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
HDD: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
PSU: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
Memory: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
GPU: http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...

total after tax and shipping is: 558.92
rebates is 60 dollars, so...

498.92 :D 

fits your budget totally, and it should kick some ass. Your games should work on ok settings...

play around with the parts and see what you like/dislike.

Hopes this helps you out bro XD
March 3, 2010 11:42:04 PM

No one had commented yet on one of the questions i asked, and i would be interested to hear responses.

Any reason to wait to find parts and prices until closer to the wedding? I'm giving her the comp as a wedding present. so I dont need to start buying parts til may at the earliest.

Should I wait? prices going to drop? new tech at good price coming out?
March 3, 2010 11:50:03 PM

Wait, new tech, prices drop etc etc. Wait.
March 4, 2010 12:16:18 PM

You could get somethings such as case ect. But wait on GPU/Mobo/Ram/.....

The Amd 890 chip set is out, fermi is on the way, and I am sure you will be surprised with something else that comes out before the wedding. So Prices should start to drop a bit in the near future. AT LEAST I HOPE...
March 5, 2010 1:50:23 PM

Well if you have until may... I'm pretty sure you've decided, but may or maybe april would be the best time to buy, since the fermi chips and 890 amd shitsets will be more main stream, making the other older models even cheaper XD

Unless Fermi BOMBS (i hope not) prices should drop due to competition.
March 5, 2010 5:45:09 PM

Fermi, 890... no idea what you guys are talking about and I don't have full internet access to check it out at the moment.

But if im understanding correctly... new tech, high end exciting stuff? And new tech pushes prices on old tech down, therefore worthwhile to wait a few months.

I'd be scared to get a case or anything else really at this point. It will be my luck that whatever part i get early won't work, but by the time I find that out building the system it will be too late to return it >_< lol

Thanks for the comments everyone.

I guess it makes sense to wait a couple months. Maybe my $500 then will get me what $700 would now. I'm down for that.
March 5, 2010 5:55:23 PM

Correct. However, New tech always doesn't push the prices of old tech down, unless you count buying second hand. You're better of buying current tech, if you want ot buy new, as sometimes new tech can not effect/raise newegg prices of old tech. ( $4870 going from 130$ to 160$ case in point). But you should wait, and then buy current tech, or last gen of Ebay.
March 5, 2010 6:22:20 PM

bad experiences with used gear too :( 

And wow no kidding. I just spec'd out my current system and it would cost hundreds more to build it now than it did when i put it together. That's messed up.

makes me nervous and want to build it early to *save* money. Weird.

I got my eVGA gtx 260 for $179. Now its $216 for example.
March 5, 2010 7:06:30 PM

xrome said:
bad experiences with used gear too :( 

And wow no kidding. I just spec'd out my current system and it would cost hundreds more to build it now than it did when i put it together. That's messed up.

makes me nervous and want to build it early to *save* money. Weird.

I got my eVGA gtx 260 for $179. Now its $216 for example.


Yeh, that's why you need to buy current tech.
!