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Budget Gaming Rig!! Please help

Last response: in Systems
July 19, 2010 2:02:04 AM

Hey guys, I'm in a hurry because I'm going to be building a new budget gaming rig next week. My budget is $450-500 US maximum. Please suggest the best motherboard, case, CPU, RAM etc. in that price range (the cheaper the better). I already have a hard drive but any suggestions would still b e appreciated. Thanks!

PS. I'm going to be playing RPG and RTS games mostly, like Dragon Age, Dawn of War II etc. Very little FPS games but some third person shooters like War for Cybertron and maybe racing games like Blur and Dirt 2

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July 19, 2010 3:37:39 AM

Honestly man... I think the best thing for you to do would be to wait and save up a little more. With just a little bit more of a budget I'm sure the people here would be able to help you out a little better to get a good computer for the money.
July 19, 2010 4:26:44 AM

fharper said:
Honestly man... I think the best thing for you to do would be to wait and save up a little more. With just a little bit more of a budget I'm sure the people here would be able to help you out a little better to get a good computer for the money.

I already have a DVD drive and hard disk so I think $500 would be my limit... I've seen a lot of rigs priced at around $400 lately
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July 19, 2010 5:03:35 AM

The other question, do you have an OS? If not, you will need to factor in about 100 for that.
July 19, 2010 5:09:02 AM

I have a 20 inch Dell UltraSharp 2009W which has a native resolution of 1680x1050. I have a Windows 7 Upgrade disc from HP, for upgrading my current HP Compaq Presario from Vista to 7. It's 32-bit. And by the way how many gigs of RAM should I get for that DDR3-1333?
July 19, 2010 5:09:50 AM

That right there is 4GB so for the most part should be all you need for now. And yeah for that resolution the 5770 should be pretty much perfect.
July 19, 2010 5:10:52 AM

So will the upgrade disc help?
July 19, 2010 5:11:27 AM

At least 2, but 4 is better. Don't know if that Windows 7 will work. For one they probably want it to be tied to the HP, number 2, it may be a proprietary disc. So you may want to check if it's possible for you to use it, and if you are allowed by the license as well.
July 19, 2010 5:12:08 AM

Actually... if your windows OS is on the hard drive that you're transfering over than I believe it should work.
July 19, 2010 5:12:43 AM

So how about moving my current hard drive to my new PC and booting up Windows 7?
July 19, 2010 5:13:35 AM

Wait so I don't have to reinstall everything?
July 19, 2010 5:17:21 AM

Well, it's really best if you do, but I guess what he's saying is if you move the current hard drive to your new system, it should have Vista on it, so you may be able to pop the upgrade disc in, and it may allow you to upgrade the installation that is there from Vista to 7. Worth a shot, but be mindful that it's not guaranteed.
July 19, 2010 5:18:39 AM

no but i've already upgraed my HP, I'm using windows 7 now.
July 19, 2010 5:23:19 AM may want to plan on an OS then. That windows 7, does it say it's OEM, I'm assuming so. If that is the case, technically according to the license agreements, it's supposed to be tied to that computer, the HP. So they may or may not let you activate it. I mean you would be transferring some parts, so you may be able to talk to them and they may let you use it, but be prepared in case they tell you no, you may need spend another 100 for a new copy of Windows 7.
July 19, 2010 10:54:34 AM

It doesn't say OEM (what's that lol?) but it says on the disc itself: "For use only as an upgrade to a qualifying HP Windows 7 Upgrade Option PC)... so what do you think? Can I use it or not?
July 19, 2010 1:51:20 PM

See that's the thing, you may be able to talk to Microsoft and tell them, but usually those are OEM discs, OEM is original equipment manufacturer. Basically made for system builders and prebuilt computers, but with an oem license, that copy of windows is supposed to be tied to the first computer it's installed on.
July 19, 2010 1:55:12 PM

Oh okay I get it now... I guess I've pretty much decided to just upgrade my video card, RAM and PSU now instead of getting a new build because my current one is only less than a year old and ,let's face it, Compaq isn't as bad as most people think. But what if I proceed with the above upgrade? Will I have to reinstall Windows? And how about changing my PC case? Also, please help me with this as well.... My current Compaw Presario case APPEARS to only have a fan slot at the rear of the case, and there is not fan currently installed. Would there be other places to place fans in my case? Where would they be located? And what's the difference between intake/exhaust fans and what type should I install at the rear of my case if I really only have room for 1 fan? Sorry for the large amount of questions but I'm upgrading next week and really need help.
July 19, 2010 2:32:58 PM

It's cool man. You should not have to reinstall for that. I think the main things they look at are motherboard and CPU. Though, even if you do, it should not gripe about you reactivating. Changing case, unsure, but I think mostly they are standardized ATX boards, so should theoretically fit a new case(however, be careful, sometimes the heatsinks stick to the top of the chip due to thermal paste, I've accidentally bent pins removing the cpu before.)

Other places for a fan, when you get your new video card, maybe pick up one of these guys.

I've got one myself and put it under the video card.

Also, check and see if you can pull the front cover off. If so, you may be able to mount one in the front. If not, you may be able to rig one under the optical drive using wire ties.
July 19, 2010 3:13:04 PM

Okay thanks for the help :) 
So instead of building an entire new system, I will be upgrading from a 250W PSU, an ATI Radeon HD 4350 and 2GB of DDR2-800 to a Corsair VX550W, a nVidia GTX 460 and 4GB of DDR2-800. Will this allow me to play all the latest games at 1680x1050 for at least to years? By the way, is the 768 MB version of the GTX 460 good enough for 1680x1050 or must I get the 1GB version for more money? And which manufacturer has the best features for the GTX 460?
July 19, 2010 7:07:30 PM

Yeah, that sounds like it should be okay. And no you don't need the 1gb version for that resolution the 768mb should be fine. As far as manufacturers I would probably grab an ASUS, EVGA, or Gigabyte.
July 20, 2010 1:40:49 AM

Okay thanks for the advice... will the 768MB version really be good enough to last me 2 years? And out of the 3 manufacturers you mentioned, which one has the best features? Would the EVGA GTX 460 768 Superclocked version perform as well as a reference 1GB version? And ASUS uses direct copper cooling but if I'm not overclocking I wouldn't need that right?
July 20, 2010 1:41:25 AM

And by the way to anyone else who is reading this I'm still keeping an open mind until next week so PLEASE GIVE ME SOME SUGGESTIONS ON THAT BUDGET SYSTEM :) 
July 20, 2010 2:36:47 AM

Well shave a little here.

Not as flashy as the other case, but here...

So 50+20=70, saves you 20 on the case/power supply

Drop to the 5750 for video.

Saves 30.

So we've saved 50, the last build was at 475. So add 25. That gives you 75. If you can put 25 with it, then you can grab windows. Or another option......

Go to 2 gb of memory, or 3, though it would not be in dual channel, and then grab windows 7.

Or the other thing.....

So if you did the other cuts, but keep your 4 gb of ram, you might be able to swing windows 7 in your budget. The x3's and x4's are cheap, so later you could sell the x2 and even grab a p2 955 if you save your pennies.
July 20, 2010 10:54:06 AM

ohiou_grad_06 said:
Well shave a little here.

Not as flashy as the other case, but here...

So 50+20=70, saves you 20 on the case/power supply

Drop to the 5750 for video.

Saves 30.

So we've saved 50, the last build was at 475. So add 25. That gives you 75. If you can put 25 with it, then you can grab windows. Or another option......

Go to 2 gb of memory, or 3, though it would not be in dual channel, and then grab windows 7.

Or the other thing.....

So if you did the other cuts, but keep your 4 gb of ram, you might be able to swing windows 7 in your budget. The x3's and x4's are cheap, so later you could sell the x2 and even grab a p2 955 if you save your pennies.

That was really helpful thanks so much! The only problem is that I'm not ordering from Newegg, but I'm going to my local computer center... and I thought moving my current hard drive to my new computer instead of buying a new drive would solve the Windows 7 problem??
July 20, 2010 3:20:10 PM

Generally newegg is a lot cheaper, unless you go to a microcenter. Also, is great to deal with. Check your prices though, especially on your budget. I would say get the ram at your local shop if possible.

As far as moving the current will still be on the drive, but it will pick up the new parts and probably ask to be reactivated, which is when you will run into problems potentially. Because Microsoft may not allow you to reactivate because of the licensing issues. Also, it's usually best to reinstall fresh when moving to a new box, usually helps with getting all the drivers fresh, and for the system to run better.
July 20, 2010 3:26:37 PM

So now for the hardest question of all: My current build is, as you know, a Compaq Presario that's around only a year old. Upgrade, or build new???
July 20, 2010 3:31:37 PM

That is completely up to you. What are the specs of said compaq rig? If it's at least a dual core, it might be worth messing with. If you are talking about a machine with a single core celeron, then I wouldn't bother.

I am not much on prebuilts myself. I looked at an emachine once, and they used some of the cheapest parts available. So that's what you may run into there. However, if you upgrade it, then you can buy the other pieces to have a complete build later and probably carry most of your stuff over.
July 21, 2010 1:53:17 AM

Here are my specs:
Compaq Presario 3078HK

Motherboard: MSI MS-7525 (this is a motherboard that MSI custom-built for HP, codenamed the BostonL-GL6) [Micro-ATX MB]
Base Processor: Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93gHz x 2
Chipset: Intel G31 Express
Power Supply: 250W No brand
Memory: Memory Installed - 2GB
Maximum Allowed - 4GB (2x2GB)
Speed Supported - PC2-6400MB/sec
Type: 240 pin, DDR2 SDRAM

Hard Drive: 750 GB SATA 3G, 7200 rpm (is there any way I could add more hard drives??)

Video Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4350 - 512 MB DDR2 memory
Sound/Audio: High Definition 5.1 Audio/ALC 662 chipset (what's this??)
Expansion Slots: 1 PCI, 1PCI-e x16, 2 PCI Express x1 (what's the difference and will performance be less on my new video card because I don't have PCI-e 2.0??)
Drive bays: 2x 5.25' and 1x3.5'
July 21, 2010 2:32:28 AM

I would say it's worth upgrading that current rig. a 2.93GHz Core 2 Duo really isn't that bad and it should be able to last you in most games until you have the money to upgrade. You could add more drives easily just by simply buying them, fitting them into a slot in the case and plugging them into your motherboard and power supply. It's very simple really. The High Definition Audio (HDA) / ALC 662 Chipset is your integrated sound. ALC 662 is the chipset which your sound is based on which means... something. You don't have to worry about it really. If you bought that computer in the last year like you said, your PCI-e x16 slot will be version 2.0, they just don't bother to mention it sometimes. Therefore, your graphics card should work fine.

I would say your best option is to go for 4GB of RAM such as this, a superclocked GTX 460 and a nice 600W PSU from Thermaltake, a company which can be relied on with PSUs. With just upgrading those parts you won't need to worry about Windows - you can continue to use your computer as normal after installing them. The total of that is $364.97, which leaves you with a few options. You could either keep the money for something completely different, spend it on something else like a new hard drive or you could go for a bigger upgrade and add in a new CPU like this 3.0GHz triple core, a new motherboard to support it and this RAM instead of the OCZ RAM because it is DDR3 in order to be compatible with the motherboard. If you chose to get the new CPU, motherboard, DDR3 RAM and the GTX 460 that would come to $499.95. Unfortunately, when you change your motherboard and/or CPU you have to re-install Windows , so that is the downside of choosing that option.
July 21, 2010 2:34:52 AM

If I go with the 1st option (SC GTX 460, 4GB DDR2 etc), will I be able to play the latest stuff at high settings for at least 2 years?
July 21, 2010 2:42:01 AM

Ok, so sounds like you've actually got a decent system now. I would say if you want to upgrade, pop in another 2 gb of memory to max it out, you have probably just onboard audio, which the ALC 662 just identifies what chipset it uses for sound. PCI express 1 x I think are a small slot, I don't usually use them, but some devices do. On the video card though, I think the general opinion is generally that available cards aren't using all of the bandwidth available on pci express x16 1.0 much less 2.0. So don't think you will see a noticeable difference.

Upgrade the power supply, and you could depending what you want to spend(and how much room the case has, grab a 5770, or even a 5850, then you can save up for later.

Edit. Danger beat me to it, lol. From quick reading, the 460 is cheaper and does seem better for the $$. Might be good, but owning an nvidia card, was not impressed with more recent drivers, so something to consider too.
July 21, 2010 2:43:54 AM

So no more GTX 460?
July 21, 2010 2:55:32 AM

Answer to your first question: probably no. During the next two years we will start to see more and more games coming out which really need more than two cores to run properly and your Core 2 Duo will then begin to feel the strain (mine even more so :( )
Second question: I would still recommend that you buy the GTX 460 if you're going to upgrade your CPU and motherboard as well and get a 5850 if you are just upgrading your RAM, PSU and graphics.
July 21, 2010 2:55:47 AM

I didn't say that, it looks great for the money, better than the 5850 because it's nearly 100 bucks cheaper. But I know I've an older 9600gt, and it's a good card, but I bought napoleon total war for my pc, and was getting crashes, had to do a couple of workarounds, and one of them i tried was an older driver set for the video card. I can't say that it was all the fault of the drivers, because there were a couple of things I did at the same time, but since that time, I have no more crashes. Just something you may keep in your mind. Because I know one thing it seems like I'd read said that with the game empire total war, they hadn't tested after a certain version of nvidia drivers.

But just something to keep on the back burner. From what I read though, the opinion seems to be that the gtx 460 can do about 90% of what the 5850 does, but nearly 100 bucks less. So that makes a good argument to be sure.
July 21, 2010 3:00:51 AM

Haha, gotta say danger and I are like right at the same times, lol. But man honestly you've got a faster chip than I do. My old desktop I've got an Athlon x2 5400 at 2.8 ghz, and 2 gb of ram. Just an old 9600gt for video. So I gotta say with your chip at nearly 3 ghz, as well as 4 gb of ram, then a 5850, you may not max out that long, but your games should scream for a while.
July 21, 2010 3:36:46 AM

Yeah, basically I would say you can choose choice one (graphics, PSU, RAM) to get games maxed for the next year or so before upgrading or you can choose choice two (CPU, motherboard, RAM, graphics, PSU) to get your games great for at least two years and give you easier upgrade paths in the future what with a newer motherboard.
July 21, 2010 4:57:36 AM

Well I'm on a budget and I'd really like to have some money left over for a few games, so unless I build a super cheap rig with a 5750 or something I'd rather upgrade because, let's face it, even if I build a new rig I WILL have to upgrade when the 6k series comes out. But if I get the GTX 460, its a new card so I probably won't need to replace it for a while, and why waste my current PC when it's barely a year old?

What are your opinions on me upgrading my graphics to GTX 460 or 5830, PSU to 550W, RAM to 4GB and then just replacing my core 2 duo with a core 2 quad Q9505?? They're both Socket 775's I think...
July 21, 2010 12:29:15 PM

My opinions on that depend on how much it is. Socket 775 is outdated, so buying a new CPU now is only really worth it if it is relatively cheap.
July 21, 2010 12:56:15 PM

Okay I know this is stupid, really sorry but I just called the shopkeeper of my local computer center who I know and he said it costs around the same to build a new system and he said i probably won't need a GTX 460 for 1680x1050 anyways... so I guess he convinced me to stick with a 5770 or even 5750... so please tell me what parts to buy and their prices.... looking to spend $400-500 US on a decent rig that will last me 2 years.... thanks a lot! By the way I hope to be building an AMD system since AMD makes better budget stuff than Intel and AMD works better with ATI since ATI is one of their divisions
July 21, 2010 1:10:05 PM

Right, a 5750 will not last you two years at decent settings at 1680x1050. It will struggle to play a lot of new games coming out now at decent settings and that resolution. I agree with you that AMD makes better budget stuff but whoever told you AMD and ATI work together because ATI is owned by AMD was lying. Both Intel and AMD work just as well with ATI and Nvidia, although ATI is owned by AMD. That part was true.
July 21, 2010 1:38:58 PM

Well. AMD boards are made to be compatible with ATI cards right?? I'm not very sure about that but anyways, will the Gigabyte 5770 Super Overclock Edition last me 2 years at 1680x1050? Or at least 1-1.5 years? And please list the parts I should get, thanks :) 
July 21, 2010 1:55:40 PM

Well, really any card should work in any board. That's why the standards are set the way they are. Also, that's why a lot of us shop newegg,, etc. Because we can usually get far far better pricing there than at a local shop, unless you are shopping at microcenter.

I know I gave suggestions to get a budget build, but honestly, you do have a decent rig with the compaq right now, and could make that do what you want for a while, then save your money and really build the rest up. But it's your call.
July 21, 2010 2:01:21 PM

I would grab a GTX 460 and a new PSU to handle it and then, when you're ready in 1-2 years (whenever you feel that your current build isn't doing so well) you can upgrade to a new CPU, motherboard and 4 gigs of RAM. That way, you're not spending money on the RAM now when you're only going to have to replace it when you get a new motherboard.
July 21, 2010 2:27:21 PM

If you HAD to have a new build, you could do an AM2+ board and reuse your ddr2, but you'd put extra into ram anyway to add to what you've got, so all you would save is a few bucks, and the new rig would be limited.
July 21, 2010 2:29:18 PM

+1 on that. Not really a good idea to spend money on anything DDR2 related at the moment.
July 21, 2010 2:41:30 PM

Well, this is one of the deals at my computer centre that was printed on a pamphlet i picked up last month. This system will be approx. $500:

AMD Athlon II x4 630
MSI 770-G45 Motherboard
500GB SATA 2 3GB 7200rpm Hard Drive
4GB DDR3-1333 PC3-10600
24X DVD Drive
Realtek HD Audio 7.1
12x USB 2.0
ATI Radeon HD 5750 ( I might upgrade this to a 5770 instead of buying a 5750)

What do you guys think?? This is a "bundle" PC deal so it should be cheaper than if I bought all the components separately. If you guys REALLY think this whole new build thing is unnecessary, then please just recommend a budget case for me because I'm really tired of my Compaq case which has only 1 fan slot which doesn't even come with a fan and no dust filters/mesh or anything at all. Maybe a $30-$40 case with a side window would be ideal for me (showing off FTW)
July 21, 2010 2:53:46 PM
July 21, 2010 2:58:29 PM

What OS?
July 21, 2010 3:09:29 PM

ddr3 1066 ocz ram
Combo - GTX 460; OCZ Fatality 550W PSU
Mobo - MSI; Athlon II x4

only thing is it cost 531 dollars plus shipping,
but the gtx 460 is worth it
if you do not want to spend the extra 32 dollars, buy a 5770 comboed with a mobo