Very Low Budget, Upgradeable Gaming PC

Well, I only have about $300 being a broke, incoming college freshman, and I need to be able to play fallout 3/ New Vegas and Dragon Age, at low settings if necessary. I could possibly go up to a max of $500 if needed (which I understand probably will be haha). What I am looking for is to build a computer whose components I can upgrade over time so that it will eventually become a more capable rig.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.
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  1. Hey there. It sounds like a challenge, to I'm willing to accept. Can you fill this form out first though? It gives us more info. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261222-31-build-advice

    I'l get back to you!
  2. Approximate Purchase Date: Before August 2011

    Budget Range: $200-500


    System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (Xbox 360/PS3 Replacement), I have a laptop for everything else


    Parts Not Required: Mouse, keyboard, monitor


    Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any reliable website/ store


    Country of Origin: Well, I'm in the US


    Parts Preferences: Intel processor, Nvidia graphics

    Overclocking: Yes / No / Maybe


    SLI or Crossfire: Yes / No / Maybe


    Monitor Resolution: N/A


    Additional Comments: The smaller the better, but I value price and ventilation over size. I plan to upgrade this over time, as $300 is not much at all, so the case needs to be easily upgradeable.
  3. Ok prepare yourself, I went overbudget. However, I did the best I could for a budget gaming system.

    I didn't include OS, because if you have a .edu email address I believe you can get Windows for a significant amount off.

    CPU: Intel core i3-2100 3.1GHz dual core BUNDLED WITH GIgabyte H67M-D2 motherboard: $209
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.660600

    GPU: Not Nvidia, but still an excellent card. Performs slightly better than equivalent Nvidia card. HIS 5770 1GB: $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161338

    Case: Xigmatek Asgard II $30
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811815006

    PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380w 80+ bronze $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371033

    RAM: G.Skill 2x2GB 1333MHz ram $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231253&cm_re=g.skill-_-20-231-253-_-Product

    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 $65 ($60 at amazon)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

    DVD: Sony Optaric lightscribe $22
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118040

    Total is $475 before shipping.

    This rig should play some of the top tier games at lowered detail. It SHOULD be BF3 ready as it's DX11 capable and runs BC2 pretty well.

    It should be in your budget, as long as you can get the OS for cheap.
  4. Wow, great rig! going to book mark it for myself.

    I have some info on the student discount.

    Win7 @ 29.99

    http://www.microsoft.com/student/en/us/windows/buynow/default.aspx
  5. Wow thanks bro! And that's a very helpful link.
  6. You're welcome! I"ve seen some of your other posts and you seem to give good heartfelt advice. I try to be helpful and not muck up too much around here, or anywhere else. :)
  7. Thanks, that looks like a great build. However, I think I'll still go for an Nvidia only because my PS1 emulator, video plugin likes them better. And student discounts sure are nice. ;)
  8. Alright then. Subsitute this one for the 5770: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130573&cm_re=gts_450-_-14-130-573-_-Product It comes with photoshop and signature EVGA warranty!
  9. In this price range intel is not your best choice .

    Have a look at the Toms hardware system builder $500 PC
    An AMD quad , a graphics card that can kick sand in the face of any puny console , and
    Its going to leave the intel build suggested above for dead in gaming

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/budget-gaming-pc-phenom-ii-radeon-hd-6850,2903.html


    Use it as a guide , but pick deals on components. Replace the cpu with a phenom 840 if you have to , and you will still have a stronger processor than the intel 2100
    BUT make sure you get an AM3 + motherboard so you can upgrade to AMD's next generation processors at some later time . Consider m-ATX motherboards . Generally cheaper and unless you have 6 expansion cards you want to use they work just as well as ATX
  10. striker410 said:
    Ok prepare yourself, I went overbudget. However, I did the best I could for a budget gaming system.

    I didn't include OS, because if you have a .edu email address I believe you can get Windows for a significant amount off.

    CPU: Intel core i3-2100 3.1GHz dual core BUNDLED WITH GIgabyte H67M-D2 motherboard: $209
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.660600

    GPU: Not Nvidia, but still an excellent card. Performs slightly better than equivalent Nvidia card. HIS 5770 1GB: $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161338

    Case: Xigmatek Asgard II $30
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811815006

    PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380w 80+ bronze $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371033

    RAM: G.Skill 2x2GB 1333MHz ram $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231253&cm_re=g.skill-_-20-231-253-_-Product

    Total is $475 before shipping.

    This rig should play some of the top tier games at lowered detail. It SHOULD be BF3 ready as it's DX11 capable and runs BC2 pretty well.

    It should be in your budget, as long as you can get the OS for cheap.


    you forgot mobo and cd drive.

    heres a list that i put together: (hopefully i havent missed anything)


    ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827135204
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    $20.00


    Xigmatek ASGARD II B/S CPC-T45UD-U01 Black / Silver 0.8 mm SECC / Aluminum and Aluminum Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer ...
    Item #: N82E16811815005

    $29.99


    ASUS M5A88-V EVO AM3+ AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
    Item #: N82E16813131733

    $129.99

    Galaxy 44GGS8HX3VXZ GeForce GT 440 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
    Item #: N82E16814162077

    $64.99


    Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
    Item #: N82E16817371033

    $39.99


    Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ...
    Item #: N82E16820146748
    Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

    $38.99

    AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2GHz Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - C3 Revision HDZ555WFGMBOX

    $87.99

    Subtotal: $411.94

    leaves space for OS and anything else, the gt440 should play most games today on high/mid settings but for $55 more you can get a 5770 too, if you want to run games on high/ultra settings:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161338&cm_re=5770-_-14-161-338-_-Product

    the mobo i chose is AM3+ CPU upgradable, will allow for Crossfire (with a small loss of 2-3fps due to x16/x4), USB3 and sataIII.

    also forgot HDD, thats another $40 or so.
  11. Outlander_04 said:
    In this price range intel is not your best choice .

    Have a look at the Toms hardware system builder $500 PC
    An AMD quad , a graphics card that can kick sand in the face of any puny console , and
    Its going to leave the intel build suggested above for dead in gaming

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/budget-gaming-pc-phenom-ii-radeon-hd-6850,2903.html


    Use it as a guide , but pick deals on components. Replace the cpu with a phenom 840 if you have to , and you will still have a stronger processor than the intel 2100
    BUT make sure you get an AM3 + motherboard so you can upgrade to AMD's next generation processors at some later time . Consider m-ATX motherboards . Generally cheaper and unless you have 6 expansion cards you want to use they work just as well as ATX

    Do I need to bust out the benchmarks, again? Granted the 6850 will be better, but you still fail to comprehend that the 2100 is a much better processor for gaming. If he can fit a 6850, then good. But the 2100 will beat the pants off the 840. Time for benchmarks again I guess....... http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/188?vs=289 the 840 is nothing but a 100mhz clocked higher 645. They sell it under the phenom name to price gouge.
    As you can see, the 2100 DOMINATES the phenom. Like, 30 FPS or more. Even in productivity apps it wins most of the time!

    Even accounting for price drops, you are still well over budget with OS. You are looking at $550 easily with OS.

    I'd also like to point out that you'd need to switch to the GTX 460 to fit with the OP's requests.

    OP, I apologize for this confusion. Hopefully this should clear things up.
  12. ps3hacker12 said:
    you forgot mobo and cd drive.

    Ah, yes I did. However I did factor in the cost. Thanks for the catch.
  13. striker410 said:
    Do I need to bust out the benchmarks, again? Granted the 6850 will be better, but you still fail to comprehend that the 2100 is a much better processor for gaming. If he can fit a 6850, then good. But the 2100 will beat the pants off the 840. Time for benchmarks again I guess....... http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/188?vs=289 the 840 is nothing but a 100mhz clocked higher 645. They sell it under the phenom name to price gouge.
    As you can see, the 2100 DOMINATES the phenom. Like, 30 FPS or more. Even in productivity apps it wins most of the time!

    Even accounting for price drops, you are still well over budget with OS. You are looking at $550 easily with OS.

    I'd also like to point out that you'd need to switch to the GTX 460 to fit with the OP's requests.

    OP, I apologize for this confusion. Hopefully this should clear things up.



    I see your inexperience with benchmarks leading you astray again .

    Sure with the same graphics card the intel might win , but if you want a SYSTEM that matches the OP's desire for a $300 computer , upgradability then the system I mentioned above is the far superior .

    The answer to everything is not " buy the fastest intel you can" . This is a lesson you should learn at some stage .
    The intel system with a low end gfx card will not be a decent gamer compared to a Phenom/athlon with a better gfx card .
    Worse still is the H67 mb being a dead end .

    Here
    http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
    is a better representation of the relative strengths of various processors
    In real life situations the Intel i3 2100 is about 3% better than the Phenom 840
    The cost of that 3% is too high ......unless you plan on wasting the OP's money

    Still dont believe me?
    The guys that run this website think Phenom is the way to build a $500 computer .
  14. Outlander_04 said:
    I see your inexperience with benchmarks leading you astray again .

    Sure with the same graphics card the intel might win , but if you want a SYSTEM that matches the OP's desire for a $300 computer , upgradability then the system I mentioned above is the far superior .

    The answer to everything is not " buy the fastest intel you can" . This is a lesson you should learn at some stage .
    The intel system with a low end gfx card will not be a decent gamer compared to a Phenom/athlon with a better gfx card .
    Worse still is the H67 mb being a dead end .

    Here
    http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
    is a better representation of the relative strengths of various processors
    In real life situations the Intel i3 2100 is about 3% better than the Phenom 840
    The cost of that 3% is too high ......unless you plan on wasting the OP's money

    Still dont believe me?
    The guys that run this website think Phenom is the way to build a $500 computer .


    Alright buddy, we are at odds again. I say 2100. Why? It's $10 more for like, 30FPS more with an equal card.
    I've proven that the i3-2100 wins IN GAMING, which is what this guy wants it for. Show me a gaming benchmark that doesn't have a significant difference.

    As for saying H67 is a dead end, you are plain wrong. LGA 1155 is going to be around for AT LEAST 1 more generation, probably 2.
    AM3+ can say the same, but I would bet you it won't be around for more than one generation. Look at AM2+.

    Lastly, from the rumors circulating Bulldozer will only match Sandy Bridge. This means it will be outdated in the coming months. With LGA 1155, you have the option to get a new CPU with Ivy Bridge. AM3+? You better hope Bulldozer is good, FOR GAMING.

    I can't seem to knock it into your skill. We are talking GAMING, not productivity. GAMING. As I've shown, the 2100 clearly wins.

    As for price, this is the cheapest board I could find with USB3, Sata3, and AM3+: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157243&cm_re=am3%2b-_-13-157-243-_-Product It's $100. Same as H67. Now learn up.
  15. What's your opinion on this case:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154098

    And would it work with the power supply?
  16. anemoneman said:
    What's your opinion on this case:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154098

    And would it work with the power supply?


    Looks ok. I would prefer a HAF 912: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119233&Tpk=haf%20912 But this one is pretty similar, albeit less cooling.

    And yes, it has a universal power supply spot.
  17. Here's a screenshot of my shopping cart. I'll buy the video card/dvd drive later when I get more money. http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/2448/shopcart.png

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us
  18. Looks OK. You'll be able to use the onboard for anything but gaming. And you'll need a DVD/CD drive to install OS.
  19. I'll use ubuntu for a while probably
  20. anemoneman said:
    I'll use ubuntu for a while probably


    you can use an external cd drive too, if you have one.
  21. striker410 said:

    I've proven that the i3-2100 wins IN GAMING, which is what this guy wants it for. .



    If you had the same gfx card in both systems the i3 2100 probably would win .

    But the phenom with the 6850 graphics card [thats about 4 times as powerful as the puny GTS 450 you were recommending] will game FAR better , and at higher quality settings .
    If you dont know even this much why are you offering advice?


    Now to fit in budget ,with the 2100 ,the poor OP cant even afford ANY graphics card .... so how did you help him build a GAMING computer?
  22. Outlander_04 said:
    If you had the same gfx card in both systems the i3 2100 probably would win .

    But the phenom with the 6850 graphics card [thats about 4 times as powerful as the puny GTS 450 you were recommending] will game FAR better , and at higher quality settings .
    If you dont know even this much why are you offering advice?


    Now to fit in budget ,with the 2100 ,the poor OP cant even afford ANY graphics card .... so how did you help him build a GAMING computer?


    It was his choice to wait... I don't intend to hijack this thread with any more useless arguing. OP has his build.
  23. To the op, with you being a student, many times the colleges allow you to buy an OS for 20 bucks or so. At least that's the way it was when I was in school.
  24. Yup! If you look up a bit higher, Nerd posted a link for $30 win7 pro.
  25. Gotta say, I see where striker is coming from. Remember though, get a decent AMD board, and you may have a direct upgrade path to bulldozer, which is right around the corner which if upgrading to that, will probably spank that i3.

    Do what you want. But I've been using AMD's for over 10 years and they've been a great processor for me. You want upgradeability? I've got a 5 year old AM2 build that gets a new quad core in the next week or so, so then it goes back to actually being a decent gaming machine. Not too many intels with that option.
  26. Very well put. However, we aren't looking at a stable platform like am2 or am3. It's AM3+, which is a halfway step. Look at am2+. How long was that around? Yes AM3 boards had backwards compatibility, but the are crippled.

    With an LGA 1155 slot, you will last at least 2 years. Leaked slides have told us that much. AM3+? Probably the same, but the rumor is Bulldozer is a contender to the Sandy Bridge line. By the time BD is out, we will have the E series and Ivy Bridge.

    Now don't mistake me for an Intel fanboy. I'm using an athlon II x3 right now.
  27. Personally though, supposedly faster or not, games are going more multi threaded. I can't see the point of a dual core. Yeah, it might be fast, but could get left as games go multi threaded.

    But for gaming, he does not have to wait if using AMD. With intel, the op still gets a computer, but until he spends more money, he is relegated to basic office/student use, not gaming. If you start looking at say an 880 or 890 series AM3 board, chances are many of them will offer a bios flash to give AM3+ compatibility.
  28. ohiou_grad_06 said:
    Personally though, supposedly faster or not, games are going more multi threaded. I can't see the point of a dual core. Yeah, it might be fast, but could get left as games go multi threaded.

    But for gaming, he does not have to wait if using AMD. With intel, the op still gets a computer, but until he spends more money, he is relegated to basic office/student use, not gaming. If you start looking at say an 880 or 890 series AM3 board, chances are many of them will offer a bios flash to give AM3+ compatibility.


    Again, good points. This is probably the most argued issue on the forum. It's really personal preference at this point. Either route will leave you with a very fast computer. And really, the GPU is the bottleneck so it doesn't matter lol.
  29. Well, actually it does. Because intel side the op is stuck with integrated graphics which are terrible for games. At least with a gts 440 or a 450(which I have), there is some possibility of gaming.
  30. On the flip side, op, look around on ebay. There are old 9600gt cards floating around for like 35 bucks. They won't be the fastest card in town, but for the small price you pay, it would definitely allow you to do some gaming and tide you over. In fact, here is one now.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/XFX-NVIDIA-GeForce-9600-GT-PVT94PYDF4-GDDR3-SDRAM-/300567792358?pt=PCC_Video_TV_Cards&hash=item45fb3c8ae6

    Gives you around the performance of a gts 240, but better than integrated graphics.
  31. ohiou_grad_06 said:
    Well, actually it does. Because intel side the op is stuck with integrated graphics which are terrible for games. At least with a gts 440 or a 450(which I have), there is some possibility of gaming.


    You see a cheaper route that has phenom x4, AM3+, and usb3 and sata3? Not ragging on you, I'm curious now.
  32. Lol. Probably not, unless the op has a microcenter close at hand. They practically give away motherboards with amd cpu's. For example, if I bought a Phenom II x4 840, I could probably get a board with it right now.

    Link

    http://www.microcenter.com/specials/promotions/AMDbundlePROMO.html

    Op, check out if you have one of those nearby, I do a lot of shopping there, they are great, and could open your budget a bit.
  33. Took a little while to answer, got involved in BBC2 lol.
  34. ohiou_grad_06 said:
    Gotta say, I see where striker is coming from. Remember though, get a decent AMD board, and you may have a direct upgrade path to bulldozer, which is right around the corner which if upgrading to that, will probably spank that i3.

    Do what you want. But I've been using AMD's for over 10 years and they've been a great processor for me. You want upgradeability? I've got a 5 year old AM2 build that gets a new quad core in the next week or so, so then it goes back to actually being a decent gaming machine. Not too many intels with that option.


    i think your forgetting the LGA775 socket.....
  35. I also have an HP Pavillion w/ 2.6 ghz amd athlon x2. Going for the cheapness factor, would it be worth it to add a better gpu and ram, or is scrapping it and starting anew the best option?
  36. uhhh, maybe. But I'd just go for new since you'd need a new mobo. And that CPU is a bit slow. I wouldn't bother. Sell it for some $$$
  37. You could do that for now, but I can tell you from experience, you are going to be bottlenecked by the CPU. I have an Athlon x2 2.8ghz in my system right now that's a bottleneck. However, just got my new quad in from the egg today. So ready to get home and install it.
  38. One of the interesting things about Intel and the 1156 socket is that to my knowledge they have not confirmed that the current chip sets will support 22nm cpu's .

    Sure they might not change the socket . but will that mean you can upgrade?
    The answer is only " maybe "
  39. Outlander_04 said:
    One of the interesting things about Intel and the 1156 socket is that to my knowledge they have not confirmed that the current chip sets will support 22nm cpu's .

    Sure they might not change the socket . but will that mean you can upgrade?
    The answer is only " maybe "

    Well duh, LGA 1156 is dead bro. And we've moved on. It would be more relevant to answer the "new or upgrade" question.
  40. striker410 said:
    Well duh, LGA 1156 is dead bro. And we've moved on. It would be more relevant to answer the "new or upgrade" question.


    he probably meant 1155 not 1156.
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