Gaming PC Build sub $500

Hi guys,

I've been a lurker here the last few months or so as I've been debating whether or not to build a gaming PC. I've decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

Ive been a console gamer for many years and I would like to unlock the potential of some of the great PC games available such as: Skyrim, BF3 and the new Diablo 3.

A secondary effect will be to store all of my digital movies to play through the display I will be using for this rig. I'll be hooking it up to my Sharp 52" LCD with full 1080p.

Anyways, here is the info...

Approximate Purchase Date: 1-2 weeks.

Budget Range: $500 After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, HTPC

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, DVD R/W, monitor, sound system

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: and

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Based on my budget, AMD is preferred.

Overclocking: maybe but probably not

SLI or Crossfire: no

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

MOBO must support 10/100/1000Mbps and be expandable for extra drives.

Here's what I'm thinking:

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

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ965FBGMBOX


HDD: Seagate Barracuda ST3750525AS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-550-PCAR-E3 550W ATX12V V2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply


CASE: COOLER MASTER Elite 430 RC-430-KWN1 Black Steel / Plastic Computer Case

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B

GPU: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (100314-3L )

(NOTE: Im looking at getting this elsewhere. Buying an open box unit for $90)

So thats it, I may be able to skip the OS if I can use one of the licenses from work for Windows 7 (which is why I didnt include it)

Any opinions or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
13 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about gaming build
  1. Really just trying to see if the mobo and cpu are sufficient.
  2. For BF3, you will have to play on med settings to get good frame rates.
  3. Studiopro said:
    Really just trying to see if the mobo and cpu are sufficient.

    Yep, more than sufficient. I see a lot of posts knocking the PhenomII X4's, but they are still a quite capable cpu. I see a lot of rigs posted on here with i5's, paired with a gtx560 or HD 6870's ( or lower), but bottom line is for gaming, in most cases they will have the same performance as a PhenomII X4 965. It would take a pretty high end video card to be bottlenecked by the cpu you picked, so in reality you have quite a bit to gain in the future with a video card upgrade down the road. Also since its a black edition cpu, someday you could spend $30 on an aftermarket cooler and by just bumping up your multiplyer a couple notches be running at 4Ghz.
    You will probably have to play BF3 on med., but it wont be the fault of your cpu.
  4. @ GI_JONES

    I figured I wouldn't be able to out BF3, I may just stick to PS3 for that anyways. I appreciate your thoughts on the AMD CPU. I think in my budget, it will perform very well.

    Any other thoughts or opinions on the rest of the components? Psu good? Since I found it bundled with the case I want, that's why I added it. I think the MB is a good deal for the price I found, but Im open to suggestions here as well. You guys see any additional money savings in this build?
  5. Best answer
    Initially I thought there were a few things I would change, but then I noticed the different bundles, and the savings so I see why you chose what you did. There are better power supplies out there, but there are a lot more worse ones, and that one will do the job.. the bundle pricing makes it worth it. I actually almost bought that case about a month ago. I had narrowed it down to the one you chose and the Zalman Z9+ (which I bought).
    When I saw the title of your thread Gaming PC sub $500 I thought, "man its not gonna be to great for that price", but was suprised at what you came up with. You could save about $10 and go with this motherboard: that way you get new, not open box ( open box might not have sata cables , driver cd, manual) or for the same money this one: , but thats up to you.
    Over all, Nice job, would be hard to do better for the budget, and like I said earlier, if you upgrade the video card someday your cpu will keep up. I like the AM3+ board too, as it allows for upgrade to the newer generation of AMD cpu's.
  6. I'm pretty sure you can max out bf3 with that setting. My friend could with i5-2400 and HD6850. Of course fps didn't go much higher than 40-45 but it gave a pretty smooth gaming experience nonetheless. You might have to stick to FXAA only, but that's fine (maybe you'll even be able to add MSAA...)
  7. If you intend to play games , have a look at Intel Sandy bridge based build for that budget. Here :

    Motherboard: $50- Biostar H61 (cheap but gets the work done , alternate worth $60- Gigabyte H61 with USB 3.0 & Sata 6Gb/s)

    GPU: $170- Sapphire Radeon 6870 (Same, if you have more money to spend go for MSI GTX 560Ti worth $220)

    RAM: $23- GSkill 4GB NS

    PSU & HDD: $108- CM GX 450 & WD Blue 500GB

    CPU & Case: $153- CM Elite 311 & i3-2120

    Total (Excluding Rebates): $503

    Rebates: $20

    This should be a good gaming system .
    However if you intend on overclocking look for AMD processors in this range.
  8. Considering you don't need a monitor and optical drive, that's a right solid build you've got there. Make sure to check out the bundle dudewitbow posted to shave off another $10, but I've also got a few thoughts on your CPU/mobo: I've heard that Piledriver (and likely subsequent CPUs) will only be supported by 9-series motherboard chipsets, which yours is not. I can't see this is really being a huge problem, since you're on a tight budget and vendors may put out proper BIOS support for it themselves despite lacking official support, but I just thought you might want to know that.

    Now, as an alternative, you could wait for AMD's desktop Trinity lineup to drop next month - considering how good the mobile Trinity's gaming benchmarks looked, I bet their desktop chips will be able to stand on their own at reasonable qualities for gaming. That would allow you to save money for a more powerful GPU later on, like a 78xx/79xx/Kepler card. Or hell, you could put it towards a heatsink/fan. Or buy lunch with it. I can't recommend getting a Llano APU over the Trinity, A) because Llano is slower, B) FM1 is a dead socket, and C) Trinity is right around the corner.

    If you don't want to go for an APU though, the parts you've picked will serve you well!

    Edit: Just caught you were buying the 6870 for $90. Perhaps ignoring the bundled deal will be best, if that's the case.
  9. Studiopro, you've clearly done your homework. As GI_JONES said, it's pretty impressive the build you've pulled together for under $500. Definitely hitting the price/performance sweet spot with just about every part. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Phenom II X4. While some would point out that an i5 or i7 would perform better, the differences only really come out in excess of 60FPS. And, in reality, anything beyond that is rather pointless. I'd clock it up to a PII X4 975 or 980 myself, but I'd understand if overclocking is something you'd rather avoid. The 6870 is also an excellent choice. Bought one for my brother about a year back and @ 1080p it is very solid. An 880G motherboard is definitely aging, but there really isn't any point in going with a 970, 990X, or 990FX board when you'll be using a Phenom II. Not a huge fan of the Cooler Master Elite 430 myself - It's rather flimsy. I'd recommend a HAF 912.
  10. The basics:

    Get more then 4GB of ram. Most modern cards have 1GB if not 2GB of memory. If you card has 1GB of ram on it then your system can only address a max of 3GB of the physical memory in your system (in a 32bit environment). Then take away the memory that windows reserves for it self and your left with about 2GB of total ram. That is not enough in windows 7 unless you do nothing other then web browse.


    The Phenom II X4 will be just fine. This chip is plenty fast enough (even at stock) to power any GPU that will be within your range. With the black edition of this processor you can easily scale it into the 4.0GHZ range making sure it will easily power your GPU. Overclocking with this processor is easy and with a CoolerMaster Hyper 212+ it will be plenty safe.

    Other then that your fine. I have a 5870 and it powers through StarCraft 2, Diablo 3, and Modern Warfare 3 with ease at 1080p and high settings.
  11. @GI_JONES

    Thanks for you replies. I know the psu isnt the best I could get for the price, but the bundled price is what makes it so attractive since every dollar is going to count for this build. I have decided to ditch the original mobo and take your suggestion on this...

    Thanks for the find. I would like to make this build as "future-forward" as possible and I think this board is a good solution.


    The 6870 was the first decision I made on this build. Ive read numerous reviews and build suggestions and this unit was the the one piece that stayed relatively consistent in my price range. Finding it for less than $100 was a godsend to my budget. Also, the HAF 912 was an option, but the bundle of the 430 plus a 550W psu to save $18 was too good to pass up.


    Ive got two 4GB sticks of Corsair Vengeance spec'd for this build for a total of 8GB. Are you suggesting I bump it to 8GB per stick?
  12. Best answer selected by Studiopro.
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