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$500 Gaming PC: Day 1, Component Selection

$500 Gaming PC: Day 1, Component Selection
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For some buyers, even a $700-800 performance PC is extravagant. One could speculate about the driving factors behind the sub-$500 PC market, such as frugality, youth or poverty, but in keeping our quality standards high we shot straight for the frugal market.

Yes, we read all the comments posted concerning our sub-$1000 “Low-Cost” gaming system. While most readers had constructive insight concerning possible configuration changes, a few swore by “Absurdly Cheap” components that our experience has proven are likely to fail within the first few months of use. For today’s system we sought to do it right the first time, since nothing drives up the price of a cheap system more readily than replacing failed components.

But how could we keep our quality standard high with such a low budget, if performance was our main priority? A little overclocking is much less dangerous than the use of dubious-quality components, and goes a lot farther towards an overall performance improvement than a “next model up” CPU, RAM, or graphics card. Take a look at our price list.

We don’t expect everyone to agree with our component choices, but we are able to justify each one. Read on to find out how each of these met our criteria.

Display 78 Comments.
  • 0 Hide
    romulus47plus1 , April 16, 2008 10:41 AM
    Somehow I think this is a better PC than the 1000$ one.
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    lunyone , April 16, 2008 10:54 AM
    Is it me or was their first price list have the Phenom 9500 and when I looked at the next page they were mentioning the e2160 w/DS3L? I'd much prefer this setup over the $1k that they listed last month. I mean, I could build a $1k rig that would compete with their $1.5k or better system.
  • 0 Hide
    Coolio_alert , April 16, 2008 12:05 PM
    Looks cool, still better then my 3 year old $300 one but that will be changing by the summer: Armor Case, Antec 650w, Maximus Formula, E8400, BFG 8800GTS OC, 2 GB Dominator RAM, 500gb 7200.11 (Seagate Barracuda), 2 Lightscribes. Gonna run XP Home (32-bit) and no overclocking for a little bit until its needed or I feel more confident. I CAN'T WAIT!!! :D 
  • 0 Hide
    radguy , April 16, 2008 12:16 PM
    I asked for another 500 dollar build after the last sbm. This overclocked might throw up some really interesting results. Just make sure we have some real gaming benchmarks this time please. Also I really like what you guys picked.
  • 0 Hide
    zenmaster , April 16, 2008 12:28 PM
    Excellent Shopping.
    Truly Impressive build.

    Gotta love those falling GPU prices.
  • 0 Hide
    TechnologyCoordinator , April 16, 2008 12:47 PM
    I like the article, but I'm consused by the price list on the first page, what does it reference!?!? I'd love to see the price list of the $500 build on the first page.
  • 0 Hide
    Eric Tardes , April 16, 2008 12:48 PM
    Nice roundup.
    Very nice configuration for 500 bucks.

    Curious about the review,and overclocking results :) .

    The price on the first page is from previous "System builder marathon - Low cost system", so don't worry about the first page, it's there just for the reference!
  • 0 Hide
    MisterChef , April 16, 2008 12:51 PM
    Quote:
    a few swore by “Absurdly Cheap” components that our experience has proven are likely to fail within the first few months of use


    Yeah, I was one of those "absurdly cheap" bastards. :)  But this $500 build has indeed got my interest. I eagarly await testing results.
  • 0 Hide
    woodstock827 , April 16, 2008 1:03 PM
    there seems to be come inconsistencies in the component list on first page and the rest of the article.. the obvious ones are the CPU (AMD vs Intel?) and the Graphics card (AMD vs nVidia). It'd be great if that's fixed. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    woodstock827 , April 16, 2008 1:06 PM
    o.. wait.. nvm.. I got confused.. the front page is for the low-cost system a month back? a bit confusing there..
  • 0 Hide
    blader15sk8 , April 16, 2008 1:09 PM
    A very similar build to my $~650 build, except I ended up buying a 9600GT and an Antec 900 with a 560W PSU which is where my premium in price comes in. Great build and I after the benches I may recommend it to a few friends.
  • 0 Hide
    wild9 , April 16, 2008 1:10 PM
    If price is the prime consideration here then I think you could save a few pennies by going AMD. The one thing I hate about these latest systems is having to use DDR II memory, so unlike AMD S939 you can't save money by using existing memory you may have lying around. Aside from that I can't find a bad part..they're all branded and no corners have been cut with the PSU or memory. Historically those things are usually the one's that can cause the most grief.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 16, 2008 1:22 PM
    Motherboard Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L $66.99

    CPU Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 OEM $234.99 or Intel Core 2 Duo E2220 $91.99

    RAM: Mushkin DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 1.9v $31.99 after MIR

    Case hec 6K28BB8F /w 585W PSU $54.99

    HD WD Caviar 320GB $69.99

    Optical Drive PHILIPS SPD2513BM/17 (DVD,CD Burner) $24.99

    Graphics Card XFX 8800GS $99 after MIR or Sapphire HD3870 $149.99 after MIR

    HSF Zerotherm BTF92 $32.99 after MIR $149.99 after MIR

    Quad setup: 619.92(88GS) after rebates, $669.92(3870) after rebates
    Duo setup: 476.92(88GS) after rebates, $526.92(3870) after rebates

    Gota LOVE newegg's low prices.
  • 0 Hide
    lightfoot__ , April 16, 2008 1:31 PM
    This is pretty much my setup only I did the 9600gt for $119 after mail in rebate. I moved over an x-fi from my last system and I definitely found my pc better then their $1k build. I even have a 600watt ultra PSU that was 8$ after rebate. My whole system (including vista, excluding monitor) was about $385. GeminII heatsink was free after rebate and vista was free from playing club live games! Great job on part selection! This baby will fly with an oc.

    It needs an oc too because I scored 6800 in 3dmark06 until I overclocked the cpu to 3.0 then got 9700 marks, oc'ed video card and cpu @3.16 and got 11050 3dmark06 pts! Beat that tom's!
  • 0 Hide
    night_wolf_in , April 16, 2008 1:34 PM
    Quote:
    Is it me or was their first price list have the Phenom 9500 and when I looked at the next page they were mentioning the e2160 w/DS3L? I'd much prefer this setup over the $1k that they listed last month. I mean, I could build a $1k rig that would compete with their $1.5k or better system.


    yeah, the table on first page is not the right one. they have to fix it
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , April 16, 2008 2:07 PM
    I could see that the table was from a previous article, but I would like to have seen an identical table for the current build, or a column added for direct comparison.
    I like this one though, and will look forward to the next piece concerning performance.
  • 0 Hide
    night_wolf_in , April 16, 2008 2:13 PM
    ^yeap. n i loved this system. it shows a true sub 500$ system
  • 0 Hide
    animehair , April 16, 2008 2:26 PM
    Interesting...ive been doing my own research the last several weeks for a new sub 500$ build...I picked out the same mobo, cpu, and hard drive. I look forward to seeing some good benchmark results.
  • 0 Hide
    lunyone , April 16, 2008 2:51 PM
    This build is much smarter than the one last month. I'm going to see how well they actually test this setup. It'll only be as good as the GPU that they use, so it'll do well, but not as good as the 3870 rig last month.
  • 0 Hide
    zenmaster , April 16, 2008 3:26 PM
    Quote:
    Interesting...ive been doing my own research the last several weeks for a new sub 500$ build...I picked out the same mobo, cpu, and hard drive. I look forward to seeing some good benchmark results.


    And I happen to have that exact case in my office awaiting an upcoming build.
    I actually got the combo for an absurd price of $35!

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