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Performance Per Dollar, Conclusion

$500 Gaming PC: Day 2, Testing & Analysis

The $500 Gaming PC cost only 63% of the System Builder Marathon’s “Low Cost” configuration’s current price, yet provides 76% its stock-speed performance and the same “overall” overclocked performance. That gives the overclocked $500 machine a huge 73% value advantage over the stock SBM system, and a significant 63% lead when both systems are overclocked.


Graphics cards are expensive, so it’s really hard to build a gaming system with a $500 budget limit. Our $500 Gaming PC shined more in applications than games, yet it played the majority of our games well at medium resolutions and settings. Thus, we must call it a success even if we’re not quite ready to pat ourselves on the back.

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  • 0 Hide
    radguy , April 17, 2008 1:52 PM
    Very interesting and thanks for the reveiw. Its nice to know what we can get for 500 but I also think it continues to show the dual vs quad debate. Even in the low end sector this question is poping up. Unless rendering is involved on a budget it makes no real sense to go quad today and besides if your on a budget your likely to upgrade it in a couple years anyway.

    I know time is limited but is it really right to compare the stock 8800gs to an oc 3870.

    Anyway I think the results show that at 500 bucks you can build a nice gaming pc and thats number has come down quite a bit.
  • 0 Hide
    spotless , April 17, 2008 2:31 PM
    its more objective if you used the same ram type and gpu, tus it would be nice if you add monster gpu for comparation (such as 9800/gtx/2 and 3870 x2), another round shall we? :D 
  • 2 Hide
    p3matty , April 17, 2008 2:45 PM
    How long is that CPU going to last at 1.55V?
  • 0 Hide
    Rip181 , April 17, 2008 2:48 PM
    I would have like to see the 9600GT instead of the 8800GS but good read anyway.
  • -1 Hide
    Rip181 , April 17, 2008 2:49 PM
    p3mattyHow long is that CPU going to last at 1.55V?

    Even if it only last 1-2 years at 70 bucks or less I think you got your moneys worth.
  • 0 Hide
    MisterChef , April 17, 2008 2:57 PM
    radguyI know time is limited but is it really right to compare the stock 8800gs to an oc 3870.

    The 320Mb versions of the 8800GTS have come down in price to the point that it might fit a $500 budget. That would be more of a fair fight.
  • 0 Hide
    danatmason , April 17, 2008 3:20 PM
    I just did a build like this a bit over a month ago. Unfortunately, I went with an Athlon x2 4000+ which, even overclocked, can't come close to the Pentium Dual Core OC'ed. The case and power supply combination presented here is an excellent value - I chose the same power supply with a different case and total cost was 33% more. I had to choose a 8600gt as well because of a lack of material on the 8800gs at the time. The 8800gt fell in price dramatically though so I picked one up and got rid of the other card. That brings me to my point - after rebates, an 8800gt can be had for 150 and a 9600gt can go for 110 - has there ever been a better time to do a budget build?
  • 0 Hide
    romulus47plus1 , April 17, 2008 3:38 PM
    Get the 9600gt!
  • 0 Hide
    Kaldor , April 17, 2008 4:00 PM
    I built something similar to this for a friend. I came in at $550, but I have 4 gigs of ram, and a better power supply. I didnt OC at all. I could have reused the old HD and knocked $60 off of it but I wanted to dump all the ATA stuff in the case except the floppy. I also reused the old case, which is how I got a better powersupply. Also used a 9600 GT for a little nicer card. She had a copy of Xp to throw on it.

    Quad vs Dual core in a budget machine is really shown here. The quad core just simply isnt worth the money right now. Not enough apps really take advantage of it.

    Overall its a smoking little machine. The processor with nothing but a heatsink change will hit 3 ghz + as shown in this article. She games, but is on a 19" LCD, which has a native resolution of 1200X something I think so the 9600 GT is plenty of video card for her.

    Overall this is a great article and $500 can easily be adapted to whatever you need give or take $50 depending on what components you salvage off the old PC.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , April 17, 2008 4:33 PM
    I agree with Kaldor. This was a really good article. You could see in the benchmarks what a better video card could do for you. It would have been interesting to see the results if there had been time to OC the GPU.
    I think the dual vs. quad debate is more relevant when multitasking is involved. Certainly in a budget build a dual is the right choice.
  • 0 Hide
    lowguppy , April 17, 2008 4:47 PM
    I think what this really shows is that the $110 spent on the SBM cpu was a waste of money. These results just proved that the E2160 is still much better than the Phenom quad, especially for overclocking. Using that CPU seriously handicapped your low cost SBM machine.
  • 0 Hide
    itdoesntmatter , April 17, 2008 4:57 PM
    Good start ;) 

    Great article and an interesting read, some headway is clearly achievable.
    Am looking forward to a follow up, especially if you are planing to pat yourselves on the back!
  • 0 Hide
    Mach5Motorsport , April 17, 2008 5:16 PM
    Any reviews of a Phenom 8400 system? They're selling for about $500. How would that fare?
  • 0 Hide
    joetheone , April 17, 2008 5:34 PM
    Great Article. But has anyone else noticed that the Antec NSK4480B is no longer available at newegg? I was looking to pick one up but not the cheapest i can find them is around $100.
  • 0 Hide
    Apodo , April 17, 2008 5:37 PM
    it is a good start to talk about low-budget pc for gamers. The majority of pc users around the world are poor (the same goes for general populace), most of us in Sudamerica we can only dream of game rigs or such. If you add the problematic off the "technology delay" (in Argentina a 780G board is unavailable, and 700 chipset is worth here a U$S 415.00)we can denied a serious problematic.
    I hope to see a Spider platform in the same bugdet or on lower one, and thus, compare.
  • 0 Hide
    nihility , April 17, 2008 6:09 PM
    1.55V isn't insane, this isn't a 45nm part
  • 0 Hide
    cah027 , April 17, 2008 6:35 PM
    I think I would rather have this case and psu combo for $89 after rebait
  • 0 Hide
    zenmaster , April 17, 2008 6:35 PM
    Great Article. But has anyone else noticed that the Antec NSK4480B is no longer available at newegg? I was looking to pick one up but not the cheapest i can find them is around $100.

    Antec is likely going through a product refresh.
    Example - The Antec 900 is being replaced by the Antec 1200.

    Expect to see a similar Product out soon in the same price range.
  • 0 Hide
    zenmaster , April 17, 2008 6:37 PM
    Any reviews of a Phenom 8400 system? They're selling for about $500. How would that fare?

    Likely not very well.
    Very few retails systems have anything above very basic graphic cards.
    Even the High-End Quad Core sytems lack decent graphics.

    Add to that, the E8400 has one less core and is clocked slower than the previous $1000 build.
  • 0 Hide
    lunyone , April 17, 2008 6:46 PM
    Would've been nice to have a 3870 GPU like the so called "budget" build that was built in March, but this shows that you can still have a decent gaming rig for about $500. I would've bought CAS 4 DDR2 800mHz over the CAS5 stuff they used. After MIR it would've been cheaper and faster, but the initial price would've pushed the budget over the $500 limit. I'm betting if the $50-75 more for the 3870 in the April build, would've towered over the March build. It definately would've been nice to use the same memory/GPU/HDD on all of the builds and just vary the CPU to see what "really" matters in games, which we all know is the GPU (in general).
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