System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $500 Gaming PC

Assembling Our Budget-Oriented Box

Building our $500 gaming rig went just the way I was hoping it would: simply and event-free. In fact, I recorded very few notes worth sharing. Everything you need to know is apparent from looking at the system photo.

Our modest selection of components is lost within a deep enclosure, armed with a full-height nine-bay drive cage and capable of housing 12” expansion cards. Just remember that you'll probably lose access to one internal 3.5” bay for each slot populated by a 9.5” or longer card.

We ran into this same issue last quarter with our H61 Express-based microATX board: Gigabyte’s platform blocks access to two internal SATA 3Gb/s ports any time a six-inch or longer dual-slot graphics card is installed. If you plan to install a serious gaming-oriented GPU, you'll likely be limited to one 6 Gb/s and three 3 Gb/s SATA connectors.

The only slight challenges we encountered during the build process were a front-panel HD Audio ribbon cable that left little length to spare and a failed attempt by yours truly to hide the power supply leads. It’s not often that I’d complain about a case being too roomy and deep for neat cable management. This time around, however, very few leads were long enough to tuck out of sight. Instead, we focused attention on simply keeping the cables secure and clear of the fans.

Although the result isn't particularly striking, the overall fit and finish of the completed build is certainly acceptable, especially considering its rock-bottom cost. No news is good news; there is no ill-fitting side panel to report and fan vibration is kept in check. Although Rosewill likely uses the same 120 mm fan seen last quarter, it seems quieter this time around.

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178 comments
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    Top Comments
  • crisan_tiberiu
    so, looks like 500$ (Euro in europe :P) its enaugh to play any modern game that is trown on the market... ty consoles :P
    24
  • mayankleoboy1
    Quote:
    I think it would be interesting if next quarter for your Budget PC you try to bring the performance per watt as high as you can while still maintaining an enjoyable gaming experience. Something like a G620+HD7750/70 with a high efficiency PSU such as Rosewill CAPSTONE 450.


    On the contrary, for a 500$ build, energy consumption and heat should be least concerns. Tweaking, overclocking and extracting the last possible performance from your hardware are the primary concerns of a 500$ gaming build. Even after HEAVY overclocking, you wont get 50W over the stock settings.
    20
  • emad_ramlawi
    Now thats what i call an balanced build, good job .

    Also i agree with itzsnypah, Tom hardware should make an article on PC build with maximum performance that you can squeeze out of lowest watt, some people started to care about those things, and being green to the environment is nothing to be ashamed of.
    16
  • Other Comments
  • crisan_tiberiu
    so, looks like 500$ (Euro in europe :P) its enaugh to play any modern game that is trown on the market... ty consoles :P
    24
  • itzsnypah
    I think it would be interesting if next quarter for your Budget PC you try to bring the performance per watt as high as you can while still maintaining an enjoyable gaming experience. Something like a G620+HD7750/70 with a high efficiency PSU such as Rosewill CAPSTONE 450.

    Ever since I read the 7950B/7970GE review on here/anand performance per watt for me has been a priority when selecting components.
    1
  • mayankleoboy1
    Quote:
    I think it would be interesting if next quarter for your Budget PC you try to bring the performance per watt as high as you can while still maintaining an enjoyable gaming experience. Something like a G620+HD7750/70 with a high efficiency PSU such as Rosewill CAPSTONE 450.


    On the contrary, for a 500$ build, energy consumption and heat should be least concerns. Tweaking, overclocking and extracting the last possible performance from your hardware are the primary concerns of a 500$ gaming build. Even after HEAVY overclocking, you wont get 50W over the stock settings.
    20
  • sam_fisher
    mayankleoboy1On the contrary, for a 500$ build, energy consumption and heat should be least concerns. Tweaking, overclocking and extracting the last possible performance from your hardware are the primary concerns of a 500$ gaming build. Even after HEAVY overclocking, you wont get 50W over the stock settings.


    One may presume that someone after a $500 build is on a budget and hence doesn't want higher power consumption from overclocking.
    2
  • yyk71200
    Well, considering that I already have 3570K with GTX570, I'll be interested only in either $2000 PC or a graphic card from a $1000 PC.
    -37
  • loops
    At least I can take less heat for recommending b75 mobo...
    7
  • itzsnypah
    mayankleoboy1On the contrary, for a 500$ build, energy consumption and heat should be least concerns. Tweaking, overclocking and extracting the last possible performance from your hardware are the primary concerns of a 500$ gaming build. Even after HEAVY overclocking, you wont get 50W over the stock settings.

    According to the performance summary and efficiency page of this article Overclocking the GPU had a 13%(average according to this article) increase in power consumption for an extra 2% (average) performance. That seems like the opposite thing I'm talking about.

    Overclocking is good for performance per dollar, not performance per watt.
    6
  • abegnale
    @Paul Henningsen,
    Why not substitute some existing parts for either an I3-2100 and/or an eVGA 560 Superclocked?
    -1
  • giovanni86
    Nice, looking forward to the next builds. Some times OC does yield its advantages, those few frames can help and have helped me in games running smoothly or just over 30FPS. I honestly don't see why people are concerned with power, PC's don't cost much to run even overclocked. Unless your poor or working at McDonald's, then i see no reason why power is an issue unless otherwise stated. This whole green thing is a pain in the ass. I'm power hungry sorry.
    -5
  • mayankleoboy1
    ^ there are no existing parts. This is a new build :)
    8
  • emad_ramlawi
    Now thats what i call an balanced build, good job .

    Also i agree with itzsnypah, Tom hardware should make an article on PC build with maximum performance that you can squeeze out of lowest watt, some people started to care about those things, and being green to the environment is nothing to be ashamed of.
    16
  • mayankleoboy1
    ^

    Then i have this Excellent VIA CPU+MB combo for you. Efficient as hell. Best bang for the Watt possible. Ever.
    -2
  • sarinaide
    We need to enforce the "no celeron please" rule, terrible for that $500 PC.
    -10
  • sarinaide
    sarinaideWe need to enforce the "no celeron please" rule, terrible for that $500 PC.

    "Pentium"
    3
  • supall
    Thanks for this article. This gives me more ideas on how to build a computer for my brother this coming Christmas. Although, by that time, I would love to see if it might be possible for a Trinity-based gaming system to be built for around $500 and how it performs against this build.
    11
  • doggysoft
    Stop using those f*cked up CPUs... why you keep using crappy pentiums???
    I bet that my good old Phenom 955 will blow away ANY pentium you've put so far in 500$ crappy pc.
    PLEASE I beg you stop using this sh*t... :/ Since half a year you see a CPU limitation and you keep putting pentiums. When someone make a mistake the next time fix it but you don't... I bet Intel pays alot no other eplonation here!
    -22
  • MaxGardener
    doggysoftStop using those f*cked up CPUs... why you keep using crappy pentiums???I bet that my good old Phenom 955 will blow away ANY pentium you've put so far in 500$ crappy pc.PLEASE I beg you stop using this sh*t... Since half a year you see a CPU limitation and you keep putting pentiums. When someone make a mistake the next time fix it but you don't... I bet Intel pays alot no other eplonation here!


    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-apu-benchmark,3120-10.html

    pretty damn close, the Phenom 955 is definitely more attractive for overclockers, but offer limited upgradablilty because of motherboards etc. Pentiums use the 1155 socket, and therefore are upgradable to a better 2nd gen or 3rd gen processor, which anything above the g860 kicks the shit out of the Phenom
    13
  • jabliese
    Temperatures above Ambient chart, you have the current PC vs the current PC.
    4
  • BSMonitor
    Quote:
    One may presume that someone after a $500 build is on a budget and hence doesn't want higher power consumption from overclocking.


    Well, there is "living in my parents basement and unemployed" budget. And there is "living on my own" budget. Clearly, mayankleoboy1, is the loving parent budget.

    Not hating though, the Kardashians all do
    1
  • blazorthon
    crisan_tiberiuso, looks like 500$ (Euro in europe ) its enaugh to play any modern game that is trown on the market... ty consoles


    Of course a $500 machine should be able to play any PC games today. It can't play nearly as well as a higher end setup can, but are you so elitest that you think that people with less money shouldn't be allowed to play?
    -3