The $500 Gaming Machine, 2007 Edition

Test Setup

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CPU AMDAMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 (65 nm; 2100 MHz, 2x512 kB L2 Cache)
CPU IntelIntel Pentium Dualcore E2160 (65 nm; 1800 MHz, 1 MB Shared L2 Cache)
Motherboard AMDMSI K9AGM2-FIH, Socket AM2 (Rev. 1.02)AMD 690G Chipset
Motherboard IntelElitegroup G33T-M2, Socket 775 (Rev. 1.0)Intel G33 Chipset
RAMPatriot PDC21G6400LLK2x 512 MB DDR2-800 (CL 5-5-5-15 2T)
Hard Disk DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.10320 GB, 7.200 RPM, 16 MB cache, SATA/300
DVD-ROMSamsung SH-S183
Graphics CardGigabyte Radeon HD 2600 Pro w/ Silent Pipe II CoolingGPU: ATI Radeon HD 2600Pro (600 MHz)RAM: 512 MB GDDR2 (800 MHz DDR)
Sound CardIntegrated
Power SupplySilverstone ST50EF-PlusATX 2.2, 500 Watt
System Software & Drivers
OSWindows XP Professional 5.10.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform Drivers AMDVersion 8.40
Platform Drivers IntelVersion
Graphics Drivers ATICatalyst 7.8

Our $500 Shopping Cart

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AMD PlatformIntel Platform
ProcessorAthlon X2 BE-2350$ 95Pentium Dual Core E2160$ 92
MotherboardMSI K9AGM2-FIH$ 69Elitegroup G33T-M2$ 89
RAMPatriot PDC21G6400K, 2x 512 MB DDR2-800$ 49
Graphics CardGigabyte Radeon HD 2600 Pro$ 85
Hard DriveSeagate Barracuda 7200.10, SATA/300, 320 GB$ 65
Power SupplySilverstone ST50EF-Plus$ 99
CaseCoolermaster Centurion 5 CAC-T05 Black/Silver$ 49
OtherSamsung SH-S183 DVD-ROM$ 30
Total Cost$ 541$ 558

We haven't included the lowest-available prices, but usually picked the second best price, which better reflects what you will end up paying, including shipping cost, or when you buy the components at your local computer store. You can certainly save some money by selecting a cheaper power supply, recycling your optical drive or going with a simpler graphics card. However, in our opinion, this doesn't make much sense. A price range of $500 to $520 is what you can expect when you invest in these components or similar ones.

Benchmarks And Settings

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Benchmarks and Settings
Quake 4Version: 1.2 (Dual-Core Patch)Video Mode: 1280x1024Video Quality: highTHG Timedemo waste.maptimedemo demo8.demo 1 (1 = load textures)
Lame MP3Version 3.97 Beta 2 (12-22-2005)Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 minwave to mp3160 kbps
Mainconcept H.264 v2Version 2.1260 MB MPEG-2 source (1920x1080) 16:9Codec: H.264Mode: NTSCAudio: AACProfile: HighStream: Program
WinrarVersion 3.70(303 MB, 47 Files, 2 Folders)Compression = BestDictionary = 4096 kB
CinebenchVersion: R101 CPU, x CPU run
Bapco SysmarkVersion: 2007 PreviewOfficial Run
Synthetic Benchmarks
Sisoft Sandra 2008Version: 12.30Memory Bandwidth