The $500 Gaming Machine


This was an interesting exercise in both online retail bargain hunting and technical product knowledge to come up with a good combination with a low budget. Some of you may say "I’d go for a faster processor or video card" or upgrade to a larger hard drive in order to store MP3s and video files on it. But you may find yourself in trouble when you look at how much money you have spent and what remaining components are available for what you have left in your budget.

In many cases, we do this everyday as we upgrade our systems only at a piece at a time. Usually, you can get the best deal for any one component at the time and wait for the rest. Building a whole complete system is another matter.

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ProcessorAMD Athlon 64 3000+$146
MotherboardASRock 939Dual-SATA2$69
MemoryCorsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB)$52
VGAeVGA 256-A8-N340-TX Geforce 6600 256 MB$113
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB$57.50
Optical DriveLITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM$19.99
Power SupplySeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W$59.00

Obviously, there are a hundred ways to skin this cat but the final conclusion is that you can build a respectable game system on a limited budget. It requires you to reprioritize your wants and desires for the latest and greatest products and consider the prior generation’s products and the value they represent. You might be surprised at the system you can build.