The $500 Gaming Machine

The Budget Gaming PC Challenge

If you are like this writer, your passion for the latest and greatest technology is bigger than your wallet. Let's face it, most of us can afford to fork over the occasional $50 for the latest game title, but even the most hardcore gamer usually won't pay more than $600 for the latest graphics card or processor. However, as we've reported many times over, benchmarks don't lie - and they show that you're often not going to notice much difference with games when investing in cutting edge technology.

I'm a big fan of buying behind the techno-curve. Just as new products come out, I'm there like a vulture preying on the prior generation's technology products to get the most for my money. Cutting edge is sexy. Getting the best performance for your money is not, but this purchase philosophy gets you a lot for the money.

Instead of the newest killer rig from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc... how about a system for the rest of us with a realistic budget starting from scratch? We set out to build a reasonable gaming system that will get you through today's game titles without breaking the bank for around $500. That's less than some of the top-of-the-line video cards on the market at any given time. Of course, the normal laws of economics - and even physics for that matter - apply. This system won't allow you to play Half-Life 2 at 1600 x 1200 at 16AF, but you may be surprised what you can do within a reasonable budget.

When working out the possible configurations for a value gaming PC that you build yourself, you can embrace two camps of thought:

"Start out cheap and simple with room to grow knowing you will buy better stuff later on."


"This is all this system is going to be so go for the absolute best price/performance ratio available in the here and now."