$500 Gaming PC: Day 1, Component Selection

How Low Will We Go?

For some buyers, even a $700-800 performance PC is extravagant. One could speculate about the driving factors behind the sub-$500 PC market, such as frugality, youth or poverty, but in keeping our quality standards high we shot straight for the frugal market.

Yes, we read all the comments posted concerning our sub-$1000 “Low-Cost” gaming system. While most readers had constructive insight concerning possible configuration changes, a few swore by “Absurdly Cheap” components that our experience has proven are likely to fail within the first few months of use. For today’s system we sought to do it right the first time, since nothing drives up the price of a cheap system more readily than replacing failed components.

But how could we keep our quality standard high with such a low budget, if performance was our main priority? A little overclocking is much less dangerous than the use of dubious-quality components, and goes a lot farther towards an overall performance improvement than a “next model up” CPU, RAM, or graphics card. Take a look at our price list.

We don’t expect everyone to agree with our component choices, but we are able to justify each one. Read on to find out how each of these met our criteria.

  • romulus47plus1
    Somehow I think this is a better PC than the 1000$ one.
  • lunyone
    Is it me or was their first price list have the Phenom 9500 and when I looked at the next page they were mentioning the e2160 w/DS3L? I'd much prefer this setup over the $1k that they listed last month. I mean, I could build a $1k rig that would compete with their $1.5k or better system.
  • Coolio_alert
    Looks cool, still better then my 3 year old $300 one but that will be changing by the summer: Armor Case, Antec 650w, Maximus Formula, E8400, BFG 8800GTS OC, 2 GB Dominator RAM, 500gb 7200.11 (Seagate Barracuda), 2 Lightscribes. Gonna run XP Home (32-bit) and no overclocking for a little bit until its needed or I feel more confident. I CAN'T WAIT!!! :D
  • radguy
    I asked for another 500 dollar build after the last sbm. This overclocked might throw up some really interesting results. Just make sure we have some real gaming benchmarks this time please. Also I really like what you guys picked.
  • zenmaster
    Excellent Shopping.
    Truly Impressive build.

    Gotta love those falling GPU prices.
  • TechnologyCoordinator
    I like the article, but I'm consused by the price list on the first page, what does it reference!?!? I'd love to see the price list of the $500 build on the first page.
  • Eric Tardes
    Nice roundup.
    Very nice configuration for 500 bucks.

    Curious about the review,and overclocking results :).

    The price on the first page is from previous "System builder marathon - Low cost system", so don't worry about the first page, it's there just for the reference!
  • MisterChef
    a few swore by “Absurdly Cheap” components that our experience has proven are likely to fail within the first few months of use

    Yeah, I was one of those "absurdly cheap" bastards. :) But this $500 build has indeed got my interest. I eagarly await testing results.
  • woodstock827
    there seems to be come inconsistencies in the component list on first page and the rest of the article.. the obvious ones are the CPU (AMD vs Intel?) and the Graphics card (AMD vs nVidia). It'd be great if that's fixed. ;)
  • woodstock827
    o.. wait.. nvm.. I got confused.. the front page is for the low-cost system a month back? a bit confusing there..