$500 Gaming PC: Day 2, Testing & Analysis

Benchmark Results: Crysis, Prey

We always organize our charts by overall performance difference, but doing so provided a strange pattern in Crysis. The $500 Gaming PC’s 8800GS appears to provide superior low-resolution performance compared to the System Builder Marathon’s HD3870, yet the 3870 catches up at middle resolutions. Crysis hid the 1920x1200 resolution option from our $500 Gaming PC, but the results would have been pointless considering the unplayable 1680x1050 performance.

Turning up the details and enabling anti-aliasing is a bad idea for low-cost cards in Crysis, as neither system was playable even at 1024x768.

The overclocked $500 gamer takes another low-resolution win, this time in Prey, with the overclocked System Builder Marathon system taking over from 1280x1024 and upwards. Both systems are completely playable on a 24” flat panel, even though such high-resolution monitors are generally beyond the budgets of $500 PC buyers.

Cranking up the eye candy changes the performance order a little in Prey, yet both systems are still perfectly playable at high graphics resolutions.

  • radguy
    Very interesting and thanks for the reveiw. Its nice to know what we can get for 500 but I also think it continues to show the dual vs quad debate. Even in the low end sector this question is poping up. Unless rendering is involved on a budget it makes no real sense to go quad today and besides if your on a budget your likely to upgrade it in a couple years anyway.

    I know time is limited but is it really right to compare the stock 8800gs to an oc 3870.

    Anyway I think the results show that at 500 bucks you can build a nice gaming pc and thats number has come down quite a bit.
  • spotless
    its more objective if you used the same ram type and gpu, tus it would be nice if you add monster gpu for comparation (such as 9800/gtx/2 and 3870 x2), another round shall we? :D
  • p3matty
    How long is that CPU going to last at 1.55V?
  • Rip181
    I would have like to see the 9600GT instead of the 8800GS but good read anyway.
  • Rip181
    p3mattyHow long is that CPU going to last at 1.55V?
    Even if it only last 1-2 years at 70 bucks or less I think you got your moneys worth.
  • MisterChef
    radguyI know time is limited but is it really right to compare the stock 8800gs to an oc 3870.
    The 320Mb versions of the 8800GTS have come down in price to the point that it might fit a $500 budget. That would be more of a fair fight.
  • danatmason
    I just did a build like this a bit over a month ago. Unfortunately, I went with an Athlon x2 4000+ which, even overclocked, can't come close to the Pentium Dual Core OC'ed. The case and power supply combination presented here is an excellent value - I chose the same power supply with a different case and total cost was 33% more. I had to choose a 8600gt as well because of a lack of material on the 8800gs at the time. The 8800gt fell in price dramatically though so I picked one up and got rid of the other card. That brings me to my point - after rebates, an 8800gt can be had for 150 and a 9600gt can go for 110 - has there ever been a better time to do a budget build?
  • romulus47plus1
    Get the 9600gt!
  • Kaldor
    I built something similar to this for a friend. I came in at $550, but I have 4 gigs of ram, and a better power supply. I didnt OC at all. I could have reused the old HD and knocked $60 off of it but I wanted to dump all the ATA stuff in the case except the floppy. I also reused the old case, which is how I got a better powersupply. Also used a 9600 GT for a little nicer card. She had a copy of Xp to throw on it.

    Quad vs Dual core in a budget machine is really shown here. The quad core just simply isnt worth the money right now. Not enough apps really take advantage of it.

    Overall its a smoking little machine. The processor with nothing but a heatsink change will hit 3 ghz + as shown in this article. She games, but is on a 19" LCD, which has a native resolution of 1200X something I think so the 9600 GT is plenty of video card for her.

    Overall this is a great article and $500 can easily be adapted to whatever you need give or take $50 depending on what components you salvage off the old PC.
  • Onus
    I agree with Kaldor. This was a really good article. You could see in the benchmarks what a better video card could do for you. It would have been interesting to see the results if there had been time to OC the GPU.
    I think the dual vs. quad debate is more relevant when multitasking is involved. Certainly in a budget build a dual is the right choice.