Build Or Buy? Five Sub-$500 Store-Bought Systems Compared

Benchmark Results: Graphics Upgrade

When we conceptualized this story, our idea was to show how the performance of a relatively inexpensive pre-built machine could be affected by a relatively affordable upgrade. But, as we already explained, Dell's Inspiron i560-565NBK was the only system that allowed us to drop in a new graphics card.

Of course, there were caveats. We could not use a graphics card that required an additional power connector because Dell's bundled 300 W power supply lacks the requisite connectivity. That's why we chose AMD's Radeon HD 6670. However, this simple upgrade shows the stark difference between integrated and discrete graphics performance. Even a low-end add-in part multiplies gaming performance.

Crysis 2 is the current must-have game. For those without a lot of money to spend, you don't need to sink $400 into a graphics card to get good performance. Smooth gameplay is possible at lower resolutions and quality settings with something as simple as the Radeon HD 6670, which should only set you back about $100.