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System Builder Marathon: $500 Gaming PC

Making Every Dollar Count

System Builder Marathon, October 2008 : The Articles

Here are links to each of the four articles in this month’s System Builder Marathon (we’ll update them as each story is published).

How little money can you spend and still build a machine able to serve up decent performance in a wide range of applications and games ? In this System Builder Marathon, we aim to see if it can be done for less than $500.

With such a limited budget for the entry-level system, it seemed obvious that the components would need to take overclocking into consideration in order to truly put up impressive performance results.

Our choice of hardware may not satisfy everyone, nor will they necessarily offer the best performance out of the box, but we are confident that once overclocked, this system will squeeze a serious amount of performance and value out of each and every dollar spent. Let’s take a look at the pieces we picked for this month’s entry-level system.

ComponentModelPrice (U.S.D.)
CPUIntel Pentium E218070
CPU CoolerCooler Master Hyper TX230
MotherboardGigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L85
RAMWintec AMPO PC2-6400 2x1GB35
GraphicsPNY VCG88512GXEB-FLB GeForce 8800 GT 512MB110
Hard DrivesSeagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3400620AS 400GB65
SoundIntegrated 8-Channel HD Audio0
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking0
CaseAntec NSK4480B80
PowerEarthwatts 380W Included w/Case0
OpticalLite-On 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-0424
Total Price$499
  • radguy
    Thanks for the article. I always enjoy these sbm builds you guys do. I guessed wrong again but actually think you guys picked a better choice. Nice to know build quality is still taken into consideration even at the 500 dollar range. Also just to mention this again next time noise and power consumption charts please.
    Reply
  • "The silicon hard drive grommets"

    That wouldn't dampen much noise.

    Try silicone hard drive grommets
    (They are usually silicon-oxygen based polymers)
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    I wish you used the E5200 CPU for this build, current prices reflect a difference of $14 only.

    Also, in the future, would it be possible for you to have two builds for the $500 budget build. One based on Intel AND the other on AMD?
    Reply
  • xx12amanxx
    I would have spent maybe 30$ on a cheapo case and put the 50$ toward's a hd4850! Most people building a 500$ pc are going to want maximun performance and not care what the case looks like.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    xX12amanXxI would have spent maybe 30$ on a cheapo case and put the 50$ toward's a hd4850! Most people building a 500$ pc are going to want maximun performance and not care what the case looks like.
    $30 for a case and PSU? Sounds like a build asking for trouble. I personally don't think $80 for a nice chassis and power supply is bad.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Slomo4shOI wish you used the E5200 CPU for this build, current prices reflect a difference of $14 only. Also, in the future, would it be possible for you to have two builds for the $500 budget build. One based on Intel AND the other on AMD?
    Heya Slo! We're actually weighing the possibility of simply switching off each month on the $500 system since AMD has some very compelling hardware in that range.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    cangeliniHeya Slo! We're actually weighing the possibility of simply switching off each month on the $500 system since AMD has some very compelling hardware in that range.
    Well in this case, an AMD build might have allowed for a 4850. I look forward to seeing what you decide upon but I still think a monthly build of each platform at the $500 build is definitely something worthwhile.

    Transitioning month to month between the two usually does not allow for comparative annalist in your "Performance And Value, Dissected" write-ups
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Slomo4shO
    Gotcha. We'll discuss that as a possibility, then.
    Reply
  • lounge lizard
    I love the article and second the notion that it would be a great idea to run it every month. I for one am a firm believer of upgrading more consistently at a reasonable cost per component rather then just throwing $1500 at new machine.

    At some point it would be interesting if you guys could run an Upgrade Edition of the $500 system builder. Most people that have the courage and knowledge to overclock their new parts by over 50% (wow the E2180 rocks!)would almost definitely have components that they could and would want to swap between rigs.

    Again, great article.
    Reply
  • reasonablevoice
    king_edgar"The silicon hard drive grommets" That wouldn't dampen much noise.Try silicone hard drive grommets(They are usually silicon-oxygen based polymers)
    What the hell are you saying?
    Reply