System Builder Marathon, Sept. 2011: $500 Gaming PC

CPU And Cooler

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition

The AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is a quad-core Socket AM3-based processor with 4 x 512 KB of L2 cache and 6 MB of shared L3 cache. It delivers 3.2 GHz core speeds right out of the box, and offers overclocking flexibility through an unlocked CPU multiplier that you can be sure we'll utilize.

Read Customer Reviews of AMD's Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition

CPU Cooler: AMD Retail Boxed Heatsink & Fan

The boxed cooler bundled with AMD’s 125 W Phenom II X4 Black Edition processors is far better than the all-aluminum heatsink and low RPM fan we've used in past Athlon II- and 95 W Phenom II-based systems.

The copper heatpipe design and screaming 6000+ RPM fan should allow a bit more headroom for overclocking without the additional cost of aftermarket cooling.

  • alchemy69
    Time to bring on the usual motley crew of fanboys and everyone who just knows that they could do better.
  • Ugly case! I know I am stating the obvious, but seriously...
  • Outlander_04
    The i3 2100 is a remarkable cpu , but it just cant beat 4 physical cores and a bit of overclocking .
  • slicedtoad
    very nice article, i was wondering how the 955 oced would do against the i3.

    While there are many unthinkable things in this build, the low price of $500 is also unthinkable. That's less than an ipad....
  • Why have the charts reduced to an unreadable size for this article?
  • Zero_
    Nice. Finally someone who knows how to get value for money. I approve :P
  • zooted
    This is my favorite build this sbm. I just love the fact that you can have a true 1080p gaming experience for $500 bucks.
  • mayankleoboy1
    whats with the fuzzy and unreadable charts?
  • bobfrys
    This is a tad bit better then the one I built off of the earlier build i used from toms. (Built it soon after school ended).
  • lunyone
    This is probably the ONLY $500 build (except for the very 1st one) that I've agreed on mostly (not liking the case too much, but it works in this budget).

    The last $500 build just was crap generally (micro-ATX and not many options on the mobo, IMHO).

    This budget gaming rig is really close to what I'd build for a friend/family member that wanted to have a gaming rig. I'd change a few things, of coarse, but the overall direction (and selection of parts) is SPOT ON, IMHO!! Good job guys at TH!!!