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

Case, Power Supply, And Optical Drive

Case: NZXT Gamma Classic Series GAMA-001BK

Appealing features on the NZXT Gamma include its black interior, bottom-mounted power supply, and abundant cooling potential.

Unfortunately, only a single 120 mm exhaust fan is included. But the chassis is fitted with ventilation and mounting holes for up to five additional coolers. For more information and artwork, see this gaming enclosure comparison by Thomas Soderstom.

Read Customer Reviews of NZXT's Gamma Classic Series GAMA-001BK

Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts EA-430D Green

Read Customer Reviews of Antec's EarthWatts EA-430D Green

We’ve often relied on Antec’s quiet and efficient EA-380D Green to deliver power in our budget gaming system builds. This month, we were able to grab the 430 W version for just $45.

While a single six-pin PCIe power lead means we’ll need to utilize one of the graphics card’s bundled power adapters, a 32 A combined +12 V rating is far higher than you’ll find on most entry-level 500 W units.

Optical Drive: Samsung 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-222AB

Read Customer Reviews of Samsung's SH-222AB SATA DVD Burner

At this budget, we look to spend as little as possible on a reliable SATA DVD burner. Thus, we're picking this well-reviewed 22x Samsung unit to fill the system’s optical needs.

  • 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!!!