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System Builder Marathon: $500 Gaming PC

CPU And Cooler

Processor : Intel Pentium E2180

Both AMD and Intel offer attractive options to consider for a $500 system. For this System Builder Marathon, we chose the Intel Pentium E2180.

Read Customer Reviews of Intel’s Pentium E2180

The Intel Pentium E2180 fits well in our budget, and paired with the right motherboard, should reach the same maximum speeds as the E2200. Both are based on the Allendale core, have 1 MB of L2 cache, and operate on an 800 MHz front side bus (FSB). The difference between the two is that the E2180 has a 10x multiplier, making it run at 2.0 GHz, versus an 11x multiplier and a 2.2 GHz clock speed for the E2200.

We don’t intend on running stock clock speeds for long, and also do not anticipate using a motherboard that will limit our FSB, thus the 11x multiplier is not a big advantage for this system. Overclocking is to some extent left to the luck of the draw with each individual chip anyway. Rather than making sacrifices elsewhere, it was an easy decision to save $10 and choose the E2180.

While on the topic of budget, it’s worth mentioning that the Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale may very well eventually find its way into an upcoming $500 PC, but it was $20 over our budget when we ordered the components for our low-cost system earlier this month.

CPU Cooler : Cooler Master Hyper TX2

The Cooler Master Hyper TX2 has repeatedly proven itself to be an excellent air cooler in past Tom’s Hardware tests. This quiet cooler provides stellar performance and simple installation, so it once again is awarded the job of cooling our CPU and directing that heat toward the case’s rear exhaust fan.

Read Customer Reviews of Cooler Master’s Hyper TX2

Another option is the very popular Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, which shares a similar design. The $5 savings of this also excellent cooler would not have allowed for any significant component upgrades to our configuration.

Those who do not plan on overclocking their system will not reach the same performance levels, but they could use the bundled retail coolers and spend the money they save on a faster processor. They may also want to consider building around the 3.0 GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ and a compatible socket AM2 motherboard.

  • 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