Custom gaming computer under $500?

By zzaz3
Apr 2, 2009
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  1. Hey, I'm about to make my first custom computer and I have a budget of $500 (give or take). I want the best computer I can get, but since I'm so limited I'm not sure if I should wait untill I get more money or if there's a way to improvise.

    I 'want' the Intel i7 920 CPU, but it's $300. I read an artical on how to overclock it to go faster than the 965. I feel like I could get the best for my buck that way. But I know less about the AMD Phemtom X4. It's a lot cheeper, but I've heard that the Intel i7 is way better. What are you thoughts on that? I'm not sure what to get.

    Other than that, I just need the cheepest parts I can get (Perferable an upgradable motherboard). I think the cheepest combination I've come up with so far is $1,100. Any idea how I can find cheeper parts?

    One last thing. I'm not going to actually buy the parts untill sometime in June. Do you know if there's any new prossessors/graphics card/ect.. coming out by then? I wouldn't want to plan everything out to find that even better parts have been made.

    Thanks so much for your help! -zzaz3
  2. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 4,259   +41

    There's no way you're gonna make an i7 setup for even 700 or so. And even if you could you'd be wasting parts, with a budget like that it leaves little money for a vga, and there's no point of having an i7 if you're running something like a 9600gt.
  3. zzaz3

    zzaz3 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Your right. It's probably not even nessasarry for the PC I want anyways. I'm coming from an Anthion 64, so anythings an upgrade for me. I'm thinking too big.

    So how about an AMD phenom II X4? I found a bundle that includes both an AMD Phenom II X4 810 and a motherboard that supports ATI for $300. I'm not sure if I'd be able to afford other part by doing that though. I suppose I could recyle parts from the PC I'm using now. What do you think? Could I afford to do that?
  4. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] I'm a TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,257   +110

    You're pretty hard pressed at $500.

    Anyway, since your so limited, it is important to know if the $500 covers only the computer and parts, or if you would like to squeeze in keyboards, monitors, mice, or operating systems...

    Actually, I feel the best value you could get is probably an intel E73/7400 CPU, those should overclock much better than intel corei7's. and are much cheaper. Also, games rarely take more than TWO cpu cores to run, so, at the moment, dual cores are considered 'better' at gaming.

    the Phenom x4 sux, the Phenom II x3 and x4 are great values, and yes, they may be inferior to core i7, but they are in no way bad processors, nice price point too.

    but for $500, I would consider an older Athlon 5000+ or similar.

    The MOST important part in a gaming computer is the graphics card, I would recommend getting a minimalist CPU, a little bit more than what you would need to game (seriously, high end CPU's are more for multimedia apps like video encoding) and the best graphics card you can get for the money left over.

    Unlikely anything that will fit within a $500, or even a $1000 dollar budget. Your best bet would have been the 4890 or GTX275, but those came out today-ish.
  5. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] I'm a TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,257   +110

    You're pretty hard pressed at $500.

    Anyway, since your so limited, it is important to know if the $500 covers only the computer and parts, or if you would like to squeeze in keyboards, monitors, mice, or operating systems...

    Actually, I feel the best value you could get is probably an intel E73/7400 CPU, those should overclock much better (percentage AND clock speed wise) than intel corei7's. and are much cheaper. Also, games rarely take more than TWO cpu cores when running, so, at the moment, dual cores are considered 'better' at gaming.

    the Phenom x4 sux, the Phenom II x3 and x4 are great values, and yes, they may be inferior to core i7, but they are in no way bad processors, nice price point too.

    but for $500, I would consider an older Athlon 5000+ or similar.

    The MOST important part in a gaming computer is the graphics card, I would recommend getting a minimalist CPU, a little bit more than what you would need to game (seriously, high end CPU's are more for multimedia apps like video encoding) and the best graphics card you can get for the money left over.

    Unlikely anything that will fit within a $500, or even a $1000 dollar budget. Your best bet would have been the 4890 or GTX275, but those came out today-ish.

    Before my browser refreshes AGAIN, im just going to save this right here

    So far I can say this, though its hard to decide when your planning on building this in June:

    SAPPHIRE 100255HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail $70

    Pioneer 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model DVR-116DBK - OEM $25

    Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 3MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail $120

    CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail $60

    WINTEC AMPX 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 3AXT6400C5-2048K - Retail $19

    ASRock P43Twins1600 LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $77

    Great case, the antec 900, but it has a hefy price tag, and you could easily get a suitable case for half the price. I would just go on newegg, look for midtowers, and pick a decent looking case, but don't spend too much time, there isn't much of a point wasting time on that.
    Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $110

    The harddrive will have to depend entirely on your needs, but here is a cheep low capacity starter, you could easily get a double sized drive for a mere 10 or 20 dollars USD more.
    Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3160813AS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $40


    Everything excluding the case adds up to $411 before shipping and mail in rebates, and of course, the month long gap. I would personally put in another $20 into the motherboard to get an Asus P5Q, ASrock should be good, however, their reviews on newegg don't concur. Anyway, good luck there isn't much we can do at the moment except get educated, save money, and wait until you decide to finally build it.
    What type of games do you want to play and what size monitor (and conicidentally, resolution)?

    Sorry about the messy post.
  6. zzaz3

    zzaz3 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Wow, thank you so much!! That's perfect! And it leaves me with a little bit of money left over to buy a nice moniter or something. I can't thank you enough!


    Oh, idk. I was thinking games like FEAR 2, Starcraft 2, Bioshock, and other things in that catagory. You think that I'll be able to run thoes games with the highest graphics?
  7. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 4,259   +41

    I second the build kitty has put up, although you may want to look at the antec earthwatt psu's.
  8. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] I'm a TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,257   +110

    Maybe, but the framerates won't be stellar, and you won't be able to push stuff like resolution too high, but graphical detail should be good...
    Might I suggest the $90 SAPPHIRE 100265HDMI Radeon HD 4830 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail.

    $411 does NOT include the case, a decent one could be found for maybe $40 cheapest, so add that in too.

    The two things I am most worried about are 1). The 160 GB hdd, if you think thats enough, go ahead, but don't blame me if you fall short xD. 2). The ASRock motherboard, i've always considered ASRock as a reliable brand, but there are few reviews on newegg, and not too great reviews either. I would spend the extra few bucks and at least go with the GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail for $85.

    Its also possible to shave some money buy using an Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E5200 - Retail at $70, though I would suggest overclocking the processor to an extent, and the pentium-dual cores are not nearly as good as the E7400 i mentioned earlier.

    Yeah, but the AE430 is only five dollars cheaper (coincidentally, I think there is a promo code going on for the Corsair 400w, and the AE380 is no longer on newegg, or I probably would have suggested that, like my own build :). I would say the corsair is ultimately the better powersupply, but you won't be buying this for at least a week (???), and prices are competitive.

    As for the monitor, yes you could possibly fit it in a months time...maybe, again, no operating system, no keyboard, mouse...
  9. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,067   +13

    computershopper.com has some excellent articles on building power budget systems.
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