Building an affordable AM2 Gaming System

Julio Franco

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Currently there is a massive amount of competition in almost every corner of the computer industry. This has resulted in a wide range of products, as manufacturers attempt to capture as much market segment as they possibly can. Take the war between ATI and Nvidia, for example. Each company has been scrambling to gain an upper hand in every price bracket. Currently there are loads of options in the sub $100 range, $150, $200, $250, $300, and all the way through to $600+. The same can be said about CPUs, which have not only reached phenomenal levels of performance, but are also more affordable than ever.

For this article we have actually built an affordable gaming system based on AMD's AM2 platform, coupled with an Athlon64 3800+ and a GeForce 7900GS, we keep this system's core components below the $600 mark, and then compare it against a top of the line Core 2 Duo E6700 gaming rig costing in excess of $1500.

Please leave your feedback for this article here...
Dude, I've been pricing a budget system for myself and I have no idea why you'd pick a vanilla 64 to go up against a CoreDuo. It's as though you're biased to Intel. A 64x2 +3800 would get you alot closer to the numbers you post for Intel's processor and it's not that much more than the price you quote for the 64+3800. And why are you not using the same graphics card brand? the XFX 7950GT extreme edition is only around $265 atm. 2gb Corsair XMS DDR2 800 is $240. Gigabyte GA-M55 SLI MOBO is $82. FYI...last time I checked the 64x2 +3800 was around $140. So grand total for my system is $735, without PSU and Case. Test this $750 rig against your $1500 rig and see how it stacks against your Intel/ATI rig and let me know how much better it is. It won't be beating me by 80% I can tell you that.

I understand it's all relative but you should clue people in on your choices of hardware. It may be closer to your version of a high-end rig but I think not as expensive. You may want to let ppl know before they spend they're hard earned money that the "affordable" rig may be useless on future games. BF2, GR:AW, BF2142 for instance. And are you a gamer or what?
I understand your target cost of $600 isn't $750 but just to spend the extra $40 on the better processor was my point. When you understand performance is the whole point to fun gaming will you see the method to my madness.


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I think you have missed the point of the article, you have taken it far too literally. The idea is to give readers and idea of the performance they can expect from such an affordable system and the performance was good. Furthermore you are smoking if you think this system cannot blast its way through BF2142! I am not a hardcore gamer but I get given most of the latest games and I get them before most of you guys and I test them using a wide range of hardware to gauge the performance. So I have some idea of what can handle what!

The idea of an article such as this one is to show readers what they can expect from a $600 hardware configuration and how it compares to a top of the line Core 2 Duo system. At the moment the Core 2 Duo is the bee’s knees when it comes to gaming so please hurry up and get over that fact quickly, it has nothing to do with being bias towards either Intel or AMD. It’s a fact, and that’s what we deliver the FACTS!

We have successfully shown the performance of this $600 system and it is able to play the latest games with ease. So there you go a $600 option that can play Company of Heroes and even Battlefield 2142. Now for those that did not take the article as literally as yourself will take a look at their budget, is it $600 or $750? If it is $750 then they might look at beefing up the processor or going for more memory. If they are limited to $500 they might go for a cheaper processor or a slightly slower graphics card. The point is we demonstrated what a $600 system can do.

This really is going to be a pointless argument as everyone’s budget is different and everyone’s idea of the ideal amount of system memory is different. Some like Nvidia, other like ATI and those like myself just don’t care, the same goes for processors when choosing between AMD and Intel. So my point is those that will take the initiative and say for example do not like Nvidia will not tell my I am bias because I chose a GeForce 7900GS. Rather they will accept that I had to go with a $200 US graphics card and that the 7900GS was that graphics card. They will then seek the ATI alternative which is the Radeon X1950 Pro and be on they merry way.

I thank you for your feedback, I just don’t see your point.
My point was, before I got too into it, that you SHOULD have used a 64x2 proc instead of a vanilla 64 and then the performance wouldn't be as BIASED.
I felt as though your article BIASED Intel over AMD....NOT ATI/Nvidia, btw.
As far as a $600 system goes, that's all good but to NOT suggest the $40 upgrade to the better proc is my point.
Also your choice in processors for the comparison was between apples and oranges. And that is my point.
I am not an English/journalism major so excuse me if my wording escapes you, but I've been subscribing to this newsletter for 2 years and I find some articles useful. I apologise to Julio(in absentia), my intention was not to flame.
I thought that your not using a 64x2 proc was being unfair to AMD.

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I am sorry but this system can play Battlefield 2142 without a problem, it can and it has. The Athlon64 3800+ was used rather than the Athlon64 X2 3800+ because the dual-core version does cost more as you have pointed out and it offers very little in the way of performance gains in games. As I said if you want to go with the X2 that’s great and you can do this knowing the performance will be as good or if not better than the Athlon64 3800+ demonstrated in the review.

The way I wrote the review was never intended to give a bias opinion towards Intel. If anything I tried to give the opposite impression. I was amazed that a cheap $600 system using an old AMD processor overclocked could perform so well against a much more expensive Intel system using a top of the range ATI graphics card. For this reason I was shocked by your comments that I was bias towards Intel. Furthermore I was disappointed that you were and still are placing so much weight on the comparison system. The idea was to build a $600 “affordable” gaming system and compare it to something outrageous, be that a Core 2 Duo E6700 or an Athlon FX-62.

In fact, had we had an FX-62 handy you can bet your bottom dollar it would have been included!

Look I don’t feel the need to keep fueling this fire, you have expressed your concerns and I have defended why I did things the way I did. At the end of the day I think you were upset that I did not represent AMD to their fullest, at least in your eyes and I apologize for that.

With opening comments such as “The performance of our affordable AM2 gaming system was most impressive, especially given that it was two and a half times cheaper than the Core 2 Duo system.” I thought I made it clear that I was happy with AMD’s AM2 offerings.

Furthermore, by recommending this hardware configuration, not to mention just using it I thought that this would speak volumes about my views on AMD’s product quality.

Julio Franco

Posts: 8,731   +1,633
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
I totally stand behind Steve's decision to compare our affordable AMD system against the Core 2 Duo high-end reference system.

While I do believe MC_MILO comments are valid, you do not seem to understand the scope of the article. We could have definitely ended up saying, "ok, so we will spend $40 more on this CPU, and perhaps a little extra on the videocard, and just $xx amount on this other component." Obviously at this price point, every extra dollar will add a worthy payoff, but we had to draw the line somewhere, and the system we built was a very balanced one.

That said, the conclusions you are supposed to be able to make out of this article is that for half the money, you can get really good gaming performance. Core 2 Duo is hands down the best CPU you can get right now, that we knew already. We now wanted to see things from a complete system perspective.

Once again, if you can go beyond our price floor set in this article, every extra dollar will count towards a considerable performance boost, and that we were able to show as well.

PS: I'm also glad you have visiting TS for so long, and that you find us to be a helpful resource, however personal flaming (even worse for a staff member) will not be tolerated again.

Because we want to encourage reader's feedback, I have given a ban a pass this one time.


Posts: 5,403   +42
Nice review! But what about comparing the now dirt-cheap Socket 939 against the Core 2 Duo? The FX55 is pretty cheap now at Newegg ($199) and I'd like to see how it stacks up to the E6300/6400 and an AM2 processor like the similarly-priced X2 4200+ Windsor in comparison. What do you think?


Posts: 2,698   +2,757
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Sounds like a good idea to me mate, all we need to do is get our hands on an FX-55 and we are in business ;) Thanks for the comments and the excellent article idea I am confident this is something we can cover in the coming weeks.


Posts: 4,049   +11
Hmm, I wonder if anyone cares about licensing, but when you have an OEM Windows (came with a computer bought from a store, for example), you have to buy a new license if you change your mainboard. Brings the cost up a bit, don't you think?

But of course everyone has retail Windows versions or run Linux...


Posts: 782   +3
I noticed a typo in this review.

On page one it says the hard drive choosen was a Western Digital 320GB HDD.

While on page 2 the specs clearly say it used a Seagate 320GB.

Please could you tell us which HDD was used in the AM2 system.


Posts: 2,050   +14
Looks like you really get what you pay for :D

I think its an article most of us at Techspot needs. We get way too engrossed in top end hardware that we forget that lower end hardware can still perform.

And I agree with [-Steve-], we can always add 50 dollars here, another 50 dollars there, and we'd get a much better system, however, we'd blow our budget. Whenever someone goes to the forums asking for build help, we'd always ask for budget, and people who help should stick to them. Offering alternatives is good, but only after sticking to the original budget. The idea is to configure a PC that'll perform best at that budget.


Posts: 2,698   +2,757
Staff member
We used the Western Digital 320GB HDD in that article, I will have to get Julio to fix the typo sorry.

Rage_3K_Moiz: I actually did a similar article here...

Maybe I could look into writing a similar article for TS using faster Core 2 and X2 processors.

Sorry about the late reply I have been flat out over the past few weeks and I think Julio has been as well.


Posts: 5,403   +42
I meant one comparing the FX-55/FX-57 with a newer Core 2 Duo or the X2 3800+ (gaming wise of course). Any chance of that working out?


Posts: 360   +4

Just to see the performance differnce in from the FX-55/57 to the X2 line or the C2D line ? If thats the case there are piles upon piles of benchmarks already done all you need to do is a websearch.

However if your concerns are to compare or go as far to reccomend a FX55/57 over a mid-level C2D or AM2 X2 at the same price point or cheaper for the FX55/57, that isnt in the best interests of TS since the FX-55/57 although still plenty good gaming CPU's are the dead Socket 939 platform. TS making any indication that the 939 line is comparable to that of the newer active Socket AM2 gear would be promoting people to buy dead tech (even though the performance isnt all much better 939 vs AM2 wise)


Posts: 2,698   +2,757
Staff member
Thanks JimShady23 you just saved me having to write all that ;)

To summarize this Rage_3K_Moiz the FX55/57 processors are to old now and the reason why I chose to compare the 5200+ against the E6400 is because they are currently both selling for $220 US and are excellent mid-range options.