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How to Build a $500 Gaming Machine

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the cutting-edge-just-isn't-necessary dept.

PC Games (Games) 305

bacterial_pus writes "Tom's Hardware has a very interesting article on how to build a $500 gaming rig. 'Instead of the newest killer rig from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc... how about a system for the rest of us with a realistic budget starting from scratch? We set out to build a reasonable gaming system that will get you through today's game titles without breaking the bank for around $500.'"

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Linux (-1, Redundant)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905441)

If they put Linux on it, they can save around $100 extra that would otherwise be spent on Windows, to be put towards a better graphics card.

Re:Linux (5, Funny)

StonedRat (837378) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905445)

Did you miss the part about it being for gaming?

Re:Linux (5, Funny)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905460)

Dude, you haven't experienced gaming until you've played Tux Racer at 300fps! ;)

Re:Linux (4, Funny)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905524)

Does Tux Racer at 300fps count as gaming? ;)

Re:Linux (4, Funny)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905535)

Dude, you haven't experienced gaming until you've played Tux Racer at 300fps! ;)

Yes, but then the "Linus Is God" subliminal message, coming every 35th frame, would go by too fast to register.

You're forgetting something. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905496)

What about TCO?

With Linux, the TCO on that box will be up at least %300.

You need to get the facts, my friend!

OS not included in the price (2, Informative)

Browzer (17971) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905513)

$500 will get you CPU+MB+RAM+HD+CD/DVD+VGA+P.S.

Does anybody read the article anymore before posting, or FP is more important?

Link to the conclusion, if you don't have the attention span to read a 400 word article.

http://www.tomshardware.com/howto/20051014/the_500 _gaming_machine-08.html [tomshardware.com]

Re:OS not included in the price (0, Troll)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905559)

Then they can't really compare it to other systems, and that "$500" is meaningless. You need an OS for a computer. Are they assuming that we're all pirates?

Re:OS not included in the price (1)

kubevubin (906716) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905726)

And I didn't see mention of a case. I mean, are we supposed to have all of these components sprawled out on the floor or something?

Re:Linux (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905517)

The thing is, most people wouldn't want a Linux box for gaming.

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905636)

Unless they want a decent framerate on Doom 3.

I GOT A GREASED UP YODA DOLL SHOVED UP MY ASS! (1)

mike nwdw. (877398) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905577)

Mod parent up! Go linux!!

1st p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905443)

1st

Pirates! (3, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905451)

Uh huh. A gaming machine that doesn't run Windows? Or are they just yo ho ho pirates at Tom's and expecting everyone to be loading it up from the bootleg .iso of Windows XP Corporate Edition that 'everybody' has in their shoebox of warez?

Add that line item in and to stay on budget will require some drastic downsizing in everything else.

Oh, and I know they only cost $20 sans P/S but they also forgot a case. Idiots.

Re:Pirates! (3, Insightful)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905512)

Uh huh. A gaming machine that doesn't run Windows? Or are they just yo ho ho pirates at Tom's and expecting everyone to be loading it up from the bootleg .iso of Windows XP Corporate Edition that 'everybody' has in their shoebox of warez?

Oh, and I know they only cost $20 sans P/S but they also forgot a case. Idiots.

While I realize it was bad form not to mention it directly; neither of those items is exactly rare in the typical Tom's reader's closet. I've got a few legit Windows licenses and extra chassis. They're aren't hard to come by.

~Rebecca

Re:Pirates! (3, Interesting)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905599)

The thing is, honestly, that they left those things out so that they could tout a $500 gaming machine as something worth reading so they could attract traffic to their website. A number of hardware sites have been doing rigs for years at multiple levels, especially budget machines, but i dont recall any of them leaving out necessary parts or accessories so they could use the "sub-$500 gaming rig" headline in an attempt to attract traffic to their site.

Toms did, and now slashdot has directed traffic to them. I dont recall seeing an update on the front page of /. last time ArsTechnica or Anandtech put up budget rigs, which anyone with some common sense could easily look at and say "oh i dont need a new case or monitor for this, ill spend even less on a budget rig!" just so they could attract traffic.

Re:Pirates! (1)

Sqwubbsy (723014) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905602)

Don't point out the obvious, he was going for +1 insightful.
Besides, he doesn't 'upgrade' a machine (which would have the power supply, case and Windows license he so desparately needs.)

He's too 1337 for that...

Re:Pirates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905529)

If your going to warez, and all you want is a cheap gaming machine, best bet is a modded xbox or ps2.

Re:Pirates! (4, Informative)

Praxx (918463) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905537)

Students at my university (who are also more likely to appreciate a $500 gaming rig) can get a Windows XP license for $6.

Re:Pirates! (1)

Antony.S (813668) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905722)

We get it for free, at least in my school (Southampton University, UK)

Re:Pirates! (5, Funny)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905592)

We're not in 1995 anymore. Everyone owns a PC. Now if you build a modern PC, you won't need the old anymore, and good luck selling the old one.

Only in Microsoft's wettest dreams is it not allowed to reeuse a copy of windows on a newer PC.

Re:Pirates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905633)

But how many people will spend $500 to build a new PC and then put Windows 98 on it? Half of your games will not run. You are allowed to reuse old windows versions if you can get them to even install. Then you will have to make do without security updates or patches because your OS has been end-of-lifed by Microsoft.

Re:Pirates! (1)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905627)

Good point on Windows(tm) but this is Tom's Hardware after all.

I would expect the case, and as others have mentioned kb, mouse, joystick, monitor, etc. to be included. The system is not much use without that stuff.

Not being a "gamer" I don't know which is the bigger cost of gaming; hardware or software. Is there any point on saving a few bucks on the hardware? The total $ for games must add up (unless you are hoisting the Jolly Roger;-).

Re:Pirates! (2, Interesting)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905640)

Oh, and I know they only cost $20 sans P/S but they also forgot a case. Idiots.

Who needs a case? See? [comcast.net]

Re:Pirates! (1)

netkid91 (915818) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905666)

Wow, thats effecient cooling for your CPU :P, but wouldn't dust collect easily on that???

Re:Pirates! (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905714)

Meh, ,who needs a case when you can just use a pumpkin! [pcworld.com]

Re:Pirates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905770)

Oh, and I know they only cost $20 sans P/S but they also forgot a case. Idiots.

Ironically, the article claims "we are focusing simply on the box itself" on page 1.

Re:Pirates! (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905788)

They're talking about the machine, not the software. Might as well say "A gaming machine that doesn't run games? ...".

Where is the Case? (1, Insightful)

bajan_on_ice (32348) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905466)

And keyboard? And mouse? Monitor? Speakers?

Not much of a gaming system without those. And those can add an easy $200 to the price if you
go bargain basement...

-chris

Re:Where is the Case? (1)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905519)

Most people probably already have these components for their existing computer, so I can see why they would exclude them from the price of the system. I've reused my existing keyboard, mouse, and monitor for my past 3 systems. On my most recent system I did have to pickup a new case for about $50USD.

Re:Where is the Case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905732)

Yes, but the article is comparing their $500 gaming rig to complete systems build by companies such as Alienware for example. So I would expect a $500 gaming rig to include a monitor, case, keyboard, mouse and a suitable operating system. In my book Linux doesn't cut it either. This is a good article but misleading.

Calling all whores (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905476)

Why doesn't some karma whore hurry up and post the system specs so the rest of us don't have to RTFA.

Re:Calling all whores (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905499)

Seeing as I had it in another tab at the time:
Part Product Price
Processor AMD Athlon 64 3000+ $146
Motherboard ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 $69
Memory Corsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB) $52
VGA eVGA 256-A8-N340-TX Geforce 6600 256 MB $113
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB $57.50
Optical Drive LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM $19.99
Power Supply SeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W $59.00
Total $516.49

Calling TRIPMASTER MONKEY!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905727)

We have a call for a karma whore! Why not just use Slashdot's pinnacle of Karma Whoring, TripMaster Monkey? Not only will we get some pathetic statement that his no-IQ minions will automatically mod as "insightfull", but we'll also get that fucking anime smile that makes me want to break some bones (someone else's, of course) every time he uses it.

Re:Calling all whores (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905811)

Because the article isn't about the specs, but about the reasons for choosing the components they did?

Tommy, can you hear me? (4, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905479)

Did you forget something? Are you sure? Uh, the case?

Re:Tommy, can you hear me? (1)

Roofus (15591) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905489)

You must have missed the line that said "Since we're on a tight budget, we'll forgo the use of a case and just lay our components on a piece of cardboard."

Okay, so they didnt' really say that, but I think it's implied!

Re:Tommy, can you hear me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905615)

they're not talking about building a complete system as they say in the conclusion. More of an upgrade from your current system.

How to buy a $5 gaming system (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905485)

Two words: Atari 2600

monitor not included.

Kind of interesting... But (1, Redundant)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905486)

They left out the case! Cases are like 60$ for a good one. What are they going to do, leave all the parts scattered over the floor, or pinned up on the wall? (of course pinning up on the wall also requires parts).

The final cost of this machine is more like around $570, and then when you include the shipping on the parts you bought online... Well... I'd say it comes to more like $600. (Possibly more?)

Still... A good guide for the newbies to budget PC design. This article really makes me feel outdated with my Geforce FX 5600 and Athlon 2800+... I guess I definitely don't have a decent rig for most modern games. But that's ok because I don't play any modern games.

BTW anyone know a good way to avoid the annoying linkified ads in firefox? I just used links2. All those ads really slow down my browsing experience.

Re:Kind of interesting... But (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905523)

Use AdBlock [mozdev.org] , and block everything from intellitext.com.

Re:Kind of interesting... But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905576)

anyone know a good way to avoid the annoying linkified ads in firefox? I just used links2.

http://www.privoxy.org/ [privoxy.org]

I'm using privoxy instead of adblock(FF extension), cause it works on any app. I'm very happy with it so far. On gnome, go Preferences->Network Proxy and direct it to Privoxy. All your gnome apps (like epiphany, liferea etc will use it automatically - you need to setup Firefox manually though. Edit->Preferences->General->Connection Settings). On links2 go Setup->Network options to set your HTTP proxy.

Re:Kind of interesting... But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905626)

I use both adblock and privoxy together. Works great.

the punchline (4, Informative)

randyest (589159) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905488)

Couldn't find a printable link, so to save you from 8 clicks on "next->" and more ads than I could count (they went over budget by $16.49):

Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3000+ $146
Motherboard: ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 $69
Memory: Corsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB) $52
VGA: eVGA 256-A8-N340-TX Geforce 6600 256 MB $113
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB $57.50
Optical Drive LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM $19.99
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W $59.00
Total: $516.49

Re:the punchline (1)

rpozz (249652) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905542)

they went over budget by $16.49

Not only did they go $16.49 over budget, as a few people have already pointed out, they have missed out the OS, case, speakers, mouse, keyboard and monitor. They seem to have failed miserably.

Re:the punchline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905638)

But since this is Tom's, that's perfectly fine. And of course "rig" means "set of components with which to upgrade your machine."

Re:the punchline (1)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905639)

And... they expect to run the game under Linux? Where's the OS cost?

Re:the punchline (1)

WhiteBandit (185659) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905641)

Couldn't find a printable link, so to save you from 8 clicks on "next->" and more ads than I could count (they went over budget by $16.49)

That's okay! All those ads the site is infested with will pay for that. ;)

Re:the punchline (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905807)

Many people have mentioned missing hardware/software components, I will chime in here with a sound card (if there's an onboard one it wasn't mentioned) and a network interface (same here). These parts can often be pulled from old machines if they weren't onboard on the old machines, but a sound card with no acceleration can put more load on the CPU. A cheap NIC runs $10-15, and if I recall correctly tends to offload more work to the CPU than a better one (not that I think many people plunk down the money for better ones... I sure didn't, but I'm no gamer).

The other thing that's really missing from this article is a test. Clearly, Tom didn't actually build this computer, so we have some idea based on his discussion of the compromises what kind of performance his stuff would have, but no concrete numbers. How do all of his compromises compound? Has he looked at inter-device interactions, or performance bottlenecks? No evidence of that in the article. For all I can see he just spent a half hour on NewEgg or some similar site. Bah.

For those who can be bothered reading TFA (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905490)

1 Pay 498$ for XP licience
2 Pay 1$ bus fare to nearest alienware retailer
3 Throw brick through retailers window (If you buy a brick it breaks the budget so steal one)
4 Grab demo model and run (you can call this pc liberation if makes you feel better)
5 Pay 1$ bus fare home
6 Happy gaming

Corners have been cut (-1, Redundant)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905494)

Apparently they're going to lay all the components on their desk because they didn't include a CASE in the budget. Though an inexpensive mid-tower case could be had for $30 or so, it should have been in the budget.

Additionally, they didn't include keyboard, monitor, and mouse needed to interact with the machine. Unless it's going to share them with your existing system (in which case a KVM switch needs to be added to the budget), it will need all those components.

Last, though this has been pointed out... what about the OS. Sure, you can get Linux and there's a neat WINE variant (don't recall the name) around that's tuned for gaming, but the WINE variant costs around $50 IIRC, and even if you use the Linux/WINE option to avoid the Microsoft tax, you're still looking at ~$50.

So if we cheap out on a 17" CRT monitor, keyboard, case, mouse, and Linux/WINE, we're still looking at around $800, not $500.

- Greg

Re:Corners have been cut (2, Informative)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905558)

The Gaming-tuned WINE variant is called Cedega [transgaming.com] . I've also read some comments that it kicks Crossover Office's butt on running productivity apps, but I haven't seen any reputable pubs do a head-to-head on them.

- Greg

Re:Corners have been cut (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905580)

Oh come on. We all know what goes with a computer. Can't you just assume this is for the person that has an existing computer that doesn't play the games they want? You could maybe argue the case should be added, if the new motherboard won't fit into it or something, but that's about it.

---John Holmes...

Re:Corners have been cut (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905779)

Yeah I agree. The first 50 or so "but they didn't include a case!" posts were informative, now they're just redundant.

As for the OS issue, I think it could be easily argued that Tom's Hardware is ... well, a HARDWARE guide, and thus they were concerned only with laying out the hardware you'd need to run games, not the OS or other software. I didn't expect them to actually build a $500 gaming rig and include a retail box edition of XP, did anyone else? Of course not; it's assumed that you'll acquire one yourself. The fact that it may include some variety of extralegal means is left unspoken.

I had hoped that this article would actually result in some interesting discussion of low-budget / high-performance hardware and the implied tradeoffs there, but instead it's just attracted a lot of pedants boosting their karma by pointing out that there's no Windows license included for the 100th time.

A Few Omissions (4, Insightful)

Chasuk (62477) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905501)

Most of us find a keyboard and a mouse useful on our gaming rigs, and a pair of speakers, and oh, I don't know, an OS, a case, and possibly even a monitor.

A $500 gaming rig? Not quite!

And then there's how to game for $500 (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905503)

And then there's how to acquire a gaming machine for less than $500.

PS2
XBox
Nintendo GC

And coming soon:

PS3
XBox 360

Remember that they were building a machine only for gaming too in that article.

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905532)

Which of those can I run Civilization 3 on?

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (2, Interesting)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905589)

Shh! You're not supposed to ask questions like this. Console proponents hate when you point out that an RTS or FPS completely sucks ass on these "gaming systems".

The moment you bring it up, the moment they go into a tizzy about how those game types suck anyway and you should just be happy with other types of games, 'cos, hey, they are, and they don't feel like they're missing out on anything.

What works for them has to work for you. Or else!

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1, Offtopic)

Tidal Flame (658452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905653)

FPS doesn't suck on consoles. I'm sure you hate Halo 2, but there is a reason it's sold over 5 million copies. RTS... well, fair enough. If you're into RTS, you're definitely going to need a PC. However, chances are it's gonna cost you more than $500.

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905702)

FPS doesn't suck on consoles. I'm sure you hate Halo 2, but there is a reason it's sold over 5 million copies. RTS... well, fair enough. If you're into RTS, you're definitely going to need a PC. However, chances are it's gonna cost you more than $500.

Yeah, and that reason is that legions of underpriveleged and/or retarded children don't realize the folly of playing a FPS without a mouse. When they start packaging mice with these systems for FPS play then MAYBE a console FPS will have a chance at not biting the weenie.

Of course you still most likely won't be able to play any game mods on your console or do any modding yourself. Nothing like Team Fortress could ever come from those soul-sucking console pieces of shit. Consoles are for consumers, in the Huxley sense of the word. They're as close to mindless passive entertainment as you can come without paying for cable. There's a reason they use televisions as displays, you know. =)

Consoles are evolving into PCs anyway; even the console manufacturers realize that the PC is a superior gaming platform. You can either wait for them to evolve fully (and be stuck with horrible FPS gameplay in the meantime) or you can skip the evolutionary process and play real games on a real PC. What a tough choice!

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (2, Informative)

Rasta Prefect (250915) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905715)

FPS doesn't suck on consoles. I'm sure you hate Halo 2, but there is a reason it's sold over 5 million copies.

FPS sucks on consoles. Halo 2 has sold a lot of copies because it's the best FPS available for a console. This does not in anyway negate the suckage of FPS on consoles.

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1)

Physician (861339) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905735)

"Shh! You're not supposed to ask questions like this. Console proponents hate when you point out that an RTS or FPS completely sucks ass on these "gaming systems"." Because we all know how much Goldeneye sucked on the N64... (Prove that you hate karma by giving me some good mod points)

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1)

shinygerbil (926573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905575)

And don't forget the Nintendo Revolution, whatever that will end up actually being.

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (4, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905613)

You forgot the Dreamcast, you insensitive clod!

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1)

TheEternalVortex (644758) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905677)

+ $2k for your new HDTV

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1)

SMS_Design (879582) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905689)

Oh yeah, the machine CERTAINLY is way too underpowered for the likes of word processing, web browsing, and various desktop publishing applications.

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905706)

Not really. You can only get the XBOX 360 in a bundle. There is no bundle that is under $500 right now (last time I checked, at least). Still, it's a good point. But it doesn't work for everyone. I am shifting my gaming from PC to console with the coming generation of consoles, but I'm going to have to give up a lot of m my CounterStrike enjoyment (less responsive controls on a console) and strategy/RPG games (they just aren't the same on the console - a different breed entirely). But since I don't use a PC anymore, I'm not going to maintain the cost for upkeep.

On the other hand, I would hope that Slashdotters know how to build their own frigging computer. I built my first when I was eleven years old, before there was a web and before the net hit big and before I had access to loca BBSes and I had no friends or adults around me who knew anything about computers. It jsut took a little initiative and common sense.

People who buy their own desktop machines without specific reasons for it (say, you just want to get a cheap office machine for Aunt Florence and you don't want the support responsibility) have always struck me as a cut from the same cloth as those who always pay for the extra in-store warranty at Best Buy or give up their social security number to anyone who asks in a business setting. That is, they just go with the flow and don't put much thought into things.

Then again, I suppose the same could be said of people in relation to cars (which I'm just now starting to get into in my late 30s).

I love to see people - especially younger people - who are not necessarily heavily into computers, but realize that they can build their own. Not only do they get a sense of accomplishment from it, but the magic box is demystified and they gain some control. In the long run, they become better consumers who help shape the market with a more thorough and educated demand.

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905730)

I seem to recall those machines don't come with a monitor either.

Re:And then there's how to game for $500 (1)

222 (551054) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905805)

I cant remember, which one of those lets me play World of Warcraft?

Not too impressed (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905505)

As others said - no monitor and no peripherals (and I'd say that since it's a gaming machine then it would be reasonable to include a joystick and a wheel. But then I play lots of sims, others may skip it).

Also - 512MB of RAM is too low for gaming these days (especially when compared against selected CPU+Video).

Add all of the above and we are at $1000. As expected.

Oh, and software costs are not included! This means we _need_ to upgrade DVD-ROM to a burner, right?

Dell Coupons (2, Informative)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905516)

Check out Dell coupons, do a google search, dell has some good deals as long as you dont buy upgrades from them. Monarch or Newegg are my favorite low cost, and top pricewatch listings for lowest price.

I wanted a Dell 24inch LCD, Dell had a dual core 2.8ghz system with 24 LCD for 1199. So, basically I got the computer for a 2-3 hundred above a 24 inch on sale. Or free on normal prices. (160 HD, Dual DVD/DVR, ATI 300, system)

I picked up a 7800 GT/OC for 350, almost 7000 3dmark, every game can run 1900x1200 or 1600x1200 with AA/AF on. And it included Call of Duty 2.

Figured I can always build an AMD X2 system later and put the GFX card in it, and bump upto 8500-9000 3dmark, next year when the prices drop.

I missed running dual core, since my dual P3-800, so nice.

Re:Dell Coupons (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905552)

Or a 499 system with 19 LCD and it comes with XP Home, both left out on their build.

Slasdotter's advice to save some cash (1)

mike nwdw. (877398) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905520)

INSTALL LINUX! PROBLEM SOLVED!

But I do not want to play emulated (oops, WINE is not an emulator) Windows games at 8.2 frames per second.

MOD PARENT DOWN!

Great Cheap Gaming System (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905522)

If you want a "great" inexpensive gaming system just pretend it's 3 years ago but pay today's prices.

The best games of 2002 aren't all that bad.

Want cheaper? Keep dialing back the clock.

Re:Great Cheap Gaming System (1)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905582)

I do this to some extent. Not only can you save on hardware, but it's nice to pick up a game for $19 instead of $49 or $59. In multiplayer games after a couple years the number of wankers is substantially lower, and the abilities of the good players are much better, which can make it more fun. (but wait too long and everybody's playing retarded mods like a redeemer-only bathroom map in UT, heh)

It is hard though when a new game you've been looking forward to only plays well at 800x600 with all the goodies turned off.

Oops, 512MB isn't enough (3, Insightful)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905526)

You can always scale back graphics to bump up fps, but some of these new games are so memory intensive that 512MB just isn't cutting it anymore. I certainly regret making the decision to do 256x2 in my machine...especially since upgrading to gig and maintaining dual channel means I have to buy 2 sticks of 512. Bummer. Swapping is something I've had to deal with in a number of games, from HL2 to BF2. It's not terrible, but enough that I do have to go and shut down a lot of stuff I run at startup before playing to minimize it. I would spend the extra dough on a gig right off if I had to do it over.

This article assumes (hopefully intentionally) that you're reusing a bit of stuff from your last machine...I mean, a *case*, mouse/keyboard, monitor, speakers, etc. Money might be found for more memory then by recycling a hard drive and CDROM/DVD drive.

Re:Oops, 512MB isn't enough (1)

rpozz (249652) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905555)

Also, 'budget' memory in my experience seems to have a nasty habit of failing memtest86. There's a reason for it being cheap.

Re:Oops, 512MB isn't enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905712)

k, If you'll read TFA, you'll have noticed that they mention everywhere that this is a starting point; that's why they bought a mobo that had AGP as well as PCI-E; So later, when they had a little more money, they could drop money on the latest NVIDIA/ATI offering instead of an older AGP card.
Anyways, if you can read TFA and understand at least 3 words they say per page, you're also smart enough to realise that you don't have to follow their suggestions.
This is a budget pc. You wanna drop more money for a gig of memory, do it.
They aren't looking for high-performance, obviously. Anyways, I think perhaps that maybe a few people might have commented about the lack of a case already?

Summary: (0, Redundant)

jannesha (441851) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905567)

Basically, to spend only $516, you have to give up on the following:

OS (unless you want to run your games under WINE)
monitor
keyboard
mouse
speakers
case (that's right, just pile the components under your desk, folks!)

yikes.

www.sharkyextreme.com (2, Informative)

JoshRosenbaum (841551) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905578)

I usually check out www.sharkyextreme.com [sharkyextreme.com] for some information on systems built to a certain price. It has a few different options like low-end, gaming, high end. (Don't exactly remember.) Helps a bit even if they aren't one of the top hardware sites. I've always found their guides to be very useful.

Feh (0, Troll)

Mad Ogre (564694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905587)

You can buy a whole system for 500 prebuilt... Just by a Mini Mac. You can play all sorts of games! The Mac logo puzzle game... Break Out... Super Break Out... Photoshop...

Here's some real budget gaming advice (4, Interesting)

Achra (846023) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905600)

Well, this story is just junk.. But here's my 2 cents. Buy enough cheap ram to upgrade to 512mb. Make sure that you have a machine that runs in the neighborhood of 2ghz (P4/Athlon XP). Purchase an ATI Radeon 9500Pro ($40ish on ebay). This should be enough to be able to play Doom 3 and the other modern titles. No, they won't look great, but they will certainly be playable. I'm on a rig like that right now, and it runs Doom 3 at 1024x768 with specular lighting at around 30fps.
As a general rule of thumb when purchasing a video card on a budget, always buy yesterday's performance model rather than today's budget model.

Missing parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905609)

Okay add $130 for Xp pro, $25 for keyboard and mouse, $120 for CRT monitor, $40 for a case and what do you have? An $830 computer. I'm sure that you could buy the same thing already made for less. This is why our company no longer builds PCs.

Wow, that was useful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905611)

As others have already pointed out, this is not a "$500 gaming machine". It is missing some essential parts that likely will put you up closer to the $800-900 range at least. Also, I find it outright absurd that they seriously considered leaving out an optical drive, which by the way was only $20. Then again, Tom's Hardware has always been a little shady. I much prefer AnandTech; they seem to be more thorough and professional AND they include EVERYTHING (mouse, keyboard, monitor, case, power supply, speakers, etc) in their guides. Not that I usually follow them; it's best to look at the options availalble and make your own decisions based on what you want to do.

Ars Technica (5, Informative)

Kesh (65890) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905618)

I'd rather use the Ars Technica System Guides [arstechnica.com] . They tend to be a bit more realistic and don't hype up a specific price point. Plus, they get all the components in. ;)

Their Budget Box [arstechnica.com] is comparable to the one Tom's built, and actually includes all the necessary parts in the price.

Re:Ars Technica (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905783)

Yea, I don't think I like those arstechnica links

They don't have nearly enough advertising on their website.
They only have two banners and one adbox.
and their site design is such a mess

Toms Hardware is sooooo much cooler with their green text links & massive link boxes.
And the layout is much much cleaner

/sarcasm
Why do I hate TomsHardware?
Is it because it doesn't have much Tom in it anymore?

Can anyone read? It's an UPGRADE (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905619)

THG's assumptions on reusable parts:
keyboard
mouse
speakers
case
cables

Re:Can anyone read? It's an UPGRADE (2, Informative)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905701)

RTFA

It clearly says "Instead of the newest killer rig from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc... how about a system for the rest of us with a realistic budget starting from scratch?" on the very first page.

GameCube (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905629)

$99

YAWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905631)

But does it plug into your regular TV and play play station or xbox games?

Still cost more than an XBOX or PS-2

Don't read this article, please. (2, Informative)

inkdesign (7389) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905635)

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ $146
SRock 939Dual-SATA2 $69
orsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB) $52
Geforce 6600 256 MB $113
Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB $57.50
LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM $19.99
SeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W $59.00
Total $516.49

There's the article, without a bunch of bullshit.

Dunno wtf they expect you to do without a case though.

Re:Don't read this article, please. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905648)

All the geforce 6600 cost over $200. I just purchased one 2 weeks ago and got a 6600GT but they they only come with 128 megs of ram but they are generally faster than the original 6600's.

still doom3 shutters when I go above 800x600. This was $275 later. What gives?

3 gamer computer guides for 3 budgets (5, Informative)

g_adams27 (581237) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905654)

Sharky Extreme does this kind of thing on a regular basis, usually every month.

Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide ($1000 budget) [sharkyextreme.com]

High-end System Buyer's Guide ($2,500 budget) [sharkyextreme.com]

Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide ($4,000 budget) [sharkyextreme.com]

Of Course No Case (3, Insightful)

matthewcraig (68187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905660)

Many comments have mentioned the case and keyboard and mouse and monitor and speakers were not included. Of course, they were not included because PC gamers building a new system already have another computer. These peripherals are assumed to be present in computer gamers' enviornments. The article did not include prices on a chair for sitting upon, but I will assume a gamer probably already has this peripheral. They don't need help purchasing one because if they didn't have a chair or a case or a keyboard, then they surely know it and can go buy it without the help of a computer purchasing walkthrough. These peripherals have not changed in decades, and Tom's Hardware does not include it in their gaming-rig loadouts.

what a ten page article is trying to say: (1, Redundant)

fanblade (863089) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905692)

ASRock motherboard (AMD Socket 939, PCI Express/AGP, SATA2) - $69
AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Processor (1.8GHz, boxed CPU kit with cooler) - $146
eVGA's nVidia GeForce 6600 (256MB, AGP) - $113
512MB Corsair Value Select (PC3200, dual-channel DDR400 RAM) - $52
80GB Western Digital Caviar SE hard drive (WD800JD, SATA 150, 8MB cache, 7200rpm) - $57.50
DVD-ROM from LiteOn (SOHD-16P9SBLK, 16x read) - $20
330W PSU from Seasonic (S12-330, ATX 12V) - $59

And the OS and the Case and keyboard and mouse? (1)

bogie (31020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905716)

Since your building this machine yourself you will need a copy of XP to actually play the games on. Also is this thing just going to float in the air or something? I guess the "$500 budget game machine" sounds better than the "$700 budget game machine" which is what this really would cost to build. But why let facts get in the way of a good ad generator, I mean story.

btw that entire article could fit onto 2 pages if they could keep the ads down a bit. Has ad revenue really dropped that badly that even a site like Tom's needs to resort to tricks like this?

The ratio of text you actually read to ads and other misc garbage is 10% vs 90% at best. Thank god for the zap plugins bookmarklet.

Easily Solved (1)

i_will_frag_u_all (792832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905733)

Its called www.newegg.com They have some great deals on some parts. I build mine for about 449 USD and it runs great. All the parts I bought from newegg

anybody care to comment on ASROCK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13905762)

Ive looked at their stuff before & came very close to buying asrock boards. Anybody care to share their horror stories or endorsments of the brand?

Theyre pretty cheap, its not another ECS/pcchips clone is it?
They seem to have just sprung from nowhere a few years ago.

Missing more than just an OS and a case (1)

stonedonkey (416096) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905797)

Not going to get very far without a keyboard and mouse, speakers, or a monitor, either. I'm all for putting together inexpensive rigs, but it's just not doable at $500. Not yet. I know they're "focusing simply on the box itself," but that's a cop-out. Especially when they didn't choose a "box" at all. I think it's safe to say that a "Gaming Machine" includes input and display (and a case and operating system), so the title of the article is misleading. It's more like "How much of a gaming-oriented computer can we put together for $500?" Not all of it, apparently. But we knew that already, didn't we? So what's the point of this exercise?

Just how CLUELESS are you people? It's an UPGRADE! (3, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13905801)

Okay, folks. Let's look through what we have so far in this thread - a number of people complaining about no monitor, keyboard, mouse, or case.

Did it ever occur to any of you that all of those items are what WE CURRENTLY HAVE? Look at the parts list that he's building up in the review. It's evident that he's talking about UPGRADING a current system on a shoestring budget!

Keyboards, mice, monitors, and cases can remain consistent through any upgrade. They neither improve nore degrade performance. HOWEVER...

A new processor is obvious.

Depending on how old your current system is, a new motherboard is probably required for the new CPU.

New memory is also often required in order to take advantage of faster buses. (No smart-ass comments about public transportation, please.) Although I personally would not recommend anything less than 1 GB for gaming or 2 GB if you plan on playing Battlefield 2.

A new video card is obviously needed for a lot of newer games, and the 6600 has a very good price/performance ratio right now.

A new hard drive is always a good idea for several reasons. (A) Price/GB is always dropping. (B) More storage is always good. (C) A new drive allows the ability to transfer data from the old hard drive more efficiently than making a backup to DVD. (D) New hard drives are just about guaranteed to be faster than older hard drives, especially if there is a multi-year difference between the two.

Everything that he mentioned in the article are what are needed to get yourself a "new" gaming system. A new case, keyboard, mouse, and monitor are not needed. The main internals that matter are clearly what he's talking about. So, it should have been evident that the article is about UPGRADING a current system, not buying a whole new gaming system from scratch!
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