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The $500 Gaming PC Upgrade

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the more-fps-equals-more-frags dept.

215

sand writes "Building a powerful PC for gaming doesn't have to be expensive. In this article, FiringSquad spends $500 on a gaming upgrade, and compares its performance to that of a high-end Core 2 Extreme PC. The Core 2 Extreme rig is faster, but you may be surprised by how well the $500 PC is able to hang with it in Crysis, Call of Duty 4, and Unreal Tournament 3."

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215 comments

500$ inexpensive? (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241639)

I know the big green buck is down the shitter but 500$ ain't inexpensive, morons!

Re:500$ inexpensive? (3, Interesting)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241667)

When many gamers spend $500 for just a gaming GPU, yes $500 for a full gaming upgrade is cheap - if it lives up to the hype.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (0, Flamebait)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241739)

I think the yanx are currently desesperately in need for realism.
Wake up, yanx: everybody hate you, your money ain't worth a friggin' dam.

Your bosses are about to send you to die for them in Iran and if you dare questioning their senses, you might be called a bloody atheist.
Today's Americans give God a bad name, which is quite a shame, regarding the fact there's no God to begin with, just some old greedy boyfuckers looking for too much rock and roll.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241931)

This basically comes down to a GeForce 8800 GTX vs. GeForce 8800 GT. The problem is the 8800 was a high end part a year ago and the GT just came out.

So if you want to build/upgrade to a cheep gaming system pick up an 8800GT if not wait till the next high end chip hit's the market or buy 2 8800GT's.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (0, Offtopic)

pez4realz (1175475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241685)

I think it is time for our monetary administrators to consider changing the color of our currency to an earthy brown.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241711)

Inexpensive is generally a relative term. Of course, if one plays CS only, then he or she could probably find a local college or uni throwing out equipment capable of playing it.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21243269)

Yes but they go to insane levels.

Unreal tournament 3 plays just fine at sane levels on a Throwaway P4-3.0ghz with a Geforce 7900GS video card, yes the incredibly slow AGP interface as well. I've been playing it on what amounts to a $250.00 computer all week.)

now if I turn on all the goodies I can make it slower on some of the more expansive and detailed arenas.. but some of the simpler short distance line of sight it still plays decently until you have 4-5 bots in the room all firing rockets like madmen.. (override settings and have 30 bots in one of the small 1 on 1 arenas... it's a hoot!)

Am I playing with all setting all the way up and at 1920X1200? not a chance. but it still plays just fine on a 1024X768 15" monitor with enough settings to make it look incredibly good.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (3, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241759)

For a good performing gaming PC, as many have stated, that's downright cheap.

A bigger complaint would be:

They chose the AMD690 motherboard chipset. The big reason? The one they went on and on about? Dual digital [video] outputs (DVI + HDMI). They also had a discreet video card. Call me nuts, but if you use the DVI/HDMI output on the motherboard, you aren't going to be getting the goodness from that $250 graphics card you just picked up, are you (barring two monitors I guess).

Seriously, they could have saved some $$, or gotten a board with a better set of features, excluding it's graphical output.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241787)

you aren't going to be getting the goodness from that $250 graphics card you just picked up, are you (barring two monitors I guess)
More than two. The 8800 can drive two monitors itself. You'd need three before you would have to fall back to the motherboard's.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241805)

I always use two monitors at home now, it would drive me crazy to go back to one. Of course, I play things like Eve, where there are so many external things you want to run at various times (industrial tools, jump-planners, mapping tools, TS) that you don't want to cover the screen with that there really isn't much of a choice.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242249)

Congratulations! You will die a virgin.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21243129)

...not if he finds a girl that likes to play Eve.

Times are changing. Try not to make yourself look like some bitter old geezer who's behind the times.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (2, Interesting)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242883)

First, you really can't buy a board for much less than the $80 and expect it to work well. They all come with tons of features these days - you just have to decide which you want. Going cheaper nowadays doesn't mean same quality with less features - it means similar features with lower quality.

Second, there's some very good reasons for going with a board that includes onboard video. It gives you the potential to run more than two monitors (which is, I admit, very unlikely) but more important, if/when your main graphics card bites the dirt, you've got your onboard to fall back on while you wait for your replacement to arrive. That means that while you'll go a week without playing Crysis and UT3 at max settings, you'll still be able to do pretty much everything else.

That said, my take on the article is that they spent way too much on the graphics. You can stretch that $500 quite a bit further by going with a much cheaper card that'll still run the newest games just fine at reduced settings. I'd say this [newegg.com] would get the job done, and still give you some space in your budget to upgrade your hard drive and something else, which could be pretty important in that P4/Athlon XP system from 3 years ago.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

ameoba (173803) | more than 6 years ago | (#21243271)

The thing is, actual gameplay is influenced by your graphics card. Loading between levels might be annoying with an old HDD, but most games don't do much disk access during active gameplay.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242041)

The parent poster has a troll name and a flamebait attitude, but the comment was insightful. Five hundred buicks IS a lot of money! Hell, that's more than my car payment, or any other of my bills except my mortgage, and the mortgage is only another sixty bucks over this needless expenditure.

I doubt if it would cost five hundred bucks to replace every part in my computer. Now I remember why I quit gaming - DOOM 3.

Fucking elitists. Mod me down, "-1, he's not a rich boy".

-mcgrew [kuro5hin.org]

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242153)

Now I remember why I quit gaming - DOOM 3.
Fucking elitists. Mod me down, "-1, he's not a rich boy".


Alternatively, you could have tried playing games that concentrate on stuff other rather than the shiniest graphics?

Re:500$ inexpensive? (2, Insightful)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242371)

Some people play games, some people drink and smoke. To each their own fun. If you amortize the cost of the 500 dollars over the life of the usefulness of it, you would probably find that it was about the same amount of money other people spent on their hobbies.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242967)

Actually, he would find that the $500 is a lot less than what other people spend on hobbies. That $500 upgrade should last you at least a good 18 months. People spend that much on beer or cigs in 6 months, and most hobbies cost more than that.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242581)

It really depends on how much you make. If you're pulling 200 grand a year in pre-tax household-income, have no kids, don't have a huge car and house payment, and don't have any other serious hobbies or money-sinks... no, $500 isn't a whole hell of a lot for a system upgrade that'll last you for at least another year.

OTOH, if you're making $40k a year in pre-tax household income, have three kids, a large house and car payment, and you've got CC debt issues... yes, $500 is a significant, large sum of money. Context is everything, I guess.

In the grand scheme of "expensive hobbies", PC gaming is pretty tame. Compare it to automobiles, home theaters, some equipment-heavy sports, and so forth, and PC gaming looks reasonable enough. With the relative cheapness of RAM and CPUs these days, I'd argue it's even more affordable. That doesn't solve the "don't you have better things to spend your money on?" argument, but it does put the issue as a whole into context.

Re:500$ inexpensive? (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242845)

I don't know where you live.. but my mortgage is more then 4 times that amount, and for that matter, my car payment is about $200 more too.. and I drive a freaking Toyota..

As for rigs, I spent a crapton.. okay maybe only $750 on my mobo, gpu and psu about 2 years ago, and that particular rig is still doing okay, granted only getting about 40 fps on UT3, but it works for me, at thats at 1600 x 1200 at med to med high settings. I do plan on finding another 7800 GT (I know its old) so I can run in SLI, that should hold me over for another year heh..

I My new laptop absolutely blows my desktop out of the water, with its little 8800 GS mobile chipset

Wait, let me guess... (0, Flamebait)

DanielJosphXhan (779185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241725)

They dropped a PS3 really, really hard on the PC and called it an upgrade, right?

That's called (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241909)

They dropped a PS3 really, really hard on the PC and called it an upgrade, right?


Nope. That's called replacing a few parts in your PC (at most) after totalling your PS3.

Duh (4, Insightful)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241755)


Newsflash: If you buy the last generation of hardware, and not the top-of-the-line video card, you'll save money!

I've been keeping my PC about one or two cycles behind the bleeding edge for this reason, and it plays games just fine ... you just can't crank ALL the settings in some of the newer games.

- Roach

It's all about mainstream vs. high-end. (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241949)

It's simply about buying mainstream stuff, instead of ultra-high-end stuff. Those high-end buyers PAY for the technology to be developed for all the mainstream users. But, games aren't made for a few people with high-end cards; they're made to play pretty damn well on what most people who bought any decent card/machine recently will have.

For 99.9% of people, buying very high-end stuff is a lot like buying a ferrari. Sure, it looks nice, but what practical use are you going to find for it?

Re:It's all about mainstream vs. high-end. (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242175)

You know, I'd say the mid-to-low-end market is probably where the money is actually at, the high-end is there for advertising and image-building purposes. Well that, and a side-effect of R&D. But I don't buy for a moment the claim that the high-end user is the primary market of PC component manufacturers, and the reason they keep developing new tech.

Re:It's all about mainstream vs. high-end. (1)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242183)

Oh, I completely agree. I was just pointing out the non-newsworthiness of the article.

I have to say though ... I've owned sportscars, and sportbikes.
Practical? No, not really.
Fun, on the other hand? Absolutely.

A high-end gaming rig falls into that category ... I just don't have the interest anymore. Mid 90s? I HAD to have the latest and greatest.

- Roach

Re:Duh (4, Informative)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242009)

The best hardware for the price is always, always 'top-of-the-line minus ONE'.

As in, only desperately lobotomized morons would buy an Intel Extreme for $1000, when there are Intel Quads with as much cache and the same FSB for one fourth that, and frequency means zilch when the price difference allows you to buy liquid cooling. Now how's that 4x 4,8 GHz with 2x 4Mbyte cache sound?

As for GPUs, well, just buy the last-gen Ultra. An ATI X1950Pro 256M is now $200, anything really more powerful is at least $500. And it will run any recent game at decent speed.

Re:Duh (2, Informative)

darkwhite (139802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242189)

As for GPUs, well, just buy the last-gen Ultra. An ATI X1950Pro 256M is now $200, anything really more powerful is at least $500.
Wrong. A GeForce 8800GT completely obliterates anything from ATI or any non-8800-based card from nVidia, and costs $260, not to mention consumes a lot less power. Now, getting a hold of it is another matter since they're selling like hotcakes...

Re:Duh (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242289)

Heck I am running Current -3 and still kicking ass. I have an athlon 2200XP running at 2.6GHz a Gig of Ram, and a NVIDIA 6800 512 that I bought a while ago. I recently retired the PC to a server but up to that point it played every game I owned, eg Wow, BF2042, and a series of other FPS's that I love without a hitch. Not to mention I did video rendering with pinnnacle studio and AutoGK (now that took a while but worked fine).

I may upgrade in the next couple years, but I am a mobile user now, unfortunately that means I am out of the custom market, but I bought a Aurora 9700 for just that purpose, I can run penetration software on my network and frag at the same time ;) But at 3K for a laptop you are in a different game.

Re:Duh (2, Interesting)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242339)

Amen. Can you believe that someone would go to Dell's website and pay an extra $200 for an Intel Core2 Duo Processor E6700 (4MB L2 Cache,2.66GHz,1066 FSB) instead of an E6600 (4MB L2 Cache,2.4GHz,1066 FSB)?

Friggin' amazing!

Re:Duh (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242141)

Hell, my PC is more than one or two cycles behind the "leading edge", I think.... but I haven't been playing anything at less than max settings (with good frame rate).

Athlon64 3500+, Geforce 7900GT, and 2gb of PC3200 ram. I suppose my processor is creating a bottleneck, but I've not been tempted to upgrade it. Everything runs fine-- Just finished Prey, which was running at a wonderful framerate with all settings maxed out-- did the same thing to C&C3 a month ago, and F.E.A.R. before that. Am I just lucky or something?

Re:Duh (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242515)

I ran the Prey demo with AMD Athlon 3000+ (under-clocked even, to keep heat down. I bought a poor case or something), ATI Radeon 9600 XT and 1 gB of ram.

I'm pretty sure I ran it at close to max as well. Dunno if Prey was just well designed or we've reached a sort of plateau in requirements growth.

How was the full game BTW?

Re:Duh (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242397)

The people designing these games are losing money (maybe in this case "loosing money" would be appropriate) for what? I just don't get it. The elitist attitude is what got me to stop playing PC games in the first place.

In 1990 when I first started playing games on a PC, a computer like the one in my living room now took a dedicated building and was called a "supercomputer", yet I can't play a new game on it. And the new game cost sixty bucks.

Now, I used to be into gaming; some of you may remember the old Quake site th Springfield Fragfest. But here's where the absolutel stupidity of the game designers comes in: they design for the next generation of machines. This gains teh hardware manufacturers dosh, at the expense of game designers who can't even sell me a game any more, let alone Joe Normalguy.

A game called Screamer 2 is an excellent example of why their designing for the next generation is stupid. When it came out (1997 IIRC), there wasn't a single PC in existance that could run it at its highest resolution. Today it would be a piece of cake - except that it is written for DOS and my Audigy isn't supported. No sound.

I still get Road Rash (1995) out once in a while. A fun game is fun. Developers, by designing for the next generation of equipment, are shutting out this generation of equipment, as well as most of their possible audience. Design for this generation of equipment and sell the games for $15 instead of $60 and you'll sell a hundred times as many.

-mcgrew [kuro5hin.org]

Re:Duh (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21243033)

Not all developers. That's been Blizzard's plan for at least 12 years or so and they're making out quite nicely.

You won't hear me complaining, though. Those crazy developers and bleeding-edge early adopters keep technology moving ahead at a quick pace for the rest of us.

Re:Duh (4, Informative)

ameoba (173803) | more than 6 years ago | (#21243171)

Most of time when you see a game that can't be played on maximum settings with current hardware there's a good reason for it.

In many cases, such as Quake 3 and, more recently, Crysis, it's because the game engine is designed as a licensable asset that will be reused by other game studios for a number of years & they want it to remain relevant. Game engines are expensive to produce so once you've written a good one, there's few reasons not to license it out. If you plan on licensing the system & you want it to be relevant in 2-3 years, you not only need to be able to support todays top-of-the-line hardware but also be able to produce respectable results in two years when derivative titles are being released.

The other case is when you anticipate games to be played for long periods of time. A great example of this is Everquest 2 - SOE knew that they could expect the game to be actively played for 5 years or more. Given an anticipated lifespan like this you face 2 options - produce an engine with room to grow or plan on rewriting the engine so that 3 years in you can continue to meet player expectations.

Re:Duh (1)

sseaman (931799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242733)

I think what makes this marginally newsworthy is the price tag. Until I recently upgraded my 3-year-old box with a $42 Radeon 9600 [newegg.com] and more RAM (upgraded to 1 gig for $50), I would have thought that most modern games were hopelessly out of my PC's league. However, I recently purchased the Orange Box, and I've been enjoying Portal, HF2, and TF2 with more than acceptable video quality. I had a decent rig to start with (P4 3.0Ghz), and my current set-up is far inferior to the one described. It's nice to be reminded that for what could be construed as a reasonable amount of money you can enjoy modern PC games with better-than-console graphics.

There's a huge difference between $500 and $3,000. I would have put the "budget box" tag closer to $1000. $500, within console range, is friendlier.

Of course, decent power supplies, cases, and HDs can nickel and dime you to death, and one of the reasons I didn't go with a more powerful GPU was my relatively low-power PSU, so YMMV when it comes to the economics of this upgrade.

It's an upgrade I guess.... (3, Insightful)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241763)

I think they wanted to call this a cheap build, but saw that it equated to another normal build. So they removed things like an optical drive, hard drive, case, power supply, speakers, and a monitor to "reduce the price" and make this an "insanely cheap upgrade!"

Honestly, I'm sure half the nerds on this site could build an entire SYSTEM that'd put this upgrade to shame at that price.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (2)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241835)

Being an upgrade and all, they assumed you already had things like a case, hard drive, monitor, etc...

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242267)

The parent was claiming the review site intended to build a computer, but, to create the "wow, it's cheap" factor for marketing purposes, billed the thing as an upgrade once they found the built machine would not be any cheaper than an off-the-shelf computer.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241849)

Honestly, I'm sure half the nerds on this site could build an entire SYSTEM that'd put this upgrade to shame at that price.
Ok, go for it. Spec out an entire gaming system for $485 that will easily beat the benchmarks posted on the last few pages of the article. Seriously, I haven't upgraded my gaming rig in three years and this would prove extremely useful.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (2, Interesting)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241865)

Omitting details like drives and case is cheating quite a bit.

What about the types who are still running a system with IDE drives? Or their old case has dead fans? The cost starts escalating fast. If they built an all-new system for $500 that could play Crysis, maybe then I would be impressed.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (3, Informative)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242077)

IDE drives aren't really an issue. For the MB in the article, sure. But that's not the spirit of the article I'd say.

I recently went through having to upgrade, and I have 4 IDE drives I wanted to keep. I found most new AMD based boards only had one IDE channel. Meaning, I get to keep my DVD drive and one HD.
Most intel based boards had more. Usually 2 to 3. Not sure if this is because of the reference designs for the chipsets or not. But a lot of searching led to that conclusion.

The ASUS I just grabbed had 3 IDE channels. And 6 SATA connectors.


I got a thread on here detailing what I picked up for $450 shipped last week. It's inline with what they're showing in the article. Nice full-size ATX towers can be found for $75 and less, with a power supply. Add a single 500 gig IDE drive, $100. That's how much I paid for one a few months ago at CompUSA even. DVD R/W Drive, $30. 17" flat screen LCD, $100. Find a decent one onsalse at CompUSA or BestBuy. Heck, I walked into a 21" View Sonic on sale a few months back and grabbed it for $250. Mouse and keyboard, wireless optical 2, $40.

So you're looking around $800 for a comparable system, but including everything built from scratch. Of course, you still need an OS, and since you're talking games, you're going to be paying for that too. So you're looking at a grand total IMO.

But it would be a rather nice system.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242291)

That's how much I paid for one a few months ago at CompUSA even

HAhaHAHahAHa!


Find a decent one onsalse at CompUSA or BestBuy

HahHAHAHAHH!


Of course, you still need an OS, and since you're talking games, you're going to be paying for that too

Stop! You're killing me here!

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (1)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242401)

Are you always that stupid?

There are certain pieces you can pick up from large brick and mortal retailers that they have cheap.

They do heave leaders you know, and if you're not prone to dropping $500 on worthless crap you don't need then there's no reason to be afriad of them.
Yes, you can usually find stuff online that matches the price of what they are using to get people into the store. But then you need to wait a few days to get it, you're most likely paying shipping, etc.

For example, the video cards were all rediculously priced last time I was in compusa compared to newegg or mwave, places I don't mind buying from online. But like I said, there was a nice 500 gig IDE drive a few months back at compusa for $100, and I couldn't beat that at either place. So I grabbed it since I wanted another harddrive, and at the time could only use IDE.
So what's the problem other then your own ignorance? I haven't seen any reason to buy items like mobo's and ram and processors at the major brick and mortar guys. But LCD's they usually are decent with, and hard drives as well.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (2, Insightful)

bcwright (871193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242275)

Fans aren't very expensive unless you have an oddball case. And even if you aren't upgrading, you'll have to keep up with replacing the fans if you don't want your rig to burn up. The IDE drives can be more of an issue, however most motherboards still support 1 IDE connection (=2 devices). Unless you want more than 1 hard drive and 1 CD/DVD that's enough - and if you do want more, there are still a number of options; a few motherboards still support 2 IDE connectors, and even if the one you choose doesn't, an IDE controller for your old drives only costs about $20-25 assuming you don't need RAID (which IMHO is kind of overkill if you use the PC primarily for gaming). Even if you decide to upgrade your hard drive to SATA you can get a 250 GB HD for under $65, or less than $45 if you're satisfied with 80GB. So even if you have to replace components like the hard drives you're looking at well under $600, and possibly still under $500 depending on the options you choose. Somehow this doesn't strike me as the costs "escalating fast" compared to the traditional pricing for gaming PC's.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242285)

An upgrade is just that. I don't think it's cheating to keep as many of the existing parts that makes sense to reuse, especially given the budget. Being able to reuse existing parts is supposedly one of the advantages of assembling your own computer. If it's buying all new parts, then it's cheating to call it an "upgrade" because upgrade usually suggests that you replace or add parts to make an existing system better, not pull out the old power cord and put it into a new computer.

Fans aren't that expensive to replace. Drives aren't that hard to re-use, nor are they hard to swap out later, so it's an expense that can be delayed. I don't see the point in a new optical drive unless it's really old, new ones are mostly gimmicky or negligible upgrades of drives sold two or three years ago. A new hard drive isn't absolutely necessary to game play speed, it might improve boot or game level start-up time, but it has little impact on fps.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241943)

Not to mention OS...wouldn't windows activation have a fit if you replaced that much of your computer? And yes, if you are gaming Windows is pretty much required(which is why I own a wii that I hook up to my mac :P)

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242261)

Won't be all that bad. I upgraded my brothers computer last weekend. It had already been though a number of upgrades. it was originally an AMD64 3400+ with 512Meg RAM. On the day we bought it, we upgraded it immediately to 1Gig RAM and a Wireless NIC. No Windows reactivation required. Beginning this year we maxed out the RAM on 2Gig and this month, I saw a AMD64 Athlon X2 4200+ on sale.

Changing the CPU didn't require reactivation. However, the BIOS didn't detect the fact that it was an X2 and as such neither did Windows. After a BIOS upgrade (from the motherboard manufacturer, not from the OEM), the X2 was detected and Windows did see the X2. However, activation was required. That of course was as easy as typing in the key from the sticker on the side of the case.

Oddly enough, AVG Free freaked out too... It said the license wasn't valid anymore. I was a bit surprised about that, but I did a reinstall and all was good again.

It was originally an Acer Aspire T140 and it runs Windows XP Home. The motherboard turned out the be a Foxconn motherboard model CK804K8MA-KS. Not that it was documented anywhere...

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242329)

That is a no, you wouldn't have a problem. Worst case you have to reactivate. If you've done more than the 10 installs that Microsoft let's you activate over the web then you have to call to activate. In any case, still not a problem as they will still let you activate it.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241959)

Unless you think that being a nerd makes money magically duplicate then you would be rather disappointed at the performance one would obtain while shopping for an entire system at USD500. The LCD compromises you would have to make to fit into the budget alone would be unfortunate. Sure, getting a whole PC for USD500 is possible (OEMs even sell whole systems for less than that), but it won't compete at gaming.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242309)

Nonsense. The article spent about twice as much as it need to on its components. The GPU is way more than is needed. A decent GPU can be had for $150, easy, even with dual monitor out as a requirement. They went with a 4000+ for the CPU, when a 3600+ would have done nearly as well for half the price. Likewise, they could have saved a bit on the motherboard, but for some baffling reason were concerned about the output, even though they are using a dual monitor GPU.

Going for cheaper (but still good enough) for gaming components would have saved them $200 at least. You can easily buy a SATA II hard drive, case, and optical drive for $200.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (3, Informative)

phantomlord (38815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241979)

Not quite an entire rig, but I had a power supply fail* last week on my trusty old dual athlon box, so I just ordered parts pretty similar to this scenario (with the primary focus of everything working in Linux)

NVidia 7600GT with 256MB: $99.99
Asus M2N-E motherboard (4 PCIE slots, 3 PCI slots for my existing cards): $96.99
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ (Brisbane/65 watt version): $84.99
1 GB Corsair RAM: $44
Seagate 250GB SATA drive 16MB cache: $69.99
Lite-On SATA DVD burner: $36.99
Thermaltake 430 watt PS: $39.99

Total: $472.94 not counting the $40 in mail-in rebates

That's basically everything but a case and peripherals... and my focus was getting the best bang for my buck (while being able to retain things like my PCI SCSI controllers), not trying to keep under a certain amount.

* My computer started randomly rebooting and the other night, I smelled that wonderful joy of electric melting plastic. Turns out all the 5 volt lines connecting the power supply to the motherboard melted their connectors. I cleaned the melted plastic out the matching pins on the motherboard side, connected it to my backup power supply and things have been running fine since... though I wasn't sure if it was going to work at all when I ordered my new parts last week. /eagerly awaiting the last delivery from UPS today so I can put my first new computer together in 5 years.

Re:It's an upgrade I guess.... (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242163)

And the 500 $ does not include any microsoft taxes for directx9.0 or 10.0 , also named windows Xp or vista.

Since even the nerds from firingsquad are able to do their benchmark on the 30 days evaluation version.

now even the NIGGERS can afford one (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241791)

nigger nigger nigger

So they bought an XBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241799)

Money well-spent.

Re:So they bought an XBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21243135)

So they bought an XBox. Money well-spent.

Remember console players, you must include the price of an industrial strength bib there. You don't want your drool to short out your moron-machine and electrocute you. That would be tragic.

4 components (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241801)

The summary (and even the article) is a bit confusing. They're spending $500 on 4 components:
CPU
GPU
Motherboard
RAM

It is assumed you already have the other components (PSU, case, HDD, etc)

Dan East

Re:4 components (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242265)

It is assumed you already have the other components (PSU, case, HDD, etc)
Why it is called "an upgrade". Sorry to state the obvious even tho it is right there in the article header.

Unimpressive (4, Informative)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241807)

I recently upgraded my machine for playing games. I spent about $450 and built something *significantly* better than what is shown in this article. How? By buying cheap/discount/used hardware off eBay. It's really just that simple. I could have easily spent several hundred more dollars on the same stuff by buying from an actual store.

Re:Unimpressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242149)

Your probably the stupid fucker in my WoW guild that can't seem to draw the connection between his constant blue screens and the fact he bought his video card/motherboard/processor for a quarter of the going rate on ebay.

Re:Unimpressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242207)

Yeah? I just spend about $100 dollars and built something *significantly* better as well. How? By buying cheap/discounted/used hardware from a guy in an alley. It's really just that simple. I could have spent several hundred more dollars on the same stuff and gotten warranties and the assurance that it's not stolen.

Re:Unimpressive (1)

WhoBeDaPlaya (984958) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242345)

Don't even need to resort to that. Just keep an eye out for the sometimes insane after-rebate deals on HDDs, optical drives, motherboards, RAM, vid cards, etc.

Re:Unimpressive (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242357)

Sure, but that's not news. You can save a lot of money by buying goods with no proven legitimate source of supply, and could have come from anywhere, under any means. Not that I'm condemning you for it, but just food for thought. A *huge* amount of goods on eBay are stolen (or worse, robbed).

If you're talking about >40% off store prices, your goods are almost certainly stolen, since that is below even wholesale cost.

Re:Unimpressive (1)

bcwright (871193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242651)

I've bought a fair number of components off eBay, mostly for keeping older PC's going. However what you get is often very much of a mixed bag - I generally figured that I need to buy as much as 2-2.5 times as much memory as I'd actually need, for example, because of the high failure rate for memory bought off eBay. Still sometimes it was worth it for situations where the replacement memory for the old PC was either unavailable or ridiculously priced. I suspect a not insignificant number of the parts on eBay, while not exactly "bad," are there because they've started to become flaky.

Network appliances (routers/hubs/switches), on the other hand, in my experience tend to be less risky purchases on eBay.

YMMV. However unless you're willing to buy enough spare parts to be able to, in effect, provide your own in-house warranty service, you may want to consider carefully whether you want the additional hassle rather than just doing an RMA to a well-known company like Newegg.

A big HOWEVER, perhaps... (4, Informative)

Cragen (697038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241817)

The recommended GPU is not currently available. I wonder if it will be available in time for XMas for (^h^h^hfrom) St. Nick?

From TFA:

"The GPU of choice in our upgrade article is without a doubt the recently announced GeForce 8800 GT from NVIDIA. ... ... ... Most of the online retailers sold out of their inventory of GeForce 8800 GT cards within hours of the GPU's release, but hopefully they'll be restocked shortly. EVGA is a great brand, offering goodies like a lifetime warranty and their Step Up trade-in program. We've reviewed their cards in the past quite extensively and always liked them.

Keep in mind that NVIDIA is producing all of the early GeForce 8800 GT cards for their board partners like EVGA anyway, so regardless of the brand of card you choose they're all coming off the same production line. This includes the factory overclocked cards.

Alternatives: Until AMD ships their upcoming RV670 chip, the Radeon HD 3800, there really is no viable alternative to the GeForce 8800 GT that we'd recommend. If you want to save a little money the Radeon X1950 Pro would be an excellent alternative though."

wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241823)

Cruisin' a powerful PC fo` clockin' doesn't have ta be expensive . Yippie yo, you can't see my flow. In this article, FiringSquad spends $500 on a doggy stylin' upgrade , n compares its performance ta tizzy of a high-end Core 2 Extreme PC . You gotta check dis shit out yo. The Core 2 Extreme rig is hustla but you may be surprised by how wizzay tha $500 PC is able ta hang wit it in Crysis, Call of Duty 4, n Unreal Tournament 3."

I dunno (1)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241911)

I had a fairly high end, new rig (4GB of RAM, Vista Home Premium, Quad Core processor) and I was not satisfied with Crysis at all using a 8800GTS (384MB). At 1600x1050 (default resolution) it was just able to run with Medium - Low settings with some stuttering. I dropped in an 8800GTX Ultra instead (probably the only time in my life I'll ever be able to get away with buying a near top of the line card), and now I can run at High possibly even sneaking some things to Very High.

Once the article actually loads I'd love to see what they came up with for Crysis for less than the price of my video card (of course I'm secretly hoping that it's running at 800x600 on low with a bad framerate to justify my ridiculous purchases!)

Who spends $1500 for decent ? (3, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241935)

FTFA: "There's a silly misconception out there that you need to spend $1,500 or more to own a decent gaming rig. This is just nonsense"

Sure, I know people that always buy top of the line right when it comes out. They actually care if they're able to get 71 fps in a certain game vs 68 fps. Not because they play it, but because it means something to them to have a high number.
But that's the exception, not the norm. People building their own systems like was done in the article aren't that retarded.

I was just forced into upgrading due to a motherboard that went bad on an old Athlon XP 2400 system.
A few hours of looking and a e4600 Core 2 Duo, 2 gigs of DDR2 667, decent Asus MB, and a 512 meg Nvidia 8600GT...
$450 shipped. That included seating the processor and having them do the bios upgrade before shipping for $9. This from a reputable online service that many people have used for years. Even if I had to add a case, monitor, hardrive, dvd drive, key board and mouse, you're still looking at under $750 without a problem. And that would certainly qualify as decent.

Now, I got no doubt they spent a ton of time finding just the right stuff to eeck out all that little bit of tweaking.

But overall, no one thinks when building a system yourself you need to spend anywhere near that for a decent gaming system. For top of the line to have bragging rights over a meaningless fps score, sure. But not for something that'll play everything new just fine and be fine for years.

Re:Who spends $1500 for decent ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242347)

> They actually care if they're able to get 71 fps in a certain game vs 68 fps.

It is the difference between vsync at 60Hz and 70Hz, so that's not actually a bad target to aim for.

Anything over 70 is just silly though, and more for padding when the framerate actually dips.

Re:Who spends $1500 for decent ? (1)

CGDR2 (1178215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242445)

$1500 isn't really that much for a 'good' computer - certainly not given the current exchange rate! Ha! But seriously - 1500 dollars will get you a decent motherboard, a strong CPU, and a high end GPU. Certainly, you can spend $600-800 and get an entire system which will play everything well; but actually, some of us DO care about FPS. Some of us DO genuinely want to spend $500 on a GPU, just because we want to be able to run everything on maximum settings with 16X AA at 1080p.

I notice the rather droll department, 'more FPS = more fun'. Certainly, it's easy to laugh at people who take FPS to seriously. But please - don't forget that there is a valid point underneath all that. A game running smoothly will be a lot more enjoyable than a game that shudders along at 35 FPS.

Re:Who spends $1500 for decent ? (1)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242847)

I wouldn't call 35 fps shuddering. A constant 35 would be totally fine but for the most avid ladder-ranking type of person that worries about response as much as anything.

Now 15 fps and the like in a FPS, sure that would be noticable. And I wouldn't call 35 fps ideal. But most probably wouldn't notice a big difference between 35 and 50. I mean, it is more then say standard TV.

Re:Who spends $1500 for decent ? (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242603)

>>> People building their own systems like was done in the article aren't that retarded.

Not all of them are anyway!

I prefer the $30 upgrade... (1)

not already in use (972294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241967)

It seems like console games and computer games have little if any distinction besides input method (controller vs keyboard/mouse). With USB coming standard on the next gen systems, why not "upgrade" your console with a keyboard/mouse? It wouldn't take much from game devs to allow this control scheme, especially for games that are going to see a PC port anyway. The whole PC gaming thing never made much sense to me. You can spend $500 on a console that performs as well as a computer at 3 times the cost. It is significantly more efficient both energy wise and processing wise.

Re:I prefer the $30 upgrade... (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242197)

It seems like console games and computer games have little if any distinction besides input method (controller vs keyboard/mouse).

Some PC games just arent available on consoles. In depth simulation or strategy games, more hardcore RPGs such as Witcher or NWN2:MOTB, adventure games such as Sam and Max...

Re:I prefer the $30 upgrade... (1)

moloko_synthemesc (961937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21243043)

The reason I wouldn't do this, and I'd really like to, is the same reason I couldn't do it last gen. Developers of console games just DO NOT want to allow for user choice of control method in this way. Never mind that the code involved would be as insignificant as a gnat on the ass of a warthog compared to all the other work involved for any game. Beats the hell out of me why this situation exists, but I haven't seen any real change this gen, and don't expect to in the future. The only option is go get some dodgy adapter made in HK and hope for the best.

Wrong solution (1, Interesting)

thatblackguy (1132805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242003)

If they just dropped that much on an X-box or PS3 they could have gotten something that keeps up with the gaming pc and is actually more fun to play. probably on a larger screen and would be guaranteed against obsolescence for a couple years.
You can get better results for the same cash.

Re:Wrong solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242205)

"more fun to play"?? Maybe if you're a fratboy who thinks Halo was an innovative game, but real gamers have been on the PC for decades and will continue to be. Let me know when a playable RTS or FPS (Metroid Prime 3 is close, but that's about it -- don't give me any of that "analog stick" shit), or a strategy game with any depth (we'll see about Civ Revolution) comes out for a console.

Go ahead and kill some hookers on your toy; the grown-ups will be over here.

Re:Wrong solution (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242751)

> Go ahead and kill some hookers on your toy; the grown-ups will be over here.

It's so cute when the children argue over who's more grown-up.

Re:Wrong solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242315)

If they just dropped that much on an X-box or PS3 they could have gotten something that keeps up with the gaming pc and is actually more fun to play.

Yeah, if you don't have a brain and love insipid boomfests like Halo 3, I guess your solution is better. "LOL I PRES BUTTON AND MAN FELL DOWN!!"

Re:Wrong solution (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242511)

If they just dropped that much on an X-box or PS3 they could have gotten something that keeps up with the gaming pc and is actually more fun to play.

More fun is pretty subjective don't you think? A lot of people prefer the type of games you can get for the PC, see my previous post in this topic.

and would be guaranteed against obsolescence for a couple years.

I'd argue your PC stands the test of time much better. There are loads of emulators out there and you can buy classic games from sites such as Steam or Gametap (lately, I've replayed Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Sam&Max hit the road and Monkey Island 2). In ten years will there still be games released for your console? Will you be able to purchase 10 year old games? (More importantly, are there any console games that are still WORTH playing in 10 years like there is for the PC?)

Also I can use my PC for more stuff than games.

there are memorable console games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21243321)

(More importantly, are there any console games that are still WORTH playing in 10 years like there is for the PC?)
Final Fantasy 3(6), Chrono Trigger

Re:Wrong solution (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242641)

"Probably on a larger screen", err? Just about any decent gaming videocard can hook up on an HDTV and do 1080p easily. My current card is total garbage and still can do it. (Besides, a 24 inch monitor in your face, or a 40 inch HDTV a couple of feet away... same deal unless you have friends around).

Well damn (1)

Uthic (931553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242239)

I feel silly for spending $1500 or so for a brand new build this January. Granted I decided to go midrange (don't upgrade very often - so want a good utility-price balance).

not so cheap in the UK (2, Interesting)

pbhj (607776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242479)

Well the best price for that card in the UK (could only find one vendor with the EVGA one) is £172. That's about $350.

Rough figures:

Athton 64 X2 4000 = £42
Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H = £45
2x 1GB PC2-6400 = £80 (kingston, or £60 for cheaper brand)

GPU + CPU + Mobo + RAM = £339 (about $700)

--
http://bridgehosting.net/cheap-gaming-rig [bridgehosting.net] ?

GPU bound (2, Informative)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242523)

These games seem to be heavily GPU bound.

What about a game like Supreme Commander? Which can bring a quad core processor to its knees.

Crysis (1)

Alexpkeaton1010 (1101915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242541)

You better have 2 8800s in SLI if you plan on running Crysis with a reasonable frame-rates with graphics turned up enough to look better than Episode 2. Don't believe me? Try the demo.

Sure, spend 500$ for a new pc... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242613)

...your still not getting laid though.

$500 for gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21243143)

Jeez, I don't remember the original nintendo costing anywhere near that amount (in interest adjusted dollars). What 10 year old kid can afford to go out and spend $500 on a gaming box (with barely if any games in it?). Time to pull out Monopoly & Chess.

If you're spending $500 on a gaming upgrade and consider that cheap... you got bigger problems than just having less $500 in your bank account.

How about playing the game of (real) life? Too challenging perhaps? Not fun enough?

Some thoughts -- good upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21243191)

The cpu which they quote newegg at $100... I just bought from newegg for $70 a month or two ago.

I also bought a new, oem 1900xt (look it up on your favorite hardware review site) for $100 from newegg. IMHO a pretty good deal. Certainly the best card I could find for the money.

If you need good stuff for cheap and are desperate - craigslist (if you're near a big city) or ebay can help you out. I got a $120 power supply for $50 off craigslist and a motherboard and 2 gigs of ram... normal cost about $160 for $60. All of those have worked flawlessly so far.

The most expensive thing you're going to have to find to play games is windows. Even with Newegg's sneaky "feel free to claim you're oem" policy (at least last time I checked ;) it's still $100 for xp. (what a ripoff) I'd suggest begging friends and relatives to see if anyone has a copy they don't need or an older computer sitting in the corner collecting dust with xp on it.

Finally, if you can handle a crt you can get a 17 inch monitor for free on craigslist or buy a 19 inch for around $10-$30.
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