The $500 budget gaming PC – Part 2

A few years back I brought the DIY PC Guide for a $500 gaming PC to Bamfas, back then it was a stretch to get performance and value balanced to produce a safe reliable rig. Today I’m here to do it again with a few options given the advances in tech since that point in hardware evolution.

The goals

  • CPU Power
  • Video Power
  • Reliability
Prices taken from Newegg.com December 12, 2011

In this situation we’re going for what works not what wins the beauty pageant. With that said lets jump forward with our suggestions and price quotes. For kicks I’ll attempt to produce Intel and AMD builds but without monitor, as that throws the price into the stratosphere.

$500 AMD

  • AMD Phenom II X4 960T – $109.99
  • ASRock 870 Extreme3 R2.0 AM3+- $79.99
  • Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 – $36.99
  • Sapphire 100338L Radeon HD 6770 1GB – $109.99
  • Hitachi HDS721050CLA362 (0F10381) 500GB 7200 RPM – $79.99
  • Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus RS500 – $44.99
  • Samsung CD/DVD Burner 22X – $16.99
  • APEX PC-389-C – $19.99

Total: $493.93

Performance upgrades:

  1. Change 6770 to either NVIDIA GTX 560 or ATI HD 6790
  2. Upgrade Phenom II 960 to 970, 1055 or 1075

With the increase in prices for HDD’s we did have to eat out of the case budget, normally an NZXT, Cooler Master or Antec case would be superb to compliment a gaming setup like that. Unfortunately with a cap of $500 we can’t go that extra mile. The system can run modern games like Battlefield 3, Saints Row The Third and others without much sacrifice to the settings, the ASRock motherboard even allows for a second 6770 to join the existing card.

$500 Intel… not really

  • Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge – $189.99
  • ASRock H61DE/S3 LGA 1155 – $67.99
  • Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 – $34.99
  • Sapphire 100338L Radeon HD 6770 1GB – $109.99
  • Hitachi HDS721050CLA362 (0F10381) 500GB 7200 RPM – $79.99
  • Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus RS500 – $44.99
  • Samsung CD/DVD Burner 22X – $16.99
  • APEX PC-389-C – $19.99

Total: $564.92

Performance upgrades:

  1. Change i5 2400 for i5 2500
  2. Change 6770 to NVIDIA GTX 560 or ATI HD 6790

Points to make, the i5 2400 is a stronger upgrade over the 2300 series and well worth it in the long run and not being a K series chip it doesn’t need the most high performance board out there for overclocking as it’s already a bit insane for automated potential. Optionally for AMD users they could try to combat this with the 970 series to gain back some extra Hz.

Sadly, both of these systems would be sub $500 if the current flood situation in Thailand had not come up, as a result many prices are rising across the board. Both builds are focused around being good base systems to carry you at least a year in use, AMD says the 7000 series should be coming at the end of this year or the start of 2012 so it might be wise to hold out for what the new series brings up.

If you’re looking to swing a new gaming system for yourself or a special someone let these be a guide to hopefully give them the gift of PC gaming this year. Hopefully the HDD prices stabilize or return back to normal soon. We’ll have a feature this week highlighting higher end components to surprise that special pc gamer in your life as well.