Entry Level Gaming: $500
Our entry level PC is designed around the gamer on a tight budget. This system will play most games on medium settings with the bare minimum of anti-aliasing, but most likely will not handle any moderate levels of anisotropic filtering.
|Entry Level Gaming|
|CPU||AMD Athlon X2 5050e 2.6Ghz Brisbane Socket AM2||$59.99|
|Motherboard||Asus M3A78-EM AM2/AM2+ 780G||$78.99|
|Video Card||Asus EAH4830 Radeon HD 4830 512MB||$119.99|
|Memory||OCZ Platinum 2GB(2x1GB) DDR2 1066||$33.99|
|Hard Drive||Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD502IJ 500GB 7200RPM SATAII||$59.99|
|Optical||Lite-On 20X DVD+R SATA iHAS120-04||$22.99|
|Power Supply||OCZ StealthXStream 600W OCZ600SXS||$69.99|
|Case||Thermaltake M9 VI1000BWS Mid-Tower||$49.99|
When your budget is limited, you have to start somewhat small. Here, we went with a Brisbane powered Athlon 64 X2 5050e and the AMD 780G-based Asus M3A78-EM. At a stock 2.6Ghz and coming in socket AM2, the 5050e is a proven performer, although it can't compete with Core 2 or i7 offerings clock for clock. What it may lack in stock performance can be made up via over clocking, as the Athlon 5050e has a lot of potential when paired with the right components, such as the OCZ Platinum 2GB memory kit.
2GB's of memory is the bare minimum we recommend for anyone attempting to run modern games, especially if their primary OS is Vista. Even though AM2 processors are limited to a FSB of 800Mhz, we went with 1066Mhz memory to allow some overhead should the user decide to overclock. And since there is literally a $2 difference in price between 800Mhz and 1066Mhz DIMMS, the decision is a no-brainer. Also, having 1066Mhz memory gives your build a little bit of future proofing should you decide to throw a Phenom II into the system later on.
Recent price cuts from ATI make their entire graphics line very cost effective, which is why we went with a Radeon 4830 from Asus. The EAH4830 not only comes from one of the best fab companies out there, but it also ships with a slightly over clocked memory clock at 2000Mhz versus the stock 1800Mhz. The 4830 will give you better price to performance when compared to its nearest competitor from Nvidia, the 9800 GT.
The rest of the components were chosen on a combination of their value and known reliability, such as the Lite-On DVDRW which is identical to the unit we have used in the past without issue. The Spinpoint series of hard drives supports SATA 3.0Gb/s and stores up to 500GB's, which is a decent sized amount of disk space for both games and multimedia files.
There are plenty of places you could go with this system should you have to extra cash to put into it. A 4850 can be had for about $30 more, which could easily net better graphical performance. Also, going with the G.Skill DDR2 1100 4GB memory kit would certainly help for an extra $45 and an aftermarket CPU heatsink like the Zalman CNPS9700 all-copper cooler can go a long way to get the most out of your processor.