AMD Entry-level: $500
For the gamer with more passion than money, this rig is easy on the wallet, yet will play most new games on High settings.
GPU shortages and production cutbacks by ATI mean that the Radeon HD 4850 is no longer available in any significant quantity. So, the 9800 GT had to be substituted for these two low-end builds. Itís not quite on par with the 4850 in performance, but for $100, itís the best youíre gonna get. Of course, you arenít restricted to the XFX, but some of those cheaper variants have slower clock speeds, so be wary of that. Thereís also a nearly identical version of the same card for $10 more, but it has a 6-pin power connector for overclocking and a free copy of Call of Duty 4.
The Athlon II X3 425 is a great performer for the price. Itís a 45nm tri-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz for under $80, and runs on the AM3 platform for DDR3 support! Gigabyteís GA-MA770T-UD3P is still our budget board of choice, but unfortunately, the price of the G.Skill 4GB kit that accompanies it has gone up by nearly 50% in the past five months. However, with the CPU savings, it was still able to be included.
The rest of the build is fairly straightforward. Any one of these can be easily swapped out for something more expensive depending on your tastes and/or needs. At this price point, hard drive sizes are separated by only a few dollars, so you could spend a little extra and get 500GB or more. It costs only $1 more for the DDR3 1600 version of the G.Skill 4GB kit, so if looser timings donít bother you, you could opt for that in this or any of the other builds that use the same RAM. If you donít like the NZXT case, you can get something else, or even recycle an old case you may have and spend the money elsewhere.