Putting together a gaming PC can be a daunting task for anyone, but the most critical part comes before actually putting it together, and that is selecting the best components to fit your budget. This guide intends to do that for you, so all you have to do is assemble the components. Also note, if you already have a monitor and operating system, that’s great, and you can shave $200 off this list. For those looking to build a computer from scratch however, the monitor and OS are necessary.
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 Kuma 2.7GHz – $60
AMD is king of the low end, and processors like the Athlon 64 X2 7750 are the reason. This dual-core CPU is based on the same core as AMD’s Phenom line of quad-core processors; in fact, it’s identical, but has two cores disabled. At only 2.7GHz, it’s able to keep up with older 3GHz Athlon 64 X2s, and similarly clocked Intel processors. For $60, it’s a steal.
Motherboard: MSI K9N6PGM2-V AM2+/AM2 – $47
Choosing an AM2+ motherboard ensures future upgradeability. For the near future at least, AM3 processors are compatible with AM2+ motherboards, so if you need to, you can plug in a Phenom II down the line. This motherboard also has an integrated GeForce 6100 GPU, but we’ll be using a discreet solution for this gaming system.
Video Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4650 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 – $53
The Radeon HD 4650 is simply a slower version of the HD 4670, which is a low-end favorite. This Sapphire model comes with GDDR3 memory, which is much faster than the standard DDR2 usually found on HD 4650s. It will allow you to run all the latest games at medium or high settings on the monitor included in this list. As a bonus, it doesn’t require an extra power connector, like higher-end cards.
RAM: AllComponents 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 – $21
A RAM-starved system is a slow system, so we included 2GB of fast, DDR2-800 in this list. This will be plenty for Vista Home Basic, as well as the gaming this PC is intended for. It’s amazing really that for less than $25 you can get 2GB of RAM, and if you wanted to spend just a bit extra, you could get for 4GB for only $40.
Case and Power Supply: Rosewill TU-155 ATX Mid Tower Case 400W Power Supply – $60
This gaming case has a clear side so you’ll be able to see all the components of your PC. It’s big enough to ensure that you’ll be able to upgrade down the road to a larger video card as well. The included 400W power supply will be plenty to run our system, and more if you decide to upgrade.
Monitor: Acer V173 b Black 17″ 5ms LCD Monitor – $100
This 17 inch LCD monitor has a resolution of 1280×1024, which perfectly complements our video card choice. It also has a low, 5ms response time so you’re games will play smoothly, without the “ghosting” that appears on slower LCD panels.
OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic SP1 64-bit – $90
We chose Vista Home Basic because it uses slightly less memory than Home Premium, and it’s slightly cheaper. Really, Vista Home Premium is only $10 more, so you could choose to spend the extra money on it if the extra features are important to you. For most people, however, Home Basic is just fine.
Hard Drive: HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.B 0A38005 160GB – $40
DVD Drive: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner – $23
Total (Before Shipping): $495
There you have it, a complete Gaming PC for under $500 dollars. This wouldn’t have been possible only a few years ago, but falling prices are making PC gaming affordable for everyone. You can always choose to change components in this list based on your needs, as well. If you already have a DVD drive, for example, you can save the $20 and spend it on a different component, like a better video card.