After Hours

Build a $550 bare-bones gaming PC

31 comments
tehpea
tehpea

AMD? Why not Intel?

ron_eagleheart
ron_eagleheart

CPU INTELC2D E8500 3.16G 775 $189.99 MB ASUS ROG RAMPAGE EXTREME X48 $229.99 VGA ASUS EAH5770/2DIS/1GD5 $159.99 MEMO (2)2G|KST KVR1066D3N7/2G $80.98 DVD BURN SONY $29.99 PSU TOPOWER|ZU-550W $44.99 CPU THERMPASTE $8.95 KB&MS ROSEWILL|RKM-800RF WIRELESS $29.99 ------ Sub total $774.87 DISCOUNTs - $125.44 ------ Total $649.43

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Then take the $90 you saved and put that into a Radeon 5770. Double your available GPU and clocked in around 20% faster. X2 550 - $90 XFX HD-577A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5770 - $170 GA-770TA-UD3 - $95 WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB - $70 KINGSTON HyperX 2G (1600) DDR3 - $65 Subtotal - $490 The benefit of 4Gig versus 2Gig Ram is minimal for a 32bit gaming rig. Same logic in balancing cost/performance applies as with selection of CPU. Not really certain why the PSU is thrown into this article even with the assumption this is an upgrade. Title says barebones which leaves me thinking we're missing some components. So if we really want to be complete as a 'bare bones' system we need case & PS. My pick would be: SS-550HT 80plus - $75 Antec 300 Illusion - $60 Subtotal - $625 So for $75 more you get a nice ventilated case with some bling, 80% certified PSU, MB supporting SATA 6.0 and USB 3.0 and twice the GPU performance. My pick on extra goodies would be a Logitech G110 gaming keyboard. EAX5 is nice thus a Creative ExtremeGamer card with HW decode would be lovely so long as you pair it with a good set speakers.

BillGates_z
BillGates_z

Interesting pictures but can't he write anymore? I mean is it some unfortunate brain malfunction or just no time or indifference?

psstarkey
psstarkey

I understand the concept of "barebones", but I often find having a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and speakers/headphone are a real plus when gaming.

dband
dband

First, $550 is a pretty low mark for a gaming rig, double that if you want a solid performer. But... For most games, quad-core is overkill so an AMD dual-core may be in order, AMD tends to do better in gaming and they are lots less $$. You want a motherboard that allows for adequate RAM, and an additional PCI-e slot for later upgrade to dual cards. You want a power supply with more than one 12v rail to support future expansion. So here's my cheapest build: AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz Socket AM3 $91 ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard $85 OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600 $95 HIS H577FM1GD Radeon HD 5770 1GB $165 Antec BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V $60 Western Digital Caviar Green WD7500AADS 750GB SATA $70 $566

scg8r
scg8r

Great article. But it would have been really nice if Mr./Ms. Kingsley-Hughes had provided just a tiny bit of logic on why these particular components were chosen versus some others.

eyupo92
eyupo92

I have been production chief for a computer manufacturer and we have used more than 500,000 mobos during that time span. Now I have my own company building and selling workstations. This is an office PC, not a gaming rig. First, building a computer with ECS is an open invitation to "continous trouble" : the only thing I can say on their half is that Biostar is worser - which is a worser accusation. We have used more than 100,000 Gigabyte mobos and the failure rate at customers was less than 0,1% after one year. Get yourself a Gigabyte mobo. Second, 5670 is a bad choice. Get yourself a much better VGA card like Radeon HD 5850 or 5870, be safe for the coming 3 years. Third, 2GB RAM is minumum to keep a PC running - the cost is a contionus data trasnfer between the RAM and harddrive : which means a very very slow PC. Get yourself at least 8GB of RAM and a 64bit OS. As a result - you will pay around 300 USD more for RMA and VGA card and get yourself a real gaming rig. Eyu

jasocher
jasocher

You're better off spending the extra money on an Intel chip and nVidia graphics card. AMD + ATI = problems.

LakeTonkaMark
LakeTonkaMark

One might think TR could have added something about the OS. Is Windows 7 the best "Windows" OS for gaming? What about Linux? And what versions of both? Is 64 bit a must? Or is it too limiting for game selection? Obviously you need a dual boot if you plan on using Linux for games or anything else, since the selection of High End Video Games is very limited with Linux. Still, there are a lot of dedicated XP users that might be convinced to make the move to 7 if the new OS is living up to its claims, or is it? I would love TR to run some benchmarks of our favorite games on the different OS's. LAST- What's the deal with only 2 gigs ram? Does the AMD processor & Video Card preform so well you wouldn't put at least the 4 gigs supported in 32 bit Windows? (Pretty impressive if that is the case) Or, maybe it's the $550 price cap. In any case, Ram is cheap I'd buy more! Thank you TR for "the rest of the story" I'm going to spend the next hour shopping for my new Mother Board & Chip!

Mike Bird
Mike Bird

only 2 GB ram on a gaming platform ?

parnote
parnote

All of these choices are nice, except I would opt for an NVidia card, rather than an ATI card. In my experience, NVidia cards/drivers have better support for Linux. ATI's support rather sucks, and is buggy. And yes, there are many who run Linux and who still play games. Whenever possible, those Linux users would prefer to run their favorite games in Linux, but when they can't, they just reboot into a Windows installation to play their games. The latter choice is the least convenient way, but for them, it's whatever works since game designers can't/won't make Linux versions of their games (but will for every niche gaming system that has the audacity to be released).

micheldufrenoy
micheldufrenoy

I only see a bunch of pictures. And, while this has been touched on in the comments, there is no complete PC here.

kpbarry
kpbarry

With you being a CIO/CTO I'm not surprised to hear you say that. Management types tend to be conservative and slow to change their minds about technology. I remember hearing a manager at my company say that she would never buy AMD CPUs. The problem was that the last AMD CPU she had ever used was a K5. When she made the statement, the AMD64 platform had been out for a couple of years and had been trouncing Pentium 4 and Xeon processors in cost and performance. Currently Nvidia and ATI both make fine gaming cards (and a card for every imaginable price point in the market). For the past few years, every time one of them releases a new generation of graphics card, it tends to beat the other one until they release their new card. You generally get more bang for the buck with ATI in the budget rig price range. In the past, ATI had some problems with Linux support, but I have had no problems with modern cards and Linux. I've even run games under WINE in linux, on a Phenom II/ATI system. As for CPUs, right now the high end Intel chips dominate in absolute performance, but if building a budget rig, a Phenom II offers the best value at the price points where it competes. And there are no issues at all with gaming on them. The configuration suggested by this article is lacking somewhat in the graphics dept. You have to sacrifice something when building a budget rig, but you can't sacrifice on the GPU. That is the heart and soul of a gaming rig. I'd have to put at least a 4850 in there, even if I had to go with a cheaper CPU.

haylocks
haylocks

That's ?440 in GBPounds at keenest UK prices on the web. Add some for freight. Not bad.

dwlee28
dwlee28

Tom's Hardware http://www.tomshardware.com does benchmarking on everything hardware, software and gaming with the PC, great site, shows Windows 7 to run apps/games faster than Vista but a tad bit slower than XP; they also benchmark CPU's, motherboards, graphics cards, hard drives, RAM, have performance charts that you can reference when you have a question, it is the site I use when I am contemplating upgrades or new builds.

jjenkins
jjenkins

A bare bones system is basically all the basic hardware needed to get a system running. These systems generally do not include OS, productivity software or anything else like that. I think this post dealt mostly with that. I do agree that the motherboard needs a change but AMD does well for a budget PC. This isn't supposed to be the most high end stuff anyway...

lordskout
lordskout

I don't know too many people who run a PC without a case.

fcrsmith
fcrsmith

that mobo wont do it - you need an asus or similiar quality for gaming

dukethepcdr
dukethepcdr

As long as the user is running a 32 bit OS, anything more than 2GB of RAM is a waste. 32 Bit OS's can only recognize 2 GB. I've tried installing more on MB's that can handle it and the OS (Windows XP) only recognized 2.5 GB at the most. Now, what kind of RAM it is matters. Don't waste money on cheap RAM. Get the good stuff from a co. like Corsair or Patriot as it lasts longer and has better cooling ability than the cheap stuff. Cool running RAM is more efficient RAM. A better way to boost overall speed is to install a HD with a faster read/write time than the one currently installed. Also, upgrading to the fastest proc the MB can support is a good move if the user wants faster speed without starting over from scratch with a new PC.

I_Byte
I_Byte

Yep Nvidia beats ATI hands down...but WTF...why the hell would i want to play games in linux? Guess you one of those whiny Linux wantabees

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

WoW runs in native Linux if I remember correctly. You would think that Sony, being a non-US company, would make their games operative in a Linux environment also. Unfortunately, their biggest on-line games (Star Wars, Everquest, Vanguard, etc) all seem to be Windows-based. And while the original PS3s could run Linux, their games weren't based on it. Their current PS3 version won't accept any 3rd party OSes *BOOO!!!*

l_creech
l_creech

The 5670 card supports DX11 where the 4850 only supports DX 10/10.1. That alone makes the 5670 a better card at this point, particularly if you are using Windows 7. As for performance, even the low-end 5670 card beats most of the high end 4000 series cards from AMD/ATI. AMD invested well in the design work on the 5000 series ATI product line.

dest
dest

Considering the e-mail this is in response to says he was upgrading, I'm assuming it was understood he already had one. Also, if this is truly barebones than a $10 case with a window fan next to it would be fine.

dukethepcdr
dukethepcdr

I agree! I build PCs and I always say: never skimp on the processor nor the MOBO. They are the backbone of the whole PC. If the MOBO and/or the Proc are 'gimped' the whole PC is compromised. Other parts like RAM, video cards, power supplies etc. can be easily upgraded later but if you have to upgrade the MOBO, you might as well start all over again with new PC parts.

james
james

32 bit OS's can recoganise up to 4GB although amount usable will be arround the 3.5gb mark

rbmacdougall
rbmacdougall

From the few guildies that run WoW through Linux, it does not run natively; you need WINE, Cedega, or another similar app.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

With these Dual Chanel M'Boards it's best to have a bit of RAM that can not be addressed by the OS but have the Board running in Dual Chanel Mode, than it is to have all the RAM that the OS can Address but running in Single Chanel Mode. On a rig like this I would go for 4 GIG or RAM and not worry about what couldn't be used by a 32 Bit OS as the performance boost of the Dual Chanel Mode will more than make up for the unused RAM Of course if I was going to use a 64 Bit OS I wouldn't bother with only 4 Gig either. ;) Col

aj
aj

If you are using a graphics card the memory on the card does not count against the 32 bit OS limitation, as I understand it. If you had an onboard graphics chip on the mobo, it would share some of the mobo memory. Edit "The good, the bad, the ugly truth": I was wrong, the 32 bit OS will only recognize a max of 3.5G and this includes video card memory. Sadly now I know there is at least 1.5G of unused ram on my system. Time to upgrade to W7 64bit and ditch Vista.

skepticat
skepticat

As I understand it, that 1 GB video card will consume 1 GB of the 3.5 GB limitation. You might be able to get some use out of another 512 MB, but more than that would be a waste. Of course, this assumes your using a 32-bit OS.