$800 Budget PC Buyer’s Guide -- Updated Prices and Parts For October 2008

60

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

nsk chaos

we kinda have to remeber that this article was designed for DIY ppl that want a low-cost rig that can still run som e of the most recent games, even if every setting is set to the lowest. now if we wanted to go build a super-budget pc then we are reading the wrong article.

avatar

wanz2lrnmr

I am in the process of building a cheaper rig that I feel may have the capacity to run the newer games and still be a great all user friendly computer .. It's  listings are as follows ,,: CASE- Raidmax Scorpion ATX868 mid tower; $50.99,,,,Motherboard- Gigabyte GA-MA 78G-DS3HP AM2+/AM2 AMD780G HDMI ATX AMD motherboard;$85.99,,,, Processor-AMD ATHALON 64x2 5000 Brisbane 2.6GHz 2x512KB L2 cache Socket AM2 65W Dual core Processor;$55.99,,,Harddrive's (x2)-Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200AAJS 320GB 7200 RPM 8MB cache SATA 3.0Gb/s HardDrive-OEM(2- harddrives installed ),,,Memory-G SKILL HK 4GB(2x2Gb) 240-pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800(PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory;$49.99,,,Lite-On Black 20XDVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8x DVD+R DL 20x DVD-R 6x DVD-R;$25.99,,, I also changed out the stock power supply that comes with the case ..It comes with a 420 WATT power supply ,, I installed ;  Raidmax Hybrid 2RX-630SS 630W ATX12V V2.2/ESP12V SLI Ready CrossFire ready Modular LED Power supply ;$69.98..    I havent yet,as to writing this , made up my mind as to what Video card ,( if not two cards) I will install .  Will you give me some feed back as to whether you think this will pan out for my ,, general computing and just playful gaming uses may or may not be considered a good system for the buck ??? 

avatar

nekollx

GEH! Wall of TEXT!

avatar

Dexter243

Nutcracklng snack i am very pleased with my 9850x4 0c to 2.8ghz and it will oc to 2.9ghz on stock fan and runs great but 2.8 i feal like i am not pushing my luck and it cheeper then the 9950x4 and 2 4850's in xfire i run Vantage at defalt setting and score 10127 grafic and 9k cpu scores and hole system from newegg for less then $800 and i out score my cuz with his cor2 intell oc to 3.6ghz cpu system and a new 280 at 700mhz core

case $40

psu antech 630w $68

asrock xfire mobord $78

2x1gig ocz ddr 2 800 $30

4850 x 2 $310

9850 cpu $170

 liteon dvd burner $22

320gig sata 16m buffer hd seagate  $49

               $767

xfire system and i good one to boot 

avatar

craziecomrade

How bout this (prices from newegg):

AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Windsor 3.0GHz (I hear this guy's pretty overclockable too) $76.00

Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 1066 SDRAM $51.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive $64.99

MSI K9A2 Platinum Mobo $ 124.99

ASUS EAH 4850 512MB Video Card $119.99

Coolermaster Centurion $49.99

And let's just go with the Power Supply, DVD Drive, and OS from the article. $175

TOTAL: $662.95

Now that's an awesome build. I could have gone with a cheaper mobo too however I thought it would be convenient to have the option to upgrade to a dual X16 Crossfire setup in the future.

avatar

NewOrderrr

Just got that case from NewEgg, waiting on a 500w 'earthwatts' PSU coming on another UPS shipment. This is for my first new PC build in 7 years, (had an eMachines then an Acer that I bumped the PSU, ram and video on in the mean time)

The 300 appears to be a nice but generic case. Won't draw attention, but looks pretty good. Some notes:

-Both side panels come off with thumbscrews but no removeable mobo tray. Side panel on my Acer is sturdier than these, they can flex a bit. despite the panel being able to be removed. No sharp edges from initial inspection.

-PSU installs at the bottom of case, preinstalled fans blow air out from top and high on rear of case. Can add a 120mm on the left panel grill to cool the video, and two 120mm fans to the lower front panel for more intake of air over the drive bays. Should have no issues with airflow on anything resembling a normal build.

-No 3.5" external bay, need an 5" to 3" adapter for a card reader. Has USB & audio connectors on front of case above 5.25" drive bays,
cables may get in the way of drive
trays when ejected. Tons of screws supplied, which are needed for securing drives. (i'm spoiled by tool-free locking of my Acer drive bays)

On first glance, I give it a thumbs up for a sedate but good looking case with room for lots of fans and hard drives. May be overkill for a $500-800 dollar rig, but allows plenty of room to expand. Could be better, but for the price seems fine.

avatar

the_crowbar

So, here's what I put together on newegg:

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW  $60

MSI P7N SLI-FI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 750i  $130

Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz                 $190

MSI N260GTX-T2D896 OC GeForce GTX 260   $200

OCZ Gold 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2           $23

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11                           $65

LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner                              $22

                             Total: $760

I already have windows, so thats not included. I'm having a hard time choosing between the q8200 and the e8400. I know the e8400 will do better now, but when will quad-core games be the norm? What do you guys think? Anyway thanks maxpc for the great suggestions, I obviously used a few. 

 

avatar

robopm

Im still curious about that antec 300. how does it compare to the 900? any other budged concious cases that would fit in this category?

avatar

csspwner

yo what r u talkin about. The 9800gt gets smoked by a 4850.

avatar

POMF2K

Again what's with the talk about the 9800 gt. . . is this still being manufactured?  Why is the 9800 gtx+ overlooked?

avatar

csspwner

yo what r u talkin about. The 9800gt gets smoked by a 4850.

avatar

Bender2000

If you read the the name of the magazine its called Maximum PC, not reasonable PC. The discussion is about PCs that can play current games at high levels. The $500 PC challenge from last year proved that there are too many compromises at that price to make it worth the bother. No one is saying a $300 machine isn't useful, it just won't perform to the level that current games require. It is inherent in the story that the PC perform to this  level. I can't deny that $300 will get a PC that does most everything well, the performance of even low end parts blows away the requirements most apps need. But games are demanding so we're focusing on that facet. You can call it elitism, but its really enthusiasm.

avatar

Zero Prime

I find some of the comments about a $300 build sad.  You can build a respectable machine for $300, if you get your head out of the Intel clouds.  It may not be a smoking gaming rig, but you can get DX10 graphics with HD support, a dual core proc, 2 gigs of RAM, a mobo that supports overclocking with a chipset that supports future upgrades, DVD burning, and a decent size hardrive.  All this equals a nice budget box that in Windows will play games rather well.  Of course, I use Linux so I don't have to worry about the Vista charge.

avatar

the_crowbar

Wow why in the world the 4850? the 9800gt outperforms that card and is quite a bit cheaper.

 

avatar

n0t_a_n00b2

Remember, the 9800 Gt is a 55nm 8800 GT (8800 Gt is 65nm) with higher clock speeds.  Anyway, 4850 is a 625 mhz core, the 9800 Gt is 600mhz.  While the 9800 GT's shaders run at 1500mhz, it only has 112 cores, compared with the massize 800 cores.  So, which would you rather have now?

avatar

AttilaTheHunk

The benchmarks say otherwise. In fact 4850 goes neck and neck against 9800gtX not gt.

avatar

s3th

They provide the card, because the Motherboard supports it, so if we got a Mobo for an Nvidia videocard it would be a littler more expensive than this MSI one. So an Intel motherboard with an ATI card.

avatar

bjazz

Would a p43 board shave off a few bucks instead of the p45?  As I understand it, the memory standard is the only real difference.  Since you're suggesting DDR2 800 ram anyway, you're not even maxing out the p45 board, so there's no functional difference here, you're just throwing away $25.

avatar

robopm

btw, forgot to ask. Any coments on the case Im interested in buyin and was going for the antec 900. How does the 300 compare. It is after all, more budget concious.

avatar

robopm

Wow. I have to say, we've come a long way in the past few months. especially in gpus. I bought an 8800gt a few months ago and it costed at least 50$ more than the stuff here. The only thing i think i did better on was the cpu (intelq6600) and i still spent 1400$ total(600$ more)! If only I'd known.

avatar

KHRex

Just as clarification: "Budget" refers to the need to spend within certain limits, not make something inexpensive.  So a budget PC doesn't necessarily mean an inexpensive PC.  The MaxPC editors set a computer budget of $800 or $1500, and then met that budget for the build.  As mentioned earlier, these articles are not for people who want the cheapest computer, but those that want to maximize the computer's ability while staying within a certain price range (or "budget"). 

And for someone who actually wants to build a computer, $800 is a very reasonable amount (as is $1500).  Anything much cheaper, and yes, you might as well purchase a $300-$400 computer from Walmart or on the upcoming Black Friday.  My tentative budget for my next computer will be about $1100-$1300, which I anticipate will get me pretty good rig for playing games, doing 3D rendering, and editing video.

MaxPC: excellent article and series - keep it up! 

avatar

PCIV

Well, the cheapest Intel Quad: the Q6600, is more than 50 bucks more than the E8400. Since they set the target at 800, they had no choice.

avatar

cjrlauve

Was the decision to go dual and not quad core just based on price?  I thought that MaxPC was recommending pretty much everywhere that since quad cores are the future, to go that way.  Any thoughts?

avatar

POMF2K

Why is this videocard totally overlooked, even by maxPC?  Performs better in almost all games and almost all resolutions than the 4850, and it's the same price. Plus it has PhysX.  Which may finally  be more than a joke and a card gullible people with too much money add to their rig.

Someone else mentioned the 260.  That might be a good buy too.  For me though it seems a bit much.  I'm debating between the 9800 GTX+ and the 280.  The 9800 GTX+ just seems obvious in terms of performance, price, and power consumption.  I'll will most likely go that approach and then add a second one later.  2 in SLI have put up better scores than the 280 in many games.  That said, I'm still debating it.

 

avatar

dankers

ive got trojans spock :(

 

lets see them argue on that 1

avatar

Keith E. Whisman

Are you saying that Kirk is telling Spock that he has condoms so he and Spock can enjoy safe sex?

avatar

dankers

where did you get kirk from dood, my subject line was unis dad, my name is dankers, either way trojans referred to malware

avatar

ryan15778

is the ATI 3850 any better than the GeForce 9800GT?

avatar

Keith E. Whisman

if you want my hardware I'll give it to you free. send me an email mashedpotatohead@gmail.com

avatar

uknowit90

what hardware are you willing to give?? just wondering... I might be interested... -thanks, Todd

avatar

Keith E. Whisman

2gig dual channel kit low latency DD2 800 Crucial Ballistix memory and a Creative Labs SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Extreme Gamer Sound Card. It's PCI and it's old but it's also a champ when it comes to reliability. I only recently upgraded to Xfi Extreme Gamer PCI.

avatar

Keith E. Whisman

SoundCard and Memory boxed up and sent to Nikollx. Enjoy.

avatar

benvoliothefirst

Has anyone given any thought to archiving the old, previous versions of the articles for bargain-hunting purposes? I know that whenever a new, exciting chipset debuts, it's a great time to get the previous chipset for cheap... that's what I liked about the magazine Best of the Best. When a new item showed up, it was time to check last month's article and see what had been replaced and how little they were going for now.

 So it would be nice to be able to see older versions of the list!

avatar

marshall834

First off, I have to agree to READ the article. A 300$ PC isn't going to "play the current games." That's the overall goal of MAXimumpc. Using a 300$ PC you get the ubiquitous Intel graphics, coupled with a dual core Sempron running under 2ghz that was bought from emachines from Wal-Mart. Also, keep in mind the majority of PC users ALSO don't have s subscription to MaximumPC. Those who do, a 300$ machine usually won't do. I do agree with you, however, that their first "budget" machine at $1500 isn't budget. But $800? Come on, thats budget for a hardcore PC user. $300 is xtreme-budget for a mainstream user.

On another note, I'm glad MaxPC finally decided to lower their budget standards. 800$, in my opionion, is perfect for a budget Pc. and all the componenets you chose are perfect! Good articles and keep up the good work!

avatar

Keith E. Whisman

BTW if anyone could use the memory or the sound card let me know. They are just sitting around and I would be happy to help a fellow MPC reader.

avatar

nekollx

i'll take up that offer :P

 

My hope pc is about to blow so i have to make a emergency upgrade inthe near future :0

avatar

D-Whizzle

I don't think so much that the builder couldn't Afford the ram/other parts, but they were trying to make a computer under a certain dollar amount. Donated parts wouldn't really be appropriate for the budget thing... otherwise you could make a $4.00 computer from completly donated parts...

avatar

dreamreality

Sorry for the price confusion. The prices are actually based off Newegg prices. Since the article is written about a week in advance, the prices can vary between the time it was written and when it is posted.

avatar

D-Whizzle

Glad they were based on Newegg prices! Thanks for the update. Still, has consideration been given to using a slightly lower end Processor/Mobo and getting a beefier video card, or just dropping the price all together?

avatar

D-Whizzle

I'm not sure if anyone else finds this stupid, but who honestly goes to "www.antec.com" to buy a case/power supply? If you are building your own computer, aren't you using a third party seller to get your components at some sort of discount? I think its stupid to use the msrp. Sure, if the magazine was "Building Computers for Dummies" i could understand it, but not at MaxPc. Finding deals on comp parts is what being a geek is about. I built a computer for a friend of mine, based off the E2180 (oc'd after) for about $500... and it wasn't that hard. Tom's Hardware can do it... http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-pc-marathon,2058.html                                                                                                                                                         

Also, is there any way you can transfer ownership of Vista/Xp to a new comp you buy? or is that only a legend?  

avatar

nsvander

If you own the upgrade or retail versions of the software you are allowed based on the EULA to install it on what ever machine you are currently going to use.  If you get the OEM software you are supposed to install it on a machine and that machine only, if you go by the EULA.  With the OEM, it is licensed for that computer, but it used to be very vague as to what was considered still that same machine, I have rebuilt my moms machine a few times, over now, but used the same optical, case, and harddrive, what has changed was the mobo/cpu, I think in that case you are supposed to buy a new copy, but the online activation of XP went through with out a hiccup so who knows.

avatar

Keith E. Whisman

Thank god TheMurph isn't building this thing. I'm afraid to see what he would use as a case.

avatar

Keith E. Whisman

Well the Nvidia GTX260 is running about $200dollars now. I think 15bucks more would be worth it for better frames in all games including Crysis.

I've got 2gigs of DDR2 800 I can give you for a total of 4gigs so no need to skimp there either.

There are actually pretty good odd named cases out there at Fry's electronics on the floor that are about $50bucks but are much better cases than the piddly 3hundred.

Great article. That's just what I would do so please don't be offended. You did a great job.

Let me know if you want that ram. Also I have a SB Audigy 2 PCI sound card I can give ya.

 

See when I build a system I usually don't ever build a totally new pc. Usually there are parts that I've scavenged from earlier pc's. And I've built lots of pc's on a budget.

avatar

Mandinga96

Good point, you can look at bench marks all you want, but FPS is usually what most people look for. A rating system for Maximum PC would make a difference for those who do not understand the benchmarks or what each peice of a system is capable of.

 

avatar

Bender2000

This build was prefaced by setting it as a rig to run MOST CURRENT GAMES and maybe also photoediting, kevjohn, so who cares if your eMachines only cost $300. Take your integrated graphics and run Supreme Commander. Have fun!

I myself got a nVidia 9800GTS card for around $115 which isn't that much slower than the ATI card here. It gave my system a 5.0 for performance according to Vista. WHat ever happened to the system rating they wanted to set up for games for windows? That would help a hell of a lot. I think Max PC should develop an index to rate a rigs gameworthiness based on their hands on gameplaying and testing. Rate the games as played on your baseline machines agains them on the different builds. We'd like to know, subjectively as well as objectively, what we are giving up by spending less.

avatar

Mandinga96

$300 dollars!! I just pee'd a little laughing at you! you are very out of touch with computer hardware. You should really look at some quality hardware online. $300 dollars will pay for umm, well a video card and motherboard worth using..... and thats about it...

avatar

kevjohn

I'm sorry to hear about your bladder control issues. Have you tried Depends? :)

 

Look, all I'm saying is that MaxPC is FULL of articles and reviews about bleeding edge rigs with $1000 video cards and liquid hydrogen cooling and phased-plasma rifles and whatnot, but every time I see an article about an $800 (and sometimes WAY more) PC being a "budget model" it reminds me of why I cancelled my subscription to the magazine. $300 got me an entire computer worth using -- ultra-cheap video card, lackluster mobo and all. It does everything I need it to do (Photoshop, viewing blew-ray dvds, Dreamweaving, surfing).

I see no reason why MaxPC can't cater to the ubergeek elites who want $15,000 Falcon boxes while keeping in mind that the vast majority of computer user out here don't have $800 alloted for their PC budgets. I'm not going to bother looking up any stats, but I'm sure if anyone did they'd find that the average price spent on a PC over the past year is probably less than $800. Purchased by people on budgets.

avatar

Bender2000

At least you were smart enough to realize that Max PC wasn't for you and cancelled the subscription. What games do you play on your eMachine? You don't care, which makes you the person the article is not intended for. $800 to play games. rip DVDs and do everything else better is cheap. The magazine is called MAXIMUM PC, not EVERYMAN'S PC FOR NEXT TO NOTHING. Its like you're reading about Super Cars and your point is that a $60,000 Corvette that's as fast as a $100,000 Porsche or a $250,000 Lamborghini is not a bargain because most people buy Toyota Corollas for $18,000 and they can go to the store just as well. ANd they are smarter because they are laughing all the way to the bank with the money they didn't spend. Not the case! The point is to MAXIMIZE performance per dollar, not to stretch the budget to attain barely acceptable. The focus of the mag is the gamer/power user which is a narrow group. They are not everyone else. In fact they are usually the people everyone else relies on for help and advice and are concerned with wringing every last fps from a game by tuning and tweaking their systems. The idea of a $300 everyman's machine does not concern them because more often than not they just repurpose an old machine or build one with their old parts. I built my in-laws a kick butt PC from a leftover Athlon X2 system, the biggest investment was 2GB of RAM that is now dirt cheap. It won't game but it cost next to nothing for them. Your point is not valid because the nature of the mag excludes the people you want them to expand to. MAybe its elitist, maybe its disappointing to you, but the first rule of writing is to know your audience.

avatar

mikeart03a

Talk about hot blooded comments... John, Bender2000 does have a point, albeit the method of delivery was overkill. -.-;; MaximumPC tends to cater more to the middle to upper-end of the PC User spectrum (Enthusiasts, Power Users, IT Pros, etc.). That being said, I understand where you come from. Not all of us have the $500+ to spend on putting together our own PCs and that most prefabs work fairly well for most everyday tasks. However, being an IT Tech, I prefer to have hardware that I can push so that I can get my tasks done more effectively. In other words, I multi-task quite heavily as I am also a graphic and web designer. I'm also a media jockey as I have a large collection of music and videos (Anime mostly) so I need something that can keep up with that as well.

I bought a little HP Slimline Pavilion to watch and record TV as well as stream music, video, etc. from my main rig as well. It's peppy little system and it can handle some games as well from time to time on my TV. The only reason I went prefab vs. custom was that this unit is also being used by my girlfriend and family as well when they come over so I wanted something that could be easily dealt with by HP's support when I'm not around. It wasn't too expensive either ~$900 with tax.

HP Specs:

-2.8ghz AMD Athlon X2 5800+
-2gb of DDR2 1066mhz RAM
-500gb WD Caviar HD
-LG/HP/?? Blu-Ray/HD-DVD ROM - DVD+/-RW Drive
-Asus Acacia Mobo (HP OEM nForce 4 series)
-Realtek Audio
-256mb nVidia 8500GT Video w/HDMI/HDCP/Dual Link-DVI/S-Video
-ViXs NTSC/ATSC TV Tuner

Not the fastest system, but it works. 

- mike_art03a
IT Technician
Gov't of Canada

avatar

kevjohn

What the hell kind of "budget" are you guys on? Somebody let me know when you put together something worthwhile for half this price.

 

p.s.

I don't give a damn about playing games. And my $300 eMachines runs Photoshop (CS2 and 3) quite nicely thank you.

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.