Build a Kick-Ass $500 Gaming PC, Play Crysis at 40FPS!



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here is Arstechnicas comparison. .  I actually think the MaxPC build is more respectable but now you have a display to consider.



this baby men is rock solid. i've read the original amd build but this one pars better i think.

but again my modifications:


ram 2x2GB ddr 2 800



Hey, I'm new to building computers, but I was wondering: Could I buy another pack of the Crucial RAM to have a total of 4 gigs with this set up (The MaxPC setup). Thanks.  



 Yes, you could. But you would have to make sure that you buy a 64bit operating system for your rig. Otherwise you won't get to use all of the 4Gb.



Intel Core2Duo E5200




Corsair XMS2 6400C5 2x2GB

$39.99 after $30 MIR

CoolerMaster Elite 330


Corsair 400CX

$49.99 after $12 MIR

Western Digital 320G


Samsung SH-S223F DVDRW


Evga GTX260 core216 55nm

$219.99 after $20 MIR



$619.12 CAD

$509.31 USD after conversation.  You could easily save 10$ by going with a cheaper case.  This system would be much better option if crysis was your only concern.



Everybody is posting comments on this story about better rigs that they can build for $500, but nobody, not even Maximum PC, is including an OS in that figure. $100 dollars for an OS makes a big difference when you don't have $17,000 to spend on a machine.  


The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.



The reason noone includes a OS, is because this is based on the assumption that you dont want to upgrade to Vista or Win7. Everyone has different needs when it comes to a new system, old harddrives, old dvd drives, old cases. Most people have a system that has XP on it, so most people can just use that copy on a newer system. If you don't have an OS, just add $85 dollars to the totals. If you really have an urge to hit that $500 dollar price point, then your talking about knocking about dropping down a tier in the processor, video card, motherboard, and power supply. But again, it's all about individual needs.



That, and Linux is inexpensive. (Free!) 

I don't like Microsoft, I associate with it.



It's not just a contest to see how low you can go, it is how low can you go and still get great performance. If you want to spec out with a quad core instead, thats understandable, but do tri-cores really have any benefit over dual? I haven't read any great benchmarks on them.

Anyway, never go cheap on the PSU. You will be replacing it, and possibly several other fried components shortly.

EDIT: This should have been a replay to the comment below.
___________________________________ Hardware How-to's



that was just an attempt to see how much hardware I could stuff into a sub $500 build.  I still have $34 to play with so if you use the case/PSU mentioned in the article and drop down to an x2 Black or something, you'll still be under $500.



Here is a $465 build, running a tri-core phenom and 4GB of RAM.  Just a warning though, the power supply is liable to EXPLODE during building.


HIS 4870 512MB


Crucial 4GB (4 x 1GB)

Samsung SH-S223F 22X DVDR

Linkworld F3131-C2628-P4 w/ 400w

AMD Phenom 8650 (Tri-Core) 2.3GHz

HITACHI Deskstar P7K500




Found this on Kotaku... It's the same exact build.



did you even read their post, or look at the post times? they were referring to this article. Hence the numerous references to Maximum PC...

-- Norm



Also note the direct link to this page at the bottom of their story.



It's funny because i had just done this same thing on neweggg last night. Here's what I whipped up. Keep in mind all these discounts are instant rebates, and this was pricing as of 4/22/09. 

Motherboard - GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P $109.99

CPU -AMD Phenom 9600 Agena 2.3GHz Quad-Core $119.99 -$30.00 = $89.99

Videocard - SAPPHIRE HDMI Radeon HD 4830 512MB $99.99 - $15.00 = $84.99

RAM - G.SKILL 4GB DDR2/1000 $59.99 - $10.00 = $49.99

Hard Drive - Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200AAJS $49.99

Optical Drive - SAMSUNG SH-S223Q $24.99

Case - COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 $54.99 -$15.00 = $39.99

Power Supply - Rosewill 500W $59.99 -10.00 = $49.99

Total - $499.92 Plus the video card has a $10.00 mail in rebate so...

Grand Total $489.92 + shipping 


Actually wouldn't mind comments on my choices, as this would be my first ground up computer.  



Thanks to a couple good suggestions, I switched out the video card and processor for slightly different models. Also, agreeing with Balgaroo and Link, I think there's an advantage to taking a quad core over a better video card, especially in everyday use. So, here is the V2 of my configuration. 

Motherboard - GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P $109.99

CPU -AMD Phenom 9650 2.3GHz Quad-Core $129.99

Videocard - SAPPHIRE HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB $139.99 - $20.00 = $119.99

RAM - G.SKILL 4GB DDR2/1000 $59.99 - $10.00 = $49.99

Hard Drive - Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200AAJS $49.99

Optical Drive - SAMSUNG SH-S223Q $24.99

Case - COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 $54.99 -$15.00 = $39.99

Power Supply - Rosewill 500W $59.99 -10.00 = $49.99

Total - $574.92 Plus the new video card has an additional $20.00 mail in rebate so...

V2 Grand Total $554.92 + shipping 

Now that doesn't make the cut for the $500 dollar system, but that extra $55 dollars could easily be absorbed if you have a SATA harddrive or DVD drive. I'm a little happier with this build, but any more comments are welcome.

Also does anyone know if i would need to order thermal compound for this. I know my friend of mine bought an Intel chip with the stuff already on there. Does AMD do that too?




I like your system but I would suggest ypu try a way to get a RadonHD 4850 instead of the 30.  You get a 160 more stream processors and Sapphire has one on the egg for $119 with a $20 rebate. So it really would not be that much more expensive and the performance is quite a bit better. With ATIs overdrive that's built into its CCC you can really make this card perform quite well as long as you're on about a 22" or smaller monitor.  

Just my 2 cents, and yes this card is in my second PC on a 22" and it plays everything I throw at it with no problems.   It also works very well with a HDTV.



Max PC Rox

 Good Article.


I am buillding this system in July when i have enough money. it is a $600 rig 4 me because I live in canada




Oakville, Ontario, Canada 



I know the title of the magazine is "MaximumPC," but I LOVE it when you remember the rest of hacks out in the "real" world. It's why I cancelled most other comptuer magazine subscriptions in favor of yours, you remember that a) not everyone is a gamer and b) not everyone is working on state-of-the-art equipment. I can no longer count the number of machines I've built either from scratch or hobbled together from "still good enough" pieces of other computers. Or, as many have already mentioned, using a nice case and PSU over and over again.

While I thought the cardboard box case was a bit over the top, it cracked me up at the time. 

Look! A distraction!



Nunc est bibendum!


I know the point of this article was to build a brand new PC from the ground up for under $500, but it could have been even cheaper, or a higher spec'd system could have been built for the same $500, if some parts from existing PC's are used (and as MPC readers we all have old systems/parts lying about). I suppose the "upgrades" articles address that, but I digress. We've all got old computer parts lying about that are still perfectly good.

I recently stripped an old Dell P4 3.0GHz because some of the capacitors on the MoBo leaked, which must have caused the VR to freak out and cooked the CPU. Besides the CPU and Mobo the case and PS are also not worth saving (BTX case, crappy Dell PS). I did mine a bunch of other gold out of it though: 500GB SATA hard drive, 16X DVD burner, two 1GB sticks of DDR2, and of course the keyboard, mouse, and 19" LCD monitor. I also have an old Antec ATX case - beige, but a coat of paint would cure that in a hurry. This leaves me with the need to buy only a motherboard, CPU, GPU, and PSU, so I could either go with the same setup described in this article and save a few hundred, or I could spend the full $500 and get more/better stuff...

Come to think of it, I've been wanting to put a computer together for the garage, somthing to play MP3's or streaming audio (I live in the boonies, radio reception sucks) as well as host my shop software so I don't have to lug the laptop out to the garage when in need of wiring diagrams. This article may well have lit a fire under my butt...



That PC's cabling looks alot like what i have in my computer right now. are velcro wire straps better than the plastic ones? i was thinkiing of investing in a pack or 2...



ASRock A780GXE  $75AMD Athlon 64 X2 5800+ 3.0ghz OEM $75ARCTIC COOLING ALPINE 7 $15

 This is a budget build... at these prices it is better to go with AMD.  





essentially the same config

MOBO   Asus M4A78(AM2+/AM3)      80

CPU      AMD Athlon 64 7750           60

Graphics   Sapphire 4870 512mb    165

RAM         G.Skill 4GB DDR2 800      43

HD      WD caviar SE16 640GB          70

Optical LG 22x dvd+_R sata             25

PSU        Corsair 400w ATX12V         50

Since we are making assumptions about what people have I assume that everyone could probably get ahold of an old biege case and paint it with black spraypaint.   5$ tops

Total 498$ 

Ugradability: Second PCI-E Card and newer AM2+/AM3 chips




Even though I could do this myself it will save me time. My brother wants me to put a new AGP video card in his 5 year old sff box with a 200w ps. I feel its time for a new build. Instead I'll send him this article to give him an idea how cheap a pc can be built for these days.  



I've got a 9500GT card I got for $60 and it does a damn fine job of playing Unreal 3, Crysis, and GTA4, thank you very much. Plus it uses passive cooling so it's quiet.



Um... I am glad you are happy with that, but if you can afford it, you would really benifit from a gtx 260 or the like. It would many times faster.



it can even be cheaper since the ASUS 4870 512MB can now be had for $135AR at Newegg. $50 for a 320GB makes no sense, spend the extra $10 and get a 500GB or 640GB hard drive. $20 more will get you the NEO2-FR at Amazon which is Crossfire capable, I dont know if $90 is a good price for that mobo since $10-20 more will get you something eminently more capable.



I can't believe how much the 4970 has come down in just the past couple weeks. It was still ~$179 at the cheapest when I was finding one for a friend in late March.




Instead of $75 for a mediocre case and a poor psu, go with a cheap case but decent case, and good psu:

Case $40

PSU$70 (after rebate)

Also pirating the OS is completely unnecessary, Vista is $100 and Windows 7 (better than vista) is free until it releases.



I would have done a little more in the aspect of cable management...



Edit. I'll just pirate my OS. I don't have one laying around.


I don't have 500$ for Vista it self.



Fyi, last time I checked Vista was 100 bucks for home premium.

    Also, why would you spend $500 on hardware and use a pirated OS that may not activate and will die if ms catches the cracks used on those pirated versions.

You are LOW to pay for the hradware and pirate the OS



You should steal the hardware as well so that it matches the pirated OS.



I'm always impressed when I see people squeeze the most out of their money like this. I especially liked this build because the 775 motherboard lets you upgrade to a Core 2 Quad when you pick up another hundred bucks or something. As far as the PSU goes, I've only had one PSU go out on me in my time as a geek, and the only reason I went with a name brand was I needed more juice when I upgraded to a bigger video card. While I'm not a fan of the Pentium Dual Core, it's got a great upgrade path if you want to spend the extra 50-100 bucks. 



It's not bad for a budget--especially if your house was hit by lightning near the back and the room used as your home office caught fire and... well, this would be a handy way to have a PC while waiting for your homeowner's insurance to kick in.

Don't laugh, it happened to me about 9 years ago...



i got a case/psu combo 5 years ago, built my mom a computer out of it after i upgraded 4 years ago and she leaves it on 24/7. i have blown the dust out with caned air from time to time and replaced the psu fan once but its still running.



LG GH22NP20 Black DVD+RW 22X8X16 DVD-RW 22X6X16 DL 16X/12X 2MB IDE OEM
Patriot Viper Extreme Performance 4GB DDR2 2X2GB PC2-6400 DDR2-800 CL 4-4-4-12 Memory Kit
$59.99 - $25.00 Mail in Rebate
Gigabyte EP43-UD3L ATX LGA775 P43 FSB 1600 OC 1PCI-E 2PCI DDR2 SATA2 HD Sound GBLAN Motherboard
Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 Dual Core Processor LGA775 2.5GHZ 800FSB 2MB Retail Box
$87.98     $87.98
Cooler Master Elite 335 Black ATX Mid Tower Case 4X5.25 1X3.25 6X3.25INT W/ ATX PS2 Front USB Audio
Coolermaster Extreme Power Plus 500W ATX 12V V2.3 Silent Power Supply 20/24PIN 120MM Fan
HIS Radeon HD 4870 750MHZ 1GB 3.6GHZ GDDR5 PCI-E Dual DVI-I Video Card

 less rebate

Prices are in Canadian Dollars at

after conversion = $496.09 US


So this gives you a system with double the ram, double the ram on the videocard and a name brand power supply


I Jedi

Well played, my boy!



Won't work without a HDD.



made a mistake for got the hd

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB SATA2 3.5IN 8.5MS 7200RPM 16MB Hard Drive OEM *3YR MFR Warranty*



and change the case and power supply to


 Logisys CS-51WBK Black ATX Tower Case 4X5.25 2X3.5 5X3.5IN W/ 480W Front USB Audio





This would be perfect if we could find a HD for $3.91

~No one said it would be easy....they just said it was worth it...~



hard drive? -- Norm



weren't you limited to what components and prices your local Fry's had last time?

so this one was online? not really a fair comparison if you ask me



If competing retailers (online vs local stores) sell competing products at competing prices in the same area, then what exactly isn't fair?



Did you consider a motherboard like the ASUS P5N7A-VM?  It probably wouldn't handle Crysis, but I've got it going in one of my machines to play Supreme Commander with an Intel E6600.  Plus the Geforce 9300 can handle CUDA or PhysX if you want to throw in a discrete video card later to handle the rendering.  At $115 it would let you buy the OS for $500 total, or have a sub $400 PC that can handle some games.

Didn't see a review on MaximumPC of the P5N7A-VM.  Maybe it's useless for any serious gamming.  Buy I usually play a little bit older games ...



Integrated is never an option.  Not for a gaming pc.




I'm quite surprised by the results for this PC.  I would have assumed far worse scores.  I would have probably gone with a 4850. Its about $60 cheaper and that would have allowed me to get another two gigs of memory and a quad core (which is only $20 more on the egg).  But getting the absolute best FPS on Crisis is not something I care about anymore. Played and beat it long ago.  

Still I'm very impressed by the results of this build.  

With prices like these no wonder Dell just can't keep up with it anymore.

Hey what does a $500 Apple PC look like? 




FOr the time being it looks like that cheapo Psystar. Still won't play any games so who cares?

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