Based on the enormous popularity of our Building a $1,000 Gaming PC article, we’ve decided to go back and build another system, this time targeting the $600 price point. With the back to school season just wrapping up, it turns out that quite a few of you are hoping to build a budget rig on the cheap this fall, and are looking for advice on which components to select, hopefully you’ll find this article a valuable resource in your search.
Once again I’m going to opine quite a bit in this article. You may not agree with all my decisions, especially since we’re now dealing with an even cheaper system (after all, everyone already knows GeForce 7800 GTX and nForce4 SLI are flagship components). Just remember when looking over my selections that the key isn’t so much the components chosen themselves, but why they were chosen.
As I discussed in the previous article, the key to choosing system components is to know how you currently use your computer, and what you want to do with it in the future. Once you know that, it’s then just a matter of selecting the right components for that purpose based on a given budget -- don’t buy a dual-core processor if all you do is browse the Internet and check email on your computer, just about any contemporary CPU can handle that. Likewise, gamers looking to get the most bang from their buck shouldn’t look at high-end $600 graphics cards when less expensive cards are often available in the $200-$300 range that are based on the same architecture delivering many of the same features and performance for half the price. ATI’s RADEON X800 XL was a perfect example of this earlier this year.
Again, once you know what you want to do with your system and how much you’re willing to spend, you can then make decisions on which components would be best to fill that need.
Yet again I’m going to be using Newegg as a source of pricing for the system components. Newegg’s pricing is very competitive, and backed up with excellent service and support. Newegg is also a source used by many of you for your own purchases. In addition to providing benchmarks of the $600 build, I’ll also include the performance results of the $1,000 Athlon 64 3500+ rig built a few weeks ago, as well as the flagship Athlon 64 FX-57 system with EVGA’s e-GeForce 7800 GTX KO ACS³ graphics inside. Hopefully seeing the performance of all three systems together will provide a pretty clear indication of what kind of performance you can buy at three very different price points nowadays.