Intel Entry-level Gaming: $500
Our entry level PC is designed for the gamer on a tight budget. This system will play most modern games on high settings with 2xAA/8xAF and some at up to 4xAA/16xAF.
Weíre sticking with the Radeon 4850 for our Intel budget setup for all the reasons outlined on the previous page. Intel CPUs are a little pricier than AMDís though, so we had to step down from a Core 2 Duo processor to Intelís Pentium E6300 CPU.
The E6300 is based on Intelís dual-core 45-nm Wolfdale core and runs at 2.8GHz with 2MB of L3 cache and 1066MHz FSB. Like all Core 2 processors, the chip OCs like mad, but as we observed in our recent Phenom II/Athlon II article, performance takes a hit in comparison to the Core 2 Duo E7000 series due to the small L2 cache.
While we linked to the fully boxed Intel processor with heatsink/fan, the stock cooler Intel provides is junk. Throw it away and replace it with a nice cooler like the unit we mentioned from Masscool. Your processor will thank you.
For the motherboard we opted for Gigabyteís GA-EP43-UD3L. We actually debated between this board and ASUSí P5QL, but opted for the Gigabyte board due to its larger North Bridge cooling and Ultra Durable 3 features. The ASUS board is priced identically with somewhat similar features, so this was a close decision. The power supply is a tough call. We decided to highlight a different PSU than the Cooler Master used in the AMD build, honestly we trust the Cooler Master brand more, but if youíre willing to try an unknown brand, the hec PSU would be an interesting choice. Based on the user reviews, itís biggest issue seems to be units that arrive DOA. Here we should also mention that name brand companies like OCZ offer 600W and 700W PSUs that sell for $50 after mail-in rebate. Honestly this is the route we would go if it were our money, but we also needed to stick to our $500 budget as closely as possible and we arenít factoring mail-in rebates as some users just donít like them.
Besides the aforementioned alternatives on the motherboard and power supply, if youíre willing to splurge the Core 2 Duo E7400 delivers better performance than the Pentium E6300, only it will set you back about $120.