Through its September 2009 System Builder’s Marathon (SBM), Tom’s Hardware has managed to build a pretty powerful gaming PC—for only $650. That price doesn’t include a display, keyboard, and mouse, but it still represents significant value for money, especially when you consider the use of two ATI Radeon HD 4850s.
Here are the parts used in this build, all available from NewEgg. Prices are current as of this writing (September 24, 2009):
|CPU||AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition 3.1GHz Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Processor||$102|
|Motherboard||GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P ATX AMD Motherboard||$110|
|Memory||OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) OCZ2G10664GK||$70|
|Video Card||Two (2) SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4850 100245HDMI Video Cards||$100 each|
|Hard Disk||Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive||$57|
|Power Supply||Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power “compatible with Core i7″ Power Supply||$85|
|Optical Drive||SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223B||$32|
|Case||Rosewill Wind Ryder Black Dual 120mm Fans Computer Case||$40|
Yes, I said Tom’s set out to build the PC with a $650 budget, but it seems prices have changed, bumping up the total of the parts above to $700—a figure exclusive of any relevant shipping charges and taxes. However, seven hundred dollars is still a very affordable figure for quality gaming. The two ATI Radeon HD 4850s were able to achieve a 3DMark Vantage 1.02 GPU score of 12,470. Compare that figure to the 16,813 score of the GeForce GTX 295, a high-end video card that costs at least $500.
In other words, for significantly less, this $700 PC represents enough power for the latest and next-generation PC video games. As the folks from Tom’s conclude:
If you look over our SBM articles from the past year, you’ll notice we continually strive to add more graphics muscle to our budget gaming rig. As prices drop, we have stepped up from the GeForce 8800 GT to the Radeon HD 4850, the Radeon HD 4870 512MB, and the GeForce GTX 260 Core 216, and now finally to a pair of HD 4850 512MB cards. While we did see instances where more graphics memory would have been useful, this was still by far the most potent graphics solution we have squeezed into our lowest SBM budget.