Yesterday a story about building a gaming PC for $800 hit the Digg frontpage and soon became popular on the world wide web. The system looks quite impressive if you consider the budget and makes a good impression on first glance. There are however some questions that arise which I would like to address.
But lets do a quick overview of the system in question first. They have chosen a Core 2 Duo E6300 CPU from Intel, 1 gigabyte of PC-6400 Ram, a Geforce 7600 GT, a 160 gigabyte hard drive from Seagate, Antec case with 400W power supply, mouse, keyboard, soundcard and Windows XP Home.
The total for all those components is $806 which is close to the $800 mark. They are unfortunately forgetting something important here. If you click on the check prices link next to each item of the new PC you will be taken to a "best price" website which displays the best deals for the selected item. It does not add shipping costs to the price which means that you will have to add those to the total amount of money that you are going to spend for the new PC.
Shipping costs would not be a huge problem if you purchase everything from one merchant - it would be one if you select the best price only and buy it from 6-8 different merchants. You have to add about $6 to every item that you purchase at different merchants which is not that much but could range between $24 - $40 which have to be added to the total.
Checking the Geforce 7600 GT at the merchants revealed that the cheapest price for the item was $163 and not $109 as claimed in the article. Could be that the card is currently in short supplies and that the prices rose therefor. I know that you can purchase a Geforce 7600 GT for about that price but someone who is inexperienced and uses the link on the website will probably not find it on the Internet.
I did a quick check and added all cheapest prices and came up with a total of $836 instead of $806. Add shipping costs of $24 to it and the total would be $860.
There is something else missing of course, the display. The article assumes that everyone has a capable monitor at home and does not need one it seems. What if you are stuck with an old 14" display and need a new one? If they assume that you have a monitor at home they also should assume that you have a mouse and a keyboard at least which can be used as well.
Last but not least I would suggest a change in the setup. Instead of buying an audio card I would use on board sound and get a more powerful graphics card instead. An Ati Radeon 1950 Pro for instance can be bought for about $165 and should have some impact on gaming performance.
So, the system will be more expensive even if you have a display at home that you can use. It should also be noted that you have to build it by yourself. It does not help that much if you buy a cheap system but are not able to build it.
Update: PC components have become really powerful in recent time making it a lot easier to build a powerful gaming PC on a budget. If you take the $800, you will get a solid mid-range PC that you can play all recent games with. I'd say that you can go as low as about $500 or $600 to build a decent gaming PC. While you won't be able to play games in ultra-high resolutions, you will be able to play them all on your system.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.