Is a sub $600.00 gaming PC possible? We are going to find out….

By A1 Computers And Service – 2012

After our article on the $1199.99 system I decided to set out and see if we could cut that price in half and come up with a PC below $600.00 that could play today’s games at acceptable frame rates, resolutions, and detail levels. Here is that PC and specifications along with some bench mark results.

Let’s start with the case: Since I am shooting for a low price I chose a very cheap case. This case isn’t going to win any awards for design or build quality. Some of the edges are sharp, the metal is flimsy and it weighs as much as a few empty beer cans. It flexes and the alignment of the screw wholes leaves much to be desired. But this is just a box to hold all the other components and in the role it gets its job done. So we went with the APEX PC-389-C Black Steel ATX Mid Tower this case sells for only $18.99 from Newegg.

Onto the CPU: I at least wanted to go with some sort of a quad-core CPU in this system but the price just wouldn’t allow such a luxury. After much research and debating I chose the Intel Pentium G860 Sandy Bridge 3.0GHz this is a good dual-core CPU based on the Sandy Bridge architecture from Intel. It is available from Newegg at $89.99.

The Motherboard: Now this was a really hard choice to balance features along with price. I wanted a motherboard with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s. The motherboard also has 10/100/1000 LAN, PCIe 3.0 16x slot. It supports the latest Ivy Bridge CPU’s from Intel so there is an upgrade path for the future. With this board you aren’t lacking any features. We chose the ASRock B75M-GL LGA 1155 Intel B75 which is available from Newegg for $59.99.

System Memory: The motherboard has 2 slots for memory so I really wanted to add only 1 DIMM so there would be room to update the system memory at a later date. I went with 4GIG of DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666). That is going to offer enough memory to run Windows 7 and play your games with no problem. I went with the GeIL Pristine 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 because that was the cheapest at this time from Newegg at $19.99.

System Hard Drive: Well since the motherboard has SATA 6Gb/s we wanted a hard drive to take advantage of the speed of the interface and still offer ample storage for today’s users. I was able to find the Seagate Barracuda ST3750525AS 750GB for only $59.99 at Newegg. The drive is a 7200rpm model and has a 32MB Cache.

Optical Drive: This wasn’t a hard decision that took lots of research. All I had to do was find the cheapest DVD burner at the time. So this is the drive ASUS 24X DVD Burner I found on Newegg at $16.99.

The Video Card: This is probably the one component that gave me the most trouble in choosing. I had set a pretty lofty goal to keep the system below $600.00 yet be able to play today’s games. After much testing I went with the EVGA SuperClocked GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB. It offers Direct X11 support along with HDMI output. I went with the GTX560 because I myself owned one for a while and was able to play every game I was into with decent frame rates, resolution, and details. This card is on Newegg at $159.99.

Power Supply: Again here we were faced with a really tough decision because of the price point we had set for ourselves. I really wanted to be able to install a power supply that would leave room for a CPU or Video Card upgrade if the future. I just couldn’t do it in the allotted price. So in order to be able to use a good quality power supply that has enough power to run with the components in the system I went with the Antec VP-450 450W ATX on Newegg at $34.99.

Operating System: Here was another decision that required no thought or research. Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit. It is priced on Newegg at $99.99.

Complete system total with average shipping charges is: $580.55

Okay now that we have the component selection out of the way it’s time to see what the system was able to do in benchmarks.

I set the goal of 30 FPS in each game as the minimum acceptable playable frame rate.

Resolution

Detail Level

Game

FPS

1280×1024

Medium Preset Defaults

Battle Field 3

91.3

1680×1050

Medium Preset Defaults

Battle Field 3

75

1920×1080

Medium Preset Defaults

Battle Field 3

70.8

1280×1024

Ultra Preset Defaults

Battle Field 3

52.6

1680×1050

Ultra Preset Defaults

Battle Field 3

41.3

1920×1080

Ultra Preset Defaults

Battle Field 3

36.6

1280×1024

High Quality Preset, No AA

DiRT 3

73.5

1680×1050

High Quality Preset, No AA

DiRT 3

73

1920×1080

High Quality Preset, No AA

DiRT 3

72

1280×1024

Ultra Quality Preset, 8x MSAA

DiRT 3

58

1680×1050

Ultra Quality Preset, 8x MSAA

DiRT 3

50.8

1920×1080

Ultra Quality Preset, 8x MSAA

DiRT 3

47.9

1280×1024

High Preset, No MSAA, 8x AF, FXAA

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

85.1

1680×1050

High Preset, No MSAA, 8x AF, FXAA

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

76.2

1920×1080

High Preset, No MSAA, 8x AF, FXAA

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

75.2

1280×1024

Ultra Preset, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

59.2

1680×1050

Ultra Preset, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

49.8

1920×1080

Ultra Preset, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

46.6

1280×1024

HighTextures / High Quality

StarCraft II

98.4

1680×1050

HighTextures / High Quality

StarCraft II

88.8

1920×1080

HighTextures / High Quality

StarCraft II

84.8

1280×1024

Ultra Textures / Extreme Quality

StarCraft II

75.9

1680×1050

Ultra Textures / Extreme Quality

StarCraft II

66.3

1920×1080

Ultra Textures / Extreme Quality

StarCraft II

62.4

As you can see from the benchmarks we hit our sub $600.00 systems goal of getting at least 30 FPS in each game at 1920×1080 and ultra-settings. So if you choose these components you will have a computer system that can play today’s games and be able to handle other PC chores like video editing, office tasks, internet browsing, etc…

Complete Parts List: All prices are from Newegg.com as of 8-23-2012

APEX PC-389-C Black Steel ATX Mid Tower  – $28.99

Intel Pentium G860 Sandy Bridge 3.0GHz – $89.99

ASRock B75M-GL LGA 1155 Intel B75 – $59.99

GeIL Pristine 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 – $19.99

Seagate Barracuda ST3750525AS 750GB – $59.99

ASUS 24X DVD Burner – $16.99

EVGA SuperClocked GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB – $159.99

Antec VP-450 450W ATX – $34.99

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit – $99.99

Complete system total with average shipping charges is: $580.55

APEX PC-389-C Black Steel ATX Mid Tower

 

 

If you would like us to build this system for you it would be $99.95 labor. That includes complete system assembly, the loading of OS along with the latest drivers and all OS updates. We also make a system restore kit so the system can be recoverd to the original system OS load. If you have any questions call us at (734) 718-1646.

 

Download the article in different formats from the links below:

 

Download in PDF          Download in Word DOCX          Download in Word DOC