A decent gaming system for $500? Some will tell you it can’t be done. You have to break the bank they’ll say, or you won’t get a decent frame rate. Some will tell you that to accomplish this you have to buy much of your parts used, or re-manufactured. After some careful research and shopping around for components I decided to take the challenge, and I have to say I’m more than happy with the final build. It outperforms my buddies older system that has a new MSI GeForce 730! This being said, I still plan on sticking a more powerful gpu in there when the time comes though. I also have plans for an SSD in the future, thus the “green” hdd. So try and look at this as a $500 foundation, rather than a $500 complete build. I bought all my parts from NewEgg and Amazon. I have Amazon Prime so anything I could get on amazon for the same price or cheaper I went for. I’ve linked to some of the parts below for your convenience.
1 x MSI 970A-G43 AM3+ AMD 970 + SB950 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard $70
1 x ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner – Bulk – OEM $25
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model $70
1 x RAIDMAX HYBRID 2 RX-530SS 530W ATX12V V2.2/ EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Modular Power Supply, New Version with Build-in LED Fan On/Off Switch $45
1 x Cooler Master Elite 430 – Mid Tower Computer Case with All-Black Interior and Windowed Side Panel $50
1 x EVGA 01G-P3-2615-KR GeForce GT 610 1GB 64-Bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card $50
1 x Western Digital WD Green WD10EZRX 1TB IntelliPower SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive $50
Now it should be said that out of the components above, I filed for 2 different rebates totaling $25. The rebates being a large part of my decision process. I had to RMA my first motherboard (from NewEgg.com), shipping at my expense, which basically canceled out my rebates…
I also bought:
to go with my build but we are not going to include these in our price total bare bones price.
edit: I’ve been asked why? If you are going to upgrade later, why try for the $500 challenge first? Simple answer: who wouldn’t want a bad ass gaming PC for under $500? I wanted to see if it was possible. Long answer: I wanted to build something that compares in price to the X-box 1, and the PS4 and see how it could compare in performance. I also want to develop games for the Oculus Rift that can perform flawlessly with a similar build. If Oculus ever hopes to compete with Project Morpheus it will have to be in the same price range and have plenty of games available for it.
So after months of testing, how does the “beast” stack up? I would say Fair. For optimal performance with the Oculus Rift, you should be viewing games at 75 fps. Most games are different, but using the Tuscany demo as a benchmark I was able to run 25 fps with highest quality settings. Not so great (a bit nauseating) but doable. On the bright side, I have been able to create some simple games that run at 75+ fps on this pc, but nothing fancy. Ultimately I will be installing a more powerful graphics card. The answer to the question, can it be done for $500? Yes and no. No, not if you are trying to achieve a smooth frame rate for the Oculus Rift. Yes, if you simply want to be able to play games on medium settings, or don’t mind lower framerates on your Oculus Rift from time to time (I have came across a few I just couldn’t play).
Update: I have been developing games now with Unity 5 and the Oculus 0.7sdk with this rig and everything is still working decent!