Wednesday, December 14, 2011

pc gaming on a budget December 2011 - how to play the latest pc games for cheap

The following is a guide compiled based on  my experience with computer hardware parts available to me at the moment having checked local prices and online listings, better deals might be available to you, and this guide should be taken only as a heads up to what is worth buying AT LEAST.

Holy days are around the corner, and often its the time of the year when people often want to give  presents, from nifty expensive android tablet pcs, beautiful smart phones, plasma tv`s, gaming console system`s and computer system`s as well, and due to my line of work a lot of people visit me and ask me, what is a good computer that can play the latest games, but on a tight budget!

THE TOP OF THE LINE - everyone wants an AlienWare
Computer hardware stores have been around for years since the invention of the home friendly personal computers, better games started to flood the market, that demanded new video cards and powerful rigs, somewhere along the 90's there where a pletora of computer businesses, companies such as Falcon North West, Tiger direct,  AbsPc or cyberpowerinc to name a few, all had listing from cheap to the beefiest ones, and there  was a company that rose up with the depravity of offering the most expensive computer parts AlienWare, world renowned brand, would give computer gaming heaven if you could afford it! The company grew so much, that back in 2006  DELL bought Alienware. Think of that!

you know you want one!

THE HARSH REALITY - how much did you say it was?
As of December 14 2011, i checked what is the top of the line Alienware has to offer, i came up with the following quote  the "AURORA model" with 16 gigs or ram, windows Home premium is enough.

I know there are niches and public for everything, as to why there exists cars that sell for millions of dollars, and people that do buy them, and im sure my gaming experience will be godlike, and if you have 5 grand to spend on a computer go for it, but you might want to keep reading.

BUILDING YOUR OWN  GAMING MACHINE - and not break the bank 

HOW MANY CORES? - we still live in a world of single thread programs 
Since the dawn of computing, multiple processors take care of  functions, each one taking in information and crunching it down in a serialized fashion, but soon came the introduction of a dual core cpu, which basically split the work load in parallel fashion, to finish each task in half the time, the reality is that each program has to be written and programed to take advantage of multi threading, even to our day, many games and programs are not truly multi threading applications, their claims based on the fact that multiple processes are spread across all the available cores, sound  visuals physics, so IT DOES make sense to have as many cores available as you can, so go for a DUAL core AT LEAST.

 Single Thread vs Multi threaded

INTEL VS AMD - finding the right balance
"Which is Better INTEL or AMD?", is a question i get often from my customers, and the problem is that it is not a simple answer because of several variables that can lead up to the system growing in a few hundred dollars depending on which route you go, sometimes "wasting" your money if you are on a budget (INTEL route).

For the best performance and at a  HIGH price, INTEL has the lead at the moment because the can offer extreme costly solutions, faster and with more cache  than what AMD currently has, keep in mind that While Intel does out perform AMD's best offering by about 50% it also does cost around 50-100% more,  so INTEL is better if you have the money to burn.

That said AMD can games as well, in fact for years gamers around the world, have versed AMD as the leader in budget mid to high gaming systems, just stay away from Semprons or Celerons!

Also several motherboard manufacturers fight each other in prices, offering AMD and INTEL solutions for the CPU's,  in general AMD socket motherboards tend to be cheaper, with the same options as would find on an Intel board,  but just avoid any AMD board with the chipset based on the Nvidia MCP 6100 or 6150, those have  limited HT speed's and tend to have low quality capacitors.

NVIDIA  VS ATI- "house fires" vs "no drivers"
Long time rivals, people will tell you to go with one or the other, but  beware of their claims, many people outright judge video cards due to their memory capacity, and do not take in account the power of the video processor, type/speed of the memory  and the bandwidth of the memory controller,  you can find a cheap 1gb ddr2  64bit memory bus card,that will be beat by  512mb ddr3 128 bit one!! (read older post about 1gb vid cards here)

There is a history of rare driver issues with newly released games using  ATI cards, BUT due to the game developers beeing partnered to NVIDIA and unable to  give away early game code to ATI until the release date, forcing users to wait a few days for a new drivers to fix any issues that pop up, a most recent example was RAGE from ID that needed 2 driver revisions in the same week. Mind you Nvidia has had driver issues in the past as well.

Nvidia Cards tend to be power hungry and less efficient than ATI, meaning they require more power than their ati counter parts to do the same, Early Fermi Nvidia models reached up to 110ºC inside your computer, many users where worried about starting a house fire!,but both companies have been shrinking down their cards, and today we have great  performer cards that only need 75 watts from the Pcie socket, loud whirring noises from full throttle fans are becoming a thing of the past.

BOTH brands offer great performance cards at great prices, just get the best deal you can!

Hento's Budget Gaming Pc pick of the Month! - Low price, Great Value, I love it!
This budget system is enough to run the latest games in mid to high settings at 1440x900 check it out!

  • AMD Athlon II X2 250 3.0 Ghz                                               58$                 62$
  • Msi 760GM-E51 AM3+(or any 125 watt capable)                  60$                 70$
  • Kingston 4GB 240pin DDR3 1333mhz Memory module         23$                 20$
  • XFX ATI HD 5670 1GB DDR5 128-bit                                    93$                  85$
  • 939PL-BlackSteel ATX case with 10" Fan Led 550Watt          35$                  41$
  • Hitachi HDS721050CLA362 500GB Sata6 HardDrive            120$                  80$
My Local Oem resell price =  389$ online  price =  358$

 The listing on the left is the current prices i get from local Oem resellers, the right  listing is prices as of December 16 2011, not much of a diference!

Its important to get a motherboard with 125watt cpu support, that will guarantee an upgrade to the newest offerings, at a later time.

The Pc case cabinet is nice with is sleek matte glossy paint finish and a big 10" led enabled Fan, it does not make any noise as it runs at a lower speed, moving a bigger volume of air keeping your pc parts cool, the 550watt cpu is good for this build, and can be easily replaced with a 800watt one if you ever need to upgrade video card.

If you need a monitor i would advice to get anything LED above 21", several brands offer different prices, i have worked for many years with the brand AOC, and currently own a 23" Model, it has crisp great image with a FULL HD 1920x1080 Resolution, Newegg, lists the  21" 1600x900dpi model at  120$

I hope this helps to guide your way if you have no idea what to buy , and that can run games decently, again this is not a powerhouse for gaming, but will let you enjoy the latest games at mid to high settings,  there might be better deals for grabs, but make sure you get these parts AT LEAST .

You can always check out Gaming Videos in youtube about different Video card's before you buy!

The holidays are here, and i hope to be back with something interesting soon!

Be well and safe =D


  1. That is one beautiful piece of machinery. The dreams I have of one of those lol

  2. it is my dream to have - LED Monitor 21"
    + Full HD
    +1920x1080 Resolution
    btw nice choice! :)

  3. so wait, do you sell some of these things too?

  4. I like your 'econo' configuration. Maybe it's not F1 race car, but look at the price. The case with a bigger fan is also interesting. I have a regular, cheap one with a small fan at its back. With a GF 570 on board, the case is always warm.

  5. Really nice tips, especially about alienware, way overrated and over priced.
    I personally still have a gaming gig built 3 years ago for about $1000 and still runs everything I throw at it. (Besides anything that doesn't run on XP since I'm too lazy to upgrade =/)

  6. I need to build a new gaming pc.

  7. If you watch best buy, you can pick up tv/monitors (since everything is HDMI anyway) for cheap. Buying displays drops the price 50 to 100 dollars. AND you can still buy the extra warranty. I want a 32 inch monitor :D. But need a good memory card. and what you said is true. don't buy it cause of how much gigs it has. Buy it cause of it's performance

  8. Fast PCs and reliable connection are the ingredients for quality gaming.