First Time, Looking for a ~$500 Gaming Build


Jun 26, 2011
Hello everyone,

I'm a rather poor college student, but I'm also an active gamer.

My aging PC is barely chugging along and needs to be retired. It was never meant to be used for gaming so I'm building an entirely new system.

Unfortunately, I know nothing about the market for building PCs, so I've come to Tom's for your help!

Due to financial restraints, this thing is going to have to be lean and efficient. I've looked at at Tom's $500 September Build, and it seems to be getting good feedback.

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP

Budget Range: $500-600. I would like to get as close to $500 as possible if I'm not jeopardizing the integrity of the build. $600 is my absolute upper limit, if performance can increase dramatically

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (Civ 5, Skyrim, Bioshock Infinite, other FPS and strategy games)

Parts Not Required: Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard, Speakers, Windows 7 64-Bit

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Trustworthy sellers only please?

Country of Origin: U.S.

Parts Preferences: No preference

Overclocking: Maybe (I've never tried it before, but I don't see why not if its safe)

SLI or Crossfire: Yes--but not at this time*

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 (monitor is HDMI/VGA, no DVI)

Additional Comments: *Very important note here. This coming January, I'll have another $200-300 dollars to invest in this PC. I think the best way to use this money would be to buy a second gfx card for SLI/Crossfire. Opinions on this please?

Thanks in advance!
Hm. On that SLI comment: I'm not sure, but I don't think a 955 will be able to handle SLI/Xfire with any decent card. This creates problems. You can build a pretty decent system now, as Tom's did above^, but it won't be able to handle two cards, in power draw or in CPU load. If SLI is in the cards, you may have to compromise on your current graphics card and have an unbalanced system for a while so that you'll be able to handle SLI/Xfire in the future.
However, if you're willing to up past $600 on the premise of two cards in the future, you can have a decent build now and have your upgrade too. My changes to the Tom's $500 build:
-2500K (with a cheapish Intel mobo instead of the Tom's AMD one, of course) ($220 instead of $120)
-6850 ($120 instead of $150)
-Corsair TX750W PSU ($95 instead of $45)
That's $635, I think. This can be offset, however, by only putting in $120 of your $200-$300 in the future.


Well if you wait until january, for 800-900 you can do a sandy bridge i5 2500k & 6950/560Ti build.
Bulldozer release and ATI/Nvidia next gen cards should be out about then as well so might not be a bad time at all to wait until then.