Cheap Gaming Computers

Category: Gaming , Hardware

I'm into computer gaming, and am looking for a new desktop system. I do need to stay on a budget, but I'm not opposed to building my own system. What do you recommend for someone who is looking for a cheap gaming computer?

Gaming Computers: Build or Buy?

Gaming computers are more expensive than general desktop systems. That's because the frantic real-time action of gaming requires a highly responsive computer. Those 3D virtual worlds call for exceptional graphics and high-performance video display. Top-of-the-line gaming computers can cost as much as a good used car. But there are relatively cheap gaming computers that perform well for all but the most demanding players.

Off-the-shelf gaming computers are available from well-known, OEMs such as Dell, Gateway, Asus, and HP. The lower price ranges include pretty good machines starting at about $800. OEMs frequently offer instant rebates on purchases, and "free upgrades" of RAM, CPU speed, hard drive size, graphics processor, etc. The HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410f ($899 with free shipping) is a good example of an OEM cheap gaming computer. This model sports an AMD Phenom 6-core processor, 8 gigs of RAM, a 1 TB hard drive, and the ATI Radeon HD5570 graphics card with 1GB of onboard RAM. Gateway's FX6840 Series ($999) is similarly equipped, but comes with an Intel Core i7 processor
Cheap Gaming Computer

Factory-refurbished gaming computers are a great way to save money. "Refurbs" are systems that were returned for some manufacturing defect. The OEM replaces a bad component but cannot sell the system as "new" anymore. Refurbished computers often cost one-third less than new ones. "White box" gaming computers are also a good value. They're called white boxes because they are not name-brand machines, just simple workhorses built by obscure assembly companies. You save the cost of name-brand marketing and get just as much gaming power. If you're a no-frills kind of buyer, a white box gaming computer is the way to go. Look for refurbished and white box gaming computers on Ebay, or Google one of those phrases to find a distributor.

Custom Built and DIY Gaming PCs

Custom-built gaming computers may sound expensive, but they often provide the cheapest way to get exactly what you want. DVRMart is an example of a custom-build computer vendor. With guidance from the company's experts, you can specify exactly what you can afford on each component of your gaming computer.

Building your own gaming computer is probably the best way to save money, and you don't need to know how to solder. Buying components separately gives you the freedom to hunt for outstanding bargains to keep the total price down. The best deals are often "last generation" models that have recently been replaced by new, improved products. A high-performance graphics card like the ATI 4870 doesn't lose any of its performance just because it was made last summer, but its price is now a lot less.

The editors of MaximumPC.com put together a gaming computer for under $500! that performed as well as their pricier benchmark system. This article describes in detail each component they used and why it was chosen. It's a great guide to putting together your own cheap gaming computer.

Used gaming computers are widely available on Craigslist, eBay, and other online consumer-to-consumer sales sites. Local computer user groups may have for-sale bulletin boards (even real ones, made of cork). Classified ads in newspapers and "thrifty shopper" circulars are other places to look for cheap gaming computers.

A cheap gaming computer does not have to involve great compromises in performance. Just be willing to spend time shopping and researching the specs you really need, and avoid the temptation to buy frills that don't really improve your gaming experience.

Do you have something to say about your own experience with buying or building a gaming computer? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Cheap Gaming Computers"

Posted by:

Mister K
11 Jan 2011

I got my computer at ecost.com it was a refurb and it is an amazing computer 8g ram, quad-core, for around 400 bucks, all I had to do to make a good gaming computer was buy a nice video card. Just find a nice video card compatible with your system and bam awesome gaming machine.


Posted by:

Peter H
14 Jan 2011

I'm using a Dell refurb but had to get as special mounting brackets (used packing tape too), L-shaped SATA connectors and expensive ECC memory. Even the store did not know about that.

Buying any computer is a craps game. Big names can order special "sale" hardware lacking something. They can skimp on the motherboard, chips, memory. Angry comments about big names abound.

There are oodles of models and versions of all hardware. Some are "old" (like a year or two) and some have known defects. Even informed users may not spot a version difference. And there are so many "features" or specs which are practically impossible to comprehend.

Buying off sites like eBay are riskier. Would you buy a car or a house without seeing it? Who do you trust?

After weeks of consideration and research, I've just ordered the components I need from NewEgg who gave "instant" rebates, "combo" discounts, "free shipping" for some parts. I used a credit card so I have both an "extended" warranty and a place to "object" (fraud) if it isn't the right thing. I hope I won't have to return anything which is DOA.

PS - I live in a "small" Canadian city (only 1 million), I have only 2 choices of big box electronics stores. The few small stores are often not well-informed nor really interested in special needs. US inhabitants have access to much more services and choice. Thus my comments may be irrelevant to US readers.


Posted by:

Dan
31 Jan 2011

Building your own computer may look like a good deal until you get into buying the OS, buying software, and spending the time it actually takes to put together. I would say to get a custom gaming pc without all the hassle you should consult a builder. Maingear I heard is a good option.


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