Systems for All Budgets (Part 1) - GX250, GX2000

11/14/2012 5:45:17 PM

Putting together a computer on budget means making some tough decisions. Here, we'll help you do just that

Building a system is a potentially stressful process, so why not leave it to the experts? We've looked at the example pre-builds on Computer Planet's website ( and analyzed its choices to help show you what you're looking for in a system, and how you might want to modify them. Remember, this advice doesn't just pertain to these specific systems - it's just that when analyzing systems, it's far easier to show than tell!

To help get an even spread of advice, we've looked at several types of pre-build, from gaming rigs to workstations to silent systems, and we've divided the gaming systems up by budget so that you can find relevant advice regardless of how much you want to spend. So sit back, pour a mug of tea and enjoy some stress-free system analysis and advice that you can take away and apply to your own choice of computer.

Budget Gaming PC: GX250 ($446)

If you're going for a budget system, you might as well do it properly. Aimed squarely at the lowest end of the market, the GX250 is the cheapest gaming system Computer Planet offers. It's hard enough to assemble an entire desktop PC for under $481, let alone one capable of gaming - after all, you can buy graphics cards that cost almost as much, but it undeniably does the job.

There's no point pretending it matches up to modern gaming PC standards, because it doesn't, but where it does excel is in being good value for its price. The processor, for example, is an Athlon II X2 250. Despite being three years old, it's one of the best value CPUs you can get in terms of price to power ratio, so if you're financially unable to pay any more than $80 for a CPU, it's easily the best choice. Better value than the similarly aged Intel Core i7 960, for example.

If you're using the system solely for gaming, then 2GB isn't going to cause any problems.

Description: Budget Gaming PC: GX250

Budget Gaming PC: GX250

The graphics card is a GeForce GT 610 which, despite a promising model number, doesn't actually contain the 6-series 28nm Kepler architecture. It's actually a rebadged GeForce GT 520, which uses last-generation 40nm Fermi architecture. In terms of raw power, it's roughly comparable to the Intel HD Graphics 4000 chips found on high-end Ivy Bridge platforms, but at the same time, it's still a good deal better than the Intel HD Graphics 2000 and 3000 found on Sandy Bridge chips.

The rest of the specs are fair enough, although a 700-watt power supply is far more than this system needs, especially when you consider that the graphics card - typically the biggest individual power drain on any system - requires a paltry 29W. The reason it packs such a punch is the case. The cheap yet imposing X-Blade comes with its own PSU, so select a cheaper case and you'll also have the option for a less meaty power supply - although you do swap a stylish exterior for a more generic one as a result.

If you were to upgrade any part of the system prior to purchase, it should probably be the RAM. 2GB is the bare minimum for a Windows 7 system, and 4GB is much more preferable. Admittedly, if you're using the system solely for gaming then 2GB isn't going to cause any problems, but if you plan to use the system for anything else it'll start to cause trouble when multitasking. The 80GB hard drive is also seriously lacking in capacity, but at least the 10,000rpm platter speed will mean improved gaming performance.

Overall, it's as good a system as you can expect for the price. The budget has clearly been allocated to the parts of the system that'll make gaming run as smoothly as possible, even if that's at the expense of things like hard drive space and RAM capacity. Only the power supply is out of place, and even that can be rectified with a little tweaking.



CPU: AMD Athlon 250 (2 x 2.5GHz)

RAM: 2GB DDR3 1333MHz

HDD: 80GB SATA-II 10000rpm

Case: X-Blade Black

Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce GT 610 - 1GB

Optical Drive: 22x dual-layer DVD/CD rewriter

Power Supply: 700W PSU

CPU Cooling: AMD heat sink and fan

Motherboard: Asus

Sound: 7.1 HD sound

USB Ports: 6 x USB 2.0 and 2 x USB 3.0


High End Gaming PC: GX2000 ($1286)

Description: High End Gaming PC: GX2000

High End Gaming PC: GX2000

Even at more than double the price of the GX250, Computer Planet's higher-end gaming PC can compete with current systems without being priced ridiculously. The GX2000 is the first pre-build system to feature an Intel chip, a choice we believe is essential to any modern gaming system. That is why we've chosen it as our high-end choice.

The CPU is an i5 3550, which is one of the Intel's latest Ivy Bridge chips, with 22nm process technology and 6MB of level-3 cache. The on-board graphics is Intel HD Graphics 2500, but don't worry, you won't be using it. As good as this chip is, though, we recommend you spend an extra tenner on either the Core i5 2500K or the Core i5 3570k. They will allow you to overclock the chip and squeeze even better performance from your money - and since the Arctic Freezer 7 CPU cooler is around 30% better than Intel's own, the system should be capable of handling any reasonable temperature increase.

8GB of RAM is more than adequate for any gaming system; the Corsair branding means you'll get good performance and will likely allow you to overclock it if you're comfortable doing so. A 1TB SATA-III hard drive is well up to current standards. An SSD would substantially improve performance, but you'd be looking at an extra $160 - $320. A 600-watt PSU is more than reasonable for this kind of system, and the case - a Cooler Master Elite 430 - is stylish, convenient and spacious.

Push it into overclock territory and watch it fly - particularly when you have Corsair's H60 liquid cooling.

The graphics card, a GeForce GTX 570, might be last-generation technology, but don't think that makes it a step down. It offers performance superior to most of the 6-series range, and roughly equal to the GeForce GTX 660, which, since its release in September, has become the Gamer's Best Friend.

You also get an operating system included in the price, but if you have one already you can shave $112 off the price, making this an even better deal. Aside from that, the only modification you need to make is the CPU - bump it up to one with an unlocked multiplier (they're the ones with the 'K' suffix on their model name) and make sure you take advantage of the extra speed overclocking offers!



CPU: Intel i5 3550 (4 x 3.3GHz)

RAM: Corsair 8GB DDR3 1333MHz

HDD: 1 TB SATA-III 7200rpm

Case: Cooler Master Elite 430

Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce GTX 570 1.28GB

Optical Drive: 22x dual-layer DVD/CD rewriter

Power Supply: Cooler Master 600W PSU

CPU Cooling: Arctic Freezer 7

Motherboard: Asus

Sound: 7.1 HD sound

USB Ports: 6 x USB 2.0 and 2 x USB 3.0

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit


  •  Graphics Cards for All Budgets (Part 3) - Radeon HD 7950, GeForce GTX 580, GeForce GTX670
  •  Graphics Cards for All Budgets (Part 2) - Radeon HD 7770, GeForce GTX 560, Radeon HD 7850, GeForce GTX 660
  •  Graphics Cards for All Budgets (Part 1) - Radeon HD 6670, GeForce GTS 450, Radeon HD 7750
  •  Motherboards for All Budgets (Part 2) - Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7, Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB, Asus Rampage IV Extreme
  •  Motherboards for All Budgets (Part 1) - Asus M5A97 PRO, Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3, Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3, Asus P8Z68-V Pro
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