Cheap Computer Gaming Guide

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Cheap Gaming PC Cheap Computer Gaming Options - 2 Systems

Our intent here is to assemble two cheap computer gaming machines that will fit anyones budget. Based on component choices, you should be able to find off-the-shelf PC's with similar components that fit the budget.

A good cheap computer gaming PC should ring up for less than $700. This is an entry-level unit that plays music, surfs the Net, and runs most games. Since it doesn't have a state-of-the-art graphics card, however, it will have trouble with some of the most resource-intensive game titles.

Spend around $900 to move up to a an awesome gaming PC, and you'll get a machine that's capable of running all the demanding game titles.

 A Good Cheap Computer Gaming PC

We put a $700 ceiling on our budget gaming PC to keep it within reach of those who don't want to spend a month's salary on a computer. But spend any less and you put yourself at risk of purchasing a machine that's just about obsolete or has been compromised by design choices. Another consideration is purchasing a current model factory-recertified PC.

Integrated graphics and shared memory are two common design compromises that you don't want any part of - at least not in a PC that's intended for gaming applications. In machines featuring this technology, the graphics chipset resides on the motherboard and claims a portion of the computer's memory.

When you shop for your good cheap computer gaming PC, look for phrases such as "integrated graphics" or "shared video memory". These are indications of sub-standard graphics performance and reduced performance overall. A poor graphics engine will dump a lot of it's work load onto the CPU.

A better choice is to go with an inexpensive dedicated graphics card. A solid choice would be Nvidia's GeForce FX 5200 for our budget machine. Although it's not state-of-the-art, it's leagues ahead of the best integrated solution. It has 128MB of dedicated video memory.

Games and movies demand a large display, but since LCD monitors remain pricey, we're recommending an affordable CRT model: Viewsonic's E70FB, to be specific. This 17 inch display delivers a great picture.

Since cheap computer gaming applications are so demanding, we're recommending that you purchase a machine with a powerful CPU. Avoid machines powered by Intel's Celeron or AMD's Duron processors--they just don'tdeliver. Intel's Pentium 4 is a good choice, but given our budget constraints, we like AMD's Athalon XP of at least 2.6GHz.

Our budget cheap computer gaming model will have at least 1GB of memory, but it will accommadate at least 2GB of total memory (we can add more memory later). It will also have at least three USB 2.0 ports (these are useful for plugging in everything from game controllers to MP3 players to digital cameras).

When it comes to mass storage, bigger and faster are always better. Meeting our budget, on the other hand, means making some compromises--and this is one area where settling for second-best won't spoil the performance. Expect a budget gaming PC to be equipped with at least a 250GB ATA/100 hard drive spinning at 5,400RPM. Freidora Delonghi Easy Clean System

You can't expect to squeeze a recordable DVD drive into this cheap computer gaming price range, but you'll definitely want to be able to play DVD movies as well as make your own audio CDs. Fortunately, most machines in this price range are now being outfitted with CD-RW/DVD combo drives that fit the bill nicely.

You'll want to plug the machine into a broadband Internet connection, so make sure it comes with an integrated Ethernet adapter, too. It's not too much to expect a 5.1-channel sound system, which is important for watching DVD movies on your PC. You'll get an integrated audio chip in this price range, but that's an acceptable trade-off.

 A Better Cheap Computer Gaming PC

Lifting our price to the $900 range opens up a whole new world of possibilities, ensuring us of getting an awesome gaming machine that will deliver great performance with all the demanding game titles like those in the 3D action category.

For starters, we'll upgrade to a faster CPU: AMD's new Athalon 64 processor running at 3000+. This technology will start your machine smoking.

The motherboard should provide at least five PCI slots, for future expansion. We'll increase the memory to 2GB. Expect a mid-range PC to have at least five USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and built-in Ethernet for networking.

You shouldn't have to worry about having an integrated graphics solution when you're spending this much money, but make sure the machine is outfitted with the right graphics card. We recommend ATI's Radeon 9600XT, which comes with 256MB of dedicated video memory. This card fully supports Microsoft's DirectX 9--an important feature for anyone interested in playing the latest games--and it offers TV, VGA, and DVI outputs. This means you can use a big-screen television monitor, a CRT, or an LCD as your display.

Games and movies look great on a large display, so we'll go with a large 19-inch CRT monitor as LCD monitors are still pricey. Viewsonic's E90FB is a 19-inch beauty, with a perfectly flat screen to reduce distortion and reflection.

Skip integrated audio in favor of a sound card such as Creative Labs' Sound Blaster Audigy. This is an older--and relatively inexpensive--solution that delivers Dolby Digital decoding and outputs for a 5.1-channel speaker system: just the ticket for watching DVD movies and playing the latest games.

A bigger cheap computer gaming budget enables us to recommend a larger and faster hard drive. You should expect a cheap computer gaming machine in this price range to have at least a 320GB ATA/100 drive spinning at 7,200RPM. Nice! As for optical drives, it's not unreasonable to expect a unit that plays and records both CDs and DVDs.

The best thing about buying a PC that's capable of handling your entertainment needs is that even a budget model is more than capable of handling any other application you throw at it. You don't have to break the bank to break into a good cheap computer gaming machine.


Cheap Computer Gaming Guide

Our intent here is to assemble two cheap computer gaming machines that will fit anyones budget. Based on component choices, you should be able to find off-the-





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