Through the early part of 2005, our Value Gaming PC Buyer's Guide received some very significant upgrades, both in terms of performance and features. Unfortunately, this makes it tougher to improve every few months, especially when it comes to the processor and video card. But even so, we did manage to offer a few notable upgrades, including a long-overdue move to a 120-GB Seagate SATA/NCQ hard drive. The Intel side also received a small boost through the Pentium 4 640, while there was enough money left to nab a new ASUS nForce4-4X PCI Express motherboard for our AMD system. The other upgrade was in the form of a Logitech MX310 gaming mouse, and even this small improvement offers a finer-tuned system configuration. The only area we've left wishing we had a few extra dollars for is the monitor selection, where even an extra $50 would get us an entry-level 12 ms 17" LCD.
The AMD and Intel systems are both looking pretty good for September 2005, and these represent serious gaming systems for the class. As usual, it is very surprising what kind of PC you can put together for a cool $1K. None of the upgrades really changed the performance landscape that much, but the switching the AMD system to a new ASUS PCI Express motherboard does allow a better overall feature set, while the Pentium 4 640 with 2MB of L2 cache does make Intel system more competitive. At the end of the day, these are both extremely nice value gaming systems complete with mainstream CPUs, PCI Express motherboards, 7200 RPM SATA hard drives, CDR/RW and DVD-ROM capabilities, and a powerful GeForce 6600 GT 128-MB PCIe card pumping out the game framerates. If overall value is your main goal, these AMD and Intel gaming PCs certainly deliver, and both offer a noticeable price-performance advantage over our higher-priced guide configurations.
* Please note that the prices in our guide do not include shipping costs or taxes. The final system price also reflects a "best case" scenario of finding an online vendor that stocks the majority of internal components, or having access to a number of local computer retailers for system quotes and comparison shopping.