I didn’t know if it could be done, but the folks at Extremetech [ http://www.extremetech.com/ ] have done it; they’ve proven that you can still be a gamer and be thrifty in this day and age. While you’re not going to be able to put a gaming PC together for the cost of that low-end Dell with the integrated graphics that’s on sale essentially every other day, you can put together a pretty hefty gaming system that can play a lot of this generation’s demanding games for about $800 bucks. Not too bad, and not a horribly increase from the days of the $500 gaming machine. It’s not pretty (I’m not a fan of the Antec Sonata case, the one Extremetech used and is pictured above, but they love it) but it definitely gets the job done.
Including an Athlon 64 3000+ at its heart, a gig of RAM (with a hefty warning that next year a real gaming system might call for 2GB) and a 160GB Seagate hard drive, the system is loaded with goodies on the cheap. The Extremetech editors take you through the process of building the machine, ordering its components and how much they cost individually, and then go ahead and benchmark it for performance against some of the most popular games today like F.E.A.R and Doom3 as well as graphics benchmarks like 3DMark06 to see if it measures up.