Home > Articles > Hardware > Upgrading & Repairing

Informit.com's 2007 Guide to Building the Ultimate Gaming Machine on a Budget, Part 1

📄 Contents

  1. Choosing the CPU: Intel's Core2 Duo Takes the Lead
  2. Choosing the CPU Cooler
  3. Choosing the Mainboard
  4. Summary
This year's guide takes DIY budget system building and kicks it into high gear. Intel's Core 2 Duos are so fast, efficient, and overclockable that you can't afford not to build your own rig. In this three-part series, Cyrus Peikari examines the fastest video cards, high-end RAM, and more, with the goal of aiming for a cold, quiet box that will help you “own the newbs” without breaking your bank.
Like this article? We recommend

It's OK, we can admit it. Many of us use Dell computers at work. As an IT administrator, it is the easiest way to buy pre-configured systems in bulk. Still, using low-end, pre-built PCs can be unpleasant at times. For example, when a Dell power supply goes bad, as they often do, the sound is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Dell’s proprietary BIOS can likewise be frustrating, as well as locking you out from performing any overclocking experiments. Mass-produced PCs don’t always use the highest-end components, or they wouldn’t make a profit.

At work, it may make sense to surrender to Dell. But those cookie-cutter boxes don't have to make it into your inner sanctum. At home, where most of us do a lot of work, why not use a hand-built system? Hopefully, this article will encourage you to consider it, if you haven't already done so.

This guide is aimed at the intermediate-level tech audience. You’ve hopefully built a system or two, or at least swapped out a hard drive, replaced your RAM, or something to that effect. If you have never built a system before, you should spend some time googling to learn basics of computer components, power, and safety.

This has become an annual guide for people wanting to build a fast gaming, processing, and multimedia machine without spending a fortune. Compatibility is a big problem: As speeds and features increase, compatibility seems to decrease. You could waste a lot of money, for example, if you find your RAM doesn’t work with your mainboard and CPU. This guide is intended to show you at least one good combination of components that is known to work. You’ll know at least one good configuration from which to start, and from there you can experiment.

Before building a system, you should have an idea of how you plan to use it. Our system will be designed for intensive gaming, for occasional home video editing, and for the usual business software. We will be doing some mild overclocking, but nothing too heavy. Overall, we want a true performance system that can handle most tasks without breaking a sweat. By spending a little more to get the top-end components, our system will be "overbuilt" for quality. That means we won’t have to stress our system too much during demanding tasks. The result is a cooler, quieter system that never lags or leaves your frustrated. Like a race car, a true performance system has an ineffable "feel" about it that makes it a sheer joy to use.

This kind of "responsiveness" of the custom-built system will be very noticeable in your day-to-day use. Windows will open a little bit faster. Your first-person shooter gaming will take on a new edge. And you'll perform process-intensive tasks in much less time.

Also, very important to our design goal is to have a quiet system. Throughout this series of articles, one of our main themes—and a driving force behind the entire project—is to make this computer as quiet as possible. Audible noise has a detrimental effect on your stress levels, and as a result it can harm both your mental and your physical health. We want a system that is built to run as quietly as possible.

Choosing the CPU: Intel's Core2 Duo Takes the Lead

This year, Intel has taken the lead in the CPU race. If you remember the 2006 review, AMD had taken the lead in terms of speed and efficiency, especially against Intel’s bulky Pentium 4 CPUs. However, Intel has now stepped up to the plate and has beaten AMD once again. For the price, the Core 2 Duo Series is unbeatable in terms of speed and efficiency. Among performance system builders, virtually no one is using AMD at the time of this writing (May 2007). Core2 Duo is currently the only way to go.

The only question is, which Core 2 Duo should you choose? The E6300 is a very good value, particularly because it is very overclockable. In other words, you can relatively easily overclock an E6300 to match the speed of much more expensive processors in the same line. For this reason, we don’t recommend purchasing an E6400. In fact, with some reasonable overclocking, you can bring a cheaper E6300 up to match the speed of a more expensive E6600 and beyond (at their stock speeds).

However, for this build we want to have a little extra overhead built into our performance machine. The E6600 attracts us because of its 4MB cache, compared to the 2MB in the E6300 and E6400. We thus chose the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz 4MB shared L2 Cache LGA 775 processor.


InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020