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£500 Windows 7 Gaming PC : Build or Buy

Windows 7 is particularly well suited for gaming partly because it is an evolution of Vista rather than a completely different platform which means that game developers and hardware makers are in familiar territories with Windows 7.

There's also the fact that Windows 7 comes with DirectX 11 which includes features such as Tessallation, Multi-Threading and DirectCompute all of which help make a more efficient usage of existing resources.

But DirectX 11 is a relatively new technology and has yet to become mainstream and most games are still either available in DirectX9 or in DirectX10. But even then Windows 7 is better than Vista at gaming overall.

The difference between platforms however is more pronounced between Windows XP and Windows 7 both quantitatively and qualitatively. This, according to review site Driverheaven, should give "gamers using XP a great incentive to upgrade to Windows 7".

We've allocated £500 to build a Windows 7 Gaming PC using parts widely on sale in the UK. The prices include delivery and VAT as well as the price of the OS - Windows 7 Home Premium OS 32Bit OEM - which can be had for £72.28 here.

Let's first find out what gaming computer can one can get with £500. The most important factor in this particular configuration will be the graphics card. The Fujitsu Amilo DP3/Pi 3635 is our downright favourite at £488 delivered.

It comes with a Quad core CPU, 4GB RAM, 1TB storage, a mid-range ATI HD4850, Blu-Ray and Windows Vista Home Premium which can be upgraded for a small fee to Windows 7. That's a tough one to beat.

We've chosen to build the computer virtually using parts from Ebuyer. We've opted for a high speed unlocked triple core AMD platform with ample L2/L3 cache, 4GB RAM, one of the fastest DirectX11 cards currently available, a branded 750w PSU, a dedicated sound card and a classic case from Coolermaster.

The downsides of this configuration are that we chose a significantly smaller hard disk drive (a 500GB model), there's no mouse, keyboard or monitor and you will need to construct the computer by yourself. Alternatively, customers can choose to kit this computer with an Intel processor and motherboard.

The DIY gaming PC will beat the Fujitsu Amilo computer handsomely because the parts have been cherry-picked and the branded PSU means that it will be easily upgradable.

Building a Windows 7 Gaming rig that is not a difficult task ad will provide you with a relatively future proof configuration that can last more than a few months.

Furthermore, you will know exactly what is in store and, just like for cooking, you will need a lot of patience and dexterity before you can sit down and start playing your first games.

Going the other way is significantly easier, and some might say, much safer. You will be provided with components that have been tested and are known to work together, you will only have one point of contact, rather than a multitude and you won't need to have cold sweats when your PC doesn't start when you pressed the power button.

Check our spreadsheet here with the part list and the respective URLs.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.