Cheap High End Gaming PC – Dell Precision T5500 for Inexpensive High Performance Gaming

These days, with high than ever PC system requirements, it is easy to send $1000 plus to build a game rig to play the latest games. Star Wars Battlefront for instance requires a quad core, 8GB of memory and high end video card and this is at the minimum! So what is the alternative to sending big bucks?

The best solution is the Dell Precision T5500. The T5500, is a slightly older, high end workstation designed for graphic design and high demand 3D rendering and other industry software. This makes it perfect platform for building an inexpensive gaming rig. Here are the highlights:

  • 875W Power Supply
  • Dual CPU Support (Not a must, even for high end gaming)
  • 6 Core CPU (One and two CPU config, max of 12 cores)
  • Dual PCIe x16 Slots and Internal Power Plugs For Dual Video Cards
  • DDR3-10600 (1333HZZ) Max up to 72GB (with Dual CPU Config)
  • Up to 24 threads and Hyper Threading Support

By purchasing a 4-5 year old high end commercial workstation, you can come very close to matching the performance of today very high end gaming computers, at less then half the price. I purchased a T5500 about 6 moths a ago off of eBay for $200. There are many different configurations of the T5500. The main thing i was and you should look for when searching for a T5500 is that the processor is hyper threaded, a E5600 quad core (single CPU) or X5600 hex core (dual CPU) series processor is best. The faster the clock speed the better, both of these CPU series have hyper threaded, 2 threads per core, Turbo Boost and 12MB of L3 cache. The rest can be upgraded later, but the more memory, bigger the HD the merrier. RAM is inexpensive, I just add 12GB for $29, giving me a total of 15GB. The system can with six 1GM stick, I had to replace 3 of the with the new 4GB sticks I bought. You will defiantly want to add and SSD, even if it is not very big, for your OS. The drive the T5500 came with can be used for your games and software storage. Most of the T5500’s come with one of Nvidia Quadro series video cards. While these cards can still be very pricey and are high performance, they are somewhat industry specific and are not well suited for high end gaming. You need to replace this, this will be the largest cost upgrade. Buy the high grade gaming video card that is in your budget. The video card will have the biggest impacted on gaming. It is the difference between whether you can play your games on a medium graphics setting or the highest and why go though all this if you can’t crank it up to at least near the highest settings. I recommend a AMD ATI R7 at the very minimum ($120 on amazon).

Here is the specs on the rig I put together for around $475:
Novabench Score

  • Dell Percision T5500 Single CPU
  • Windows 10 64 bit
  • CPU: Intel Xeon E5620, 2.4GHZ, Quad Core, HT, 8 Threads, 12MB Cache
  • Memory: 15GB DDR3-10600 (1333HZ)
  • Hard Drive: Primary 120GB SSD (OS), Secondary 1TB
  • Vedio Card: Sapphire R9 270, 2DG GDDR5, 256 bit

Here are the games I play and the graphics setting that very well with this rig:

  • Titan Falls – Graphics set to Very High (one down from max)
  • Far Cry – Graphics set to Very High (one down from max)
  • War Thunder – Graphics set to Max
  • Syndicate – Graphics set to Max
  • Dead Space 3 – Graphics set to Max
  • Home Work Remastered – Graphics set to Max

So, as you can see, not to bad for a gaming rig under $500. With a better graphics car you could play any game out there at the highest graphics settings with no issue. If your on a tight budge but want a high performance gaming system, I would consider a T5500 as the base platfore to build your gaming rig on.

Things to review before buying upgrade hardware:

Memory configurations – Pg 2-4: dell-precision-t5500-manual

17 comments to Cheap High End Gaming PC – Dell Precision T5500 for Inexpensive High Performance Gaming

  • pl  says:

    I have also just bought a similar one with Dual X5650 CPUs.

    I am thinking of replacing the two quadro cards with a single GTX 1070.

    I read on other website people having problems connecting the 6pin and 8pin power supply cables to GTX 980. Since GTX 1070 is just using a 8pin 150W, I wonder the 8pin cable coming out from the 875W power supply would be capable to install the card.

    Do you think a GTX1070 can be installed on this machine?

    Obviously I think GTX1070 would be a bit overkill for this system since the CPU may not be able to utilize its full potential, but given its price getting near Titan X it looks like a worthy deal. Any older GPUs would you recommend?

  • admin  says:

    It look like it is doable, but you will need to utilize either the SATA power plugs or the 6 pin PCIe power plug as well as some adapters.

    There maybe some amperage issues with the Dell power supply and the GTX 1070 when its under a heavy load.

    I hope this helps. I will keep digging, let me know if you find any more info

  • pl  says:

    Perhaps I can try using RX 480 when it is available. Looks like it uses even less power comparing to AMD’s older cards.

    e.g. R9 270 takes 150W 2x 6pin and PSU 500W 32 amp

    and RX 480 (although not yet release) takes 150W 1x 6pin and PSU 450W 30 amp

    Are you also using two 6pin cable directly in T5500 for your R9 270

    Thanks a lot.

  • admin  says:

    The R9 270x I have only requires one 6 pin, What are you using your T5500 for?

  • pl  says:

    The main purpose of the T5500 is running virtual machines and doing some parallel computation tasks. I got this machine cheaply 2nd hand. The two old XEONs are just perfect for those tasks.

    Sometimes I want to play some more modern games at 1080p but I don’t have space for another desktop machine, so I am looking to replace the existing two quadro NVS 295 with a more powerful gaming card.

    So far it looks like a RX 480 a better choice than the GTX 1070 because my CPU seems can’t unleash the full potential of 1070 anyway.

  • admin  says:

    I agree, the RX 480 you should be able to just drop it in with the 6 pin and be ready to go.

  • pl  says:

    FYI I have got my RX 480 today (AMD Reference board style) and installed on the machine. It can marginally fit to the case due to the troublesome blue color handle above the PCIe slots.

    THe problem is…. after driver installation I’ve got

    “Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)”

    in the device manager under RX 480.

    It looks like T5500 can recognize the card but the AMD display driver 16.200.1035.0000 doesn’t seem to work on the machine.

    I posted my problem to AMD forum not sure how long i have to wait to resolve this… (or actually not resolvable….)

  • admin  says:

    I removed the blue retaining bracket on mine.

    I would delete all video card drivers and software. When reboot and download the driver auto detect at software and run it.

    I don’t see why that card wouldn’t works. Sounds like a software issue.

  • admin  says:

    This is for a different card but maybe helpful

  • pl  says:

    Thanks a lot.

    I have fixed the problem after spending over a day:

    (1) Uninstall all drivers, also used “Display Driver Uninstaller” to ensure everything is clean.
    (2) Reboot machine and make sure it is “Basic VGA Adapter” in device manager.
    (3) Power off machine. Plug one of the original (My Dell T5500 comes with two) NVidia Quadro NVS 295 cards and connect the monitor cable to the NVidia card.
    (4) Power on machine, install Nvidia driver. Reboot
    (5) Ensure NVidia card working properly. And then install the AMD driver, and reboot.
    (6) Check the device manager again. Now I have two devices: one is Quadro and another one is RX480 which both are working fine…
    (7) Power off machine and connect the monitor cable to RX480 instead and it works perfectly.

    Honestly I don’t know if this is Dell’s problem or AMD’s problem. The net result is my AMD card needs its rival card to help running… LOL

  • Vinicius  says:


    Can you please share with us the results of having the RX480 in this T5500 machine?

    I am buying one used T5500 and one new RX480 and I would like to know if this setup is working good, if you are having any issues with them and also if the gaming performance is good, since the GPU is pci 3.0 and the motherboard PCI is 2.0

    Please share your thoughts with us.

    Many thanks!

  • pl  says:

    So far it is working fine with the “add Quadro card” workaround. I have been playing GTA5 (only 1280 x 1024) having about 40-50 FPS.

    Apparently there is an issue that Dell A16 BIOS doesn’t have UEFI / CSM support that RX 480 needed. And I doubt AMD / Dell would improve the situation for our machine. Check out this URL:

    If you are going to buy a GPU you may want to consider older generation cards or borrow a card to test it first before buying.

  • rx0tcivV  says:

    I am running t5500 with x5677 and gtx 1070, no bottlenecks I would say, no problems. Power supply is very high quality, you can use 2x 6 pin to 1x pin pcie adapter no problem. Many gtx cards are supplied with these adapters by manufacturer. All my benchmarks are comparable to 1070 with fancy skylake i7’s. ABSOLUTE BARGAIN for powerfull gaming pc (440£ september 2016)

  • Jim  says:

    I put a GTX1060 6gb into my t5500.
    (Had a quaddro 4000, gtx750, gtx 960 in my dell, but i wanted more power)
    Currently running 24gb ram with 1x x5667.
    All games run on ultra. I have no bottleneck at all.

    I ordered a x5680, Because i wanted to see the 6cores hyperthreaded working in my dell.

    Maybe i will buy a pcie sata 3 controller, that my ssd can run in full speed mode.

    Peace ^^

  • zohaib  says:

    dell t5500
    xeon ram 24gb process 3.7 3.6
    but one porblem

  • admin  says:

    zohaib – What is the one problem?

  • pl  says:

    Hi rx0tcivV,
    Would you mind to tell me which GTX 1070 card you bought? I was using AMD RX480 but recently I want to start doing some deep learning stuff on this machine so a NVidia card would be better. The problem is that the Dell T5500 case seems only “marginally” fit the current RX480 card I worry that some of the GTX 1070 won’t fit into the case.

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