i was gifted a p3 1ghz/geforce3 in 2002 when i moved out of my parents house. in 2004 I bought a asus* with a p4 2.66 from a shacker for $150, i then bough 500 meg of memory and a geforce 5600 for it. In 2007 my roomate gave me a free p42.8 and radeon 9600pro.
I've played hl2, doom3, farcry, fear, cod4, and plenty others with this computer no problems. I dont get this "computer gamers need to spend $1k every year" crap.
*firefox thinks i bought an anus,but i dont remember doing that in 04