Build a Budget Gaming PC
Edited by Batkingnz, Eng, Lynn, Alma
While various consoles have come and gone, succeeded and failed, the PC has remained a constant in the video game industry. PC gaming was once only for the serious tech heads, while consoles from the likes of Nintendo, Sony, and more recently Microsoft, made gaming mainstream and accessible to a wider audience.
In the past, some have shied away from the cost and complexity of a PC, but with today's plug and play components, user friendly operating systems, and most importantly, decreasing prices, the PC is now a serious contender for your next gaming investment. See our HowTo below for help on building your own budget gaming PC.
- 1In this section we will break down the PC by each component with an added recommendation. Components have been chosen based on reliability, future proofing and their performance/price ratio. When doing your own research you may decide on other components. Keep in mind the compatibility between each component (you can check with the manufacturer or sales representative) and leave a question or suggestion in the comments below if you find a preferred alternative.Advertisement
- 2Motherboard. The Motherboard is essentially the infrastructure of the whole PC. This will allow all the other components to connect and communicate to one another. It is a crucial element that can affect the speed and reliability of your PC. It also allows for future upgrades. For this budget build, we are recommending the ASRock Fatal1ty H87. This is an entry level motherboard with some serious gaming potential. It has enough expansion slots for future proofing while also supporting the faster Intel i7 CPUs and up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM.Advertisement
- 3CPU.Intel i5-4430. This is a Quad Core CPU running at 3.0GHz per core. It's more than enough for gaming and everyday tasks, and will future proof your machine, i.e., you will be happy with this CPU through your next GPU upgrade. You can opt for an i3 processor to lower your overall price, but then you will be pushing the limits with modern gaming.
- 4GPU or graphics card. Think of this as a CPU but specifically for graphics. The GPU will make the difference when running newer games at higher resolutions. We are recommending the EVGA GeForce GTX 650. This is an upper tier entry level graphics card with 1 GB RAM, running at just over 1 GHz. You will get full settings at 1080p on slightly older games, while getting decent frame rates on medium settings for current gen games.
- 5RAM. This is where all temporary files and instructions are stored on your PC. 4 GB is the minimum recommended amount of RAM for a gaming PC, even in the budget range. VisiHow is recommending this Corsair Vengeance set that will give you 4 GB in dual-channel mode. It will go up to DDR1600, utilizing the full power of your motherboard. At $49, this is a relatively inexpensive component that plays a big part of your overall experience. Although not necessary you could move up to 8 GB of dual-channel RAM by adding another $30 on top of this.
- 6Hard drive. The hard drive is where all your data will be stored. The minimum size recommended is 500 GB, but you can go higher if you're expecting to store a lot of games and media. 500 GB is enough for even a moderate to large collection, so if saving money is important, stick with 500 GB for now. You could always add another 500 GB or 1 TB in the future if necessary. This Western Digital model will do the trick.
- 7Optical drive. This is the CD/DVD reader and writer. Most name brand units of good quality are around the $20 mark. If you need Blu-Ray capabilities for storing files on a disc or watching movies on your PC, then expect to pay around $50 and up. We are recommending this LG DVD Burner for under $20.
- 8Power supply and case. Some of the most overlooked components in a first build are the power supply and case. Even if tempted, never opt for the cheaper cases with a built in unbranded power supply. While these can be sufficient for basic office tasks and browsing, they will soon start to cause problems when running a powerful CPU and GPU. As entry level but quality options we are recommending this Cooler Master Power Supply and Case. The power supply offers 500 W of power, which is more than enough for your current CPU and GPU, and will also allow significant upgrades in the future. The case comes from Cooler Master again, and will provide you with enough ports, expansion slots and space for good airflow helping to keep all your components cool.
- 9Total cost of build: $627
- 10You can still reduce the total cost.
Putting it all together
Once you have settled on all the components and are ready to start building, make sure that you have a clean, bright and dust free environment and head on over to Build a Desktop Computer for our HowTo on putting it all together.
The above build includes the basic requirements for a working computer, but of course does not include additional expenses such as the operating system, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and of course, the games.
- 1Operating system. Being a gaming PC, your best option would be the Microsoft Windows Operating System. Windows 8.1 can be had for as low as $99 and is yours forever to install on any future builds as well.