If you are relatively new to the PC gaming scene, youÂ wouldn’tÂ be alone in thinking that only the best hardware money can buy is good enough for gaming. Well, this isnâ€™t usually the case. Despite what some people may have you believe, you do not have to spend an awful lot of money on a new gaming PC and you may be pleasantly surprised with what a smaller budget can get you.
So then, for the first part in this series, I will be showing you that even a budget of Â£300 – Â£400 could be enough for you to build your first gaming PC. Sure, you wonâ€™t be playing Crysis 2 (or similar) on maximum settings on any of the hardware mentioned in this article, but for this budget range, would you really expect to?
The first thing to consider, is what games you plan to play to on your new PC. If you find that you only really play games such as Minecraft or the odd casual game on Steam then you will not have to spend a lot of money. Most mainstream games will run fine on a system from this budget range and you can expect to run games at a good screen resolution at settings that could be compared to current generation games consoles, in terms of texture detail and anti-aliasing.
Below, I have compiled a list of hardware that you could possibly choose for a system in this price range:
|AMD FX-4 4100 Black Edition 4 Core 3.6Ghz Socket AM3+||Â£89.55|
|Asus M5A78L-M LX AMD Socket AM3+ Motherboard||Â£39.93|
|Corsair 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333MHz RAM||Â£33.88|
|WD 500GB Caviar Blue Hard Drive – 7200RPM||Â£59.99|
|Coolermaster Elite 330 Case With Coolermaster eXtreme Power 500W PSU||Â£49.98|
|Sapphire HD 6770 1GB GDDR5 DVI VGA HDMI PCI-E Graphics Card||Â£79.99|
|Samsung SH-222AB 22x DVDÂ±RW||Â£11.98|
The CPU I chose for this example set-up is one of AMD’s latest “FX” chips. With 4 cores and running at a speed of 3.6Ghz, this is very good performance for a frankly amazing price of Â£89.55. This CPU will be more than capable of running any day to day tasks you care to through at it. Yes, it’s no match to many of Intel’s latest SandyBridge CPU’s, but for the price, this snappy quad core represents unbeatable performance for a small cost.
The motherboard I chose is very inexpensive,Â althoughÂ being from a trusted brand such as Asus it will cope with a wide range of hardware and should not cause you any problems, in terms of hardware support and upgradability. This particular motherboard has an AM3+ socket, which will support the newest AMD FX processors as well as the slightly older AM3 compatible ones. In terms of RAM, Asus provide two DDR3 slots with support ofÂ up-toÂ 8GB RAM at a maximum frequency of 1866Mhz, so lots of headroom there for future upgrades. Other features include: 6 3Gb/s SATA ports, 4 x USB 2.0 ports and integrated ATI HD 3000 graphics. For the money then, this motherboard offers excellent value, despite the absence of USB 3 and a few other extra features. For this budget though, you really can’t go wrong.
RAM isÂ becomingÂ ever cheaper, so for this set-up I decided to go for the full 8GB that the motherboard supports. With this much RAM, you won’t be experiencing any type of slowdown in memory intensive applications. If you were on a tighter budget however, you could opt to get 4GB,Â althoughÂ I didnt feel there was much point, considering it would have only been Â£10 cheaper.
As for the hard-disk, I settled on a 7200RPM 500GB Western Digital model. Unfortunately, the price of hard-disks has risen recently and the same model would have cost you a lot less 6 months ago. However, for the money, you are still getting a fast and spacious hard-disk that should provide enough space for all your games, music, pictures and videos.
The next item on the list is the Coolermaster Elite 330 case, bundled with a 500W PSU. Being lower down in the range of Coolermaster PC cases, the Elite 330 is missing some higher end features and the higher level of build quality seen in the more expensive cases. However at this price, this is an excellent purchase for a budget system. The power supply, also from Coolermaster, provides more than enough power to handle the other components in the system with ease. At just Â£49.98 this case and PSU bundle is a very attractive deal.
Next, comes the graphics card. Being the most important component of any gaming PC, much thought should go into choosing the right one. The Sapphire 6770 that I went for, will provide good performance in most mainstream games on medium – high settings. With this card you will be able to play games at HD resolutions at detail levels similar to those seen on game consoles. One thing to note however, is that the 6770 is simply a re-branded version of the 5770 from the year before,Â albeitÂ with a few extra features.
The last item on the list is a Samsung DVD RW drive.Â AlthoughÂ not as essential to a PC build nowadays, a DVD drive will be needed Â to install an operating system and also any games you have on disc and can also be used for making backups (Which you should be doing).
In conclusion then, the hardware I have suggested will provide you with ample performance for mainstream gaming and every day tasks. For the small price of Â£365.30, this system is excellent value for money. The list I provided includes the basic hardware needed to get started. However, you may still need to factor in the cost for an operating system (Games-TecÂ recommends Microsoft’s Windows 7) and peripherals such as: Monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers / headphones.
— UPDATE —
New components list with US prices. I have tried to source similar / same hardware where possible. All hardware in the table below was Â sourced from Newegg.com
|AMD FX-4170 Zambezi 4.2GHz AM3+||$139.99|
|Asus M5A78L-M LX AMD Socket AM3+ Motherboard||$59.99|
|Corsair 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333MHz RAM||$39.99|
|WD 500GB Caviar Blue Hard Drive – 7200RPM||$84.99|
|Coolermaster Elite 331 case & Coolermaster eXtreme Power Plus PSU bundle||$78.98|
|Sapphire HD 6770 1GB GDDR5 DVI VGA HDMI PCI-E Graphics Card||$129.99|
|Asus 24X DVD Burner||$17.99|
Got a higher budget? Well, join us next month when I will be covering what a mid range (Â£500 – Â£800) budget can get you.
- The hardware listed above is subject to changes in price andÂ availability and as such, we cannotÂ guaranteeÂ the exact prices mentioned in this article.
- All hardware available from Ebuyer.comÂ (at time of writing)