With the recent release of our high-end Haswell PC build and the budget Haswell PC build, we felt we should also include an ultra-low budget Richland gaming build to cover all the bases. This provides a couple solidly-priced options for those sourcing a new gaming PC, with HTPC builders also getting some attention (throw this hardware into an SG09 and switch to a slim ODD instead and you've instantly got an HTPC).
AMD still stands as the leader in price-to-performance setups, so a "Cheap Bastard's" build on an APU seemed to be a no-brainer. While this build is more focused at the budget arena, you should also be able to play most games out there comfortably without breaking the bank doing so. For less than $450, you can build a very capable, cheap gaming HTPC that should also overclock well with the new Richland A10-6800K APU powering it. So if you have a limited budget, and don't intend to play graphics-heavy games like Crysis 3 or Metro: LL on highest settings, this is the build for you.
It also makes for a good living-room unit -- a controller and cable box later and you've got a DVR replacement.
$443 DIY AMD Budget Gaming PC - 2013
OS & Optional Extras
For those of us who want to get the best performance for the lowest price, the A10-6800K is hard to beat. While Intel is slowly closing the gap with Haswell in the integrated graphics space, per-dollar and just by pure performance, Richland SKUs blow Intel out of the water. The same was true with Trinity. AMD's Richland SKUs have improved their CPU component with a higher external clockrate, so you get a better CPU than what was offered with Trinity and a slightly bolstered graphics component, though more focus is on the CPU.
For those of you who want to overclock, there are reports of this APU overclocking to 5.0GHz on air, though we haven't internally confirmed this. The A10-6800K comes stock at a 4.4GHz clock speed and a Graphics Core speed of 844MHz. The HD 8670D serves as the graphics unit, boasting 384 graphics cores and about 23% superior synthetic bench performance to the 7660D. Games like Crysis 3 are really not playable to the point of full enjoyment, but games like GRID 2, Far Cry 3, and Metro 2033 are playable at mid settings, potentially high, depending on resolution. That being said, this APU would be a great option for the gamer who plays games that are not very graphics-intensive or someone who doesn't need maxed-out GFX. For a better look at what games this APU can handle, SemiAccurate does some very thorough benchmarking.
We opted to use SilverStone's new Argon AR01 cooler, which recently took our "Best of Bench" award for CPU cooling. The Argon AR01 impressed us with its performance over all nearby competition, but rather than rewrite all the content here, I'll point you to the official video review:
Since this build is housing an APU, we had to selected faster RAM . Without a discrete video card with dedicated, on-card memory, the integrated graphics will rely on system memory instead - making the speed of system RAM significantly more important. I've opted for memory from Kingston's HyperX gaming line, which has proven affordable and powerful in past builds. This Kingston HyperX Predator 8GB 1866MHz RAM not only looks good, but is perfect for an APU configuration. Being XMP ready, you have the option to easily overclock it up to 2133MHz if you wanted.
Here we selected the MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 motherboard. Both GN's Steve and I own this motherboard in our own HTPC builds, and can both attest to the performance it offers for the low price of $60. It comes with all the connections that you should need on the mATX form factor, 2133MHz memory support, and MSI's UEFI BIOS. I personally have loved the UEFI BIOS revolution - overclocking has become breeze and more guided. The board also has a lot of extras, like Click BIOS and OC Tuner that are fun to mess around with. It does have HDMI support if that is important to you, and if you ever decide to buy a discreet GPU, it has capability for that as well.
If you're looking for something on the A85X chipset with a bit more power heatpiping and audio prowess, check out Biostar's $90 option.
We've come to appreciate what Thermaltake offers at the budget price range with their entry-level power supplies. I've selected a solid 500W PSU for only $40 after the rebate for this build; 500W is more than enough for this build, even if you add a low-TDP GPU. It lacks modularity, so you'll have to do some cable management to hide those unused cables. It does come with all the cables that you need and even allows for SLI or CrossfireX, has a standard 120mm fan on it, and offers Over-Voltage protection and Short-Circuit protection so your other components can feel a little safer.
In the past few builds we've advocated that you get an SSD, and while we still feel that way, this is too good of a deal to pass up. This 1TB HDD allows for tons of room for storage at 7200 RPM (fast enough for gaming) and it fits our low budget, which an SSD would blow pretty quickly. Spindle HDDs are nowhere near as fast as SSDs, of course, but it's still ample for gaming and mass video storage. At ~$50 after a $10 rebate, it's an easy choice!
Unfortunately optical drives are still in use and some people actually use them. If you are one of those people, this optical drive from LG to spin those disks for you. It's only $18 right now, so an easy buy if you don't already have one. Note that purchasing a different case (like a 'true' HTPC SFF case) may require a slim optical drive.
For our cheap bastard's build series, we try to find the best gaming case for the lowest price. To be a good gaming case, the first thing to look for is air flow potential to keep hotter chips cooled - and APUs do run notoriously hot - but we defined other requirements here. The V3 only ships with one stock fan, but given the $15 price-point after promotional rebate, it's worth buying an additional fan for intake. We'd recommend you grab this 120mm fan and install it in the front-intake position. The Thermaltake V3 has become one of our favorite budget cases for what it offers, and at $20 after rebate, it's an easy fit in this build. The V3 has admirable cooling options and room for all of your components, and while it's not exactly a "proper HTPC case," it is relatively small and can be packed away.
This build should make it clear that you don't have to be rich to enjoy PC gaming. For less than $450, you get a great computer for not only your general internet tasks, but also gaming and video streaming. If building an HTPC is your thing, this build should also be perfect for you - just opt for a smaller/quieter case (SG09 or similar).
Please visit our forums for any questions or concerns, or feel free to post a quick question below! Until next time!
- Michael "Mikagmann2" Mann.