It's been a while since we've posted a proper budget build, so with the re-launch of the site and subsequent giveaway, we figured it was a great time to post another. As with all our budget gaming PC builds, we decided to go for the best possible build for the lowest reasonable price, without entering HTPC territory (you can find one of those over here). This is a true gaming build.
Featuring an AMD Radeon HD 7850 GPU paired with an AMD FX-6300 processor, this machine is purpose-built for budget-focused gamers with a desire to still run medium or better graphics settings. You won't be maxing-out high-end games (like Battlefield 4, check out this rig for that), but the 7850 will readily handle most mid-range games on high settings and high-end games (BF4) on medium settings.
Priced at a little under $600, this DIY budget gaming computer build provides a strong foundation for your PC gaming and building endeavors. Let's get to the components break-down.
$558 AMD DIY Cheap Gaming PC Build
OS & Optional Extras
Once again we've opted to include an HD 7850 for a budget build; at the entry-level price-range, it's nearly impossible to beat AMD's price-to-performance ratio for both CPUs and GPUs. At $125, MSI's rendition of the HD 7850 2GB model has the memory capacity to run high-res texture packs and computational power to render medium-to-high graphics in most modern games. The 7850 has a somewhat standard 256-bit interface.
As a bonus, this card comes with 2 free games; you can choose two of the games listed here:
As noted above, it's pretty difficult to beat AMD in a pure gaming rig when building on a budget. Intel's i5 processors offer excellent performance across the board, but if you're just playing games (and don't do anything with professional applications), the 63XX series will serve you well. At this price range, you get more CPU going with AMD over an Intel chip of a similar price. Even though the FX line of processors does not boast the new shadowing techniques that Haswell offers, the FX-6300 does offer great performance in the sub-$200 market.
Not only do you get six cores, but you also get a chip that was built to overclock; AMD has shifted its focus more heavily toward the enthusiast-end of the system building market, given Intel's dominant grip on high-performance stock chips. At the end of the day, the fact is that most games are GPU-bound anyway, so the differences between a 4670 and FX-6300 are largely unnoticed in pure gaming applications (a more powerful GPU will make a larger impact).
This build uses 8GB of Patriot's Viper Xtreme memory, clocked natively at 1600MHz and easily overclocked to 1866MHz or higher. I always recommend getting at least 8GB of RAM for our builds, as most modern programs—especially web browsers with dozens of tabs—will use up a good bit of memory. 8GB gives you a little extra buffer for a good mid-range price, making life easier when gaming while leaving a tab-loaded browser open. The price of RAM has gone up recently (just as the price of storage devices has finally stabilized), but after rebate, this Patriot memory places at an acceptable ~$50.
We decided to go with MSI for our budget motherboard selection. MSI makes quality motherboards with solid heatpiping / phase power design, an easy UEFI BIOS for beginning overclockers, and this board supports AM3+ CPUs (like the FX 6300), so everything's compatible. We recently did an article on Selecting the Best Motherboard, and this one fits right between the "cheap" and "budget" price ranges nicely. The MSI 970A-G46 supports up to 32GB of 2133MHz memory, CrossfireX or SLI, USB 3.0, and has all the connections you should need at this price range.
For those looking to overclock, check out our overclocking primer for a fundamental overview.
I found a great deal on this 500W 80 Plus Bronze-certified PSU made by Cooler Master. This power supply provides a steady 500W of power at >85% efficiency, so it's a reliable PSU for any entry-level gaming rig. For connections, the i500 comes with non-modular 2x6+2pin PCI-e connectors, standard power, and 6 SATA connectors.
500W is more than enough given our CPU/GPU combination, but if you want to drop a more powerful video card into the PC, we can help you find a beefier PSU.
For only $40 after rebate, this deal is almost too good to pass on.
It's nice to see that hard drive prices have stabilized to the point where you can get a large amount of storage for cheap-ish. We opted for 1TB of storage @ 7200RPM for $65. We always suggest picking up a solid state drive, as it will decrease the load times of your programs dramatically, but it just doesn't fit the budget of this build. By spec-ing for 7200RPM, the drive will be able to keep up with the demand of games without bottlenecking your machine too hard; if you've got an extra $100 to spend, consider adding a HyperX 3K SSD or Samsung 840 to the shopping cart.
Until they're totally phased-out, we still need this primitive technology for basic OS installs and physical media consumption. So, if you are in need of an item that makes discs spin, this one will do just fine.
We recommend salvaging an optical drive from existing SATA-enabled PCs to save some money.
Corsair's 200R is one of the best cases available under $70. The Carbide series cases are not only well-crafted, but offer a lot of cooling options as well. This case comes with two pre-installed 120mm fans, and supports up to eight total fans. It's compact, but does allow for video cards up to 300mm in length. For those of you (like me) who do not want a case that looks like a spaceship, this one has a sleek design that looks a bit more professional and sleeper-like. The 200R also has a tool-less design, promising that you'll only need a screwdriver to install the mATX or ATX motherboard you put into it. If the look of this case does not appeal to you, we can always help you pick out another case.
I really like this build. For a low price, you get a great gaming PC that'll be able to play most games out at mid-to-high settings. Keep in mind the prices are tentative, so take advantage of the sales while they last. Please visit our forums for any questions or concerns, or feel free to post a quick question below! Until next time!
- Michael "Mikagmann2" Mann.