It's been a while since a true revival of our Cheap Bastard series of gaming PC builds. We recently posted a low-end League of Legends PC for $425 that can be assembled very quickly, but it was really spec'd just for low-end games. We had a recent forum request for a cheap PC build capable of Twitch streaming, YouTube video editing, and gaming for around $500. That's what this gaming PC tries to do. This Cheap Bastard's gaming PC build has no frills -- it just gets the job done, namely gaming on high settings, lightweight video rendering, and Twitch streaming for around $500.
If you need help learning how to build the system, hit us up on the forums or keep an eye out for our impending guide!
Let's get started!
$508 Cheap Bastard's DIY Custom AMD Gaming Computer Build - Xmas, December, 2013
OS & Recommended Extras
ASUS AMD 7790 2GB ($140): The video card market has gone absolutely insane over a period of the last 5 days, with AMD GPU prices skyrocketing to 2x the initial MSRP and NVIDIA GPUs simply selling out globally (at their normal prices, though). This is largely due to an unforeseen surge in demand by the market, which we intend to explore in an upcoming article, and has primarily affected the mid-range and high-end markets. I would have liked to use a GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB card in this build instead, but they're simply sold-out on every electronics retailer I could think of searching.
That said, the AMD HD 7790 performs very similarly to the GTX 650 Ti Boost (within a few percent of each other, frame-wise), so it still makes for a perfect option for our ultra-cheap gaming PC. We've opted for the 2GB version of this card, as we oft recommend, which uses a dual-blower fan design to keep thermals lower. The card comes pre-overclocked, so it'll be able to compete almost directly with the 650 Ti Boost, making this card no lesser than my initially preferred option.
AMD FX-6300 6-core CPU ($110): AMD recently confirmed that their FX line will stick around for a while yet (at least 1-2 more years), so the Vishera platform will continue receiving support well into the immediate future. The FX-6300—a 6-core CPU using AMD's Bulldozer modules, which include 2x INT + 1x FP units on each module—makes for a perfect entry-level render CPU that can handle most games with high performance. Right now, it's more likely that other components of this build will bottleneck you before the CPU (like storage), so the FX-6300 gives a bit of room for growth, too.
The extra focus on INT and cores pushes the FX-6300 ahead of similarly-priced Intel chips, so anyone doing YouTube rendering/encoding or streaming will benefit from this chip.
Have an extra $30? We strongly recommend an aftermarket heatsink to reduce thermals and noise emissions. Try to get one of these within the first year of life.
G.Skill Ares 8GB @ 1600MHz ($53): RAM prices seem to have more-or-less stabilized at around ~$50-$60 for a 2x4GB 1600MHz kit, which truthfully isn't a bad price. We're using a kit of low-profile Ares RAM here, so it'll work almost assuredly for any aftermarket heatsink you toss on there. At 1600MHz, we're running a stable, standardized clockrate that won't inhibit your gaming experience; you can easily overclock the RAM to 1866MHz or higher. An 1866MHz overclock is attainable and will improve your render times slightly.
8GB (2x4GB) is plenty for a gaming machine, but there is room for an additional 2x sticks of RAM if you require 16GB in the future.
MSI 970A-G46 AM3+ ($70): Using AMD's AM3+ socket for compatibility with the FX series chips, MSI's 970A G46 (equipped with a 970 chipset) hosts the basic I/O and port options required for our Cheap Bastard's machine. The board has 2xPCI-e 2.0 slots (1x16, 1x8), making it ideal for single-GPU configurations and allowing a second card in CrossFire/SLI in the future; the x8 and x1 slots also make room for an add-on capture card for gaming.
RAM OCs are capable up to 2133MHz and you've got some basic allowance for CPU overclocking, too. Supports 125W AMD CPUs, so you won't be able to put an FX-9000 series chip in here (also on the Vishera platform). Then again, at this budget, that was never a concern to begin with.
Thermaltake TR2 TR-600W PSU ($25): Power supplies aren't normally this cheap, and when they are, you normally can't trust them. For whatever reason, Thermaltake's TR2 600W PSU has become a constant sale over the last few months. Marked down to $25 from $65 (after MIR and discounts), this 600W PSU has all the power we need for a budget (and even mid-range) AMD gaming PC.
Even if you go for SLI in the future, you're still supported on this PSU. It lacks 80 Plus power efficiency certification, so it isn't exactly as 'green' as it could be (see this guide for that) and it isn't modular (the cables can't be detached), but at $25, it's still a solid featureset.
Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM HDD ($55): Use code "EMCWVWV23" at checkout for an extra $10 off this HDD, bringing it from $65 to $55. For this class of gaming machine, our bottom-line is a 7200RPM HDD with at least 500GB-1TB of space. Given the price and the current discount, we went for the full terabyte; this gives plenty of room for gaming, video files, and professional editing software.
Lite-On DVD Burner 24X ($15): Optical drives have pretty much stabilized at a ~$15-$18 price-point these days. The technology hasn't changed in years -- not really since Blu-Ray came out -- so we just need something that reads and writes reliably at the maximum speeds available. This'll do it.
Rosewill Galaxy-03 Case ($40): We got a hands-on with Rosewill's Galaxy-series cases when we visited the company in California this year. Serving as a new ultra-budget case, these get the job done for any entry-level gaming system with modest cooling and size. The Galaxy ships with 3x120mm fans (front, rear, top) and will fit CPU coolers up to 160mm in height. The exterior is reminiscent of Thermaltake products, but retains a cool look without feeling cheap.
Let us know if you need help putting together a build of your own! Hit up our forums for expert insight or leave a comment below for quick questions.
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.