Christmas is right around the corner, so we've decided to do a budget build that you could ask Santa to build for you. This build is a step up from the recent $508 Cheap Bastard's Xmas Gaming build we did for those of you on an ultra-strict budget, and at $727, you get a lot more power for a bit more cash. This build is powered by an eight-core CPU and an AMD R9 270 GPU; it's a great combo for gamers who play games more demanding on the video card than what was offered with the above mentioned build. You should have no problem playing most (if not all) games out there at mid to highest settings.
This $727 budget gaming PC build offers a DIY option for high-end gaming at a mid-range price. Let's get to the goodies you hope to find under your Xmas tree this year.
$727 Custom/DIY Budget Gaming PC Build - December, 2013
OS & Recommended Extras
MSI R9 270 2GB ($180): Just as there was a massive gold rush in 1849 California, there was a new rush in crytocurrencies that has left the GPU market in shambles as we recently reported. The trend of mining LiteCoin with AMD GPUs has caused the prices and availability of video cards to go out of control, with low-end nVidia hardware selling out and all AMD hardware increases prices.
With prices starting to stabilize, but still not back to what we are comfortable with, it was difficult to find a GPU at an affordable price. I was lucky to find this MSI R9 270 for a good price, though. As you can see in our preview of the R9 270, we now have a new favorite sub-$200 budget GPU. The 950MHz Core Clock is complemented with a boost clock up to 975MHz and 1280 Stream Processors, along with 2GB of memory on a 256-bit interface, means gaming at medium to highest settings is likely (depending on resolution - assuming 1080p). I really like this MSI variant as well, given its dual-fan heatsink that should help with thermals, keeping the temps low during intensive gaming sessions. If you have $60 lying around, you might want to consider upgrading to this MSI GTX 760 GPU. The 1150MHz boost clock and 1152 CUDA cores with 2GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit interface offers you better performance for a small price difference.
AMD FX-8320 CPU ($160): With the recent trend of games using more cores from the CPU (see: Battlefield 4), we decided to use an eight core CPU in this build. This Vishera-powered CPU boasts eight cores on a 32nm architecture. You also get a hefty 8MB L3 cache and 4 x 2MB L2 cache that complements the 4GHz stock operating frequency. With the news that the FX line is not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, you can rest easy knowing you will get support from AMD with this chip. For a pure gaming setup, this CPU should offer you the best performance in multi-core gaming in the $160 range. This chip was also made for overclocking, but the stock cooler does not do enough to keep temps down, so I would suggest purchasing this NZXT T20 heatsink to keep temps down if you plan on lightweight overclocking.
Team Dark 8GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM ($69): It seems the prices of RAM have stabilized, but not at the lower prices we were used to seeing. Finding quality RAM in the sub-$60 range has been a rarity, so here I found 2x4GB of DDR3 RAM for a decent price. Team is a newcomer in the field of memory production, but they get good reviews. What I really like about this particular memory is the heat spreader, which should help not only keep the temps of the memory lower, but prolong the lifespan of the memory.
ASUS M5A99FX AM3+ Motherboard ($130): This motherboard offers just about everything you should look for in a gaming build. The AMD 990FX chipset does a great job for high-end expandability and is coupled with heatsinks that help with thermals on the MOSFETs. You also get native support for up to 32GB of DDR3 memory at up to 1866MHz. You also get seven SATA 6Gb/s connections and support for up to quad SLI/CrossfireX. With all that is offered on the hardware end, the software offered by ASUS is a bonus. UEFI BIOS and Network iControl's real-time network bandwidth control helps new system builders get acclimated to their build.
OCZ ModXStream Modular 600w PSU ($50): When looking for a budget PSU, it's important to find an 80 Plus Certified, fully-modular power supply at a good price. Here you get a 600W power supply that should be a great addition to your gaming rig. The modular cables help with cable management and keeping the clutter out of the case, which in turn helps with air flow as well. You should get all the cables you need, even if you plan on going SLI or Crossfire X, with longer cables than some power supplies offer.
Seagate 1TB 7200RPM HDD ($65): Here you get a large amount of storage for a good price. Even though this HDD will not be as fast as an SSD, this one is 7200 RPM with a 64MB cache (often goes unused, but helpful in bursty transfers) that is faster than most HDDs.
If you have an extra $150 to spend, pick up this ADATA XPG 256GB SSD. This is a great price on a fast SSD with a SandForce controller that should provide reliable performance.
LG DVD-Writer ($18): Unless you have an older one lying around, you might need an optical drive. There is no science to picking one out. Just find a cheap one that is not for a laptop (5.25" form factor), make sure the speeds are maxed at ~24X, and you're good. This one is cheap and works fine.
Azza Toledo 301 Case ($55): I was excited to see this case on sale. I usually try to find a case that not only looks good, but performs well while offering extras we look for in gaming cases. This case from Azza is on sale until the new year for only $55. This case offers a lot for the budget gamer. For starters, you get great cooling options. The massive 250mm blue LED fan on the side, 120mm blue LED fan in the front, and 120mm fan in the rear exhaust provide good air flow out of the box with room for more fans as well. A liquid cooling radiator up to 240mm can be installed, if that's something you're interested in. This mid-tower case offers support for GPUs up to 340mm long, four 5.25" bays, one 3.5" external bay and four 3.5" internal bays, and seven expansion slots. You also get plenty of cable management solutions, with cutouts and room behind the motherboard to hide away those cables. For the price, it is really hard to beat what you get with this case.
For just over $700, this is a gaming setup that not only looks good, but performs excellently in modern games. This build will play most games at medium to highest settings, with games like Battlefield 4 will playing at a medium/high mix of settings with decent FPS.
Please visit our forums for any questions or concerns, or feel free to post a quick question below! Until next time!
- Michael "Mikagmann2" Mann.