When it comes to gaming PCs, it's not a case of how fast you want your PC to be, but how fast you want to spend money. Last week I looked at big bucks ways to supercharge your gaming PC. But what if you don't have thousands of dollars laying about the place? Can you still build a killer gaming PC on a tight budget?
Sure you can!
AMD's new A10-7870K is where I suggest you turn to for a processor. Running at 3.9GHz and yet having a modest sub-$150 price tag, it makes an excellent choice for a gaming system no matter what your budget.
Here we're having to rely on the built-in GPU, but this is still more than enough to give you 30 frames per second gaming at 1080HD resolutions in many of the popular games.
Since this is a budget system there's no need to overspend on a motherboard. However, with that said, we still want a decent board that offers stability and plenty of room for tweaking. Here I'd go for the Asus A88X-PRO, because it offers pretty much everything you'd expect from a high-end board for around $90 if you shop around.
As much as I feel that I can save money by going for cheap RAM, when I'm building performance or gaming systems I always feel like this is a ghost that's going to come back to haunt me at a later date.
There's a lot of different RAM to choose from, but since I've been having good success with G.SKILL RAM in high-end systems, I'm going to stick with it here. 8GB of G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series DDR3 2133 comes in at around $65, so it's ideal for this system.
What we want is lots of storage at a good price, so I'm going for the 1TB Western Digital Blue WD10EZEX for a shade over $50.
No need to go wild here. EVGA 100-W1-500-KR 500W at $45 fits the bill.
You can pick up something like the Antec VSK-4000 for $30. It's not pretty to look at, but it does the job.
If you don't have a display then $130 will get a 24-inch full-HD Acer S241HLbmid display.
The Windows tax on a gaming PC will cost you $90. Live with it.
The bottom line
The total cost of this system (excluding things like shipping and any peripherals you might want to add) is $620. And don't for one moment think you're getting a cut-rate system for that, because you're not.
An update, primarily for the comment jockeys who are complaining about this build using an APU. Yes, I understand that some people don't like APUs, and some people think that nothing under $2,000 can be a gaming PC - yeah, OK, whatever.
First off, $620 is $620. Some people just want to play games, and are willing to compromise on in-game quality to do that. These are people who aren't buying PCs for bragging rights or because they have money to burn. Want to brag? Then spend real money.
Secondly, if you want to add a GPU then $99 gets you one, and the build is still only $720. That's certainly going to push the performance up a few notches. Of spend 4200 or whatever. But that's then not an $620 PC then, is it?
Thirdly, there's a love/hate thing going with APUs. I used to be in the latter camp, but lately I'm warming to them in specific systems. Sub-$700 being one such system.
Finally, AMD is being very clear as to how it is marketing this APU at the online gaming market, and given how that is a growing segment that's not being eaten alive by consoles, there's logic in that.