Want to play games on your PC but limited by your budget? No problem. Check out our best budget gaming PC rig and see how you can game on the cheap.
Yes, this build is a touch more expensive than our previous build, but there are some substantial upgrades that warrant this price increase. Remember, street pricing is lower, and you should be able to pick this up closer to $1,200.
Core System: $1,284
NEW -- CPU : Ivy Bridge i5 3450 - $229
Latest chipset from Intel. I wouldn’t replace your 2500K with one (they don’t overclock as well), but stock out of the box, they are quicker than the i3 listed previously and should be quicker than any AMD CPU in and around the same value. Remember to get good OC out of an AMD, you usually have to spend big on a motherboard to get the features. This CPU and board combo should be good for a stable 4GHz OC with decent cooling.
CPU cooler: Stock - $0
Blah blah blah, you shouldn’t be overclocking your CPU in the first place, stock cooler is all you need, you know the drill. If you DO wanna push this little monster, check out the HSF that’s listed on our all-rounder system
, or check out something like the CM TX3/TX3 EVO, or the Artic Cooling i30.
NEW -- Motherboard: Asrock Z77 Pro4-M mATX - $129
This board’s cheap. Real cheap. Not as feature-rich as some, but pretty close, and with a street price closer to $100 than it should be, this is perfect for a budget setup. Asrock’s come a long way since they first hit the market and are worth another look. If you need SLi, then look at the Extreme4-M, which is about $20 more.
Memory: Corsair Vengeance CML8GX3M2A1600C9 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 - $69
Even though it’s NOT a K Chip, you can still overclock it. Just not to the same extent as the K chips. This RAM is still great value, and not worth changing from our previous build. You can still gain a little if you drop the MHz from 1,600 to 1,333 and drop the latency of the RAM.
PRICE DROP -- Video card: HIS Radeon HD7950 3GB - $459
That’s right, the HD7950. Now it should all make sense. Video cards affect frame rate more than CPUs or motherboards, and this is pretty much the fastest card I can throw at this machine and stay in budget. I know you’re all thinking this needs an i5, or that we should have chosen a PCI-E3 board, but these options all cost money for minimal gains, and if you can’t increase the budget to accommodate, then you’ll end up getting a lesser video card. Motherboard and CPU changes will increase FPS by 2 or 3 frames, while dropping back a video card level you will easily lose 10-20 frames.
NEW -- Hard drive: Sandisk Extreme SSD 120GB - $149
This looks like the drive to buy. It’s running the new 24nm “Toggle Mode” NAND chips that were built for the slower Marvel controller and the production process makes them cheaper. SanDisk has decided to mate these up to the current SandForce controller.
NEW -- Case: Silverstone TJ08-E Black M-ATX - $109
Chances are you’re going to want to take this to LAN parties, and Silverstone has always made the best small form factor (SFF) cases. Again, remember, there’s so much to choose from, and everyone has their own tastes and requirements, but this case is hard to pass up. It's more expensive, and REALLY just a black alloy box, but the best thing about this case is, for its small size, it will accommodate a 13.8-inch video card. Being a mATX case (I know this board is mATX too, but you can hang the video card over the end of the board if you have a big enough case), you will not be able to run SLI or CrossFire with this board. If this is an issue, then you will need to find a full-size ATX case.
PSU: Cooler Master GX 750w - $115
This is a great budget PSU that will supply enough juice to run that HD7950 without any problems. Also, keeping the PSU high enough spec so the system’s not running close to its peak power draw will keep the PSU running cool, so not to add any unwanted heat to the system.
Optical drive: DVD burner - $25
Anything will do really, and chances are once you’ve installed Windows, you’ll never use it again. Optical drives are cheap, and I’ve never had any real issues with any brand on the market. Whatever your personal preference is will do.
Core System Cost - $1,284