Good Cheap Gaming Computers

In this guide we’re going to go over everything you need to know in order to choose the best components for a solid cheap gaming computer. So, if you’re strapped for cash, but you still want to build a solid entry-level system, this guide will help you choose the best components for your budget.

m59In this day and age of incredible graphics and extremely demanding video games, you, as a PC gamer, must have a capable gaming computer if you want to play your favorite games in the way they they were designed to be played.

Unfortunately, though, the price tag that comes with a solid PC may be keeping you from getting the system that you deserve.

However, if you elect to build your own system–rather than buying it pre-built–you can forego the high costs associated with buying an expensive pre-built setup and you can finally get yourself an affordable gaming computer that will play your favorite games at acceptable levels.

In this guide I’m going to cover all of the different components that you can use in your budget build. I’m going to go over and answer every question that a prospective builder could possible ever have when looking for affordable components that will allow them to build a solid cheap gaming computer.

To start, though, I’m going to give you five different builds that you can use as is, or that you can use as a base to put together your own part list. This will allow you to skip the fine details and get straight to building your awesome gaming PC. If you want a more thorough overview of each component before you make your selection, you can use the full guide.

In the end, you’ll have a plan of action, as well as a number of different components to choose between, and you’ll be well on your way to building a cheap gaming computer that is capable of delivering excellent levels of performance.


Pre-Made Part Lists

In this section, I’ve taken five different price points ($300, $400, $500, $600, & $700) and I’ve put together builds for each budget.

These builds can either be used as is, or they can serve as a base that you can customize to your liking.

If you have any questions about these builds, please post them below in the comments section!

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$300 Entry-Level Gaming Computer

For gamers working with an extremely tight budget, it is possible to throw together a gaming computer (tower only) for around $300.

The downside of putting together such a low-end system is that you’ll be stuck with the integrated graphics on your processor. This isn’t a horrible thing, as integrated graphics have come along way. However, for $300, don’t be expecting to play modern games on settings any higher than medium.

  • CPU -  AMD A8-6600K APU 3.6GHz (View)
  • Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-F2A55M-HD2 (View)
  • RAM -  Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (View)
  • HDD - Seagate Barracuda 500 GB (View)
  • Case -  Rosewill RANGER-M (View)
  • Power Supply -  Antec VP-450 (View)
  • Optical Drive – (Install O.S. from USB drive)

Grand Total: $280-$320
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: Acer S220HQL 21.5″ 1920×1080 (View)
  • Keyboard: Inland USB Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: E-3lue Cobra II Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset (View)

If you absolutely cannot wait to get a gaming computer, and you’re working with a very tight budget, this entry-level setup is about as low as I would go.

With such a low budget you won’t be able to utilize a discrete video card an you’ll be stuck using the integrated graphics on the A8-6600K. Fortunately, though, those graphics should have you playing most games on at least low settings. And, if you play non-demanding games, this setup should serve as a suitable gaming PC.

However, if you’re main goal is to play today’s top games on the highest settings, you would probably be better off saving your money until you have at least ~$500.


A $400 Gaming Computer That Delivers a Punch

AMD FX-6300 6-Core ProcessorIf you were looking to buy a decent system from the big computer assemblers, you could expect to pay at least $700. However, you don’t need to spend $1,000 in order to get a gaming computer that will deliver a good experience.

In fact, for right around $400 you can build a system that will allow you to play your favorite games on moderate settings (and some of them on the highest settings).

And, by building it yourself, you can avoid having to deal with the low quality power supplies and motherboards that the big assembles like to throw in their builds.

The cheap gaming computer listed below is based off of my research of the best parts available for a $400 gaming computer. The build includes the following parts:

  • CPU -  AMD FX-4300 (View)
  • Motherboard - ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS AM3+ (View)
  • Video Card - XFX Radeon HD 7750 (View)
  • RAM -  Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (View)
  • HDD - Seagate Barracuda 500 GB (View)
  • Case -  Rosewill RANGER-M (View)
  • Power Supply - Antec VP-450 (View)
  • Optical Drive – Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $380-$420
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: Acer S220HQL 21.5″ 1920×1080 (View)
  • Keyboard: Inland USB Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: E-3lue Cobra II Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset (View)

It’s true that this build does have it’s limitations. You won’t be able to play the most graphically intense games on the highest settings with the parts in this gaming computer.

However, this build will be able to handle any game you throw at it as long as you stick to moderate video settings. And, since playing the game itself is usually the funnest part of gaming, this build will help you enjoy your experience without costing you a small fortune.

So, if you’re looking for a good cheap gaming computer build, head on over to this list of parts on Amazon.com and order it today.


A Good Cheap Gaming Computer for $500

For those of you looking to spend a little bit more money, you can come away with a truly powerful gaming computer at a very affordable price.

At $500 this next gaming computer build will present you with unbelievable performance. These parts are literally capable of producing an experience on par with some of the big manufacturers $1,000+ gaming computers.

Here’s the parts you’ll need to build a $500 gaming computer worth bragging about:

  • CPU -  AMD FX-4300 (View)
  • Motherboard - ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS AM3+ (View)
  • Video Card - EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti SC (View)
  • RAM -  Kingston Hyper X Blu 8GB (View)
  • HDD - Seagate Barracuda 500 GB (View)
  • Case -  Rosewill RANGER-M (View)
  • Power Supply - Antec VP-450 (View)
  • Optical Drive - Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $480-$520
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: Acer S220HQL 21.5″ 1920×1080 (View)
  • Keyboard: Azio KB505U Backlit Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Perixx MX-2000II Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Plantronics GameCom 367 Gaming Headset (View)

With an EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti video card, you’ll have enough graphics processing power to play most of today’s best games on the highest video settings with good results. That’s pretty remarkable for a computer that costs right around $500… especially when you consider that you’d have to pay nearly double that for a pre-built machine from the big-name assemblers.

If you’re looking for an excellent performance at a really great price, then this cheap gaming computer build is the one you want. All you have to do now is head on over to the bundled part list on Amazon and order it!


A $600 Gaming PC That Will Max Out Just About Anything

The great thing about building your own gaming computer is that for a fraction of the cost of a pre-built machine, you can achieve some pretty incredibly results.

In fact, for right around $600 you can throw together a system that will max out just about any game on the market on a 1080p monitor. That’s a pretty awesome deal considering.

The gaming computer below has a ton of power right out of the gates. The motherboard doesn’t give you a whole lot of overclocking options, but if you’re not looking to do any serious system tuning, then this machine is for you.

  • CPU -  AMD FX-6300 (View)
  • Motherboard - ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS AM3+ (View)
  • Video Card - MSI Radeon R9 270x (View)
  • RAM -  Kingston Hyper X Blu 8GB (View)
  • HDD - Seagate Barracuda 500 GB (View)
  • Case -  Rosewill RANGER-M (View)
  • Power Supply -  Antec VP-450 (View)
  • Optical Drive – Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $580-$620
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: Acer S220HQL 21.5″ 1920×1080 (View)
  • Keyboard: Azio KB505U Backlit Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Perixx MX-2000II Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Plantronics GameCom 367 Gaming Headset (View)

With a GeForce GTX 660, you can expect to get high framerates at 1080p resolution on just about any game.

This build does have upgrade potential, too, as there are two higher end processors that you can move up to once you have the budget for it (the FX-8320 and the FX-8350.)

Ultimately, this gaming computer is ideal for gamers who have a decent amount to spend and who want the best performance right now.


This $700 Build Will Help You Dominate the Competition

Intel Core i5-4430 HaswellA lot of people love to brag about their $3,000 water-cooled systems and the ridiculous frame rates they get while playing their favorite games. If you have the money to go all out on a high-end gaming computer, then by all means do so. (I personally love seeing how far a system can be pushed!)

However, if you’re looking to get a really high-end system that is capable of giving you  a really high-end experience, you could easily achieve that with $700 of quality computer components.

Here’s the part list:

  • CPU -  Intel Core i5-4430 3.0 GHz (View)
  • Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-H81M-S2PH (View)
  • Video Card - MSI Radeon R9 270X (View)
  • RAM -  Kingston Hyper X Blu 8GB (View)
  • HDD -  Western Digital Blue 1TB (View)
  • Case -  Rosewill RANGER-M (View)
  • Power Supply - OCZ ZT 550W (View)
  • Optical Drive -  Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $680-$720
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: Acer S220HQL 21.5″ 1920×1080 (View)
  • Keyboard: Azio KB505U Backlit Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Perixx MX-2000II Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Plantronics GameCom 367 Gaming Headset (View)

While you can’t overclock the processor on this build, it does feature an extremely powerful Intel Core i5-4430 processor and an R9 270X–both of which are plenty powerful enough to handle all of today’s top games.

And, really, this good cheap gaming computer build is a 256GB solid state drive away from being a truly awesome system. That’s not too bad for a $700 gaming computer…


The Full Guide

This Guide is HUGE! Here’s How to Use It

This guide has literally everything you need to pick a part list for a solid cheap gaming computer. With so much information, you might get lost. So, it’s important that you know how to navigate and use this guide.

For starters, below you’ll find a Table of Contents. You can use this to easily navigate to the part of the guide you want to read.

The guide is broken down into sections. In the first couple of sections, the guide goes over some important concepts, including knowing your budget and whether or not you should buy now, or save until you can afford a better system. Then, the guide will go all of the components you’ll need in order to build an affordable computer.

Each component section will give you multiple suggestions. And, each component section is broken down to make it easier to navigate through. For instance, the processor and motherboard sections are broken down by the socket type. And, the video card, case and power supply sections are broken down by price range (i.e. Best Video Cards under $100.)

Another important thing to point out is that under each component, you’ll see the suggested “Budget Range” that that component fits into. This number doesn’t tell you how much the component costs, it tells you the kind of budget that component will work well in.

As an example, the AMD A8-5600K processor has a suggested budget range of $300-$400. This means that if you’re building a gaming computer and you have $300-$400 to spend, the A8-5600K will fit nicely in your budget.

Finally, at the end of the guide, I have put together five different builds, ranging from $300 on the low-end to $700 on the high-end. These builds can either be used as is, or they can be customized to your liking.

First Things First: Knowing Your Budget

The budget that you set for your gaming computer is going to determine the kind of performance you get out of it. The more you spend, the more games you’ll be able to play on higher settings and the higher the framerates you’ll get.

Setting your budget will give you a price to work with when selecting your components and it will make it easier to make decisions on each part. So, set a budget and stick to it. For this guide, we’ll be looking at systems that come in under $700.

Should You Buy Now, Or Save Up Until You Can Get Better Components?

There are advantages and disadvantages that come with either buying your components now or saving up until you can get better-performing parts. It really all depends on your personal preferences as well as the kind of games you play.

If you don’t want to wait to be able to have to play your favorite games and you don’t mind playing on lower settings, or the games you play aren’t too demanding, then building now is definitely a good option. However, if you’re playing demanding games that are best experienced in full detail on the highest graphics settings, then it is probably a good idea to save up some more money so that you can get a better set of components.

If you want the best of both worlds, you can always build for now and the future. In order to build for now and the future, you must choose components that will give you decent performance now and that will allow you to upgrade in the future. Since this guide is directed towards those gamers who are building on a budget, I have tried to make it as future friendly as possible without sacrificing too much performance now.

Either way you choose, the components listed in this guide will at least allow you to start playing your favorite games. And, the top component options in each category will even allow you to play most games on the highest settings.

Let’s Get Started Choosing Components

In the rest of this guide, we’ll take an individual look at each component category and go over the different options you have if you’re building a solid cheap gaming computer. Each component is going to be broken down into sections.

First up, we’ll look at the best budget gaming processors and then we’ll proceed to look at all of the other components you’ll need.


The Best Budget Gaming Processors

In this part of our Good Cheap Gaming Computers guide, we’re going to take a look at all of the different CPU options you have for your budget gaming PC.

The CPU you choose for your gaming PC is going to play a pivotal role in how well your system performs. A faster processor is going to be able to handle more games better. A slower processor will give you trouble running more demanding games.

Fortunately, even if you’re building on a budget there are a number of CPU options available on the market that will allow you to play your games at acceptable levels.

In fact, for just under $100 you can get a CPU that is capable of running your gaming computer.

In this guide I will take a look at all of the CPU options you have for your budget gaming PC. Any of the CPUs listed in this article will at least get your foot in the door. And, some of the processors–like the AMD FX-6300–are not only budget-friendly, but they are also good enough for a gaming computer that can max any game out.

Budget Gaming Processors for AMD’s Socket FM2

AMD’s FM2 socket is quickly becoming one of the most popular platforms for gamers working with a tight budget. Built around AMD’s APUs (accelerated processing unit), the FM2 socket boasts processors that have powerful integrated graphics.

And, even though integrated graphics aren’t ideal for graphics-intensive games, AMD’s APUs provide enough power through their integrated graphics to play most games on at least the lowest settings. So, while FM2 APUs alone aren’t great solutions for high-end machines, they do work well for entry-level systems and will be good enough to build a solid cheap gaming computer.

Another cool feature of the FM2 APUs is that they can be paired with budget-friendly AMD video cards to give a boost in graphics performance. So, pairing the APUs listed below with an HD 6670 is a solid budget-friendly way to give you more in-game graphics power.

The following are a list of the APUs that I recommend for budget gaming PCs:

AMD A8-5600K APUAMD A8-5600K APU 3.6 GHz Processor (~$90)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $300-$400
SOCKET: FM2

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While not the greatest processor on the market, the A8-5600K is still an excellent option for gamers looking to build a solid cheap gaming computer.

The integrated HD 7560D graphics on this APU are good enough to have you playing most games on low-to-mid settings.

Another cool thing about this processor is that the integrated graphics can be CrossFireX’ed with an HD 6670 for even more performance when you get more money.

Features

  • Quad Core APU
  • Socket FM2
  • HD 7560D Integrated Graphics Will Allow You to Play Most Games on Low-to-Mid Settings
  • Integrated Graphcis Can Be CrossFireX’ed with Radeon HD 6670 or Lower
  • Integrated Graphics Support Eyefinity Technology

RECOMMENDATION: Use the A8-5600K if your budget is extremely tight and you don’t have enough money for a discrete video card. Make sure you get an FM2 motherboard to go with it.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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AMD A10-5800K APUAMD A10-5800K APU 3.8 GHz Processor (~$120)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $350-$450
SOCKET: FM2

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The A10-5800K is a step up from the A8-5600K, with a stock clock rate of 3.8 GHz and a max turbo rate of 4.2 GHz.

The integrated HD 7660D graphics are also a little better on the A10-5800K, giving you more performance.

And, just like the A8-5600K, the A10-5800K can be CrossFireX’ed with an entry-level HD Radeon discrete video card in the future. (Some people have even CrossFireX’ed it with an HD 7750.)

Features

  • Quad Core APU
  • Socket FM2
  • HD 7660D Integrated Graphics Will Allow You to Play Most Games on Low-to-Mid Settings
  • Integrated Graphcis Can Be CrossFireX’ed with Radeon HD 7750 or Lower
  • Integrated Graphics Support Eyefinity Technology

RECOMMENDATION: Use the A10-5800K if you are working with a low budget that won’t allow for a discrete video card, or if you want to CrossFireX it with an HD 6670. Make sure you get an FM2 motherboard to go with it.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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amd-a10-6800kAMD A10-6800K APU 4.1GHz Processor (~$140)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $400-$500
SOCKET: FM2

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The king of the APU’s the A10-6800K is at the head of AMD’s latest release of accelerated processing units.

The A10-6800K boasts better graphics (Radeon HD 8670D) than its predecessor, the A10-5800K, and brings a little more performance to the table when gaming.

With the best integrated graphics on the market, the A10-6800K is a great affordable option for gamers playing non graphics-intensive games like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Diablo III.

Also, while the A10-5800K can technically be CrossFireX’ed with a radeon HD 7750, the A10-6800K definitely can and is optimized to do so. So, if you get this processor and you want to upgrade later on down the road, the HD 7750 would go well with this APU.

Features

  • Quad Core APU
  • HD 86700D Integrated Graphics Will Allow You to Play Non Graphics-Intensive Games on Max Settings
  • Integrated Graphcis Can Be CrossFireX’ed with Radeon HD 7750 for Added Performance
  • Integrated Graphics Support Eyefinity Technology

RECOMMENDATION: Use the A10-6800K if you want good results now and the option to upgrade later. You can also pair this APU with an HD 7750 to maximize your results and to get a solid budget gaming computer. Make sure you get an FM2 motherboard to go with this APU.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Gaming Processors for AMD’s Socket AM3+

One of the best CPU solutions for a budget gaming computer is the AMD FX-6300. And, while there are other options for the AM3+ socket, as far as the price-to-performance ratio goes, the FX-6300 is really the only option I recommend.

The reason being is that the FX-4100, FX-4300, and FX-6100 are so similarly priced to the FX-6300, that it doesn’t make sense to choose them over the 6300.

As of right now, the only scenario in which I wouldn’t recommend the FX-6300 is if you’re planning on building an Intel-based system and you want to upgrade to a higher-end LGA 1155 Intel Core CPU in the future, or if you have a budget of under $400. If that’s the case, then I recommend going with the Intel Core i3-3220, which is covered a little further below in this article.

AMD FX-6300 CPUAMD FX-6300 AM3+ 3.5GHz Processor (~$110)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $400-$600

SOCKET: AM3+

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For those gamers who have a little bit higher of a budget, the AMD FX-6300 is your best option.

With six cores, the FX-6300 is the most affordable and future-proofed CPU on the market.

If you don’t want to go with a setup with integrated graphics and you want to utilize a discrete video card for the most performance, then pairing the FX-6300 with a decent video card is the way to go…

…especially if you want to upgrade to a more powerful video card in the future.

In my opinion, the FX-6300 is the best CPU option for budget builders who can afford it because it offers ideal performance for gaming now and with its six cores it will accommodate the games of tomorrow as well.

Features

  • Six Core CPU
  • Plenty of Processing Power for Gaming
  • Extra Cores Make This CPU the Best Mulit-Tasking Processor Under $150
  • Most Future-Proofed CPU in Its Price Range

RECOMMENDATION: Use the FX-6300 if your budget is over $400 and you want to use a discrete video card. Good cards to pair it with are an HD 7770, GTX 650 Ti, and an HD 7850. The FX-6300 is a socket AM3+ CPU, so make sure you choose an AM3+ motherboard to go with it.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Gaming Processors for Intel’s Socket LGA 1155

There is no doubt that Intel is the king of gaming processors. And, there isn’t a question that they produce the fastest CPUs on the market.

However, for budget gaming PCs, the only CPU options that Intel really has are the Intel Core i3 line of processors. And, while these CPUs have great single-threaded performance, the fact that they are only dual core processors means that they are a little more limited in multi-threaded applications.

The truth is that most games today don’t use more than two cores. However, with the next-generation of games right around the corner, it’s likely that we’ll start to see a lot more games being developed to utilize multiple cores. So, while the Intel Core i3-3220 is a good option, in my opinion, for the same price, the better choice is the six-core AMD FX-6300.

Although, if your plan is to upgrade to a higher end Intel Core LGA 1155 CPU in the future, then going with the i3-3220 right now is the best option.

Here’s more on the Intel Core i3-3220:

i3-3220Intel Core i3-3220 LGA 1155 Processor (~$120)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $450-$600

SOCKET: LGA 1155

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Out of all of the processors available in this price range, the Intel Core i3-3220 is the fastest CPU for single core performance.

And, despite the fact that it’s only a dual-core processor, it still performs very well in gaming.

However, in my opinion, for the same price or less, the FX-6300 is the better option because it is more “future-proofed.”

Although, if you’re playing games that don’t utilize more than two cores, the i3-3220 will perform better.

And, if you want to upgrade to a higher end LGA 1155 Intel Core processor in the future, then it would be best to go with this CPU.

Features

  • Dual-Core CPU
  • Fastest Single Core CPU On this List
  • Can Easily Be Upgraded to an LGA 1155 Intel Core i5 or i7 In the Future
  • Extremely Power Efficient When Compared to Similarly Priced AMD CPUs

RECOMMENDATION: The Intel Core i3-3220 is the perfect CPU for gamers looking to build a solid cheap gaming computer. I recommend going with the i3-3220 if you’re planning on upgrading to a higher end Intel Core LGA 1155 CPU in the future, or if you are only planning on playing games that only utilize two or less cores. If you do choose this CPU, make sure you get an LGA 1155 motherboard to go with it.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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The Best Budget Gaming Motherboards

In this section of the Good Cheap Gaming Computers guide I’m going to list all of the viable motherboard options you have if you’re building on a budget. These motherboards are good enough to get your budget gaming PC up, running, and performing well.

Your gaming computer will not work without a motherboard.

And, one mistake that first-time builders and those working with a tight budget make is to choose a cheap low-quality motherboard.

However, choosing a cheap motherboard can cause a lot of problems for you and your system down the road.

Therefore, you need to make sure you get a decent motherboard for your money.

Since you’re working with a tight budget, getting a high-end motherboard is out of the question….

…but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a capable motherboard to go with your gaming PC.

There are plenty of solid motherboards under $100 that are perfect for budget gaming computers.

In this section of the guide, I will cover the different motherboard options you have for your build.

Budget Gaming Motherboards for AMD’s Socket FM2

AMD’s socket FM2 is the perfect option for gamers working with an extremely tight budget, or for gamers who are playing less demanding games (like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Dota 2, Minecraft, etc.).

There are a ton of viable budget gaming motherboard options for the FM2 socket. Below are listed all of the FM2 motherboards that will work in a solid cheap gaming computer.

fm2-a55m-e33MSI FM2-A55M-E33 Motherboard (~$35)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $300-$400

SOCKET: FM2

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At the low end of the FM2 motherboard spectrum, the MSI FM2-A55M-E33 is the perfect board for gamers who are on an extreme budget.

The FM2-A55M-E33 has everything you need to get your computer up and running.

And, while it’s not the most ideal board for gamers, it’s definitely good enough to get the job done.

So, if you’re working with a minimal budget and you just want to throw something together quickly so that you can start gaming as soon as possible, then pairing this motherboard with an FM2 processor will allow you to build a solid cheap gaming computer.

Features

  • DirectX 11 Capable
  • Socket FM2
  • Comes With an HDMI and VGA Port So that You Can Take Advantage of the Integrated Graphics on Your AMD APU
  • Supports Up to 32GB of Memory
  • Is AMD Radeon Dual Graphics Capable

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend using the MSI FM2-A55M-E33 if your budget is under $400. It will pair well with the A8-5600K for the price. This setup isn’t ideal, but it will allow you to start playing most games on at least low settings. If your budget is $400 or more, look at a processor/motherboard combo that offers more features.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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asrock fm2a55m-dgsASRock FM2A55M-DGS Motherboard (~$50)
Budget Range: $300-$400
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

SOCKET: FM2

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If you’re looking for an alternative to the MSI FM2-A55M-E33, the ASRock FM2A55M-DGS is essentially the same board. The only real difference is in the software and BIOS that comes with each motherboard.

In my opinion, you’ll be fine with either the MSI or ASRock board, but some people prefer one brand to the other. Either board are good options for gamers working with an extremely tight budget (under $400).

Ultimately, both of these motherboards are capable of producing identical in-game results. And, while they aren’t the best options on the market, they are good enough to allow you to start gaming.

Features

  • DirectX 11 Capable
  • Socket FM2
  • Comes With DVI-D and VGA Ports So You Can Utilize the Integrated Graphics on Your AMD APU
  • Supports Up to 32GB of Memory
  • Is AMD Dual Graphics Capable

RECOMMENDATION: My recommendation for the ASRock FM2A55M-DGS is the same as my recommendation for the MSI FM2-A55M-E33… use this board if your budget is under $400 and pair it with an A8-5600K.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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fm2-a75ma-e35MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 Motherboard (~$55)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $350-$450

SOCKET: FM2

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The main upgrades that the A75 chipset has over the A55 chipset, is that the A75 chipset brings 6GB/S SATA capabilities and USB 3.0 into the picture.

For just $5-$10 more than the the MSI FM2-A55M-E33, you can can the MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 and the faster SATA connection as well as four USB 3.0 ports.

Ultimately, this motherboard will work well with any of the AMD APUs and can even be used as an affordable solution for gamers who want the A10-6800K.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable motherboard to pair with your AMD A-Series APU, then the MSI FM2-A55M-E35 is definitely a solid option.

Features

  • DirectX 11 Capable
  • Socket FM2
  • Comes With VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports
  • Will Support AMD Radeon Dual Graphics
  • Has 3 x USB 3.0 Connections

RECOMMENDATION: The MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 is an excellent option for gamers who want to get the most out of their AMD-APU-Based gaming computer. I recommend using this motherboard if you want an affordable option to pair with your A10-5800K or A10-6800K and you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a high-end motherboard.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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Asrock-FM2A75-PRO4-MASRock FM2A75 PRO4-M Motherboard (~$70)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $350-$450
SOCKET: FM2

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For $5 more, the ASRock FM2A75 PRO4-M is virtually the same board as the MSI FM2-A75M-E35. However, the extra $5 gives you a little bit more stability when overclocking.

It also comes with SATA 6GB/S capabilities and USB 3.0. And, if you’re looking to run AMD Radeon Dual Graphics this board (like the MSI one) will allow you to do so.

This board is also a decent option if you want to experiment with some mild-to-moderate overclocking. Ultimately, though, the only reason why you’d get this board over the MSI board is if you prefer ASRock’s software/BIOS or if you want to do some more system-tuning.

Features

  • DirectX 11 Capable
  • Socket FM2
  • Decent Overclocking Board
  • Has VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI Ports
  • Will Support AMD Radeon Dual Graphics
  • Has 3 x USB 3.0 Connections

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend choosing the ASRock FM2A75 PRO4-M if you’re looking for an affordable motherboard that will allow you to overclock your AMD A-Series APU and/or your memory. This motherboard will work well paired with any A-Series FM2 APU, but I recommend using it with either the A10-5800K or the A10-6800K.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ga-f2a85x-d3hGigabyte GA-F2A85X-D3H (~$85)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $400-$500

SOCKET: FM2

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For the enthusiasts, the A85X chipset brings a couple more SATA 6GB/S connections and the ability to run dual video cards in X8 CrossFireX configuration. For the extra price, though, the minor additional options probably aren’t worth it for gamers on a serious budget.

However, the ability to run dual video cards in CrossFireX does make the A85X chipset the perfect option for gamers who want to upgrade their rig in the future.

And, of the A85X motherboards out there, the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-D3H is one of the most affordable. So, if you’re looking to give your solid cheap gaming computer some serious upgrade possibilities, then consider the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-D3H.

Features

  • DirectX 11 Capable
  • Socket FM2
  • Decent Overclocking Board
  • Comes With VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI Ports
  • Can Accommodate Dual Video Cards in X8 CrossFireX Configuration
  • Has 4 x USB 3.0 Connections
  • Will Support AMD Radeon Dual Graphics

RECOMMENDATION: The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-D3H is a solid option for gamers who want an moderately priced board that will allow them to get the most out of their APU and will give them the option of running dual video cards in CrossFireX configuration in the future. I would recommend pairing this motherboard with an A10-5800K or A10-6800K and I would only recommend getting it if you are considering adding dual video cards in the future. If not, go with one of the A75 motherboards.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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FM2A85X Extreme4ASRock FM2A85X EXTREME4 (~$90)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $400-$500
SOCKET: FM2

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Another FM2 A85X option is the ASROCK FM2A85X EXTREME4 motherboard. There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the FM2A85X EXTREME4 and the GA-F2A85X-D3H, so the determining factor may come down to price and brand preference.

In any case, the board is a decent option for overclockers and it comes with four USB 3.0 connections and eight SATA 6GB/S connections.

Its A85X chipset gives it the ability to run dual video cards in CrossFireX configuration at X8 in both PCIe lanes.

As mentioned with the GA-F2A85X, I only recommend this board if you want the option to run dual video cards in the future, as there isn’t too much of a difference between the A85X and A75 chipset. And, you can save a decent amount of money if you stick with the A75 chipset–something that is incredibly important for cheap gaming computer builds.

Features

  • DirectX 11 Capable
  • Socket FM2
  • Decent Overclocking Board
  • Comes With VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI Ports
  • Can Accommodate Dual Video Cards in X8 CrossFireX Configuration
  • Has 4 x USB 3.0 Connections
  • Will Support AMD Radeon Dual Graphics

RECOMMENDATION: The ASRock FM2A85X EXTREME4 motherboard is a good option for gamers who want the ability to run dual video cards in the future. It will be best utilized when paired with an A10-5800K or A10-6800K. It’s also a decent option for anyone who wants to overclock. However, if you don’t plan on running dual video cards in the future, stick with an A75 motherboard.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Gaming Motherboards for AMD’s Socket AM3+

If you’re going with the AMD FX-6300 CPU, you’ll need an AM3+ motherboard to pair with it. Fortunately, there are a number of affordable AM3+ motherboards available.

Listed below are all of the AM3+ motherboards that I recommend for budget gaming computers.

asus m5a78l-m lx plusASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS Motherboard (~$55)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $400-$500

SOCKET: AM3+

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For AM3+ budget gaming computer builds, the ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS is a solid entry level motherboard to get your build started.

The M5A78L-M LX PLUS is by no means an enthusiast board and doesn’t have all the high-end features that the more expensive AM3+ boards do, but it is good enough to run your CPU and a single discrete video card…

…and for most gamers, with the right CPU/video card combo and a decent amount of RAM, that’s all you’ll need to get ideal in-game performance.

So, if you’re looking into building an entry level gaming computer that features an AM3+ CPU and a discrete video card, the ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS is the perfect option for gamers with a tight budget.

Features

  • Socket AM3+
  • Supports Mild Overclocking and System Tuning
  • The “Core Unlocker” Feature Allows You to Easily Unlock All of Your CPU’s Extra Cores
  • Supports Up to 16GB of DDR3 Memory That Can Be Overclocked to 1866MHz

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend choosing the ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS if you are building an AM3+ budget gaming PC. This board works well with an AMD FX-6300 and any of the video cards recommended in this guide. It isn’t the best motherboard option, but if funds are limited and you want to get your system up and running, this board will definitely allow you to do so.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ga-78lmt-usb3Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 Motherboard (~$65)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $400-$500

SOCKET: AM3+

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For approximately $10 more you can go a step up from the M5A78L-M LX PLUS and get Gigabyte’s GA-78LMT-USB3 motherboard. The main difference?

The GA-78LMT-USB3 brings USB 3.0 capabilities to the table and supports up to 32 GB of memory. Is that worth the extra cost?

Well, that’s up to the individual.

For the most part, this Gigabyte board is still a standard entry level AM3+ motherboard with no really exciting features. However, it does support USB 3.0 and it will give you the foundation of a solid budget gaming computer.

So, if you’re looking for a decent entry-level motherboard that supports USB 3.0, then the GA-78LMT-USB3 is a good bet.

Features

  • Socket AM3+
  • Allows for Mild Overclocking and System Tuning
  • Supports Up to 32GB of DDR3 Memory
  • Advanced Protection Against the Elements With Humidity, Electrostatic, Power Failure, and High Temperature Protection
  • Supports USB 3.0

RECOMMENDATION: The Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 is a nice entry-level board that will work well with an AMD FX-6300 CPU. I recommend choosing this board if you’re looking for an affordable AM3+ motherboard and you utilize USB 3.0-compatible peripherals. If you don’t need the USB 3.0 support, then for $10 less, the ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS is the better option. 

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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970A-G46MSI 970A-G46 Motherboard (~$80)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $500-$600

SOCKET: AM3+

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If you’re working with a decent sized budget and you want a quality motherboard to pair with your AM3+ CPU, then the MSI 970A-G46 is an affordable option that will give you plenty of features.

With support for up to 32GB of DDR3 memory that can be overclocked to up to 2133MHz, you’ll have a board that can easily be upgraded to meet the future demands of gaming.

While this board isn’t ideal for overclocking, it does have all of the other features you could ever want or need (USB 3.0, SATA III, 7.1 Surround Sound Capabilities,Dual Video Card Support etc.)

So, if you’re looking to spend a little more on your system and you want to get a decent motherboard, the MSI 970A-G46 is perfect for you.

Features

  • Socket AM3+
  • Mild Overclocking/System Tuning Can Be Achieved on This Board
  • Supports Up to 32GB of DDr3 Memory, Which Can Be Overclocked to a Maximum of 2133MHz
  • Supports USB 3.0
  • OC Genie II Makes Overclocking Simple and Easy
  • Dual Video Card Support
  • Well-Designed Graphical User Interface Makes the BIOS on this Board Very Easy to Use

RECOMMENDATION: The MSI 970A-G46 is by no means an enthusiast board. If you’re looking for high overclocks, you’ll have to look elsewhere. However, if you want a decent-priced motherboard that has all of the latest technology built into it, then I recommend getting this MSI board. It’s perfect with the FX-6300 and it will give you everything you need to build a solid single video card setup.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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AM3 GIGABYTE GA-970A-D3Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 Motherboard (~$100)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $500-$600

SOCKET: AM3+

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If you’re looking for optimal performance and you’ve got a little bit more to spend on your budget gaming computer, then you may want to consider the Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3.

With an advanced 8+2 power phase, the GA-970A-UD3 is one of the best AM3+ motherboards for overclocking ~$100.

Not only is the Ga-970A-UD3 one of the only solid options for performance enthusiasts who are working with a budget, but it also has all of the other features you could want out of a motherboard: USB 3.0, SATA III with 6GB/S link speed, Dual Video Card Support, etc.

So, if you’ve got the extra money and you’re looking for a decent overclocking board, then the GA-970A-UD3 is your best option.

Features

  • Socket AM3+
  • Best Overclocking Option at or Under $100
  • USB 3.0 Support
  • Supports Up to 32GB of DDR3 Memory Which Can be Overclocked to 2000MHz
  • Supports AMD CrossFireX

RECOMMENDATION: The Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 is the best option for budget builders who want to overclock. The board can be paired with the FX-6300 to achieve moderate overclock levels. And, if you’re looking to spend ~$600 you can fit this board into your budget nicely even if you pair it with an HD 7850 or GTX 660. This setup will give you all-around ideal in-game performance.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Gaming Motherboards for Intel’s Socket LGA 1155

For those of you who are looking to go with a solid cheap Intel-based gaming computer, your best bet for a processor is the Intel Core i3-3220, as its really the only affordable Intel CPU for budget systems.

And, if you are going with an i3-3220, you’ll need a decent motherboard to pair it with. I’ve listed two options that will work well for an Intel-based budget gaming PC below.

H77MA-G43MSI H77MA-G43 Motherboard (~$85)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $450-$600
SOCKET: LGA 1155

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If you’re looking to go with an Intel gaming computer, your only plausible CPU option is the Intel Core i3-3220.

And, since that’s a locked processor, it’s not worth it to get an unlocked motherboard to pair with it.

The MSI H77MA-G43 is the perfect entry-level motherboard for a solid cheap gaming computer based on an Intel CPU.

The H77MA-G43 has USB 3.0 support, can hold up to 32GB of memory, and it’s micro-ATX form factor makes it a great option for LAN-party builds.

So, if you’re looking for a decent motherboard that will support your Intel system, the MSI H77MA-G43 is definitely a good option.

Features

  • Socket LGA 1155
  • Supports 2nd and 3rd Generation Intel Core Processors
  • USB 3.0 Support
  • Supports Up to 32GB of DDR3 Memory Which Can be Overclocked to 2400MHz
  • Will Support CrossFireX Configuration

RECOMMENDATION: For those of you who want to go with an Intel-based gaming computer, the MSI H77MA-G43 is a solid entry-level motherboard. I recommend pairing this motherboard with an Intel Core i3-3220. It’s not a setup that will blow you away, but it’s definitely good enough to get you started.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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H77 Pro4-MASRock  H77 Pro4-M Motherboard (~$90)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $450-$600

SOCKET: LGA 1155

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Another good H77 motherboard that you can use with your Intel Core i3-3220 is the ASRock H77 PRO4-M.

The H77 PRO4-M basically has all of the same features as the MSI H77MA-G43. It also has USB 3.0 support, can hold up to 32GB of memory, and is great for LAN-party builds.

The only real difference between the two boards is that the ASRock board will not allow you to overclock your memory to as high of speeds. However, this isn’t a huge deal, as there is no significant in-game advantage to overclocking your memory.

So, whether you prefer ASRock or MSI, either of these boards will get the job done.

Features

  • Socket LGA 1155
  • Supports Up to 32GB of DDR3 Memory
  • USB 3.0 Support
  • Supports CrossFireX Configuration

RECOMMENDATION: The ASRock H77 PRO4-M Motherboard is another solid H77 motherboard that you can choose to go with an Intel Core i3-3220. There’s really not a whole lot of differences between the two boards. Both are good options for the price.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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The Best Budget Video Cards

Next up in the Good Cheap Gaming Computers guide is video cards. In today’s article I’m going to take a look at all of the budget video card options that you have for your budget gaming PC.

There is no component that dictates your overall in-game performance like your video card does.

The video card you choose is incredibly important and it’s essential that you take your time to ensure that you get the best one possible for your budget.

Fortunately, there are a ton of different affordable video card options you have. And, each one brings its own benefits.

One question that most first-time builders will ask is whether they should go with an AMD or NVIDIA. For a detailed answer on that question, check out this post.

Ultimately, though, for cards under $200, the two manufacturers are so close on performance that it doesn’t make sense to say that one company is better than the other.

However, NVIDIA cards and AMD cards perform differently in different games. So, before you choose your video card, you should check relative benchmarks and make sure that the card you choose is the better option.

Budget Video Cards Under $100

Gigabyte Radeon HD 6670Gigabyte Radeon HD 6670 (~$70)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $400-$500

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At $70, the Gigabyte Radeon HD 6670 is probably the lowest you want to go on a discrete video card. Any less, and you might as well just utilize the integrated graphics on an AMD APU.

The Gigabyte Radeon HD 6670 isn’t going to blow you away performance-wise and you won’t be able to play the more demanding games on mid-to-high settings, but it will allow you a solid entry point. And, if you’re playing games like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Dota 2, Starcraft II, etc. then this card will max those games out with no problems.

The good thing about this Gigabyte version of the HD 6670, is that, unlike other 6670 models, this one comes with a fan.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to build a solid cheap gaming PC and you want to use a discrete video card, the HD 6670 gives you plenty of power for non-demanding games and will at least have you playing the more demanding games on low settings.

Features

  • Extremely budget friendly
  • Will max out most non-demanding games
  • Good entry-level video card that will at least play the more demanding games on low settings

RECOMMENDATION: The HD 6670 is a good video card to use if you’re working with a budget of around $400 and especially if you don’t plan on playing graphics-intensive games. It’s powerful enough to max out non-demanding games and will at least allow you to play the more demanding ones.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Gigabyte Radeon HD 7750Gigabyte Radeon HD 7750 (~$100)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $400-$500

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If you’ve got a little bit more to spend on your system, then the Gigabyte Radeon HD 7750 is another good affordable video card option.

The HD 7750 is a step up from the HD 6670 and will allow you to play the more demanding games on mediumish graphics settings. And, just like the HD 6670, the HD 7750 will allow you to max out the less demanding games.

So, if you’re looking for a solid video card under $100, the HD 7750 will give you pretty good performance for the price.

Features

  • Budget friendly
  • Will max out games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Starcraft II, World of Warcraft, etc.
  • Will also allow you to play some of the more demanding games on medium settings

RECOMMENDATION: If your budget for your system is between $400 and $450, then the HD 7750 is a solid option. At the very least it will have you playing any game on low settings, and you’ll definitely be able to max out some of the less demanding games with it.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Video Cards Between $100-$150

evga gtx 650EVGA GeForce GTX 650 (~$105)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
NVIDIA Video Card

Budget Range: $400-$500

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For right around $100, you can get the EVGA GeForce GTX 650. The GTX 650 is by no means a high-end card. However, it is capable of delivering some pretty good results for the price.

This card will be able to run the more demanding games like Skyrim, Battlefield 3, and Far Cry 3 on medium settings and it will easily max out the less demanding games.

In fact, if you want a thorough look at what the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 can do, read Trent’s Review on the video card.

Ultimately, the GTX 650 is a great card for the price… especially if you’re working with a tight budget and you want something that will allow you to play most games on at least moderate settings.

Features

  • Budget friendly
  • Will easily max out less demanding games (MOBA’s, MMO’s, RTS’, etc.)
  • Is capable of playing the more demanding games on mid-to-high settings

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re working with a tight budget, but you can find room for the GTX 650, definitely do so. It’s a great card for the price and it will have you playing even the most demanding games on ‘mediumish’ settings.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Gigabyte Radeon HD 7770Gigabyte Radeon HD 7770 (~$110)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $400-$500

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The AMD alternative to the GTX 650 is the Radeon HD 7770. And, honestly, for the price, I’d recommend getting whichever of the two cards is at the better price.

The HD 7770 will max most games out and for the more demanding games it will allow you to play on at least medium settings. And, for about $110 that’s a pretty good deal for a budget gaming computer.

Another thing that the HD 7770 has going for it is the fact that it is a part of AMD’s Never Settle Reloaded program, so when you get the HD 7770, you also get Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon.

So, if you can find the HD 7770 for a better deal than the GTX 650 (or if you really want the two Far Cry games), then this card is the perfect option for your budget PC. It will give you a solid graphics processing solution that will enable you to play any game on at least moderate settings.

Features

  • Budget friendly
  • Will max out less demanding games easily and will play most demanding games on at least moderate settings
  • Through AMD’s Never Settle Reloaded program you’ll get Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon for free with the purchase of the HD 7770

RECOMMENDATION: Either the GTX 650 or the HD 7770 are going to be good solutions at this price range. However, video card manufacturers often have sales, so if you see either of these cards at a good price, definitely jump on that one… and if you want the Far Cry games, then that definitely gives the edge to the HD 7770.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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MSI Radeon HD 7790 OCMSI Radeon HD 7790 OC (~$130)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $500-$600

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The HD 7790 is a fairly new addition to AMD’s Southern Island family of video cards. And, at $130 it’s definitely a solid option for a cheap gaming computer build.

The MSI Radeon HD 7790 OC is by no means a high-end video card, but for the price it will allow you to max the less demanding games out and it can even play some of the more demanding games on higher settings (although not with any kind of startling framerate numbers…)

Just like the battle between the GTX 650 and the HD 7770, the GTX 650 Ti and the HD 7790 are equally as close. And, the main selling point of the HD 7790 over the GTX 650 Ti may once again be the fact that it overclocks better and that it comes with two free games from AMD’s Never Settle Reloaded program. For the HD 7790, you’ll get BioShock Infinite and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon.

If it were me personally, I’d choose the HD 7790 OC over the GTX 650 Ti OC because it provides just as much performance at the same price, it overclocks better, and it comes with two free games.

Features

  • Excellent Price-Performance ratio
  • Decent overclocking card
  • Will max out most games and will perform well in even the more demanding games
  • Through AMD’s Never Settle Reloaded Program, the HD 7790 comes with two free games: BioShock Infinite and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon

RECOMMENDATION: At the $130 price range the HD 7790 OC, in my opinion, is the best video card option. While the GTX 650 Ti OC provides almost identical performance at the same price, the two free games that the HD 7790 OC comes with and the better overclocking support gives the AMD card the edge. So, if you’re looking for the most value possible, the HD 7790 is definitely it.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti OCGigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti OC (~$130)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
NVIDIA Video Card

Budget Range: $500-$600

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As mentioned previously, the GTX 650 Ti OC is not my first pick in the $130 range. However, there’s no reason to not consider it.

The GTX 650 Ti is just as good as the HD 7790 OC and the main reason why I chose the HD 7790 OC over it is because of the two free games that the 7790 comes with. For some gamers, the two games that come with the HD 7790 OC may not be as appealing and in that case there is no real significant different between the two cards.

Ultimately, the GTX 650 Ti is going to give good performance for its price and it will play most games on max settings. And, on the more demanding games it is still a decent option.

Features

  • Excellent Price-Performance ratio
  • Will max out most games and can hang quite well with some of the more demanding games

RECOMMENDATION: My first choice at this price range is the HD 7790 OC solely for the reason that it comes with two free games. If you’re not interested in Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and BioShock Infinite, then the GTX 650 Ti OC is just as good of an option.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Video Cards Over $150

EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost SCEVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost SC (~$170)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
NVIDIA Video Card

Budget Range: $550-$600

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There are three cards over $150 that can be had if your budget is between $550 and $600. The most affordable of those cards is the GTX 650 Ti Boost.

The GTX 650 Ti Boost is a souped-up version of the regular GTX 650 Ti and it definitely brings a noticeable performance difference to the table.

In games like Battlefield 3, the Boost edition of the GTX 650 Ti actually puts up almost 10 FPS more than the non-Boost version. And, for a little less money, at stock speeds the 650 Ti Boost competes with the HD 7850 in most games and even beats it in others.

So, if you’re looking for a powerful video card at an affordable price, the GTX 650 Ti Boost definitely fits the bill.

Features

  • Excellent Price-Performance ratio
  • There’s only a few games on the market that will stress the GTX 650 Ti Boost
  • Perfect option for budget gamers who want ideal performance

RECOMMENDATION: The GTX 650 Ti Boost is perhaps the best option when considering the price/performance ratio you’ll get at stock speeds. So, if you don’t plan on overclocking your video card, then the GTX 650 Ti is definitely worth the money.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Gigabyte Radeon HD 7850Gigabyte Radeon HD 7850 (~$180)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $550-$600

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As far as performance goes, the Radeon HD 7850 has more potential than any other card under $200. (That’s why we recommended it in our Top Video Cards article.)

At stock speeds the GTX 660 is the better card and the GTX 650 Ti Boost even gives the HD 7850 a run for the money.

However, when you bring overclocking potential into play, the HD 7850 blows the similarly priced NVIDIA cards out of the water.

There is a 90+ page thread one overclockers.co that shows that the HD 7850 has the potential to surpass stock  HD 7950 speeds when overclocked. That’s pretty amazing from a sub $200 card.

Ultimately, you’ll need a good motherboard and PSU if you want to take the HD 7850 to its true potential, but if you do go that route you will be heavily rewarded.

So, if you’re planning on overclocking your GPU, the HD 7850 is the only choice sub $200. If you’re just going with stock speeds, it’s still a good choice (especially since it comes with three free games), but the GTX 650 Ti Boost and the GTX 660 will perform just as well, if not better.

Features

  • Monster overclocking potential
  • Will run most games on max settings at stock speeds
  • Comes with Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, BioShock Infinite, and Tomb Raider as part of AMD’s Never Settle Reloaded program

RECOMMENDATION: If you want the most potential as is possible and you don’t mind overclocking your video card, then the HD 7850 is the only choice you should consider. However, if you’re just planning on sticking to the stock settings, you should definitely consider the GTX 650 Ti Boost and the GTX 660 as well.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SCEVGA GeForce GTX 660 SC (~$200)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
NVIDIA Video Card

Budget Range: $550-$600

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As the most expensive video card I’d recommend for a budget gaming computer, the GTX 660 SC is definitely an excellent option.

For about $200, the GTX 660 SC will give you near ideal in-game performance. With it you can expect to max out pretty much any game on a 1080p monitor. That’s pretty good for a budget gaming PC.

In the end, each of the three video cards over $150 that I’d recommend for a budget system bring their own advantage to the table. The 650 Ti Boost is the best price-to-performance option of the three, the HD 7850 is the card with the most performance potential (and it comes with three free games), and the GTX 660 SC has the best stock speed performance.

So, you need to decide which of those advantages you prefer. Whichever one you choose of those three, you will not be disappointed.

Features

  • Great performance for the price
  • Highest performing budget video card at stock speeds
  • Will max out just about any game you throw at it

RECOMMENDATION: The GTX 660 SC is the best option for gamers who have a budget of between $550-$600 and who want the most performance right out of the box. For overclockers, the HD 7850 is the better choice, and for those looking to save a little bit more money, the GTX 650 Ti Boost is the better option.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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The Best Budget Memory

Today we’re going to talk about the options you have for choosing memory if you’re working with a tight budget. The budget gaming memory options in this article are all capable of doing their part to help you secure an ideal in-game experience.

Corsair Vengeance Low Profile MemoryMemory, or RAM, is an important part of your computer. It gives the processor a place to carry out calculations and it helps it grab information and data quickly.

In modern gaming, there aren’t a whole lot of games that fully utilize more than 4GB of RAM. So, if you’re working with a tight budget, 4GB is a good place to start.

However, due to the fact that RAM is the one of the most affordable components out there, and because the next generation of games are right around the corner, it’s not a bad idea to go with 8GB of memory.

Of course, whether you do go with 4GB or 8GB is all going to depend on your budget. For bigger budgets, 8GB is easy to fit in. For extremely tight budgets, 4GB is the better option.

In this article I’m going to take a look at the different budget gaming memory options you have. Unlike the other posts in this series, I’m going to break down memory by the manufacturer, rather than the model.

Budget Memory Options

kingston hyperx bluKingston HyperX Blu Memory
1600MHz
DDR3
Budget Range: $300-$600

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Kingston has been around and producing memory since 1987. And, they are definitely one of the top names in memory among gamers and system builders.

Their HyperX Blu line of memory is the perfect balance between speed and affordability and it will definitely do its part to bring you an ideal in-game experience without bottlenecking your other components.

As far as comparing it to the other brands listed in this article, the HyperX Blu has the most affordable set of 8GB of memory at around ~$55. And, since the speeds are similar, there’s no reason not to go with it.

And, with a lifetime warranty and superb customer support, you can have peace of mind in knowing that you will be covered in the rare occasion that something goes wrong.

In the end, the HyperX Blu is a solid option for gaming memory and you won’t be disappointed by choosing it.

Features

  • 1600MHz
  • Lifetime Warranty and Customer Support
  • HyperX module gives it faster latency timing

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend getting 4GB if you’re working with a tight budget (less than ~$450) and 8GB if you’ve got a little bigger budget (over ~$450). Ultimately, the memory listed in this article are so similar in terms of performance, that you’ll probably want to go with whichever one costs less. At the time of writing this article, the Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB memory kit is the most affordable.

 

ADATA XPG Gaming SeriesADATA XPG Gaming Series Memory
1600MHz
DDR3
Budget Range: $300-$600

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ADATA is a relatively new face in the industry (founded in 2001), but they have quickly made a name for themselves as a leading memory manufacturer.

ADATA’s DDR3 1600MHz XPG Gaming Series memory is cost effective and will perform at an ideal level.

In fact, in most games and scenarios, going over 1600MHz really provides no significant performance increase.

So, this set of memory (as well as the other 1600MHz sets listed in this article) are plenty fast enough to play any game out there.

So, if you’re looking for a solid and affordable set of gaming memory, then ADATA’s XPG Gaming Series is definitely a worthy choice.

Features

  • 1600MHz
  • 9-9-9-24 Timing
  • Highest Standard for Stability and Efficiency

RECOMMENDATION: When deciding between the different memory options in this article, I’d honestly go with whichever one cost less at the time. The difference in in-game performance between the four options listed in this article are so slim, that none carry any noticeable advantage. So, if the ADATA memory is the most affordable, then go with it.

Corsair Vengeance MemoryCorsair Vengeance Memory
1600MHz
DDR3
Budget Range: $300-$600

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Of the four memory modules listed in this article, none are more recognized than Corsair’s Vengeance line of memory.

Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the Corsair Vengeance line is their tall heat spreaders (which not everyone is crazy about). However, performance is not a question with Corsairs most established memory modules (which we have included in out article on the best gaming memory.)

While you will have to pay a premium for the brand, you do get a little tighter timings and that will lead to a small performance increase.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with a set of Corsair Vengeance. They offer everything you could ever want out of a kit of memory. And, since they make their modules in Low Profile (as seen in the image above) you can easily fit this set in a system with a bigger heatsink.

Features

  • 1600MHz
  • 9-9-9-24 Timing
  • Good Overclocking Modules

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re going with 4GB of Corsair Vengeance, then it’s actually more affordable to get the version with the heat spreader. If you can fit the heat spreader into your build, go with that one. For the 8GB kit, the low profile version and the heat spreader version cost the same. So, get whichever one suits your needs.

 

Crucial Ballistix Sport XTCrucial Ballistix Sport XT
1866MHz
DDR3
Budget Range: $300-$600

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One of the main benefits of the Crucial Ballistix Sport XT DDR3 1866MHz memory over the others listed in this article, is that for AMD APU builds, the higher frequency actually comes into play.

In non-APU builds, going with faster memory doesn’t yield a significant increase in performance and it’s not really necessary.

However, going with faster memory in an AMD APU-based build does provide a decent performance boost and it’s actually recommended.

So, if you’re planning on going with an AMD APU for your budget gaming computer, it’s definitely a good idea to get faster memory to get the most out of your system. And, the Crucial Ballistix Sport XT DDR3 1866MHz will definitely allow you to do so.

Features

  • 1866MHz
  • Will give a boost to AMD APU-based builds
  • 10-10-10-30 Timing

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend going with the Crucial Ballistix Sport XT if you’re building an AMD APU-based system, as the faster memory frequency will come into play. Also, the heat spreader on the Crucial Ballistix Sport XT is pretty large, so if you’re going to go with this memory, make sure you have enough clearance with your heatsink.

 


The Best Budget Hard Drives

Next up in our Good Cheap Gaming Computer guide we’re going to discuss the hard drive. For tighter budgets it’s best to stick with a 500 GB hard drive in order to allocate more of your funds to more important components. And, there are really only a couple of options (based on manufacturer) of budget gaming hard drives that make sense in an economical build.

Western Digital 500GB HDDThe hard drive in your computer is important because it will give you a place to store your games, files, programs, and operating system.

However, your hard drive will not have a significant impact on your in-game experience. It will not affect the quality of your picture, what settings you run your games on, or your framerate.

About the only thing in gaming that a hard drive will have an effect on is load times. And, once you’re in-game those don’t usually matter anyways.

With that being said, you still need a hard drive in order to store everything. So, it’s important that you choose one that is big enough to hold all of your games and that doesn’t cost a fortune. Luckily, 500 GB hard drives are pretty affordable and they will give you plenty of storage space.

In this article I will go over the two options that you have for budget gaming hard drives.

Budget Gaming Hard Drive Options

500GB Seagate BarracudaSeagate Barracuda Hard Drive
7200 RPM
500GB
Budget Range: $300-$600

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Seagate has been making hard drives since 1979. That’s a long history of producing PC storage devices.

And, with that history comes dependability.

The bottom line, though, when choosing between Seagate and Western Digital is price.

You really can’t go wrong with either manufacturer.

So, the best way to make your decision on your hard drive is just to choose which one is cheaper at the time of purchase.

I personally use Seagate hard drives because they have never failed me. However, there are just as many people who say the same thing about Western Digital.

If you have a preference between the two manufacturers, then stick with it. If not, choose the one that is more cost effective.

Features

  • 500GB
  • 7200 RPM
  • 16MB Cache
  • SATA 6 GB/s Interface

RECOMMENDATION: Choose your hard drive based on current prices or on the manufacturer you feel most comfortable with based on previous experiences. So, go with the Seagate 500GB HDD if it’s cheaper than the Western Digital drive, or if you’ve had a good history with Seagate.

500 GB Western Digital Caviar BlueWestern Digital Caviar Blue Hard Drive
7200 RPM
500GB
Budget Range: $300-$600

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Western Digital has been around even longer than Seagate. However, despite the fact that they were founded in 1970, they didn’t start making storage devices until 1980.

Still, though, that’s a long time in the game.

Basically, you’re going to get the same performance out of a Western Digital drive as you will out of a Seagate drive.

So, as mentioned above, the real determining factor is going to be price and possibly your previous experience with either of the companies.

If you’re just looking for a hard drive to get the job done, then go with the cheaper option between the two. Although, if you prefer Western Digital over Seagate, there’s definitely nothing wrong with choosing the WD drive.

Anyway you choose you will be fine.

Features

  • 500GB
  • 7200 RPM
  • 16MB Cache
  • SATA 6 GB/s Interface

RECOMMENDATION: Choose whichever budget gaming hard drive is the least expensive at the time, or choose from the manufacturer that you feel most comfortable with.


The Best Budget Gaming Cases

Your case is an incredibly important part of your gaming computer as it houses your components and plays a big role in the cooling process. So, today we’re going to look at all of the budget gaming case options you have. That way you can come away with a solid case for your solid cheap gaming computer.

As mentioned above, not only does a case protect your components, but it also plays a huge role in the cooling process of your components.

Air flow is crucial to keeping your components at an appropriate temperature level and therefore it’s vital that you choose a case that offers good air flow.

Also, for some gamers, the style of a case is very important. I often recommend going with the NZXT GAMMA Classic case due to its solid air flow for the price and option to add a bunch of different fans.

However, many prospective builders have written me to ask about alternatives because they don’t like the GAMMA Classic’s design. And, that’s completely understandable.

So, in this list I have tried to incorporate many different budget gaming case options, including stylish cases, and cases that provide good air flow.

Ultimately, you should pick a case that you like, as it is the one component that will be visible at all times.

Budget Gaming Cases Under $40

Rosewill Dual FansRosewill Dual Fans FBM-01 (~$25)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Micro-ATX Computer Case

Budget Range: $300-$500

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At the very extreme low-end of the budget gaming case options you have is the Rosewill Dual Fans Micro-ATX Mini Tower Computer case.

It’s not the best case on the market, but since its price often drops to below $30, it is definitely budget friendly. And, since micro-ATX motherboards are your only option with a budget of under $400, this case will work perfectly.

So, if you need a really affordable budget gaming case, then the Rosewill Dual Fans is definitely a case that you should consider. It’s not the prettiest case or the best built tower, but it will be good enough to hold the components of your budget system.

Features

  • Micro-ATX Case
  • Comes With Two Fans: 1 x 80mm/1 x 120mm
  • 2 x 5.25″ External Bays/1 x 3.5″ External Bays/2 x 3.5″ Internal Bays
  • Four Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Rosewill Dual Fans case is a good option for gamers who are working with an extremely tight budget. Since it’s often priced under $30 it’s incredibly affordable. It’s definitely not the most well-built case on the market, but it is good enough for entry-level systems.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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SilverStone Tek PS08BSilverStone Tek PS08B (~$35)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Micro-ATX Computer Case

Budget Range: $300-$500

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If size is a concern, and you want a case that is both affordable and compact, then the SilverStone Tek PS08B is a solid option.

Surprisingly, for roughly $35 the SilverStone Tek PS08B is fairly well built when compared to other similarly priced cases.

And, despite its small size, it will accommodate your components very well.

Also, this case does have USB 3.0 slots on the front panel, which is pretty awesome given its price. Ultimately, though, if you’re looking for a compact tower, this budget gaming case is a great option for your next cheap gaming computer build.

Features

  • Micro-ATX Case
  • Comes With 2 x USB 3.0 Ports on the Front Panel
  • Comes With One Fan: 1 x 120mm Front Fan
  • 2 x 5.25″ External Bays/4 x 3.5″ Internal Bays/1 x 2.5″ Internal Drive Bay
  • Four Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The SilverStone Tek PS08B is the perfect budget gaming case for gamers who want a well-built, affordable, and compact case for their solid cheap gaming computer build.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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NZXT GAMMA Classic SeriesNZXT GAMMA Classic Series (~$35)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $300-$500

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The NZXT GAMMA Classic Series case has been used a bunch on the lower-priced systems on EGC’s Gaming PCs page. The reason why I like this case so much is that for the price, it comes with the option to have up to seven different fans.

And, while it does only come with one 120mm fan in the rear of the case, the ability to add six other fans makes it a great option for anyone seeking maximum air flow.

The one downside of this case, though, is that not many people like how its styled. If you’re one of those people, then there are definitely other options out there.

However, if you don’t mind what your case looks like, or if you don’t think the GAMMA Classic Series case is that bad-looking, then it’s definitely one of the best options on this list.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Will House Micro-ATX & Standard ATX Motherboards
  • Can Accommodate Seven Total Fans for Maximum Air Flow
  • 4 x 5.25″ External Bays/7 x 3.5″ Internal Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: In my opinion, the NZXT GAMMA Classic Series Mid Tower Case is one of the best budget gaming cases available due to how affordable it is (it periodically goes on sale for under $30) and how many fan options it presents. Definitely get this case if you don’t mind how its styled.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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NZXT Source 210NZXT Source 210 in White/Black (~$35-$40)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $400-$600

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The Source 210 is another great NZXT case for budget builders. In fact, I used this case when building a computer for a relative and I was very happy with its durability and cable management.

Style-wise it’s not going to blow you away (but for some people, that’s a good thing). It comes in either black or white and it gives you plenty of options for storage and drives.

One thing that really stood out to me was the when using a micro-ATX motherboard in this case, there was a ton of room to play with. This is good as more room means better airflow and cooling.

Ultimately, there’s a reason why I am currently recommending the NZXT Source 210 in four out of the nine EGC Budget Builds. So, if you’re looking for an affordable, quality, and reliable case, then you can’t go wrong with the NZXT Source 210.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Will House Micro-ATX & Standard ATX Motherboards
  • Can Accommodate Seven Total Fans for Maximum Air Flow
  • 3 x 5.25″ External Bays/8 x 3.5″ Internal Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t like the look of the NZXT GAMMA Classic Series case, then for a $5-$10 more you can get the NZXT Source 210, which has nearly identical features, but comes with a more simple design. 

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Gaming Cases between $40-$50

SilverStone Tek SG05BB-LITESilverStone Tek SG05BB-LITE (~$40)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mini-ITX Computer Case

Budget Range: $400-$600

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If you’re looking for a decent-priced compact mini-ITX box, then the SilverStone Tek SG05BB-LITE is a good starting point.

This cases compact size makes it a great option for LAN gamers or for people who just don’t want their system taking up a ton of room.

However, while this cases small size does offer convenience, getting components that will fit inside of it will take a little work on your part.

For starters, it can only house a mini-ITX motherboard. Also, if you’re planning on adding a discrete video card, you’ll have to find one that is under 10″ long. And, finally, a tall heatsink is out of the question with this case, although you could probably get a liquid cooler in there with some modifications.

In the end, the SilverStone Tek SG05BB-LITE is a good option if you’re looking for a LAN box and/or you’re willing to work with the smaller amount of space and it is the most affordable mini-ITX case on the market.

Features

  • Mini-ITX Computer Case
  • Small and Lightweight — Perfect for LAN Parties
  • 2 x USB 3.0 Ports on the Front Panel
  • Will House Mini-ITX Motherboards Only
  • Can Accommodate Seven Total Fans for Maximum Air Flow
  • 1 x 3.5″ Internal Bays/1 x 2.5″ Internal Drive Bays
  • Two Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The SilverStone Tek SG05BB-LITE is a good option for gamers who want to build a mini-ITX system that they can take to LAN parties. Just remember, though, that this case will only accommodate a mini-ITX motherboard (which rules out an AM3+ build since there are no AM3+ mini-ITX motherboards) and it should only be chosen by gamers who want to build a small and compact system.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Thermaltake CommanderThermaltake Commander (~$40-$50)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $400-$600

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The Thermaltake Commander is another solid budget gaming case that gives you a lot of options.

There are a few different versions and editions of the Commander.

There is the regular edition (black), the MS-I Snow Edition (black/white), the MS-I Epic Edition (black/red), and the White Commander MS-I Snow Edition (white).

Despite all of the different editions you can choose from, the case is also roomy, provides a side window to show off your components, and has an excellent design for air flow.

So, if you’re looking for a moderately-priced budget gaming case that has a nice look to it and has plenty of features, then the Thermaltake Commander is definitely a good place to start.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • 1 x USB 3.0 Ports on the Front Panel
  • Will House Standard ATX and Micro-ATX Motherboards
  • Can Accommodate Four Total Fans for Good Air Flow
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Thermaltake Commander is one of many solid options for a budget gaming case between $40-$50. There are many different editions of this case so you have more than just the black case to choose from. If you like the look, then this case is definitely a good choice, because it has everything else a decent case should have.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Cooler Master Elite 430Cooler Master Elite 430 (~$45)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $500-$600

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Another budget gaming case that has been featured a lot on Elite Gaming Computers is the Cooler Master Elite 430. In fact, I believe in it so much that I gave it away as a prize back in June and it is listed as our best case under $50 in our article “The Best Gaming Cases in 2013,” which can be read here.

You can check out the winner’s unboxing YouTube video review of it here.

Basically, the Cooler Master Elite 430 is moderately priced and comes with a lot of features.

For under $50 (and sometimes even under $40) you get the option to add up to six fans for maximum air flow and cooling.

The case also comes with tool-less drive bays and a side-window, two features that are usually found on more expensive cases. The bottom line is that this case kicks ass and it’s a great option if you can stretch the budget to get it.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Will House Standard ATX and Micro-ATX Motherboards
  • Comes With One 120mm Front Fan
  • Can Accommodate up to Six Total Fans for Good Air Flow
  • Tool-less Drive Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Cooler Master Elite 430 is a great budget gaming case that brings some high-end feature and excellent air flow to the table. If you’ve got the budget for it, it’s definitely a case that you should consider, especially if you plan on utilizing the extra fan slots.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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nzxt tempest 210NZXT Tempest 210 (~$45)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $500-$600

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NZXT has a knack for making good gaming cases.

The Tempest 210 is no exception.

With the option to house up to six fans, and the fact that this case comes with two of those fans already installed, the Tempest 210 has huge air flow and cooling potential.

Not to mention, the case already comes with filters pre-installed on the front intake fans, which is nice as most budget gaming cases don’t offer that.

Aside front the superior air flow and filters, the Tempest 210 also has good cable management features, a USB 3.0 port on the front panel, and it comes with tool-less drive bays for easy installation.

So, if you’re looking for a solid case for your budget gaming computer, the NZXT Tempest 210 is feature-rich and ready to go.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Will House Standard ATX and Micro-ATX Motherboards
  • One USB 3.0 Port on Front Panel
  • Comes With One 120mm Rear Fan and One 140mm Front Fan
  • Can Accommodate up to Six Total Fans for Good Air Flow
  • Tool-less Drive Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The NZXT Tempest 210 is another excellent budget gaming case option. When choosing between the cases listed in this article, I’d almost say to go with the one that you feel looks the best since they all have similar features.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Budget Gaming Cases Over $50

Antec OneAntec One (~$50)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $500-$600

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Antec is known for making high-quality products and their main budget gaming case, called the “One,” is definitely well-built and feature-rich.

This nice sleek-looking case has USB 3.0 front panel support, the option to hold up to five fans, tool-less drive bays, and a bunch of drive/storage bays.

With plenty of room for all of your components, the Antec One is an excellent option for a budget gaming case. So, if you’re looking for a solid case that looks good and will give you ideal cooling, then the One should definitely be considered.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Will House Standard ATX and Micro-ATX Motherboards
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Comes With Two 120mm Fans (Top and Rear Exhaust)
  • Can Accommodate up to Five Total Fans for Great Air Flow
  • Tool-less Drive Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Antec One is Antec’s most affordable case. However, that doesn’t mean it lacks quality. It has all the bells and whistles of a high-end case and it offers good air flow. And, with it’s attractive style, it would be hard to pass over this case.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Cooler Master Elite 130 AdvancedCooler Master Elite 130 Advanced (~$50)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mini-ITX Computer Case

Budget Range: $500-$600

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As you can see by the fact that this is the second mini-ITX case listed in this article, LAN systems are possible at low budgets.

The Cooler Master Elite 130 Advanced is a new case from CM and it definitely has some pretty awesome features. For a mini-ITX case it offers superb air flow, plenty of space for storage devices, and can hold even the biggest video cards.

Not only that, but the case is big enough to house a water cooling system for even better cooling.

The case also has USB 3.0 front panel support, comes with two fans, and is compact enough to place it anywhere you want it to go. So, if you’re looking to build a mini-ITX system for LAN parties and you’re working with a budget, then the Cooler Master Elite 430 Advanced is definitely a case you need to look at.

Features

  • Mini-ITX Computer Case
  • Will Only House Mini-ITX Motherboards
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Comes With Two Fans Pre-Installed
  • Can Accommodate a Water Cooling System and the Largest Video Cards on the Market
  • Plenty of Storage Space
  • Two Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Cooler Master Elite 130 Advanced offers incredible features for a budget mini-ITX case. The fact that it can fit the largest video cards on the market and a water cooling system is impressive. And, the bottom line is that if you’re looking to build a powerful but affordable LAN gaming computer, then this case is definitely what you need.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Rosewill ChallengerRosewill Challenger (~$50)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $500-$600

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The Rosewill Challenger is another solid budget gaming case for you to consider. Coming in at right around $50, the Challenger offers plenty of storage space, three pre-installed fans, and the option to add two more fans.

The case also features a blue LED light on the front of the case, as well as the option for USB 3.0 front panel support. (There’s an option for USB 2.0 only, which costs less, and the option for USB 3.0, which is more expensive.)

The case also has good cable management options and tool-less drive bays for easy installation and setup. Ultimately, it’s a very solid case for its price and it’s definitely worth your consideration if you’re building a cheap gaming computer.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Will House Standard ATX and Micro-ATX Motherboards
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Comes With Three Fans Pre-Installed (1 x 120mm Front Fan, 1 x 120mm Rear Fan, 1 x 140mm Top Fan)
  • Can Accommodate up to Five Total Fans for Great Air Flow
  • Tool-less Drive Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Rosewill Challenger is yet another excellent budget gaming case. Its blue LED light might win over some gamers, but ultimately the Challenger is an all-around well-built and feature-rich case that is worthy of your consideration.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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NZXT M59 Classic SeriesNZXT M59 Classic Series (~$50)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case

Budget Range: $500-$600

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In my opinion, the NZXT M59 has a really cool look to it and is tailored perfectly to gamers. With its unique design and its large window in the side-panel, the M59 will definitely make a statement through its appearance alone.

However, the NZXT M59 also has all of the features you would expect out of a high-end mid tower case. It comes with two fans with the option to go up to five total, and it comes with two filters to help prevent dust from getting inside.

It also has a ton of options for storage devices and its build quality is excellent. In the end, the M59 is stylish, has a ton of features, and is affordable. So, if you’re looking for those three things, then the M59 is definitely a good option.

Features

  • ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Will House Standard ATX, Micro-ATX, and Baby AT Motherboards
  • Comes With Two Fans Pre-Installed (1 x 120mm LED Side Fan, 1 x 120mm Rear Fan)
  • Comes With Two Filters
  • Can Accommodate up to Five Total Fans for Great Air Flow
  • Tool-less Drive Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The NZXT M59 is definitely a cool-looking case. In fact, it’s unique style might be its main selling point. However, that’s not all the case is capable of. It has all of the features you should expect out of a high-end mid tower case. So, if you’re looking for a cool-looking case that brings a lot to the table, then the M59 is right up your alley.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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The Best Budget Power Supplies

In this section of EGC’s Good Cheap Gaming Computers guide, we will take a look at the different options you have for your power supply. There are really only four budget gaming power supplies that I recommend, as I believe they are the four that offer the most value relative to their price.

Most first-time builders mess up when choosing a power supply. They think that a higher wattage rating means quality.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Quality power supplies are not determined by their wattage rating (which may or may not be misleading). They are determined by their build quality, their efficiency, and their ability to provide stable power for your system.

In fact, label wattage is not the number you want to look at when choosing your PSU. Instead, you should be looking at the amps available on the +12V rail(s). That is a much better indicator of what a power supply is capable of handling.

Listed below are four power supplies that will handle any combination of components that have been listed throughout this series. They are my choices for the best performance/price power supplies for system’s that cost under $600.

So, if you’re looking for a solid budget gaming power supply, these PSU options are your best bet.

Antec VP-450Antec VP-450 (~$40)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Non Modular

Budget Range: $300-$600

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I have a thing for the Antec VP-450… That’s why it’s consistently been used in EGC’s Budget Builds and why we consider it the best power supply under $50.

For under $40, you can have one of the most efficient budget gaming power supplies on the market.

Sure, 450 watts seems low, but this PSU runs more like a 500-600W PSU than it does a 450W.

The main advantage of the Antec VP-450 is its dual +12v 18 amp rails. That’s a combined 36A on the two +12v rails, which will provide enough power to run an HD 7970… That’s insane for the price…

Ultimately, this PSU might be the best budget gaming power supply available, simply for the amount of power it will produce relative to its cost.

Features

  • 450W PSU
  • 36A Spread Across Dual +12V Rails
  • Can Handle Any Video Card in the EGC’s List of Budget Video Cards (which can be seen here)

RECOMMENDATION: The Antec VP-450 is my number one recommendation for building a solid cheap gaming computer. Its price is incredible when compared to the performance it delivers. Don’t focus on the 450w label it has on it, this one plays more like a 550w unit.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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SilverStone Strider 500W ST50F-ESSilverStone Strider 500W ST50F-ES (~$50)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Non Modular

Budget Range: $400-$600

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The SilverStone Strider ST50F-ES is a decent budget gaming power supply.

With 34A on the +12V rail this budget gaming power supply can definitely handle any of the video cards recommended in this guide.

However, when compared to the Antec VP-450, it has less amps on the +12V rail, doesn’t come with dual rails, and costs almost $15 more. (Although it does come with a $10 rebate.)

The only reason why I use the ST50F-ES over the VP-450 in my $700 and $850 builds on the EGC Budget Builds section is because the ST50F-ES comes with the two 6-pin PCI power connectors necessary to run those video cards.

The Antec VP-450 will still run those systems fine and it would just need a molex-to-6-pin-connector to power those video cards, however, to minimize confusion, I use the ST50F-ES since it already has the connections needed.

The bottom line is that the ST50F-ES is a serviceable budget gaming power supply. However, unless you can find the ST50F-ES for a really good deal, then I’d recommend sticking with the Antec VP-450.

Features

  • 500W
  • 34A Single +12V Rail
  • Will Easily Handle Any of the Video Cards Listed Recommended in This Series (which can be seen here)

RECOMMENDATION: The SilverStone Strider ST50F-ES is a good option for a tight budget build. However, for less money, the Antec VP-450 is more enticing. I recommend going with the ST50F-ES only if it’s on sale and priced lower than the VP-450.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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Rosewill Capstone-450Rosewill Capstone-450 (~$60)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Non Modular

Budget Range: $500-$600

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If it’s high quality that you seek, then Rosewill’s Capstone-450 is your best bet.

At ~$60 it’s a little pricey for a budget gaming computer (especially when compared to the Antec VP-450), but it is definitely a well-built unit.

With 37A on the +12V rail, this Capstone power supply has plenty of power to accommodate any of the video cards in this series.

And, as an AnandTech Editor’s Choice Award winner, you can bet that it will deliver quality power to your system for a long time. So, if you’re looking for the best quality possible and you don’t mind spending a little more, then the Capstone -450 is definitely a good option.

Features

  • 450W
  • 37A Single +12V Rail
  • Will Accommodate Any Combination of Parts in This Series

RECOMMENDATION: The Rosewill Capstone-450 is a very well-built unit. However, it’s price to performance ratio is not nearly as good as Antec’s VP-450. If it’s the best possible quality that you seek, then this unit is a good choice. If you’re looking for the best deal and for a PSU that will power your solid cheap gaming computer, then the VP-450 is still the way to go.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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XFX Core Edition PRO 550WXFX Core Edition PRO 550W (~$60)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Non Modular

Budget Range: $500-$600

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With a 550W rating and 44A on the +12V rail, the XFX Core Edition PRO 550W is definitely the biggest PSU on this list.

It will definitely give you enough headroom for moderate overclocks and it will allow you to install a high-end video card. (This unit can handle an HD 7970, and even a new GTX 780…)

However, as mentioned numerous times in this article, if you’re just looking to put together a combination of components listed in this series, the Antec VP-450 at ~$25 less is the better option since both PSUs will handle a budget gaming computer just fine.

Although, for overclockers, this XFX unit is the best option on this list as it offers plenty of power. So, if you’re looking to do some system tuning, then you might want to consider this power supply.

Features

  • 550W
  • 44A Single +12V Rail
  • Best PSU on this List for Overclocking
  • Will Handle Any Component Combination in This Series and Then Some

RECOMMENDATION: The XFX Core Edition Pro 550W power supply is a great option for gamers who are looking to overclock on a budget. I recommend getting this unit if you plan on overclocking. If not, the VP-450 is still my recommended choice.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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Optical Drives

Optical drives are slowly becoming more and more obsolete. In fact, with the rise of digital downloads, an optical drive isn’t even necessary. It is entirely possible to build your system without one.

With that being said, I still include an optical drive in the majority of my builds, simply because it makes installing your operating system much easier.  If you don’t choose an optical drive for your build, you’ll have to install your operating system from a USB drive. This actually isn’t that difficult of a process and you can read a guide on how to do it here.

The good thing about foregoing an optical drive if you’re building a budget gaming computer, is that it will give you an extra $20 to put to better components. Though if you have a lot of older games on discs that you want to put onto your computer, you’ll want to get an optical drive. And, if you want to use your computer as a home theater as well, you’ll probably be interested in a Blu-ray player.

If you want an optical drive for your new build, here are some options to consider:

DVD/RW

Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive

LG Electronics 24X SATA Super-Multi DVD Internal Rewriter

Samsung Optical Drive SH-224DB/BEBE

BD-ROM (Blu-ray)

ASUS Black 12X SATA Internal Blu-ray Drive

LG Electronics 14X SATA Blu-ray Internal Rewriter

There’s really nothing fancy you need to look for when choosing an optical drive. The only thing you might want to consider is the color of the front plate of the optical drive. If you’re going for style points, you’ll want to match the optical drive to your case.

If you’re choosing a Blu-ray drive just remember that you’ll need software to go along with it. In some cases the BD-ROM will come with the necessary software. However, in other scenarios (like with both of the BD-ROMs above) the software is not included. You can always download and install VLC for free. Or, if you don’t get the software with the BD-ROM you buy software like Cyberlink PowerDVD.


Operating System

You have to have an operating system if you want to actually use your gaming computer. Currently there are really only a couple of viable options for operating systems if you’re building a gaming computer: Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Both options are suitable for gaming, but both also have a couple of aspects that you might want to consider before buying…

Windows 8.1 (~$95)

Windows 8 launched to quite a bit of criticism. It had a ton of bugs, it completely changed its interface (which confused people), and it had upset Valve (who owns Steam) by releasing some restrictive licensing rules.

Now that the smoke has cleared a little bit and Microsoft’s new operating system has been out for over a year, there’s a couple reasons why you might want to choose Windows 8 for your next gaming computer.

First, off, with the 8.1 update a lot (not all) of the nuisances of Windows 8 have been fixed. 8.1 fully supports DirectX 11.1, while Windows 7 does not (at least not fully). And, in games like Battlefield 4, there is actually a noticeable performance increase when using Windows 8.1

Microsoft’s reluctance to provide updated support for Windows 7 is another sign for concern. It’s clear Microsoft wants everyone to be using Windows 8. This isn’t good news for Windows 7, as it is likely that in the future, Microsoft will stop updating it to support the latest advancements.

Ultimately, despite it’s many annoying problems, I’m now recommending Windows 8.1 for all new gaming computer builds, simply because I believe Windows 7 is going to be left behind in future updates. However, Windows 7 is still not a bad choice, and if it gets to the point to where your performance is being limited, you can always upgrade.

Windows 7 (~$90)

Windows 7 is definitely the more popular decision for operating systems among enthusiasts. It’s stable and much more familiar than the new Windows 8. And, in terms of performance, there aren’t many (but there are some, see above…)  instances where Windows 8 clearly pulls ahead. At least not as of yet.

As of right now, Windows 7 is still, perhaps, the best choice for an operating system. Though, that’s likely to change in the future, as it looks like Microsoft is going to stop releasing important updates for Windows 7 in an effort to get more people to switch to Windows 8.

In the end, the decision comes down to you. Do you prefer an easier-to-use and more comfortable operating system? Or, are you concerned about the future and want to make sure you have the best OS (performance-wise) going forward?


HAVE QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? POST THEM BELOW!

Comments

  1. Nahkai says

    Hey i was thinking about purchasing the $700 build, this would be my first time building a pc, and had a few questions.

    Would it be upgradeable in the future? Once i get a better handle on this stuff.
    Do you think it would be able to run Star Citizen at least on high setting? Pretty much the whole point of me building a PC is just for this game https://robertsspaceindustries.com/about-the-game

    As well as other MMOs such as GW2, Archeage, Black Desert, Day Z standalone

  2. Leandre says

    Ok, after a lot of research I figured out what parts I think I want for my first build. The only thing I’m not sure of is the Storage since I keep seeing mixed reviews. Will everything fit together alright so far? Will I need a sound card? I want to play Skyrim with a bunch of mods. Will this work for that? Thanks in advance. This page has been super helpful since I’m a total noob at this.

    AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor
    Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3P ATX AM3+ Motherboard
    Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333
    EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Video Card
    Antec One ATX Mid Tower Case
    Antec 450W ATX Power Supply
    LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer
    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM)
    (64-bit)
    Acer S220HQLAbd 21.5″ Monitor

  3. Damian says

    I’m probably going to get the $600 build and I was wondering if the NZXT M59 Classic Series would work and if not how would I know if any other cases work for it since i don’t really want the the case you suggested. Oh and would i be able to get a bigger hard drive and if I could would that be a good option.

  4. CallOfAndreJ says

    Hello,

    I do YouTube and was wondering if the $400 build would be good for rendering videos ? currently it takes me 5hours to render 5minutes in good settings (Witch is killing me)

    Also will the $400 build be able to handle windows 8.1 ?

    Also able to be on for a long Period of time ?

    • says

      Unfortunately, the $400 isn’t going to be great at rendering, but it should give you a boost over what you’re currently working with. And, yes, that build will handle 8.1.

      And, you’ll be fine to keep it on for long periods of time.

  5. Aidan says

    also it might be worth mentioning this is my first build and one more question how much better is the 600$ build because im considering getting that instead

    • Aidan says

      i am actually getting the 500$ build i was wondering if the components fit into the Thermaltake Commander

      • says

        Yes, the Thermaltake Commander will fit those components just fine. And, the $600 build has a little more graphics processing power than the $500 build.

  6. Aidan says

    im planning on doing the 500$ build what kind of settings will it run watch dogs at or will it run at all? because ive looked at the specs required and im pretty sure that it can run the game

    • says

      You’ll definitely be able to run Watch Dogs with the $500 setup, but you may not be able to hit max settings on a 1920×1080 monitor. Though, you shouldn’t be too far off.

  7. Tristan says

    I’m am going with the $700 PC and it will be my first ever build.
    Will this PC be able to run Bf4 and DayZ on the highest possible settings.
    And also could you please list down some really good but cheap gaming speakers, monitors and mouses.
    Thanks

    • says

      Hey Tristan! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      It’s tough to say precisely what kind of performance you’ll get on DayZ (assuming you’re playing the stand alone version) because it’s not fully optimized. But you should be able to max those games out with about 40-50 FPS on average.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Best,
      Brent

  8. Antonio says

    Hi, I am thinking about the Jackal configuration, but I don’t know if choose the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 OC or the MSI Radeon R9 270. Price is almost the same.

    Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Antonio, thanks for reading and commenting!

      Both are solid options and the performance difference between the two are slim. If both are the same price, I’d say it would depend on what games you’re playing.

      Some games favor AMD cards and some favor NVIDIA cards. BF4, for example, would favor the R9 270. While games like Borderlands favor NVIDIA cards.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Best,
      Brent

  9. Jonny says

    I was thinking to build $600 but u said it can be updated too amd fx 8350 so do I need to update anything else will that mobo able to handle 8 core cpu or psu
    It’s my 1st build just thank you

  10. Andy says

    Hey!

    I wanted to ask for that 700 dollar build, the shop I will buy from hasn’t got that motherboard, any other one you recommand? I buy from http://www.azerty.nl

    Also is it ok to switch your video card as again, that shop hasn’t got it, to gigabyte gtx 660 ?

    Thanks in advance

    • says

      Any H81 or H87 motherboard will do. The H87 motherboard is the better option, with more features, but if you want to save money the H81 board will be fine.

      And, yes, the Gigabyte GTX 660 will work fine.

      Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Brent

  11. nick says

    For the $700 build i have some questions. First is there a tower you would recommend using other then the one you have. ( clicked your link and it is currently unavailable ) and was wondering if it would be able to handle low end streaming.

    • says

      Hey Nick, thanks for reading and commenting! Maybe try something like the Rosewill CHALLENGER. And yes, it will handle low streaming. However, if you can stretch your budget up to a GTX 760 (or even drop to a GTX 660) you can utilize NVIDIA’s Shadowplay–which should help you with streaming. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  12. Jake says

    I am ordering the 500$ rig and was wondering as a new pc builder what else I would need to make this run? ie* cables wires ect… or do these components come with all that stuff?

    • says

      Hey Jake, thanks for commenting!

      All of the cables you need will come with the build. Though, if you don’t have an operating system you can use, you will definitely need one as well.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Best,
      Brent

  13. Jonathan says

    also if so , could you provide me the links for all components :D this would be very nice of you!!!
    I wanna make the 600$ build you posted! :D

    Thanks !

    • says

      The links are already there. The (View) links take you to the individual component and the “Get My Gaming PC” button at the bottom takes you to a list with all of the components.

  14. Jonathan says

    Hello! Very nice and cheap prices for a gaming rig!
    I have a question though, do i have to get the drivers for the components manually or are the parts delivered with an install CD?

    Thank you very much!

    • says

      Hey Jonathan, thanks for commenting!

      In some instances you may need to install certain drivers manually. Though your components will come with the necessary drivers, it’s always a good idea to check for later versions of drivers for each part.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Best,
      Brent

  15. Kevin says

    I usually don’t leave comments but I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and learned quite a lot in an easy way.

    The amazon links that have all the components are especially awesome.

    Thanks! I’ll be bookmarking this for later (:

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