Up For Debate - Building A Budget PC Build

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Jan 17, 2016 4:00 PM

I think we all know by now, if you want to build a PC extremely cheaply you most certainly can. Now it might not be lighting quick, or capable of running everything you throw at it, but when push comes to shove it is absolutely possible. Enter the realm of gaming however, and everything changes. Nobody wants to buy a PC that can't play the latest game without it look like a dodgy flip book.

There's a tricky balance then between saving a few pennies and splashing out on better hardware to get the necessary performance from your gaming rig. Do I skimp on the processor to get a beefier graphics card? Is a decent case an unnecessary luxury? Surely a cheap PSU won't blow up on me? All questions we usually want answered when building a budget build. But, just how budget do you think it's wise to go?

As you can see from the build below, you can actually put together a budget PC for as little as £389. Make no doubt about it, you can go far cheaper than this though. I had to draw the line somewhere however, and I think the GeForce GTX 950 paired with an AMD Athlon X4 860K is my limit. Any less than this and it's just not going to have the performance necessary to make it a worthwhile purchase.

Budget Build

Component Brand Price Amazon UK Amazon US
CPU AMD Athlon X4 860K £57 Link Link
Motherboard ASRock FM2A88M Extreme4+ £65 Link Link 
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 950 £135 Link  Link 
Memory Patriot PSD38G1600KH 8GB £30 Link  Link 
Power Supply Corsair Builder Series CXM 430W £40 Link  Link 
CPU Cooler Stock N/A N/A N/A 
Storage Western Digital 1TB HDD £39 Link  Link 
Case CiT Goblin Mesh Gaming Case * £26 Link  Link 
Total   £389    

*The US build has a slightly different PC Case in the build.

If you missed it we also just created a Best Entry-Level, Mid-Tier And Enthusiast Gaming PC Builds 2016 article as well to help get the 2016 year underway. We will revise these builds later in the year, as the released PC tech updates.

What's the cheapest build you can put together that still offers a decent level of gaming performance? Just how cheap would you go with a brand new build? Is it high-end or the highway? Let us know below!

 

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10:44 Jan-19-2016

I had to stick to a budget when building my pc and I've been more than happy with what I got with my money. Overall I spent around £470 that's including windows 7. I've spent a bit more on a new heatsink and a few extra case fans which would bring overall cost over £500 but I'm glad I made the choice of building my pc and would recommend it to anyone. Imo AMD is the route to go down if you want to build a cheap pc you can make a more powerful AMD build but if you're going to spend the extra money then I think intel/nvidia is the way to go. At least that's what I'm going to do for my next build.

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12:22 Jan-18-2016

Here is my tip. GO AMD FOR BUDGET BUILDS for graphics cards. Since you get more fps per dollar in that range and yet your power bill will not go over 9 bajillion dollars as some people say. It will be like a couple extra bucks on the power bill. As for the FM2+ line I think its not suited for people who are usually in this price range since many of the people will be playing F2P games such as Source Engine games, MOBAS such as LOL and DotA like the extra CPU grunt.

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12:32 Jan-18-2016

Here is my take on the 400 quid build.
http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/RdMx4D

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11:38 Jan-18-2016

good build but i would go for gtx 960 since its only 15-20£ more but a noticable better performance. it looks like its on sale for now. http://www.amazon.co.uk/EVGA-Nvidia-GeForce-Superclocked-Graphics/dp/B00SNVOUKE/ref=sr_1_2?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1453116945&sr=1-2&keywords=evga+gtx+960

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11:34 Jan-18-2016

I built my current rig for around £350 - however I already had a HDD and RAM. Also, the FX 8320, Corsair H60 cooler, Asus M5A97 motherboard and the GTX 960 were all used but work like new. Apart from the PSU (which I would always buy new) I don't see an issue with used hardware so long as it's been looked after.

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11:16 Jan-18-2016

Cheapest build I'd consider, starts with a Pentium G3258, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, one SSD, one HDD, a H81 or Z87 mainboard and at least a Micro-ATX case with a Bronze PSU.
My "cheapest possible" build comes to around £440.
http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/WBhrdC
I'd say that's still within most people's budget and offers enough performance for 1080p medium settings.

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11:03 Jan-18-2016

this is a nice build, but imagine every hardware have 10-15% tax. :(((

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07:55 Jan-18-2016

Ha my budget was 500 pound, needless to say i failed my pc cost me double and even then i had to settle on a different gpu (wanted an 980TI ). My final thought was make it as future proof as possible. which when dealing with PC builds thats easier said then done

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08:47 Jan-18-2016

similar build to mine :) at the time found myself in the same boat with the 980ti aswell so went with the 390x to maybe xfire one day, looking back i prolly wouldnt spent £500apr on fans and a liquid cooler but it looks amazing lol :)

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09:40 Jan-18-2016

Well buddy 500 pounds budget and a 980ti don't mix well together :P. Also in my vocabulary the phrase "future proof" doesn't exist (apart from some upgrade space). I just call it "a beast of a rig" and it always costs :P.

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06:54 Jan-18-2016

is that a real budget?

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05:16 Jan-18-2016

An i3-4170/gtx 950 build costs 277.31 pounds (395.96 USD)
An i5-4590/gtx 960 build costs 352.00 pounds (502.52 USD)
An i5-6400/gtx 970 build costs 469.32 pounds (670.03 USD)


Take your pick. All within excellent price ranges. ALL ARE PRE-BUILT. Welcome to china, the land of irony

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05:17 Jan-18-2016

If you try to build the gtx 960 build by yourself it will cost you 761 USD in china lololol. Pre-built is the way to go :P

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09:32 Jan-18-2016

I don´t know if any of you has a vessel subscribtion but linus made a video about pre build pc´s as well and it was quite interesting: https://www.vessel.com/videos/Pnx8PhB--

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11:38 Jan-18-2016

No vessel sub :(. Isn't it in youtube?

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13:49 Jan-18-2016

they release their vids 7 days early on vessel and than on youtube, you can try out the free month tho. I got a free year from a promo.

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04:06 Jan-18-2016

I think that an i3-4170 would make a solid basis for a cheaper budget build. Having a strong dual-core CPU with hyperthreading is likely not going to be a major bottleneck for some time.

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04:40 Jan-18-2016

Well the G3258 when overclocked to like 4.3GHz with the stock fan (cause it can handle it) is still strong enough for today's gaming.

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10:55 Jan-18-2016

The G3258 is only dual-core so no, it isn't suited for today's or future games since most of the newer games already refuse to work or stutter on dual-core CPUs.

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19:44 Jan-18-2016

You do know that games like GTA V and Battlefront was tested with the G3258 and those people have zero problems also those 2 games were released in 2015 and also remember this is a topic for budget gaming so don't expect people playing on ultra settings and besides that being overclocked to 4.3GHz is pretty much being on par with a stock 860K and you can use the stock fan on the G3258 while you need a custom cooler on the 860K.

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19:57 Jan-18-2016

it will bottleneck man you will be cpu limited nobody want to play 30+ fps

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03:34 Jan-19-2016

Aditrex you know a lot of people do get a budget gaming PC for games such as League of Legends and CS GO right which you will be getting 60 fps no problem.


Also the only main games that processor would struggle on is Crysis 1/2/3, Watch Dogs and maybe Far Cry 4 since those are more based on the CPU but other games such as GTA V, Borderlands 2 (cause there is people always going back to that one) and maybe battlefield hardline will have no problems at all and they would be

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03:34 Jan-19-2016

at roughly 40-60 fps which is no problems there at all.

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04:05 Jan-18-2016

gaming level midium- low setting

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03:12 Jan-18-2016

Why old games of 2010,11 and 12 run smooth at 30fps on 720p lowest setting, while new games of 2013,14and 15 run at 15-20fps on 720p lowest settings on the same hardware?
Is the something running in background which we dont know?

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03:20 Jan-18-2016

its your gpu cant keep up with modern games with a upgrade you could play still newer games at medium

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04:42 Jan-18-2016

He is mainly using a laptop so the only way to upgrade is changing the whole laptop or getting a new board with the CPU for the laptop.

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11:57 Jan-18-2016

Aditrex i know that my gpu is kinda low end.. But my ques is why some old games run smooth and new games run crap on same settings on same config.
I just want to know is there some settings hidden or some background process.

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12:34 Jan-18-2016

Newer games are more graphically demanding.


Example: GTA V looks better at the lowest setttings than GTA 4 at the lowest settings.

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11:45 Jan-19-2016

Thanks for your short answer extremyman...but can u clear it, which elements demand that more graphics. I mean if u can more specifically.

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02:30 Jan-18-2016

What happened to steam machines??, do you think it was an epic fail? it should be an article talking about this.

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03:14 Jan-18-2016

To me i found steam machines to be a little over priced especially the alienware models.

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00:45 Jan-18-2016

My pc sort of had a budget, but let's just say the budget was a bit larger than what you'd normally find XD

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02:37 Jan-18-2016

Just kept upgrading my pc over time to the point where i forget how much i truly have in it.

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02:51 Jan-18-2016

Not sure why you were downvoted, but let's say my PC was a budget pc as well xD

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04:15 Jan-18-2016

Selfish people with low end pcs xD.

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00:01 Jan-18-2016

If your budget is thight then go for 4-6 gen i7 and a low end gaming gpu something like the 950, then you sell it in 1-2 years to buy another gpu more powerful, an i7 will last at least 5-6 years just ooka at the first generation of i7 those are still rocking and are even more powerful than mi i5 .

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03:29 Jan-18-2016

My processor i have had for about 5 years so far and still able to play most games fine with it and also going with a i7 would be best to spend that like extra 80$ for a 960 instead.


Also mid range cards such as the 950 last a lot longer than 1-2 years and honestly would be best every 3-4 year instead but besides that if the persons budget is "tight" never go for anything too high end yet and let it build up in time.

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03:30 Jan-18-2016

Lastly would still be better to go for the G3258 or the i3 6100 for a Intel budget machine.

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03:58 Jan-18-2016

It depends, if you want to play at ultra settings then the 950 lasts 1-2 years, my gtx 750 ti last around 1 and a half year and it was highly overclocked but even at my resolution i havent ve able to play at ultra 2015 games tha´ts why i sold it to buy the 1070.

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04:52 Jan-18-2016

Honestly they are going to make a different name then a GTX 1070 cause why go from 4 digits to 3 digits back to 4 again and also i have been using my GTX 650 Ti Boost for a good 2 and a half years maybe 3 years and to me i am fine playing on high settings doesn't have to be on ultra in order to play the game.


Good example of a game i played on high settings and looked beautiful was Battlefront which ran smooth also remember my card is better than a 750 Ti as well so.

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22:07 Jan-17-2016

Just get a Dell workstation t5500 for 200£ and add a gtx 960 to it

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22:04 Jan-17-2016

Just overclock as much as possible. Then it'll be worth the price.

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21:15 Jan-17-2016

that is pretty close to my build, except I got my HD 7870 on clearance for $100 (which I bought way later) and my case included my original PSU, which that cost about $80, my initial use with my computer, I just overclocked the daylights out of my APUI and that worked fine

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20:25 Jan-17-2016

ok so a skylake i3 6320 has good performance but its as much as i5 4460 or an i5 6400 why so expensive? i thought i3 was like 120 usd at the most?

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21:32 Jan-17-2016

its normal its brand new and have almost same perfomance as that i5 in alot cases

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21:57 Jan-17-2016

So i3 6320 has the same performance as 4460? If so do you have benchmarks thats amazing and is gaming becoming gpu or cpu dependant now? Which is more importANT

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22:17 Jan-17-2016

I'd get the Skylake any day because of the fact it's brand new and does DDR4. DDR3's pretty much at the end of its life so there's really no point buying anything DDR3 unless you can get it insanely cheap. Motherboards and RAM last a while, but if you went DDR3, you'd have to replace the Mobo and RAM to upgrade the CPU

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22:18 Jan-17-2016

To answer the original question though, yeah, stuff's getting more CPU heavy, and I imagine it'll get even more so once DX12 is the norm.

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05:01 Jan-18-2016

Well you mean DDR3L cause for Skylake it uses memory with lower voltage roughly 1.2v so if you have DDR3 at 1.5v it will work but might cause problems in the long run this is also why 4th gen is still the way to go cause i am using a second gen i5 and still works perfect for today's games.

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22:59 Jan-17-2016

so i will be able to get away with way better cpu and keeping this 270 fir a bit more? like i said i wanna upgrade but i just dont know what to upgrade or just

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22:59 Jan-17-2016

wait till my pc is no longer able to play anything? or zen

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03:18 Jan-18-2016

of course wait

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05:08 Jan-18-2016

The i5 4460 is a lot better then your Athlon X4 860K and will last a good 5-6 years before you would need to build a new system but if you have like almost 400$ to spend on a CPU you can always get the i7 5775C which is a pretty good CPU from what i can tell but also good to think about when owning the 4460 since it is the same socket so in like 3 years you could always upgrade to the 5775C and pay like 250$-300$ instead.

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19:58 Jan-17-2016

Well in my country this pc cost me about 600$ , so can someone tell me what i can buy with 600$ in there country :)

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20:27 Jan-17-2016

for reference my pc is exact i have 860k oc to 4.3 270(non x) oc to match x and 12 gigs of ram i had lying around total including os and case psu gpu cpu mobo

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20:27 Jan-17-2016

and everything else except for hdd monitor and ram was 350

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
APU A10-9700E 4-Core 3.0GHz Radeon R5 M320 2GB 12GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Asus TUF Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-6500 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1060 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Asus Phoenix OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 3GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-12700K 16-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 7 2700X Radeon RX 550X 4GB 24GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10600KF 6-Core 4.10GHz Radeon RX 580 Asus Dual 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 6G Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Radeon HD 7970 OC Sapphire Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-8086K 6-Core 4.0GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
| Low, 1080p
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Palit StormX 2GB 12GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i9-10900KF 10-Core 3.70GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super MSI Ventus XS OC 8GB 64GB
| Medium, 1080p
FX-8300 Radeon RX 560 Sapphire Pulse OC 2GB 16GB
Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Radeon RX 570 XFX RS Black 4GB 8GB