Summer 2017 Update:
Tier 2 offers more performance, Tier 3 is gone and more!
1. Removed Tier 3 for now: Mid-range graphic cards (Radeon RX 570/580 and Geforce GTX 1060) are currently priced way above MSRP or out of stock. AMD upcoming Ryzen 3 CPUs will also force Intel to lower the price of their quad-core CPUs, so Tier 3 will be back when it makes more sense to recommend it.
2. Tier 2 graphic card has been upgraded to a Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB, offering much better performance at a slightly higher price.
3. New motherboard for Tier 1: Lower cost, higher reliability and more widely available.
4. Simplified article that’s faster to read: I removed over 2,000 words in this edition, in order to make it faster to read for you and faster to update it for me.
That’s it, enjoy the update!
Choose Your Gaming PC:
About Hardware Revolution’s Gaming PC Builds
This is 1 of 3 articles where I, Mathieu Bourgie, a computer hardware consultant with over 16 years of experience, recommend to you all the required parts, to help you build your Gaming PC.
We also have a guide for the Best Prebuilt Budget Gaming PCs if you don’t want to build a PC.
Is a Budget Gaming PC powerful enough for you?
That depends on the resolution of your monitor/HDTV and the games that you want to play.
There are two (2) recommended Budget Gaming PC levels of performance (Tier) in this article.
The recommended parts for each Tier are indicated by a number: 1 and 2, through the article.
– Tier 1 is what I recommend for gaming on a 720p HDTV or a monitor with a 1366 x 768 resolution.
– Tier 2 for gaming at 1600 x 900. Gaming at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD / 1080p) is possible with lower graphic settings.
I also suggest alternatives or upgrades, in Italic, that may interest you. Changing a part to a suggested alternative doesn’t require you to change anything else.
Want a Gaming PC that is more responsive with higher performance storage, more RAM and that can handle modern games at 1080p with 120+FPS, or 2560 x 1440?
You’ll need a more powerful Gaming PC. See The Best Mid-range & High Performance Gaming PCs.
Want the best Gaming PC to play at 4K or on multiple monitors?
In that case, the Extreme Gaming PCs are what I recommend.
Need help picking the right level of performance for your Gaming PC?
Leave a comment at the end of the article. Give us details about the video game(s) that you want to play, the level of details that you want and the resolution of the monitor or HDTV that you’ll use.
Not interested in a Gaming PC?
Want an inexpensive PC for general use?
All the PCs in this guide have integrated graphic processors (GPUs), with video outputs on the motherboard, meaning that you can connect your monitor or HDTV directly to them, without requiring a dedicated video card. So if you want to a standard desktop PC and don’t intend to play video games, just buy everything except for the dedicated video card.
Things to keep in mind when reading this article:
My recommendations in this article are based on the prices that I saw on June 27th 2017.
- This is a worldwide guide. If you live outside the USA, B&H offers worldwide shipping. In the USA, Amazon, Newegg and B&H offer the best prices and customer support.
- This list is based on the best prices for new parts from B&H, NewEgg and Amazon. No used, open box or refurbished parts are included. While you may be able to score a nice discount, those parts come with trade offs, such as unknown reliability, a limited return policy and a limited warranty. I want your PC to function without issues.
- Prices and availability often change. I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, but I only recommend to you parts that I would buy myself. Reliable and great performance for the price.
This table can be scrolled sideways on mobile.
Never built a PC before and need help? No problem.
You don’t have to be a Geek to build a PC!
Building a PC has never been easier. Thousands of our readers, many of whom with no experience, built their own PC with the help of Hardware Revolution. If they can do it, so can you!
Start by reading our “Building Your First PC?” article, which covers everything that you need to know to get started. We also have videos on how to build a PC and on how to install Windows at the end of the article.
Once you’re comfortable with the idea of building your own PC, simply pick a Tier and buy the recommended parts for it. When you get your parts, assemble your PC, install Windows and enjoy. Also, be proud of a job well done!
AMD A8-7600 APU 2 modules/4 cores 3.1-3.8GHz FM2+ R7 Series Graphics 384 GPU cores 720MHz 65W
The AMD A8-7600 is a 10 ‘compute core’ APU based on AMD’s Kaveri architecture.
It contains the CPU and the GPU (video card) in a single chip.
The CPU portion of this APU has two modules / four cores, based on AMD’s Streamroller architecture, running at a normal 3.1GHz frequency, with a Turbo frequency up to 3.8GHz. Those make up for 4 ‘compute cores’.
From a CPU performance point of view, the AMD A8-7600 lags behind the Pentium G3258 in applications that are single-threaded, but will outperform the G3258 in applications that take advantage of multi-threading, even trading blows with the $120+ Core i3-4160 in multi-threaded applications.
The A8-7600, with its powerful integrated video card, offers great performance in applications that take advantage of the GPU to improve performance.
GPU (video card):
The GPU (video card) has six ‘compute cores’, based on AMD’s GCN 1.1 architecture, with 384 GPU cores, running at 720MHz.
This means that you do not need to buy a dedicated video card, as the video card is integrated in this APU.
See the video card section for more details on what you can expect from the GPU
Why not upgrade to an higher-end APU, such as the A8-7650K, A10-7700, A10-7800, A10-7850K or A10-7870K?
The A8-7650K and A10-7700 offer the same integrated video card performance, only slightly higher frequencies for the CPU part, but at an higher cost of course.
The A10-7800 and A10-7850K cost more, but only provide slightly better performance than the A8-7600 in video games, as you can see in this AnandTech’s review.
The A10-7870K cost too much to recommend: When you compare the cost of a Gaming PC with the A10-7870K, it’s too close to the cost of a Gaming PC with a far more powerful dedicated video card to be worth recommending.
Simply put, the A8-7600 offers the best balance of low cost and high performance, or in the other words, it offers the best bang for your buck, why is why I’m recommending it for the entry-level Tier 1 Gaming PC.
Intel Pentium G4560 3.5GHz Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading Kaby Lake LGA1151:
The Intel Pentium G4560 is based on the 7th and latest Intel Kaby Lake architecture and runs at an higher frequency of 3.5GHz.
What makes it so interesting and why it’s replacing the previously recommended Intel Core i3-6100 for Tier 2, is the fact that the Intel Pentium CPUs based on the 7th gen Kaby Lake architecture now comes with Hyper-Threading, unlike previous generation of desktop Intel Pentium CPUs.
So instead of a dual-core design, you get a dual-core + Hyper-Threading design for the Pentium G4560, making it far more powerful than previous Intel Pentium CPUs.
Simply put, the Pentium G4560 offers performance pretty much identical to the more expensive Intel Core i3-6100, but at a significantly lower price!
In other words, it’s an amazing deal to get this much CPU performance at such at a low price and this is why I’m recommending the Intel Pentium G4560 for Tier 1 of the Budget Gaming PCs.
More powerful alternatives:
Want to upgrade to a more powerful CPU?
Here’s something that you should know first: For gaming performance, you’re better off upgrading your video card first.
Only when you get to mainstream and high-end video cards is it worth it to get a more powerful CPU to avoid limiting the video card performance. Basically, that’s the case when you reach the performance level of Mainstream Gaming PCs.
In the case of a Budget Gaming PC, it is not worth upgrading the CPU solely for the goal of increasing video game performance, as the video card is what matters the most when it comes to gaming performance.
Why should you consider a more powerful CPU?
There are three good reasons:
1. You want higher CPU performance for everyday tasks. If you want your PC to be more responsive, it would be wiser to upgrade the storage to an hybrid hard drive or far better, a SSD.
2. You use your PC for other demanding tasks, such as audio, photo or video editing. In that case, upgrading to an Intel Core i7 would result in better performance thanks to Hyper-Threading and higher frequencies.
If you want a more powerful CPU, see The Best CPUs, Processors and APUs For Your Money article for my recommendations for upgrades. You’ll want to pick a CPU that uses the LGA1151 socket for it to be compatible with the rest of Tier 2.
Get the MSI A68HM Grenade Micro-ATX
About the MSI A68HM Grenade Micro-ATX
This motherboard offers support for AMD’s FM2+ APUs and modern features at a great price, making it a good choice for Tier 1 of the Budget Gaming PCs.
Its low price allows you to invest your budget on the part that matters the most for gaming performance for Tier 1: the APU and the RAM.
1. Low price for a reliable motherboard that supports AMD’s FM2+ APUs.
2. Four USB ports on the back: two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0
3. VGA, DVI and HDMI video outputs
4. USB 3.0 onboard header: This means that you can use USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case.
1. Two included SATA cables: You may need to buy more if you want more than one hard drive and one optical drive, if you get a SATA SSD, a hard drive and an optical drive for example.
2. Only two RAM slots: Four is preferable if you want to add RAM in the future. You can still upgrade to 16GB (2x8GB) or 32GB (2x16GB).
3. Only two fan headers: One for the CPU, the other for the case. You have enough for the recommended case, but not more.
MSI B250M Pro-VD LGA1151 mATX:
About the MSI B250M Pro-VD motherboard:
This motherboard is reliable, affordable and supports the new Intel 7th generation Kaby Lake CPUs out of the box, making it a great choice for Tier 2 of the Budget Gaming PCs.
Its low price allows you to invest your budget on the parts that matters the most for gaming performance: the video card and the CPU.
You also get a fairly decent onboard sound solution. The audio chipset and traces are isolated from the rest of the motherboard to reduce interference. MSI is also using separated layers in the motherboard to ensure equally clear sound quality for both left and right audio channels. Finally you get high quality audio capacitors for a warmer sound.
1. Low price for a reliable motherboard that supports Intel’s LGA1151 Kaby Lake CPUs out of the box.
2. USB 3.1 (Gen1 5Gbps, same as USB 3.0) header, Eight USB ports in total: Four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports on the back, two from the header, two USB 2.0 on the back.
3. Six SATA III ports
4. Support M.2 PCIe 3.0 4x SSD if you want the higher performance storage possible. SATA III M.2 SSD are also supported and far more affordable.
5. Fairly decent onboard sound.
6. Second PCI-Express 1x slot is far enough from the PCI-Express 16x slot to allow the installation of a large dual-slot video card and another expansion card such as a sound card if you want to upgrade the sound.
7. USB 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1) onboard header: This means that you can use USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case.
8. Metal reinforced PCI-Express 16x slot.
9. EZ Debug LEDs to help you troubleshoot your PC if something isn’t working properly.
1. Only two included SATA cables: Won’t be enough if you decide to get an optical drive and a SATA III SSD.
2. Only two RAM slots: Four is preferable if you want to add RAM in the future. You can still upgrade to 16GB (2x8GB) or 32GB (2x16GB).
3. Only two fan headers: One for the CPU, the other for the case. You have enough for the recommended case, but not more.
4. No RAID support.
A few important recommendations and notes regarding video cards:
- Get the latest version of the video card drivers directly from AMD or Nvidia. That way, you’ll be sure to get the latest bug fixes as well as the best performance possible from your video card(s).
- Most video cards require one or two PCI-Express 6 or 8 pin power connector(s) to be plugged into them to function properly.
Integrated in the AMD A8-7600 APU:
Radeon R7 384 GPU cores at 720MHz
Integrated in the AMD A8-7600 APU, the R7 GPU offers 384 shader processors and uses the PC’s RAM as its memory.
The motherboard offers VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs.
Gaming performance wise, you can play most games, with decent graphic settings, at a resolution of 1280 x 800, 1366 x 768 or on a 720p HDTV. Nothing earth shattering, but considering the cost of Tier 1, that’s great value. If you want to play at an higher resolution, want more details and/or more performance, upgrade to an higher end Tier.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB:
The Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti is in a class of its own. AMD doesn’t really have any competitive product at this price point, seeing as the RX 560 is less expensive but it’s no match for the more powerful GTX 1050 Ti, while the RX 570 is significantly more expensive.
What video games can the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB run smoothly?
It’s capable of running newer games smoothly at a resolution up to 1600 x 900 smoothly with high frame rates.
It can run games at 1920 x 1080, but you’ll have to turn down visual quality and the game play might not be as smooth, with lower frame rates.
While it is somewhat capable of running older games with high details at 1920 x 1080 and newer games will run at 1920 x 1080 and some will hit 60 FPS, you may want to lower levels of details depending on how demanding the game is, to get acceptable frame rates.
More powerful alternatives:
Want to upgrade to a more powerful video card?
See The Best Video Cards For Gaming article for my recommendations for upgrades.
Why do I recommend different RAM kits at Amazon, B&H and Newegg?
Prices and available products vary depending on the vendor. I simply recommended reliable kits that offer great performance at a low price. Performance is the same for all kits from the different vendors.
Is it worth it to upgrade to 16GB of RAM?
Do you want better performance in video games? Then you’re better off picking a higher Tier or a faster CPU and/or video card.
Do you like to run demanding programs (Photo, video or 3D editing, etc.), run more programs at once (multitask), leave your PC open for a long time between restarts and want to be able to run the latest games and/or programs for many years with higher performance? If you said yes, then I recommend upgrading to 16GB of RAM. Note that you don’t need to change any other part if you choose 16GB of RAM instead of 8GB.
8GB (2x4GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR3 2133MHz
Why DDR3 2133MHz?
The Tier 1 Gaming PC graphic card is integrated in the AMD APU (CPU+GPU), so it uses the system RAM. In this specific case, higher performance memory does significantly improve gaming performance. That said, beyond 2133MHz, you get diminishing performance improvement with higher frequency RAM.
DDR3 because the Tier 1 CPU and motherboard support only DDR3.
Recommended alternative 16GB kits of DDR3 2133MHz RAM:
8GB (2x4GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 2400MHz
Why DDR4 2400MHz?
The recommended motherboard for Tier 2 only supports DDR4, like most motherboards running Intel LGA1151 CPUs.
Why not recommend higher frequency RAM?
1- Not supported by the motherboard (Z270 chipset required, much more expensive)
2- More expensive, forcing you to cut somewhere else to fit in your budget.
Simply put: It can worth it when you get a more powerful Gaming PC, but for a Budget Gaming PC, you’re better off with entry-level RAM, an entry-level motherboard and a more powerful video card and CPU. You’ll get far more performance by spending the same amount of money on a better CPU and video card than on slightly better RAM and on a motherboard to support it.
Maximum amount of RAM:
Double-check your motherboard specifications to see what is the maximum amount of RAM that it supports.
RAM Heatsinks height and aftermarket CPU cooler clearance:
Every kit that I recommend in this guide feature either no heatsinks or small heatsinks that don’t raise too much above the RAM sticks.
- Because RAM heatsinks barely make any difference when it comes to RAM temperatures. Besides, even if you overclock it/raise the voltage (at your own risk), RAM temperatures aren’t a problem.
- Tall RAM heatsinks can get in the way of larger aftermarket CPU Coolers, preventing their installation.
So if you ever decide to upgrade your CPU Cooler, you don’t have to worry about that.
RAM may require manual configuration within the UEFI/BIOS to reach its full potential
By default, some RAM kits will boot at lower frequencies than they are rated for. This is not unusual and it does not mean that your RAM is defective.
You simply have to go within the BIOS/UEFI (The first thing that you see when your PC starts) and enable the enhanced performance profile (XMP, DOCP, EOCP), for your RAM to function at its rated speed.
You can also adjust the RAM settings manually, such as frequency (In MHz, usually linked to the CPU, look for a CPU:RAM ratio), voltage (e.g. 1.35v) and timings (a series of numbers, such as 15-15-15-35). Refer to your motherboard manual and your RAM specifications for more information.
Seagate ST1000DM010 1TB 7200rpm
The Seagate ST1000DM010 1TB hard drive is affordable, offers 1TB of storage capacity, great performance for a standard 7200rpm hard drive, and most importantly, it’s reliable.
Do you want more storage capacity and/or better performance?
No problem. Just buy the drive with the amount of storage that you want instead of the model above. You don’t have to change anything else.
I recommend the hard drives with great reliability and high performance at the best prices. Because why would you want anything else, right?
– 2TB from Amazon, B&H ($69.99) or Newegg ($66.99)
– 3TB from Amazon, B&H ($89.99) or Newegg ($89.99)
– 4TB – From Amazon, B&H ($114.00) or Newegg ($119.99)
– 5TB – From Amazon, B&H ($146.34) or Newegg ($159.99)
– 6TB – From Amazon, B&H ($189.99) or Newegg ($189.99)
Do you want more performance, but at an affordable price?
Get a Hybrid Hard Drive (Also known as ‘Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD)’ )
It combines a hard drive with a flash memory chip, similar to the ones used in SSDs.
- This boost performance versus a traditional hard drive by caching the most frequently used files, so that when there are requests for those files, they are read from the much higher performance flash memory instead of being read from the disk.
- This is all done automatically, you have nothing to do to gain the additional performance, but it also means that you have no control over it.
- It also means that when the required file(s) isn’t in the cache, it is read from the hard drive, with the standard performance of a 7,200rpm hard drive.
Overall, you get faster boot times and faster program/game launch for the applications that you use often.
All of this at a very reasonable price when compared to the price of a comparably sized SSD or a small SSD + HDD combo. It’s also much simpler to use compared to managing a small SSD and a HDD.
I recommend the Seagate Firecuda hybrid hard drive, but only the 1TB and 2TB models that run at 7200rpm. The 4TB model from Seagate and WD run at a lower speed, resulting in lower performance.
– Get the Seagate 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive ST1000DX002 from Amazon, B&H ($69.99) or Newegg ($79.00)
– Get the Seagate 2TB Solid State Hybrid Drive ST2000DX002 from Amazon, B&H ($104.99) or Newegg ($104.99)
Do you want an higher performance SSD?
Solid State Drives
SSDs dramatically improve storage performance. SSDs are for you if you want:
- Much faster OS boot, Shutdown, Sleep and Hibernation
- Much faster program and game loading, meaning that you don’t have to wait as long for your program or your game to load.
- A system that feels more responsive.
An option, if you want very high performance without spending too much:
Get a 240-256GB SSD to store Windows and your favorite (or most demanding) games, with the rest of your media/games on the hard drive.
Click here to visit The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money article for our latest SSD recommendations.
Do you need to buy additional SATA cables?
Note that you may need an additional SATA cable if you buy a SATA SSD along with a hard drive and an optical drive, because the recommended motherboards only include two SATA cables. I recommend 18″ SATA cables: Click to see the price on Amazon or $3.69 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
ASUS SATA 24X DVD Burner
I no longer recommend a DVD drive by default.
Games are downloaded online, hardly anyone buys audio CDs anymore, same goes with movies, everything can be streamed or downloaded nowadays.
Now, I know that some of you will believe that having the ability to listen to audio CDs and watch DVDs, rip CDs and DVDs (double-check the laws in your country) as well as burn CDs and DVDs, is worth $20.
If that’s the case, just add this ASUS DVD drive (or Blu-ray drive below) to your build. The rest of it is compatible with it.
Do you need more SATA cables?
The motherboards for all Tiers includes two SATA cables, of which one will be used for the hard drive. If you get an optical drive, you won’t need an additional cable, unless you decide to add a SATA SSD, another hard drive or another optical drive.
Upgrade for Blu-Ray playback and burning:
If you’d like to watch BluRay movies or TV shows AND want the ability to burn Blu-Ray disks as well, then the LG Black 16X SATA Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner: Click here to see the price on Amazon or $58.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $58.99 at Newegg is what you want.
Required software for Blu-Ray playback:
As far as I know, you still require a specific software to playback Blu-Ray disks on a PC.
Based on various reviews and feedback on various forums, PowerDVD 17 is the software that I recommend to you. You’ll want at least the professional version for Blu-ray playback and the Ultra version for 3D Blu-Ray playback.
It is fully compatible with Windows 7/8/8.1/10 and shouldn’t give you any problems.
Double-check your case dimensions to ensure that your computer will fit where you’ll want it to be!
SilverStone PS08B Micro-ATX
This is an inexpensive Micro-ATX case that offers two front USB 3.0 ports through the USB 3.0 header on your motherboard.
It is a fairly decent quality case that does the job. Its low price allows you to invest your money on the parts that matter for performance.
It’s smaller than larger ATX cases, so it’s easier to fit under a desk or anywhere else. Dimensions are 6.6 x 14.0 x 15.7″ / 168 x 355 x 400 mm
Note that the stamped steel PCI covers mean that you have to remove them before installing your motherboard. Otherwise you will have a hard time twisting and popping them off after your motherboard is installed and will risk damaging your motherboard.
Do note that since it is a smaller Micro-ATX case, it is not compatible with larger ATX motherboard, so if you decide to choose a different motherboard than the recommended ones and pick an ATX motherboard, make sure to pick a case that supports ATX case, such as one of the alternatives below.
Don’t like it? Just pick another case.
- Cooling wise, this case includes one 120mm front case fan, which is enough to keep your components running at safe temperatures.
Features wise, you get:
- 120mm front fan with dust filter
- 2x USB 3.0 (internal header), Audio out, MIC in at the front.
- The inside of the case is painted in black
- An hole on the back panel, to easily install an after-market CPU Cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case.
Looking for a different case? Here are some inexpensive alternatives that you might like.
BitFenix Neos ATX from Amazon, B&H ($49.99) or Newegg ($49.99)
BitFenix Neos Window ATX from Amazon, B&H ($53.66) or Newegg ($59.99)
Deepcool Tesseract Window from Amazon, B&H ($41.99) or Newegg ($41.99)
Corsair Carbide 88R from Amazon, B&H ($59.99) or Newegg ($49.99)
Corsair Carbide 100R from Amazon, B&H ($49.99) or Newegg ($49.99)
Corsair Carbide 100R Silent from Amazon, B&H ($59.99) or Newegg ($59.99)
Corsair Carbide SPEC-01 from Amazon, B&H ($59.99) or Newegg ($49.99)
Corsair Carbide SPEC-02 from Amazon, B&H ($59.99) or Newegg ($59.99)
If you want to check for a case with a different look, more case fans, a smaller or bigger form-factor, an handle and/or other features, I suggest that you look for a case that you’d like at Amazon, B&H (Worldwide shipping) or Newegg.
Here’s what to check for compatibility, if you pick a difference case:
1. Video card length clearance, for Tier 2 and 3
2. Compatible motherboard form factor: Micro-ATX. If you use a different motherboard than the recommended one, make sure the its form factor (ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX) is compatible with the case that you choose.
3. CPU Cooler height clearance (if you want to get an after-market CPU Cooler).
4. At least one case fan.
Leave a comment at the end of the article if you have doubts about whether a case is compatible or not with your build.
EVGA 430W 80+:
Thanks to the highly efficient recommended parts, Tier 1 and 2 of the Budget Gaming PCs don’t require a very powerful power supply.
That said, the power supply is one of the most important components when it comes to the stability and reliability of a PC.
This is why I’m not cutting corners here, by recommending the high-quality EVGA 430W.
It is an affordable power supply considering its quality. It includes a 3 years warranty and is decently efficient with its 80 PLUS rating.
Power Requirements, per Tier:
Based on my experience, my research and the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator (with the settings that I describe below), it is estimated that this system will require at load (peak power), the following amount of Watts from the PSU:
The minimum requirements are in Italic, while my recommendations for a PSU Watts Output (including overhead) are in Bold.
- Tier 1: 204W/300W with the AMD A8-7600 and the integrated Radeon R7.
- Tier 2: 270W/375W with the Intel Pentium G4560 and the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti.
Minimum requirements vs my recommendations: Give your power supply plenty of overhead!
You could match a 500W PSU with a PC that requires 480W and at first it would work just fine, but that would be unwise. Your PSU will run too close to its limit, close to full capacity all the time and that will reduce its lifespan, increase its chance of failure, increase its heat output and its noise output.
Also keep in mind that as years go by, a power supply components age and the PSU loses some of its output capacity every year.
It’s also a good idea to have some overhead, so you can add a sound card, a case fan, LEDs, optical drive or other small upgrades to your system.
Do not underestimate the importance of a high-quality power supply
The components in your PC run on DC power and your power supply is responsible for converting AC power into DC power. Your PC’s components depend on the power supply to deliver stable, low-noise, reliable power within specific values to run without fault, as well to protect them from power surges, power fluctuations and other electrical dangers.
How to calculate how powerful of a power supply you need:
If you decide to upgrade the CPU or video card to something else than what I recommend for a Tier, I recommend using the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator to help you figure out your needs.
Keep in mind that if you want to upgrade to more powerful and more demanding PC components, it could be wise to pick a more powerful PSU to begin with, so that you don’t have to worry about it when you decide to upgrade your CPU, video card, etc.
CPU Cooler: Included with the CPU – Free
Use the CPU Cooler that is included with your CPU.
The CPU cooler that is included with your CPU is perfectly capable of keeping your processor at safe temperatures for many years of usage. Unless you live in an area of the world with particularly warm weather (40C/100F or more), without air conditioning, you don’t need an after-market CPU Cooler.
That said, you may want one an after-market CPU Cooler for many reasons:
3 reasons to upgrade your CPU Cooler:
1. To improve the reliability of your PC and the longevity of your CPU: If your CPU overheats, it will automatically slowdown and eventually shutdown to avoid damage. This: 1. Lower performance 2. May causes a system shutdown, losing all data that was unsaved. 3. Can potentially damage your CPU.
2. Improved overclocking results: Overclocking greatly increases the power consumption of your CPU, even more so if you raise your CPU voltage, and thus the heat that has to be dissipated by the CPU Cooler. A better CPU Cooler will have no problem handling the additional heat and won’t get in the way of your CPU overclock.
3. To lower noise, as the stock cooler can get noisy at times, especially during prolonged work sessions, in a warm room or if you overclock.
Low-noise/great cooling performance: Deepcool Gammaxx 300 CPU Cooler
The Deepcool Gammaxx 300 CPU Cooler offers far greater cooling performance and is far less noisy compared to the cooler included with the CPU.
Need help figuring out how to put the Thermal Compound with the Deepcool Gammaxx 300 CPU Cooler?
Follow this tutorial, where they compare different methods to show youthe best one.
All the recommended after-market CPU Coolers include thermal compounds which are pretty good, so no need to spend more money on a tube of thermal compound.
The AMD and Intel CPU Cooler comes with thermal compound that does the job, but it’s far from the best. That said, it’s already on the bottom of the CPU Cooler, so it’s as easy as it gets installation wise. Is it worth it to get better thermal compound for the stock CPU Cooler? Nope. Spend your money on a better CPU Cooler instead, it’s a far better investment when it comes to results.
What matters the most for performance is not so much which thermal compound that you use, but rather that you apply it in its optimal way, recommended by the manufacturer.
Considering the low power consumption of the components, the Budget Gaming PCs will do just fine with a single fan, which is included with the case.
If you find it too noisy, you may want to replace the case fan. Here’s what you need to know.
The differences between Molex, 3-pin and 4-pin with PWM fans:
- Molex: Connects to your power supply via a Molex power plug. Fan speed monitoring and PWM are not possible with Molex fans. Incompatible with most fan controllers.
- 3-pin: Connects to the motherboard using a 3-pin plug. Fits on 4-pin connectors too. Fan speed monitoring available, but PWM is not possible.
- 4-pin: Connects to the motherboard using a 4-pin plug. Fan speed monitoring and PWM are available. Can fit on 3 pins connectors, but you lose the PWM function.
What is PWM?
PWM stands for Pulse-Width Modulation. This function allows your motherboard to automatically control the speed of the fan, depending on the CPU load. In other words, it spins slowly and is quiet when your PC is idle but spins up and creates more airflow when your PC is working hard. You can usually change the speed settings in the BIOS/UEFI or through a program on Windows.
Size: Double-check what fan size(s) your case support!
Most cases nowadays support 80mm, 92mm, 120mm and/or 140mm case fans. Find out which size(s) and how many fans your case supports.
All this information is available on the product page of the case, under specifications/details.
Here’s what I recommend:
1. A good balance between enough airflow and low-noise (preferably below 20-25dBA).
2. Solid bearings so that your fan lasts many years without any problem.
One high-quality $10 to 20 fan that lasts 5 years is less expensive than a cheap $5 fan that breaks every year or two. Especially if you consider the annoyance of replacing the fan and your lost time.
High-quality fans have high quality bearings that are more reliable, will last longer and will make less noise and less vibration to produce the same amount of airflow versus a cheaper fan.
Corsair, Scythe, be quiet!, Cougar and Noctua all make excellent case fans.
Fan controllers allow you to control the speed of your computer fan(s). That way, you can reduce their speed and lower the noise when your PC is idle, while keeping the option of speeding up their speed and increasing airflow for long gaming sessions and/or overclocking.
- NZXT SENTRY 2 Touchscreen Fan Controller: Amazon or $34.89 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
- NZXT Sentry 3 Touchscreen Fan Controller: Amazon or $33.25 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
- $14.99 – FrozenCPU Deluxe Multi Power Port – 12V / 7V / 5V – This a board with four 12V 3pin fan headers, four 7V 3pin fan headers and four 5V 3pin fan headers. 12V will let your fan(s) run at full speed, 7V at lower speeds and 5V at even lower speeds. Note that not all fans can start with 5V. The underside of this board has a sticky material, allowing you to stick it somewhere in your case. Practical if you don’t have a free 5.25″ drive bay and if you want to see the speed of your fans once and forget about them.
- $5.95 – 4-Pin Molex Fan controller – This fan controller allows you to control the speed of a 4-pin Molex fan. While there is only a single connection, most 4-pin Molex fans can be daisy-chainned.
Sound card: Integrated on the motherboard
Integrated with the motherboard, this sound card will handle many different sound setups, including speakers, headphones, a microphone and more.
While integrated audio on a PC used to be absolutely horrible 10+ years ago, it has gotten far better in the last five years, thanks to improved audio chipsets, higher quality electrical components and better EMI shielding. This is why I have no trouble recommending integrated audio on a Budget Gaming PC.
Dedicated sound cards:
Want better sound quality for your music and video games? Nothing like a dedicated sound card then.
PCI or PCI-Express 1x sound card?
Tier 1 motherboard is compatible with both PCI and PCI-Express 1x sound cards.
That said, I recommend getting a PCI-Express 1x sound card because PCI slots are becoming more rare as they are being replaced by the more modern PCI-Express slots. Buying a PCI-Express 1x sound card ensures that you’ll be able to use it in your future PC(s) for at least the next 5-10 years.
Tier 2 only supports PCI-Express 1x sound cards.
PCI Sound cards:
PCI-Express 1x Sound cards:
ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 107dB SNR PCI-Express 1x Sound Card:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
USB Sound cards:
One of the biggest advantages of USB sound cards is that you can swap them from one computer to another, with plug&play functionality (once the drivers have been installed, of course). This means that you can switch the sound card from your Gaming PC to another PC, or your laptop, for example.
On the flip side, PCI and PCI-Express sound cards offer clearer sound at similar or lower prices.
Ethernet RJ-45 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN: Integrated on the motherboard
Integrated with the motherboard, this network adapter will allow you to access your local network and Internet, by connecting a Cat5-e cable from your modem/router to your PC.
If you need a cable, or a longer cable than what you have, to connect your PC to your modem, measure the distance between the modem/router and your PC. Consider that you may want to move your equipment at some point in the future. Order whichever length you need of CAT-5e cable. Don’t waste your money on a CAT6 cable, it will make no difference in speed.
WiFi: Need a WiFi router and/or adapter?
Read our article on The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters for our recommendations.
Mouse and Keyboard:
Note that the cost of a keyboard and mouse isn’t included in the Tiers total, because you may already have a keyboard and also because it’s next to impossible to recommend a single mouse and keyboard that would please everyone.
There’s simply too many variables that are to quantify, such as comfort, ease of use, personal preferences, etc.
So if you want a keyboard and/or mouse, I recommend that you visit Amazon, Newegg and B&H to compare yourself a variety of different keyboards and mice. Take the time to find the one that fits your preferences.
Note that you need to install the 64-bit version, as 32-bit systems are limited to 4GB of memory, which is not enough.
I recommend the Full retail version, which allows you to install your Windows 10 on another computer (it can only be used on one computer at a time) or to upgrade your PC as much as you’d like.
I also recommend getting the USB Flash Drive version, seeing as the PC has no DVD drive and anyway, installation is far faster from a USB Flash Drive.
Windows 10 Full retail version, USB Flash Drive 64-Bit
Click here to see the price on Amazon or $119.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $129 at Newegg
If you have your own USB key (at least 4GB), you can also download your copy of Windows with its activation key.
- Get the Windows 10 Home Retail Download from Amazon, $119.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $119.99 at Newegg
For the best gaming performance, I recommend Windows 10.
Intel latest 7th generation CPUs run best with Windows 10, with updates only available to Windows 10 that optimize the CPU performance.
It also includes DirectX 12, it boots and shutdowns faster than Windows 7 and 8 as well as uses less resources.
Visually, it is a big improvement over Windows 8.1
Microsoft has been optimizing Windows 10 to improve performance. If you want the best performance, especially with Intel’s Skylake or future processors from Intel and AMD, Windows 10 is the way to go.
Launched on July 29th 2015, Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest version of the popular Windows operating system.
The Start Menu is back, you get DirectX 12, the search function is improved, it boots faster, using it is a lot simpler than Windows 8.
It basically improved on what Windows 7 offered.
For more details on Windows 10, I recommend that you find a review of it online.
Linux is gaining more and more support as a Gaming OS and while many games still only run on Windows, there are a growing selection of titles that are available for Linux or that can run on Linux with some work.
Wine is an application that allows you to run Windows programs on Linux, including games of course. The Wine Application Database has a list of the games that run smoothly or with minimal/minor issues through Wine.
Crossover: Run the most popular Windows games/programs on Linux
Crossover allows you to play popular games as well as run Windows applications and more on Linux.
Open source games and source ports are also a good way to play games on Linux.
Steam is more Linux friendly than ever, with many games that have been or will be ported to run on Linux.
There are a large variety of distributions (variants) of Linux, each with its pros and cons. Ubuntu is the most popular and arguably the most supported. For more information on other distribution of Linux and their latest version, visit Distrowatch.com,
If you need assistance with Linux, LinuxQuestions.org is a good place to start.
While Linux does not offer the wide compatibility of Windows with video games, gaming on Linux is still possible, through projects such as Wine, . For more on the topic of Linux Gaming, I invite you to read this excellent article from AnandTech: Linux Gaming: Are we there yet?
What about Word processing, Excel and other Windows-based programs that you need? Linux, being an open platform, has many free alternatives for you. For Word/Excel and such, try LibreOffice.
What do you think of the latest version of the Budget Gaming PCs? Let me know if you have any suggestion to improve this article or your opinion on it by leaving a comment below. Additionally, if a part goes out of stock, let me know.
Don’t agree with my choices? Have a better idea?
Feel free to leave a comment. There’s always place for improvement and after some research I may change the part according to your suggestion.
Building this PC?
If you build this system, I invite you to share your experience on how well it runs: What applications do you use, what type of work do you do, how well does this PC performs, is there anything that slows it down? Your feedback will help other people make an informed decision on what to buy for their own needs.
Do you need a guide on how to build a computer, need help or do you have some questions?
Computer Builds FAQs:
I often get questions such as:
– Who are you to tell me which parts to choose?
– Can you suggest me a step by step guide to build a computer?
– Why should I build a PC instead of buying one in a store?
– And many more…
1. You will find the answers to all of these questions and more in this article: FAQ: How to Build Your Own Computer
2. Is this your first build? Here are 10 Quick Tips for 1st Time Builders to get you started.
3. Newly built computer won’t start? I invite you to read Help me: Why won’t my newly assembled PC start or boot?
4. Visit our forums here, where you can join our helpful community and ask questions
Recommended step-by-step guides to build your PC:
Newegg TV has three great videos on how to build your PC. The first covers choosing your parts, which we help you with in this article, so I chose not to include it. The second one, below, shows you in detail how to assemble your PC. The 3rd one shows you how to install Windows and software.
If you prefer a text version with pictures, here are two great guides by ArsTechnica, the first one covering the assembling and the second one covering Windows and software:
- Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Hardware (Building the PC)
- Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Software (EFI/BIOS, Windows, etc.)
If you have any question(s) about the build, simply head over to the forums and our community will be there to assist you.
No worries, there are no stupid questions here on Hardware Revolution. We all started from scratch and learned through our mistakes. We”ll just help you make sure to avoid those mistakes
If you want to have your final build double-checked and get my opinion on it before ordering, or for anything else, don’t be shy, just post a thread on the forums.
Build your Gaming PC today!
Why should you?
For the same price, you’ll get more performance out of your custom PC, or you’ll save money while getting the same performance compared to a retail PC. Not to mention that retail PCs come with tons of bloatware and limited warranties. Why settle for less?
Stop relying on HP, Dell and other companies:
Build your own custom PC today. It’s easier than you think!
This Build includes all the parts/cables that you need and it was double-checked to ensure compatibility. Simply order your parts, set aside some time, grab a screwdriver and build your own personal PC. No worries, we’ll (the HR community) be there to assist you if you have questions or need help.
Then you’ll be able to say, “See that computer over there? Yeah, I built that.” Talk about being proud of a job well done.
If you’re looking for a Gaming PC that boots and launch games/applications faster thanks to a SSD (Solid State Drive) and that can handle the latest video games at a 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution at their maximum graphic settings, or for VR, head over to our Mainstream/High-End Gaming PCs article.
If you’re looking for a Gaming PC that can handle all of the latest video games maxed out at a 1440p, 4K at 120/144Hz, or for the ultimate VR experience or to play video games on a multiple monitor setup or to play games in 3D, head over to our Extreme High-End Gaming PCs article.
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