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5 potent gaming rigs you can build for the price of a console

While there a number of ideological and practical differences that separate PC gaming and console gaming, there’s one that divides more than any other. It’s not the battle between controllers and mice, and it’s not the exclusive titles or the online communities. It’s an economic argument about what people are willing to spend on entertainment. Put simply, PC gaming is more expensive.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Quality components are cheaper than ever, so cheap that even a console-priced PC can play most any game at 1080p, especially if you’re willing to accept the console’s target of 30 frames per second. Here are five builds that provide all the functionality and versatility of a gaming PC without the supposed high cost of entry.

A fair fight

Before we get down to builds, let’s go over the ground rules. While a Playstation 4 or Xbox One can be had for less than $300, we’ll also assume that we want a couple of other games, and an extra controller. That puts the total price right around $500, so we’ll set that as the target price for our builds.

Neither console consistently runs newer titles in 1080p at 60 frames per second, so we’ll shoot for a solid 30-60 fps when plugged into a 1080p monitor or TV. We didn’t include an operating system in the cost of any of these builds. Students can often access a free or discounted Windows license through the school, and the Windows Insider program is a good alternative for those who aren’t in education. SteamOS is a fine option too, if the plan is strictly gaming.

In the interest of choice, we’ve assembled a full list of five budget-friendly and competitive gaming machines.

The Wastelander: Slay consoles with a barbed swatter

Fallout 4

The newest games, at 1080p, in buttery smooth 30-60 frames per second. If your console-bound friends are playing it, so can you.

The Ancient: Leave it all on the battlefield


No one is more serious than MOBA players, and this build shows it with a dedicated SSD and extra cooling for when things get hot and heavy.

Party Animal: No one’s sleeping tonight


Playing alone is sad, so this build focuses on bringing the gaming PC experience to the front and center of the living room, with a Mini-ITX case.

The Futurist: Tomorrow comes today


One eye on the future, and the other on your six, this build boasts the latest chipset and compatibility for room to grow down the road.

Hipster: I was gaming before it was cool


Sometimes being different is for the sake of being different, but here that attention is paid toward liquid-cooling, and a wide case with extra airflow.

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