One of the most common misconceptions about PC gaming is that it costs thousands of dollars to even get started. In fact, most gaming rigs cost less than $1,000, and still provide a noticeable performance improvement over current-generation consoles. That’s why we put together an example of budget-friendly system that should still pump out solid, 60-frame-per-second performance in modern titles at 1080p.
The build, explained
For our CPU, we’ve chosen a budget-friendly Sixth Generation Intel Core chip, the i3-6100. It’s a dual-core chip with Hyper-threading and a 3.7GHz base clock speed. It isn’t the most impressive chip around, but it costs right around $100, and it’s enough to not throttle our discrete graphics option.
Speaking of graphics, the GTX 1050 is an easy choice for a budget-friendly build. It also sits right around $100, depending on the model and board partner, with basic models packing in 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Despite its budget-friendly nature, it’s a very capable card at 1080p, one that averages 60 fps or higher in Fallout 4 with the settings turned up to ultra.
When it comes to the other parts, things are less specific. We highly recommend an SSD, either a 128GB boot drive with a 1TB mechanical data drive, or a 256GB SSD. In terms of memory, 8GB is quickly becoming the standard, and we recommend a dual-channel kit for the sake of both performance and value.
Choosing a power supply is more important than it seems, and cheaping out can cause permanent damage to your other components. Stick to reputable brands, such as Corsair, EVGA, Thermaltake, SeaSonic, XFX, and NZXT. For our purposes, we don’t need more than 430 or 500 watts. While we’ll spare you the gritty details of 80+ efficiency certifications, be sure to choose one that’s at least 80+, if not 80+ Bronze.
Choosing a case is a bit more ethereal, as they’re largely dependent on aesthetic appeal. Nonetheless, you’ll want to make sure you find something with plenty of room for cable management and airflow.
As with all parts lists, prices and user needs are subject to change, so make sure to check out guide to selecting alternate parts or designing your own build, and scroll down to the bottom for step-by-step instructions for putting it all together.
Below are the parts we chose for our example budget gaming PC, with prices as they were listed at the time of writing. Prices may vary by vendor and timing, however, so they may not appear that way if you click through.
|Processor||Intel Core i3-6100||$110|
|Motherboard||MSI H110M Gaming||$70|
|Graphics||Zotac GeForce GTX 1050||$110|
|Memory||Crucial 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4-2133||$50|
|Storage||PNY 240GB SSD||$65|
|Case||Corsair Carbide 100R||$50|
|Power supply||EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze||$44|
Once you’ve assembled all the necessary components, we suggest checking out our comprehensive guide on how to build a computer. It outlines the entire setup procedure in detail, including the process for installing your processor, adding expansion cards, and preparing to boot your machine for the first tine.