New Year’s High Def Resolution: Budget Gaming PC
New Year. New Resolutions. New computers able to play games at new resolutions.
Considering the timing most of us have no more money left to spend…No matter! The contemporary financial system is built on unsustainable amounts of debt, so go on, contribute to that deficit while spitting on posterity while enjoying today to let future you suffer! Also, all the retailers and suppliers have reopened!
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
But seriously, if you don’t have the cash to spend because you went on a holiday spending frenzy, then buying a PC should be the least of your concerns. But, if like me, you made a new year’s resolution–and by that I mean trying to play games at a higher resolution and detail–stick around a bit, I have some words and wares to share with you on building a Budget Gaming PC.
Contrary to my words earlier on, it is actually a good time to be buying as the prices have stabilized somewhat for most components out there. In fact there are still some better sales on now than before Christmas. Shocker. Although on the AMD side of the pixel fence there is actually an increase in pricing due to a massive world wide shortage courtesy of Crytocurrency Miners (more on this in another article –actually anyone have a high end AMD GPU to sell to me?). Thankfully, this only really affects the higher end GPU space, so the gamers swimming in the lower AMD GPU pond are still golden.
So without any more dilly-dallying, let me present my pick for My New Year’s Resolution: The Budget Gaming PC.
|GPU- Powercolor AX7850 2GB||R1,999|
|CPU- Intel i5 4440||R2,357|
|Motherboard- ATX ASRock H87 Pro4||R1,199|
|RAM- Team Vulcan DDR3 1600||R945|
|HDD- Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB||R776|
|PSU- Corsair CX 500w||R670|
|Case- Cooler Master K280/ Cooler Master N300||R472 / R503|
|TOTAL||R8,499 / R8,418|
The Base System
In last year’s budget build guide I advocated two base systems: one AMD and one Intel. This time AMD really can’t cut it for two reasons: availability and price. Hardly any reputable online store have any stock of the mid-high range variants and if they do they are priced high for their comparable performance over an Intel equivalent chip. Compared to last year’s budget PC there is an increase by about R1,500 but you do get more performance. The other costs are thanks to our less than stellar rand/dollar exchange rate. Oh and e-tolls. Just blame our Government essentially for everything with a higher PC price tag.
At the heart of this computer we have the juicy i5 4440 Quad core CPU running at 3.1ghz and boosting up to…only 3.2Ghz. It will still be more than enough processing power for current multi-core loving titles like DICE’s Brokenfield…I mean Battlefield 4. We can slot this Quad core into the very capable and full ATX ASRock H87 Pro4. It’s an ATX board so you will not be without expansion options if you ever feel the tingle to add extra storage or another GPU (only AMD Crossfire though, no SLI support) when you want to graduate to “High-end Gaming”. Unfortunately, no CPU overclocking on this motherboard, courtesy of Intel monetizing the ethos of “overclocking”.
RAM prices are still extremely high compared to early last year. The budget build mantra you should chant for RAM for the foreseeable future is purely “8 Gigs is all I need” followed by “cheapest possible, no need for extra speed”.
The Graphics Card
Now this is an easy choice since AMD and local shop Wootware still–not sure for how much longer though–have the extremely nippy HD 7850 2gig card for sale. Even though it is an officially discontinued product since the “new” R7 270 card is filling the gap left by the outgoing 7850 chip. Unsurprisingly Nvidia have nothing within the price range to challenge the 7850 2gig card. For R1,999 you won’t get anything better from the Green Team than the AMD powered Powercolor 7850 2gig card. Now one thing Nvidia does offer in SA that AMD does not have any longer are game bundles. Now, read this carefully, if you are buying this budget range PC and one of the games you want to play is Assassins Creed IV Black Flag, I would begrudgingly have to offer up the Gigabyte GTX 660 OC that comes with an Assassins Creed IV Black Flag download code. A relatively new game worth R400 for free. This won’t apply to everyone so that’s why I am not officially putting it in my build. It’s just there as extra information for you to use or not use.
Power Supply, Hard Drive and Case
Next up is the Power Supply and the Hard Drive. We don’t have much wiggle room so basically we should go for the ones that satisfy the requirements in regards to capacity, performance and, since we are reaching deep in the pockets, price. The Corsair CX 500w PSU will suffice for this build, although it is not the first choice of PSU, but the other unit I originally wanted is out of stock. It has enough juice to run the power hogs of the PC; in this case the 7850 and the quad core CPU.
The next thing we need is a home your steam library can call its own. Western Digital’s Caviar Blue 1TB will provide ample real estate where you can stretch out across the Steam Sofa while picking up the game of your choice from your Library shelf.
As I always maintain, the case is the most subjective purchase you can make. Some gamers are satisfied with a thin steel box, others prefer some hard edges like the Cooler Master K280. If the aggressive looking K280 does not stir something deep inside you I would proposition you to consider the very attractive looking Cooler Master N300. It is ATX size, has space for long GPU’s, mounts for support for 240mm radiators, up to 8 fans and has two front panel USB3 connectors. It does consist of some tool less HDD mounting options, but it is limited.
Truthfully, I am surprised at the price of this PC. Last year’s choice was about R1500 cheaper, but we also only had an i3 PC and a similarly priced (and in stock) AMD based build. Since games are going to make use of more cores I can’t advocate the use of a dual core i3 chip for gaming; buying budget does not mean you have to totally compromise with future titles. Besides, changing from a quad core in this build to a respectable dual core will save you about R700; a small price to pay for two extra cores. Since most places are out of stock on the mid to high end AMD CPU’s I cant consider them in this guide. It’s a shame really, if there was stock I may have even been able to throw in the beastly “Octocore” FX 8320 in the PC, but TIA (This is Africa). No matter. This PC will easily handle modern games at respectable high end settings at 1080p, with some flexibility in terms of Anti-aliasing and post processing effects while remaining above 30FPS. Needless to say, this PC will see you through the new year quite comfortably.