Larian Studios managed to release an amazing RPG gem just a few days ago. The company behind the Divinity Series has spent the entirety of last week atop Steam's best-selling games list, and that's out of the company's full catalog. We originally wrote about Divinity: Original Sin here, giving an overview of the game's tabletop-like RPG elements. To celebrate Divinity: Original Sin, we decided to do an ultra-budget "Cheap Bastard's gaming PC build" for right around $400.
With a minimalistic build like this, it obviously won't be able to play everything on max settings; however, it will be able to play most games on min-med graphics -- including LoL, DOTA2, Skyrim, Divinity, Banished, StarCraft 2, and others. You won't even need to wear a bucket on your head... but feel free to. We won't judge.
After generations of thermal issues stemming from Intel's poor TIM and IHS design, the company's "Devil's Canyon" chips have arrived in full force. We first looked at Devil's Canyon back at GDC and have since looked at Haswell Refresh, which was effectively a non-K SKU of what's being used in this build today.
The "Gen 4.5" CPU runs on existing Haswell architecture and remains on a 22nm process, but sees the redesign of its TIM (using a polymer thermal interface) and capacitor layout. This redesign ensures cleaner power delivery to the die and allows great overhead for overclocking. Intel's Devil's Canyon chips include the i5-4690K and i7-4790K (+0020 to the SKU), each of which ships with a slightly higher BCLK and turbo-clock frequency. The quad-core, hyperthreaded 4790K runs at a native 4.0/4.4GHz over its predecessor's 3.5/3.9GHz; the quad-core, non-hyperthreaded 4690K operates at 3.5/3.9GHz over the 4670K's 3.4/3.8GHz.
TDP is roughly the same, hovering right around 88W over the previous 84W.
This high-end gaming PC build will get you started with moderate overclocking on Intel's Devil's Canyon CPU. At just under $1300, the machine will play all current games at near-max (high / ultra hybrid) settings on a 1080p screen without issue.
With prices and components constantly changing, it’s hard for our previous PC builds to stay up-to-date. For instance at the time of this build, AMD GPU prices were through the roof due to the cryptocurrency mining craze. By now, prices have stabilized and new products have been released, meaning it is once again time for a high-end gaming PC build.
In this $1200 mid-to-high-end gaming & streaming PC, we will be building a computer that maxes-out games at resolutions up to 1440p, has versatility in its uses, and allows for easy upgrades. Oh -- and it’ll be quiet, too. We will also mention some other small improvements or different expansions depending on individual needs.
Our gaming PC build guides typically don't get published alongside as extensive benchmarking endeavors as this AMD build has undergone. In this budget AMD gaming PC build & tutorial, we assemble a ~$700 PC with the ability to play most modern games on maximum settings at 1080 resolutions. We've spec'd out this system for entry-level overclocking, so if you're interested in pumping more power out of the system while keeping costs down, this is a fantastic entry point to system tweaking.
As always, we'll start with a specification table and then jump to the video content. I've augmented this post with an additional video over what we normally provide, including a brief guide on how to overclock the Athlon 760K CPU and benchmark thermals. Below that is provided the regular "how to build a gaming PC" tutorial video, for those who are new to system building.
I rarely have the chance to do an enthusiast build as I'm normally tasked with doing the cheaper PC builds, like the $475 Cheap Bastard's Gaming PC that we recently published. It's been a while since we've done an enthusiast build -- in fact, this is the first of its type this year. We decided it'd be a great time to see what we could do with a higher budget while retaining a small and versatile form factor. The goal was to build a small form factor PC that could do just about anything you typically required from a gaming or video editing rig; this could double as an HTPC for those who'd like a living room gaming machine.
I was able to fit a core i5-4670k, MSI Z87i motherboard, and GTX 770 all inside the extremely versatile Corsair Obsidian 250D mini-ITX case that we saw at CES. This $1100 gaming HTPC build can handle just about anything you throw at it, including gaming at max settings and video editing / game streaming tasks.
It's been a while since we've done a true Cheap Bastard's gaming PC build -- our last one was our $506 Titanfall gaming computer back in February. This time we've done it a bit differently than before. My goal here is to build an entry-level gaming rig at the lowest price possible while offering plenty of room for upgrades. This build would be great for the gamer who plays games that do not require a great deal from the GPU. I included an FM2+ motherboard because it provides all the newer features missing from the dying AM3+ platform, like an onboard USB 3.0 header, and a newer
In this $475 ultra-budget, cheap gaming PC build, we'll make component selections for building your own computer for lightweight gaming; a how-to video guide is included below, as is a list of upgrade options for those with a bit more cash to spend. If you've got some more money, we'd suggest checking out the $740 EverQuest PC (Intel) we posted recently.
So let's get to the build.
After our interview with Dave Georgeson of the EverQuest franchise (including Landmark) and follow-up on the beta's availability, we've started the process of playing Landmark for content purposes.
The first bit of related content, as is usually the case for us, is a mid-range gaming PC build that's spec'd for EverQuest Next: Landmark at near-max (high) settings. You could certainly build a cheaper AMD system (keep eyes open for that), but this one will get you running EQNL at high (or thereabouts) settings and still provide room for high graphics output with more demanding titles. If you're interested in Titanfall, you'll be happy to hear that this machine will also easily run Titanfall on max settings, as we benchmarked over here.
This budget gaming PC isn't meant to be overclocked. The parts were selected specifically to reduce initial cost and get users playing games quickly with minimal tweaking; if you're more enthusiastic in your hardware endeavors and would like overclocking as an option, check out our overclocking primer and other PC builds. Jumping to the DIY PC parts list after EverQuest Next: Landmark's system requirements!
Although I've yet to pen my thoughts on Titanfall as a game (still debating whether it seems mechanically-sound or not), there's no doubt that it's going to be a big title across all platforms, regardless of the buggy PC beta. We previously benchmarked Titanfall on numerous video cards using the PC beta -- prior to any official driver support or game patches were announced -- and saw that AMD's generations-old Trinity performed surprisingly acceptably. Given that Trinity is a couple generations aged and there aren't any official drivers or optimization patches, this is good news for APU owners.
It's even better news for budget system builders.
This budget Titanfall gaming PC will get you playing the game on medium settings (you might be able to push medium/high hybrid) for around $500. By using an APU, we bypass the need for a discrete GPU and can get you up-and-running for cheaper; our $797 mid-range Titanfall PC build guide is another option, for those with a bit more money.
Our Titanfall coverage included a benchmark of the game's PC performance across multiple hardware configurations, and after this preliminary performance analysis, we can now safely start making build recommendations. Keep in mind that our benchmark was initially run on the beta version of Titanfall, so it is highly likely that AMD and nVidia driver updates will significantly improve performance; further PC optimization by Respawn will also do wonders, given the hauntingly-familiar, broken state of the game right now.
Regardless, the benchmark gives us an excellent idea as to the bottom line of Titanfall's performance spectrum, since things will only improve from here.
This $797 budget gaming PC for Titanfall ensures the best performance-to-budget ratio, focusing heavily on delivering maxed-out (high) settings at 1080p with a steady framerate. If you haven't built a gaming PC before (or if you need a refresher), our full "How to Build a Gaming Computer" guide can be found here. We've also embedded the video guide below.