Gaming PC build classifications haven't changed much over the years, despite enormous leaps in hardware capabilities and game graphics. The price brackets are largely defined by the likes of Intel, AMD, and nVidia, responsible for the most critical and expensive gaming components. For an Intel i3 – what we're deploying today – total system build price generally, in our experience, spans the ~$400 to ~$650 range, with an i5 or equivalent CPU generally entering the fray thereafter. That's not how it always works, of course, and PC builds can be targeted at different use cases with a different component price split.
This gaming PC build is targeted at the entry-level gaming market – not quite a full-on 'budget' build, but not mid-range. It's a gaming PC best suited for high-FPS throughput in games like Rocket League, DOTA, Counter-Strike, Black Ops III, Overwatch, and similar games.
We just leveraged the season's sales to restock GN's lab with test equipment – mostly SSDs and CPUs – and took the opportunity to throw together a budget gaming PC. The goal was to create a truly down-the-center machine, capable of playing most modern games at high settings with an FPS target of 60+ (at 1080p). A few outliers exist that would stress this system beyond its limits, like Assassin's Creed Syndicate, but the rest of the season's titles are mostly within reason. Fallout 4 is playable on the GTX 950 (at higher settings now, with optimization patches), as are Battlefront (tested) and Black Ops 3 (tested). We've also recently shown the i3 CPUs to retain fiercely competitive market positioning at ultra/1080p settings.
Intel's new i3-6100 Skylake CPU is currently the only available i3 SKU (i3-6300 ships in December), but at $130, it's also the cheapest Skylake SKU. This budget gaming PC build uses an i3-6100 and GTX 950 to play games at under $500, including Battlefront, Black Ops 3, and Fallout 4. Fallout 4, surprisingly, will be the most abusive of the lot – but it's fully playable on this setup at a mix of medium/high settings.
2015 has proven to be a relatively big year for game releases: GTA V, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and Battlefront are all certifiable “block-busters.” As we ramp into next week's Fallout 4 release date, 11/10, we thought it wise to prepare a budget gaming PC for playing the game at high settings.
A full Fallout 4 GPU benchmark will be published closer to launch, alongside several other tech articles, but we're going to open the floor with this build. Bethesda posted somewhat zealous recommended specs for Fallout 4 already. Despite this, the game is easily played on most mid-range GPUs and CPUs, as should be apparent from its relatively modest graphics, and it'll run well on the R9 380 and high-end i3 CPUs. That's what we've got here – a ~$550 budget gaming PC build for Fallout 4, taking the DIY approach to drive costs down.
Here's the list:
It's been a while since we've done a low-budget HTPC build, so this time around, we've pieced together a PC for under $500. This will do great as either an entry-level gaming system or as an HTPC for the living room. If you're looking for a build with a bit more "under the hood," consider our high-end Witcher 3 PC Build.
This sub-$500 gaming PC build is powered by an AMD A10-7850K, which is a cheap solution for light gaming, streaming, and everyday usage. You won't be playing GTA V or the Witcher very well on this build, but not everything has to be high-end – for League of Legends, Skyrim, DiRT, and similar games, this will do just fine.
PCs come in all shapes and sizes. Some want large, flashy gaming rigs and some want smaller HTPCs. Recently, we did a $596 budget intel build that will be a great low-budget gaming solution; this time around, we're putting together something a little more compact.
We put together a computer that'll look great in your living room entertainment center, serving as a home-theater PC. Because we're seeing more people streaming from online services like Netflix and Amazon to watch their favorite shows, HTPCs are growing rapidly in popularity. Powered by a Kaveri APU, this system is primarily meant for general computing and media consumption, but can also do light gaming.
At around $500, this ultra-budget HTPC gaming PC will play blu-ray movies, stream TV, and play games like Gauntlet and Skyrim.
Now that we're well into a new year and still feeling the lingering effects of all the epic components we saw at CES, what better time to do the first budget gaming PC build of the year. As usual, we scoured the internet for the best components at the lowest price range, piecing together a PC that will be great for an entry-level gaming rig.
For less than the price of a current-gen console, we assembled a PC that can play most games out at medium to high settings. This budget gaming PC uses a do-it-yourself approach, landing the price at under $500 for an entry-level system.
In these “Cheap Bastard's” gaming PC builds, we put together the best build possible for less than $500; this one comes to $488 after rebates. Even though Black Friday is weeks away, we were able to find some great deals on PC components right now. We decided to go with AMD for this build, seeing how Team Red offers some of the best performance for the low-end PC user – especially for the PC gamer.
This time around, we were able to put together a formidable low-end gaming PC for under $500. We paired an AMD R7 265 with an Athlon X4 860k, which should be able to play most games out at medium to high settings. This build is perfect for those of you who are looking to upgrade for Warlords of Draenor or the upcoming Shadow of Revan MMO expansions; gamers seeking performance for the likes of Assassin's Creed Unity need to invest substantially more for a capable PC.
TDP has been on the minds of most the industry's major players lately, it seems. Lower TDP (watt draw) has advantages that extend beyond just lower power consumption (and a lower power bill), including lower thermals and thus a more comfortable fit in small form-factor builds. Between Intel's G3258 CPU (53W) and nVidia's GTX 750 Ti (60W), we're able to build an ultra-low TDP gaming system for home-theater use.
This $665 gaming HTPC uses budget gaming components to create a highly power-efficient, graphically-capable Steam Machine that can play most games at high settings (1080). You've got the option of installing Windows or SteamOS (or both), though SteamOS is promising for HTPC use considering the growing compatibility with game titles.
You didn't read this wrong. We’ve put together an ultra-budget “Cheap Bastard’s” gaming PC build for just over $400. At around the same price of a current gen console, you can build a quality entry-level gaming PC. Featuring an Intel G3258, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and an MSI R7 260, you get a great gaming PC for games like LoL, DOTA2, WoW, GRID, Titanfall and TOR.
This budget gaming PC build takes the DIY approach to building a custom computer for games like Titanfall, priced far below our usual $500 budget target.