The new school year is upon us, and there's not much better time to build a PC that will enable both school-related tasks and also some light gaming. We put together a budget build that will not only allow the user to write those essays and build PowerPoint projects, but also play games like League of Legends, WoW, SW:TOR, and many other games that do not demand a great deal of power from the GPU. For only $414, you get a great PC that should be ideal for the student gamer.
This DIY gaming PC build guide aims to assemble a cheap, ultra-budget LoL and schoolwork system for under $500. As a bonus, a mini-ITX form factor ensures potential for use as an HTPC build or living room gaming PC / future DVR replacement.
GRID: Autosport (benchmarked) is sure to get the juices flowing for any car lover. Doubly so with the graphics enhancements that benefit from Haswell chips from Intel. But what happens when you want performance that matches a 500-horsepower car and only have a 100-horsepower Saturn budget? Simple, grab this build, add a touch of overclocking, grab a copy of GRID: Autosport, and enjoy the drive.
The focus of this build was to feature the overclockable Intel Pentium G3258, offer solid mid-to-high level graphics for gaming, and allow for easy upgrades in the future. Our last few extreme budget gaming PC builds were mostly AMD and, based on some great comments both in the forums and article comments, I felt it was time to give Intel a chance to make its mark in this price range.
For those looking to build a cheap gaming PC with the ability to run games on high / ultra graphics -- all for just around $500 -- this is where the buck stops.
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!
This is just a short bit of advice for those of you working on new PC builds. As the industry's manufacturing processes advance, we eventually begin to see a disproportionate cost-to-performance or cost-per-GB ratio forming at the lower-end of a particular product type. In many ways, it's more expensive for a manufacturer to continue producing lower-end products; the fab or assembly processes change to accommodate new advancements, like higher density or more desirable high-frequency yield, so continued production of devices under the new bar is undesirable and often halted.