$470 Back-to-School Budget Gaming PC - August, 2013

By Published August 09, 2013 at 9:21 am

Additional Info

  • Price: 470
  • Physical Size: Mid-Tower
  • Purpose: Desktop Gaming
  • CPU Preference: AMD

The new school year is fast approaching, so it's time to do some back-to-school PC shopping. Office applications and the internet aren't exactly technologically-taxing, but why not build your own PC that can not only perform those tasks, but also play your favorite games?

This back-to-school budget gaming PC build lands at less than $500 and provides a DIY approach to system building; if you're a student (or if you're buying on behalf of a student), then system building is not only educational and rewarding, but cheaper than buying a pre-built box.


$470 Back-to-School Cheap Gaming PC Build - August, 2013

Gaming Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
APU AMD A10-6800K APU $140 - $140
Memory 8GB Corsair Vengeance @ 1866MHz $72 - $72
Motherboard ASRock FM2A75 Pro4-M mATX Board $75 - $75
Power Supply Corsair CX500M PSU $60 -$20, Free Shipping $40
HDD Toshiba 1TB HDD @ 7200RPM $65 - $65
Optical Drive LG 24X DVD RW Optical Drive $17 - $17
Case Corsair 200R $60 - $60
Total   $489 -$20 $469


OS & Optional Extras

Add-on Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
Operating System
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $89 Free Shipping $89
Monitor Acer 23" 1080p LED Monitor $120 - $120
Keyboard Microsoft 3XJ Ergonomic Keyboard $15 - $15
Cooler Master Xornet $30 - $30
Speakers Logitech LS21 2.1 Speakers $20 - $20



For this build we decided to go with AMD's highest-powered Richland APU, their new iteration of integrated processors over last year's Trinity line. The A10-6800k hosts what is arguably the best consumer-targeted integrated graphics processor out today, the 8670D, competing most closely against Intel's HD 4600 IGP. Intel's new Haswell line has narrowed the margin between integrated graphics processors, but AMD still retains a lead -- especially seeing how inexpensive the APUs run compared to Haswell's competing chips.

Richland really made its biggest strides in the CPU aspect, but Haswell still beats out Richland in pure computing performance. That said, Richland offers what AMD always offers: A price-friendly option for gamers. You'll still be able to play most games comfortably on medium settings or better, but will have some trouble with the more graphics-intensive games (like Crysis 3 or Metro: Last Light, which barely runs on Richland with medium settings).

Non-gaming tasks (video playback and standard desktop use) all work smoothly; there's really not much in terms of "everyday use" that can strain a modern processor, so no surprise there.


With our builds that include an APU or CPU with integrated graphics as the primary video hardware, it's important to select faster system memory to make up for the lack of high-speed, on-board GDDR5. A dedicated GPU's on-board RAM is closer to the chip, operates at a high throughput, and is tuned specifically for graphics use; with APUs and IGPs, we lose that ability  (under current-gen hardware - that might change soon) to have on-device memory.

Here we've selected 8GB of Corsair's ubiquitous Vengeance RAM clocked @ 1866MHz for this build.


ASRock's FM2A75 Pro4-M mATX board comes with all the basic functionality required in a budget build, including somewhat standard overclocking support through ASRock's UEFI BIOS.

On-board video-outs include 1xHDMI, D-Sub, and DVI, so if you're connecting the system to an HDMI-enabled TV, you'll be covered. Native memory support at 1866MHz and OC support up to 2600MHz+ is offered by the board's Hudson D3 chipset, allowing a bit of room to play with memory OCing if it interests you. 2xPCI-e slots are present, so if you decide to add-on a dedicated video card in the future, that's available at the standard x16 speed; the second slot could be used to accommodate capture cards or other add-on card hardware.

Power Supply

Normally in these budget builds we select Thermaltake's TR2 series PSUs. This time, though, we spotted a great deal on Corsair's CX500M modular PSU; it's 80 Plus Bronze certified, has active PFC, and modular cables, which is all a steal at $40 after MIR. You can read more about power supply specifications here.

At 500W and an 80 Plus Bronze efficiency rating, you've got more than enough room to play around with basic OCing and expansion devices.

HDD / Storage

Once again we've opted for a 1TB / 7200RPM HDD. For any system using a spindle drive as its primary storage device, we recommend a minimum of a 7200RPM HDD to keep up with the I/O demands on storage. 5400RPM is fine for archival purposes, but for gaming and the host OS, the extra speed makes a noticeable usability impact. This is a pretty reasonable storage option and should have more than enough room to fit not only your installed software, but most of those legally-obtained media files!

Optical Drive

Optical media technology is nearing its end, it seems. This is a standard 24X CD/DVD RW drive for your burning and reading purposes, should they still arise.


"Gaming" cases have a pretty set-in-stone look across all price-ranges: They try to look cool, normally equipped with dozens of LEDs and flared plastic paneling, and while that look works for some, it's not always desirable. When selecting a case for this build, I looked for an enclosure that meets the obvious cooling demands while not looking like a "gaming case" -- I wanted something more discrete. Corsair's 200R provides all the cooling options you need to help keep internal temps down and looks like a "regular" PC case. I still think it looks good, don't get me wrong, it's just not flashy -- it's toned-down.

Corsair is well-known for making quality cases, made from sturdy materials with optimized air channeling; when talking to Corsair's reps at PAX East a few years back, their stance was that there's no point in "making a case that looks like a 1980s cartoon robot" because they see quality as most important.


If you need more than just the tower, here are some optional components we're comfortable recommending.


We like to put monitors in our builds that are at least 22'' and 1920 x 1080 resolution, our other (more advanced) requirements and recommendations can be found over in this guide. Here I found a 23" LED monitor from Acer with a 5ms GTG response time, 1920 x 1080 resolution, and standard VGA / DVI ports (no HDMI).


You could go to your local store and pick up a cheap keyboard, or you could pick up this one from Microsoft. It's not a "gaming" class keyboard by any stretch of the imagination, but for everyday typing and non-competitive gaming, it does its job. I included this board in particular because I've been using it for a while now -- the curved layout works well for my hands, and as an added bonus, I know for a fact it's very spill-resistant. At $15, it's hard to complain.


This is what you could call a 'budget gaming mouse,' while the buttons aren't programmable, it does offer more than an average mouse. A form-fitting grip with rubber sides, 2000 DPI (more than enough for most users), 7 buttons, and a nice ridgeline for your ring finger are all present, and while it isn't a G700s, it's a good starter mouse. For only $30 you get a solid mouse.


If you need speakers for your school/gaming PC and are buying on a strict budget, this standard Logitech system should get you started affordably. Here I've included the Logitech LS21 speaker system - a simple 7W 2.1-channel stereo configuration with an entry-level 4W subwoofer; an included dongle includes auxiliary input, a headphone jack, and a receiver for an included remote. While this may not be the window shaking sound system you want, it's good for our budget-friendly objectives.

Please visit our forums for any questions or concerns or feel free to post a quick question below! Until next time!

- Michael "Mikagmann2" Mann.

Last modified on September 25, 2013 at 9:21 am

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