$299 Ultra Budget Gaming HTPC Build - Black Friday, 2014

By Published November 27, 2014 at 10:01 am
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Additional Info

  • Price: 299
  • Physical Size: Mid-Tower
  • Purpose: Desktop Gaming, Home Theater
  • CPU Preference: AMD

With the Black Friday sales in full swing, we decided to assemble the cheapest gaming PC reasonable using the holiday's savings. This PC build offers the lowest priced PC build we've ever done.

In doing so, we put together a PC that is great for streaming videos, games, and even playing less intensive games like League of Legends, Minecraft, Path of Exile, and DOTA2. This PC should not be considered a viable option if you're looking to play games like Far Cry 4 (benchmark) and Assassin's Creed Unity (benchmark). If you're looking to build the best general purpose streaming PC for the lowest price, this $299 gaming HTPC build is perfect for you.

$299 Ultra Cheap Home-Theater PC Build - Black Friday, 2014

Gaming Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
APU AMD A8-7600 FM2+ APU $97 Free Shipping $97
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB 2400MHz $61 - $61
Motherboard MSI A78M-E45 mATX $47 -$10,
Free Shipping
$37
Power Supply EVGA 500W PSU $50 -$25 $25
HDD
WD Blue 1TB 7200RPM $50 Free Shipping $50
Case Thermaltake Commander G41 $54 -$25 $29
Total   $359 -$60 $299

OS & Recommended Extras

Add-on Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
GPU
AMD R7 260X 2GB $115 -$20 $95
CPU Cooler
SilverStone Argon AR02 $28 Free Shipping $28
External Optical Drive ASUS External ODD $35 -$5 $30
Operating System (Disc)
Windows 8.1 Disc $94 Free Shipping $94
Gaming Headset HyperX Cloud Headset $80 - $80
Mechanical Keyboard Thermaltake Poseidon Z $70 - $70
Gaming Mouse Logitech G500s $50 - $50

How to Build a Gaming Computer - Step-by-Step Tutorial

APU

AMD A8-7600 FM2+ APU ($97): Since this isn't primarily a gaming build – the larger focus is on a home-theater, general purpose PC build – the A8-7600 is the best processor at this price range. This quad-core APU has a 3.1GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) clock speed with a 4MB L2 cache with 65W power draw.

The integrated graphics and low price are the main reasons we're using this processor. Based on AMD's Kaveri Radeon R7 architecture, this chip has six compute cores dedicated to the graphics along with 384 stream processors. The A8-7600 will play games like LoL, DOTA2, and Minecraft at highest settings, but more demanding games like SW:TOR and WoW will struggle a bit more (assuming 1080p).

Playing games like Far Cry 4 or Shadow of Mordor is strictly impossible with this APU; we'd suggest following one of our higher-end guides for that. This is a great processor if you're looking to build either an HTPC or low-end gaming and multimedia PC.

Have $42 more to spend? If so, you should consider upgrading to the AMD A10-7850k, which operates at 3.7GHz (4.0GHz turbo) clock speed and hosts 2 x 2MB L2 cache on a 95W TDP. With eight compute cores dedicated to the Radeon R7 integrated graphics and 512 stream processors, you'll be able to play most moderate games (GRID, Skyrim, Trials Fusion) at medium settings and games like LoL, DOTA2, and WoW at highest settings.

Memory

G.Skill Ripjaws X 2x4GB 2400MHz ($61): The biggest surprise I've seen during this year's Black Friday sales is the availability of low-priced memory, attaining prices as low as they were two years ago. We selected this kit of 2400MHz memory because – in a build that has an APU and relies on an IGP – it's critical to use fast RAM, since there is no discrete GPU with GDDR5 VRAM. Faster RAM will ensure better performance in games and GPU-driven tasks when using an IGP. In this build, 8GB should be more than enough for daily applications. Make sure you set the speed to 2133MHz (max supported) in the motherboard's BIOS so that it operates at the proper speed.

Motherboard

MSI A78M-E45 mATX ($38): Going along with the theme of this build, we found a motherboard that Newegg has on “fire sale.” This motherboard is very minimalistic in design, but offers everything you'll need out of a budget HTPC motherboard. Even though it's an mATX board, it has 4xDIMM slots that support speeds up to 2133MHz.

The Bolton D3 chipset also supports onboard USB3.0 and PCIe 3.0; limited space on the board restricts expansion slots to only 1xPCIe x1 and 1xPCI slot, though. MSI's A78M, however, have 6xSATA 6Gb/s connections and three display outputs (HDMI, DVI, D-Sub). MSI also includes all their usual applications, like OC Genie and Click BIOS.

If you have $38 more to spend, consider buying this Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3H motherboard for a superior chipset (A88X) and added expansion options.

Power Supply

EVGA 100-W1-500-KR 500W ($20): Once again, there's an EVGA power supply on heavy discount. EVGA has been offering great deals on power supplies throughout November, and this 500W PSU is no different at right around half of MSRP. In the build detailed here, 500W offers more than enough wattage and allows room for dGPU upgrades.

As a bit of a bonus, 80+ Silver certification helps save with the power bill. This power supply is not modular, so you'll have to tuck away those unused power cables, but for the price, it's easy to overlook. The three-year warranty is a great added incentive for purchase.

Storage

Western Digital WD Blue 1TB ($50): Even in an ultra-budget assembly, we've opted to include one of the mainstays of our builds – a 7200 RPM, 1TB HDD. Western Digital is one of the most reliable consumer brands when it comes to hard drives, with the WD Blue unit receiving generally positive en-masse user reviews. In this build, 1TB offers ample storage space for multimedia and, even though it isn't “SSD fast,” 7200 RPM is fast by hard drive standards.

If you don't think you'll need this much storage space, would rather re-use an old drive, or want to also include an SSD for the fast load times, Black Friday options exist for faster drives. For $24 more, this PNY Optima 240GB SSD is worth considering.

Case

Thermaltake Commander G41 ($29): The case is one of my favorite components, mainly because the case allows a showcase of user style and taste. Thermaltake's Commander G41 mid-tower case has plenty of room inside for this assembly, with 3x5.25" bays, 6x3.5" (or 2.5") bays, and eight expansion slots. The front panel has 2xUSB 3.0 ports and the usual HD Audio connections. The case also has room for up to 5x120mm fans, with 2x120mm fans included for adequate air cooling, with the option of using a 200mm fan on top.

Intake dust filters – not usually found in the low-budget cases – make cleaning a bit easier. The big, clear side panel is great for showing off cable management, and the tool-free setup makes installation a little quicker.

Please visit our forums for any questions or cries for help, or feel free to post a quick question below! Tweeting us is always an option. Until next time.

- Michael "Mikagmann2" Mann.

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