Ultra-Budget $397 Gaming PC Build for CSGO & DOTA2

By Published September 05, 2015 at 2:20 pm
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Additional Info

  • Price: 397
  • Physical Size: Mid-Tower
  • Purpose: Desktop Gaming
  • CPU Preference: Intel

Power isn't always necessary. We recently benchmarked AMD's new A10-7870K APU, which necessitated the testing of low-end video card testing alongside low-end processors; our findings dictated that the latter coupling made for perfectly playable framerates at 1080p in popular eSports games.

Counter-Strike: GO, DOTA2, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm are all readily played on low-end hardware. In the case of CSGO, DOTA, and LoL, the games can be run using a cheap, $400 PC build on high and medium-high settings with framerates exceeding 60FPS. We've got benchmarks lower down to back this up.

$397 Mid-Range Gaming PC Build Using Intel i5 CPU & GTX 970

Gaming Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
CPU Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz $70 Free Shipping $70
Motherboard ASRock H97M Pro4 $80 - $80
Video Card PowerColor R7 250X $100 -$10 $90
Memory HyperX 2x4GB DDR3-1600 $43 Free Shipping $43
Power Supply Corsair CX430 Bronze $40 -$20 MIR $20
HDD Western Digital 1TB Blue $53 Free Shipping $53
Case Fractal Design Core 1100 $41 - $41
Total   $427 -$30 $397

OS & Optional Extras 

Add-on Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64bit $100 $3 Shipping $103
CPU Cooler DeepCool Gammaxx 300 $30 - $30
SSD Samsung 850 Evo 250GB $90 Free Shipping $90

Video Card

PowerColor R7 250X ($100): The R7 250X isn't exactly new, but then again, neither is the architecture on the R300 series of video cards. Short of advancing the price $15 to a GTX 750 Ti, the R7 250X is among the best ultra-budget solutions for playing games that lightly load the GPU.

An R7 250X joined with the G3258 promises in the neighborhood of 120FPS (average) in CSGO, with a 60FPS 1% low frametime. That's using “very high” and “high settings” (no AA) at 1080p; a 120Hz monitor – although it'd be odd to couple such an expensive item with such a cheap build – would get mostly saturated with this configuration. For DOTA2, we see a framerate exceeding 100FPS average, with GRID: Autosport (the most graphically intensive among these games) hitting 98FPS average at medium/1080p.

Some charts:

7870k-igp-csgo

7870k-igp-dota2

CPU

Intel Pentium G3258 Dual-Core ($70): Intel's G3258 has a few pitfalls when it comes to heavily multithreaded games; for instance, its 1% and 0.1% lows in GTA V are undesirable. For everything else, especially for games like CSGO and MOBA/RTS titles, the G3258 handles the content impressively well. Its additional headroom for overclocking is best untapped with a Z97 board, though opting for H97 (as we did) saves a bit of cash for the user who just wants to plug-n-play. The G3258 is a simple CPU at heart and hosts just two cores without hyperthreading. For lightweight games, it'll do perfectly well in our budget build.

For users who want some versatility with GTA V, we'd recommend considering a platform switch to an Athlon X4 860K and compatible FM2+ motherboard.

Motherboard

ASRock H97M Pro4 ($80): The G3258 is a top-class overclocker when paired with an appropriate motherboard – but we're not going to suggest a Z97 platform unless the builder actually wants to OC the CPU. For users who just want to screw it all together and “go,” an H97 platform removes some of the higher-end features that will go unused and inflate cost, but still provides stability and support for our configuration. If you're interested in CPU overclocking, we'd recommend considering a Z97 platform like this one for an extra $20-$30. Note that CPU overclocking would be best accompanied by an aftermarket CPU cooler, like this $30 solution.

Memory

HyperX Fury 2x4GB DDR3-1600 ($43): We've tested dual-channel vs. single-channel platform configurations extensively, finding that a single stick of memory will almost always perform effectively identically to two sticks in dual-channel when it comes to gaming. That stated, it was $2 more to jump from a single 8GB DDR3-1600 G.Skill stick to two 4GB sticks (total 8GB), giving us some room to play with programs that actually do want the 2x data rate. 8GB at 1600MHz is the 'sweet spot' for gaming machines right now, with higher frequencies producing limited gains in non-production software.

Power Supply

Corsair CX430 Bronze ($40): After MIR, the CX430 drops to just $20 for a quality, 80 Plus Bronze PSU. We'd technically be able to get away with even lower wattage supply, but the quality of PSU diminishes heavily after dropping below this power range. At 430W, we're sitting just above the ideal efficiency range of power consumption and reducing cost (or re-allocating it to chasing 80 Plus badges), making for a solid budget unit.

Hard Drive

WD Blue 1TB 7200RPM HDD ($53): Not every machine needs an SSD, though we'd certainly recommend them once reaching mid-range or higher price-points. In the case of this build, we really don't need one – an extra $100 on an SSD makes far less sense than spending that money on the GPU or CPU (or both, which is possible – an i3-4160 + GTX 750 Ti would make for a strong combo). At 7200RPM, the HDD runs fast enough to limit game bottlenecking such that it is effectively irrelevant. Boot times and general responsiveness will be slightly slower than an SSD, but that can be sacrificed for cost.

Case

Fractal Design Core 1100 Micro-ATX ($41): We went for discretion and function with this build. A manageable 14 x 6.89 x 16.14 inches, the Core 1100 is easily relocated and can sit atop a desk, but doesn't lack the internal room that some other mATX cases do. It's not the most portable mATX case on the market, but we're not building a machine that will be going on planes for LAN events (though that wouldn't be hard with SFF cases). The case includes a single fan – enough for playing games like CSGO and DOTA2 on our low-end silicon – and can be upgraded to support more, if overclocking or adding hotter hardware.

Leave a comment below or post on our forums for additional support with this build!

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.

Last modified on September 05, 2015 at 2:20 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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