Budget Gaming PC Build for Fallout 4 at $553

By Published November 03, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Additional Info

  • Price: 553
  • Physical Size: Mid-Tower
  • Purpose: Desktop Gaming
  • CPU Preference: Intel

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:

$553 Gaming PC Build for Fallout 4 Using i3 CPU & R9 380

Gaming Parts List Name Price Rebates, Promos, etc. Total
Graphics Card MSI R9 380 4GB $200 Free Shipping,
-$20 MIR
CPU Intel i3-4170 3.7GHz $120 Free Shipping $120
Motherboard MSI Z97 PC Mate $85 -$10, Amazon Prime $75
Memory G.Skill Sniper 8GB 2133MHz $40 Free Shipping $40
HDD WD Blue 7200RPM 1TB HDD $53 Free Shipping,
Amazon Prime
Power Supply Corsair CS450M 80 Gold $60 Free Shipping,
-$5 Code,
-$30 MIR
Case NZXT S340 Case $70 -$10 MIR $60
Toal   $628 -$75 MIR $553

OS & Optional Extras

Add-on Parts List Name Price Rebates, Promos, etc. Total
CPU Cooler DeepCool Gammaxx 300 $30 -$5, Free Shipping $25
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 $98 Free Shipping, Amazon Prime $98
SSD Samsung 850 Evo 500GB $170 Free Shipping, Amazon Prime $170

Video Card

MSI Radeon R9 380 4GB ($180): This card includes an MIR, so be sure to send that in for the additional $20 off (down to $180 from $200). As AMD has iterated on its drivers from our initial tests, the R9 380 is now a stable graphics card at the budget price-range, its primary competition coming from the GTX 960 2GB card. We've posted a few modding articles for Fallout in the past, so we're familiar with how much VRAM gets consumed as the mods stack (and texture resolution increases). 4GB of VRAM gives us mobility for high resolution texture mods and other graphics overhauls, and the R9 380 won't be a limitation with Fallout's visuals. Given our CPU selection, this GPU/CPU pairing is about as level as it gets.

The game isn't particularly impressive when it comes to graphics. The R9 380 will capable run Fallout 4 at 1080p with high graphics settings.


Intel i3-4170 3.7GHz ($120): We're going back to Haswell for this one, primarily because Skylake hasn't shipped its full line-up yet for the low-end. The i3-4170 CPU has two physical cores that are hyperthreaded, so it's a 2C/4T CPU. Fallout 4's recommended hardware specs are a little zealous. You'll be able to run the game fine on four threads, though users who hope to perform more serious mod overhauls in the future – maybe a year down the line – may want to consider an overall hike in budget and components (including a jump to an i5).

As it stands, the i3-4170 will handle Fallout 4 at launch and likely modded, so long as they're not too intensive, with extra performance over other i3 CPUs given the higher clock-rate.

CPU Cooler (Optional)

DeepCool Gammaxx 300 ($25): Use promo code AFEX151103D53 at check-out for $5 off this cooler. This is an entirely optional component, as the i3-4170 includes a stock cooler that'll keep you within spec. In the event you want to run the system cooler or are prepping for a long-life build, or just want lower noise emissions, it's worth picking-up a cheap air cooler like the Gammaxx 300.


MSI Z97 PC Mate ($75): After $10 MIR, this board rests at $75 – a few bucks more than high-end H97 boards. We'd opt for an H97 motherboard in this PC, seeing as Z97 is a little unnecessary given the OC limitation, but the pricing of the board and memory makes sense. Because we found 8GB of 2133MHz RAM, we wanted to ensure a board capable of pushing the full frequency got used in this build, ultimately finding that the $5 price-hike for Z97 was worthwhile.


G.Skill Sniper 2x4GB 2133MHz ($40): Memory prices have finally returned to where they were a few years ago – the Golden Age of RAM, forever entombed in history books. Until now. Given the DDR4 switch-over, DDR3 prices seem to have taken a bit of a hit in recent months, falling to around $40-$50 for a 2x4GB kit. G.Skill's Sniper memory has been a mainstay of ours since it came out. DDR3-2133 is a little aggressive for gaming – you won't see that much of a difference over 1600MHz and 1866MHz – but the thing is, it's cheaper than most 1600 and 1866 kits right now.


WD Blue 7200RPM 1TB HDD ($53): We're opting-out of an SSD as this PC's primary storage device, instead falling back on a 7200RPM hard drive. This helps keep cost under control – that $100 SSD cost would be better put toward an i5, anyway – and we'll still be booting reasonably fast with the Windows 10 boot-time improvements.

Power Supply

Corsair CS450M PSU ($25): Marked down to $25 after a $30 MIR and $5 code (EMCKKAP36), Corsair's 450 Watt, modular PSU is an exceptional deal for budget PCs. Its 80 Plus Gold certification notes high power efficiency, important in a system build with tight wattage tolerance. The system overall will get by on 450W, though you should increase wattage if considering a higher-end GPU/CPU configuration. Here's a look at power draw (see full test bed specs here) of the R9 380, from a previous review:


That's full system load, which included an i7-4790K at the time of the test.


NZXT S340 Mid-Tower ($60): NZXT's S340 enclosure is one of the best cases we've ever reviewed, and easily the best ~$60 to $80 case currently on the market. The S340 uses an all-steel structure, granting it strength and a build quality unrivaled at this price-point, and eliminates standard drive cages that inhibit cable management. It's built for relative silence, so there is some sacrifice of cooling and intake potential, but that sacrifice won't weigh-in unless going for a multi-GPU configuration.

Let us know if you require assistance with your PC build! Our support forums are located here, for one-on-one assistance.

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.

Last modified on November 03, 2015 at 7:50 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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