As Cable companies find themselves facing their impending obsolescence, we've seen a surge in interest for living room PCs that double as DVR replacements and gaming consoles; our original $357 gaming HTPC posts proved the affordability of these custom builds, but today we're out to prove their versatility.
Today's build makes use of Intel's i3-3220 dual-core IvyBridgeprocessor and accompanying discrete 2GB 7850 VGA, making for a significantly more powerful system than what integrated graphics (even the 7660D/G) can offer. For around $700, you end up with a small form factor gaming HTPC build that functions as a DVR and console replacement; the 7850 has been proven as a gaming-class card for mid-to-high settings and the i3-3220 performs admirably in nearly all gaming applications, perhaps with exception to Crysis 3 (which spawns more active threads and is fairly everything-intensive). More on CPU choice below.
It's been a while since we've run a proper "Cheap Bastard's gaming PC build," and feeling a bit nostalgic (and bastardly-cheap), we've decided to revisit the topic of a $500-range gaming PC. As always, the parts detailed herein are meant to get you on the ground with a DIY, custom gaming machine for dirt-cheap, and we think we've put together a list of reliable parts at a good price.
Besides, Spring is here, and what better time than now to do a little spring cleaning? Time to build yourself a gaming rig as a reward for all those long hours working and/or studying and get ready for summer vacation. We scoured the web for the best deals that we could find to allow you to play all of your favorite games at mid-to-high settings, ideally without breaking the budget; we've added recommendations for upgrade paths if you have extra cash to spend, all found in the below text. Let's get to the build already!
NVidia's GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost was first revealed to us in one of the most straight-forward press events we've attended: It's running on the known GK106 platform, uses nVidia's Boost 1.0 tech (not available on the original 650s), and it wants to dominate AMD in the sub-$200 market. There was only a single question asked by the press corps—"is voltage user-controlled?"—and that was that. End of meeting. The answer was 'yes,' by the way.
We've historically recommended AMD for budget and entry-level PC builds. The 7850 has reigned king of our sub-$700 system guides for nearly a year, and before that, the 6850... and the 5000 series. The point is, AMD's always been good at cutting into their margins and designing inexpensive chips for gaming. NVidia wants to take that away from them.
In benchmarks across the web so far, we've seen the 650 Ti Boost exhibit lower frame latencies than AMD's similarly-costed 7850 and push equal or slightly higher framerates (discussed below), so in that regard, nVidia has established a foothold. The 650 Ti Boost has also been performing admirably in SLI when matched against even the 670, and that's what we're here to explore today.
This mid-range gaming PC build aims to use SLI and overclocking to amp-up your ability to play games on max settings, all while supporting high resolution displays (19x10 or high on 25x14).
We've seen a lot of Heart of the Swarm machines hit the web lately, but frankly, they're all either overpriced or under-powered. The thing is, StarCraft 2 is already an incredibly optimized game (Blizzard's approach to gaming is to include everyone), so we don't need a 7850 for maximum settings, we don't need an i5-3570k overclocked through the roof, and we don't need a 700W PSU.
If your sole purpose in life is to play Heart of the Swarm, this budget gaming PC build will pump out StarCraft 2: HotS on maximum graphics settings (19x10) for around $500. Simple.
We wanted to accommodate our StarCraft 2 gamers with a straight-up RTS gaming rig on a low budget; we didn't want to sacrifice graphics (or at least make as few sacrifices as possible), but still needed to focus on performance enough to allow scalability to future RTS games. This is that rig.
Few things tax hardware to the extent that video encoding and rendering tasks do; H.264 encoding (soon to be superseded by H.265 - which is incredibly promising) is one of the best-optimized, multithreaded encoding methodologies and scales predictably with increasingly-advanced hardware. Still, with all this optimization, it's easy to want more. Always more. Rendering is an arduous task that beats up the processor, RAM, and storage heavily, and so expedition of such intensive tasks demands specialized hardware for the objective at hand.
This high-end DIY gaming PC build is intended for those looking to get into game streaming (see: Twitch, YouTube, etc.) and video production with a focus on playing games; everything herein is spec'd toward someone who sees professional streaming or video production as a future (or current) career path, and will help in completing your goals efficiently. As we'll discuss below, the biggest bottleneck in rendering and video content production is time -- it may not be a piece of hardware, but losing time to the hours spent rendering means less time to produce the next video.
Tax refund time is here and there's not much better of a way to reap the benefits of all those hours worked than to build your own gaming PC! I've scoured the interwebs for tax-time sales and, well, let's just say there's a lot out there for us to choose from.
For a little over $600, this DIY budget gaming PC build is spec'd to run most games on high settings (or thereabouts) and is packed with goodies that should equip you to cause fits of rage from all the disemboweled noobs. The system features one of the more powerful mid-range video cards on the market, the GTX 660, an FX-4300 entry-level CPU, 1TB HDD with an SSD suggestion, and the whitest case we've ever recommended. With all that in mind, let's get to the good stuff.
The legacy left by the original Crysis is one of worldwide renown: Shipping at just around the same time as nVidia's 8800-series GPUs—which were ground-breaking in their own right—the game promised to push PC gaming to new heights. It delivered. Well, graphically, at least; Crytek's CryEngine has famously pushed multi-FPU (floating-point-unit) support to better accommodate multi-core chips, and that trend continues with CryEngine 3.
Crysis 3's new host engine natively employs up to eight simultaneous threads, though most games (Crysis 3 included) will stick with a three-thread foundation with the possibility of spawning additional concurrent threads when necessary. By default, the engine runs a thread for game logic, one for rendering, and one for computation-intensive software-side physics solutions; this means that, unlike most other sub-optimized games (read: console-inhibited), Crysis 3 should theoretically occupy the CPU cores with relative equilibrium and a more optimized load-distribution methodology than ported games.
Obviously gameplay is an entirely different matter, but speaking entirely to the technical and graphical capacity of the game, we find Crysis 3 to be incredibly promising for hardware benchmarking and for the scenery the engine is capable of rendering. Besides, it's the very same engine that Star Citizen is being built on, so if there's any endorsement of potential - that's it.
This high-end gaming PC build for Crysis 3 takes DIY to the next level, offering overclocking options and potential for running the game on high settings with a smooth framerate. Let's hit the specs before we dive into the build list:
Not all chips are produced as equals: Some bin-out with a higher frequency threshold than others, and K-SKUs (by both AMD and Intel) often have a higher bottom-line than their non-K brethren; these chips are made for overclocking, and we think you should take advantage of that function -- it's a quick way to eek more life out of your system, oh, and it's fun. I love seeing how much I can get out of my system, and with this in mind, we designed this build to push the limits of what you may think a gaming rig can do. Oh, and as a quick side note, we're currently giving away a 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD, so go check that out if you'd like to win an expensive drive.
In this joint-effort "intro to overclocking" high-end gaming PC build, we've picked out the best components for an affordable, beginner's overclocked gaming system at around $1000; if you're interested in learning how to overclock, be sure to check out our Overclocking Primer guide for a quick intro on the basics.
I realize that the FX series was designed with intentions to overclock, but they just do not perform as well as Intel in gaming uses (a mix of issues with architecture -- like fewer FPUs -- and poor overall performance in non-integer-based applications). We put together a build with the i5-3570k, a Z77 motherboard, and an MSI 660 Ti built for overclocking, all capable of playing nearly all modern games out there at the highest settings, and will overclock like a champ in the process (and quite easily).
Brought to you by GN's Steve and Mik, let's get to this killer build.
Happy New Year from all of us at GamersNexus! I can think of no better way to bring in the new year than to build a brand new gaming rig! Our first budget gaming PC build of 2013 takes advantage of some of the new year's sales we recently posted, making for one of the most powerful rigs you could build for such a cheap price.
For less than $600, we've managed to build a great system capable of running high/max settings for most modern games; it's packed with a 7850, entry-level liquid cooler, Phenom II X4 965, and a modular PSU.
Using overclocking techniques, you'll be able to cut initial cost by amping up the selected RAM and CPU frequencies to exceed more expensive chips; this gives high-end performance at a low-cost, so be sure to take advantage of our beginner's overclocking guide for full potential.
Let's take a look at the list.
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