We know everyone always wants the best hardware money can buy, but sometimes you have to settle for a budget PC build.
In this article we asked Rob De Luce, an expert PC builder and case modder, some questions about building a PC on a budget.
When designing a budget gaming rig, what are the most important things to think about?
With cost being the main concern for most PC builders, one has to realize that everything depends on the given budget that you have as well as the constant fluctuation of hardware prices. New products drive the prices of older, but still powerful, pieces down, and so on. For someone looking to upgrade to a more powerful gaming rig, “budget” might mean something different than it would for someone with no desktop to begin with. Once you build your first rig, upgrading it after that becomes easier to do on a budget.
For example if you scraped up $500 to buy a basic rig, the next year you can start upgrading specific components to improve your overall performance for a fraction of the price of a full build.
You also have to take into account life-expectancy. How long will the hardware you buy last? With games requiring better and better performance, it’s not impossible to have an outdated computer in less than a year. This might affect which hardware components you decide to upgrade.
I pick parts starting with the GPU, then the CPU, MB, RAM. Once you have all those parts picked you can see what’s left to spend on a PSU that can power all that hardware. Key thing here, atleast for me, is resolution. A 1080p build will cost far less than a 4K setup.
Do you have any recommendations for the kinds of hardware that are typically crucial to a budget gaming rig? Which components usually take priority?
One thing to think about is definitely the PSU. No cutting costs on a cheap one as it will most likely only end up hurting you more in the long term.
You don’t need the fastest CPU but if you can afford it then go for some water-cooling so you can push the slower CPU’s to the speeds of the more expensive ones or push the fastest CPU even faster.
Do you have any strong personal opinions or biases for/against certain brand/kinds of hardware? Nvidia vs. AMD, etc.
This for me is a simple choice depending on budgets and value for money, but seems to always cause arguments online.
I've used Nvidia cards since 2001 and my first major gaming rig in 2002 was an SLI setup. From year to year AMD and Nvidia were very close in performance and I would pick cards based on the best one at the time. I would say I’ve had as many AMD cards as I've had Nvidia, and at the moment I actually have 2 Nvidia cards and 1 AMD card.
I’m still using a R9-295x2 in my main gaming rig and its done very well for me over the years, playing most of the games on High or Ultra but I plan to update it to a more powerful single GPU this year as my VR setup won’t work with SLI/Crossfire. Its looking like my next card will be the Nvidia 1080.
As for other brands, I like to stick with companies that have good customer support and a good history with the community.
If you were going to build a budget gaming rig for yourself for < $600, what components would you use, and why?
- Intel Core i3 6100
- Asus H110M-A
- Cooler Master GM Series PSU (650 Watt)
- Radeon R9 380
- Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance
- Seagate Barracuda 1TB
- N300 Gaming Black Midi Tower Case
You can also pick another case, go for a cheaper GPU and lower wattage PSU (550 to 600) and save a bit more cash. An alternate to the 380 would be a 750Ti and I think they cost a bit less.
The main reason for picking the above is that this budget build will play most modern games on high settings at 1080p.
You can find Rob here: