Building a PC can be a kerfuffle, and an expensive one at that. With consoles offering to meet your gaming needs straight out of the box, you might wonder why you should bother cobbling one together at all, but the truth is that there are a ton of games on the platform, from indie to AAA, that are either exclusive, have a thriving modding community, or have the potential to look even better than their console counterparts. Plus, the building of your own rig can provide a sense of accomplishment, as well as a brand new machine to play games on.
The good news is that you don't have to fritter away your cash on top end everything. You can still build a decent rig on a budget, and swap out components as you're able to afford to do so, meaning that you can get stuck into classic PC games you might have missed out on, as well as checking out some of the best survival games on PC.
If you decide you want to spruce up your budget PC down the line, be sure to check out our guide on how to build a high end gaming PC. If you're feeling lazy and would prefer to buy a rig that's ready to go, our best gaming PC options and best gaming laptops might be more up your street.
Budget gaming PC - Money-saving tips
One of the key benefits of building your own PC is the constantly growing community of people who do it as a hobby. PC building has exploded in recent years and that means that there are fantastic resources available on the internet to mitigate the obvious pitfalls.
One of those is spending too much money on your parts. Luckily, this site crawls for prices across the internet and presents you with the best deal for your budget, so when you see it below, you know you're getting the best deal possible. PCPartPicker is another website that you should definitely bookmark. This site offers custom build guides but also lets you make your own build preemptively and will inform you if the chosen parts are incompatible before you buy. It also has handy graphs to inform you of price trends in each hardware market, so you know when is best to pick up each part when keeping to a budget.
Outside of the above, Reddit community /r/BuildAPC should be on your radar for any questions you may have about the build process. Go there to hear advice from experienced PC builders, showcase your proposed rig and learn how to optimize your PC once it is up and running.
We also have separate guides on site for the following components, so if you want to spend more on a specific part (maybe you want a high-end monitor, but a lower-spec PC) then you'll find the best stuff in one of these articles. If you're going to go bigger on anything, we'd recommend spending more on a better Graphics Card, more RAM, and a quicker CPU:
- The best gaming monitors to complete your PC set-up
- The best DDR Ram for PC gaming set-ups
- The best CPU for PC gaming builds
- The best cases for PC gaming
- The best gaming mouse options in 2018
- The best gaming keyboard options in 2018
Budget gaming PC - the actual build - to hit $700 / £600
Graphics Card - GeForce GTX 1050Ti
The most crucial part of a gaming PC build
For gamers, this is the most expensive and crucial part of the build. The GPU (graphical processing unit) renders the image on your monitor whilst playing. The better the GPU, the smoother the gaming experience. Thanks to a boom in cryptocurrency mining, GPUs are inflated in price, but for our budget build, you can still get a graphics card that will power through most modern games for under £200.
The Geforce GTX 1050Ti will run you around £170 and boasts 4GB of VRAM, which is enough to run the most popular modern games comfortably if you stay locked to a 1080p resolution. This card is perfect for those looking to play Fortnite or PUBG on Medium-High settings and should make light work of older games like Overwatch and WoW.
Alternative option - If you want to stretch the budget and add some more bang for your buck then the graphics card is the best place to do it. Moving closer to the £200 mark you can pick up a GTX 1060 3GB, which will boost your performance by around 10-20FPS across the board.
CPU - AMD Ryzen 5 1600
The heart of your build
Next up is the brains of the operation, the CPU. The CPU delegates and controls most of the running of your PC. For budget builds, you often get more value out of an AMD CPU, and in this case, we’re going to go for the AMD Ryzen 5 1600. This is a powerful CPU that you can pick up for around $150 / £140.
It has 6 cores and 12 threads, meaning you can multi-task with a good degree of efficiency. Those who want to game will be happy, but it also offers enough power to edit videos and stream games if you’re looking to branch out. The Ryzen 5 1600 has a solid core clock speed of 3.2ghz and comes bundled with its own stock cooler that is often praised by customers, which is perfect for those buying on a budget.
Alternative Option - For about £15 more you can pick up the Ryzen 5 2600, which is a newer model with a slightly higher clock speed of 3.4GHz. According to benchmarks, it’s about 8% faster, so if you’ve got the money and you’re looking to future-proof this may be a good idea.
CPU cooler - Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
An optional extra for those looking to overclock
If you’re an enthusiast looking to overclock your rig (mileage may vary depending on your experience) then it’s probably best to pick up an extra CPU cooler instead of the stock unit that comes bundled with your CPU.
Overclocking is a process where you push the limits of the CPU beyond its core clock speed to make the entire computer run faster. However, it’s risky for the uninitiated and will force your computer to run hotter and draw more power. If you’re still keen to push your budget rigs limits, Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 EVO is a solid choice for under £30, just keep in mind that this is an extra thing to install and can be quite finicky.
RAM - Corsair DDR4 (8GB)
To make multitasking and app running as smooth as possible
Random Access Memory or RAM is basically the middleman between the files in your storage solution and your CPU. RAM is the thing keeping Discord running whilst its minimized and you’re playing PUBG with your teammates. With more RAM comes more options to multi-task, allowing you to keep multiple programs and tabs in your preferred browser open without your computer grinding to a halt.
Therefore, it's crucial that you have enough to support your habit, and gaming is one of the more RAM-intensive feats. On a budget, we recommend 8GB of Corsair DDR4 memory, which will run you £70. This will suit any gamer who wants to play a modern title and keep a handful of applications running in the background like Spotify or Discord.
Alternative Option - This is another place where an extra bit of cash can make a good difference. For around £130-140 you can pick up 16 GB of Corsair DDR4 and double your memory for double the price. This is worth considering if you know you love to multi-task and don’t want to worry about leaving lots of programs open. If not, RAM upgrades are easy to do and can be done later down the line if necessary.
Storage - Western Digital 1TB PC HDD
You'll need a decent hard drive to keep all your games on
There are two choices here, an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or an SSD (Solid State Drive). A Hard Disk Drive is the standard storage solution you’re most used to, offering multiple terabytes of space for a low price point and average speeds. A Solid State Drive is the new wave of storage technology that is most often employed as an upgrade but has now become more popular as the lone storage solution due to its fast boot-speeds (which come at the cost of significantly lower storage).
For a budget build, you’re best off with the staple Western Digital 1TB HDD, which is by far and away the best hard drive available to budget PC builders. 1TB is more than enough storage for your games, movies, photos and music, and for £35-40, you can’t really grumble at the average speeds.
Alternative Option - For the same price you can pick up a 240GB 2.5” Kingston Solid State Drive. You’ll be sacrificing a lot of storage space, but this means that your computer will boot in under 10 seconds and allow for quicker navigation in most places.
For the same price, this is a matter of taste, and it will entirely depend on whether you can deal with the low storage in favour of speed. Your Operating System (Windows) will take up roughly 20GB anyway, leaving you with 220GB for all of your files, which isn’t ideal if you like to keep all of your games installed. If keeping to a budget, an SSD could be an upgrade later down the line, and when that time comes you could swap your HDD with the SSD to become a pure storage drive whilst your OS gets a much-needed speed boost.
Motherboard - MSI B350 PC Mate
The bit that brings it all together
The motherboard is the hub of all activity in your computer, with everything connected to it. This choice may not have an impact on the performance of the PC per se, but it is crucial that you pick a motherboard that plays nice with the rest of your parts and has the slots that you need.
Further, you want to have a motherboard that has enough slots for you to upgrade your PC in the future to keep your rig up-to-date later down the line. Overclocking is also limited to certain motherboard/CPU combinations. The MSI B350 PC Mate is a $90 / £80 community staple for builders on a budget that will serve your Ryzen CPU well. It has four DDR4 RAM slots, and with one being taken up by a lone 8GB stick of RAM, this is plenty of room to grow.
Multiple USB 3.1 ports come as standard and a means for you to connect Solid State Drives is also available if you’re looking to upgrade your boot speed and storage situation in the future.
Bear in mind, the motherboard we’ve selected here doesn’t come with a built-in Wifi solution, meaning that you’re going to have to use an Ethernet cable to your router or purchase a separate network card. This shouldn’t matter too much as If you take your gaming seriously enough you should consider running on an Ethernet cable with its improved speeds and internet quality.
Alternative Option - For £30 more, the Asus - STRIX B350-F Gaming motherboard will offer slight improvements with its board design (extra SATA ports) and a better BIOS. This is more for the aesthetically minded, with its RGB LEDs providing a sleek finish to your budget build.
Power supply - EVGA 500w B1
You'll need something solid to handle all that juice
Never forget about the Power Supply, the unsung hero of the build. The PSU (Power Supply Unit) ensures that your computer can convert the power coming out of your wall socket into your PC so it can switch on, and it’s highly necessary that you pick the right one so that you have enough wattage to play without worry.
The EVGA 500w B1 Power Supply is regarded as reliable and will serve this budget build well at around £50. The PSU comes with long cables, a warranty system and has great build quality for the price point. It also comes packaged with a free tester unit to ensure its safety.
Alternative Option - The Corsair TX550M is another solid choice which comes in at $80 / £75 and offers a semi-modular build meaning cleaner cables and better airflow. With a 7 year warranty strapped on and excellent power efficiency, this may be worthwhile for those who want to future-proof their machines even further.
Case - Corsair 270R mid-tower
The most effective, most stylish way to house all your components
The final piece of the puzzle is the case, which will house all of the aforementioned parts. Crucially, you need to pick up a case that fits all of your expensive parts and allows for enough space for them to breathe. You also want to be able to conduct some quality cable management within your machine to keep components safe and out of harm’s way.
With a wide variety of choices on the market, it's hard to know which to choose, and outside of arbitrary size restrictions linked to your components, most of this will depend on your personal aesthetic taste.
The Corsair 270R Mid-Tower Case is hard to argue with at £60. It’s simple, sleek and even has screwless drive-bays for an easier install. You can get inside with ease from the side panel and routing your cables throughout the system shouldn’t cause you any problems.
Alternative Option - For $80 / £75 you can pick up the Corsair Carbide 275R Mid Tower Case which has a super sleek edge-to-edge tempered glass window on the side and a more minimalist, less rugged design. With slightly enhanced cooling options, storage space and internal layout, if you have the £15 to spare it may be worth it to make assembly a more comfortable, aesthetically pleasing experience.
How much will it all cost?
There you have it, your very own budget PC Gaming build. This rig should tear through nearly everything you can throw at it at 1080p, and provides a lot of room to grow in the future for enthusiastic tinkerers. For around $680/ £600, this is a good amount of bang for your buck and a powerhouse for those with an affinity for the currently popular multiplayer titles, like PUBG, Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege and League of Legends.
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