Budget Game PC - February 2014
The Hardware.Info Budget Game PC Advice has a balanced configuration for playing video games, without having to spend too much. The components have been selected to offer the best bang for your buck.
That means you cannot always expect the highest settings, resolution and frame rate, but at the same time you should be able to play all modern games in Full HD resolution without making huge concessions to either the image quality or your enjoyment of the game.
Our advice covers a basic configuration, but we'll frequently name a few options to make your PC faster, more futureproof or easier to upgrade.
Please note: the PC Buyer’s Guide is compiled based on independent component tests performed by Hardware.Info. If no new, superior products are released that should replace one or more of the components, then the component(s) will remain the same as the previous month.
If you want to know more about how we compile our PC Buying guides, have a look at this article.
For the budget gaming system we want a processor that's powerful enough to get the most out of the graphics card and still have a little capacity left. For a long time that meant a Core i3, but we learned in a recent test than an even better option for a powerful graphics card is an AMD chip in the Bulldozer class. Here is that review. For games that support multi-threading, six cores from AMD are better than two cores from Intel. The FX-6300 is also unlocked, should you wish to overclock.
The CPU we picked is quite overclockable, but in order to save on the budget, we would recommend seeing how far you can get with the boxed cooler first. If it turns out you're hitting the temperature limits sooner than the overclocking limits, you can always invest in an affordable, decent after market model like Cooler Master's Hyper TX3 Evo.
If you are buying a new PC, at the moment we recommend 8GB RAM, even for a Budget Game PC. DDR3-1600 is sufficient for our chosen platform, faster memory does not add a lot and with the current high prices, we would advise the cheaper option. As we write this, Crucial's set (which we tested with good results) is relatively affordable, but do consult our price comparison engine. As long as you look at the bigger brands, it matters little which kit you buy if price is the main concern.
The FX-6300 processor requires a SocketAM3+ motherboard. We haven't tested these in a while, but after a little research we went with the ASRock 970 Pro3, which has been updated in a second version. Based on the 970 chipset, it has enough connectors, and an affordable price.
It goes without saying on occasion you'll want to play your games in Full HD. A great card for gaming at that resolution is de AMD Radeon R9 270X, which always performs great at medium quality settings and frequently can even manage high quality without difficulty. It has a great price performance ratio and that goes double for MSI's offering, which is also pretty quiet.
This month too we do not include an SSD in our Budget Game PC, but merely a hard drive. We went for the well-tested Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 1TB. If you have a little more room in your budget, a great way to improve performance is by adding a 120/128 GB SSD.
While burning CDs isn't quite as popular as it once was, it's still useful to have an optical drive for certain situations. It makes reinstalling your OS easier, and perhaps you have some favorite PC games laying around that you only have on CD-ROM.
Nowadays most DVD burners cost about the same. We recently tested a bunch of them, and the LG GH24NS95 come out on top. And since even the best isn't very expensive, you might as well go for the best.
An affordable chassis that cools enough for a potentially overclocked and therefore warm PC, that's what we want. While the Corsair Carbide 300R and the Antec Three Hundred Two are both excellent choices, we went with the Antec GX700.
It's a new chassis with a unique look (hence the mention of the other two), but it cools extremely well without making too much noise. Read our review for the details.
A 500W PSU suffices for this configuration. According to our test, Corsair's CX500M performs very well and is great value, so that's our choice for the Budget Game PC.
A very nice gaming desktop set for a very modest price, that is CM Storm's Devastator Gaming Gear Combo. The keyboard is lit for use in the dark and the mouse is comfortable to use. A decent choice for a Budget Game PC, even if with time you may want to invest in an upgrade. For now, you can work with this.
As long as you don't require room filling audio (which would be a bit much to ask for on on a limited budget), Creative's T3300 is one of the best sounding and affordable sat/sub speaker sets.
Even a budget configuration can afford a 24-inch monitor nowadays. It's impossible to tell by the manufacturers' specs which monitor is faster than another, but in our recent test the true speed demons came out on top.
The Acer G246HLBbid is a monitor that is extremely fast, but it's relatively affordable still. Perfect for a budget gaming PC.
|Processors||AMD FX-6300 Boxed||£74.30|
|CPU coolers||AMD Boxed Cooler||–|
|Memory modules||Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3-1600 CL9 kit||£69.85|
|Motherboards||ASRock 970 Pro3 R2.0||£57.23|
|Graphics cards||MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming 2GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 1TB||£62.16|
|Optical drives||LG GH24NS95||£18.99|
|Power supplies||Corsair CX500M||£70.40|
|Keyboards||CM Storm Devastator Gaming Gear Combo||–|
|PC speaker sets||Creative Inspire T3300||£42.69|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||£395.62|