How to Build a Budget Gaming PC for Less than $1,000
Buying versus building gaming PCs is really up to personal preference. Some people prefer to buy already built machines because it’s mostly convenient and you don’t have to spend time looking for different parts. Also, if you have zero hardware experience, you should really buy a PC instead of trying to build one. Building a machine from scratch has its own distinct advantages. You might be able to assemble a PC that performs really well for a certain price compared to a manufactured PC that cost the same.
If you are on a limited budget, building a gaming PC might be the better solution. Manufactured gaming computers typically cost well over $1,500. There are budget range gaming desktops you can get for around $1,000, but these may not have the specs that you need. If you are interested in building your own gaming PC, here are brief suggestions on how to go about doing it:
Set the Budget
First of all, you will have to decide on how much you are willing to spend on all the parts. You will have to spend the most money on the processor and the graphics card. You can build a gaming PC for around $400, $700, or $1,000. The lower the cost, the lower the performance will be, obviously. It all depends on your needs. For example, you can invest in a low-cost processor and a graphics card for now, and later when you have more to spend, you can upgrade your custom PC. Or you can invest in the latest tech now. It’s up to you.
But do not set your budget too low and purchase second-hand or knock-off products. Buy the best parts your wallet allows. Keep in mind that you might want to futureproof your product.
Choosing the Right Parts to Buy
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to buying PC parts is whether one should stick to brand names. This is a rather complicated situation. Whether you should worry about the brand name really depends on the computer part in question. For example, when it comes to processors, gamers should go with Intel over AMD. This is not promoting a particular brand over another. It’s been proven again and again that Intel processors are significantly superior to AMD, especially when it comes to gaming. Even AMD’s surprisingly amazing Ryzen processor cannot beat Intel’s Core i7 performance.
Picking brands for non-processor parts are a bit of a tricky matter. For example, whether you should buy a NVIDIA or an AMD graphics card depends on your preference. AMD graphics cards are cheaper, and are therefore better suited for budget PC builders. However, you should always compare an individual card’s performance rather than rely on the brand name when it comes to graphics cards.
You might want to pay attention to the brand name when buying the motherboard or RAM due to reliability, proprietary features, and warranty. For example, an MSI motherboard may have a better warranty than an ASUS one. However, it’s recommended to first compare specs for individual parts, and then compare if one brand offers certain benefits over another.
As established above, you should invest in an Intel processor for your gaming PC. You can buy an Intel Core i3 processor for around $100 for a really low-cost custom built PC. A Core i5 would cost around $200, and a Core i7, the ideal processor for a gaming PC, would cost around $300. When Intel reveals Core i9 processors later this year, the prices for the older processors will probably go down if you can wait until then.
The Graphics Card
You should definitely spend money on this as much as you do with the processor. The advantage with desktops is that you can always change the graphics card. So even if you can’t buy the ideal card right now, you will be able to get a better card later. What really matters is investing in a dedicated memory graphics card. For a mid-range PC around $600, you can get a card like NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, which can handle most games. The dedicated VRAM is only necessary if you intend on supporting multiple monitors. AMD graphics cards are actually better for multi-monitor gaming. For a low-end PC, AMD’s Radeon HD 7950 or a similar card would be suitable. If you want a feature like PhysX, you should buy a NVIDIA card. AMD sometimes bundles games with the card, so you technically get more for the money you spend.
Keep in mind that even a cheap dedicated graphics card can perform well when paired with a good processor like Core i5 or Core i7. Don’t worry too much about getting the right graphics card. You can always upgrade with a new one and sell the old one.
You need to invest in at least 8GB of RAM for a gaming PC. It’s recommended that you go for 16GB. You can save money by buying a single 8GB card instead of buying multiple 4GB cards. Expect to spend about $50 on an 8GB RAM card.
Motherboard and Storage
This can be tricky to choose. You will have to spend some time to research and choose a card that suits your preferences. Try to buy a motherboard aimed at gamers. Always check the number of USB ports, HDMI output and similar features on offer. Be aware that not all motherboards have HDMI inputs. Set your budget for about $100 for the motherboard. You can usually buy a decent one for around $60.
As for storage, SSD is really the best for gaming. You can get excellent performance per value with even a 120GB SSD compared to an HDD. An HDD, will of course, offer more storage space. Buy you can buy an external hard drive if you need 1TB or 2TB space. The SSD will add efficiency and speedy performance. As for price, there isn’t a major difference between buying an SSD or an HDD. You can buy a 250GB SSD or a 1TB HDD for around $100.
When buying a hard drive of any type, always pay attention to the warranty. All hard drives fail eventually. Give yours at least 5 years of life and make arrangements to keep your data backed up.
The above are the most essential parts. You would also need to invest in a good cooling system, which would cost around $100 and is usually bought in combination with the motherboard. Tower cases vary in price. A very generic tower case would cost around $30, but you can set the budget up to $100 if you want a nice looking one.
Once you have gotten all the parts, you can set your own perfect PC at home. Do keep the boxes and the packaging around. If you want a sell a part, you will need the packaging.
About the Author
Eduardo Bridges is a former computer engineer who now blogs about buying budget electronic parts and gadgets.