To play the most graphically demanding games with the highest graphic settings requires a very expensive build; some enthusiasts insist on spending £1800+, yet this price will only scratch the surface of what they wish to accomplish. However, I believe that with the right guidance and know how, you can build an extremely good gaming PC for half the price. I will give a list of parts and reasons why to choose them. I will also expand on each component and give some tips and secrets on how to save money. (All prices are obtained from amazon.co.uk; prices may vary from other retailers). For this build I will be spending under £900. (Please note that all prices are based on time of publication and a liable to change).
This is probably the most important part of a build. Most gamers’ immediate reaction would be to go for a top of the range i7 processor with the odd notion that this will help their gaming performance. Well, firstly let’s see what an i7 actually is. An i7 basically tricks the computer into thinking that it has 8 processors, it’s called hyper threading. Unless you are going to be doing complex rendering, number crunching, or performing many calculations per second (modelling data), you don’t really need an i7 for gaming, since the hyper threading only kicks in when you’re performing tasks like those mentioned previously. So I would recommend buying a high end i5 processor and spending the extra money on the GPU. Regarding Intel Vs AMD, I prefer and recommend Intel due to its quality and reliability.
For the processor I went with the i5-3570K due to its excellent value for money. It has four cores, each running at 3.4GHz.This processor also utilizes Intel’s turbo boost technology in order to over clock itself to 3.8GHz if required. However, for those of you who are still power hungry; this processor is also the “k” version, so it comes with unlocked cores. This makes it a lot easier to over clock. I managed to get mine to 4.3GHz, although it could still be over clocked to a greater extent. Nevertheless for it to remain stable, this would require some very expensive cooling. All in all this is a really good processor for its price. It is ideal for gaming and performing other tasks, such as video editing.
This processor is on the market for just under £165.14
Selecting the right Motherboard is crucial as they are the central control hub of the PC. When choosing a motherboard there are a few things to consider, how big is it? What features does it have? Is it AMD or INTEL? Getting the size right is very important, otherwise you could end up with a motherboard that is unable to fit in your case. If you have an Intel processor then go for a Intel motherboard, and if you have a AMD processor then go for an AMD motherboard. When looking for features for gaming, consider the following.
• SLI or crossfire compatible: this is for allowing multiple graphics cards to work together.
• SATA 6Gbs: This allows for a faster transfer rate between SATA equipment and the motherboard, such as DVD drives and hard drives. This is especially useful for SSD’s.
• Heat sinks: having a lot of heat sinks on the motherboard is good especially for those of you who are thinking of over clocking.
• Ram compatibility: Make sure that the motherboard is compatible with your ram, most RAMS run at 1333 or 1600, some run at higher speeds, although the speed differences are not huge, still make sure that the motherboard can support you ram speed. Also consider the amount of ram it can hold.
When choosing the motherboard, I went for the Asus P8Z77-V DELUXE Motherboard. It was good because it had all the features mentioned above. It also has adjustable fan controls, 8 USB 3 headers and LudicLogix Virtu MVP technology which improves gaming frame rates by 30-70%; increased frame rates will be fantastic for those who wish to play graphically demanding games at their best. LudicLogix Virtu MVP also sharpens visual quality and works seamlessly with hundreds of game stations.
This board is currently on the market for £178.41
A lot of gamers like going for the high end gaming RAM i.e. Corsair Dominator which could range from £50 to £80. However, these high end RAMs are a waste of money as they hardly improve performance in gaming, they are mainly designed for looks. We could get an excellent RAM for £35 that will do the same job as those more expensive RAMs. When choosing between 1333MHZ or 1600 MHZ, keep in mind that there is not much difference, however if you find a good deal go for the 1600MHZ due to better over clocking ability.
I also recommend 8GB RAM as most games don’t even use that much, so you will still have a lot left over to perform other tasks. 8GB ram is also excellent for multitasking. 16GB is pushing it as you will never use it for gaming unless you are doing high end rendering. keep in mind that if your budget is a less then £800, you can go for 4GB Ram as that is also good, although it will decrease the computer multitasking capabilities it is cheaper so you can spend more money on other components i.e. graphics card.
When choosing the RAM I went for the Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600MHz 8GB Memory Module. I highly recommend this ram due to its speed in addition to the fact that it is 1600MHZ. It is also reliable as it is made by Crucial and part of their Ballistix range. I went for the 8GB version due to it allowing for better multitasking.
This Ram is on the market for just under £34.98
Now a lot of people would want to go for an SSD, however from my experience although SSD’s are fantastic and worth every penny, they will not help gaming performance rather just decrease loading time. As most games can easily exceed 15gb, The SSD would get used up very quickly. I recommend going for a one terabyte hard drive because it has enough space for you C drive and all you other media.
If your budget is higher, I defiantly recommend going for an SSD as your primary boot drive. However if you still want an SSD, you could always install one at a later point in time.
I recommend the Seagate 1TB 64MB Cache SATA3 Hard Drive
because it is a fast hard drive with speeds of 7200RPM. It also packs a lot of storage space due to it being a 1 terabyte hard drive. Furthermore it is also reliable as it is made by Seagate.
This Hard Drive is on the market for just under £54.78
Choosing a good power supply is vital, chose one that is to week and your computer won’t start. It is best to choose one that exceeds the power consumption of your PC, as this will allow for future upgrades. I recommend 600 watts as this will be both good value for money and allow for future upgrades, however if you want to run multiple graphics cards I would recommend 750watts. However when one starts delving into SLI or 850 watt Power supplies, then one is at peril of spending huge amounts of money on a gaming pc which defies the point of a budget PC.
For the PSU I went with the Corsair CMPSU-600CXV2UK Builder Series 600W Power Supply. I chose this 600 watt PSU because it could run all my components and had a lot of power left over for other future upgrades. It also had an excellent build quality which was really important because if the PSU fails then all of your components could get damaged.
This Power Supply is on the market for just under £56.48
Cooling is essential in a gaming PC, it is even more important if you plan on over clocking. Again there is no need to overdo it on the cooling, I recommend buying one heat sink/fan for the processor, and later on you can buy additional fans for the case.
I went with Cooler Master Hyper TX3 Evo Tower Cooler for CPU because it was on the market for a good price. It provided a good amount of cooling for my processer, especially when playing games. If you plan to overclock your computer, then I recommend spending a bit extra and getting liquid cooling.
The Cooler Master retails at £16.99
The case is more important than what most people give it credit for. Yes, it is there to look good but it also plays other vital roles. Firstly you need to choose a case that can house all your components and will leave room for upgrades. The standard £20 to£30 case will be unable to house large motherboards, liquid cooling and a number of fans or dual SLI graphic cards. Secondly, you need to find a case which is spacious enough to allow room for upgrades. Some are also specially designed to maximise air flow which will help keep the computer cool. Last of all, we all want an exciting case as such a case really completes the package (The icing on the cake).
I went with, and recommend, the CM Storm Enforcer; in my opinion it is the best mid tower case on the market. It looks as good as cases get, its nether too small so there is room for improvement nor is it too big, so it does not takes up too much room. The matt black finish, red lights all add to the effect of making the computer look like a “Beast”. The Storm enforcer also comes with a 200mm front fan which helps to keep the inside cool, an additional 200mm fan can also be added on top. Finally it’s also been designed with excellent air flow; to keep all the parts cool.
However you could go with a cheaper case and spend the extra money left over on other components like the graphics card.
Cooler master Storm Enforcer Mid Tower ATX Case retails at £70.99
DVD disc drive
When considering the DVD drive, don’t think about anything too fancy; after all it is just there to read your disks. Although one should look for a good quality DVD drive. You could spend more money buying a blue ray drive; however for this budget build it is not necessary.
I went for the Samsung 24x SATA Retail DVD Writer; this is because it was good enough for the job and had a good build quality.
This particular DVD drive is on the market for around £16.95.
Now most people will want to spend huge amounts of money on the graphics card; and you know what? They are right in doing so. The graphics card or GPU for short will have the biggest affect on gaming performance. The central component of the gaming PC is the GPU, you can have your i7, your 32gb ram, your 500gb SSD, but with a low spec graphics card, you’re not going anywhere.
There are so many things to consider when choosing the perfect GPU. You have the choice of going for two low end graphics cards and putting them in SLI or crossfire, although this will increase performance, it has other issuers such as power consumption and driver problems. You also have the choice of going with one higher end graphics card. I suggest the latter because it takes less power and is more reliable. Although you can go with SLI or crossfire if you wish.
When considering the graphics card, I went for the Asus GeForce GTX660 TI 2Gb. This GPU had excellent performance and ran extremely quietly. It could play games such as Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 on maximum settings with good frames per second. I would always go for a Nvidia card over radeon card, this is mainly due to Nvidia having better drivers; however this is choice is totally up to you.
This card is on the market for £218.22
Operating system is one of the most important parts of the PC. I went for windows 7 home premium as this was both stable and reliable.
It is on the market for around £69.99.
All of these components added up came to £882.91. I think this a good price for a relatively powerful PC like the one that we just built. If you already have an operating system, then you could further decrease the price. Overall, this is a good solid build that will easily play any of the latest games out for a long time to come. It is also leaves lots of rooms for future upgrades.
Please feel free to discuss and comment in the comment section below.