Budget Game PC - January 2017
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.
The Core i3 6100 from the Skylake generation is adequate to power the chosen graphics card. More and more games demand four processor cores to even run, but since the Core i3 simulates a quad-core via HyperThreading, that won't be a problem.
If you want to upgrade your graphics card in the future, we'd recommend you to spend a bit more on a Core i5. However, it doesn't fit in our budget for this PC.
Overclocking isn't an option with the CPU's locked multiplier, and Intels boxed cooler isn't noisy, so we would say an alternative cooler isn't needed. The boxed cooler also helps keeping the VRMs cool. If you still want a quieter system, you can always invest in an affordable, decent after market model like Arctic's Freezer i11.
If you are buying a new PC, at the moment we recommend 8GB RAM. That goes double for a Game PC. DDR4-2133 is sufficient for our chosen platform, faster memory does not offer better performance. 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 switch to Skylake requires a new 100-series mainboard. The MSI H110M Pro-VD is a basic model, but offers enough USB and SATA ports. On top of that, its manufacturer was willing to send us a sample, so we could verify the quality of the VRM. A nice extra: it's one of the most energy efficient Skylake board in idle we've ever tested.
If you are planning to use your system for a long time, choose the Core i5 processor and combine it with a better motherboard. The Gigabyte G1.Sniper B7 is a great choice, with better VRMs and the possibility to connect all your casefans to the mainboard. You won't get in trouble with the MSI either, because the case offers two basic fan controllers, but it's always nice to let your motherboard handle fan control.
It goes without saying on occasion you'll want to play your games in Full HD. The AMD Radeon RX 470 is an excellent choice, which will enable you to play at high settings in almost every game. The Freesync support of this GPU is a huge advantage: you can have a premium game experience without breaking the bank.
In our round-up, MSI went home with all the prizes. The RX 470 Gaming X is very silent, performs well and also comes with an attractive price.
The Kingston UV400 is a bit slower than popular SSDs like the Samsung 850 Evo, but also cheaper. You probably won't even notice the difference anyway. The low price makes us able to include a 240 GB SSD with this Value Game PC.
If you want to have more storage space, you can add an additional data disk, use the cloud or save your files on your NAS. In case you still want a SSHD, the Seagate Desktop series is the best choice.
Optical drive - None
We're finally at the point we don't think an optical drive is needed anymore. All games are available from online platforms like Steam and Origin. However, if you still want a DVD burner in your pc, the well-tested LG GH24NS95 is the best choice.
An affordable chassis that cools enough for a potentially overclocked and therefore warm PC, that's what we want. With the GX500, Antec released a well-performing and very affordable case. There's even a version with a side window, if you like viewing the inside of your pc.
This system won't consume much power, so a 450W power supply suffices. The Corsair CX450M is one of the best choices for cost-conscious buyers: the efficiency is okay and the voltages are stable. Of course, the PSU sports all the connect you need. Corsair offers a five year warranty on its CX450M: unprecedentedly long for a value power supply.
A very nice gaming desktop set for a very modest price, that is the Sharkoon Shark Zone GK15 kit. 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), Logitech's Z313 is one of the best sounding and affordable sat/sub speaker sets. Don't expect miracles, but for gaming sounds, it does its duty.
The AOC G2460VQ6 is our new favorite when it comes to budget gaming monitors. It combines a 24" Full HD panel with Freesync support between 35 and 75 Hz at a really low price point. Thanks to the variable refresh rate, the image stays smooth, even if your framerate isn't optimal from time to time. The test results are good and even without Freesync support this would be a recommendation, but now this is absolutely the best choice for a budget gamer.
You'll probably use your monitor for a longer time than the rest of your components, so spending a bit more on it is a good idea. The Iiyama G-Master Red Eagle GB2488HSU-B2 has a feature list as long as its name: better image quality, higher refresh rate, bigger Freesync range, an integrated USB 3.0 hub and a ergonomical adjustable base. On average, the response times of this monitor are better than AOCs, too.
|Processors||Intel Core i3 6100 Boxed||$117.00|
|CPU coolers||Intel Boxed Cooler||–|
|Memory modules||Crucial 8GB DDR4-2133 CL15||$61.95|
|Motherboards||MSI H110M Pro-VD||$55.99|
|Graphics cards||MSI Radeon RX 470 Gaming X 4GB||$189.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Kingston SSDNow UV400 240GB||$81.99|
|Power supplies||Corsair CX450M||–|
|Keyboards||Sharkoon Shark Zone GK15 Gaming kit (US) Black||–|
|PC speaker sets||Logitech Z313||$42.89|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$549.81|