Budget Game PC - July 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.
Intel started supporting HyperThreading with its Kaby Lake Pentium models, which make this friendly priced Pentium G4600 comparable with a Skylake Core i3. Software will recognize it as a quad-core, so games that don't want to start on a dual-core won't be a problem. The G4560 offers even better value, but is out of stock right now. If the G4600 sells out too, you can opt for the G4620.
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. We choose an affordable stick with a 2400 MHz clock speed. Do consult our price comparison engine: as long as you look at the bigger brands, it matters little which memory you buy if price is the main concern.
MSI delivers affordable and very power efficient motherboards in its Pro series for quite some time now. The B250M Pro-VD is remarkably complete. For storage, you can use six SATA600 ports as well as an M.2 slot, and this board also offers six USB 3.0 ports. Four of them are available through the back panel. Display connections are limited to VGA and DVI, but since we'll be using a discrete graphics card, that doesn't matter.
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 ASRock Fatal1ty B250 Gaming K4 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. Due to the mining craze, you can't buy a Radeon RX 570 or RX 580 anywhere. The GeForce GTX 1060 suffers from bad availability too, causing the prices to rise. In the end, you get less performance for your money compared to a few months ago, but that's something we have to deal with.
We choose for the MSI GeForce GTX 1060 3GB Aero ITX OC - that card is meant for compact systems, but is one of the few options with stock at somewhat regular price levels. Despite its small size, the cooler doesn't get loud.
The 3 Gigs of video memory are a bit on the low side, but especially the 6GB version is good at mining and considerably more expensive as a result. However, we would still suggest to consider investing about 100 bucks more in a GTX 1060 6GB, since the bigger memory makes it much more future-proof. The prices force us to opt for the 3GB version instead, which could require some adjustments to the quality settings to stay within the VRAM limits.
The prices of SSDs have been rising for some time, but Crucial still offers its MX300 for a relatively nice price. It performs well and the three years of warranty are quite nice, too.
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 Firecuda series is a good 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 LG GH24NSD1 is a good 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 combination of an AMD graphics card and an affordable Freesync monitor is ideal for a budget gaming system, but as we've said above, that's unfortunately not possible as the moment. It has one upside: we can save some money on the monitor.
Iiyama offers a Full HD monitor with a great value. The GE2288HS-B1 has good test results (being a TN panel) and if you ever upgrade to an AMD graphics card, you can use its Freesync functionality too, although it has a rather limited range of 48-75 Hz. For now, you can't use that with a Nvidia card.
|Processors||Intel Pentium G4600 Boxed||$80.89|
|CPU coolers||Intel Boxed Cooler||–|
|Memory modules||Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8GB DDR4-2400 CL16||$86.99|
|Motherboards||MSI B250M Pro-VD||$52.99|
|Graphics cards||MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Aero ITX OC 3GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial MX300 275GB||$103.99|
|Power supplies||Corsair CX450M||–|
|Keyboards||Sharkoon Shark Zone GK15 Gaming kit (US) Black||–|
|PC speaker sets||Logitech Z313||$49.99|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$374.85|