Getting into PC Gaming on a Budget

Hardware


With Microsoft’s Windows 10 blurring the line between Xbox as a gaming console and Xbox as a gaming platform, many console gamers are looking to get into the PC gaming scene.

One of the largest barriers to entry has always been the high cost associated with PC gaming.  Today we’re looking at building a gaming PC to play today’s greatest titles, on a budget.  Specifically that budget will be around £400 including a complete copy of Windows 10.  We aim to have a full system, including operating system, that is capable of playing new games at 1080p at a minimum of 30 frames per second.  All components used are listed and links to Amazon are included:

Processor:  AMD A10-7850K | RRP £119.99 £101.99

amd_a10_7850kLike the current generation of consoles, this build will be based around an AMD processor, specifically their A10-7850K APU.  An APU combines both a central processing unit (CPU) with a graphics processing unit (GPU).  This allows us to build a relatively inexpenisve machine that doesn’t require a graphics card straight away, however one can be added in the future to improve the machine’s performance.

The AMD A10 is one of the best budget gaming processors around at the moment, with a four computing cores and eight R7 grade graphics cores for around £120.  Newer titles optermised for multi-core processors will perform great, with older titles taking advantage of the healthy 3.7GHz stock clock speed.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Motherborad: Gigabyte F2A78 | RRP £64.99 £39.50

gigabyte_moboThe motherboard is the heart of any computer build, so it’s always worth buying a quality branded board to ensure everything goes smoothly.  Our AMD A10 processor is a FM2+ socket, so we choose the Gigabyte F2A78 M-ATX board.  This compact board gives us room for two sticks of memory, PCI express card for a potential future graphics card upgrade and all the ports we could need including HDMI out.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Memory: HyperX FURY 8GB | RRP £60.99 £29.98

hyperx_8gb_ramThe HyperX FURY memory has two purposes in this build.  Firstly it is to load all the software you use from the computer’s hard drive into usable memory.  Secondly, as we use intergrated graphics on the processor we don’t have dedicated graphics memory, instead we will be using the system memory to store all of a game’s information and graphics.

With this in mind we went for a slightly faster 1,866MHz stick of 8GB memory.  8GB will be sufficient for most titles available now.  By using only a single stick of 8GB, rather than two sticks of 4GB, it will allow us room to expand in the future for relatively little cost.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Storage: Western Digital Blue 1TB Hard Drive | £104.99 £38.99

wd_blue_1tbNow that we have the core of our computer, we will need somewhere to install those games to.  This Western Digital Blue hard drive will give our build a massive 1TB of storage space.  That is enough for around 40 large titles such as Titanfall, or over 1,500 smaller and indie titles such as Minecraft.

While not as quick as newer SSD drives, a traditional hard drive offers much more storage space for your money.  Our motherboard does has multiple SATA connections for adding additional drives in the future, be it either SSD or another traditional hard drive.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Power: Corsair VS550 Power Supply Unit | RRP £44.99 £35.97

corsair_550Powering you system is certainly not somewhere you should skimp.  A poor power supply unit can damage you whole system.  That is why we choose the Corsair VS550, a reliable power supply that will give us enough power now and in the future should we choose to add a graphics card.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Networking: Gigabyte GC-WB867 Network Card | RRP £29.99 £28.50

gigabyte_wifi_bluetoothWhile wired networks are always better for online gaming, not everyone has access to a free ethernet port.  For many wireless is the way to go, and this excellent all-in-one wireless network card gives you the the latest 802.11ac WiFi and built in bluetooth 4.0.  An extendable aerial also allows you to get the best position and optimal signal strength without needing to move your computer.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Case: Bitfenix Phenom M-ATX Artic White | RRP £79.99 £63.50

bitfenix_case_whiteNow that you have all your components ready to assemble, you’ll need somewhere to hosue them all.  While there’s a whole range of cases available, many much cheaper than the case we are using here, we think the Bitfenix Phenom offers a great looks with a relatively small volume.

While smaller than most traditional computers, especially gaming ones, the Phenom allows you to fit a full sized graphics card without sacraficing airflow.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Operating System: Windows 10 Home | RRP £99.99 £85.29

71yVflZyOYL._SL1500_Once your new computer is built we will need an operating system to run it.  In this regards Windows 10 Home is a no-brainer.  With the largest selection of games on any platform out there, Windows 10 gives you choices between new releases, classic Windows titles, emulation for older consoles and apps from the Windows Store.  If you own a Xbox One console, you can even use Windows 10 to stream Xbox One games across your home network and play them in another room, ideal if someone wants the living room TV and you really want to squeeze in one last Halo 5: Guardians match.

On top of the vast selection of titles you also get access to Microsoft’s DirectX and AMD’s Mantle.  These pieces of software are designed to squeeze as much from your computer’s hardware as possible.  Plus if ever you weren’t in the mood for a game you have a general purpose operating system that can organise your photos, allow you to download or stream movies and do much, much more.

   Buy at Amazon.co.uk

In total our entire build comes in a little above our budget at £423.72, which considering Windows 10 Home costs 20% of the entire build is fairly reasonable.  There are ways in which you could reduce the cost if you didn’t require bluetooth a standard TP-Link 802.11n wireless adaptor can be picked up for less than £14, and you could go with a cheaper case such as the stylish Sharon CA-M MATX case for only £30.00.  With these two small alterations we have gotten the total price down to £375.72.  While it can be tempting to save a bit of money by buying a cheaper, unbranded power supply, we would heavily advise against this.  Over time cheaper power supplies can fail, potentially damaging the components they are powering.  A good power supply will last and can even be used in future builds.

On the next page we will look at the performance of such a machine when compared to the Xbox One and Xbox 360, as well as discuss potential upgrades.

A man who is equally happy saving the universe from fanatical aliens or hiding in a hole to survive the night.
Gamertag: Boozy Bond

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