Super Budget Build: The 240$ Gaming Rig

I just thought Id share a super-cheap build for gaming. Now before the flaming starts, I realize this is not going to run Planetside 2 at Ultra settings. This rig is meant to be a VERY cheap way to get into PC gaming.

We started off with an old build from 2006. It was this:

Asus P5N-XXX Mobo
P4 914 HT @ 3.2 Ghz
4 GB RAM @ 667 Mhz
Zotac 9800 Gt 512 Mb
400 Watt PSU

As you can see, this thing was struggling with modern games. However, I will give it this: it ran surprisingly well for what it was. Skyrim was very playable with low-medium settings. I wont list every game it could or couldnt play; the game library is much too large for that. Plus, who wants to read all that anyway?

So we have a base PC to start with. We can re-use the HDD and PSU if Im smart about it. And that we did. The end price, including an upgrade to Windows 8? Just under 250$.

Things we bought:

Biostar A780L3B Mobo: 44.99
AMD Athlon II X2 270 Regor: 54.98
4Gb Mushkin Ess. DDR3 RAM @ 1333 Mhz: 19.99
EVGA Geforce 9800 GT 1GB GPU: 59.99 (49.99 after rebate, not taken off final price tag)
DIY Mid Tower Case: 19.99
Windows 8 64 Bit Upgrade: 39.99

Things we re-used

Dynex 400 Watt PSU
Hitachi 500 Gb hard Drive
Mouse, KB, Monitor

CPU:

I chose an Athlon over the Phenom for power consumption. The Athlon is a 65w CPU while the Phenoms require 125w. Needing to shave every $$ off the final price tag we could, using the Phenom meant getting a bigger, better PSU. Saving 60 watts makes all the difference here. The high clock speed of 3.4 Ghz helps, and we have it running stably at 3.8 Ghz on the stock cooler - not heat issues as of yet.

Mobo:

Having done a budget build for myself last year, I used a Biostar A880G+ Mobo. I could not be more satisfied with its stability and function. So I went with Biostar this time around too - and my expectations were exceeded. Everything I stuffed in it was compatible and stable - not a single BSOD yet. Overclocks easily and stably. As mentioned above, I cranked the CPU up to 3.8 Ghz without issues.

RAM:

Well, its RAM. Mushkin doesnt have a bad rep, and it works as intended.

GPU:

We have one of these in the youngest kid's PC right now, so I know what it can and cant do. Its still a great card. We run all the newest titles on it with medium/high settings, AA off and Ambient Occ off. Smooth framerates across the board. The older models needed the 6 pin power connector while these do not - another wattage savings. Our games still look much better than consoles do.


Case:

It was a cheap case. Everything fits, USB ports on front, mic/speaker ports (3.5mm), flimsy metal side panel but what do you expect for 20 bucks? Cannot fit 120Mm fans - the only real drawback. You get what you pay for though, and Im not complaining. Airflow does seem good with a small fan in the side panel vent.

Windows 8:

This was forced. His old copy of Vista 32 bit failed to activate and was no longer able to do so. Cant blame them as it was an OEM copy that came on the original PC from 2006. I activated it at least 4 times in the past and cannot cry about it not activating again, on an entirely new build. It took some clever work to get the 64 Bit upgrade on a 32 bit OS, but it worked. Its probably not quite legal so Im not going to outline how to do it here.

We have this rig running Black Ops 2 at ~50 FPS on medium to high settings - we always use custom settings and usually have AA off. Skyrim was very smooth with a few things on high, others on medium, water set to reflect world only and foliage semi-low. We have yet to test this rig with other games, but so far, it is performing beyond my expectations.

As stated at the beginning, I know we didnt build a hotrod-dragonslayer gaming rig. This was a bargain basement gaming build. t will be limited by the 95W max rating of the Mobo; however, will allow for quad cores in the Athlon Family in the future. For the not so hardcore gamer, this is a great entry level build. Just thought Id share :)
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  1. lol at super budget :)
    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80623g645
    intel pentium G645 sandy bridge
    and any cheap b75 mobo 40 usd will be a great alternative :) just my 0.02

    why not re-use Zotac 9800 Gt 512 Mb? 1gb version has very little advantage, nearly negligible
  2. AMD Radeon said:
    lol at super budget :)
    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80623g645
    intel pentium G645 sandy bridge
    and any cheap b75 mobo 40 usd will be a great alternative :) just my 0.02

    why not re-use Zotac 9800 Gt 512 Mb? 1gb version has very little advantage, nearly negligible


    It was definitely not anywhere close to the performance of the 1Gb. We had both; swapped the Zotac in where the other EVGA was and the performance drop was very noticeable. Perhaps its because it was a Zotac; I dont know. It was far beyond negligable though...more like night and day. Same drivers, on an Asus P5B-SE/E8500 PC.

    I also considered the Pentium G series dual cores based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, but that drove the price well over 250$. Even 10$ mattered at Christmas with a family of 4 to buy for. The Mobos for that socket are a tad more expensive...and I hadnt found one from a trusted seller for less than or equal to that of the Athlon. (I dont just buy from anyone on Amazon) They outperform the Athlons on pretty much every level; I know. Im well familiar with Biostar and AMD at this point and like to stick with what I know too. Not to mention that I thought we'd be keeping the 32 Bit OS, where clock speed is king.

    I think I may have been able to save 5$ or so on the RAM with your Mobo/CPU suggestion, making it pretty darn close. Maybe even a batter bang/buck ratio. However, in the end, I built a pretty capable rig for 250$ and Im very happy with its performance...and more importantly, the kid is :)
  3. ^ okay your thought are all correct
    i am sorry for 1gb thing :)

    becareful about OS
    Windows 8 64 Bit Upgrade: 39.99

    upgrade? i am sure your old license (OEM?) is tied with your old mobo... i am afraid u should buy a new one
    and you dont tell us about your old case, is it reusable?
  4. AMD Radeon said:
    ^ okay your thought are all correct
    i am sorry for 1gb thing :)

    becareful about OS
    Windows 8 64 Bit Upgrade: 39.99

    upgrade? i am sure your old license (OEM?) is tied with your old mobo... i am afraid u should buy a new one
    and you dont tell us about your old case, is it reusable?



    Yes, the old case would be re-usable. However, I thought I might put a PSU in it and keep it around for media...maybe hook it up to the TV or something. Its fine for playing pre-2012 games and anything casual; plays movies great. I have the original HDD for it too so theres even an OS to go with it. I could even restore it to factory new condition (as far as HDD goes) and donate it to someone I know who is in need of a PC. Whatever I do with it, it still has a legit OS and all its parts, so I got a new case. It would make a great web browser/Bejeweled player :P

    And yes, technically the OS was tied to the mobo. However, I moved it to another PC in the past and its activated on that one too. (well, kind of - that one was upgraded to Vista Ultimate in 2009)

    Microsoft allowed it to happen, no phone call necessary. In any event, I didnt use that version to Upgrade because it wont allow you to go from a 32 bit OS to a 64 bit OS using the upgrade feature. So, I still have that OS for the original PC on the original HDD :) There are several workarounds on the internet; I used my own method.

    I think I happened across a video of someone who used that G series to build a 300$ gaming rig in the not too distant past. Its probably a better overall choice for most people, just not for me right now :P
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