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Sub £500 Gaming PC

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May 7, 2012 4:20:39 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: This summer

Budget Range: below £500-ish

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming>web surfing>word processing

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, Internet connection

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon

Country: UK

Parts Preferences: none really, would prefer AMD becaue its cheaper.

Overclocking: Maybe, depends on what I can get out of the cooling

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe, but not in the near future.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080, willing to go lower for games

Additional Comments: needs to be micro atx/mini itx as i dont have too much space.

I have made a wish list on amazon of what im thinking of getting:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/registry/wishlist/2491DOU5AX36E

I want to know if there are any better options that wont go much over £500

I dont know anything about motherboards, so ive probable picked a rubbish one.

Thanks in advance! :) 

More about : 500 gaming

May 8, 2012 2:44:54 PM

Update

Ive put together a system using an i5-2500K in a similar spec:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/registry/wishlist/3DUZSJ43AQRU7
Everywhere says that the i5 is a better processor, but overall the intel system comes out at over £100 more! :ouch: 

So ill probably stick with amd, now I want to know which amd processor is better, the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, or the FX-4100. Both are quad core and are exactly the same price, but the FX has more GHz. However ive heard that the Bulldozer processors arent as good for gaming as the Phenom IIs, which would be better?

Thanks! :) 
May 8, 2012 2:51:11 PM

mattd284 said:
UpdateIve put together a system using an i5-2500K in a similar spec:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/registry/wishlist/3DUZSJ43AQRU7
Everywhere says that the i5 is a better processor, but overall the intel system comes out at over £100 more! :ouch: 


Don't like this build at all. PSU is WEAK, case is way over-priced, GPU could be much better from a £500 build.

For a nice little gaming rig, look at something like:
i3-2120
Intel Sock 1155 B75 motherboard or similar
4-8GB RAM, depends which can squeeze into budget 1600MHz RAM.
Case that's maximum of ~£50
Graphics card - GTX 560Ti or AMD 6950 or possibly a new 7xxx series.
PSU - Branded with an 80PLUS rating. Corsair, Antec, SeaSonic or XFX recommended.
HDD: 7200RPM, 500GB (unless you really think you need bigger), SeaGate Barracuda or WD Caviar Blue

Related resources
May 8, 2012 4:42:19 PM

Is the i3-2120 really worth the ~£20 more than the AMD cpus?
This website says thet the i3 scores 4207 points, and the Phenom II X4 965 is only 6 points behind at 4201: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_lookup.php?cpu=Intel+Co...

As for the case, it is a bit pricey but it is compact, has good cooling and plenty of room, I could get a similar mid tower case for £49, but it would take up more room.

I'll go with your suggestions for the hdd and the psu though, 500gb is enough and i know nothing about PSUs.
May 9, 2012 8:22:26 AM

Have a read through this: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/fx-4100-core-i3-2100-gami...

Intel Socket 1155 is currently the strongest gaming platform in terms of price vs. performance.

A mid tower case really isn't all that big...most are going to around a very similar size. It doesn't make sense to sink so much of the budget into something that won't actually contribute very much. I know if I was on a tight budget id be looking at a £20 case, and spend the extra £50-60 on a better GPU, CPU or even an SSD.
May 9, 2012 9:35:23 AM

The AMD Phenom II is a good CPU, but it's dated now. If you're building a new system, you really want to make sure the components in it are as new as you can afford within budget, and that the system is futureproof. Basically, a gaming PC needs to have as good a GPU as possible...there are exceptions, but the majority of games are GPU-bound as opposed to CPU-bound.

On that basis, the build I'd recommend is:

CPU - Pentium G620: £45.14
Motherboard - Asus P8H61-V: £67.93
RAM - Corsair XMS3 1333MHz (2x2GB): £23.28
GPU - MSI HD7850 2GB: £198.92
PSU - XFX Pro Core Edition 550W: £47.46
Chassis - Silverstone PS04B: £29.94
HDD - Seagate 500GB: £58.20
DVD - Samsung DVD-ROM: £11.75

The total comes to £492.21, including postage, on Scan's website (I saw your preferred site is Amazon, but I'm more familiar with Scan so used them).

This build is based on a feature Custom PC ran in their magazine about 3 months ago, which had a 6850 instead of a 7850 but was more or less identical elsewhere. That system could run Skyrim smoothly maxed out at 1080p; the above is far more capable. The only real compromise is the G620 CPU, which is no i5-2500K, but it is recommended by Tom's as the best budget gaming CPU and has been for some months now. As most games require a good GPU, the 7850 will see you straight for a while to come; the advantage of this build is that you can swap out the G620 for another S1155 CPU when you can afford it, which would result in you having a very capable mid-range system.
May 9, 2012 2:27:46 PM

I did a build for you on aria.co.uk:

MoBo GIGABYTE GA-H61MA-D3V GEN3 Intel H61 (REV B3) Socket 1155 DDR3 PCI-Express Motherboard
Case ARIANET Hydra Black Midi Tower Chassis
PSU 550W OCZ ZS Series 80PLUS Bronze Power Supply
ODD Samsung SH-S222BB/BEBE DVD Writer
HDD 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 3.5" SATA III Internal Hard Drive [ST500DM002]
GPU VTX3D Radeon HD 7850 2048MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card
CPU Intel Core i3-2120 3.30GHz (Sandybridge) Socket LGA1155 Processor - Retail
RAM 8GB Mushkin Enhanced Silverline #996770 (2x4GB) 1333 (PC3-10666) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM CAS 9-9-9-24 1.5V

Total price (VAT and P&P): £494.75

the only place you might want to spend more is the case, but it seems decent enough.
I also wouldn't suggest going down the phenom II route, no doubt it's still not bad but you may as well invest in the newer tech that runs games just as good or better, it's cheaper as well.
May 9, 2012 6:33:50 PM

Thanks for your comments!

Ive took all of your suggestions into consideration, and ive put together this:

Case: Xigmatek Asgard £28.98
Mobo: ASUS P8B75-M £55.16
PSU: OCZ-ZS550W 550W £49.99
CPU: Intel i3-2120 £96.77
GPU: Asus 1GB GeForce GTX 560TI £168.98
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB £54.79
Memory: Corsair CMX8GX3M2A1333C​9 XMS3 8GB £36.14
Disk Drive: Sony 24x DVD Rewriter £12.81

Comes to a total of £503.62

I went for the i3 because I might need a more powerful cpu for games like gta iv.
Unfortunately I could not afford the Radeon HD7850, so I went down to the nvidia 560ti instead

The issue now is windows, its £65.92 for a copy, so is there any components that I can skimp on to get to more reasonable price (£530ish)?
May 10, 2012 7:40:22 AM

mattd284 said:
I went for the i3 because I might need a more powerful cpu for games like gta iv.
Unfortunately I could not afford the Radeon HD7850, so I went down to the nvidia 560ti instead


+1 recon-uk for those suggestions. I use an MSI 560Ti myself and it runs BF3 on max settings with no issues. XFX are definitely better PSU manufacturers than OCZ.

My only differing view is the CPU. Skyrim is a CPU-intensive game, and the G620 didn't hinder it running on max settings...now, not all games are made equal, but that suggests that it wouldn't limit your gaming as long as you had a good GPU (which you do). However, there's also the Pentium G850...it's a bit pricier than the G620 but 50% cheaper than the i3-2100; comparisons have the two performing at broadly equivalent levels for gaming. The only real advantage the i3 has over the Pentium is hyper-threading, which makes diddly-squat difference in gaming anyway.

mattd284 said:
The issue now is windows, its £65.92 for a copy, so is there any components that I can skimp on to get to more reasonable price (£530ish)?


Going with recon-uk's PSU and GPU suggestions, and the G850:

Case: Xigmatek Asgard £28.98
Mobo: ASUS P8B75-M £55.16
PSU: XFX Pro Core 550W £47.46
CPU: Intel Pentium G850 £62.22
GPU: MSI 1GB GeForce GTX 560TI £154.98
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB £54.79
Memory: Corsair CMX8GX3M2A1333C​9 XMS3 8GB £36.14
Disk Drive: Sony 24x DVD Rewriter £12.81

Total: £452.54

This would increase to £518.46 when you include Windows 7.

I know that when building a system it can be hard to go for what seems to be a lesser part, but IMHO there's no substantial difference between the G850 and the i3-2100 / 2120 for gaming, especially when you have a 560Ti in the mix. Also bear in mind that you could easily swap it out for an i5 CPU a year or so down the line, so you've got a decent future-proofed rig there.
May 10, 2012 4:08:16 PM

hmm, im not too keen on the pentium processor, as id like to have a better processor so i can play a broader range of games.

Ive found an i3 2120 for £88.74:
http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Processors+-+...

And ive downgraded the motherboard to an Asus P8H61-M LE:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/P8H61-M-Rev-3-0-Intel-Motherboa...

Ive also found a GTX 560 ti at a very attractive price:
http://www.aria.co.uk/SuperSpecials/Other+products/ARIA...
just £143.99, is this too good to be true? according to the reviews its because its an unbranded product, but an I better off with the MSI one?

Unfortunatly the XFX psu is apparently a preorder item, but if it becomes avalibe when I buy everything ill include it.
So in total im now at £464.22+£65.92=£530.14
May 10, 2012 4:33:46 PM

mattd284 said:
hmm, im not too keen on the pentium processor, as id like to have a better processor so i can play a broader range of games.


Before you commit, have a look at some comparisons specifically for gaming performance...there's very little in it. Both are Sandybridge and dual-core. The vast majority of games don't take advantage of hyper-threading, so it comes down to the GHz difference, which is small. However, that being said, the last thing you want is buyer's remorse! And you're talking not a huge difference in the bottom line price with that GPU you've found.

mattd284 said:
And ive downgraded the motherboard to an Asus P8H61-M LE:[\quotemsg]

I've got that one in my HTPC...it's a good motherboard.

2595305,12,1159703 said:
Ive also found a GTX 560 ti at a very attractive price:
http://www.aria.co.uk/SuperSpecials/Other+products/ARIA...
just £143.99, is this too good to be true? according to the reviews its because its an unbranded product, but an I better off with the MSI one?
said:


Well, it'll be an Nvidia card and the 560Ti is a solid performer. The MSI one is one of the best iterations of the 560Ti, but it comes with a 3 year warranty so you should be OK. I'm a little concerned at what it says about being overclocked...that's well and good, but a lot of the GPU vendors put custom cooling on it to support the increased OC temps. Unless you can find a review of it, I'd be slightly cautious...assume it performs at the same level as the reference card to be on the safe side, and you can always use Afterburner to remove the OC if necessary. Sorry to flog a dead horse :D  but if you're going to cut back on something for a gaming rig, it should really be the CPU before the GPU. :) 
May 10, 2012 7:05:24 PM

Can the Pentium G850 be easily overclocked if I buy a better processor cooler? That would probably swing it for me. Also, how would the amd phenom II x4 965 compare to the pentium? Because I can get a cheaper equivilant motherboard for it to bring it to a similar price.
Ill probably go with the MSI gpu though, as I would be worried about the cooling on the cheaper one.
May 11, 2012 8:06:57 AM

mattd284 said:
Can the Pentium G850 be easily overclocked if I buy a better processor cooler? That would probably swing it for me.


Neither the G850 or the i3 CPUs can be overclocked. The X4 965 can be, however (assuming you buy the Black Edition, or BE).

mattd284 said:
Also, how would the amd phenom II x4 965 compare to the pentium? Because I can get a cheaper equivilant motherboard for it to bring it to a similar price.


Tricky one! The Pentium has Sandybridge architecture, which is very good. However the AMD CPU is faster and quad-core. For multi-threaded apps and where games support more than two cores, the AMD CPU will be better (this may also be the case when comparing AMD to the i3 CPUs, if the game doesn't support hyper-threading (which is unlikely)). The AMD CPU is also one tier higher on the gaming CPU hierarchy Tom's has. However, against this, the Pentium is a more efficient processor and is based on newer technology. If you bought the X4, you'd effectively have no upgrade path; a Pentium / i3-based system has a good upgrade path and is far more future-proof. I don't want to put words in people's mouths, but I think I speak for the majority when I say that it wouldn't be a good move to grab the AMD CPU...it would be better to wait a month or so and grab a quad-core Intel part.

mattd284 said:
Ill probably go with the MSI gpu though, as I would be worried about the cooling on the cheaper one.


Probably a good move...MSI are a reputable manufacturer, so you can take confidence in that.
May 29, 2012 6:09:36 PM

Sorry i havent posted in a while, ive been doing exams :( 

Using an online calculator I found that I will be using 362w. So presumably I could get this 450w PSU for £30.54 and still have room for some mild overclocking:
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/450w-psu-antec-basiq-vp4...

Ive also been thinking about motherboards.
This:
http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8Z6...
It has Lucidlogix virtu, which uses both intergrated and discrete gpus. If I bought this and a cheaper graphics card, say a HD 6850, would it offer similar performance to a single gtx 560 ti?
May 29, 2012 6:19:55 PM

450W would be fine, although you're unlikely to use 300W.

I don't believe the 2 would run concurrently you get one or the other based on what application you are using.
May 29, 2012 6:33:55 PM

mattd284 said:
Sorry i havent posted in a while, ive been doing exams :( 


No probs...hope they went well. :) 

mattd284 said:
Using an online calculator I found that I will be using 362w. So presumably I could get this 450w PSU for £30.54 and still have room for some mild overclocking:


Nope...unless you've changed CPUs on us, neither the Pentiums or the i3 can be overclocked.

mattd284 said:

It has Lucidlogix virtu, which uses both intergrated and discrete gpus. If I bought this and a cheaper graphics card, say a HD 6850, would it offer similar performance to a single gtx 560 ti?


As the above poster said, these can't be combined.
May 29, 2012 7:00:16 PM

diellur said:

Nope...unless you've changed CPUs on us, neither the Pentiums or the i3 can be overclocked.

I mean overclocking the gpu.

Shame about the dual gpu thing, without that this is what im looking at:

CPU: Intel i3 2120 - £87.54
Mobo: Asus P8H61-M PRO - £54.99
GPU: Asus 1GB GeForce GTX 560TI - £167.99 (unfortunatly the msi one was discontinued by scan and i cant find anywhere else that sells it)
Case: Xigmatek Asgard - £28.98
RAM: Corsair CMX8GX3M2A1333C​9 XMS3 8GB - £36.14
Disk Drive: Sony 24x DVD Rewriter - £12.81
PSU: 450W Antec VP 450P-GB - £30.54
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB - £54.79
+ Windows 7 Home Premium OEM - £67.35

Total: £541.13
Still a bit pricey, but hopefully once nvidia release the gtx 650/660 ti the price of the gpu will go down, if not i might be inclined to buy the pentium G850 to get the price down.
May 29, 2012 7:15:04 PM

Solid build...I'd recommend that with the CPU. If you can stretch to it, get the 7850 or equivalent 6xx series Nvidia when it comes out. Other than that, you look good to go. :) 
June 8, 2012 4:25:12 PM

Found this Asus P8B75-M LE motherboard on scan for less than the Asus P8H61-M PRO. Presumably the B75 will be better for me as it has an ivy bridge chipset which will be more futureproof:
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-p8b75-m-le-intel-b7...(x16)-d-sub-dvi-hdmi-micro-atx

Ive also found 8gb of ram for £32:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Komputerbay-1600Mhz-Desktop-hea...
It is less than the corsair ram and has 1600mhz compared to 1333mhz so it looks like it will be faster.

Hopefully these prices will stay until I buy everything hopefully later this month.
June 15, 2012 8:00:01 PM

Ok, I have a few more questions before I buy everything in a few weeks.

Apparently that cheam ram has problems with the 1600mhz thing, so ive found simillar specced memory by crucial for £2 more:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006YG94Y2/ref=s9_si...
Obviously crucial is a better manufacturer, but are there any other options I should be thinking about?

Ive also found another MSI gtx 560 ti for £161.99, a few quid less than the asus one:
http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Graphics+Card...
Is the asus worth the extra £5?

Ive also found a XFX HD 6950 for £160.43 on scan:
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/2gb-xfx-hd-6950-dd-coole...(x16)-5200mhz-gddr5-gpu-830mhz-1408-cores-eyefinity-hdmi-2x-mini-d
How does this compare to the two gtx 560 ti?
June 21, 2012 6:51:43 PM

hmm, althougn that is an extremely attractive price, I would be worried about the cooling with it only having 1 fan, and there are no other cards that come close to that price, which makes me sceptical of the quality.

After looking at a load of system requirements for games, ive decided that 4gb and 1600mhz should be enough for the time being, is this suitable?
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corsair-CMX4GX3M2A1600C9-XMS3-S...

That should get the price down a bit.
June 21, 2012 7:28:26 PM

There would be nothing wrong with the cooling, it may be a louder because it's not a larger radial fan but it will do the job fine. Price wise I know it seems too good to be true but Zotac is a great brand so again there's no problem there.

Yeah 4GB is still enough for today's games but you save so little going for 4GB from 8GB it seems foolish to me.
June 26, 2012 8:01:09 PM

Thinking about cases, a smaller micro atx case would be ideal for me as there is not a lot of space under my desk, and im using a micro atx motherboard so there is no need for the bigger size. There are two micro atx cases I am looking at:

Fractal Design Core 1000:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fractal-Design-Core-Series-Micr...

Xigmatek Asgard Micro:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Xigmatek-CCC-MN24TS-U01-Asgard-...

The fractal design case has good reviews (although I cant find a single review for the other one) looks a little better to my eye and has some nice features. However the positioning of the front buttons and jacks means that I would have to put it on the outside of my desk with the side vent blocked. Also it does not have room for a cpu backplate (which could be useful if I want to upgrade to an i5 someday), it has poor cable management and it a little more expensive.

The Xigmatek has normal front buttons and jacks so I would not have to block the side vent. It also has space for a cpu backplate and better cable management and it is cheaper. But it has no reviews which worries me and it does not look quite as good.

What do you guys think?

(ps. i could be buying this week at the earliest)
June 27, 2012 8:41:13 AM

They're both budget cases, so your options are limited. If you can afford it, I'd go for a decent chassis with good cable routing and airflow...there are some good micro ATX cases around the £70 mark.

Don't limit yourself to a micro ATX case just because you're using a micro ATX board. A decent chassis will out last your system, and you don't know what your next build will be...
June 28, 2012 9:29:30 AM

Ok, im prepared to pay a little more for a very futureproof case, so ive selected this Antec One:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Antec-One-Midi-Tower-Case/dp/B0...
It isnt much bigger than the micro atx cases but ist is full atx, has good cable management and good cooling with 2 incuded case fans.

Im looking to buy pretty soon but the antec 450w psu for some reason is displayed as a pre order item on scan and I cant find it anywhare else for the same price (£30 + £5 postage. Will this powercool psu be good enough:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Powercool-450W-Dual-V2-2-Effici...
It is cheaper and with the same power and 80+. Should I go for that or wait for the antec one?
June 28, 2012 3:04:49 PM

I'd personally wait and go with Antec...they're a known brand. I've not heard of Powercool, but see what others say on that.

The case looks good...
!