Very cheap gaming PC (£250)

About four months ago, syrocc very kindly told me how to build a very cheap gaming PC...

Syrocc said:
AMD Athlon X2 260 3.2ghz, Dual Core - 52 £
http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/prods/components/processors/amdathlonx2andx4/amd/adx260ocgmbox.html
Asrock N68C-S UCC AM3 - 33 £
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Search/Components/Motherboards/?attribute_value_string%7cProcessor+Socket=PGA941+(Socket+AM3)
Geil 2x1GB DDR3 CL7 1600mhz RAM - 33 £
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/38039/Geil-memory-2GB-Ultra-DDR3-Kit-PC3-12800-1600MHz
Seagate 250GB hard disk drive SATA II 300 7200rpm 8MB cache - 29 £
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/41442/Seagate-250GB-hard-disk-drive-SATA-II-300-7200rpm
Sapphire Radeon HD 5550 1GB DDR3 PCI-E - 57 £
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/49254/Sapphire-Radeon-HD-5550-1GB-DDR3-LP-PCI-E-2-0-VGA
Antec Basiq 350W PSU - 29 £
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/16556/Antec-PSU-Basiq-350W-ATX12V-2-01-compliant
Random low budget case of your likeing - 20 £
Total: 253 £, including VAT
This is a low-budget gaming configuration, I tried to cut your costs as much as possible. It will outperform your old computer in every way, and judging on the resolutions you mentioned, it WILL play most games out there on 1024 or 1280 resolutions with medium or high details (games like Dragon Age: Origins and the like).
[...]

(http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/309039-15-upgrade-gaming#t2311267)

I'm now thinking of actually doing it. I'm a little nervous --- I'm comfortable tinkering around inside PCs, but this is the first time I've built one from scratch. So I thought I'd check a few things with you all first...

1. Do I need a separate fan? When I searched for cheap cases I found e.g. this, which didn't seem to have a fan inside...

http://www.dabs.com/products/best-value-1003bs-mid-tower-black-500w-psu-7BDQ.html

2. Will I need to buy some sort of paste in order to attach the heatsink to the CPU, or will it be included?

3. The CPU is no longer listed, and the HDD and power supply are out of stock. I've substituted these...

http://www.dabs.com/products/asrock-n68c-s-ucc-am2--amd-geforce-7025-ddr3-matx-748H.html
http://www.dabs.com/products/seagate-250gb-barracuda-sata-600-7200rpm-8mb-7C60.html?q=Seagate%20250GB
http://www.dabs.com/products/antec-psu-basiq-power-350w-atx-12v-5J17.html

I'd be very grateful if someone could tell me if that's correct --- especially for the hard disk, since the microdirect site lists it as SATA-II, but I can't find a SATA-II equivalent on any other website.

(Alternatively, I have an external Freecom 29492 500GB Drive --- it's about four years old, but it's hardly been used. Could I cannibalise it and take the actual HDD out from inside? Or is that more headache than it's worth?)

4. Is there anything I can do to future-proof the PC slightly? (Even if it means spending another £30-£50.) Would it be worth having the CPU and motherboard specs a little higher spec. than the rest, as these are the only things that can't be upgraded?

Thank you!
Mohan
68 answers Last reply
More about cheap gaming 250
  1. That is a tight budget, but it can still be done.

    1. In that kind of computer with the given components you have, I think buying 1 cheap fan and sticking it in would not hurt since they are so cheap.

    2. That series of processors has a "Thermal Grease" already applied for you to just put the stock heatsink on

    3. I'm not the good with hard drive info, but I am almost sure that sata-II is a speed/type of connector. I do think that those will go together, however you should just post another specific topic in the hard drive section.

    4. I think that the motherboard is the most important part when planning for the future. If you get a nice motherboard that can take modern CPU's ,video cards and RAM, there will be plenty of room for you to grow into the case slowly making upgrades as necessary. With that motherboard you selected, it will not support socket am3. That is a socket which has a ton of great processors that will fit. I would suggest getting this motherboard,
    http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-m4n68t-m-le-v2--nforce-7025-630a--am3--2ddr3--onboard-dsub--pci-ex16--raid--8-chhd-sound--matx-79DP.html?refs=48750000
    so that there is room to expand.
  2. Thank you!

    Quote:
    I think buying 1 cheap fan and sticking it in would not hurt


    I don't know anything about fans... would this be a sensible choice?

    http://www.dabs.com/products/akasa-8cm-silent-blue-case-fan-4QV1.html

    (I picked it partly because it's cheap but also because it's listed as being very quiet.)

    Also, can I ask if there's anything I should particularly look out for in cases? If I just buy a very cheap one am I likely to get caught out in any way?

    Thanks again,
    Mohan
  3. You will need to pick a cheap case, find out what fan spots and sizes it has so you can go an select the fan that will fit. I don't think there are any things to watch for when buying a case, just cooling (not important with the build you are working on) and looks!

    Edit: The case you chose has a spot for that fan, so you can fit that fan on that case. In your case, the fan doesn't really matter as long as you have one. The one you chose is fine.
  4. Thank you again!
  5. If you can up your budget by £40-50 you can get a MUCH better PC which will likely play 99% of games on ultra high settings (after a RAM upgrade when you can afford it)

    Prices from www.aria.co.uk (A great site which i personally use)

    AMD Phenom II x4 955 - £86.66
    MSI GF615M-P331 - £32.99
    1 x 2GB Corsair XMS3 1333Mhz - £19.19 (Get another when you can afford it)
    XFX AMD Radeon HD5770 - £69.95
    500GB Seagate Barracuda - £28.31
    500W Cooler Master Elite PSU - £29.33
    Coolermaster Elite 342 - £24

    Total - £290.42

    More expensive than your original build but much, much better.

    P.S. I wouldn't bother salvaging that HDD because it's probably 5400 rpm.
  6. Get at least an Athlon II X3 and at least a HD 5670.
  7. Thanks for the further advice!

    Quote:
    XFX AMD Radeon HD5770 - £69.95


    Hmmm... going by the graphics card hierarchy chart, this looks a lot better than the GeForce 9600 GT in my main PC, which is a 2.8GHz Core2 Quad with 4GB RAM.

    The PC I'm going to build is only for use when friends come round and we want to play some sort of multiplayer game. And we won't be playing anything very demanding -- I've been using a Pentium 4 with a GeForce 7 card and 1GB RAM, and it's only just starting to be unable to run things (which is why I want to build a new one). The secondary PC will also only have a small monitor -- 19 inch or so. Given all that, might it make sense to put the new card into my main PC, and pass the GeForce 9600 GT down to the one I'm building? If I do that, is anything I have to look out for, such as the change in the amount of cooling required?
  8. I'm pretty sure that apart from the HD 5770 taking 2 PCI slots that theyre both equally small and cool so there shouldn't be any problems. Also yeah that would be a good upgrade for your main system, it would make it way more balanced. The 9600GT are holding back that CPU and RAM massively, the 5770 is probably roughly 3x better.
  9. You should get the 5670 or better, 5770 or something, and put it in your main computer and take the other card and put it in the secondary computer.
  10. That's fantastic. Just to check... my motherboard is a ASUS P5E Deluxe. A quick search says it has the following slots

    2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (both @ x16 mode) supports CrossFire Technology
    3 x PCIe x1 ( the PCIEx1_1 (black) is compatible with audio slot)
    2 x PCI

    And the Aria website says the XFX Radeon HD 5770 requires

    PCI Express 2.0 x16

    so I shouldn't have any problems with space, as far as I can see? (Maybe I should just double check by opening up the PC... )

    Edit: I'm a little confused as the two slots I will presumably be using are very far apart. You can see a picture here...

    http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_775/P5E_Deluxe/#specifications

    My 9600GT is plugged into one of the blue slots, and there's quite some distance between that and the next blue slot. In particular, there are two other slots in the middle...
  11. On my motherboard, I have a 2 slot gap too. I have two 2 6950's running with no problems.
  12. When i say it takes 2 slots i mean the card is just wider, it takes 2 slots of your back panel. Like most modern cards
  13. D'oh. Thanks!

    Edit: One more question, please. Before placing an order for the HD 5770, I was reading through the comments on

    http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Graphics+Cards/ATI/ATI+5770+Series/XFX+ATI+Radeon+HD+5770+1024MB+GDDR5+PCI-Express+Graphics+Card+?productId=38286

    The respondents are recommending using at least a 500W power supply. I've just opened up my case and it seems to have a 430W power supply inside... it's certainly worked absolutely fine with my 9600GT, though. (That card was installed when I got the computer.) Am I likely to have any issues?
  14. What PSU, Antec, Corsair?
  15. Antec.

    (Is there a way to actually measure power usage without extra hardware? I've tried Googling but I haven't found anything.)

    Edit:

    Just in case you need to know what's inside...

    Motherboard: ASUSTeK Computer INC. P5E Deluxe Rev 1.xx running at 333 MHz
    CPU: 2.85 gigahertz Intel Core2 Quad Q9550
    HDD: Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST31000340NS
    Sound: Small card labelled 'SUPREMEFXII'. Google suggests this is actually integrated audio shunted onto a separate card to reduce noise.
    DVD-RW drive. (Not used very often.)
  16. http://www.thermaltake.outervision.com/ build your system into this, it'll give you an idea of what your intended build needs, allow headroom of course :)

    If your near Nottingham, I can save you money on a case (Or set up an ebay sale for you if easier)
    one of these I built my Gf's rig in, http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/forum2.php?config=tomshardwareuk.inc&cat=13&post=287494&page=1&p=1&sondage=0&owntopic=1&trash=0&trash_post=0&print=0&numreponse=0&quote_only=0&new=0&nojs=0
    best pics on second page

    +points for the 5770, we run several for WoW and they're great little cards
    my Gf'rig uses http://www.scan.co.uk/products/600w-storm-storm-600w-black-edition-23db-120mm-silent-fan-black-atx12v-v20 and shes had no issues.
    **Edit** if you get fans get 120mm, 80mm's are a fair bit noisier sooner) I usually get £2-£3 quid cheapie ones and they're still good since last January
    but basically:
    x3 chip
    4Gb ram
    5770
    reasonable psu
    Cant go wrong as a budget build mate,
    Moto
  17. I'd say a 430W Antec PSU would be ok. The HD5770 is an efficient card and uses about the same power as the 9600GT.
  18. Everything looks good -- thank you both! (Motopsychojdn: thank you for the offer, but I'm nowhere near Nottingham.)

    Regarding the cooler... the one jmsellars1 originally pointed me at costs £30 for 500W, but the one Motopsychojdn links to is £20 for 600W. I don't really understand what's going on... is there any disadvantage to the cheaper one?
  19. Your Antec should be fine for a HD 5770.
  20. Sorry, the PSU will be for the new PC, which will inherit the 9600GT. The Antec is in the old PC, and I don't plan to change it. I'd like to buy all the bits at once so I pay less in shipping, hence I'm trying to pin down exactly what I should get for the new build.

    [Don't know why I wrote 'cooler'... I was looking at the '500W Cooler Master Elite PSU' and had my brain switched off, I guess.]
  21. Quote:
    do not go lower than a 5670 for your gpu


    I'm planning to buy almost exactly what jmsellars recommended above:

    jmsellars1 said:
    AMD Phenom II x4 955 - £86.66
    MSI GF615M-P331 - £32.99
    1 x 2GB Corsair XMS3 1333Mhz - £19.19 (Get another when you can afford it)
    XFX AMD Radeon HD5770 - £69.95
    500GB Seagate Barracuda - £28.31
    500W Cooler Master Elite PSU - £29.33
    Coolermaster Elite 342 - £24


    But the 5770 will go into my main PC, and the 9600GT sitting in there will go into the low-spec PC I'm building.

    The only thing I considering changing was the PSU, and then mainly because Motopsychojdn pointed me at an alternative... but I wasn't sure in what way it might be worse than the (more expensive, lower power) Cooler Master Elite...
  22. With the PSU, the cheaper one is more powerful because it is a lesser known brand which a lot of the time means that it will be made from lesser quality parts and also probably wont even produce the power it states. I'm sure everyone will back me up here in saying that you shouldnt go cheap on your PSU because cheap ones can kill other more expensive components in your computer if they go wrong and overvolt or something. Also, 500W is enough for that build anyway.
  23. I'm one who advocates the good points of branded psu's over cheaper options Jm,
    but I strongly vouch for that storm unit knowing whats its gone through in my other halfs pc :P
    She has a x3 435 unlocked to four cores, no clocking done on it and regularly plays WoW/sims/Hiemdall for extended periods, weekends are often 12+ hours sessions
    and this units never faltered,
    Caution understood on your part I'm just shouting up an underdog that deserves the credit in this case :)
    Moto
  24. Yeah i'm sure it's worth considering but personally i would stick to Corsair/XFX/Antec/Seasonic/Cooler Master/OCZ etc. It's up to you to decide then Burbly.
  25. well, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=154506&CatId=3670 decent card for the budget, little less power than the 5770 but will play your games just fine. also ddr2 ram is getting VERY cheap these days like 50$ for 4 gigs of ram, ddr3 is slightly faster.
    this MOBO is a great choice http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4965066&CatId=1572 with this cpu http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4389472&CatId=2396

    ram: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4631346&CatId=3412


    A 250$ is a VERY hard budget, a 500watt is enough, get a ultra xblaster (my case) cheap but good I love it. If you should raise it to like 100$ more I think you'll be very happy with the specs I just posted.
  26. As of 8am in the uk, £250 is about $410 so his budgets not as hard as you think :-p but it is still tight
    Moto
  27. Oh! Thank you that's helpful. But the rig items I just posted are good what he needs it for. He can get like a baracudda 500gb corsair 500+plus watt PSU. And that gpu is decent.
  28. I somehow missed the e-mail telling me about replies on this thread -- thank you all so much for all the advice! I decided in the end just to go with what jmsellars1 recommended... then I started placing the order and found that aria had rather frustratingly discontinued the 5770. I found something that seems to be equivalent, except that it takes up one slot...

    http://www.dabs.com/products/xfx-ati-radeon-5770-hd-1gb-ddr5-pci-e-hdmi-single-slot--includes-dirt2---stormrise-download--75GN.html?q=5770

    (As I said above, this one will be going into my main PC and the 9600 from there will go into the one I'm building.) As far as I can see, there shouldn't be any problem getting a single-slot version of the card, but I wanted to check with you before I bought it.

    Anyway, thank you all again;
    Mohan
  29. Reading about this suggests that the main advantage of double slot cards is extra cooling? Is that right? And I read:

    Quote:
    So this is what we have all been waiting for and believe it or not, there aren’t any of the sky high temperatures we have come to expect from single slot graphics cards. Other than a slightly higher than stock idle temperature, the XFX HD 5770 single slot edition is remarkably well behaved.

    Low temperatures mean nothing on a card like this if it reaches its goal through a screamingly loud fan and again this card impressed. It is quite literally whisper quiet. XFX claims it is quieter than the reference version and we’re inclined to believe them.

    http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/35101-xfx-radeon-hd-5770-1gb-single-slot-review-14.html



    That would be perfect for me, as I'd like my main PC to be a little quieter... but still, I'd probably best wait to to see what you all say before I do something stupid!
  30. They also carry Sapphires 5770's, dual slot jobs http://www.dabs.com/products/sapphire-technology-ati-radeon-5770-hd-850mhz-1gb-pci-express-hdmi-7GM6.html?q=sapphire%205770 Mine overclocks well with no real noise/heat issues and its well worth paying the extra imo, I'm not a fan of XfX gfx cards personally, heat used to be a real problem with them and I've not heard otherwise so I still avoid them :P
    Also, try:
    Scan.co.uk
    Pixmania.co.uk
    ebuyer.co.uk
    envizage.com
    for shopping around on,
    let us know how you get on,

    Moto
  31. Thanks, Motopsychojdn!

    I did look round about 20 Google shopping hits looking for a dual-slot XFX before I posted... unfortunately I couldn't find one anywhere. The Sapphire is significantly more expensive than the XFX (£95 rather than £75);* is it still the best card at that price range?

    *I did check the other outlets, but the free shipping makes dabs attractive when I'm just buying one thing like this. [The non-GPU bits can still come from aria.]

    Edit: I won't be overclocking, by the way. My priorities are a) not having my system crash and (less important) b) having a quiet GPU -- the PC is unfortunately already much noisier than I'd like. The single-slot XFX looked very attractive precisely because the review said it was quiet... but I don't want to take risks with stability.
  32. You can find a 5830 on Scan I think for £90ish, I'd take that over the 5770, **Edit, I lied, its Ebuyer mate,** http://www.ebuyer.com/product/269749
    but if the 5770 is the card, its Sapphire over Xfx all day everyday
    http://www.overclock.net/amd-ati/681574-xfx-sapphire-5770-a.html
    http://www.elitebastards.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1083&catid=13&Itemid=27&limitstart=11
    Sapphire is/was Ati's golden boy (As its AMD now not Ati anymore) and Xfx had their own pcb on the 5xxx series which kind of knackered things up,
    but with sapphires 5770, theres a vapor X special cooling system version as well as the normal, up to you which of the two you'd prefer
    Moto
  33. Thanks! Just to check... the 5830 will still work with my 430W supply? (I just tried using the thermaltake website you pointed me at above, and the 5830 seems to consume 44W more than a 5770, so I'm nervous... .)
  34. Should be fine as long as you dont try and flash the bios on it or overclock
    that 44w is at full load remember, which you shouldn't hit unless your using furmark or similar to stress the gpu, a decent 500w psu may be in your future, but I wouldn't say its an emergency purchase just for the 5830
    Moto
  35. Right -- I've hassled you enough. I'm going to order the 5830 and pray...

    Thank you so much for all the help!
  36. The ati 5830 suck's the 5770 is much better Burbly.
  37. Guys... I *really* appreciate the advice, but I'm in no position to know which of the two cards is better. This is a little stressful!
  38. No it's more stressful for us because were from America and the 412$ is very hard to budget. This pc will only get like 60fps or more on games.
  39. I'm not running anything that graphically demanding -- certainly no cutting-edge FPSs. Indeed, I wouldn't be upgrading if it weren't for the fact that I want to move the 9600 into the new PC. So I think £90 for a decent upgrade from the 9600 is fine.

    I actually ordered the 5830 when I posted above; I'm now not sure whether I should be cancelling it and getting the 5770 instead... the hardware chart puts them as being roughly equal, Motopsychojdn seems to prefer the 5830 and you prefer the 5770. The price difference between the two is only a few pounds, so that doesn't make a difference.

    Anyway, I do really, really appreciate the advice from you all. I've never have been able to do this without your help. It's just that I find it really hard to know what to do when I get conflicting opinions.
  40. [doh... double post]

    Edit: OK, I cancelled the order -- that gives me some more time to look into the two cards, listen to you all (if you can bear with me a little longer) and see which I should get.
  41. The 9600 is a HUGE downgrade from a 5770 get at least something like this http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5619618&SRCCODE=GOOGLEBASE&cm_mmc_o=VRqCjC7BBTkwCjCECjCE it's a good card.
  42. That card unfortunately seems to be a *lot* more expensive in the UK -- at least £40. Plus the monitor I'm going to hook up to the new PC can only handle 1280x960 (IIRC).

    So I'd rather stick the 9600 into the new PC for now, and upgrade later as and when I find I can't run something I want to... then I can get a new card for my main PC and shunt the 5770/5830 into the old one. Still, thanks for the advice! I really appreciate all the trouble you're going to.
  43. How about looking into a geforce 9800 gt or gtx I ran a 9800 gtx on a 17 inch and 15 inch seperatley. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6460821&CatId=3670 it's old bu tmuch better than that 9600 and play just fine on a monitor like that ;).
  44. Hey, sorry i havent posted on this thread for a while, i have been away. My friend has that XFX single slot 5770 and its great, not noisy or hot and great value. I would just go for that.
  45. heres a great tri-core system for £248 (with an AM3 board):

    athlon 450:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/238326
    biostar AM3 board:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/259269
    casecom mid-tower case:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/108280
    120mm front fan for case:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/63281
    Xilence 80mm rear fan:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/138590
    antec basiq 350W:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/114928
    Seagate 500gb 7200RPM HDD:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/269102
    Sony optiarc DVD drive:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/220989
    2 x 1gb ddr3 cl7 memory:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/128491
    asus radeom HD5670:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/190977

    total is £248.79, with free shipping (ebuyer have free shipping.) you could also add another 80mm side fan if you wanted, mind the PSU also has an 80mm fan too.

    for only £2 more you could add this motherboard which could unlock a fourth core on that tri-core listed above!:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/255208
  46. addison said:
    The ati 5830 suck's the 5770 is much better Burbly.


    the 5830 is a better, card in terms of performance definetely and in the UK is the same price as the 5770/6770 and anyway, driver issues have all been smoothed over too.

    tada:
    http://www.techspot.com/review/249-ati-radeon-hd-5830/page4.html

    and this is before the driver issues were fixed. but the 5830 does need 2 pci-e 6pin cables instead of just the one which the 5770 needs.
  47. So three suggestions...

    -- single slot XFX 5770
    -- double slot Sapphire 5770
    -- double slot 5830

    I think I understand the XFX/Sapphire trade-off fairly well... the XFX is quiet (which is great) but some people have had experiences with XFX cards overheating. Conversely the Sapphire definitely won't lead to overheating problems but it's noisier.

    I don't understand how the 5770 compares to the 5830... it's clear that the 5830 uses more power (and I'd really rather not start fiddling with the PSU, as I use this computer for work as well), so that could potentially be an issue... but apart from that I'm not sure what reasons there are to prefer one to the other. (Though it's clear that some of you prefer one and some the other.) I'll keep Googling and see if I can find out more about the trade-off.

    Edit: last two messages arrived while I was writing this one; just looking through them now. Thanks again for all the advice!
  48. @addison, could I ask why you think the 5830 is a bad idea?

    Thanks,
    M.
  49. Know to drain power like a train on a railway that doesn't stop.
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