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Building An Intel-Based MicroATX Gaming PC On A Budget

Picking Parts For Your Own Build

This project demonstrates several things. To begin, so long as you don’t buy too much graphics card (as in, a board that's far more powerful than the rest of the platform), an overclocked Pentium G3258 is a great value, even if it's never going to be a truly high-end processor. Cap your goal at a reasonable 4.4 GHz or so and you'll find that little effort needs to go into overclocking.

Once again, we want to emphasize that a reasonable balance between graphics card performance and the CPU should be sought.

MSI's H97M-G43 is a relatively inexpensive option for overclocking the Pentium if you don’t want to spend more money on a Z97-based board. Granted, the firmware that allows overclocking is an unofficial, leaked version, so going down this path is not without risks. And if you want to save even more money, there's always the B81-based MSI motherboard used previously in our Pentium overclocking experiment, which sells for a scant $45.

With that, the CPU, motherboard, and graphics card are a great match. Anything else?

It's certainly not going to appeal to everyone, but Deepcool's Steam Castle is at least something different. Whether you plan to mod it or not, functionality-wise, this is a good case. It sports plenty of nifty details, and we enjoyed building with it. Conversely, the externally-facing 3.5" drive bay is unnecessary and would prefer the audio jacks to be marked. We also found that the front fan slightly rumbles at low RPMs.

We wish we could say it was possible to build an identical copy of this system. However, some of the components that are readily available oversees haven't shown up yet in the U.S. Still, the ideas we're presented translate over. In every country, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 750 Ti is an efficient little card that's plenty fast, even if you're forced to pay a premium for its compact dimensions and Maxwell architecture. Intel's Pentium G3258 makes for an idea complement. And going any faster on the graphics side with such a mainstream platform just wouldn't make sense. Keep balance in mind as you build.

Deepcool's Steam Castle is a visually interesting case that offers some interesting features. You can't get the Maelstrom 120 here, though even if you could, we're not convinced you'd want to spend big on closed-loop liquid cooling for a $70 CPU anyway. Our already-published experiments show you can hit 4.4 GHz using Intel's bundled cooler with a bit of luck.

Regardless of which way you go with your own components, there's lot of fun to be had building your own entry-level PC. It doesn't always have to be all about high-end hardware.

  • Amdlova
    What i can say. Ugly. Prefer the bitfenix cage... all that cheap plastic...
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    Promoted by DeepCool. and MSI.
    Reply
  • bernie456
    Anyone in their right might is not going to spend $100 on the case in a budget build, let alone one as ugly as that one.
    Reply
  • Ben Van Deventer
    It's not ugly, it's "steampunk"
    Reply
  • TheMentalist
    AIO watercooler, $100 case, $150 SSD in a budget build? Nice joke.
    Reply
  • pierrerock
    And this is why i would not buy a G3258 if i have to get a Z97 Board. I know H81 Boards can now overclock this CPU, but there is a lot of chances that this board would not have a bios recent enough for this CPU. and since you buy a G3258, there is little chance you have another LGA 1150 CPU in your sleeve to flash the bios.

    I would get a X4 760K with a better GPU instead of a G3258 with a more expensive motherboard...
    Reply
  • Ethan Feinhaus
    The only problem I have with this is that you're trying to describe a budget system with a water cooler. When one is building a budget system, there's no reason to have a water cooler when the stock cooler would function well enough.
    Reply
  • Nestor Turizo
    Noob question: Isnt a stock, on air i5 for 200 usd aprox. a better option than a cheap processor + fancy cooler for 200+ usd?
    Reply
  • pierrerock
    14114978 said:
    Noob question: Isnt a stock, on air i5 for 200 usd aprox. a better option than a cheap processor + fancy cooler for 200+ usd?

    Yeah a I5 would totally be better, but as for gaming, it would not push a 750 TI much more than a G3258 would. But you are right to think that a water cooling is not a good idea budget-wise
    Reply
  • lp231
    Why isn't the total mentioned for this budget build? Also the price for the ram, aio cooler, optical drive are missing. I had to add those in by guessing the most acceptable price for those missing parts and total with what was price listed came out to almost $840. At that price, it's not a budget build. Budget build is suppose to be around $500 or less. $600 is consider a huge headroom.
    AIO $ 80, ODD $16 , RAM 8GB (2x4GB) $73
    Most of these budget build makes no sense when there is no strict budget cap. Next time when there is another budget build and there is something that just got to have it, but cost like $100 more, let's up the price cap and still call it a budget build!
    Reply