Build Your Own Gaming PC for Under $800

A Recommended List of Parts for Building a Low Cost Gaming PC

Rosewill R536-Red
Rosewill R536-Red. ©Rosewill
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Introduction

Many people do not realize how easy it is to put together a computer system from parts. In fact, many systems that users build can outperform purchased desktop computer systems. The biggest challenge of putting together a computer system is typically finding what parts to buy. That is where this guide comes in.

There is a huge variety of gaming available on the PC that is not found in console systems.

But there are specific hardware requirements in order to play 3D games on a PC. Usually the media only reviews the top of the line gear, making it hard to find a good low cost gaming rig. This guide is designed to try and build a system that is dedicated to gaming that won't break the bank. It may not be the flashiest system around, but it does play games very well. It also only covers the core computer system without a monitor. The current build ranges from around $750 for the parts.

Many of the parts on this list are sold as OEM products. They are the same items that would come in a retail package but have less material as they are sold in bulk typically to builders. They should carry the same warranties and protections as retail box products. Remember that this is just a guide of recommended products. There are many alternative components available that will perform just as well.

The Budget Gaming PC Components

  • Case - Rosewill R536-Red
    A low cost steel mid-tower desktop computer case that comes equipped with a 500W rated power supply. The red accents give it a bit of character over a traditional all black design.
  • Motherboard - ASRock Z170M Pro4S
    The Z170 motherboard chipset offers the greatest level of features and performance including overclocking. This is a smaller mATX board but ti does feature things such as M.2 SSD support.
  • Processor - Intel Pentium G4500
    While this dual core processor uses the Pentium name, it uses the same Skylake core as the latest Intel Core i 6000 series processors. It offers a good level of performance plus support for many new technologies.
  • Memory - Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB PC4-19200 DDR4 Kit
    DDR4 is slowly starting to replace the venerable DDR3. It offers faster overall performance with lower power consumption. 8GB should offer a smoth overall computing experience.
  • Video Card - eVGA GeForce GTX 960 4GB SSC Gaming
    While there are newer cards that offer somewhat better performance, finding them for under $200 even though that is their list price is quite difficult. The GeForce GTX 960 is still a great card that provides solid gaming performance with very high detail levels on displays up to 1920x1080. It does this while using very little energy and producing very low noise levels. The eVGA brand also has the nice perk of its Step-Up program in case you want a better card within 90 days of purchase.
  • Hard Drive - Seagate 3TB SATA
    Seagate has been making hard drives for a very long time and their latest drives offer some solid performance and good capacity without being extremely expensive.
  • SSD - Samsung 750 250GB SSD (Optional)
    Now this is entirely optional as it will add another $70 to $100 to the cost of the system but solid state drives offer a dramatic improvement in the performance. Now, 250GB is a bit small for the root partition especially if you plan on putting a lot of games on the main drive for the performance boost but the drive can also be used as a Smart Response Technology cache for the primary hard drive which also can boost performance without the space constraints.
  • DVD - ASUS DRW-24B1ST SATA (optional)
    This low cost DVD burner supports all of the current DVD media standards and has 24x speeds for DVD+/-R media. It is no longer required though as Microsoft offers Windows installers on USB drives.
  • Keyboard and Mouse - Logitech MK120 USB Keyboard and Mouse
    This keyboard and mouse combo is very inexpensive but provides a good overall feel.
  • Operating System - Windows 10 Home 64-bit (USB)
    Windows latest operating system fixes many of the errors of Windows 8 and now is avaiable on a USB flash drive for easy installing without an optical drive most people don't need now.

    What Else is Needed

    This list of components will make up the heart of the computer system, but it still needs a few parts. There are no speakers for the system which is probably something that most people playing games would want. There are some monitors that have them built in but if you plan on also communicating while in the games, a nice headset is probably a good option. A good monitor that mixes screen size and resolution while being affordable is key. Check out my selection of the Best 24-Inch LCD Monitors for a good balance of size and price.

    Putting it All Together

    Of course, once you have all the parts, the computer system will have to be assembled and installed. Tutorials on the various steps required to install the parts together into the computer system can be found in one of two ways. There are a number of step-by-step Tutorials for putting together the components. For those with access to a Kindle e-reader or application, you can also pick up a copy of Build Your Own Desktop PC which offers detailed images and descriptions.