Spring of 2012
There comes a time in a man’s life when he must build his own Desktop Computer System. So you can imagine the joy when my friend asked me to help him build his own Gaming PC! Technically he asked me to build one for him, but I just bought the parts and forced him to put them together. The challenge, 400$ budget.
Granted, building an average PC is possible in today’s spoiled American nonsense of Chinese iPads and fancy computers leaves us with a surplus of parts that makes this very possible. Heck, 10 Years ago, if you tried building a gaming PC for 400$, you would get laughed at. I know I did. So my friend, who is short on cash, but has a huge desire to game, trusts me to buy the parts.
How the heck can a 400$ PC be good at gaming? By cheating of course!
Let’s start with the Case. Thanks to his dad, we’ve obtained a case with a built in SATA DVD drive that still works and is perfect for our job! $0 (Sponsored by Smart Hauling)
You can find your own empty PC case in the trash, recycle center, old friend’s PC, pretty much anything that looks like a box. But aftermarket cases work best on a budget and are less time consuming to modify if needed.
Next, I decided to go with an AMD system. Now I may work at Intel and our products are the BEST!(no, seriously they are.), but they cost a lot! I know that some gamers prefer AMD system when they want the best performance for their dollar. So a triple-core AM3 Athlon AMD CPU had to do this job. Ebay provided me one for 70$ with free shipping and no tax. This saved me 20$ compared to buying the same thing on Newegg. Also an easy way to avoid CA taxes when buying online.
Total Spent $70
Now we need the motherboard. ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
AMD Motherboard. http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?model=970%20extreme3 For those of you who don’t know what it means, here’s what it means. It can take 32GB or ram! AM3+ CPU up to 8 cores and SATA 6GB HD speed! I spent a little more than I needed on the Motherboard, becuase having the ability to upgrade in the future is a must. Plus this board can unlock cores for the CPU and supports ATU Crossfire (2 video cards), very worth it. Add $85
Total Spent $155
Woot, Let’s power this bad boy in! 500W power supply 40$ free shipping. Now most people would yell at me and go all like, “Dude, don’t skimp on the PSU, you need more power if it’s a gaming rig and uses multiple monitors! Besides you can get a 750watts for the same price!” Maybe, and maybe it’ll blow up in my face if I try to power up something that high! The reason I went with low power was quality over quantity, this is a known name brand, RAIDMAX PSU, sure it’s just fine That and remember, budget, 500W is just enough to power a gaming rig, I shall hope and pray that it is. Plus he’ll only be using one monitor. I will let you know if this plan backfires on me. (update, nope PSU works just fine) Keep in mind I did my research on the video card requirements and it only needs a minimum of 400watts, so since the CPU needs 95 watts, we barely made the mark(I think), Woo!
Total Spent $195
Video card. Now this is the true heart of the system. Nvidia 550 GTX Gamer Series(refurbished) I shall let the pictures and name speak for itself in all it’s awesome glory.
I could have gone with an ATI Video card and squeezed a bit more performance out of it, and even given him the option to Crossfire, but ever since the Rage series went out, I’ve had much trouble with ATI and their drivers on Windows and Linux. Plus I know very well that this specific card is a decent performer for the price and will not have heating issues. (This was before the 600 series cards came out.)
Total Spent $305
And this is it for the Internet shopping, Now let’s get ghetto! I sold him some Ram from my dad’s PC, 4GB DDR3 20$, 10$ off of newegg price.
I also sold him a 500GB Hard drive, 40$. Yay! We now have all the pieces of our puzzle, let’s put it together!
Total 365$ The rest of the 35$ for me. (This is actually “buffer” space, just so we are sure not to go over budget and maybe buy extra parts like a card reader, extra needed cables, mouse, or keyboard? Who knows what extra stuff you may need. (note, I also threw him a mouse, DVI cable, and a drive to his house helping him set it up.
Now. let’s see if it can game.
So as a total on how much we spent is here, links included.
It just goes to show, with a little ingenuity (throw in proper spelling) and some good friends. You can build an awesome gaming rig that is worth twice than what you’d buy at the store.
Some notes, Some people recommended me to buy a motherboard / CPU combo deal, but that meant I would have had to compromise for either a shoddy MOBO or a slow CPU, that was a no no, but you can save even more money there especially if you wait for a good sale that has exactly what you’re looking for. We also could have just bought a 300$ system with a Case and DVD drive and added a 100$ video card, but really? What’s the fun in that? As some of my customers have learned the hard way, when you buy a cheap pc, that means cheap parts are inside of it. Keep in mind I had the option of a Dual-core Pentium and would’ve still stayed within budget, but those are some of the options that we have, just so you know. Dual-core Intel or Quad-core AMD. Tough choices where made.
Even though our PC is not of the best gaming standards, we went with quality parts, except for the CPU, haha take that AMD! Although thanks for being so cheap. (Seriously Quad-core $70?) We good used Gaming ram, good Western Digital Blue hard drive, good PSU, great mobo and great video card. Allowing us to further expand on this machine as needed and even though some might say it’s still a budget gaming machine, I say, take that rich boys!
Links to parts I bought Online.
From some guy at work. Western Digital 500GB Blue 5400 RPM Drive, semi-new.
2 sticks of 2GB DDR3 1600? Patriot Gamer Series Ram. Barely used.
Last notes. I do hope in ten years or so my friend plans to upgrade, we would most likely upgrade to something like an 8 core, 32gb ram and watercool that bad boy.