How to build a Budget Gaming PC For under £500 2018
From the outset, the world of PC gaming can seem impenetrable and downright nonsensical. It’s a world where bigger numbers and newer models don’t necessarily mean better performance, filled with more acronyms than anyone should be immediately comfortable with. That said, it’s actually not all that complicated, and thanks to the wealth of resources and knowledge now available, it’s more accessible and more accommodating today than ever before.
As a foreword: PC gaming is, broadly speaking, the platform which provides the best experience for gaming on a technical level. To be frank, its modular nature provides a consistent rate of rapidly progressing horsepower that consoles and their mid-generation iterations cannot expect to contend with. However, PC gaming’s breadth is also its biggest weakness, and whilst it is a world of unparalleled quality, it does present some caveats that should be fully understood before making such a costly investment (even a budget PC will set you back quite a bit more than the latest console).
Be it Windows, Linux (or iOS, you poor souls out there), operating systems on PC are not explicitly optimised for a gaming experience in the same way the PS4’s Orbis OS is, for instance - and that presents the caveat of a thousands little things waiting to go wrong. Background activities, security software - even Windows itself - all have a propensity to throw a strop and go terribly wrong from time to time. These issues can often be fixed with a bit of elbow grease (googling), but the point is, PC gaming is more than a financial investment. You will likely be dealing with software - and less frequently, hardware - issues that hardly make for a streamlined experience.
Finally, not all games are made equal. Sometimes on PC, that game you’ve been waiting months for is optimised like a dumpster fire, and may even inexplicably run better on worse setups than a high-end PC.
Still with us? Lovely. The stark reality of PC gaming is that a premium experience comes at a premium. That said, if you’re looking to keep it under £500 - and believe me, this is as ‘budget’ as gaming PCs go - I’ve assembled a build that should satisfy all your needs.
CPU: AMD - Ryzen 3 2200G 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor (£77.99 @ Aria PC)
AMD’s new Ryzen series CPUs are geared for high performance at a low cost. Whilst Intel may still be the most widely popular manufacturer for gaming PCs, there’s no beating AMD when it comes to price:power ratio on a budget.
Motherboard: ASRock - A320M-DGS Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard (£47.94 @ More Computers)
Simply put, this will house all of your components with a little extra room for RAM upgrades.
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory (£60.17 @ Amazon UK)
8GB of RAM is a basic necessity to run the majority of AAA games these days, and this will do the job.
Storage: Seagate - Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£50.39 @ Aria PC)
With newer games like Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition eating up a minimum of 100GB on your drive, believe me when I say that a terabyte is no longer unfathomably large. You’ll want a 2TB drive like this one at the very least.
Video Card: MSI - GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Video Card (£144.11 @ Amazon UK)
The 1050Ti is a fantastic card if you’re after a solid 1080p experience. For well-optimised games, you’ll be looking at a rock solid 60fps for the vast majority of titles at high settings, with some competitive games - such as Fortnite, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Rainbow Six Siege pushing into >100FPS territory.
Case: Thermaltake - Versa H21 ATX Mid Tower Case (£30.51 @ Amazon UK)
I know how badly you want a hulking, flashing, LED aquarium of a monster under your desk to validate your purchase, but believe me when I say it will get old real fast.
Power Supply: Corsair - CXM (2015) 450W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply (£49.99 @ Corsair UK)
PCs are mighty efficient when it comes to power these days, so 450W should suit you just fine.
All in all, this comes to £461.10 - and for that price you get an excellent introduction to the rich world of PC gaming.
Willing to throw a little more at it?
There are a handful of slightly pricier additions that I would strongly recommend if you’re willing to cough up the extra cash:
Storage: Samsung - 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5" Solid State Drive (£84.99 @ Amazon UK)
An SSD is basically a lightning-fast hard drive. If you make this your main drive with Windows and so forth on it, you’ll find everything from games to file transfers to overall use will experience a much-needed acceleration boost.
Memory: Patriot - Viper 4 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory (£154.99 @ Amazon UK)
8GB of RAM is fine, but in resource-intensive games with a lot going on - think Grand Theft Auto V, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS or Battlefield 1 - the extra RAM helps prevent the PC from collapsing under the chaos of your exploits. We’re also fast approaching a point where 16GB is the new norm.
If you’re looking to get into PC gaming on a budget, now is the time! With Nvidia’s new generation of GPUs still a ‘long way off’, the above build is certain to provide many years of high-speed 1080p gaming at 60fps, all at a modest pricetag.