Login | Signup

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

Author:
NeoTrix
Category:
Features
Tags:
Buyer's Guide, PC, PC games, PC gaming, PC Hardware

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

PC gaming doesn't have to be expensive, as long as you know what you are looking for. For those that aren't tech savvy, the endless combinations of components can be quite daunting. Trying to figure out which components will work with which, as well as making sure the end result will give you a decent gaming experience can prove a little too much for some.

Which is why I have put together a list of compatible components together for you, that will tackle some of the latest games at 45/60 frames per second at 1080p! Even on some of the most demanding games available today on their higher settings. There are lots of combinations I could use for this, although on this occasion I have chosen to go with a PC based around an AMD FX6300 CPU, it’s well equipped for gaming and comes in at a very affordable price point.

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

I have designed this particular PC to be fast and have enough storage to keep hold of all of those lovely Steam deals you’ll want to snap up! The SSD drive can be used as a boot device to hold your chosen operating system, as well as a select few programs. You can direct game installs to the hefty 2TB HDD by altering your settings in Steam, Origin and Uplay etc...

As you will see below, there is a complete list of everything you will need to start building. There are various components that can be chopped and changed to suit your needs, this list is just an example of what can be done at a lower price point. Everything I have listed currently has free delivery too, which is always a bonus!

Parts list:

Total Price: £537.39 Delivered
Prices are correct as of 8am 19 March 2015

As far as PC cases go the Zalman z3 seems a great choice at this price point, offering great cooling options as well as some neat places to tuck those cables away. When it comes to case aesthetics, everyone will have a different opinion on what looks good or bad. Most Mid ATX cases will be just fine, so if you’re not keen on Zalman z3 plus, you can always have a browse to see what takes your fancy.

When it comes to graphics cards, the GTX 960 couples well with the FX 6300 and will deliver a smooth gaming experience even when using the higher settings on some of the demanding games available today. The Twin FrozrV cooler is up there with the best of them, it comes with it's own Gaming App software that allows you to easily take control of overclocking modes, fan speeds and even colour temperature presets. All in all, MSI have added a lot of really cool features that don't require a masters in computer science to figure out! The 8GB of RAM is the sweet spot for PC gaming, offering great performance for a very long time indeed.

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

Optional items:

You may want to add a third party CPU cooler, although unless you are planning to overclock the CPU the stock cooler should be just fine. I always say "Stock coolers for stock speeds" Although it is always nice to get those temperatures down as low as possible.

Do you need a optical drive? Some people feel that they are no longer needed due to the vast amount of games and software available to download. I have however included one in the list, as many still have a use for them. It's just my luck that the internet would go down when I need to install those LAN drivers! If you really feel that you won't require one, you can drop £12.99 from the total!

Operating systems:

When choosing an operating system, it's important to get something you are comfortable with. Most would likely go down the Windows route, although this does add more cost to your build. There are free operating systems available that you may want to try first, who knows?, you may like it! The most popular free alternative is Linux, which is an open source system that offers a lot of potential for many users. Linux has great driver support as well as security from the get go. The community support for Linux is brilliant, there are forums full of helpful people all offering tips and advice. Also free is fairly cheap, right?

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

Monitors

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

If you are planning on gaming via your TV, great news! You can hook up your new PC to your television via an HDMI cable. For the best experience, i would look for a monitor that has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 and that runs at 60hz. Although 120hz/144hz monitors are available they are aimed towards PCs that can output a matching frame rate. In this case, we're aiming for around 60fps so 60hz is just dandy. The HannsG HS221HPB 21.5" LED IPS Monitor is £94.98 delivered from Ebuyer would be a nice place to start from.

Personally i like gaming on a monitor that is at least 23", although everyone will have different needs and wants regarding this. If you prefer to play on your TV, it's worth noting that you can indeed use an Xbox 360 controller in any of the USB ports on your PC and sit back and play from the comfort of your sofa. There are lots of games which support controller use.

Keyboards and Mice:

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

When it comes to keyboards and mice, it can be difficult to determine what is "Best" The packaging says "Gaming" so it must be better for gaming, right? Not always! Most keyboards are just fine for gaming, although i would consider trying some out at your local computer shop to see what suits you and the way you type and move around. Don't get me wrong, there are some great keyboards out there that come equipped with extra buttons for assigning commands to, back light profiles and even some that pick up RSS feeds!

PC Gaming on a Budget: How to build a capable gaming rig for under £540

With mice, it's another one of those subjective things, there are  different ways to hold a mouse so getting a comfortable shape might just help you out a little. Thankfully there are lots to choose from, and you don't need to spend a fortune to find something suitable. Take a look at the Redragon Centrophorus bundle, which nets you a mouse and keyboard for £19.97 delivered from Amazon.

Putting it all together

Now you have all of your parts you will want to start building, and if you have never done this before then it may seem like a scary prospect. Don't worry! We have you covered with a handy guide found over at Digital Trends. The only difference you will find is the way the CPU connects to the motherboard. Never fear! your motherboard manual will cover this for you, so take your time and things should work out just fine. Once you have finished you will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. Well... after a few hours of gaming, that is.

Now all you need are some games! Make sure to bookmark our cheap PC games deals stream for the latest bargains.

Add a comment12 comments
Late  Mar. 19, 2015 at 14:42

I appreciate the effort, the insights, and the work that's gone into this piece, and I did enjoy reading through it - so thank you, NeoTrix.

But if budget pcs are £540 then it's no wonder us console gamers are scared off. Pay twice as much as you would for a console*, build it yourself, spend another fifty quid to get your screw-ups fixed, stress over what games will actually run on it, spend forever downloading drivers, tweaking settings, and all that stuff. And it hasn't even got an operating system?

I guess hardcore pc gamers and pc-phobes have very different definitions of "budget pc". And quite rightly so, I suppose. If you've got a rig that cost one or two thou then you will naturally see the shortfalls of a £300 machine. Such a machine would be completely unacceptable. But for someone like me, who effectively has no computer, but wants something that's capable of running over 98% (rough guess) of the games available on steam on something akin to medium settings, there's probably lots of pre-built machines for under three hundred quid that'll do the job just fine. Possibly £200.
Working straight out of the box. With Windows installed.
(Pre-built and windows are probably both negatives for proper pc gamers. For us newbs they're quite the opposite...)


*I'm aware you'll recoup quite a bit of money in the long run if you'll now end up buying lots of AAA games on pc that you would've bought on console, of course.

montyburns56  Mar. 20, 2015 at 19:09


But if budget pcs are £540 then it's no wonder us console gamers are scared off. Pay twice as much as you would for a console*, build it yourself, spend another fifty quid to get your screw-ups fixed, stress over what games will actually run on it, spend forever downloading drivers, tweaking settings, and all that stuff. And it hasn't even got an operating system?



Whenever there is an article about PC gaming there is always someone who makes similar comments like yours even though they have very little basis in reality.

"stress over what games will actually run on it" - Any game will run on a system like this. If you have an older system then go to "Can I Run It" website and it will tell you whether or not it will run on your PC.

"spend forever downloading drivers" Err, no. You download the latest drivers when you install it and if your system is running okay then you leave it at that if you wish.

"tweaking settings" Again no, you can use the manufacturer software to auto-adjust your graphics card for example or just leave it as it is.

I think you have been spending too much time reading websites for the hardcore PC gamers who spend hours fiddling about just to get their systems to run a few percent better.

TheChappy  Mar. 20, 2015 at 20:18


But if budget pcs are £540 then it's no wonder us console gamers are scared off. Pay twice as much as you would for a console*, build it yourself, spend another fifty quid to get your screw-ups fixed, stress over what games will actually run on it, spend forever downloading drivers, tweaking settings, and all that stuff. And it hasn't even got an operating system?



Whenever there is an article about PC gaming there is always someone who makes similar comments like yours even though they have very little basis in reality.

"stress over what games will actually run on it" - Any game will run on a system like this. If you have an older system then go to "Can I Run It" website and it will tell you whether or not it will run on your PC.

"spend forever downloading drivers" Err, no. You download the latest drivers when you install it and if your system is running okay then you leave it at that if you wish.

"tweaking settings" Again no, you can use the manufacturer software to auto-adjust your graphics card for example or just leave it as it is.

I think you have been spending too much time reading websites for the hardcore PC gamers who spend hours fiddling about just to get their systems to run a few percent better.


Actually what Late said has every basis in reality because I am a "console gamer" and think the same things. Ive got a crappy laptop that will play some stuff on ultra low with bareable fps. But even then im tweaking things constantly to try to find the best performance/graphics possible. So we would still have to tweak settings and download drivers to make sure we are getting the most out of the machine.

And it still costs over twice as much as a console without an operating system. Or a keyboard and mouse. Or a screen. That we have to build ourselves. With parts bought from all different reaches of the internet.

Last edited by TheChappy, Mar. 20, 2015 at 20:23
TheChappy  Mar. 20, 2015 at 20:26

What us console gamers really want is not a pc that costs the same as a console but has better graphics and cheaper games. What we want is a console that matches pc performance and has games that arent as expensive. But that's probably never going to happen.

phil16  Mar. 23, 2015 at 13:30

Hmmm. Interesting choices. I'm not sure I'd even bother with a DVD drive nowadays unless you already have one you can reuse. I'd also probably go with a i3 or even i5 if you could stretch to it as the AMD just don't have the grunt really (and I say this as an AMD fan). You could also skip the SSD. Its really really nice to have but not essential (even less so with Windows 8.1's quick boot).

Late  Mar. 25, 2015 at 12:57

After much umming and ahhing I've finally gotten round to buying a new pc. Doesn't score remotely close to the one in this article, but should handle anything I need.
Includes OS. Pretty much pre-built.

Cube Slim pre-built desktop £229
Intel i3 Dual Core 3.5Ghz Processor
Kingston 4Gb DDR3 1600Mhz Memory
500Gb SATA3 Hard Drive & Samsung 16x DVD RW
Windows 8.1 with Bing 64 Bit Preinstalled

Have bought an extra 4 gig ram for £26, and a new kb & mouse for £27.

£282 all in.
Budget, newb-friendly, and has reasonable upgrade options.

At some point I'll probably put a graphics card in there, but I'm in no rush. The onboard graphics chip is laughable by today's gaming standards, but it massively outperforms my current pc (current pc benchmark 196, new pc benchmark 538).
I'm toying with the 750 ti (low profile, as the case is very slim) (benchmark 3687) - currently around £110. I'll wait for it to drop in price a bit, or weigh up other options, but like I say - I'm in no rush.

I've got a few external hard drives kicking around (mainly WD MyBooks - I think I have a 1.0Tb, a 1.5TB, and a 2.0TB). Can one of you tech-savvy folk confirm that I should be able to crack the case on one of those and bung it into this pc? I don't need all that external storage, so it makes sense to put one in this machine if I can, as a second drive. (I'm happy to leave the 500GB drive in there as C: for most programs, and put Steam etc. onto the second drive.)

JonLester  Mar. 25, 2015 at 13:35

Nice one Late! Let us know how you get on.

You'll definitely need to source a GPU at some point, but for now you should be able to run a plenty of smaller boutique Steam titles etc.

phil16  Mar. 25, 2015 at 14:02

I've got a few external hard drives kicking around (mainly WD MyBooks - I think I have a 1.0Tb, a 1.5TB, and a 2.0TB). Can one of you tech-savvy folk confirm that I should be able to crack the case on one of those and bung it into this pc? I don't need all that external storage, so it makes sense to put one in this machine if I can, as a second drive. (I'm happy to leave the 500GB drive in there as C: for most programs, and put Steam etc. onto the second drive.)


Link to the PC isnt working for me but the external drives should fit fine as long as the PC has a spare 3.5" bay(s), you have a spare sata port on the motherboard and the drive is sata. If the case only has 2.5" HDD bays you'll only be able to fit the smaller 'mobile' external drives.

Late  Mar. 25, 2015 at 14:39

Thanks Jon. I think it'll be perfect for me. It's no "gaming rig" but massively outperforms my old pc (which plays most games I've tried perfectly adequately - but of course I don't try top end games), and with a decent graphics card in it it should be a pretty capable budget gaming machine.

Thanks Phil - sounds promising :D
I believe the tower has spare drive bays (both sizes). I have no idea about the connections. Will take a (scared and very cautious) look at the innards of the pc when it arrives next week, and at one of the spare drives at that time.

phil16  Mar. 25, 2015 at 15:27

Thanks Phil - sounds promising :D
I believe the tower has spare drive bays (both sizes). I have no idea about the connections. Will take a (scared and very cautious) look at the innards of the pc when it arrives next week, and at one of the spare drives at that time.


You should in all likely hood be fine. 99% of motherboards have 4 or more SATA ports. Most likely only two are in use - existing HDD and DVD drive (if it has one) so I'd be very surprised if you have no free ones (its even less likely if it has free bays in the case). You probably just need a spare Sata cable which are about £2 from amazon/ebay. Sata drives are very easy to fit - Just a power cable, Sata cable and 4 screws (unless of course you have a fancy screwless case). Just be careful with the cables. They both only go one way up. If it doesn't fit easily try it the other way up!

Late  Mar. 25, 2015 at 18:10

Cheers mate - much appreciated :D

Anarchist  Mar. 26, 2015 at 09:29

If I were to build a gaming PC (for myself) currently, this is pretty much exactly what I would build - except I'd swap the AMD CPU for an Intel i5. Thats a no brainer as far as I'm concerned.

However, lets tackle the 'PC Gaming on a budget' moniker.

£540, plus £60 for an OS (Linux is not an alternative for somebody who wants their PC specifically to play games, lets get that out the way first), and £40 for an entry level keyboard/mouse, plus any other controllers (you may want an xbox 360/one pad to use on it).

We're now up to £650 ish, which is nearly three times the current price that you can get an xbox one for. Anybody who wants to play current gen games, will find it difficult to justify buying a PC where budget is the primary factor.

True story - my brother recently bought the parts for a top end gaming PC, and asked me to build it for him, which I happily did. This took all night. The next day, he called to say he'd already broken it - turns out he'd managed to get all sorts of viruses that bypassed Avast. I had to spend another three hours rebuilding it and setting everything back up for him.

I used to be a PC gamer, but I got bored with messing about with them. Consoles offer the casual pick up and play functionality that a PC can't guarantee. At a much cheaper price point (forget about the price of the games, I don't get through that many).

Last edited by Anarchist, Mar. 26, 2015 at 09:32

Email Address:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.