Building a computer on a budget is a delicate balance between price and performance. How much should you spend on the motherboard and CPU, and what about the graphics card? What parts are worth spending a little extra money on?
Pick parts for your PC Build
The biggest decisions are about what you want to use your computer for, what CPU brand you want and ̵1; if you play – what type of discrete GPU you need.
In a way, building a computer on a budget is a bit like making a living in fantasy sports. You get the best value for top performers you can, and then make up the rest of your team with the rest of your budget.
An important issue when choosing PC components is to make sure that they are compatible with each other. The easiest way to handle this is to use PCPartPicker, a website that allows you to create your own PC building, and it will verify that your parts are compatible.
In this article, we will assume that you are building a gaming PC and want to spend at least $ 800. If that sounds like a lot, remember that many people are slowly collecting new PC parts until they have everything they need for a new build. It’s a great way to spread the word about spending money on your bank account.
Tier One Splurge: The graphics card
The first thing a new gaming PC building needs is a graphics card. You need a capable motherboard and a CPU to support your graphics-producing monster, but GPUs are the best place to start. The graphics card is the workhorse for games. This is the component that makes all the delicious eye candy you see on the screen.
First you need to decide which resolution to use. There are two ways to look at this. One is to get a more powerful GPU with higher resolution with plans to buy a better monitor later. The second method is just to stick with a graphics card that can handle the resolution you have now.
Despite 1440p and 4K screens everywhere, most still rock 1080p. This resolution provides very good graphics, and it is also the most economical choice because you can get a graphics card that swings at 1080p without breaking the bank.
If you are looking for a more powerful card, you are probably looking at 4K, which offers a variety of options. For example, you can get a card that excels at 1440p but also works as a 4K card at the basic level that shoots out 30 to 60 frames per second (fps) depending on the game. The minimum possible for guaranteed smooth playback is 60 frames per second, but for the less picky, 30 frames per second can be played excellently.
In addition to the entry level, you have 4K monsters that pump out 60 fps or higher on most games. This type of 4K graphics card is usually the most expensive if you do not get a good sale.
Tier Two Splurge: CPU
After graphics, the CPU is the most important part of your gaming installation. If you do not get enough CPU, you will encounter bottleneck problems. This is when the processor becomes an obstacle to GPU performance by not processing instructions and transferring data fast enough.
Deciding on this component will also affect the choice of your motherboard. Once you have selected an AMD or Intel processor that limits the motherboard models, you can choose. For example, if you choose a Ryzen 3000 processor, you are likely to choose an X470, X570, B450, or B550 motherboard.
If you spit a lot of your money on an advanced 4K-compatible GPU, your budget will probably respond best to an AMD processor. Ryzen 2000 and 3000 processors have become very capable for gaming, and their pricing per thread is simply outstanding. If you want an Intel processor – you will be a little more price sensitive. For those who want to balance their CPU and GPU purchases in terms of cost, it will be easier to choose your favorite brand.
Tier Three Splurge: Motherboard
Then we have the motherboard. This is another part that should be of the best quality for your money. There are a number of options here. In general, each CPU generation comes with advanced and budget options for motherboards. And just because you went high-end with GPU and / or CPU does not mean you can not choose a motherboard for the budget.
There will of course be compromises with performance, but that is the art of building a PC. You get a better overall experience on the processor and GPU and then you get the best motherboard you can. We strongly recommend that you look at motherboard reviews online, as well as customer reviews, before completing your purchase. There can be a lot of variation in quality and features when it comes to motherboards with the same basic model number.
The rest of the building
After the big three, you have the rest of the most important components, including the CPU cooler, case, storage, power supply and RAM. If budget buyers went with a CPU that comes with an included cooler, then stick to it for now. If not, go with a fan-based CPU cooler, which provides better overall value. The skilled Coolermaster Hyper 212, for example, is $ 40 or less.
The bag is a key component of a building because airflow is an important factor in keeping your system cool. Still, a smart customer can find a very capable case for $ 100 or less with case included. If you already have a case, this is one of the easiest PC parts to reuse.
Storage is good, but on a budget you get the best value with a hard drive – although a smaller M.2 NVMe-based boot drive combined with a larger hard drive is also a good strategy.
If there is any splurging left to do, we would argue that it should go against the power supply (PSU). Choosing a PSU does not cover this article, but we have a tutorial on how to upgrade and install a new power supply that explains how to choose a PSU. Preferably you would get a modular PSU to help with cable management, but semi-modular over non-modular model would do as well. Be sure to stick to well-known brands as PSUs can be the source of many problems if you go too cheap.
Finally, there is RAM. Get a little. Get at least 16 GB, get a well-known brand and get the best speed you can for the money you have that is compatible with your CPU and motherboard.
RGB lighting looks cool, but it is
RGB lighting on your motherboard, case fans, case and RAM looks great, but it does nothing for real performance. If you are on a budget, save the premium you would pay on RGB equipment in favor of higher performance components. You can always add some RGB shell fans or get an RGB CPU cooler at a later time.
Upgrade your peripherals later
Peripherals should always be a reflection when building on a budget. A fantastic mechanical keyboard and high DPI mouse do not do much good if your system stems and stems below the requirements of your favorite game. The same goes for a screen. If you can, stick to what you have at the moment and upgrade to FreeSync and a higher resolution later.
All these suggestions are just that – suggestions. What you actually get in real life depends on what equipment you have now, how much money you have and what is primarily for your new computer.
Building a computer is a process, not a destination. Do not be afraid to change by creating several possible buildings on PCPartPicker to see what kind of value you can get with different combinations of parts. Also, continue to upgrade your computer when you encounter sales. Over time, you will have a severely cheated rig and enough spare parts for a second computer.