Brothers in Gaming and Tech
As part of an overclocking demonstration I did in Hull for the last two days, one of the public that watched the event asked about building a gaming PC with a budget of £500. I set forth to find his new rig.
£500 might buy you a console, but in the world of PC building it is pretty mid range. This person showed me a couple of PCs at PC-World that were in his budget, and I said no: they featured a small underpowered AMD APU and no graphics card – not to mention that the power supply and memory were woeful. The only thing it had going for it was a 1TB HDD, and that was also overpriced.
At a budget of £500, it would be hard to break into the Intel arena with anything other than a dual core Pentium or Celeron, especially when you have to think about a reasonable graphics solution, power, memory and storage. We are thus pointed towards AMD. AMD has had an up and down past of late, with the last two years seeing their focus shift onto APUs and integrated graphics rather than CPU performance. This is nice and all, but not perfect if we are going to go with a discrete GPU. Thankfully AMD also sell APUs without the integrated graphics part, or what we normally call a CPU, so I would put my focus on a Llano CPU to help the push of CPU performance. From there we have to cover the essentials: motherboard that works well, memory, a boot disk, and a case. The final two elements, the GPU and power supply, need some thought to come in budget.
Here is my final build:
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 641 2.8GHz Quad-Core Processor (£56.70 @ Amazon UK)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U9B SE2 37.9 CFM CPU Cooler (£42.99 @ Amazon UK)
Motherboard: ASRock A75 PRO4/MVP ATX FM1 Motherboard (£67.15 @ Amazon UK)
Memory: Kingston Black Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£60.95 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Crucial M500 120GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk (£69.99 @ Amazon UK)
Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB Video Card (£111.00 @ Amazon UK)
Case: Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case (£47.98 @ Amazon UK)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 500W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply (£48.02 @ Amazon UK)
Here we have a quad core Llano AMD system with an ATX motherboard in an ATX case with a 650 Ti 2GB video card powered by a 500W bronze power supply. A 120GB SSD boot drive and 8GB of memory, as well as a beefy Noctua CPU cooler, round off the list. All for a smidge over £500.
What would people change and keep it in budget? There were other options for cheaper memory, however I didn’t want to look below 1600 C9. Unfortunately 1866 CAS 9 was too expensive.
Aside from this hardware, of course an operating system, monitor, mouse and keyboard would be needed. We assume it’s being kept over from the previous build (!).
Is there a reason to go with fm1 instead of fm2? I would go with an AMD Athlon II X4 750K Black Edition, 4x 3.40GHz and an ASRock FM2A75 Pro4. Its cheaper and you can use the Noctua to OC. Also, but this is just personal preference, i would go with crucial ballistix sport ram, simply because of the lower voltage (or something similar with 1.5v).
I was looking at the 750K, but a quad core AMD with Stars/K10 has four actual FP and INT components rather than a Trinity/Richland which uses the underperforming modular design. The CPU here will act like a true quad core all the time, whereas any FM2 setup will peak between dual/quad core depending on the type workload.
These CPUs do not really care about RAM voltage: you aren’t really degrading anything by using 1.65V RAM: on modern (read 4yrs or newer) processors they are designed to be able to use it with no long term effects. There were plenty of RAM to choose from, some of it cheaper on Amazon, but a lot of it was a bit tall, not in stock for 1-2 months or worse than 1600 C9 speed.