5 tips for building a gaming PC on a budget

Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To Geek

Save money by building yourself or at least having a friend help you, and browse the used market for used parts. Prioritize components that deliver the performance you want and skimp on those that don’t. If possible, reuse parts from old PCs and avoid superfluous purchases such as fancy cases and RGB lighting. Finally, make sure you plan an upgrade path.

There’s never been a better time to get into PC gaming, but hardware is expensive. Unless you’re on a massive budget, you probably want to cut corners and save some money. Good news!

Save labor cost by building it yourself

If you’re in charge of your PC build, you’re in a great position to save money. From the start you pay no labor costs as you do the work yourself. If you already have the skills to build a PC, you know that it should take you at most a few hours to get everything up and running.

If you have little to no experience assembling a computer, you may be put off by the prospect. Luckily, there are many great resources online, including how-to geek articles, YouTube tutorials, online PC building tools, and even the instruction manuals that you find in the various boxes to help you with this.

PCPartPicker is a great place to plan your build. This site helps identify components that work together (and points out incompatibilities), as well as constantly suggesting parts and builds that others have used and completed. Post questions and also read comments from others on the helpful r/buildapc subreddit.

In addition to saving on labor costs, building your own PC gives you flexibility. You may change your mind during construction if you encounter a hot offer, part shortages, or a sudden change of heart.

Get a friend to build it with you

Alternatively, you may prefer to seek advice from someone who has already done so. Getting a friend to show you the ropes can help boost your confidence and reduce your risk of breaking something (which is already pretty small). You might want to get a friend to do the more fiddly parts of your build, like: B. the assembly of the CPU or the application of thermal paste.

If you want to develop your PC building skills, it’s important to get your friend to help you instead of doing everything for you. Building a PC is a relatively straightforward process. Learning how to do it yourself will give you skills that you can use in the future when upgrading or building a new machine.

Save money on used components

Building a PC yourself (or getting someone to help) means you can buy whatever components you want. Buying a pre-built PC usually means buying entirely new parts, which come at an additional cost. Of course, these parts also come with a guarantee, so your investment may be a little less risky.

The used market can save you one much Money, especially when you know what you’re looking for. There are some basic rules as to which PC components should be bought used and which should be avoided. In general, used CPUs, RAM and monitors are relatively safe purchases.

Buying a used GPU should also be considered. Although used GPUs may have been used in mining rigs (what may shorten their lifespan), there are many out there that were simply used for gaming. Knowing what to look for when buying a used GPU is helpful. Research the history of the card, test and inspect it where possible and always use Buyer Protection when buying online.

Motherboards are another component that you may be able to buy used. The savings here aren’t as compelling, as many new no-frills motherboards are budget-friendly. If you have decided to buy an older used CPU, you may need to resort to the used motherboard market if your CPU is not compatible with newer models.

You should completely avoid buying a used power supply unit, the risk is not worth it. A “bad” power supply can damage your entire system, so make sure you’re using a quality power supply from a trusted brand. Even used storage devices like hard drives aren’t worth the hassle, especially since new drives have dropped significantly in price. Peripherals like a mouse and keyboard can save you money, but be mindful of hygiene when buying one.

Do you really want a keyboard covered in crumbs and other people’s hair when you can buy a mechanical keyboard for less than $40? Even a budget gaming mouse is available for around $20 if you can stand a non-wireless version.

If you’re replacing an older PC with a new build, consider using some of the old parts (assuming you’re not giving the old PC to someone else). Save money by reusing the old case, fans, your PSU (since you know the history), memory, RAM or cooler.

Be realistic and understand where your money is best spent

Acceptance is an important part of building on a budget, whether it’s a house or a computer. Your money will only go so far, so make sure you plan your budget correctly so you don’t get disappointed. Being realistic can help you make better decisions about where to spend your money so you can perform better.

You can use tools like PC Builds FPS Calculator, How Many FPS, and CPUAgent FPS and Bottleneck Calculator to understand what your potential build is capable of. Use these tools to get an idea of ​​what framerates you can expect in popular games and what components make a difference. This can help you optimize your setup and make better decisions.

For example everyone want 64GB of the fastest RAM they can afford, but how much difference will it make? Realistically, you probably only need 16GB of RAM for gaming, and you’d be better off spending the rest on a better GPU to boost performance.

The same applies to a monitor. If your desired setup delivers a smooth gaming experience at 1440p, you probably shouldn’t be spending more money than you need to on a 4K monitor. If you’re not getting 240 or 360 frames per second in the games you want to play, don’t waste your money on an ultra-high refresh rate monitor.

You can also save money on storage. A fast M.2 NVMe drive makes a great boot drive, but you can save a lot of money by using slower SATA SSDs and even clunky old hard drives for “deep storage” purposes. And while many gamers will want as much RGB lighting as they can get their hands on, this is purely decorative and should be the last thing on your mind when going on a budget.

You should also be aware of all the little things that can add up to the cost of your build. You need a decent cooler for your CPU, and while it might be tempting to buy a liquid-cooled all-in-one (AIO) radiator, you can get similar or better performance with a cheaper air cooler. Air coolers don’t have to be noisy either, and understanding the basics of good airflow can greatly improve your PC’s thermal performance.

Plan your upgrade path

Choosing a PC over a Mac or a console gives you all sorts of upgrade options, especially if you’re building it yourself. This is especially important if you are on a budget as it allows you to plan the build for future upgrades. You can buy what you can afford right now and add to it in the future when you have more disposable income left over.

That’s why it’s so important to choose “good bones” in the first place. Don’t skimp on your motherboard or CPU. While most games will also want a powerful and fairly modern GPU, you might even be able to limp with an older model for a few months and buy something flashy if your budget allows.

During the semiconductor shortages caused by the pandemic, many gamers had no choice but to use whatever they could get their hands on. This included legacy cards and even APUs (CPUs with combined GPU capabilities) until the market recovered enough and GPU prices started falling.

The same goes for RAM and storage. While not enough RAM can create a bottleneck, it can be overcome very easily by spending slightly more in a few months. If you don’t need terabytes of storage right away, buy a fast boot drive now and add more in the future (it’s one of the easiest upgrades to make).

Also save money on games

If you’re building a gaming PC on a budget, you probably also want to save some money for the games you’ll be playing on it. We have some tips for playing on a low (or zero) budget. One of the most beautiful games in the world is free to play, a great starting point to put your graphics card to the test.

Additionally, you might want to try Game Pass for PC, which gives you access to a catalog of games for just $1 for the first month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *