Best Value $600 Gaming PC Build 2013
There are two types of do-it-yourself PC builders out there. Those who want everything to be super reliable, look good, and last a long of time, and those who want unadulterated power and don't care if the case is ugly or if the motherboard is just a bit loose. When I make a build I try to be somewhere in between, but in this case I'll try to show you as much of both sides of the coin as I can.
Here's a breakdown of two separate builds you could do in this particular price range. One for Maximum performance and one for Mid-Range builders looking for functionality.
Budget Gaming Rig Breakdown:
$100 to $200
$160 to $200
$100 to $200
$170 to $210
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CPU / Processors
High-end Processor Vs. Graphics Card
You might have noticed for the mid-range build above that there's quite a range for the CPU and Graphics card. This is simply because of the processor options you have at each price range. If you choose to go processor heavy, then you can go for something like the AMD FX-8350 or i5-3570k.
The Intel processor will give you better in-game performance while the FX-8350 Piledriver gives you additional cores and really shines if you're wanting more of a workstation/Gaming PC combo. This would leave you with a budget of 100-$140 for your graphics card.
If you decide that you want to go graphics card heavy for more in-game performance, then go for a CPU like the i3-3220 or FX-6300 to give you a budget more in the $200 range for your GPU. This would give you more options like the GTX 660 or HD 7850.
For the maximum performance build you'll have around a $200 budget for each, but in doing so you'll have to sacrifice quality in your motherboard, power supply, and elsewhere.
Best Current Motherboard Options Around $100?
AS a DIY builder I try to update my computer at least once a year. I may do it by adding ram, changing out a graphics card, swapping out components, adding a solid state drive or whatever. You can call it a sickness if you will, but I just have to have an upgrade.
That being said the last thing I like taking out is the motherboard. It takes longer and if you're not a hardcore overclocker you're not going to see lots of performance improvements by switching one motherboard out and installing another. With this in mind, I typically buy a motherboard which is current so that I can continue to upgrade later on.
Right now I'm recommending the AS Rock Z77 PRO3 for those of you who need an LGA 1155 socket motherboard for an Intel 2nd or third generation processor and the Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3 AM3+ Motherboard for those of you who go with an FX series processor.
Maximum performance builders should consider a less expensive micro board like the AS Rock FX Socket AM3 Plus N68C-GS (for the FX-8350), or the MSI 1155 MicroATX Motherboard model H61M-P31. Keep in mind that the H61 chipset does not come with native support for overclocking your Ram or GPU.
Best Graphics Card Options Under $200 2013
In 2012 AMD released its 7000 series of graphics cards while NVIDIA released its 600 series. Depending on any given price point either brand can be competitive. In the $200 price range you can get the GTX 660 or the HD 7850.
If you're not going to overclock, then the GTX 660 will give you better performance. If you overclock the HD 7850, then you might be able to exceed the performance of a GTX 660. In my opinion you're still better off going with something like EVGA's superclocked version of the GTX 660 at this price point.
A lot of ram out there is built for gamers, however, keep in mind that specifications like CAS Latency have a minimal impact when it comes to in-game FPS.
For our $50 we're going to go with Corsair Vengeance ram, but you could almost certainly go with any other inexpensive brand and have similar results.
2013 - Best Value $600 PC Build
If you plan on overclocking, then you might also want to consider the Radeon HD 7850. Overclocking will allow you to get similar performance for about $20 less.
I used Gigabyte and Asus exclusively in the past, but ASRock has impressed me with its performance, quality, and price as of late.
This case is big enough to hold the long graphics cards you come across.
Ram prices have been fluctuating a lot lately so be sure to compare this with other reputable brands. Try to find it in the $50 range and you've got a deal.
There are 3 types of DVDRW drives I like in the $20 range; one from Samsung (featured), one from Lite-on, and one from Asus. I generally choose whichever is cheapest.
Choosing a Power Supply
It'd be nice to get something that's 80 PLUS certified, but with this build you should be more than ok with Cooler Master's eXtreme Power Plus PSU. This build should require less than 320 watts. If you aren't sure about your build or want to overclock, then use Thermaltake's PSU calculator or err on the high side. For the maximum performance build I went with a slightly less expensive Logisys 500 Watt PSU.
About: Did we Meet our Budget of $600?
On the day I created this post the mid-range quality performance build came in after rebates at $610. If you want to truly stick to the $600 budget, then you can go with the Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD 7850 and come in right at around $590.
For the maximum performance build you'll come in around $629 if you use the Radeon HD 7850, i5-3570, H61m-P31 motherboard, and Logisys 500 Watt PSU. If you want to stick with the budget, then you could trade out the CPU for the FX 8350 and ASRock AM3+ N68C-GS motherboard and come in right at $600. For me that's the difference between a budget and real life. In real life you'll most likely want to go ahead and pay the extra $30 for a substantial increase in CPU performance.
*What would you change? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.
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