- Computers & Software
Building a Good Budget $200 Gaming PC in 2015 Is It Possible?
A few years ago building a $200 gaming rig was absolutely out of the question. Even today there's a lot of reasons to try to stretch your budget beyond that initial amount. As someone who runs a YouTube channel and is constantly building computers I thought I'd take on the challenge to see if it's possible to even build a PC for gaming at the $200 price range.
Rebates are Key:
If this is the budget you have, then admittedly you'll probably have to look a little bit beyond just what I show you in this post to reach your actual budget. During the days I worked doing the research for this build many times prices, rebates, and availability would change.
Choosing a Gaming Processor Under or Around $50
While it would be nice to afford a graphics card in this build we simply don't have the budget. That being said AMD's line of APUs offer elements of both a processor and a graphics card in one. This allows us to skip the dedicated card here and focus on a processor with our whopping budget of around $50.
Looking at today's market there's one APU that clearly sticks out, the AMD A6 6400k. This is a Richland APU that was released in the middle of 2013. Graphically it sports the Radeon HD 8470D and Processor-wise you get an unlocked dual-core option with an operating frequency of 3.9GHz. 2014's equivalent Kaveri model is a slightly better processor and graphics option, but at $70 reaches beyond our $50 budget.
While it certainly isn't going to break any records this APU will allow you to play most modern games in 720p or even 1080p on low settings. This makes it good enough for popular games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Minecraft, Hearthstone, or DOTA while still allowing you to play games like Skyrim, Battlefield 3, and Guild Wars 2 at a reasonable FPS in 720p.
A Good FM2 Motherboard Under $50
Because we're using the AMD A6-6400k we need a socket FM2 compatible motherboard. Since I also plan on using a Micro case for this build, we'll also need a Micro ATX motherboard. This month the Asus A55BM-E really jumps out here because it's on rebate, is from a reliable manufacturer, and is a great deal for around $44.
The Asus A55BM-E motherboard is an fm2+ motherboard that's backwards compatible with FM2. It's also compatible with up to 32GB of ram at 2133MHz. Having faster RAM is advantageous here since its being shared with the APU.
Inexpensive and reliable, I'm recommending you go with the 250GB Western Digital Caviar Blue hard drive. To fit our price point you might be better off going with the 160GB version, but overall, you'll probably need the extra space for games.
For your case you're looking for cheap. Here the DIYPC MA08-BK makes a lot of sense this month with a $10 rebate, dual fans, and USB 3.0 compatibility. Depending on the month you see this page, my thoughts on this will completely change. Be sure to look around for the best deal on the budget case you use with your build.
Choosing Good Memory for your AMD APU Processor
Since you can make actual FPS gains by having faster RAM I recommend you get as fast as you can within a reasonable budget. For this budget we're going with 4GB of Crucial Ballistix 1600 speed ram which costs around $35.
Going up to 1866 will cost you at least $6-10 for this build. While that may seem reasonable enough to raise FPS that's as much as 5% of our budget overall. If you had the extra budget, in my opinion, you'd be better off going with a slightly higher-end APU or even the A6-7400k Kaveri model.
Keep in mind that my $300 build would be drastically different than this setup so keeping everything within budget is our main goal here.
Choosing a Cheap 80 Plus Power Supply
It would be easy enough to find a power supply with a few hundred watts that costs under $15. That being said, if you're smart you'll go with something reliable and for the long-term here that's both reliable and 80 Plus certified.
This month I'm recommending the EVGA 430W 80 Plus power supply. At $30 it's about $10 to $15 more than one of the bottom-of-the-barrel models that will most likely fail in the future.
Is a $200 Gaming Rig Possible?
The total price of the rig and parts I recommended came to $213.34. If you cut the hard drive down to 160GB and go with a cheaper power supply you could save yourself as much as $20. This would put you in line with an under $200 gaming PC build even after taxes.
Overall, I'd call it a success and a pretty decent option for the extremely cheap or budget conscious gamer.
What about the operating system?
In terms of the operating system its simply not in the budget here. I recommend either using Linux or finding an old PC with Windows 7 or Vista that you can use the key from.
My Video Review for this Build
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