Building a Budget 300 Custom Gaming Computer or HTPC 2014
The Pentium G860 or the AMD 750k are the way to go if you're trying to use a dedicated graphics card. The AMD 750k is the better performer overall here but you could also step up to the FX 4350 for $20 more.
Best Value $300 Gaming PC Build 2014
As someone who regularly builds computers for family and friends and makes computer build recommendations on my YouTube channel, I often get the chance to use a wide variety of hardware. One of the questions I get a lot is whether a $300 build is even possible.
If you had asked a similar question just a few years ago, then I might have had a different answer. With how far integrated graphics have come in the last year I think it's now definitely possible.
Building a Budget $300 Gaming PC In 2014
Processor Considerations - What's the Best Budget Gaming CPU?
For this build you have a couple of things to consider when it comes to your processor. The first is whether or not you want to use integrated graphics. With Intel's future Haswell i3 release there's certain to be a value play in there that would work well for integrated graphics. For now you could use an Ivy Bridge i3 processor with this build, but ultimately you probably wouldn't end up with the graphics you were hoping for.
The best option for your processor in this price range is to either go with a low-end pentium and dedicated graphics card or go with one of AMD's newer APU or accelerated processing units which have a graphics card built-in.
For our dedicated graphics card build I'm recommending the Pentium G860. For our APU build we're going with the A10-5800k, but you might be wise to stretch here for the Richland A10-6800k.
APU Or Dedicated Graphics Card
Which would you rather go with at this price point?
My $300 PC Build Video Review and YouTube Channel
Choosing a Budget Graphics Card
Tom's Hardware always puts together a graphics card hierarchy for gaming which is very valuable in terms of what you should get for your budget. For this rig we're going with the Radeon HD 6670. It's probably the best overall graphics card in terms of performance and what you pay.
If you chose the Trinity AMD A10-5800k, then it comes with a Radeon HD 7660D - a slightly less powerful card when compared to the 6670. For that reason it may be best to stretch for the A10-6800k Richland APU from AMD and get the HD 8670D. Either way there's still a slight advantage in going for the HD 6670.
The HD 6670 is regularly on rebate for around $50. It's great for games like WoW, League of Legends, or Diablo III.
Best Motherboard Options Under or Around $50
I wrote a post about a budget PC like this a few months ago and one of the first questions I had was; "Hey why don't you get a motherboard that has more overclocking features?"
The answer is pretty simple. At this budget we have to focus on getting a motherboard for as cheap as we possibly can so that we can dedicate as much of our budget as possible to the graphics card and processor. If you want to purchase a better motherboard than I've recommended here, then you also have to start thinking about where that money could go in terms of your GPU and CPU.
Go with Something Cheap and Durable at this Price Point:
Ultimately a cheap, but durable, motherboard like the MSI H61M-P31 would be ideal for the LGA 1155 Pentium G860 and something like the MSI FM2-A55M-E33 for the Socket FM2 Trinity or Richland APU featured above.
Other Computer Hardware Considerations for the $300 Budget PC Gaming Build:
Best Gaming Ram Under $30:
You won't be able to afford more than 4GB of ram here. If possible, you'll also want to keep your budget for that around $30. With 4GB of ram you shouldn't have a problem using this as a HTPC or a gaming rig. Go with good quality ram that's cheap. This month I'd look at Kingston's HyperX series.
Best Power Supply Under $25:
A build like this doesn't require a lot of power. The HD 6670 is a lightweight card and the APU options are also not very taxing. Going with an 80 Plus certified option here is too expensive, so going with an inexpensive, but flexible, PSU like the Logisys PS550E12BK is more than enough.
Best Gaming Case Under $30
I recently had a chance to do a review of the best full tower and mid tower gaming cases available for 2013. That being said, few of those fall in the under $30 category. At this price level you want something inexpensive that will fit a micro ATX motherboard and not be overly intrusive. I'm recommending the Rosewill FBM-01.
Hard Drive Options
This is where staying within a build budget and stretching a little bit make a lot of sense. If you want to stay within the budget, then go with a 250GB hard drive from Western Digital. If you're willing to spend $10 to $15 more you'll be able to double or triple your capacity. This seems well worth the price - especially if this is a HTPC that's doubling as a gaming computer.
This build is surprisingly good at meeting the demands of even today's most graphically intense games. With the price of consoles going to $400 and $500 it may make sense for some to build a budget rig and have the flexibility of a computer.
What would your build be at this price point? Speak your mind in the comment section below. If you have any questions, then allow for up to 24 hours for both your comment and my response to show.