Build a $400 to $500 Gaming PC 2014
Building a PC at the end of the year is all about finding the right components for the right price. In the $400 to $500 range you have enough of a budget to build a good computer for playing most of today's video games in 1080p.
In a recent post I showed why I think a budget at this price range is already a better bargain than a console. Below, I'll give you two builds that incorporate some of the best bang for your buck parts in late 2014.
Whether you're a beginner or someone trying to finalize their build, hopefully I can provide some insight from the research I've done for both my blog and YouTube channel. This rig as well as others I'm posting about will get built, benchmarked for games, and picked apart over the next few months. Until that time here's a look at the parts I feel give you the most value if you're a gamer looking to build a $400 or $500 gaming PC in 2014.
3 Tips for First Time PC Builders
I remember back when I built my first gaming PC. It was a bit intimidating. If that's you, then here's a few helpful tips I've learned over the years that may help.
1. Put as much of your budget as possible into components that have staying power for your next build. This is especially important for components like the power supply and the case. An efficient power supply that costs a little more can save you a lot of money over its lifespan.
Similarly, a decent case can last you through several builds. After you have these key components upgrading in the future is a not only easier, it's also a lot less expensive. This may mean you sacrifice some FPS performance in the short-term; however, in the long-run you'll have a much better computer for it.
2. Look for a graphics card that will do a good job of playing the games you most enjoy. Pick the most graphically intense one of those games and see which cards are the most optimized for it.
While one person might be a fan of NVIDIA and another a fan of AMD the truth is that certain cards perform better for certain games.If, for example, I was trying to find a card to go with a game like Battlefield 4, then I'd look up benchmarks like this one to help me make a decision on the right card to purchase.
3. When you have your build ready get help from someone who's built their own computer before. Yes, you can watch a video on how to build a computer, but there's nothing like real world help.
If you have any additional questions, then feel free to ask me here, at my YouTube Channel, or my Facebook page.
Building a Budget $400 and $500 Gaming PC for November December 2014
$400 PC Build
Good Gaming CPUs: Under $100
For this build there's two really good options in the CPU category. The Intel Refresh Pentium G3258 would be the cheaper option and best performing option if given a solid overclock. With up to 4.5GHz on a budget board it's hard to beat. That being said the FX 6300 is also another really good choice here because of it's 6 cores and strong overclock.
Overall, I'd go with the G3258 to save around $30 and allocate more of that budget to the graphics card.
Combining the G3258 with an inexpensive motherboard like MSI's H81M-P33 gives us a $120 combo with the ability to overclock our CPU to 4.5GHz. This high overclock helps to avoid most bottlenecking situations that can be caused by the processor.
This motherboard is about as solid as you'll come across for under or around $50.
Parts List for this Build
GTX 750 Ti
WD Caviar Blue 1 TB
Look for Rosewill FBM, NZXT Source 210, Elite 430, Corsair Carbide 200R
EVGA 430W 80 Plus
Budget Gaming Motherboards:
If you decided to go with the FX 6300, you'll go with a motherboard like the Asus M5A78L-M LX Plus. It's a budget motherboard from a reliable manufacturer that serves its purpose. For the G3258 go with the MSI H81M-P33. In a recent Tom's Hardware article it was able to overclock the G3258 to up to 4.5GHz.
Graphics Cards Under $120
Here we're going with the GTX 750 Ti. This month it's available for under $120 after rebate. This card is more powerful than what you get with consoles and doesn't disappoint for 1080p gameplay. Another option here would be the R7 260X. For around $20 to $30 less it would give you about 10% less performance but allow you to allocate that money elsewhere.
Ram Options from $35 to $75
Today's games require a lot of ram. That being said if you know what you plan on playing beforehand you might just discover that 4GB is enough. If so, you can save about $35 by going with a 4GB kit. For most, 8GB will be desirable. If you can't afford it today, you'll most likely want to upgrade later.
I try to find RAM that's of good quality that happens to be on sale. The Crucial Ballistix Sport series falls in line with that criteria this month.
Good Gaming Cases Under $40
If possible, you'll want to find a case here for around $30. This should make it possible to stay within our budget. Look at cases like the Rosewill FBM, NZXT Source 210, Cooler Master Elite 430, and Corsair Carbide 200R. Occasionally, more expensive cases will be on rebate for the same price as the cheaper cases.
In this price range I always go for Western Digital's Caviar Blue series. It's reliable, inexpensive, and 7200RPM.
Find a Good 80 Plus Power Supply Under $50:
Here you'll want something from 450 to 500 watts that's 80 PLUS certified and from a reliable manufacturer. I regularly check EVGA and Corsair's products for deals and rebates in this category. Try to stick to around $40 here. It is possible to find a power supply like this for $30 on rebate.
AMD FX 8320
Asus M5A78L-M LX PLUS
GTX 750 Ti (Optional upgrade to R7 270X)
Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB Kit
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB
EVGA 500 Watt 80 Plus PSU
Look for NZXT Source 210, Cooler Master Elite 430, or Corsair Carbide 200R on rebate
Available for as low as $125 in November and December of 2014.
Intel Vs. AMD 2014
My Thoughts On Good AMD and Intel Gaming Processors Under $150
Benefits of Intel Processors:
There's a lot of really good reasons to purchase an Intel or AMD processor at this point in time. For Intel there's a strong case that processors in this price range provide better single core processing speeds and energy efficiency.
A processor like the Haswell i3 4130 would be a solid choice here; however, may not be as optimized for better CPU core utilization going forward. Stretching for the Haswell i5-4430 or the Ivy Bridge i5-3350p may make sense for the $500 build here; however, it certainly doesn't fit the budget we've set. While this would certainly make them my pick of choice in the $200 range in the $100 to $150 range there's also some very valid arguments for purchasing an AMD processor.
Benefits of AMD Processors Going Forward:
While Intel is certainly more energy efficient there's a strong case to make for AMD processors heading through 2014. For one the PS4 and Xbox One partnership is leading developers to better utilize CPUs with multiple cores. This optimization bodes well for the inexpensive FX 6300 (6 cores) as well as the FX 8320 (8 cores). As such both of these processors are my choice in the under $150 range and should provide good staying power for those with them in their rigs.
A Graphics Card Upgrade for Some:
If you look at the $400 build above you'll see that the main difference between what I'm doing here and that build is in the processor. If you stick to a budget CPU like the G3258, here you could go with something better than the GTX 750 TI with the additional $50 to $60. For those that would prefer that direction, you'll want to go with the R7 270X. I've been able to find it as cheap as $150 in late 2014.
Recommended Upgrades for the $500 Build:
Gigabyte R9 270X:
While this build doesn't allow the R9 270X in its budget, it may be a worthwhile upgrade for around $30 more. I've found this model available for as low as $150 after rebate.
The i5 4690 is part of Intel's new Haswell Refresh processors. It does as well as the i7-4770k in many games and as far as 1080p is concerned really doesn't bottleneck at all. It's a better performer than other options in its price range. For around $50 more it may be a worthwhile upgrade over the FX 8320. That being said you'll have to purchase a compatible LGA 1150 motherboard.
AMD or NVIDIA Graphics Cards for the Money
Which gives you better value at this price range?
For more information be sure to check out my videos below where I give my thoughts on 3 different builds in just about this price range.
My YouTube Channel and Video Review for This Build
Take a look at my YouTube Channel for more PC build ideas. You can also ask me directly at facebook.com/toptengamer.