Mid-range Gaming PC pricing: Affordable Performance

MSI Crossfire header

In this article we take a look at the parts you’d have to put together to build the best gaming PC under a certain budget.

In our previous feature, What’s the cheapest gaming rig you can build?, we assembled a small computer based on AMD’s APU processors for just under R5,000 with an Xbox 360 controller. However, that PC is better suited to playing games at 1080p with low settings or 720p with medium to high settings in games.

So what if you have a little more money and want the build to deliver fluid gaming capability for 1080p without breaking the bank too much? Today we’ll have a look at some parts we recommend, as well as the cheapest place to buy them.

The table below shows the various components available from local retailers. The lowest prices are highlighted in Bold. For this article, prices for components that aren’t in stock in a particular store but are in supply with another will be included, as it is expected with larger orders like a full rig that the supplier will attempt to source stock for you.

Component
Rebeltech Wootware Ikonix Titan-Ice
 AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz six-core  1698  1804  1856  1749
 MSI 970A-G46 AM3+  906  909  959  979
 Kingston ValueRAM 2x 4GB DDR3-1600  688  804  750  798
 AMD Radeon HD7850 2GB (cheapest)  2462  2179  2624  2549
 Western Digital Caviar Blue 1000GB  724  768  884  775
 LG 24x SATA DVD-RW SATA  169  199  170  189
 Corsair VS550 550W power supply  516  597  545  590
 Cooler Master Elite 311 Plus  512  564  515  549

Final cost: R7,392 (shipping excluded)

So for a modest R7,400, we got a pretty decent deal out of it. I decided on AMD’s FX-6300 because it has two extra cores and allows for some overclocking and tweaking with a better CPU cooler later down the road, which Intel can’t (or won’t) do with the same budget.

With more games using more cores and the PS4 sporting no less than eight itself, the extra grunt will help accelerate your gaming in the future. As a bonus, with the right multi-threaded app the FX-6300 can overtake most Core i5 chips as well.

The motherboard, MSI’s 970A-G46, enables most of the baseline features of the AM3+ platform and as a bonus will run dual-SLI or Crossfire graphics setups without complaint.

ADATA AX Gaming Memory

ADATA AX Gaming Memory

On the memory side I went with cheap and mostly cheerful Kingston RAM. I know there are better deals out there at the moment, like ADATA’s DDR3-2000 Gaming RAM, but because it wasn’t in stock at most retailers it was withdrawn from the roundup.

For the graphics card I had to make some concessions and stuck to AMD’s HD7850. Note that I haven’t chosen a specific version, I’ve just listed the cheapest one available from each retailer to make the roundup more fair. As usual, don’t forget that you qualify for the Never Settle Reloaded bundle while stocks last.

For storage, we’re going with a 1TB hard drive from Western Digital’s Caviar line. If you prefer Seagate, prices for their Barracuda lineup are very similar. We still pop in the DVD drive here, although it’s needed less and less these days unless you’re still buying the bulk of your games from online retailers and walk-in stores.

Corsair VS550

Corsair VS550

The power supply comes from Corsair and its the new VS550. Technically it can run two HD7850 cards, although that would leave you with no headroom for any overclocking. Having the option is nice, though.

Finally, Cooler Master’s Elite 311 Plus ducked in under our budget and gives us lots of enthusiast features for a budget price, including lots of fan mounts, cable management and a roomy interior. It also gives us a front-panel USB 3.0 port by using a cable that snakes its way into the back of the chassis. Because our motherboard doesn’t have an internal USB 3.0 header, this is a very useful feature.

More Hardware news:

ASRock Haswell HDMI Pass-thru adds flexibility to gaming battle stations

Corsair validates PSU lineup for Haswell compatibility

PowerColor has the world’s only passive HD7850

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  • Neji

    …but what if you don’t care for an AMD CPU nor an AMD Radeon display card?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    Well, if you wanted to go to Intel and Nvidia, you’d have to drop down to a B75 board, the Core i3-3240 and pick up a cheap Nvidia GTX650 Ti Boost. While that may please fans of the other two brands, its not as good an all-round performer. The Core i3 may hold its own in a lot of games, but it’s no match for four or more physical cores for more demanding ones like Battlefield 3’s 64-player matches.

    One could substitute in a Core i5 with a H61 board but that’s a very unbalanced pairing. I’d only recommend that to someone who desperately wants a quad-core Intel chip and doesn’t want or will never need the extras that the B75 and Z77 chipset offers.

    The 650 Ti Boost is a good alternative and with a month or two’s wait it may drop down to an average of R2200 which would make it a very good value play for Nvidia. Right now, its price excludes it from consideration in a tighter budget such as this one.

  • Neji

    Fair enough. But I believe that for a balanced article, in future, it would help to make mention of what the cost implications would be if someone wanted to go in the opposite route, with regards to display card and CPU manufactures.

    As I read it now, it looks like AMD is sponsoring you big time.

  • http://twitter.com/NomNomZA Jonathan King

    AMD has always be better value for money especially in the GPU department so it’s not surprising that AMD was used in this over Intel and Nvidia.

  • The Rich

    I get what you’re saying but I don’t think it’s fair to imply that it looks like AMD is sponsoring them. The fact is simply that in certain areas – in this case bang for buck in this segment – AMD beats Intel. Whether you want to see that as corporate meddling then that’s up to you, but those are the facts.

    PS: I’m more of an Intel guy, but I like seeing the AMD comparisons and actually this article has convinced me to look at getting a rig like this for my partner.

  • The Rich

    Hear hear. Agreed! Excellent work Wes.

  • http://twitter.com/rgtechnologies Rudi van der Walt

    Hi guys, what about the OS – this is a new pc from scratch, so would you get away using an existing license for say Win 7, or must the cost of that also get added?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    Adding in a OS is a little difficult because, for example, you can get away with using 7 Home Basic for a gaming rig, whereas some others would prefer Professional or even a Windows 8 variant. I prefer to not list it and for readers to make up their own minds as to what they need.

  • http://www.mygaming.co.za Chris Kemp

    I mean, if AMD is better value it’s better value. I don’t see the point in catering to brand preference; AMD is perfectly well respected and just happens to deliver the best value for money in this example. It’s not bias, it’s just numbers.

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