There really isn’t any point in arguing that any particular console is more powerful than a purpose built gaming PC. They clearly aren’t.
There’s a very good reason that PC gaming has moved on to 4K gaming while the consoles are stuck in the 1080p space.
In terms of sheer raw processing power, high-spec gaming PCs are leaps and bounds ahead of the PS4 and Xbox One. A distance no amount of fine-tuning and optimisation can account for.
That said, while all of this is fairly indisputable, an indubitable fact of the gaming industry, there’s a very good reason that gaming PCs are more capable – they cost a lot more.
So what if we significantly cut down the expect price of a gaming rig?
What would you get if you spent around R10, 000 for the essential components of your PC – we’re talking, GPU, CPU, motherboard, RAM, PSU and the chassis?
As it turns out, a fairly comprehensive and capable system, but we’ll let you find out for yourself.
- GPU – PowerColor PCS+ R9 380 4G
- CPU – Intel Core i5-4460
- Motherboard – ASRock Z97 Anniversary
- Memory – Corsair ValueSelect 8GB DDR3-1600
- Chassis – Corsair 200R Carbide
- PSU – Corsair CX 500W
- Final Price
- Pre-built Systems
By the way, we know we broke the rules a little here and there, but it’s well worth it, as you’ll see.
GPU – PowerColor PCS+ R9 380 4G
This is perhaps the most difficult category, and for a very good reason.
Games are far more GPU than CPU dependent, to a point where the GPU you select is almost always the make or break component of your build.
And it’s here where we’re torn between suggesting a number of potential GPUs, but for the sake of keeping the price as low as possible while offering the best possible performance, we’re going for the PowerColor PCS+ R9 380 4G.
You’ll find it for a more than reasonable R3, 399 at Wootware.
Specs that Matter
Graphics Engine: Tonga Pro (GCN 1.2)
Video Memory and Interface: 4GB GDDR5 at 256bit
Core Clock: 980MHz
Memory Clock: 1475MHz (5.9Gbps)
Steaming Processors, Texture Units and ROPS: 1792, 112, 32
DirectX Support: 12
Bus Standard: PCIE 3.0
Standard Display Connecors: DL DVI-I/ DL DVI-D/ HDMI/ DisplayPort
Maximum Resolution for DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI: 2560×1600, 4096×2160, 4096×2160
Board Dimensions: 207.25mm X 111.15 mm x 38mm
For the price we’re shooting for, we’re not aiming for 4K gaming. Instead, we’re looking to offer a build capable of competing with modern consoles as well as playing any title at 1080p without fault.
PowerColor’s PCS+ R9 380 4G, Radeon R9 380, is just the 4GB card you need, providing excellent performance in any game thrown at it. And yes, even at 1080p, 4GB of VRAM is almost a necessity for a smooth experience.
As modern titles push the VRAM envelope, 2GB cards, even at 1080p, experience frame drops. Best of all, getting the 4GB card will allow for gaming at 2560×1600 at a pinch.
If you’re willing to break the R10, 000 ceiling by a small margin and have the money to spare, we would happily recommend Galax’s GTX 970. It’s R5, 099 at Wootware, which is quite a bit more, but it also beats the stuffing out of the R9 380 and GTX 960.
CPU – Intel Core i5-4460
The decision of processor, for the moment, is really rather easy. The Intel Core i5-4460 will do everything a budget gaming PC requires of it, and then some.
Specs that Matter
Codename and Process: Haswell (22nm)
Socket Type: LGA1150
CPU Cores: 4 cores and 4 threads
Base Clock/Turbo Boost: 3.2 GHz / 3.4 GHz
L3 Cache: 5MB
Maximum Memory Size and Type: 32GB of DDR3 at 1333/1600 (1.5V)
Maximum PCI Express Lanes and Configurations: 16 (1×16, 2×8, 1×8/2×4)
Let’s start off by clarifying that AMD really isn’t much of an option here. Sure, you can get a CPU like the Vishera FX-6350, which, for 6 cores at 3.9 GHz, comes in at a paltry R2, 019 at RebelTech, seems like great value.
Unfortunately, AMD’s CPU architecture can’t really compete, with the FX-6350 and even the seemingly monstrous 4.7 GHz octa (8) core FX-9590 (R3, 559 at RebelTech) failing to match Intel’s dual core Core i3-4330 and Core i3-4360 CPUs (R1, 901 and R2, 090 at RebelTech respectively).
That’s why we’re recommending Intel’s Core i5-4460, a 3.2 Ghz quad core with plenty of performance to spare.
It’s a great performer, and the GPU-intensive approach to games means that your GPU will hit its performance wall long before your CPU does, so it offers very nearly the same performance as more expensive CPUs for a lot less.
You may be tempted to save around R600 by purchasing a dual core i3, like the i3-4360, but games are becoming more and more thread dependent, preferring a balanced and efficiently optimised CPU over raw speed, particularly with DirectX 12’s supposed wunderkind-like approach to managing additional, unused threads.
Motherboard – ASRock Z97 Anniversary
For motherboards, it’s a fairly simple matter. You need a capable and reliable brand at an affordable price.
Plus, by making use of a Z97 chipset instead of Intel’s H97, you’ll have the opportunity to conduct a little overclocking on your i5-4460, a CPU that should overclock fairly well, even on air cooling.
Specs that Matter
Socket Type: LGA1150
Chipset: Intel Z97 Chipset
Memory: 4x Dual-Channel DDR3 3100+(OC)/2933(OC)/2800(OC)/2400(OC)/2133(OC)/1866(OC)/1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Maximum Memory Capacity: 32GB
Audio: 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC887 Audio Codec)
LAN: Intel i218V Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000 Mb/s)
Expansion Slots: (1x) PCI Express 3.0 x16, (3x) PCI Express 2.0 x1, (3x) PCI Express 2.0 x1
Storage: (6x) SATA3 6.0 Gb/s
Of course, there are a lot more specifications to consider when it comes to motherboards, so we would advise you check out the board’s specifications page here.
There’s really nothing to it. ASRock’s Z97 Anniversary motherboard is a stellar board for its price, and about as good as it gets for that price range.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to save a few extra bucks, you might want to look to ASRock H97 Anniversary motherboard (R1, 348 at RebelTech), which offers practically the same feature set without the overclocking.
Memory – Corsair ValueSelect 8GB DDR3-1600
When it comes to memory (RAM), much as some would have you believe, it all comes down to capacity over raw speed, and by a good margin.
Our advice is to find the cheapest 8GB kit of DDR3 RAM and you’re golden, which is exactly why we’ve chosen this 8GB Corsair ValueSelect DDR3-1600 RAM.
At R699 at RebelTech, it’s the absolute minimum amount of RAM you’ll need to have an enjoyable gaming experience.
Specs that Matter
Memory Type: DDR3
Memory Size and Configuration: 8GB Kit (1 x 8GB)
SPD Latency: 9-9-9-24
SPD Speed: 1333MHz
SPD Voltage: 1.5V
Speed Rating: PC3-12800 (1600MHz)
Tested Latency: 11-11-11-30
Tested Speed and Voltage: 1600Mhz at 1.5V
Much as we’d like to recommend a 2 x 4GB configuration, dual-channel offering a performance advantage over using a single module, the price significantly rises for a dual-channel kit.
In the end, you really just need 8GB of RAM, so don’t think getting faster 4GB RAM will outweigh slower 8GB. It won’t.
Chassis – Corsair 200R Carbide
Specs that Matter
Dimensions (H x W x D): 16.9 x 8.3 x 19.6 inches, or 430mm x 210mm x 497mm
Supported motherboards: ATX, microATX
3.5″/2.5″/5.25″ drive bays: 4/4/3 (respectively)
Fan mounts: (8) 5 x 120mm/140mm fan mount locations, 3 x 120mm fan mount locations
Included Fans: (2) (120-mm front and rear)
Front panel I/O: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x headphone, 1 x mic
Maximum GPU Card Length: 16.5″/420mm
Maximum CPU Cooler Height: 7″/165mm
Maximum PSU Length: 7.08”/180mm
Many have offered up the 200R’s Carbide brethren, the Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-03, as their preferred budget chassis of choice. We would suggest the Corsair 200R Carbide is the superior case in almost every circumstance.
First of all, the 200R is a much more reserved looking chassis, helping it better fit in with practically any environment. The SPEC-03, on the other hand, is a much “louder” chassis.
We wouldn’t go so far as to call it ostentatious, but it looks like it’s a budget PC, if that makes sense. The Carbide 200R’s aesthetic simplicity suits any price range.
For those who much prefer the presence of the SPEC-03, there are a number of other reasons we would suggest you take the 200R over, well, any other case at this price range.
It’s light and more than roomy enough for any budget configuration; the case has a good number of fan mounts; and everything is just so well thought out.
From the tucked away, filtered front vents to the easily assembled/disassembled internal schematic. It even makes room for absurdly long graphics cards, just in case.
It’s a fine example of a chassis, loaded with enthusiast-friendly goodies – including things like thumbscrews to tool-free bays, ample room for cable routing and whisper silent stock fans.
This is an ATX case that will accommodate anything we and is about as good as you’re going to get for that price.
PSU – Corsair CX 500W
For R758 at RebelTech, the bronze rated Corsair CX 500W will more than suffice.
There are other capable PSUs for the same price, but we really rather like Corsair as a brand, and the 3 year warranty is nice too.
Specs that Matter
Mean Time Between Failtures (MTBF): 100,000 hours
Power Rating: 80 Plus Bronze
Power: 500w (12v:456w)
ATX Connector: 1
EPS Connector: 1
Floppy Connector: 1
Four Pin Peripheral Connector: 4
PCI Connector: 2
SATA Connector: 5
The fairly low power requirements of your modest system means that you’ll easily get away with a good 500W power supply.
Even if you splurge out for the GTX 970, Corsair’s CX 500W will more than handle it. It’ll even manage multiple hard drives with relative ease.
Just please, whatever you do, don’t cheapen out here and get a cheap PSU. You will more than likely suffer as a result.
Just keep in mind, particularly in South Africa where power from the mains often suffers from surges thanks to load shedding, a cheaper PSU may very well die, perhaps even taking other components with it.
Would you risk it?
Hard drives are a bit of weird subject. Their prices fluctuate so rapidly that it’s hard to suggest one and use that price as an included part of the build.
That said, as we see it, you have two options: a good ol’, mechanical hard disk drive (HDD), or a solid-state drive (SSD).
If you’re looking for capacity, a 2TB Seagate Barracuda (currently R1, 162 at RebelTech) will do you just fine.
For a little less, you can go the speed route and get something like 120GB OCZ’s Trion 100 SSD. It’s only R814 at RebelTech.
Your best bet would to get both, using the Seagate for storing media, games and the like, and using the OCZ for your OS as well as other important utilities – perhaps even a few games.
So just what will this budget rig cost?
Adding up all of the prices, you’re looking at R9, 539 excluding the hard drive. Alternatively, should you go for the GTX 970, and we strongly suggest you do, you’re going to spend R11, 239.
It’s more, sure, but trust us when we say it’s worth it.
Throw in the cost of the hard drives and you’re looking at these possible combinations:
R9 380 & HDD (R10, 701)
R9 380 & SSD (R10, 353)
R9 380 & HDD+SSD (R11, 515)
GTX 970 & HDD (R12, 401)
GTX 970 & SSD (R12, 053)
GTX 970 & HDD+SSD (R13, 215)
That rig will drop kick the consoles into the middle of next year, and they won’t see it coming.
So just what would you get for around the same price on the pre-built side of things?
The best place to look is Evetech, a fantastic retailer if ever there was one.
So what does Evetech have for around R10, 000?
The two most promising systems are Evetech’s AMD FX 6300 4.1GHz Six Core R7 370 Custom Built Gaming Computer and their Intel Core i5 4590 3.7GHz R7 370 Gaming PC.
Both PCs come in at under R11, 000 and offer fairly similar specs to the PC we’re suggesting. The differences are that Evetech’s PCs are professionally built and come neatly package and put together with precision.
More than that, they off a peace of mind and include hard drives, something we’re letting you decide on.
Throw in the price of a hard drive and our PC weighs in at around the same price as theirs. Only ours will almost certainly perform theirs.
In the case of both PCs, our recommended GPUs are superior and our suggested CPU is very nearly as good as the Intel PC by Evetech.