Budget PC Build Guide

February 20th, 2011 in .PC Components .Products
Nick Holland
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Few people have the cash to flash on a GeForce GTX 580 DirectCU II and Intel Core-i7, I get that – but you can still build a relatively powerful box for not too much money. Whether you’re a gamer or just into a bit of video, online gaming, Facebook chatting and email, try these on for size.

Intel Route (Basic Build):

CPU: Intel Celeron E3400 (Dual-Core)

Motherboard: ASUS P5G41T-M LX

Memory: 2-4GB DDR3 1,066MHz

Graphics Card (Optional): ASUS GeForce GT430 1GB

The Intel Celeron with ASUS G41 board is the most basic, but still capable setup for using the internet, Office work and watching video. The ASUS P5G41T-M LX comes with a video card built in so there’s no need for an extra, but if you do enjoy the odd casual game then the GT430 is a cheap, quiet but reasonably fast addition to this setup. 2GB of DDR3 memory is the least you should opt for to save money, but these days 4GB is better to have some breathing room.

AMD Route (Basic Build):

CPU: Athlon II X2 250 (Dual-Core)

Motherboard: ASUS M4N68T-M V2 AM3

Memory: 2-4GB DDR3 1,066MHz

Graphics Card (Optional): ASUS Radeon HD 5550 512MB

The alternative AMD build is slightly more expensive because we’ve opted for the Athlon II dual-core rather than a Sempron. Single-core CPUs don’t cut it these days so we’d definitely spend a little more on the Athlon II X2. Combined with the M4N68T-M V2 gives a solid but cheap backbone with video output built in, while again the Radeon HD 5550 is the GT430 equivalent above to give that extra gaming edge, if needed. Remember either graphics card can fit with either system in the PCI-Express 16x slot, so if you’ve a preferred choice between AMD and Nvidia, feel free to go down either route.

Extra Components (Basic Build):

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS 250GB SATA

Case: Cooler Master Elite 310

Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W

Optical Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST 24x DVDRW SATA

OS: Windows 7 x64 Home Premium OEM

A Cooler Master Elite case looks nice and the build quality of a known brand is often better, while the Antec EarthWatts Green 380W is an 80Plus Bronze PSU so great for efficiency. Don’t skimp on a no-name brand PSU just to go high-wattage, it’s not worth it: quality is better.

A 250GB hard drive gives enough space for the OS, plenty of software and a few games, although if you feel the need for more keep an eye out for special deals at your local (online) store; 500GB drives are often not that much more expensive. The ASUS DRW-24B1ST DVDRW drive uses a SATA port so keeps cables tidy in the case, and it also provides every type of DVD and CD burning imaginable for backups!

Finally, add Windows 7 x64 Home Premium for the benefits of 64-bit and Windows Aero, then you’re all done!

Or, are you? Fancy a step up from the most basic build – then try this:

Intel Route (Level Up):

CPU: Intel Pentium G6950

Motherboard: ASUS P7H55-M LX

Memory: 4GB DDR3 1,333MHz

Graphics Card: ASUS ENGTS450/DI/1GD5 GeForce GTS 450 1GB

The Pentium G6950 combined with the P7H55-M LX will overclock considerably giving plenty of extra performance, while the ENGTS450/DI/1GD5 is a great mainstream gaming card for 1,680 x 1,050 (~20-22 inch monitors). Combined with 4GB of memory gives a great performance to cost ratio.

AMD Route (Level Up):

CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 435

Motherboard: ASUS M4A88T-M LE

Memory: 4GB DDR3 1,333MHz

Graphics Card: ASUS Radeon HD 5750 1GB

The triple core Athlon II X3 CPU is another excellent price:performance chip, like the G6950 above, but with the added benefit of being unlockable to a quad core using the M4A88T-M LE! Free stuff is always nice and just adds to the value of this build! Again the HD 5750 1GB is the equivalent to the GeForce GTS 450 1GB from above, so feel free to choice which you prefer.

Extra Components (Level Up):

Case: Antec 300

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA

Roll over everything from the budget build, then grab yourself a case upgrade to the snazzier and well rounded Antec 300, while also increasing your storage capacity to a 500GB drive for a few extra pennies. The small upgrade is worth it in the long run.

Have you built your own PC on a budget recently, or would you change any suggestions? Let us know your thoughts below!

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