Low Budget 1080p PC Build
Less than $800
A good gaming computer doesn't have to break the bank, nor do you have to skimp and use refurbished parts. The low-budget build we have assembled here is powerful enough to run games in 1080p, though not necessarily at best quality. With these thoughts in mind, we set out to put together a build that comes in under $800, and it works well.
The parts chosen here are definitely for an inexpensive gaming build, but we decided to work, as we normally do, from the monitor to the machine. Essentially, the monitor you display to for gaming is the final overall factor in terms of what parts to focus on. With that in mind, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 TI SC works well for 1080p monitors, and it's what we built the rest of the system around.
The GTX 1050 TI is developed on the Pascal architecture and can play games in 1080p at 60fps. It has a base clock speed of 1354MHz, boosted of 1468 MHz, and sports 4GB of GDDR5 RAM. At around the $150 price point, this gives quite a bit of bang for the buck. It has HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort options for monitor hookups. It also doesn't require (or even have) a six pin hookup to the power supply. It derives its power directly from the motherboard, as it's power usage is capped at 75W.
This particular card is compact in size, but packs punch where it counts. It's not the top of the line as far as graphics cards go, though. With that in mind, it's important to reiterate that you won't be pushing the best quality graphics out there, and you won't be able to upgrade your monitor to beyond 1080p for gaming.
Next up in this machine is the Intel Core i5-7500. It clocks in at 3.4GHz with a max turbo frequency of 3.8GHz, has 4 cores, and is in the Kaby Lake gen of processors. Because the graphics card is handling the brunt of the work, this is an area where we were able to cut down on the overall cost of the build. Since we're not overclocking this machine, we're using the stock cooler and we're good to go.
That said, it's still a great processor that will handle quite a bit of the none GPU-centric computing you would do on a day to day business. It pushes at 65W of power and, while not the most powerful, it'll handle most of what a normal user will throw at it.
To serve as the backbone for all these parts is the Gigabyte GA-Z270-HD3. It's an ATX motherboard that has everything you need, and not much else. It has 4 USB 3.1 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports, a gigabit LAN chip, and an M.2 slot. All-in-all, not the fanciest, but definitely a workable, feature-rich backbone for future upgrades as time goes on.
Generally speaking, I try not to spend too much on the motherboard, since most of the functionality I'm trying to accomplish with a gaming rig is in the GPU. There are certainly reasons to invest in higher end motherboards, but most builds don't need much in the way of how much you invest in this particular part. That said, this motherboard gives you everything you need, nothing you really don't, and has a couple of neat features up its sleeve that are nice to have. One such feature is it maintains two BIOS, one active and the other serves as a backup. Another is the aforementioned M.2 slot. While we don't spec out this build to utilize an M.2 slot, it's a great feature for future upgrades.
Next up we have the RAM, which we have 16GB of. This comes in two 8GB sticks and clocks in at 2400MHz. Since we aren't overclocking the processor, there's no need to get the obscenely fast memory at 3200MHz. While it only saves us around $20, the idea is to make this as budget as possible, while still being an adequate machine for playing Star Citizen.
A common misconception is that faster RAM is always better. While it's certainly nice to have headroom for future upgrades and overclocking, this build's processor cannot be overclocked. In this build, the faster RAM doesn't add performance to the machine, and for that reason, these sticks of RAM are more than adequate.
The main drive this build operates on is a 2TB Seagate SSHD, which basically means it's a hard drive with a built-in SSD for caching frequently used items. Things like the OS, web browser, and games that get played often will boot much quicker.
A lot of the higher end builds we'll show you use a similar principle for optimizing the speed of the machine, but do so using separate drives. Case-in-point, my build utilizes a small, 60GB M.2 drive that acts as the boot and cache for most commonly used software. It's RAIDed specifically to be treated as if it were part of my main hard drive. That's essentially what this drive does all in one package, though it's using a smaller SSD.
To power the whole kit and caboodle is a Corsair 550W supply. It's semi-modular, so that cable management is tidier. This power supply is also more than capable of handling the power needs of this build, but be warned that if you make a major upgrade like changing out the graphics card, you may need to upgrade the power supply.
Since we're not using an AMD-powered graphics card here, we can sit comfortably within the 550 Watt range. My build utilizes AMD, and it sometimes draws more power than the UPS can supply. With this build, that's not even a concern. In addition to that, cable management is 100 times easier to maintain throughout the build. You'll definitely want to grab zip ties to keep things tidy, though.
Lastly is the box this all gets put in. In any build, airflow is key for keeping components from overheating, but since we're not overclocking, the Corsair Carbide SPEC-01 is perfect as is. It has mounting options for 5 fans, and comes with one. The one fan is plenty for moving air in the PC as you're gaming, and the graphics card and processor's fans will move air within and out of the case. That said, if you really wanted to add fans, there's really no issue doing so.
It also comes with two USB ports, one 2.0 and one 3.0. If you're looking to utilize the 5.25" bays, it has two. It also has a side window to view the internals. If you're feeling a bit like XZIBIT, you can pimp your machine with some sweet LED lighting for an inexpensive showcase of your machine.