Rand Busting: Building a 1080p gaming PC on a budget

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2016 is a great year to become a PC gamer…if you’ve got Dollars, Pounds, Euros or many other currencies other than the Rand. It’s a sad reality, but if PC gamers are anything, they’re adept problem solvers and make PCs work for them, no matter the obstacle or, in this instance,  Firepool.

With the recent revelations of VR headset pricing, you might seem happy you did not bank in on a high end machine for “VR” gaming—you would still be at least $600 shy from attaining it. For those who might want to take the cheaper route, a capable 1080P budget gaming PC is still mostly affordable. A R10, 000 machine may strike some as being far too expensive for a budget build, and a year ago you would have been right, but today it’s probably the minimum you’ll need to spend to achieve playable frame rates at 1080P resolution with high graphical settings, like 4X MSAA and the like.

Our Rand Busting Build

CPU Intel Core i3 6100 3.7 GHZ LGA 1151 R2,219
Motherboard Gigabyte B150M-DH3 mATX LGA 1151 R1,478
Memory 1X 8GB Kingston FuryX R808
Graphics Card Asus  GTX 950 STRIX 2GB R3,199
Power Supply Cooler Master Vanguard-S 450W 80+ Gold R793
Case BitFinex Nova ATX R594
HDD/SSD Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200rpm OR Corsair Force LE 120GB 550/550MB R968/911
                                                                                                        Total: R10,059 / R10,002

A last generation CPU and motherboard combination would still kick butt for gaming, but with the general cost being similar to current generation stuff, we’ll go with something new and blue – an Intel Skylake system. As a budget gaming system you’re not going to need an i7 or an i5; money saved on the CPU should be spent on the GPU, as that is far more important for fps. Although the i5 will best an i3 in gaming, its price relative to performance is not as attractive. At the moment, the ‘cheapest’ i3 available on our shores is the i3 6100, a dual core, 4 threaded 3.7GHz processor providing the computation muscle, for about R2220.

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Usually the common thinking for a budget build is to go for a motherboard with a chipset or three below the premium Z170, in this case a H170, B150 or even H110 motherboard. The problem with the cheaper Skylake motherboards is that they often only have DDR3-L support, which is limited in speeds to mainly 1600/1866. Thankfully a DDR4 motherboard can still be found from Gigabyte and their B150M-D3H goes for R1478. It has four DIMM slots for memory upgrading if you choose, along with a SATA Express and a PCI-Express M.2 connector which is NVMe-ready. For the price it’s quite a neat package from Gigabyte which satisfies many of the features you’ll find in Intel’s new Skylake. To finish off this base build, a single 8GB stick of DDR4 2133Mhz Kingston Fury X will do splendidly.

asus-asus-geforce-gtx-950-2gb-gddr5-pci-express-30-strix-edition-asus-geforce-gtx-950-strix-gtx950-dc2oc-2gd5-gaming-strix-editi

Now we get to the pixel pushing meat, and you can’t go wrong with an Asus GTX 950 STRIX GPU at a cool R3199 (special offer at the time of publishing). It’s most probably the best budget 1080P gaming GPU to come out of NVIDIA for a long time (the GTX 750 Ti does not count, ever). With a little bit of dial twisting, an overclocked GTX 950 can keep pace with a much more expensive stock GTX 960, so it definitely punches well above its weight if coaxed.

Since we’re using a low powered GPU and CPU, the power requirements are very manageable. Still, a decent PSU is never a bad investment, and thanks to the Gold rated 450W Cooler Master Vanguard-S with 5 years of warranty, you can’t do much better for R793. Storage wise I’d usually recommend an SSD and HDD hybrid, but the budget simply does not allow it, and for gaming a regular HDD is still perfectly fine – so throw in a 1TB Seagate Barracuda for R968. If you’re looking instead for an SSD, then the Corsair Force LE 120GB SSD will do the trick at R911. It’s got strong read and write speeds, especially at this price level – but you’e going to be installing and uninstalling a lot.

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The case is probably the most subjective item to suggest as looks and functionality don’t really  play a role, unlike concrete performance numbers from a CPU. That being said, it’s slim pickings at the budget end, and my usual go-to cases are either quite old or have become priced out of the bracket— I’m looking at you Corsair. Regardless, relative newcomer to the South African market, BitFenix’s Nova at R594 caught my eye. It’s elegant looking, has a PSU dust filter and space for two fans at the front of the case. You also get a windowed version, which at this price point is nice for those wanting a bit of aesthetic choice.

And that’s it for the budget build. I know people might have differing ideas, but I hope this example has given you a good base build to save for and what kind of PC you can get for your money in 2016. If this build has you piqued, but not satiated, stick around for the mid range build next week in which we can hopefully eke out enough performance to get a “VR ready” machine.

Last Updated: February 24, 2016

Marco Bozza

I’m that guy in the family who always gets asked for tech support, and I die a little every time. I’m a Dota 2 addict in denial, geeky enough to use and mine bitcoin and a semi-retired PC Gamer who bought his first console in 2015. Click here to download more RAM.

  • Commander Admiral Chief

    Nice one Mario!

  • PoisonedBelial

    LEL @ R10k = budget.

    R1.50 = budget after debits etc :'(

  • Hammersteyn

    BUY NOW BEFORE THE BUDGET SPEECH!

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Before Dec that would’ve cost you about R9k. :/

      • Sandrajherrell3

        ?my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….two days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here:;/267????? http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsJobs/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:?2:::::;/267….

    • PoisonedBelial

      How does this comment not have more up votes?

      • Spathi

        Because it is so ‘effin depressing!

        • Hammersteyn

          I bet the Rand plummets as soon as he says Good Afternoon

          • PoisonedBelial

            I can see the headlines tomorrow:

            The Rand – Balls Deep In Shit.

          • HvR

            “He He He”
            R16.10/$
            “HE HE HE HE HE”
            R17.05/$
            “Listen carefully”
            aaa fuckit

          • Jan Prins

            Or he goes: “As new minister of finance, my first expense and my first step to provide stability to our economy is this ball gag for our President…”

          • Hammersteyn

            problem solved

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    That’s a nice little build. One thing about the Intel/Nvidia combination is you don’t need a big PSU or additional cooling – which saves a few bucks.

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      You also don’t need a separate power supply to power said cooling solution…

      • Mossel

        Or a Tesla Power Wall.

  • Fox1 – Retro

    Bleh, there are better AMD GPU’s at that price.

  • Sageville

    My stirring for the day…

    Missing components:

    1.) OS
    2.) Optical Drive to install OS

    Yeah, i know, not relevant, but seriously, how does one install an OS without an optical drive and without pirating the OS?

    • HvR

      You can buy Windows 10 on a USB memstick, think you need to add around R2k

      • justlikemo

        buy windows rip it to USB on a friends PC using UltraISO

      • Sageville

        I did not know Microsoft sold the OS on memory sticks… good to know….

        • Cuan Lohrentz

          They don’t, but they sell the ISO of the OS which you can make a bootable USB drive from it using MagisISO easy peasy…It also means Windows installed in like 10min on a SSD instead of a million years with optical drive

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      To be fair, the article is about building a PC – didn’t say anything about switching it on. 😀

      • HvR

        SA compatible kettle cord for the power supply: R45

      • Sageville

        Or typing things or moving that cursor thing….

    • I haven’t had an optical drive for aeons, and i install OS just fine. USB rules.

      • Sageville

        I’m so old…

        • you really are.. I installed both my kids computers with an optical drive.. it’s really not complicated. external HDD’s and legal downloaded ISO’s work fine

          • Sageville

            I did my wife’s the same, but I had an optical drive on my pc to rip the windows disk…

            AND DON’T SPEAK TO ME OF WINDOWS [email protected]!!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Do you have a moment to spare for our lord and saviour, Windows 10?

    • Marco

      I’ll assume people have had legit copies of at least Windows 7…in which case an upgrade to Win 10 is R0 for a few more months 😛

      • Sageville

        If only I had a mouse to click that annoying “Upgrade to windows 10” notification…..

        Just kidding/stirring, nice article though.

    • Linux
      Usb Drive

      Any other questions?

      • Sageville

        Linux?

        U so funnah

  • Jan Prins

    But can it run Crysis???

    • konfab

      Beat me to it

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      Soon it’ll be “Can it run Quuuuvaaaaantooooooommm BREEEEAAAAK?”

  • Ghost In The Rift

    At least i got my GTX960 last month, but opt for the 4GB version as it seems a little more future proof in today’s current rate of games *cough Quantum Break/ME:Andromeda cough*

    • Jan Prins

      It’s called a Console! Helloooo!!!
      😛

      • Ghost In The Rift

        How dare you speak to me that way you 900p/30fps peasant…*runs* ;-P

        • Marcus

          running error – *you do not have the required specs to run*

          • Ghost In The Rift

            HA!! Hey i saw that error recently at a Varsity Rugby Match in Bloem..*sprints*

  • Ryanza

    Building a PC is not a one day / one time, R6000, purchase. It’s about buying and replacing parts as you see fit.

    To build a working PC, cheapest amount, R4350, to just have a PC to turn on with Linux.

    When it comes to gaming PC’s it’s about taking what you have and sticking a graphics card in there.

    My advice when it comes to building a cheap gaming PC, take all the money you have and buy a graphics card. And then over the next two or 3 months, if you don’t have a base PC, then just buy everything you still need for the cheapest price.

    Plus you can also find PC parts sold second-hand.

    What you can’t find sold second-hand, PC games, why, because of DRM.

    Don’t Support DRM.

    • Marco

      As I said at the end of the article, the build is meant to show what kind of PC is possible for 10K, how you get there might very well be the method you have described (which I agree with btw). Although I would be the first to champion the second hand market (most of my current PC was bought there), for other people, they may find comfort buying stuff new and shiny.

      • Sageville

        He hates it when you reply to his posts dood…

        Did nobody warn Marco?

        • Marco

          I like to poke things 🙂

          • Ryanza

            Recently they said Hitler had a really tiny penis.
            Are you sure you like to poke things.

          • Marco

            It’s not the size of the boat that matters, but the motion of the ocean 😀

        • Ryanza

          Most of the people like you, all you do is troll my posts. The “click” will always troll my posts. You always troll my posts.
          You don’t add anything of worth to my posts. You don’t don’t bring up different points of view or test different point of views. All you do under my posts is troll.
          Me saying fuck you and stop replying to my shit with your troll shit, just look at what you turned that into. typical.

          If people want to debate a point of view and they can debate. I don’t mind. But if all you going to do is troll, then ya, fuck off.

          At this stage we so far off the rails that trolling my posts is the norm around here. I have never welcomed that and I never troll other peoples posts.

          For now it’s best for me to be the bad guy and have you trolls just stop replying to my posts. It will work out best for both sides.

    • Linux… lol we said gaming PC not electronic typewriter

      • Ryanza

        http://insightmine.com/content/images/2015/04/Wine.jpg

        Within the next few years, you will see more and more good hardcore games for Linux.

        The next generation in video gaming only started recently and hasn’t been implimented and adapted. But the ball is moving. Linux should get a piece of the tech and games will follow.

  • BraaiVibes

    I’m busy building a budget gaming PC myself – FX 6300 (maybe slower per core, but may allow you to play games i3 cant), R7 370 GPU, with HDD & Win 10! – R8800

  • Dane

    It may be the best you can do for 10k, who knows. But for an extra 3-5k you could probably double that performance.

  • miaau

    What about a screen? Or do we use a TV?

  • Not bad at all. Do an AMD version as well. Should be able to shave off a few rands and cents. (Still support green but let’s face it. Red is more budget orientated)

  • CypherGate

    Why is everyone so fixated on Linux? I tried it out a few times and I think its not really good. Am I missing something here?

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