Home Gaming Budget Build guide for 1080P gaming: Doing much more for less

Budget Build guide for 1080P gaming: Doing much more for less

5 min read

A hearty hello to all of you looking to get some gaming goodness on the cheap! Now that the 2016 line-up from both AMD and NVIDIA are more or less fleshed out, I can give an update to my Rand-Busting Budget build guide from earlier in the year. A crucial determining factor of hardware prices is the exchange rate and local challenges of sourcing hardware. On this front the rand strengthened relatively well in the past 8 months. However, compared to February exchange rates, prices have not really decreased by as much as I would have hoped in the hardware department. Surprisingly, our PSU and Case choice from the February build has become more expensive, so some revision had to be made there. That being said, with the same ~R10 000 budget, gaming performance in the 1080P gaming sector has simply skyrocketed from what was available mere months ago. So, on the whole, we should be more than happy with the leaps in performance at similar prices. I’ve named it the Pravin Performance Budget build, in honour of the man trying to do more with less.

“Pravin” Performance Budget Gaming

CPU Intel Core i3 6100 3.7 GHZ LGA 1151 R2,077
Motherboard Gigabyte B150M-DH3 mATX LGA 1151 R1,421
Memory Kingston HyperX Fury, 8GB Kit R741
Graphics Card Zotac Geforce GTX 1060 Mini 3GB R3,699
Power Supply Seasonic S12II 520W Bronze PSU R795
Case BitFenix Nova, White, ATX R603
HDD/SDD Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 7200rpm OR Corsair Force LE 120 GB R819 / R829
Total R10,155/ R10165

So, what’s changed since February that would require an update? A number of things, although we’ve kept the base CPU/Memory/Motherboard profile. The reason for this is there has not been a significant change to the motherboard, CPU or Ram technology since Intel’s Kabylake and AMD’s Zen are only slated for a 2017 release. Notably though we’ve saved some cash to be able to change to two 4GB sticks of DDR4 instead of one 8GB stick, which means the system will benefit from dual channel memory instead of single channel memory performance. So that means we’ve stuck to the Intel dual core i3 6100 matched up with the B150 Skylake chipset in the Gigabyte B150M-DH3, a motherboard that still offers the most robust budget features available right now for the price compared to ASUS, MSI or ASRock.

The largest change we’ve made has to do with the stupefying levels of GPU performance which has decimated the performance of Maxwell cards from NVIDIA and Tonga/Grenada graphics cards from AMD, so we’ve upgraded accordingly. And for a gaming rig, the most important thing is your GPU. After Lazygamer reviewed both the RX 480 and GTX 1060, it’s clear that their pricing is just far too high for this budget build, so we’ve turned to the ~$190 RX 470 4GB model and ~$200 GTX 1060 3GB edition. Now although very few reviews exist, the overwhelming consensus from the few I’ve read is that the GTX 1060 3GB Edition definitively bests the RX 470 4GB at 1080P and 1440P resolutions, only faltering in AMD friendly titles like Hitman (2016) and Ashes of the Singularity. Hell, it even bests the RX 480 8GB at 1080p settings on most games as well, only really falling in line with the $250 RX 480 at 1440P settings. I know there are concerns about DX 12 and Vulkan performance, but so far DX 12 does give AMD an edge, just not enough to make the similarly priced RX 470 4GB a choice. So, it’s pretty much a confirmed GTX 1060 3GB edition, and the special order price from Wootware of the Zotac GTX 1060 3GB Mini for R3699 (with a 3 year warranty) is absolutely bonkers. For comparison, our last build in February had the GTX 950 for R3199—the GTX 1060 3GB card offers GTX 970 like performance for a couple hundred more, and once overclocked, hell, a GTX 980 is well within reach.

160721zotacgtx1060mini02 (Custom)

Possible GTX 980 performance. Under R4000. Get that GPU. Now.

Moving to the next changed item, the PSU last time was the very good and efficient gold rated 450W power supply from Cooler Master. That unit seems to have taken a trip to see the Demagorg as I cannot find it anywhere for the price it was in February. Without what I would call a “decent” sub 500W PSU (pretty much that is needed to power a GTX 1060 based system) I’ve gone with venerable PSU maker Seasonic, and their 80 + Bronze rated S12II 520W. 3 year warranty and Bronze rated goodness are music to my ears.

Casing is also a weird quantum quagmire in South Africa—as I said before, our Rand value is significantly stronger, but it seems like the Nova case from BitFenix has gone up ever so slightly locally. Even so, it still offers better features at this price point compared to the likes of Cooler Master and Corsair.

So, we’re up to the final bits, and I was so hoping to be able to fit in both an SSD and HDD. Alas, although things have improved in pricing, it’s not by enough to get some budget gaming on both and SSD and HDD unless some serious culling is done to the case, PSU, memory and motherboard. So, we’ve stuck with a simple 1TB WD or either the same 120GB SSD from February.

So, there we have it. In performance terms, the level of gaming goodness for 1080P is simply astounding for the price. Although the R10,000 price limits the CPU you can get, the introduction of the GTX 1060 3GB at under R4,000 has really opened up the floodgates for budget gamers. You wont get too far with a 3GB frame-buffer at higher resolutions, but at 1080P with ultra settings and a smattering of MSAA, it should net you well over 60 frames per second—something we will be putting to the test next month.

Last Updated: September 1, 2016


  1. Nice build.


  2. Glenn Kisela

    September 1, 2016 at 10:39

    I need to replace my 10 year old rig, so I’m definitely going to bookmark this!

    Specs look amazing for the price range.


    • Admiral Chief

      September 1, 2016 at 10:46

      Nice man, hope you get to build it ASAP


    • Marek Nourse

      September 1, 2016 at 14:43

      i’m busy upgrading mine after 8 years. Unfortunately i’m throwing a some hefty dow at it… sigh


  3. HairyEwok

    September 1, 2016 at 11:09

    This build depends on what games you’ll be playing.
    Most games are throwing that 16GB ram requirement out there now, and the i3 will have it’s limits at certain games.
    But like i said this build depends on what games you’ll be playing.


  4. Dutch Matrix

    September 1, 2016 at 11:13

    Total noob here: Isn’t investing in an i3 a bit of a low spec?


    • Fox1 - Retro

      September 1, 2016 at 11:15

      Games require 4 Cores or more and not 4 threads IIRC.


  5. Fox1 - Retro

    September 1, 2016 at 11:17

    How does the 1060 3gb fair against the 970? I see the 970 going for R3700 + free SSD at a few online stores.


    • HairyEwok

      September 1, 2016 at 11:35

      GTX 1060 has about 18% more firepower than the 970. So in fps that would be like between 8-15 fps more.


    • Marco

      September 1, 2016 at 12:14

      That special seems to be over though? And like I said in the build guide, the 1060 3GB is faster than the 970, and most likely with overclocking, can achieve 980 levels of performance. Pascal really decimated their Maxwell cards.


  6. Fox1 - Retro

    September 1, 2016 at 11:18

    And that is just the cost of an entry-level gaming PC that won’t play all the games.


    • Dutch Matrix

      September 1, 2016 at 11:22

      That is my concern. I have seen some games with a minimum requirement of an i5 CPU. So how long will this build last you?


      • HairyEwok

        September 1, 2016 at 11:29

        Depends on what games you’ll be playing with it. If it’s the AAA releases of today and forward then this build will last you max 3 years.


      • Fox1 - Retro

        September 1, 2016 at 11:35

        Forza 6: Apex is the current benchmark for a gaming PC and that requires an i5 CPU. 4gb VRAM is also minimum if you plan on upgrading every 4 years.


    • Marco

      September 1, 2016 at 12:15

      Please stay tuned for my review of the GTX 1060 3GB card, it should be here in a few days 🙂


    • Dane

      September 1, 2016 at 12:38

      Actually, haven’t had any troubles with my GTX 950 yet. From GTA5 to Evolve to Dying Light, I can play on 1080p with settings between low and medium. I mean it’s not ideal but I’m pretty confident I can /play/ all the games.
      Edit: Oh, right, the i3… Not sure how that’s going to perform with newer games.


    • Spy Master Tokashi

      September 1, 2016 at 13:08

      I have a GTX 760 and I am playing everything that is currently on the market, played Witcher 3 on mostly high settings and I had that hair thing enabled, very low FPS drops …. People do really underestimate budget PCs.

      I have an i5 4690 (bought it for R200 cheaper than this i3 budget cpu), 16GB ram (8gb is not the standard anymore)

      My PC is good enough that I can skip the 1070 cards and wait for next year’s GPU releases that will blow everyone away ….


  7. Dane

    September 1, 2016 at 12:36

    Actually very nice build. I could never find myself going for an i3 though, it just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the odd extra-mural activities after gaming, like video editing and 3D rendering.

    Otherwise I was equally blown away by the price/performance of that mini 1060! Bonkers is definitely the right word. I also prefer to extend my bank on a motherboard for a new build. I avoid that central bottle-neck like the plague. And I’m talking about post-upgrade bottle-necking in 2 years down the line when the i5 6500k is hovering under R4k and 8 more gigs of Hyper-X is half a grand.

    Would definitely recommend this build to someone with a 10k budget, though I might tell them to settle for a R150 box (or even give them one of my old ones) to save for an i5.


  8. Spy Master Tokashi

    September 1, 2016 at 13:10

    Actually, you can get an i5 4690 on Carbonite for 1800, sealed, 1 year warranty – oem boxed.

    Cheaper and it will out perform the i3


    • Marco

      September 1, 2016 at 14:03

      A second hand machine is not new, thus, it would be cheaper. This is not a second hand build guide, although I think I will actually do one in future 🙂


      • Spy Master Tokashi

        September 1, 2016 at 14:09

        It is not a second hand CPU fyi 😉


        • Marco

          September 1, 2016 at 14:24

          Ah, I misread. In any case, it’s an older platform, EOL, using DDR3, which brings its own challenges. For instance, you cannot easily upgrade if you wanted to, it comes without a heatsink and you are stuck paying inflated prices for last years tech (a new similar MB, H81 MB costs around R1400 as well. Remember, not all of SA uses Carbonite or that dude when it comes to OEM deals. You can definitely get a cheaper haswell system that may perform better, but would I recommend it? Not outright, no.


          • Spy Master Tokashi

            September 1, 2016 at 14:35

            Haswell vs Skylake performance is very small, same with DDR4. You wont see the difference in performance.
            You will pick it up when you run benchmark tests and to be honest, benchmark tests on CPU/RAM is silly as you will realise that your gain will be milliseconds at most.

            I really like your approach on a budget PC but in general, people do not realise that you do not have to stay on latest tech for CPU/RAM to have an awesome performance PC with low costs.

            Same with Motherboards, why buy a mobo that support SLI/Crossfire … only PC noobs use SLI/Crossfire as it is just a gimmick and does not validate the cost vs performance.

          • Marco

            September 1, 2016 at 16:18

            I agree with the argument you’re making, but still, what I’m trying to do is not push an obscure method of attaining a budget build. Online buyers are notoriously small in SA, and buying from a dude on a forum (as amazingly awesome as that forum is) is just not a method most can use or feel comfortable using–that is a different article for a different day.

            Regarding new tech vs old tech– I’d be on board, but the use of DDR4 over DDR3 does have slight benefits ,even if only marginal.http://www.anandtech.com/show/8959/ddr4-haswell-e-scaling-review-2133-to-3200-with-gskill-corsair-adata-and-crucial/8

            When the performance is more or less equal, then it comes down to price–and DDR4 wins here. For 2133Mhz DDR4 vs 2133Mhz DDR3, the price of new DDR4 trumps DDR3 by a significant margin.

            Then regarding MB–older tech for gaming is perfectly fine. But older tech, even though still more than up to the task of modern gaming, still lacks a few niceties like more USB 3 ports or m.2 support etc.

            Regarding CPUs, I do agree. As DX 12 comes into its own, games should use the cores available to them more effectively. But then again, I could just argue we could buy a second hand i3 6100 with 2.5 years of warranty for cheaper, and it would still trump the 1 year OEM warranty price wise, and, for the time being, still hold it’s own against the last gen i5 (plus you’d have a stock cooler at least) http://carbonite.co.za/f39/i3-6100-a-130489/?highlight=i3+6100


    September 1, 2016 at 14:25

    My Build is similar.
    B150m Gaming Pro with Mouse
    i3 6100 Cpu
    GTX 950 Gaming Series
    Terminator Case
    550w Huntkey PSU
    16gb Ram G.Skill
    1TB Seagate
    320gb Broken laptop HDD


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