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

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.

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