How do you cover a broader spectrum of games, and develop a deeper insight into a different tier of the gaming world? A gaming PC build, right?
The self-proclaimed “master race” of gaming. With gaming fidelity, frame rates and upgrades beyond anything that we’re going to get from a console. A PC build seems like a solid candidate for more of a catch-all platform.
I’ve been toying with the idea of building my own for a while. But it’s quite cost prohibitive, and I’ve never really had the motivation.
What would be my end goal? How do I do a PC build that can achieve good results, without breaking the bank?
Mulling it over for longer than I’d like to admit, I decided (prompted by some of the VasDown boys and some ridiculous raffle wins….) I should look into it.
What PC could I build from second-hand parts, without spending thousands of pounds?
Ok, then. eBay, let’s see what you can offer me in terms of Graphics Cards (GPU) and processors (CPU)?
Oh crap, I’m out of my depth. The gaming PC build market isn’t the standard PC/laptop market that I’m so used to at work. This isn’t some workstation that might need some extra memory or a new PSU.
Goal one is to learn about what constitutes a “good” current gaming PC build.
Goal two is to find the parts as cheap as possible and deliver that PC.
Let’s ignore 4k, 120hz monitors and super high-end stuff. Can I build something that can play current generation games, better than my consoles, and have something that I can expand-upon in the future?
Solid, 50+ framerate (most Xbox titles tend to be about 30fps), high 1080p graphical settings, and something cool to look at on a desk.
Easy enough, right?
After a lot of dicsussion with Matt, Chris and Lee over Discord and a long long look on pcpartpicker.com I found my desired PC build:
- AMD Ryzen 2600x CPU
Not top-end, but not so old it’s redundant and won’t last a year or so. Bought, used once on eBay, with an additional RGB cooler to boot.
- GTX 1060 GPU
I went out with the intentions of going with the 6GB unit but I put a low offer in on a 3GB unit on eBay, and won.
- 16GB 3000Mhz DDR4 RAM
Compatible with the motherboard and at 3000Mhz, if I go to overclock the CPU I can squeeze out a little bit more memory speed. Purchased from eBuyer.
- Genesis Irid 353
- MSI B450M-A PRO MAX Motherboard
Dictated by the other parts and the case requiring a micro ATX board. I had a lot of choice, so I just went with the best value option on eBuyer.
- Cooler Master 450w Power Supply
A gift from Chris of VasDown.
- 240GB Integral SSD
Found very cheap at mymemory.co.uk
- 1TB HDD (Wester Digital Blue)
Again, cheap from mymemory.co.uk plus I’ve used Western Digital drives for years and years.
- Windows 10 (64-bit)
I have no idea how legit these keys are, but I bought the key for £9.99 from CJS CDKeys.
All SATA cables and screws etc came with the kit, and I purchased some thermal paste for a couple of quid from eBuyer.
That’s it, that’s basically the whole PC, there wasn’t a single item over £130 and all of them were either second-hand or sourced for the cheapest price online.
The PC build
I firmly believe that anyone can build a PC. Cables are labelled, pins and sockets on motherboards are labelled and you can only fit most things in one way.
So with all the parts here, I set to work.
Immediately stunned by the additional ARGB cables for the fans, and how nice it was to mount the SSD actually to the case. I realised I didn’t know everything that I just kind of assumed I knew.
Still, I perservered, and getting the CPU, Cooler and memory in was fine. Along with mounting the board, and getting all the power cables to the right places. This is definitely a PC build. It’s just a little beefier than I’d usually play with, for a desktop.
The GPU went in/on fine. Although I did forget to power it initially…..
Luckily (I think), this is when Lee, Matt and Chris jumped on for a video call to go through the bits in the case. I won’t lie, it was weird. But it was fun, and I got to show any issues I was having and gather thoughts from three wise men…..
A bit more clatting around, trying to work out where I put the RGB cable from the CPU cooler (I can’t use it!), and it was go time. Does it power on? Will things explode?
Success! No explosions and no fire.
I had the HDMI plugged into the wrong graphics card, but a quick switch and I was in the BIOS ready to change my boot device to my Windows installer USB. Windows 10 install is underway!
Drivers, updates etc. They did their thing, and here I am, the proud owner/builder of a reasonable-spec gaming PC!
Did it meet expectations?
Here’s the question!
What can I run on it with relative ease, and what is causing it to struggle?
I’ve met goal one, with ease. Learning and understanding gaming builds in a way I’d never cared about before. The AMD vs Intel CPU thought process. The variety of CPU’s and GPU’s on the market and what they can provide.
I don’t know everything, far from it. But at least I have an idea of what seperates gaming PC’s from the office environment, and why.
Cases are as important as anything, in creating something that looks as good as it runs (or better!).
Goal 2 was to make it affordable. Which it was, but when you take perhiperals into account, too….it wasn’t a sub-£500 build. It was close, but a decent monitor took me over, and lets not forget I saved money on a case and PSU.
For the money, I got some good stuff, and I’m very happy with the end results. But I bet I could have been a touch more patient on the GPU and spend a fraction more on something better. But it’s a good lesson well-learned, and honestly, the little 3GB card is doing a good job!
I can upgrade the CPU, GPU and Memory off the same board, so I have room for this PC to grow, which I love. So I can start saving for those upgrades now!
But does it run games well?
This is all anyone wants to know, right? You’ve seen the parts list, you know it’s a PC build, so does it deliver?
Yes it does! So far, I’ve played Call of Duty Warzone with reasonable graphical settings, and not using all of the VRAM. I’ve been smashing a solid 60 frames per second in PUBG (a notoriously inconsistent game!).
I’ve set The Witcher 3 to “Ultra” on all graphical settings and it’s fine. Although I haven’t had chance to check the frame rate just yet. I have the 2016 release of DOOM to help put it through it’s paces, too. It’s fast-paced and sure to test any PC Build!
Time will tell, but I know it’s doing what I wanted, and I’m seeing things in games that I’ve layed, that I’ve never seen before. Extra textures, things that have just been cut-out of console releases, and it’s starting to open my eyes.
This PC Build is one of the best things I’ve ever done for this site, and as a personal project. It’s opened up opportunities for a broader spectrum of games and perhiperals. I have a new on-going pet-project and a means in which to play games both old and new, forever more.
I love this PC Build!!