Build a PC that Doesn’t Suck for $300 (2008)


Compute For LESS!

Starting off building a lower budget gaming system is a great option. I have a budget of $300-$350. Remember that you can always upgrade your hardware anytime you get the money to do so. This article is for those who want a gaming system but can not afford the high price hardware that is out there. All hardware mentioned in this article is available on OCmodshop’s Shopping page.
We are going to start with the case. This really is not important and it all depends on your style. Some people want a flashy case with LED lights all over etc. That is not necessary when on a budget. Any case would do, even your old Dell case you may have in storage. I have chosen to buy a Rosewill Mid Tower Case for only $21.99, but you can find plenty of other inexpensive cases.

Now let’s get started with the real hardware. You should start with a PSU. Buy the best PSU that you can afford to buy. You do not want to buy a cheap PSU and end up damaging one of your components. Make sure that your PSU has the power connector needed for your motherboard and hard drive. The minimum PSU should be a 350watt unit. I have actually found a 550w unit for only $29.99.  The Power Supply is one component you usually don’t want to skimp on, so this is the area where you  might want to upgrade.  Check the prices and quality of different power supplies.

Next up is the processor. You have a choice between AMD and Intel. AMD usually do more per clock cycle than Intel, but on the other hand Intel usually is rated at higher megahertz than AMD. It’s all up to you. I went with AMD using AMD Athlon 64 x2 5000 for only $52.99.
Since we have chosen a processor lets talk about heatsinks. Most retail CPU’s come with a heat sink and fan but the ones provided won’t really be good enough seeing we are going for a gaming system. Try to find a heatsink with a slow fan to keep the noise down.
Motherboards should be next on your list. Make sure your motherboard supports your other hardware and processor. On board sound and networking should be available also. On board video is a plus but it should not be used for a gaming system. To go with the system I’m putting together I’m going to use one made by EliteGroup. That only cost $44.99.

Now you need memory, not for your memory but for your system. Buy brand name memory like Kingston and Corsair. I recommend you get at least 2GB of memory. I have chosen 2GB of memory from OCZ made especially for Windows Vista. Cost for this was $22.99.

Now its time to focus on the sound for your system. I recommend not using only the onboard sound. I say get a decent sound card to use. It will affect your gaming experience just a tad. I went with a sound card from Creative that cost $26.99.
A video card is important when it comes to gaming. I recommend getting a video card with at least 128mb of RAM. The video card I have chosen has 512mb of RAM for only $47.99.
On to the hard drive. I recommend the smallest hard drive you get is 200GB. I have found a hard drive with 320GB for only $49.99.
Now you might want CD players, CDR-RW, DVD players, DVD-R+R are priced pretty low these days and if you want to spend the money you can put both a DVD and CDR-RW in your budget gamer. I would recommend you go with a combo unit-CDRW/DVD. You can play and burn CDs and play DVDs. A combo unit like that will run around $50 dollars.
Now on to case cooling. You will need at least 2 case fans of at least 80mm. Mount one in the bottom front and have it blow the air into the case. Mount the other fan in the back panel near the middle or where the mounting place for it is and have it blow the air out of the case. There will be an arrow on the side of the fan showing which way the air blows out of the fan. 80mm case fans will run around 8 to 12 dollars each.
In summary pick your components carefully and match them as close together as possible and shop for the best deals you can find. You can build a budget gaming system that with a little tweaking can still kick some ass and take names as long as your playing skills are up to it. Plus it will not break the pocket book. If you spend the time looking you can find what you need for less than I have quoted above. I know I did. You can find some good buys on used stuff from e-bay and computer stores where they have done upgrades. Stores have clearance sales and there are the on-line stores also. If using the products I picked you will spend a little over three hundred dollars which is cheap for a decent gaming system.
This article was a guest submission. Do you want to be a guest writer too? Just fill out this form and submit your article!