Assembling a gaming computer: inexpensive, but powerful

It would seem that quite recent­ly we could not imag­ine a gam­ing com­put­er with­out a dis­crete graph­ics card. But the emer­gence of AMD APUs with inte­grat­ed Vega graph­ics and the sharp rise in prices for video cards invol­un­tar­i­ly forced us to recon­sid­er our atti­tude towards a gam­ing PC. And in today’s arti­cle, it turned out that actu­al­ly two con­fig­u­ra­tions were pre­sent­ed. One of them is designed for users with a very lim­it­ed bud­get, and the oth­er is for those who have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to over­pay a lit­tle, but make their PC much faster.

Despite the notice­able dif­fer­ence in prices, both con­fig­u­ra­tions are quite viable and capa­ble of pulling almost any AAA projects, although their graph­ics qual­i­ty will still be notice­ably dif­fer­ent.

Choosing a processor

  • Intel Core i5-11400F — 150$.
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3400G — 180$.

Intel proces­sors have always been strong in sin­gle-thread­ed per­for­mance, while AMD proces­sors excelled them in mul­ti-thread­ed oper­a­tions. And that is why many gamers often opt­ed for Intel, and pro­fes­sion­als pre­ferred to use AMD proces­sors. But recent­ly this choice has ceased to be so obvi­ous.

Now we are more guid­ed by the pos­si­bil­i­ty of using inte­grat­ed or dis­crete graph­ics. If you have the option of buy­ing a graph­ics card, we rec­om­mend tak­ing a clos­er look at Intel Core i5-11400F — in our opin­ion, the best mid-range gam­ing proces­sor.

If the video card is too expen­sive, then here comes to the res­cue AMD Ryzen 5 3400G. This proces­sor costs sev­er­al tens of dol­lars more than the Core i5-11400F, but it is equipped with enough fast inte­grat­ed graph­ics that can even pull extreme­ly “heavy” AAA titles. He also has the abil­i­ty to over­clock, which is deprived Core i5-11400F.

An alter­na­tive to the Intel Core i5-11400F could be the Core i5-11400. This proces­sor dif­fers from the mod­el with the let­ter “F” only in the pres­ence of inte­grat­ed graph­ics and a slight­ly high­er price tag. But the iGPU of the proces­sor los­es to the Ryzen 5 3400G graph­ics in all respects and can hard­ly be con­sid­ered a full-fledged replace­ment for a dis­crete graph­ics card.


Do you need a dis­crete graph­ics card or is inte­grat­ed graph­ics suf­fi­cient?

Choosing a motherboard

  • ASRock B560 Pro4 — 950$
  • GIGABYTE B450M DS3H V2 — 45$.

The choice of moth­er­board direct­ly depends on which proces­sor you decide to use. If you set­tled on the Intel Core i5-11400F, then we rec­om­mend the moth­er­board ASRock B560 Pro4 on the B560 chipset.

In the case of the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G, you should look at a much cheap­er GIGABYTE B450M DS3HV2.

The Intel Core i5-11400F does not have over­clock­ing capa­bil­i­ty, so it makes absolute­ly no sense to over­pay for this option when buy­ing a moth­er­board. How­ev­er, despite the lack of over­clock­ing capa­bil­i­ty, ASRock B560 Pro4 is equipped with an addi­tion­al heatsink, three M.2 ports and four RAM slots.

As for the GIGABYTE B450M DS3H V2, there is an excel­lent over­clock­ing poten­tial for mem­o­ry and proces­sor, a PCIe 4 slot, four RAM slots, and even a VRM mos­fet heatsink. This is a very impres­sive sub-$50 moth­er­board kit that opens up a sea of ​​pos­si­bil­i­ties for over­clock­ing and upgrad­ing your PC.

Choosing RAM

  • Patri­ot Mem­o­ry SL CL19 PSD416G26662 (8GBx2) — 70$.

When buy­ing any RAM, always try to opt for RAM kits that are guar­an­teed to be able to work in 2‑channel mode. This is espe­cial­ly impor­tant when it comes to inte­grat­ed graph­ics. In our case, we rec­om­mend using RAM Cor­sair Vengeance LPX CMK16GX4M2Z2666C16 (8GBx2).

On the one hand, this is a com­pro­mise solu­tion — many games may not have enough 16 GB of RAM. But don’t for­get that your moth­er­board has four RAM slots, and you can at least dou­ble that in the future. As for the set we pro­posed, it oper­ates at the stan­dard fre­quen­cy of 2666 MHz and is chas­ing very well. For our assem­bly, this is quite enough, and the price of the kit is very demo­c­ra­t­ic — only 70$.

Choosing a computer case

  • Zal­man S2 Black — 30$.

Com­put­er cas­es have long ceased to be bor­ing met­al box­es for stor­ing com­po­nents. Now you can find mul­ti­func­tion­al solu­tions with an inter­est­ing design at an afford­able price. One of them is the body Zal­man S2 Blackwhich has gar­nered a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back.

The high demand for this mod­el is due to its amaz­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics. This is a roomy case that allows you to install a CPU cool­er up to 156 mm high and a graph­ics card up to 330 mm long. A reg­u­lar fan is pro­vid­ed on the rear wall of the case, it also has 5 addi­tion­al seats for turnta­bles. The case implies a low­er mount for the pow­er sup­ply, and 5 stor­age media will fit inside. Decent per­for­mance for a rea­son­able price.

Choosing a power supply

  • COUGAR VTE600 600W — 40$

Even a 400W PSU will be enough for our build, but we pre­fer to take every­thing with a small mar­gin. It is not known how you want to upgrade your com­put­er in the future, but there will be room for choice. There­fore, we set­tled on a 600 watt unit. This is enough even if you switch to a video card and proces­sor from the pre­mi­um seg­ment.

The Cougar com­pa­ny has long estab­lished itself in the mar­ket, because they make good blocks. For 40$ we get a full 600 W and 80 PLUS Bronze cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. There are also var­i­ous pro­tec­tions against over­load and short cir­cuit. 6 15-pin SATA con­nec­tors will allow you to pow­er all the dri­ves that the above-described case can accom­mo­date.

Choosing drives

  • Sil­i­con Pow­er P34A80 256 GB — 45$.
  • West­ern Dig­i­tal WD10EZEX 1 TB — 45$.

Any mod­ern com­put­er pro­vides for the need to use a sol­id state dri­ve for the sys­tem par­ti­tion and a hard disk for stor­ing infor­ma­tion that is not demand­ing on the speed of access. Of course, pro­vid­ed that you do not want to spend mon­ey on a gigan­tic SSD.

As a sys­tem SSD, we rec­om­mend using a fair­ly inex­pen­sive, but very pro­duc­tive Sil­i­con Pow­er P34A80. Priced at Rs. This is more than enough for the PC to boot in just sec­onds, and the oper­at­ing sys­tem to fly.

SSD is great. It’s fast and con­ve­nient. But any gamer is faced with the need to store hun­dreds of giga­bytes of games. Using a sol­id state dri­ve for this is too waste­ful, and point­less — you will not get much advan­tage in the speed of the game. There­fore, you are unlike­ly to be able to do with­out a hard dri­ve. We did not exper­i­ment with the choice of HDD, so we offer a time-test­ed 1 TB mod­el West­ern Dig­i­tal WD10EZEX worth about 40$. This dri­ve has a high spin­dle speed, which means that read and write oper­a­tions on it will be faster than the stan­dard 5400 rpm.

Choosing a video card

  • ASUS TUF Gam­ing GeForce GTX 1650 OC 4 GB — 300$.

The graph­ics card has become the most painful choice when build­ing a gam­ing PC. The pop­u­lar­i­ty of min­ing has led to a sharp increase in the cost of video cards, and although the sit­u­a­tion on the mar­ket has recent­ly sta­bi­lized a bit, their cost is still very far from ade­quate.

That is why one of the builds we pro­posed pro­vides for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of using an APU with fair­ly fast inte­grat­ed graph­ics. If you have made a choice in favor of the Intel Core i5-11400F, then you can­not do with­out a video card. In the price range we have cho­sen, there are sim­ply no video cards with ray trac­ing, and the ASUS TUF GeForce GTX 1650 GAMING OC 4GB mod­el, which costs about 300$, looks like the most ade­quate of the avail­able options.

It is she who, in our opin­ion, has the best price / per­for­mance ratio in this price range.

Which one and how much cool­er — com­par­i­son of video cards Radeon RX 6600 XT and Radeon RX 6700 XT in actu­al games at 2K res­o­lu­tion

Total: gaming PC build cost

The mar­ket sit­u­a­tion forced us to offer two PC builds at once. One of them is focused on HD gam­ing and will cost you about 460$, while the oth­er is opti­mal for play­ing in Full HD res­o­lu­tion with medi­um graph­ics set­tings. The dif­fer­ence in their capa­bil­i­ties, first of all, is con­nect­ed with a dis­crete video card, which has long become almost a lux­u­ry item.

Although in fair­ness it is worth not­ing the third option for assem­bling a PC for opti­mists who are count­ing on a quick reduc­tion in the cost of video cards. Such users should install an Intel Core i5-11400 proces­sor in their com­put­er. The poten­tial of its inte­grat­ed graph­ics is not enough for full-fledged gam­ing, but it will be enough for the role of a stub “until bet­ter times.”

Build #1 (Discrete Graphics Card)

  • Case Zal­man S3 Black: 3000
  • ASRock B560 Pro4 Moth­er­board: 9500
  • Proces­sor Intel Core i5-11400F: 15,000
  • RAM Cor­sair Vengeance LPX CMK16GX4M2Z2666C16 (8 GB x 2): 7500
  • Hard Dri­ve: West­ern Dig­i­tal WD10EZEX: 4500
  • SSD Sil­i­con Pow­er P34A80: 4500
  • ASUS TUF Gam­ing GeForce GTX 1650 OC 4 GB: 30,000
  • COUGAR VTE600 600W pow­er sup­ply: 4000

Total: 780$.

Build #2 (Integrated Graphics)

  • Case Zal­man S3 Black: 3000
  • Moth­er­board GIGABYTE B450M DS3H V2: 4500
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3400G Proces­sor: 18,500
  • RAM Cor­sair Vengeance LPX CMK16GX4M2Z2666C16 (8 GB x 2): 7500
  • Hard Dri­ve: West­ern Dig­i­tal WD10EZEX: 4500
  • SSD Sil­i­con Pow­er P34A80: 4500
  • COUGAR VTE600 600W pow­er sup­ply: 4000

Total: 460$.

We do not argue, it will not be pos­si­ble to assem­ble a gam­ing com­put­er for a pen­ny. By the way, do you have any rec­om­men­da­tions? Write about them in the com­ments.

And we also have oth­er use­ful mate­ri­als for fans of inde­pen­dent assem­blies. For exam­ple, the top 5 fastest NVMe dri­ves or the review of NVIDIA cards in 2021.

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