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Want to build the cheapest gaming PC?

To build the cheapest gaming PC, there are some general factors like where you are located and how much you are willing to spend on this PC. I am assuming that you are located in India. It would be best, if you were to be located in Metros like Delhi or Mumbai. Here you get lots of options to choose from and will get good after-sales service if something goes wrong. As all of the major companies have their authorized service centres here.

You have three options here:

  1. You have safer option like choosing a gaming Desktop from brands like Dell Alienware or Asus ROG or Acer Predator. They will be one point of contact if you require any support in future. However, there are some huge downside like, limited choices of component, and their high end enthusiast gaming rigs are ludicrously expensive. I also noticed during a teardown of Alienware High-End Gaming PC that they use custom PSUs, and other components like RAM, cooler, even motherboards are of quite poor quality. They had tiny fan to cool the CPU, RAM sticks without heat spreaders, motherboard generic green or blue colour of God knows which OEM. Most of those offer 1 year warranty with additional warranty on very high rates.
  2. So then there is the other option of going through some online aggregator sites like Custom PC Builder | High Performance | Workstations & Gaming Systems | themvp.in etc. Here you get slightly more freedom with single point service like the first option. They have much less of a margin hence they would be slightly cheaper than branded desktop. Downside here is that, they do offer lots of options but not as much as fully custom PC. And they will be slightly expensive than custom PC.
  3. Then finally you have the option of getting a custom build cheapest gaming PC. Here you have a vast number of choice. It’s limited only by what your wallet can allow and availability of that particular component in India. You can go for buying individual parts and getting it assembled professionally or assemble ourselves provided if you have some understanding of it. I personally have some experience in assembling a desktop. To buy component you can go for www.mdcomputers.in…..An IT Arsenal..or Online Shopping site in India: Shop Online for Mobiles, Books, Watches, Shoes and More or Buy Online Computer Hardware | Gaming PC & Accessories | Gaming Laptops & more
  1. You can compare prices there and order. If you live in Delhi or nearby you can go to Nehru Place and buy components. You can have them assembled for free there or some small amount. Then you get the cheapest gaming PC.

The guide further is basically focuses on Option 2 and 3. But you can get a general idea even if you are going for option 1. Cost is most important thing while building any PC.

I am going to make some suggestion based on the different budget ranges at the end of this guide. There are two components to choose from which will influence all the other decisions: CPU and GPU. These two are the most crucial components for any PC, while GPU being more critical than the CPU for cheapest gaming PC.

1. CPU:

Two options here, Intel and AMD. A couple of years back Intel used to be the reigning champion of the Gaming segment. Last year AMD has launched Ryzen 3000 series CPUs which are based on Zen 2 architecture. AMD CPUs are not only cheaper than their Intel counterparts but they consume much less power for effectively the same performance.

To make matters worse for the Intel, AMD CPUs beat the shit out of much higher priced Intel CPUs in all other workloads except gaming. Intel CPUs like Core i7 – 9700k and Core i9 – 9900k are still best performing gaming CPUs but they are priced higher than the corresponding Ryzen 7 – 3700X and Ryzen 9 – 3900X. Moreover, since Intel has only just launched its mainstream 10th Generation Desktop CPUs which still doesn’t support PCIe 4.0 and require a new chipset and socket (Again). So AMD has lots of advantages given their offerings have features like PCIe 4.0 and still using their old trustworthy AM4 socket and being supported by their older gen chipsets like B450. Though, PCIe 4.0 is not very useful for GFX Cards, right now because even the monstrous RTX 2080 Ti does not saturate the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 x16 lane slot.

However, a few of the manufactures have launched PCIe 4.0 based SSDs, which are mindbogglingly fast. So it’s a tough task to choose a platform. If you only value gaming then go for Intel’s offering depending on your budget. You may even go for Core i3/i5 if your budget is limited. Beware for many of the Intel CPUs you have to buy CPU cooler separately as they do not include it within the box. AMD provides good-looking CPU cooler in the box with most of their CPUs. There are other things to consider like normally intel CPUs have in-built GPUs except the CPUs which carry F suffix in their number like i7 – 9700KF.

While all Ryzen 3000 series CPUs which are launched till the date don’t have inbuilt GPUs. CPUs also control the type and amount of RAM and max frequency it can support. So AMD CPUs support higher frequency RAMs while Intel doesn’t natively, in fact it locks down XMP Profiles of the RAM at a lower frequency on budget and mid-range chipsets like H370 or B360 based motherboard.

2. GPU:

Like I said earlier, GPU or Graphics Card matters more for games than the CPU. In the past, due to the frenzy created by Cryptocurrency mining using GPUs, their prices skyrocketed. But since start of 2019 they have come down. Like the CPU, we have two major players here nVidia and AMD (used to be ATI a while back, which was bought by AMD). Like the CPUs segment, AMD was a poor man’s choice a while nVidia was the King. However, since a couple of years AMD had made a comeback in the GPU segment as well. They have launched Radeon 5000 series cards with good performance and good value.

Choosing a CPU is much more easier than the GPU as you have to choose between two companies and be done with. However choosing GPU is more trickier. Because other than the two main GPU maker, there are so many other companies which buy GPUs from these two companies and customize them with fancy looking enclosures, fans and overclocking etc.

Hence people tend to get confused. There are several companies, which makes the Graphics card with GPUs from both nVidia and AMD, like Asus, Gigabyte and MSI. While there are several other companies that make graphics card from only one company’s GPUs. Like Sapphire and Powercolor makes AMD Graphics Card. Zotac, Galax, PNY and Inno3D make only nVidia based Graphics Card. I personally like Asus, Gigabyte and MSI because all three have a very wide presence and entire computer component segment and have good after-sales services. Obviously, they are slightly pricier than other companies’ offerings.

nVidia launched RTX 2000 series based GPUs in 2018. They made some change to those and launched RTX 2000 Super series and lots of other GPUs in GTX 1600 series in 2019. RTX has a new feature called Ray-tracing, which is supported by a few games at the moment. This enables GPU to render lighting like the real world. nVidia RTX 2000 series GPU based graphics cards can range from 30k to 1.5 lakhs may be even more. While AMD RX 5000 series can go from 25k to 45k. If you have lower budget then you can opt for the previous generation cards from both of the manufacturers like nVidia GTX 1000 series or maybe even 900 series depending on your budget.

3. Motherboard:

After you have decided which CPU you have chosen, next comes the motherboard. Motherboard comes in different sizes like ATX, mini ATX and ITX while ATX being the most common. After you have selected a CPU, two main things are going to affect the motherboard: Socket and Chipset. You must confirm before buying the Motherboard, that whether it has compatible socket and chipset as required by CPU. Intel 9th gen processors generally require motherboard with LGA1151 socket. While Ryzen 3000 series requires AM4 socket.

Chipset is important considering the fact, lots of component communicate through chipset to CPU and GPU. Chipset can control no. and type of available PCI Express Lanes, USB ports, support for SATA and M.2 storage and CPU overclocking. Current gen Intel CPUs (9th and 10th gen) use 300 series chipset with nomenclature like Q370, Z390 and latest being Z390. Intel CPU and Chipset including latest gen available on the date don’t support PCIe 4.0. AMD on the other hand chipset like B450, X370, X470 and latest being X570 with PCIe 4.0 support. Newly launched Threadripper 3000 series CPUs require new TRX40 platform.

Most gaming motherboard now a days comes with optional features like, Wi-Fi customizable RGB lighting, heatsinks for SSD. Some even with liquid based cooling system inbuilt. Some of the good motherboard manufacturers are Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.

4. RAM:

I would recommend go for DDR4 RAM only, not only because we are building cheapest gaming PC. But because it has gotten a lot cheaper compared to previous years. Earlier situation was like this, you had to pay 1K per GB of RAM. Now a days 5-6K can fetch you 16GB of decent RAM. DDR5 is about to launch too. However, that’s going to be way too expensive initially. RAM mainly has two things to consider, Frequency and CAS latency. Frequency higher the better and opposite for CAS latency. However, after certain level too high frequencies stop to matter, as they will be supported by the Motherboard or CPU. For present day games, 3000-3600 MHz is good.

Anything over that is overkill and won’t result in better performance in most games. RAMs come in attractive RGB lighting and cool looking heatsinks attached to them. Some of the good brands are Corsair, G.Skill, Kingston, and ADATA. I would recommend minimum of 8 GB RAM, 16 GB for most games and 32 GB if you have cash to spare.

5. Storage:

You have two option here: SSD or HDD. SSD (Solid State Drive) is much more faster than traditional HDD. A few years back SSD prices were somewhat ludicrous. People used to buy 120 GB SSD to install OS and a couple of applications in addition to the HDD, which used to store rest of the data. But like RAM, SSD prices have gone down a lot. You can buy 500 GB SSD for 6k and 1 TB for 10k. SSD can have SATA interface like HDDs or they can have M.2 interface. I would advise to go for NVMe PCIe based SSD with M.2 connector. They are fastest amongst the lot. You can also put an HDD for storing your other media and data.

6. Power Supply:

Your PC parts should get adequate power to properly function. A good Power Supply/SMPS is even more crucial if you plan to overclock your system. You can use an online calculator to calculate how much power your system would require. Add 100 Watts to be on safer side as your systems power requirement can change depending on use and overclocking ability. There are few good brands for Power Supply like Corsair, Cooler Master, and Antec etc.

Power Calculator: Power Supply Calculator | Cooler Master

7. Cabinet/Case:

Even if we are considering cheapest gaming PC, you need a case to house all of the above components. Size of Cabinet depends on the motherboard you picked. Go for the same size. ATX for ATX. Some cases provide number of large and small fans to proper ventilation which is important considering the fact gaming would generate lots of heat from the CPU, GPU and other components. You can choose from huge range of products here. Some with RGB lightings and custom designs. Just ensure that it is correct size to house all the components you have bought and sufficiently ventilated. Choose a case with a sufficient number of fans, which are able to maintain airflow inside. There are few good brands for cases like Cooler Master, Antec, and Corsair etc.

8. Cooling Solution:

If you are planning to overclock your CPU/GPU/RAM, then cooling becomes quite important. If you are seriously aiming to build the cheapest gaming PC, then I won’t recommend this. It’s even more important given the fact India has tropical climate in most of parts except some areas so ambient temperature could be quite high. Even with AC, it’s going to require some decent level of cooling. You can go with the air cooling solution or liquid based AIO solutions. If your case has some custom water based cooling solution, it’s good. Since Intel has stopped supplying the in box CPU cooler with most of their core series CPU line up, so it’s necessary to buy one.

While AMD on the other hand provide Wraith CPU cooler which is quite decent. Wraith Prism CPU cooler, which comes with Ryzen 3000 series CPUs, has RGB lighting. Water based AIO cooling solution looks good, have RGB and don’t take much space on motherboard unlike some Air based coolers which require huge heatsinks, sometimes rendering RAM slots and PCI slots inaccessible.

Both have their own merits and demerits. Air cooler are generally cheaper and okay in normal tasks while liquid based AIO are more expensive but really helps in maintaining temperature while overclocking. Some of companies like CoolerMaster and Antec makes both Air Coolers and AIO. Noctua is one of the company which manufactures really good quality Air Cooler. They can compete against even high quality water cooling solutions.

9. Monitor:

Since most games are basically audio-visual experience, hence a good quality monitor is quite essential. Here are 4 parameters to consider resolution, type of Panel, refresh rate and response time. Most common gaming monitor resolutions are 1080p (FHD), 1440p (QHD) and 2160p (4K or UHD). There are some unusual ones like Ultra Wide Monitors but they are expensive and sometimes Games don’t support them. There 4 types of panel, 3 types of LCD TN, VA and IPS, and OLED.

TN are most common, VA are slightly better than TN. IPS has better image quality. While OLED TVs have become mainstream, but not many option when it comes to monitor. They offer outstanding contrast levels with the best picture quality.

However, they are very expensive given their entirely different technology. And we are discussing about cheapest gaming PC. Next comes refresh rates, TN panels can offer very high refresh rate, while VA are somewhat in middle. IPS and OLED panel typically offer lower refresh rates compared to TN and VA panel. Normal monitors offer 60-75 Hz refresh rates. However, for gaming I would recommend 120 Hz or higher. Response time the lesser is the better. Modern OLEDs have the lowest response time but have lower refresh rates as well, usually below 90Hz. Response time of less than 8 ms is recommended while most dedicated game monitor with TN panel can offer 1 ms. Hence you have to choose the best compromise between budget, picture quality, refresh rate and response time.

a) For speed, responsiveness, and budget friendly: TN

b) For best picture quality in LCD monitor: IPS

c) For compromise in above two: VA

d) The absolute best picture quality and no cost bar: OLED

10. Keyboard and Mouse:

Especially for FPS games, Keyboard and Mouse can play very important role. A high precision mouse, can improve accuracy. For cheapest gaming PC, there are lot many options to choose from here. Razer, Logitech, CoolerMaster and Corsair are some of the good brands.

Keyboards have different kinds of switches to trigger the key press action like Mechanical Switches, Cherry MX switches. Mouse you can buy wired or wireless. As per some reviewer it doesn’t make much of difference.

You can also buy combos offered by different brands. And like everything else they do come in RGB backlighting. Consider this if you have good budget to build your cheapest gaming PC.

My Personal Rig

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X

AMD Ryzen 7 3800X

GPU: Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super 3F OC

Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super 3F OC

Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix X570-E

Asus ROG Strix X570-E

RAM: Gskill Trident Z RGB 16×2 GB 3200 MHz CL16

Gskill Trident Z RGB 16x2 GB 3200 MHz CL16

Primary Storage: Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500 GB PCIe 3.0×4 NVMe SSD

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500 GB PCIe 3.0x4 NVMe SSD

Secondary SSD: Western Digital WD Black NVME SN750 500GB

Western Digital WD Black NVME SN750 500GB

2 TB Seagate Barracuda HDD

2 TB Seagate Barracuda HDD
Power Supply: Antec Earthwatt 750 Watt 80Plus Gold
Antec Earthwatt 750 Watt 80Plus Gold

Cabinet: Antec DF500 RGB

Antec DF500 RGB

Cooling Solution: In CPU box AMD Wraith Prism Fan (Planning to Upgrade to AIO)

AMD Wraith Prism Fan

Monitor: ASUS TUF VG27AQL1A 27 Inch WQHD 170Hz Monitor

ASUS TUF VG27AQL1A 27 Inch WQHD 170Hz Monitor

Keyboard: ASUS ROG Strix Scope RGB Opto-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

ASUS ROG Strix Scope RGB Opto-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Mouse: Razer Viper 16K DPI Sensor

Razer Viper 16K DPI Sensor

Edit 1: Some recommendations are updated. Images are added for visualization purposes. All images are respective property of their vendor and authorized resellers at sites like Amazon. All these recommendation are as per my personal opinion. Grammar related correction.

Edit 2: Intel has launched 10th gen Comet Lake CPUs sometime back. However their availability was limited in India. Now I see some of the SKUs are readily available in India. The main change from 9th is that, they can have higher boost clocks crossing 5.0 GHz. And they have added a new term or feature called thermal velocity boost.

Turbo Boost 2.0 is a single-core boost available if the CPU’s running under its power, current and temperature specifications.

Turbo Boost Max 3.0 This applies to two favored cores out of all cores provides increased performance on those cores through increasing frequency as needed by taking advantage of power and thermal headroom.

Single-Core Thermal Velocity Boost It boost faster of the two favored CPU cores to a speed higher than what’s achieved with Turbo Boost Max 3.0.

Edit 3: I am updating some of my recommendations based on new products launched. We are all aware of the graphics card scenario right now. Hope things will get better soon.

Edit 4: I have upgraded some of my own PC Parts and Peripherals. Added new WD 500 GB SSD, Changed monitor Benq 4K 32 inch to Asus Tuf 27 inch 1440p 170 Hz. Upgraded Keyboard to Asus ROG Strix Scope Opto-mechanical switches and Mouse to Razer Viper from earlier Coolermaster Combo.


Top PC Games to play on a Potato PC


Source: Manoj Kumar at Quora 


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