This £164 Gaming PC Is Awesome! Building A Decent Gaming PC For Under £200
Posted by GameRoomOne on October 5th, 2020
This £164 Gaming PC Is Awesome! Building A Decent Gaming PC For Under £200
A friend of mine recently asked me whether It’s possible to build a decent gaming PC for in the UK for around £160 and by decent I mean that it’s got to be able to play E-Sports games like Fortnite and Apex Legends at high frame rates and also run triple A titles like Doom Eternal and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider at playable frame rates.
And what you’re looking at above is the PC I built for just over £160, in the video above I’ll run through all of the components I’ve used to build this budget gaming PC, I’ll also show you a bunch of benchmarks later in this video but as a teaser this cheap gaming PC can run Fortnite at 100+ FPS and also run more demanding games like Doom Eternal at surprisingly good frame-rates, all for less than the cost of a used ps4.
Ok with that said let’s first take a look at the PC I used as the basis of this project.
The main PC For Our Budget Gaming PC Build
Now people building cheap gaming PC’s on Youtube tend to say the same thing.. “buy a cheap Dell Optiplex” and throw a low wattage GPU in it, something like an Nvidia GTX 750 TI and sure that’s one option, there’s no shortage of cheap Optiplex’s available but this approach isn’t always as simple as it sounds.
You could find yourself dealing with non-standard motherboard connectors plus you’re stuck dealing with a locked down bios, I’ve personally had issues with Optiplex machines refusing to recognise certain sticks of ram, it’s also a bit of a lottery whether they’ll recognise the GPU or CPU you’d like to use.
So for this reason, I decided to try and avoid an Optiplex and instead opt for something else, this is when I stumbled across Novatech, they’re a UK based PC manufacturer but rather than make their own motherboards they use third party motherboards from well-known brands.
And this is the PC I went for, a Novatech system based on a 4th generation intel CPU. I paid £59 delivered for this PC from Ebay.
It Was A Disgusting Mess
Now sure it was cheap, but when it arrived I was greeted by this.. it was absolutely filthy.
So I spent the first few hours of owning this machine with a hoover and other cleaning products giving this machine a good clean.
Fortunately, the various components came up great and more importantly they work perfectly. So let’s take a look at what’s inside the Novatech PC that’s going to be used for our budget gaming pc.
Let’s Look At The Components
So first things first, I was very pleased to see that this machine is packing a Gigabyte H81 motherboard, we’ve got USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 onboard and as mentioned earlier, instead of dealing with a locked down OEM bios we’ve got a good quality Gigabyte UEFI bios to work with.
And because this is a Gigabyte motherboard, we’re also working with completely standard power and fan connectors so there’s no need to mess with any adapters when upgrading components.
Plus let’s be honest, this Gigabyte motherboard, with it’s black PCB and white writing just looks so much better than the motherboards you get in typical OEM systems from Dell, Lenovo, Acer etc.
Next up, let’s take a look at the CPU, the listing stated that this machine was running an Intel i3 4170 but when pulling this system apart I found an i3-4130, I was a bit disappointed by this but it’s a cheap PC so I can’t complain too much. Plus we’re going to be upgrading the CPU anyway.
We’ll also be using the stock Intel cooler, it’s not pretty but it’s relatively quiet and we won’t be overclocking our CPU so this should cope just fine.
Next up this machine came fitted with a single 4gb stick of 1600mhz DDR3 and again because we’re using a Gigabyte motherboard we can make sure this is running at the right speed.
This is an area that’s given me trouble on OEM motherboards. I had an Optiplex that supported 1600mhz according to the Dell documentation but instead defaulted to 1333mhz.
And lastly this machine came fitted with a 500gb Western Digital hard drive, nothing particularly special but it’s a 7200rpm drive and is big enough to store a few some games.
And all of this came wrapped in a fairly generic Novatech case, it’s not going to win any awards for style but it’s not ugly and there’s plenty of room for long graphics cards.
Turning The Novatech Into A Sub £200 Gaming PC
And this brings us to the fun bit, upgrades…
Now when picking out upgrades I had a choice, prioritise CPU power or GPU power, for this reason I opted to upgrade to a relatively inexpensive i5 4590 CPU, this cost £26.95 delivered.
I was also able to sell the i3 back to CEX for a fiver which subsidizes the cost of our i5. I’m of the opinion that a quad core CPU is a minimum for gaming nowadays and these 4th gen quad cores still do a decent job in 2020.
Opting for a relatively inexpensive CPU leaves us with more budget for a graphics card but before we can do that we’re going to need to upgrade the stock PSU, the 300w item it came with is fine for an office PC but we’ll need something more powerful to run a decent graphics card.
So after watching many auctions I went for this Corsair VS550 psu. It was on auction with the option to make an offer, I offered £28.50 which the seller accepted, with postage this came to £32.20 and Importantly this PSU has two 8 pin PCI-express connectors, this really opens up our options when it comes to choosing a graphics card.
Next I picked up a second 4gb stick of DDR3 1600mhz ram from my local CEX store, this cost me £8, it’s a mushkin stick so should be decent quality. This gives us a total of 8gb or ram which is still just about enough for most modern games.
And now for the most important bit, the graphics card.. I opted for a Radeon 7970 which I picked up from CEX for £41.95 delivered.
Now when ordering from CEX there’s no way of knowing exactly which card you’ll get, if you’re lucky you might get a card with an aftermarket cooler but the card CEX sent me is a reference design and initially I was having some issues with it running a bit hot. But stripping it down, giving it a good clean and replacing the thermal paste sorted this out.
It’s also worth noting that there’s two version of the 7970, earlier cards that run with a 925mhz core clock and later “GHZ edition” cards that tend to run a bit faster at something like 1030mhz as standard. The card I received is the earlier 925mhz model, but I was able to overclock it to match the core speeds of the later GHZ edition and didn’t have any issues running on these settings.
The 7970 is still a decent card, when it launched it was often compared to the GTX 770 but more recently and thanks to having better support for low level API’s like Vulcan it often outperforms a GTX 780 in new titles so at £40 ish these are an absolute bargain.
At this stage I just want to mention a couple of optional extras, you don’t need these to get the system up and running but they’re nice to have if you’ve got a bit of extra cash.. the first of these options is to add an SSD, you can get by with just the mechanical hard drive, but I really struggle using PC’s without an SSD’s nowadays, everything just feels so much slower without an SSD.
You can pick up decent 240GB SSD’s for £25 nowadays and they’re worth every penny. Even if you don’t have the cash to add an SSD straight away I’d make it the first upgrade you make when you do have some more cash.
And finally I picked up a 120mm Red LED fan to blow some cool air towards our graphics card, again this is optional, the graphics card wasn’t overheating without this but for the an extra £6.50 this is well worth adding, plus I wanted to add a bit of colour to our case.
So without the SSD and additional fan this machine came to just over £160, even with the SSD and fan it still comes in at under £200.
Ok, so there you have it, at times the performance I was getting from this budget gaming PC genuinely surprised me, we’ve built an entire PC for less than the cost of a GTX 1660 and what I thinks great about this approach is that when you’re ready to upgrade to a more powerful graphics card you’ve already got a good enough power supply to run most graphics cards.
This budget gaming PC may have worked out a bit more expensive than going down the low wattage graphics card route but I think spending a little bit more will be worth it in the long run.