Today’s computer game industry is more popular than ever, with both new and veteran gamers duking it out over the latest titles. Of course, having the most cutting edge PC hardware isn’t cheap. You can save money by building your own system (rather than buying an off-the- shelf model), but you need to be careful. One wrong part choice, or a supply mix-up can lead to an unstable system that doesn’t operate as expected.
I’ve built hundreds of systems over the years, working with several aftermarket enthusiasts who are now well known in the hardware community. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have learned some valuable lessons along the way.
If you’re in the market for a budget computer built under $100, this guide will put you in the right direction. There are several areas of concern when building a PC on a tight budget, but I can help you get started by discussing some key tips to keep in mind during your parts selection process.
Before we get to my tips, let’s discuss the bare essentials you’ll need when building a new gaming machine.
Picking the Right Case
Your case may not be the most expensive part in your system, but you want something that looks nice and provides functional cooling. A number of cases are available in the $50 to $100 range, so you should have plenty of choices.
My advice is to shop around, looking for a case that fits your needs without being too large or pricey.
Look for at least one 120mm fan, which provides more than adequate cooling for most situations. You can also choose a case with front USB and audio ports to save you from reaching around the back of your machine.
Choosing Your Power Supply Unit
Your power supply unit, or PSU, is one of the most important parts in your system. In fact, having a high-quality power supply is more important than CPU and graphics card if you want to get the most out of your system. A good PSU will provide stable power at a given load. You just want to be sure that you have a quality unit that will power your computer with full potential.
Buy Cheap Parts on Marketplaces Like eBay
You have many choices when it comes to finding budget parts on eBay, so I recommend shopping around. Search for computer cases and power supply units, and compare prices before making any decisions. I’ve had good luck buying cheap computer cases on eBay, because the selection is so large. There are also plenty of inexpensive power supply units available on eBay, but make sure you get a unit with 80 PLUS certification to ensure it meets high standards.
Get The Right CPU For Your Needs
The CPU (central processing unit) is an important component in your system, but you need to be careful when deciding on a CPU. Many of the low-cost processors available today are stripped down versions with limited performance potential. In most cases, I recommend going for at least a dual core processor from AMD or Intel if you want to have smooth gameplay.
Using a low-cost processor from AMD or Intel will help you save money, but you need to make sure it is supported by your motherboard. If you buy a compatible motherboard, the process of picking out your CPU should be simple.
Get The Right GPU For Your Needs
You’ll need a good video card to match your processor, especially if you plan on playing the latest games at their highest detail settings and resolutions. There are several viable video card options for budget PC gamers, but you need to match the graphics card with your processor.
Choose a gaming processor that is relatively cheap, but not so expensive that you’ll have trouble finding a decent video card. In general, AMD Radeon and Nvidia Geforce processors are good for entry-level gaming, so you might consider the Radeon 5450 CPU if you’re on a budget.
Building a gaming PC under $100 is possible, but it requires shopping around to find high-quality budget components.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to build a cheap gaming machine, but you have to be selective about the components you purchase. In general, I recommend sticking with quality parts, even if you have to pay a bit more.
The bottom line is that building your own system will give you the best possible gaming experience, but it requires careful planning to get the best budget components.