Value 1080p Gaming Performance for $300-$325:
While it may not seem like a lot of money, going from our $200 build to $300 build makes a world of difference in terms of performance. I’ve heard from many gamers that it’s simply not worth it to build a PC up until $500. As a result of this build, I feel that this mentality might change.
Perhaps it’s Intel’s new G3258 that makes this all possible or even that graphical performance per dollar has climbed upwards over the last few years while graphical requirements for games haven’t kept up. Either way, the Gaming PC at this price range is not only possible, it also greatly outperforms the likes of consoles in this same price range.
G3258 Vs. Athlon 750k
Even at stock speeds the G3258 performs better than the 750k overclocked in Battlefield 4, a game that should be able to take advantage of the 750ks additional cores. While this flip flops on a few games, the Intel Pentium G3258 is nearly always the winner with a reasonable overclock.
While some might point out that the Athlon 750k can be overclocked with a cheaper motherboard, the same can now be said about the G3258. This is because BIOS updates from motherboard manufacturers now allow overclocking of the Pentium G3258 on H81, B75, H87, and H97 chipsets. Considering the G3258 is found as low as $55 while the 750k is $70 at the time I’m writing this article, this decision has become an easy one.
How well does the G3258 overclock with a cheap motherboard?
When put with a high-end machine the G3258 can safely overclock to about 4.7GHz. Results for this may vary based upon the quality of the CPU you get and the hardware you use; however, for this build using a high-end setup simply doesn’t make sense. Instead, we’re left trying to get the motherboard that will give us the best overclock or value for the money. In the Tom’s Hardware article, I quoted above the MSI H81M-P33 was used to overclock the Pentium G3258 to a stable 4.5GHz at 1.3 volts.
This gives you an insane amount of performance for what could even be under $100. It’s a safe bet that there could be another motherboard out there that can give equal or better performance to this one at the $50 price range; however, in the research I’ve done I haven’t come across it. This Anandtech thread should give you a very good idea of the performance testing that’s out there so far.
A Good Under $300 to $350 Gaming PC Build with Parts List:
|CPU||Intel Pentium G3258||Incredible overclocker and will overclock with certain budget boards. A Bios update may be required for some.|
|Graphics Card||Gigabyte R7 260X||Fantastic performance for around $100 after rebate.|
|Power Supply||EVGA 430w 80 Plus PSU||A good value for the money. Also look for sales on the CX 430 as well as the 500w version of this same model.|
|Motherboard||MSI Motherboard H81M-P33||A 4.5GHz overclock is possible with this motherboard.|
|RAM||Crucial Ballistix 4GB or model CT51264BA160B||Nothing special about this ram. Fast and cheap.|
|Hard Drive||250GB WD Caviar Blue||I like this series because it's reliable and cheap. Quadruple the capacity for double the price here.|
Good Gaming Graphics Cards Under $100 for Q1 2014:
If you’re looking hard in this price range, then most likely you’ll find two options that stick out above others; the R7 260X for $99.99 and the GTX 750 Ti as low as $119.99. Whether the 750 Ti is worth it performance-wise really depends upon the game that you’re playing. The difference in performance can be up to 10% between these two graphics cards but usually hovers in the 0-5% range. The card you end up choosing and whether or not you plan on overclocking will also vary your results. To stay within our budget, we’re sticking with the R7 260X.
Average FPS Benchmarks for the R7 260X:
Crysis 3 1080p Medium + FXAA: 43.2
Battlefield 4 1080p High Quality: 44.8
Total War Rome 2 High quality and Medium Shadows: 81.8
Benchmark Disclaimer: As you can see it’s a good performer overall. These numbers are indicative of using a higher-end CPU but should still give you a good reference point since they’re using a stock card without an overclock.
Benchmark Source: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7764/the-nvidia-geforce-gtx-750-ti-and-gtx-750-review-maxwell/17
Power Supply Options Under $25 to $30:
While you could certainly be tempted to go with a cheap power supply, don’t. That being said in the $30 range you can still get a 400+ 80 PLUS certified option from a decent manufacturer. This month I’m going with the EVGA 430 Watt PSU, but this option might change for you based upon what’s available. If you plan on expanding much in the future, the 500w version of this power supply might well be worth it for $10 more.
Thoughts for the Rest of the Parts:
Everything else for this build should meet a small budget. For Hard Drive, I recommend the Western Digital Caviar Blue series. The 250 GB version starts at around $25 moving up to the 1TB at $50. For RAM this month we’re going with 4GB of Crucial Ballistix. It’s on sale for around $35, is reliable, and reasonably fast. Adding an additional 4GB is an easy upgrade that many will want to make in the future or simply purchase with the initial build.
For your case, you’ll want to find something that’s both inexpensive and good. This month I like Antec’s VSK-40 Micro case, but better options can certainly be found in the $30 price range when on a rebate. Look for the Cooler Master 430, 431, or Rosewill Challenger on sale for a good deal as an alternative to the Antec Case we’re currently using.
Overall Thoughts on the $300 to $350 Gaming PC Vs. Xbox One and PS4:
Price and performance for this build are really off the chain in comparison to the $300 build we featured earlier this year in our top gaming computers series. If you want to extend the budget for this build, I’d consider upgrading the graphics card first before the CPU. It’s hard to not get excited for a fun build like this one but as always I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts in the open discussion area below this page.