When you’re building a computer on a $450 budget you don’t exactly have a lot for extras. That’s ok because this PC is meant for gaming and that’s what our focus is on: building the best PC for performance for our $450 budget and nothing else.
Choosing the Right Graphics Card for Your Build
Contents at a Glance
Going into this build we’d planned out a GTX 1050 Ti as our graphics card of choice. But when AMD announced steep price cuts of their RX 470, a higher performing option, we decided to go that route. Admittedly we won’t get all the performance we can out of the RX 470. The i3 will be a bit of a bottleneck in certain titles.
Still, from what we’ve seen, we’re capable of at least 60 FPS ultra in most games, which is the goal. Any other games we might have issue with should be easy to play by adjusting to high settings or turning off or limiting Anti-aliasing.
There are plenty of RX 470 benchmarks out there; however, these change substantially with the i3. I played only two games for this particular benchmark; Skyrim Special Edition and Battlefield 1. For Skyrim, V-sync locked the framerate at 60FPS and it basically stayed there the entire time on ultra settings. For Battlefield 1, the framerate for 64-person multiplayer averaged at 64.2 with a minimum of 39 and maximum of 97. This was played across several different maps and took several hours to complete. There was one freeze. At high settings, I averaged 78.4 FPS with a minimum of 50 FPS and a max of 113 FPS.
|$450 PC Build||Model|
|Graphics Card||Gigbayte RX 470 Windforce|
|Motherboard||MSI H110M PRO-VD|
|Power Supply||EVGA 430W W1|
|Case||Thermaltake Versa H23|
|Storage||ADATA Premier SP 550 240GB|
Does the i3 Bottleneck the RX 470?
CPU usage was 95 to 100% at all times in Ultra settings. Clearly, this means we were bottlenecked again by our CPU. As our framerate was still above 64, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. In addition going to high settings or simply removing Anti-aliasing altogether, solves any issues you might run into.
We’re going with the Skylake i3-6100. It has amazing single core performance and has hyperthreading that makes it act as 4 cores when it needs it. No, this is not the same as having 4 separate cores; however, it does function well.
Spending another $75 $100 to go with an i5 here might be tempting. Would it do a better job at 1080p in games? Sure. But it would also increase our budget as much as 22%.
That same $100 means an extra game or two to those of you who are on a budget. Also, not everyone strictly plays AAA titles. For some, the combination of the i3 and RX 470 will be good enough.
If you’re not happy with having an i3, I strongly recommend you go with the i5-6400 or a similar alternative. Why? This is a budget build and we’re not looking to overclock. The i5-6400 comes with its own cooler which is a big plus as well. If we had to go with a motherboard that overclocks here and a separate CPU cooler, our costs would be through the roof.
Many people think that lower-end chipsets are limiting in terms of their gaming performance. This is not necessarily the case as stock performance isn’t really affected by chipset. I go into more detail about this in our MSI H110M Pro-VD review.
Ultimately, we’re going with a cheap $40 motherboard because it won’t help to go with something more expensive. Also, this has all the expansion slots we need and even a PCIe 3.0 x 16 slot for our RX 470.
The price we’re getting is after rebate. If you see this post much later than the date I made it, it’s likely the rebate on this exact motherboard has changed. Still, it’s easy enough to track down a good budget motherboard that’s on rebate and that’s what I recommend you do here.
The Thermaltake Versa H23 is a case with plenty of room for a full-sized graphics card and has toolless installation for all of your drive bays. It even has a window for viewing all of your internal hardware.
We were able to get the Versa H23 for just $25 after rebate. However, if you find it in the $50 range, I don’t really feel it’s worth the price as there are other better options at that price point. If you can’t find a decent rebate, something like the Fractal 1000 micro case is something that’s regularly a good price without rebates.
If you can’t find a decent rebate, something like the Fractal 1000 micro case is something that’s regularly a good price without rebates.
We’re looking for a cheap and good power supply here that is efficient and reasonably reliable. This can’t be a top tier power supply as that would simply eat too much of the budget. For that reason, we’re going with probably what’s the most popular power supply on the market right now in the EVGA W1. It’s an 80 Plus Certified bronze power supply with decent reliability and a three-year warranty.
The 500W version we’re going with is clearly more than we need but it’s cheap and gives us plenty of room to upgrade. If it’s a lot cheaper, the 430W version is plenty and can save you around $10. Using a Kill-A-Watt meter to see how much power we were using, this system stayed around 40 watts in idle and didn’t really go above 220 watts while gaming. Having used a calculator it shouldn’t ever need more than 242 watts at peak usage.
We don’t have enough for a hard drive and a solid state drive. Ultimately, I’d rather have a smaller capacity solid state drive and manage storage. Yes, it’s that much faster. If you need additional capacity you can always add it later. But a good OS install with your SSD can’t be understated.
We went with a 240GB A-Data model we could get for around $60. Having used it for a few days now, I’m happy with the performance so far.
We’re going with inexpensive DDR4 2133MHz memory in the Kingston HyperX Fury 4x2GB kit here. The motherboard we’re going with can’t go with anything faster, so why spend any more for higher speed memory?
If we only had $50 more, right? That’s what everyone tells themselves about their gaming PCs. But there’s never really an end to the upgrade path. So instead we build our rigs the best way we can at the time we build them. For more options, go to our builder’s guide to making a good and cheap gaming PC.
There are alternate versions of this build we could have done. We could have gotten an FX 8320 for about the same price as the i3-6100. This would have performed better in some games and worse than others. Overclocking this CPU would have certainly been the better option; however, that’s a much more expensive prospect. Think of it this way. If you overclocked the fx 8320 by purchasing a slightly more expensive motherboard than we have here as well as an aftermarket CPU cooler, you’re already in range of the i5-6400 – the next upgrade I’d make for this build.
Perhaps going with a GTX 1050 Ti here would have meant less bottlenecking with the GPU. And it would have saved us around $20. That being said when I look at the performance differential between it and the RX 470, it just didn’t seem like the right graphics card to go with. Still, I’d love to know what you think. Vote in our poll below and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.