Building A Gaming PC On A Budget

When you’re watching a PC gamer unveil their monster rig on YouTube, it can often seem like the world of PC gaming is prohibitively expensive. You’ll never be able to afford to get into PC gaming if you’re not rich, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. With just a little cash and a lot of buyer’s ingenuity, it’s entirely possible to build a great gaming PC on a budget and still be able to play some of the best games on the market. If you play your cards right – and you’re willing to make a few sacrifices – you can build great gaming PCs with £500 loans. Here’s how to build a great gaming PC on a budget.


Ignore ray tracing

The first thing you need to know if you want to build a gaming PC on a budget is that ray tracing isn’t important. While this nascent technology could become something truly incredible later down the line, it’s unlikely that your gaming experience will be significantly enhanced with the way ray tracing operates today.

When you’re searching for a graphics card for your new PC, don’t worry too much about ray tracing. Nvidia’s RTX range isn’t yet capable of implementing ray tracing in games without significant sacrifices, possibly making your game look worse than it would without ray tracing. Cards like the GTX 1650 Super are perfect for your budget gaming PC; they won’t render games in 4K or use ray tracing, but you won’t need that to enhance your gaming experience.


Stick with 1080p

Most PC gamers don’t need 4K resolution. While this isn’t necessarily true for console gamers due to the size of most TVs, PC monitors are usually around 24-27 inches, and this size just isn’t big enough to warrant a 4K resolution. You may be able to tell the difference, but gaming at 1080p when you’re sitting as close to your display as most PC gamers do will be more than sufficient.

This goes for both your graphics card and your monitors. You can stick with 1080p for your displays, but the most important thing to aim for is a 144Hz refresh rate. Fluid motion is more important than flashy graphics, and many 1080p monitors that feature a 144Hz refresh rate can be had for relatively little cash. Prioritise your refresh rate over your resolution for big gains when building a budget gaming PC.


Keep memory relatively low

The days of being able to scrape by with 8GB RAM in your gaming PC are long gone. If you want to run a decent gaming machine, you’re going to need at least 16GB memory, as this should be enough to run the most demanding games and Windows at the same time. However, you won’t need more than that, so don’t let those pre-builds with 32GB of RAM tempt you.

More memory is usually useful for heavy applications like editing suites rather than gaming. RAM helps your PC rapidly switch between applications, so unless you’re going to be streaming a lot (and even then, you may not need a lot of memory) and juggling applications regularly, 16GB will more than suffice for your budget machine.


Don’t buy wireless peripherals

Not only do wireless peripherals like keyboards and mice come at a premium, they’re also often less good for gaming than traditional wired options. When you hook a keyboard up to your PC with a cable, you’re eliminating any potential interference from other wireless signals, and you’re also reducing lag to the point that it will be theoretically negligible.

In contrast, wireless peripherals can sometimes lag or suffer from delays, and even if they don’t, they’ll either need to be recharged or have their batteries replaced. This is a hassle for which you really don’t need to incur the extra costs, so just keep everything wired. At a push, it’s a good idea to opt for a wireless headset, but you don’t need a wireless keyboard or mouse, and you certainly don’t need wireless speakers.


Don’t get extra storage drives

It’s generally a good idea to keep your PC running smooth and light. With that in mind, extra storage drives like HDDs aren’t necessary. For your PC build, you should incorporate a single SSD that runs both the operating system and all of your games. Make sure not to install too much software at once and perform regular checks on your storage drive to clean it out, and you should be fine.

If you do need an extra drive, then stretching for a second SSD probably isn’t necessary. A second drive is ideal for storing things like pictures and video content, especially if you’re a streamer. With that in mind, since the second drive is effectively just a place to keep things, you don’t need fast access speeds, so a traditional spinning HDD is preferable to an SSD.


Don’t worry about VR yet

Many gamers still haven’t quite signed up to the VR revolution yet. Issues like motion sickness, prohibitive cost, and a lack of software (although the latter is becoming less of an issue thanks to flagship titles like Half-Life: Alyx) are preventing gamers from adopting this tech.

With this in mind, your gaming PC doesn’t need to incorporate VR just yet. Further down the line, when the software library is more expansive, this may be something to think about. At the moment, however, if your PC isn’t capable of VR, that’s just fine. You don’t need to prioritise this in your build. Focus on being able to play games in a conventional sense and you’ll get by just fine.     

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