Always in the Christmas Spirit, the staff here at Technology X and The SSD Review got together and threw in a few thoughts about putting together a Christmas PC Build for the Budget Gamer. Follow along as we walk you through our build, stopping along the way at our favorite e-tailer…just in case…you decide that it’s to good to pass by!
2012 MERRY CHRISTMAS BUILD FOR THE BUDGET GAMER
The budget gamer PC build is designed to allow the gamer in you (or in your life, hint, hint, nudge, nudge) enjoy the festive season in a happy, yet financially responsible fashion.
It can handle most games out at the moment and display them at medium to high quality setting at up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution without breaking the bank. Most generally affordable monitors tend to top out at 1080p these days anyway, so we will assume that a budget oriented system will be working its hardest at that resolution.
Typically, budget tiered systems are geared to end up around the $500.00 price point, excluding all taxes, delivery, monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. If there are particularly attractive gains to be had by spending a little more though, we will nudge the total system price over that line a little.
Now, onto the build…
(or skip to the shopping list)
CHOOSING THE CPU
Based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, it is a spritely little performer while sipping timidly at the energy well. Compared to the i3 and i5, there have been quite a few features dropped to make it available at this price point. HyperThreading, Turbo Boost Technology and support for DDR3 1600 to name a few of the big ones.
Games currently take little to no advantage of multiple cores and threads on processors. Instead, the bulk of the heavy lifting come pwning time falls onto the GPU. Thus, the lack of HyperThreading is not felt too much in a gaming scenario.
On paper, the additional memory bandwidth DDR3 1600 offers over 1333 is around 17%. In practical application under a gaming scenario, this advantage does not translate into anywhere near 17% increase in performance. In fact, the increase tends to be more in the low single digits, hence we can do without if we must.
Turbo Boost would have been very nice to have. Lower clock speeds when not needed, the ability to ramp up to give more speed under load, nice. Unfortunately we have to do without it. Such is the nature of the beast called compromise.
At this price point, the i3 is a viable albeit comparatively expensive option.
Being a 22nm Ivy Bridge based i3, changing to the 3220 will give you a 300Mhz speed boost, HyperThreading and the ability to run your memory at DDR3 1600.
MULLING OVER MOTHERBOARDS
The GA-B75M-D3H is a simple board. It provides a solid platform for our CPU of choice, some of the important bits and pieces like USB 3 ports, support for DDR3 1600, SATA3, support for Windows 8/7/XP.
The B75 chipset offers all the features that we will use, but sacrifices a lot of the extras included with more expensive setups like the Z68/Z77 based motherboards.
We want it solid, we want it stable, we want it cheap.
Variations do include things like 2 ram slots instead of 4 and lack of Crossfire capability.
Still a capable motherboard from a well regarded manufacturer, and a viable alternative.