Can You Build a Sub-$260 Gaming PC? Yep, and It’s a Rock-Solid Performer. (Build Guide)

For most people, a $260 computer is out of the question. But with the right parts, you can build a gaming machine.

Eli Moore, Entertainment Editor

For most people, a computer is something they go to a local Best-Buy, hand over around $500 to a sales rep, and get a solid black box that will run basic internet apps and light gaming. But what happens if you decide to build a computer on your lonesome for half the price? You can, and when you put everything into motion, it becomes a bargain computer that anyone can build and use on a daily basis. And best of all? It’s easy to do!

Every computer needs a case for all of your components to go in, so I chose the Rosewill SRM-01. It is cheap, the design is fairly basic, and it is overall perfect for this build. Coming it at a crazy-inexpensive $33, it is a fine case for a basic build like this. I would have gone with the Rosewill SCM-01, but that lacked USB 3.0, which is a bare-minimum for PCs in 2019. I think the design is nice and simple, and it has spare room for a DVD drive, which you can add if you want to.

If you want a PC that can do anything at all, you need a processor. In my opinion, the best budget processor is the AMD Athlon 200GE. The Athlon 200GE is a processor that comes in at $56.99. It starts at a base frequency of 3.2 gigahertz (3.2 billion calculations per second). Beyond that, you decide to switch out the processor when you’re ready for an upgrade. It is considered by many to be the best processor  under $60.

For anyone who is unaware, RAM, or Random Access Memory, serves as short-term storage while your PC processes commands. The more RAM you have in your PC, the more commands your computer can process, and in turn, your PC is faster. For this build, I chose eight gigabytes of Corsair RAM. Eight gigabytes of RAM is enough to run around ten Chrome tabs and a game of Counter Strike: Global Offensive. So, for most people, it should be enough. I chose a single stick of RAM, opposed to dual-channel. And while dual channel is faster than a single stick, upgrading it to sixteen gigabytes of RAM is much easier with only one RAM module.

All of your PC parts are useless unless you have a motherboard to put it all in, and for this build, I chose the ASRock B450M-HDV. This is a very cheap motherboard at around $60, and it can process something that most motherboards can’t: overclocking. Overclocking is the ability to get the most performance out of your processor, but it cannot be done depending on your motherboard. Most motherboards don’t support overclocking, but this board supports this for $60. This board also supports adding a graphics card (an additional processor that makes processing visual inputs quicker.) You can also swap out your processor whenever you’re ready for an upgrade, which is nice.

Now, my original choice for the power supply was the Thermaltake Smart 500W Smart, a power supply coming in at $41 on Amazon. But literally the day that I was writing the build guide, the listing on Amazon disappeared. So I chose the EVGA BR-450. It’s 40 dollars, and seems to do everything the Thermaltake does, but with a lesser wattage. That may be a little bit of a drag, but it’s pretty much the only option. I think it’s a solid alternative despite these setbacks, and should have enough wattage for a graphics card later on.

Every PC needs storage, and for this build, I chose an ADATA SU800 M.2 SSD. An SSD, or Solid State Drive, is much faster than a standard hard drive. The only downside to this is that it has much less storage than a hard drive. I chose this peculiar SSD because it supports our motherboard, and is relatively cheap. Now, this SSD has only 128 gigabytes of storage, which isn’t great, but it’s much faster than a similarly-priced 500 gigabyte hard drive. And 128 gigabytes is enough to install Steam, Chrome, and a couple other applications.

Now that we have all of our parts listed, the grand total of everything is $260. And while we’re a little over budget, the new power supply added fifteen dollars to the overall cost. Now, let’s break down the procedures to building your PC.

Part One:

Install your power supply to the top of your case with the screws provided. Some cables will be dangling, but that is perfectly normal.

Part Two:

Putting everything in your motherboard is simple. First, take your CPU and place it on the socket. There should be a little  triangle on the edge that lines up with the socket on the motherboard. Pull the lever down until it reaches the base of your motherboard. To install your cooler, remove the brackets around the edge of your CPU socket. Line up the cooler and screw it down in an “x” pattern. Once your cooler is secure into place, put your fan header into place. There is a hole on your motherboard where it should fit perfectly. Installing your SSD is also fairly easy. Find your M.2 slot by your SATA port and screw it down into its proper place. Once it is secure, you then install your RAM. Simply locate the DIMM slot, line the notch on the RAM stick, and push down. Apply even pressure until it clicks into place.

Part Three:

Once you have your motherboard complete, turn your case on its side and use the standoffs to mount your motherboard into place. There should also be a place on your case to install an I/O shield, which should come with your motherboard. Now, installing the I/O shield can be a little tricky. Put just press at the edges with the logo facing outwards. Once it clicks into place, you’re good to go. Now you have to do your front-panel connectors. Simply find the cables leading from the front of the case and connect them to your motherboard. Once that is done, power on your system and make sure everything is working properly. If all is in order, use Zip-Ties or Velcro to keep your cables organized and tidy.

Part Four:

Your PC needs an operating system in order to work. For this build, I chose Windows 10. Booting it is fairly simple. Go to www.microsoft.com to find the link to download Windows. Hook it up to your monitor and turn on the power supply to install Windows. I tend to use a 16 gigabytes flash drive to load the OS on. It’s as simple as downloading it onto the drive, sticking it onto the front USB of your PC, and letting it install. Once that is done, finish the instruction protocol and insert your key. Now, finding a retail key is expensive (around $100-$120). But on eBay, you can get one for around $3-$10. Once you’ve inserted the key, setup will go as normal. Now that your rig is ready, download some games and get going.

Accessories

Every PC needs accessories to function. But which ones are the best?

In terms of the display, it is the Acer SB220Q bi. It is a 21.5″ LCD panel, and while it may not be as impressive as an 8K panel, it looks good for 90 bucks. It’s full-HD, which makes it good for gaming. And while it lacks features like speakers and USB, we can use our PC for those outputs.

In terms of audio, I chose the Creative Pebble. These are tiny little speakers that can put out some serious audio, and for $20, I really can’t complain. They also have some serious low-end, which I think is ideal for gaming. They also have a relatively small form factor, making them a good spot on any desk, coffee table, or TV stand. They can get pretty loud, and in all honesty, they look darn-good.

Every PC needs a keyboard and mouse. For the rig, I chose the Redragon S107, a $29.99 keyboard, mouse and mousepad combo that looks like it should be quadruple the price. It has nice glowing RGB effect that makes it look like some high-end kit from the likes of Razer or Steelseries. In my opinion, it’s the ideal choice for this build.

Congratulations! You’ve officially completed your PC build. Now, install some apps and get going. And especially be happy at all of the money you just saved.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/AMD-Desktop-Processor-Stealth-YD1200BBAEBOX/dp/B0741DN383/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=ryzen+3+1300x&qid=1571509577&sr=8-2

AMD Ryzen 3 1200

https://www.amazon.com/ASRock-B450M-HDV-R4-0-Promontory-Motherboard/dp/B07MWGKHR9/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=motherboard+am4+b450&qid=1571509735&sr=8-1

ASRock B450-HDV Motherboard

https://www.amazon.com/CORSAIR-Vengeance-2400MHz-PC4-19200-Memory/dp/B01ARHBBPS/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2ZZ5BB97E9BGQ&keywords=8gb+ram+ddr4&qid=1562637452&s=gateway&sprefix=8+gb+ram%2Caps%2C199&sr=8-3

Corsair RAM

https://www.amazon.com/ROSEWILL-Micro-Computer-plastic-computer/dp/B00ZPWOA6I/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=rosewill+srm-01&qid=1571692738&s=electronics&sr=1-3

Computer Case

https://www.amazon.com/EVGA-100-BR-0500-K1-Bronze-Power-Supply/dp/B07DTMXD83/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=psu&qid=1571607656&sr=8-3

EVGA Power Supply

https://www.amazon.com/ADATA-SU800-M-2-128GB-ASU800NS38-128GT-C/dp/B01M9K0N8I/ref=pd_cp_147_2/134-2377909-8187931?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01M9K0N8I&pd_rd_r=63bcf274-a242-4058-8944-58d300229ec5&pd_rd_w=cPXLH&pd_rd_wg=AHZzp&pf_rd_p=0e5324e1-c848-4872-bbd5-5be6baedf80e&pf_rd_r=HSMBMVD3MZYZAX14E2BR&psc=1&refRID=HSMBMVD3MZYZAX14E2BR

ADATA 128GB SSD