The goal for this PC is to deliver a lot of performance, also and above all, in games while offering a very good price / performance.
The budget I fix is $550. Important! Although I primarily select components with a very good price / performance, I do not try to choose the “cheapest” components at all costs.
For example, the power supply or housing. There are quite cheap power supplies for 19 €, but they can and will fly after a certain time around your ears and possibly destroy your PC.
Even with the case you can get for less than 20 ¬ any tin box. But here, too, I prefer to put a bit more money in my hands to have something sensible.
What components did I choose for this gaming PC and why?
- Intel Core i3-8100
- ASUS Prime B360 Plus
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB
- ASUS Phoenix GeForce GTX 1050
- Western Digital WD Green PC SSD
- Corsair VS Series VS450
- Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-04
Let’s start with the processor and the motherboard. Although the Intel Core i3-8100 is not overclockable, it relies on the current Coffee Lake architecture and, above all, has four cores!
One could also have saved something here and for example, on the Intel Pentium Gold G4600 + matching board can set, but I wanted for this PC, the current architecture, 4 cores and especially the current platform.
In itself, the Intel Core i3-8100 offers a hammer price / performance, which surpasses that of the Intel Pentium Gold G4600.
Only motherboards for the new Intel 8th Gen CPUs are still quite expensive. However, the new B360 motherboards have recently been released, which gives us some cheaper options.
I chose the ASUS Prime B360-Plus for this PC. Although there are even cheaper B360 motherboards, but the ASUS Prime B360 Plus offers all the “luxury” feature you could wish for around 90 €. These would be 4 RAM slots, 2x M.2 slots, 2x USB 3.1 etc.
If you wanted, it would certainly be possible to save a bit, but the Intel Core i3-8100 + ASUS Prime B360-Plus should be a combination that performs well for a long time.
At the moment you do not have much fun with the RAM, especially if you are looking for cheap. Amazingly, a Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB module is currently the cheapest thing you can get on the market right now.
4GB would be a bit tight at the moment, so I chose 8GB RAM for this PC. The speed of the modules is secondary to the performance. Yes, with a 3200mhz module you might have 1-2% more power, but that’s not worth the extra cost.
The graphics card was the hardest choice in the PC. A GTX 1060, which would certainly be optimal, currently costs around 350 € ….
The GTX 1050 Ti and the normal 1050 is the currently more interesting option. A GTX 1050Ti costs around $200 and the normal 1050 around $130.
The GTX 1050 Ti is basically not much faster, but has the advantage that 4GB graphics memory are available. The GTX 1050 can be slowed down a bit by its 2GB graphics memory in a couple of recent games. Nevertheless, I have chosen the GTX 1050 for the $550 PC.
If the graphics card prices drop again, you can still upgrade if in doubt and as you will see in the benchmarks, the GTX 1050 is quite capable.
In EVERY current PC belongs an SSD. The performance difference between a HDD and SSD is worth every penny in everyday life. Still, big SSDs are expensive and our budget is tight.
So I chose a simple but solid Western Digital WD Green PC SSD with 120GB. In the best case, you may still have a normal HDD for larger games from your old PC, which you can take over. But 120GB are enough for Windows, web browser and maybe one or the other game for now.
The power adapter is something you do not want to save too much on. It is very tempting to buy eBay a 600W power supply for $20, but that is scrap!
The Corsair VS Series VS450 is already at the lower limit with around $ 38. No, the Corsair VS450 is nothing special, but should be good. My experience with Corsair power supplies is also very positive.
By the way, 450W are enough for this PC!
The case is of course a matter of taste and luxury. If you have sharp edges and cheapest sheet metal, an MS-Tech buys CA-0186-U3 for 25 bucks.
However, I rely on the Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-04. This is not a case to be ashamed of! Of course you can save a bit, but the SPEC-04 is well made and also quite beginner friendly.
What about other components? For the CPU cooler we use the standard Intel cooler. We can not overclock anyway (which we do not need) and the Intel cooler is better than its reputation.
Thermal compound is also already applied to the radiator. For once, I did not plan on having a Windows license!
Let’s start by assembling the computer.
- Unpacks the motherboard and the CPU and inserts the CPU into the mainboard. Make sure the text on the CPU is correctly aligned and lower the arm of the socket.
- Set up the Intel CPU cooler.
- Sets the working memory. If you have a module, this will insert into slot A2, if you have two modules, put them in slots A2 and B2. Yes, this is a bit strange with the ASUS Prime B360-Plus.
- Use the m.2 SSD.
- Unpack the case and power supply.
- Install the power supply in the housing.
- Starts the installation of the mainboard. Fortunately, the Corsair SPEC-04 already has pre-installed motherboard spacers, this is just the luxury of a slightly more expensive case. Do not forget the mainboard bezel, which unfortunately is moderately high quality on the ASUS Prime B360-Plus.
- Connects the 8 pin CPU power connector and the 24pin motherboard connector.
- Connects the front USB 3.0 port, the front audio port and the plug for the power switch, HDD LED, etc. exactly how the assignment is here, looks best in the manual of the motherboard.
- At this point you can start the PC for the first time. The mainboard or the CPU has an integrated graphics card, which is sufficient for a first start. If everything works, we can continue.
- Now insert the graphics card.
- Finally, connect the enclosure fan and optionally optional HDDs etc.
- Last but not least, you can use the included cable ties to do some cable management.
- Now connects mouse / keyboard, power and monitor. If everything worked, the PC should start now.
Are there any things that I noticed when assembling? To be honest, everything worked very well.
Nevertheless, I noticed three points. Let’s start with the motherboard. The aperture of the ASUS Prime B360-Plus is extremely cheap. ASUS ashamed you! In itself, the B360 Plus is a very reasonable motherboard, the workmanship looks great, but then such a cheap metal panel on which I had even cut.
On the other hand, the ASUS Prime B360-Plus is a bit narrower than a normal ATX motherboard, but that’s no problem.
Although the Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-04 is quite light, it surprised me offside. For example, the motherboard spacers are preinstalled and all the inlets of the housing are provided with filters. There is just no implementation for the 8 pin CPU power connection, which surprised me a bit.
The CPU power cable must therefore be queer laid over the motherboard, a bit ugly, but okay.
Let’s get to the really interesting point, how much power does our PC have? Is he good as a cheap gaming machine?
Let’s start with benchmarks, ie CineBench for the CPU and 3D Mark for the GPU.
With 605 points in CineBench, the i3-8100 is an absolute monster for around 100 €! The Intel G4560, which is also often recommended in cheap gaming PCs, scored just 382 points.
An older AMD FX-6300 would reach 456 points. Why do I specify the values of an AMD FX-6300? If you are looking for gaming PCs in the 500 € price range on Amazon or eBay, the FX-6300 is an often-seen CPU.
The i3-8100 is more like a 7th Gen i5, like the Intel Core i5-7500.
Of course, benchmarks are just one thing. How does it look in real games? I will perform all game benchmarks in two configurations. Once with a GTX 1050 and once with a GTX 1050Ti.
I test the following games:
- Battlefield One
- Crysis 3
- CS GO
- Metro load light
- GTA 5
All games were tested at full HD resolution. Let’s get straight to the results:
You do not always spend thousands of dollars on a capable gaming PC! Both the GTX1050Ti and the normal GTX1050 deliver impeccable performance at Full HD resolution! Most games, such as Battlefield One, CS GO, Overwatch, etc., are fluent in the highest quality level with 40 FPS + games. Somewhat more power hungry games like PUBG or Metro Last Light also run very well on the second highest graphics setting! Hereby, the GTX 1050 TI is not much faster than the GTX 1050, which is the average FPS.
However, in the 1050 smaller “micro” stuttering can occur due to the rather small graphics memory. Especially in GTA 5 or PUBG (on Ultra) this is very noticeable. These micro jerks disappear at lower quality settings or when upgrading to the 1050Ti. Basically, you can say that you can play all the current games on high to very high settings well and fluently! Even the general work on the PC is very pleasant thanks to the i3-8100. The processor has more than enough power for all daily tasks. Even simple video and photo editing is easy to do with the computer.
Four real cores deliver a lot of power. Even starting up Windows is thanks to SSD with about 19 seconds very nice fast!
Volume and temperature
With this PC we only use a housing fan in the front and the standard Intel CPU cooler. The temperatures can not be good, right?
But they are! At idle, the i3-8100 settles at 40-48 degrees. Under full load (with the default fan setting), the processor heats up to around 68-72 degrees.
The processor keeps a clock of 3,6xxGhz, so its full clock. Keep in mind with these values that the processor according to Intel may reach up to 100 degrees! So we still have plenty of room. We also need this scope a bit. With a CPU + GPU full load, we get something to feel that we only have one case fan. The GTX 1050 heats up to 77 degrees (in Furmark!) And the CPU to a maximum of 89 degrees (in Prime 95). Of course in games we do not see such high temperatures, Prime95 + Furmark is already the worst case, but I would recommend you to move the case fan from the front to the back. This lowers the temperatures by about 10 degrees. But even with the fan in the front, there are no performance cuts!
What about the volume? When idle, the system is almost completely silent. Under normal gaming load, the system is still quite quiet, only under 100% full load, the PC is audible. Here you can already feel that the Intel standard cooler needs a little more work.But basically I would call the PC as pleasantly quiet.
With ever increasing electricity prices, a low power consumption is of course nice. So what does our system eat of energy?
As we can see, the calculator is very frugal. With the GTX 1050, our power consumption levels off at just 26-31W. Under load, of course, the power consumption increases a good deal, but not too much. In games I could measure a maximum of 101W, which is not much. Even with a 100% CPU + GPU load (Furmark and Prime 95), the 1050 does not produce more than 161W.
The 450W NT is so relaxed.
Is it enough for a case fan?
The Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-04 has only one fan in the front, is this enough? Both the Intel Core i3 and the GTX 1050 (TI) do not produce much waste heat. The one fan is already enough.
Of course, a second fan on the back of the case would not hurt (in SPEC-04 can be mounted up to 6 120mm fan).
Is the 450W power supply sufficient?
Yes, easy. With the GTX 1050, the PC consumes just under 100-120W under load. Presumably you could even use a GTX 1080 and the performance of the power supply would continue to be sufficient (although I would rather recommend 550W here).
The most obvious upgrade is of course the graphics card. The GTX 1050 is nice, but should the budget allow it I would upgrade to a GTX 1050 Ti or GTX 1060.
Otherwise, I would say that the system is pretty perfect. Maybe another 1-2 additional fans and good.
For the CPU, there would alternatively be the Intel Core i3-8350K or Intel Core i5-8600K. The i3-8350K makes little sense. Although the i3-8350K would be overclocked, but there is no cooler included.
The surcharge of the i3-8100K on the i3-8350K is about $50 + about 20-30 € for a CPU cooler. The i5-8600K costs $110 + about$ 20-30 for a CPU cooler more.
This surcharge will not be great for gaming. Here is worth a GTX 1060 significantly more.
I was a bit dissatisfied with the SSD. Although a slow SSD is still much faster than the best HDD, WD Green SSD is nothing special. On a tight budget, this is enough, but otherwise I would recommend an upgrade to a Crucial MX500, Intel SSD 600p, Samsung 860 EVO and so on.
Although PC components have felt in the last 1-2 years in the price increased, but so the performance.
A PC with Intel Core i3-8100 and GTX 1050, as presented here, is easily able to play pretty much all games at high to very high settings (and Full HD resolution).
These include, of course, currently popular multiplayer games such as CS GO, which reaches over 100 FPS, or PUBG, which offers solid 45FPS on high details in cities.
Of course, this PC compilation that I have presented to you here is not the last word of wisdom. See the whole rather as a working basis for your PC.
All the components used here work together and make sense. Also, you can orientate yourself on the performance levels and make changes here and there according to your budget and needs.