With the prices of RAM and GPUs going through the roof, some may find it difficult to build an affordable gaming PC at this time. While prices have gone up, it’s still pretty easy to assemble a cheap gaming PC that can handle games in 1080p with 60+ FPS. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the state of gaming PC building in 2018. More specifically, the prices of RAM and GPUs, why they’ve gone up, and how you can build a gaming PC for cheap in 2018.
If you’re in the market for a gaming PC, I’m sure you’re aware of the recent spike in RAM and GPU prices. There are a few reasons for the sudden increase in price. First, let’s take a look at RAM prices. Why has the price of DDR4 RAM gone up so drastically?
Well, it seems that mobile phones are to blame. The most recent generation of smartphones have been utilizing DDR4 memory. Due to the basic laws of supply and demand, the price of DDR4 memory has risen. At the same time, as the demand for DDR4 memory rises, so will the production. The prices of RAM should stabilize in the near future. Until then, there are other options out there for those on a budget. Buying used RAM on eBay is a great option for those on a budget.
In addition to RAM prices increasing, we’ve seen a pretty significant rise in GPU prices. They’ve definitely leveled off a bit since the initial rise, but they’re still pretty pricey. This is a bit more problematic for budget gaming PC builders in specific, as the GPU is easily the most important part of a gaming PC. It handles all of the 3D rendering. So, why have GPU prices gone up?
Well, the answer is pretty clear. Cryptocurrency mining sent the price of GPUs skyward. Most recently, Ethereum mining was to blame for massive increase back in June of 2017. Since then, prices have dropped significantly. However, with the Cryptocurrency market cap reaching over five hundred billion dollars, crypto mining isn’t going away.
How can someone with a lower budget combat this? Well, it really depends on the graphics cards. Some GPUs are awesome for mining popular cryptocurrencies. For example, in the summer of 2017 the price of an RX 480 GPU more than doubled. Other cards that aren’t so great for mining weren’t affected as much. Let’s take a look at the GeForce GTX 1080. The GTX 1080 hashrate is alright, but there are better options out there for miners. Though the price did rise slightly, it didn’t go up nearly as high as some other, more popular mining GPUs.
Obviously a GTX 1080 is way too expensive for a budget gaming PC build. It was simply used as an example. If you can find a GPU that miners don’t really like to use, odds are its price will be far more reasonable. We recommend the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti for gamers on a budget.
Now that you understand why the prices have increased, it’s time to talk about strategy. There are many different approaches to budget PC building. I’m going to share with you a few great ways to build a gaming PC on a budget, and the reasoning behind it.
First of all, we need to understand how a gaming PC works. As stated previously, the most important part of the PC is the GPU (at least from a gaming standpoint). The GPU handles all of the 3D rendering; pretty much taking care of the heavy lifting. I see a lot of inexperienced builders choosing a high-end (and expensive) CPU, and cutting corners on the GPU. This is a fatal mistake, as it really should be the other way around.
Any well optimized game will primarily harness the processing power of the GPU. As long as the CPU can keep up with the GPU in your PC, you’re good to go. On the other hand, if your CPU is too slow, it’ll limit the processing power of the GPU. This is known as bottlenecking. We recommend finding the best GPU in your price range, and then buy the cheapest CPU possible that won’t bottleneck. This is really the best way to get the most bang for your buck. For example, if your budget is $500, spending $200-$220 on a GPU isn’t unreasonable. I’d recommend pairing the Ryzen 3 1200 with either the GTX 1050 Ti or 1060 for those on a lower budget.
Another strategy I recommend all of the time is utilizing the power of eBay. It’s a great tool for budget PC builders. First of all, you can find plenty of used parts on eBay that function perfectly. The only thing I’d really stay away from buying used is a hard drive, and they’re not expensive. If you buy all or most of your parts used, you can probably save $100-$200. But wait, there’s more!
My all time favorite strategy for budget PC building also utilizes eBay. I usually only recommend this strategy to those on a very low budget. Either way, it’s a great method to get the most out of your money. Here’s how it works:
Basically, you’re going to find an old desktop and buy it for a super cheap price. Odds are, you only need to upgrade one component and you have yourself a great gaming PC.
You can go on eBay and search for an old desktop with an i3 processor and 8GB of RAM for around $100-$150. Keep in mind you’re also going to receive a case, a power supply, a motherboard, etc. Usually the price of the computer is only a bit more or on par with the price of the i3 processor inside. That being said, you’re getting almost every component you’d need for the price of a processor.
Now all you have to do is add a few parts. You can buy a 1TB hard drive for $50, and you can even find 500GB drives for $30 or less. Now all you’ll really need is a GPU. You can get a GTX 1050 Ti on eBay used for around $150.
So, let’s add this up. Let’s say the desktop was purchased for around $120. Next, a 500GB drive was purchased for $30. Lastly, a GPU was purchased for $150. In total, you’ve spent $300 on a PC with an i3 CPU and a GTX 1050 Ti. Most i3’s can keep up with a GTX 1050 Ti, so you’re getting a fully fledged gaming PC for about $300. If you bought all of the parts individually and brand new, you’d be spending $500 if not more.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to build a gaming PC even with the increase in the price of some components. PC gaming boasts superior graphics, higher frame rates, awesome exclusives and more. Now that you have the tools to build a cheap gaming PC, you can get in on the action. The PC Master Race welcomes you with open arms!