The Best $700 / £500 Gaming PCs You Can Buy

It ain't pretty, but it will play games

Can you even buy a proper gaming PC for £500, or approximately $700? Not a PC that occasionally turns its hand to the odd ancient game. Quake III will run on an old smartphone, but that’s missing the point. Well, it’s missing my point, which is to sniff out whether half a grand is enough for a PC bought specifically, or at least substantially, for gaming. If so what you should go for and what, exactly, do you get for your money?

For those of you on the other side of the Pond, getting granular about exactly what’s available in the US is a little outside my comfort zone. I’m not expert on the subject of US PC builders.

But an exchange rate conversion minus the punitive 20 per cent sales tax you lucky lot avoid is the rough idea. Call it $700 or thereabouts. Likewise, any broader lessons regards US-specific big brands versus specialists should apply anywhere.

Also, my focus here is mainly pre-built PCs. We’ve done the whole pre-built versus DIY thing in depth fairly recently, so this piece is aimed purely at people who want the easiest road.

On, then, to those £500 PCs. Your first conundrum is what you might call big brand versus boutique. In the old days, that was a real choice. More recently, I sense the big boys somewhat relinquishing their interest in gamers, at the lower end of the spectrum at any rate.

It’s a slick console-style gaming box for £500. Kinda…

There are a few exceptions, however. Obviously the likes of Alienware et al still do their thing for the well-heeled and price insensitive. But, Alienware does a few options in this vague pricing post code, too.

The Alieware Alpha console-come-Steam-Box thing starts at precisely £499 in the UK. That buys you an Intel Core i3 CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics. The latter comes confusingly as both an older Kepler GK104 GPU or the newer Maxwell (the same architecture used in the current crop of NVIDIA desktop graphics cards) GM107 thing, a la GeForce GTX 750Ti. But either way we’re talking only just gameable.

Further factor in the stingy 4GB of single-channel RAM and a rather slow 5,400rpm magnetic hard drive and the proposition looks marginal at best. Alienware’s more conventional X51 budget desktop thing starts at £599 and actually has worse graphics. So fuggedabowdit.

As for trying to wangle something gameable out the more mainstream lines from the big brands, well, it is occasionally possible to snag something interesting from ‘outlet’ style sources. But the downside is pretty epic inflexibility on spec, along with nasties like proprietary motherboards and cases that can make upgrades tricky. No thanks.

It’s off, then, to those aforementioned boutiques. First the good news. Hit the ‘Gaming System’ links on many of these websites and you’ll be offered plenty of choice, though bear in mind we’re usually talking about the PC tower / box / whatever and that’s it. No monitor, probably no keyboard and mouse.

All-AMD rigs start at well under £500…

That’s fine as you probably already have those peripherals, and I class monitors as very much a stand alone purchase. Anyway, let’s start with Yoyotech. For £479, they’ll do you something with an AMD FX-4350 CPU and AMD Radeon R9 270X graphics, plus 8GB or RAM. There’s no SSD, which is perhaps understandable, but also no option to add one. Annoying.

Anyroad, that sounds just about tolerable performance-wise, but I probably prefer their slightly budget-busting £529 option, which ups the ante to a quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU and Nvidia GTX 750Ti graphics, plus at least the option of an SSD. In reality, I’d really want to add that SSD and a GTX 760 graphics card, at which point I’d be comfortable I had a proper gaming PC. But the up front is now £639.

But I’d spend a bit more and go Intel

Next, let’s hope over to Scan.co.uk. Their 3XS line starts slightly over budget at £549. For that you get AMD FX-4300 processing and R9 270 graphics, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB 7,200 spinning thing. Not too bad, but I’m not really feeling it. Scan also does a Core i3-plus-750Ti option for £559. That might be a better bet regards down-the-road upgradability. Both come with a three-year warranty, as does the Yoyotech option.

Scan’s 3XS gaming rigs kick off at £549

Another interesting option is to go with one of Scan’s conventional home PCs and then upgrade it. This box comes with a Core i5 quad-core chip for £379 but uses Intel integrated graphics. The warranty drops down to two years from three, too, and there’s no pre-installed OS, which may or may not be an issue for you.

That leaves you £130 for a decent GPU while maintaining the £500 budget. Go £20 over budget and you could have that Core i5 paired with AMD Radeon R9 280 graphics. And that, folks, is a proper gaming rig. That 280 GPU was once as good as it got for games.

I’d want to clarify if the 500W ScanFX PSU could hook up with the AMD GPU, but it’s certainly promising. Next up is Overclockers.co.uk. Their vanilla desktop PCs are a bit more configurable.

Perhaps sir would care for something with the Pentium Anniversary CPU?

Spec up something with a quad-core Core i5, a Samsung 850 Evo in 120GB trim and 8GM of RAM and you’re looking at £440 with a three-year warranty. Add that Radeon R9 280 GPU separately (it’s not an option) and it’s £600 all-in for a very gameable rig with solid-state storage. Nice, if over budget.

Overclockers also has a wide range of specifically gaming PCs. One that catches my eye is the Titan Dagger (yes, really) with Intel’s massively overclockable Pentium Anniversary chip and GeForce 960 graphics in a BitFenix box for £527. That’s with a 1TB magnetic drive, but you can swap over to a 120GB Sammy SSD for just £15, or perhaps better yet to the 240GB option for £45. Intriguing, eh?

Then there’s this compact LAN rig that can be had with Core i3 CPU and Nvidia 960 graphics for £544. Not bad at all. These Overclockers options are sans OS, by the way. Windows 8.1 adds about £80 on top, but hopefully you have a copy already.

Or would sir prefer a box for LAN parties?

Really, we’re just scratching the surface. That’s just a few rigs from three of the better known suppliers. So the best news is that there are plenty of options. Make £500 absolutely non-negotiable and require a factory Windows install and you’re looking at very modest albeit still actually gameable performance, a magnetic drive and probably an AMD platform. It’s also worth noting that the context here is 1080p gaming. Higher resolutions will require more cash for really smooth high-detail performance.

Add in a little flexibility – use your existing Windows licence, as a for instance – and suddenly something surprisingly gameable for not much more than £500 looks feasible. Colour me pleasantly surprised. Exactly what qualifies as ‘best’ is debatable. But what’s clear enough is that £500 ain’t such a bad budget after all.

74 Comments

  1. aircool says:

    I gave up building my own PC’s when I realised that you actually don’t save that much, especially when you can get them professionally overclocked and tested before being shipped to you. I’ve bought my last few PC’s from Scan, and apart from the Ethernet socket failing after a few years on my previous PC, never had any problems.

    Of course, because they’re already finely tuned when you get them, upgrading the CPU could be a bit tricky, but I’ve never felt the need.

    My current i5-3570 with GTX680 will be three years old in a few months, but it still delivers the goods. It’s not a great PC for something like Witcher 3 (and by great I mean a constant 60+ fps), but works great for other games such as Divinity: Original Sin, Planetside 2 and Bioshock Infinite for example.

    Whilst you can get a gaming PC for a good price, the best value will always be a system that’s just behind the cutting edge.

    • Horg says:

      Obligatory ”don’t but from Scan, their customer service is absolutely appalling” replay.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Really? I’ve never had a problem from them, on the few times I’ve had to contact them they’ve replied reasonably quickly and sorted my problem out.
        Out of interest did you ring them or use the online forms?

        (I’m probably a bit biased because they once RMA’d a graphics card that I’d broken by trying to watercool, with a better and more expensive GPU).

        • Horg says:

          They sold me a dead graphics card which they promptly RMA’d and confirmed broken, then refused to refund or replace the card. I spent two months trying to politely argue that I was legally entitled to a refund, but just got stone walled up until the point where one phone operator actually yelled at me for stating my consumer rights. I gave up trying to talk to them so just went to the local court and collected the small claims form. Luckily we have a lawyer in the family, he put together a solid legal opinion for free, then I emailed a copy of the documents to Scan before submitting to the courts. Literally the next day a new GPU arrived out of the blue by courier without any correspondence, no word it was coming, not even an apology. To this day they are the only company i’ve ever had to follow up dealings with legal action, and if I wasn’t prepared to put myself out of pocket on principle they’d have just taken my money. They are also the only company that has aggravated me so much I feel compelled to tell random strangers on the internet not to buy from them.

          • kael13 says:

            Other than cancelling an order, I’ve never really had to deal with their customer support. That went fine. I will say though, that their ‘online chat’ service is non-existent. Would be good if the system could actually say no one is available instead of stating the opposite.

            I’ve bought a few bits and pieces from them. Radiators and suchlike because they weren’t available elsewhere and they’ve been okay.

          • shaydeeadi says:

            I bought a build in parts worth about £1200 and they sent me a dead on arrival hard drive. When I contacted support they asked me to check it in other systems (which I had already done) and then kept me waiting for almost 2 days before issuing the RMA when I had offered to courier it to them at my own expense immediately. They then took 3 days from delivery to book it in and a further 3 to determine that yes, my hard drive was busted. I wouldn’t of minded had I of not paid the £30 additional insurance for faulty parts, only to be fucked around for over a week for a new magnetic drive. I thought was a massive liberty and told them in an email when they were stalling over issuing a replacement which they ignored.

            They are great as long as what you buy isn’t faulty, then they treat you like a chancer.

        • Continuity says:

          A friend of my had a dreadful experience with Scan, sold him a faulty motherboard, replaced it with a different model which also turned out to be faulty, then refused to refund him as he was past the refund period on the original purchase.
          I’ve never had a problem with them myself, but then i’ve never needed to RMA anything so I guess i’ve been lucky. Mostly I stick to ebuyer, ocuk, Dabs, and occasionally aria.

      • aircool says:

        I’ll shop around next time… any suggestions?

        • Horg says:

          I’ve been buying from overclockers.co.uk and Amazon since the Scan incident, i’ve also used Ebuyer in the past. Amazon are generally great with customer service and i’ve had no faulty parts from overclockers or Ebuyer.

    • subedii says:

      Personally my experience has been the opposite. After having bad experiences with store bought and then later custom built machines, I just decided “forget it” and for my most recent PC ordered all the parts I wanted and built it myself.

      Took a while as a first time builder, but it was definitely worth it. No compromises on things that I don’t want to compromise on, like choosing a decent case that DOESN’T have a cut out window and 100 LED’s, getting a good quality PSU, decent cable routing (because I was the one doing it), and a fresh install with no junk on it (because I had my own OS disc and not a “backup” disc). Slight concern when I pressed the power button and the PC immediately powered on/off, but a quick question at a tech forum answered that (hadn’t plugged in the separate power for the CPU. Apparently a common mistake).

      Putting it together was basically like lego in the end. About the only thing that gave me pause was putting the heat sink on (honestly there is SO much conflicting advice on the best way to do this). Eventually opted for “pea sized drop in the centre, and press down”. Worked for me, although YMMV.

      I can definitely see the appeal of getting someone else to do it for a bit more. However after doing it myself, it makes all my previous bad experiences stand out all the more as something I don’t want to repeat.

      • P.Funk says:

        My feeling with the silver stuff is it doesn’t matter that much. I think I read a pamphlet that came with one stick of it that itemized exactly why some way worked best but its ultimately marketing gibberish and min maxers arguing points. As long as the seal is formed and you don’t have the goop spilling into the nooks and crannies its job well done, particularly if you’re using a nice after market cooler where even without the silver stuff (I was lazy once, really lazy) it keeps temps very low.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          “pea sized drop in the centre, and press down”

          You can never go wrong and at least of all the possible advices you can get it’s probably the most mentioned and reliable. That, and less is more.

          Oh, by the way, non conductive paste is even better if you feel paranoid, i use Noctua’s NT-H1 ( or something ) and it literally has zero “curing time” and some very solid performance.

      • AngoraFish says:

        I feel the same. I out started buying prebuilts, but I’ve had just as much (if not more) of a problem with these than PCs that I’ve built myself. Many prebuilts, at least the name brands, also have some kind of proprietary components or fixings that make the system a hassle to modify or upgrade, and they inevitably come packed with shovelware. Couple this with the fact that I’m not especially aggressive at keeping my receipts, or even calling a shop to hassle them about a problem 12 months later, and I’m just as happy sorting out any problems myself.

        • jezcentral says:

          A decent pre-built will eventually become a self-build, in the grand style of my grand-father’s axe. :)

    • airmikee says:

      My experience is between aircool’s and subedii’s. My first computer was a “professionally built” machine from a large company and the next few machines I built myself. Now having the two ends of the spectrum I prefer to have a hobbyist other than myself build me a basic rig that I then upgrade with new parts as I see fit. I’ve done technical support for three different computer companies and so I know “professionally built and tested” means “mass produced pieces of garbage that the companies hope won’t break down before the warranty expires”, and I know the pitfalls of building machines from scratch myself so now I prefer to let someone else I know on a personal level do most of the grunt work. I found my guy on a local classifieds site, competent and solid products and his guarantee leaves everyone else way behind. I had a RAM stick and the PSU go bad, he replaced the RAM with new ones and gave me cash for the PSU since I’d upgraded to a more powerful unit on my own.

    • Nasarius says:

      I’ve been building my own PCs since the mid 90s, and I’ve never overclocked except as an experiment. There’s really no point these days, unless you have a very specific reason. If you understand how CPUs and clock cycles work, it’s just not a very good idea.

      Well ok, you may want to tweak a motherboard setting so that your RAM runs at its full rated speed, but that’s about it.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Remember, overclocking is never about the “why”, but the “why not”.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Indeed I have built computers since the mid 90s as well and never overclocked. Don’t need performance that badly when you are content with an amazing PC instead of a totally amazing one that needs tinkering and is less reliable.

        • Asurmen says:

          A correctly overclocked PC is just as reliable as normal one.

          • airmikee says:

            So you think that chip manufacturers rate their products lower than the chips potential intentionally to….. avoid making more money by selling the products with a higher rating? You think execs at Intel see that their chips are capable of operating at 4.8 GHz and one of them decides to sell that chip at 4.4 GHz just for grins and giggles?

            Overclocking chips is a lot like racing a car, you’ll get more performance out of it but the overall lifespan of the vehicle will be diminished and require more maintenance in order to keep it running. If overclocking a chip didn’t reduce life and reliability, AMD would be dominating the CPU market with the Bulldozer series that can be bumped up to 8.7GHz. link to rog.asus.com link to valid.canardpc.com

            So again, if these speeds are possible without any kind of detrimental effects to the chip itself, why isn’t AMD selling an 8 GHz Bulldozer, instead of the maximum 4 GHz that they do sell?

          • iainl says:

            Short, simple version of a tediously complex answer: because what’s safe on the small, cheap stock cooling solution Intel provide in the box is slower than what’s safe once you’ve spent £50 on a better heatsink. And Intel don’t think it’s worth putting a £50 heatsink in the box, for whatever reason.

          • jezcentral says:

            @airmikee: “So you think that chip manufacturers rate their products lower than the chips potential intentionally to….. avoid making more money by selling the products with a higher rating?”
            Actually, although it’s not quite for that reason, yes, it’s called speed-binning.

            It happens for various reasons. Sometimes it’s to fill orders for lesser chips. (AMD triple-core CPUs from a while back had one core disabled, that could sometimes be re-enabled if they had come from capable quad-cores hamstrung to fit orders). Sometimes it’s to give a margin of error to the chips. (Remember the march of the i7-920? It became the 930, 940, and finally the 950, as the manufacture methods improved. No changes were made to the chips in that time, they were just made better).

          • airmikee says:

            RE: iainl

            Yeah, that must be it. They don’t want to double the CPU speed and charge more than double the price because they don’t want to add another $100 onto the price for a $50 heatsink. Because in business, it’s all about making the decisions that make the least amount of money, right?

            They sell chips that can be run at 8 GHz rated at 4 GHz because that is the speed they feel comfortable in selling in order to provide a product that won’t fail prematurely. Sometimes chips of different speeds come off the exact same assembly process, defects in the manufacture can lower the end result. Each chip is tested and then rated with the speed the manufacturer determines will provide the lifetime they desire.

            It’s certainly possible to run an overclocked machine and get a lot of use out of it, but that machine will not last as long as an identical machine that is not overclocked. You certainly can get 8 GHz out of a 4 GHz chip, and you certainly can drive your car at 120 mph even though it’s been designed to operate at lower speeds. Doing so in either situation will get you more performance, and less life from your machines.

          • airmikee says:

            RE: jezcentral

            Yes, that’s the term that was on the tip of my tongue, thank you.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Airmike, most of the CPUs you can buy can be either overclocked without changing voltage or downvolted to stay at their stock clock.

            You know what this means, right? Clocks are conservative but voltages are usually higher than what you actually need on all samples, just to be extra-extra-sure, and a higher voltage is not something reliable either. They pick what seems like a decent compromise and that’s about it, plus it’s not like CPUs nearly at their limit ( on air ) never happened, like that 200+ TDP octacore from AMD, which pretty much requires water cooling.

            If you want something that lasts a decade you can absolutely try with lower voltages, which means that you should know what you’re doing which is something that, no matter how much we cry, someone with a PC might want.

            Meanwhile the usual 4.5 ghz you can get with Intel chips is pretty relaxed and the voltage is just a tad higher than stock and, since you’re going to use a proper cooler because when you do this stuff you actually care, you’ll still run colder and safer ( even OC’d ) to someone that is using stock clocks with a stock cooler and stupidly inflated voltages.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Then again i’m not even sure why i bothered since you’re trying to sustain your argument with clocks reserved to liquid nitrogen.

            Long story short: buy a CPU that can boost to 4ghz, then put the boost frequency to 4.5, you probably won’t even need to touch the voltages and since you’re there, slap a proper cooler on it. Congratulations, your CPU is now more reliable than the Average Joe who’s always at the edge of thermal throttling with the boxed cooler, plus it’s also more silent.

          • kael13 says:

            @airmike – I run my systems overclocked all the time. Once you’ve dialled it in to within a safe threshold, you’re left with purely more power when you need it.

            I’m sure that if you ran your freshly overclocked chip at 100% 24/7 doing protein folding for a few years it’ll be sure to die faster than a stock CPU but as it stands, my 5820k sits at between 2 and 20% for most of the time it’s switched on and idles at a nice 30 degrees C. My previous computer lasted 4 years without issues before selling it.

          • Asurmen says:

            Nice strawman airmikee. Didn’t say that at all.

      • Mint says:

        ???

        I have my I5 2500K running @ 4.5 ghz for years now, its stable and always has been. Then you say the performance gains are not that big? they were and are huge.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Indeed, my 2600k is at 4.6 and it’s over 3 years old, barely reaches 60 degrees under the most CPU demanding game, and i’m pretty sure it will survive the motherboard if i don’t happen to change it in a couple years.

          No, really, i’m actually more worried about the motherboard acting up than the CPU dying.

        • Dale Winton says:

          Yup as long as the Cpu temperature is not something crazy it will last just as long as a non-overclocked Cpu. And you will get good performance increases

    • Mint says:

      i always manage to save around $200 for every system i built compared to the exact same systems pre-build.

  2. Commander Gun says:

    Could you please incorporate the euro as well in the prices. Of course i can do this myself, but it seems a bit of a trend to only include pounds and dollars lately :)

    • Premium User Badge

      weirdcitizen says:

      I was about to make the exact same comment, glad there’s more Euro-readers feeling similarly :-)

      • hilltop says:

        I’ll echo that.

      • Cataclysm says:

        I agree, don’t forget PLEX and Sim Dollars too.

        As all currency is basically an IOU for Gold Bars you should be global-friendly and state the price in Gold Bars.

    • Gap Gen says:

      1 euro is 1.10 US dollars at the moment, according to Google, so the dollar price won’t be far off. That said it’s probably better to just look online yourself because the sites will differ and the fluctuating exchange rate may mean you get better or worse deals than the UK or US.

  3. welverin says:

    “But an exchange rate conversion minus the punitive 20 per cent sales tax you lucky lot avoid is the rough idea.”

    Oh, we don’t avoid sales tax. It’s just set on a local level, so we have to add it in ourselves to know in advance what something’s going to cost us.

    Though even in New York it isn’t that high (of course that varies by county).

    • Cockie says:

      Believe me, it’s a lot cheaper in the US. If a piece of electronics costs $200 in the US, it costs €200 in the EU.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Used to be, now it’s even worse!

        Titan X is ranging between 1.150 and 1300+ euro there.

      • carewolf says:

        Once you compensate for VAT included in european prices, 200€ == 200$.

    • pepperfez says:

      Unless you live in states without Newegg offices or explicit online tax laws, in which case orders are tax-free.

  4. P.Funk says:

    Ultimately I see little difference in getting pre-made or self built since in either case you have to have the knowledge of value and performance for relative comparison shopping.

    My only point about self built is that you know the thing inside and out and by troubleshooting it to begin with you’re better armed with dealing with it so that you don’t need that warranty to solve a problem that doesn’t need an RMA. I had that with my Mobo’s twitchy firmware once. It would randomly dump the overclock and reset my bios settings for no reason (even when it wasn’t being overclocked!). It also had strange behavior with the SATA controller if it wasn’t on exactly the right setting. If some guy in the shop had fixed that for me before I ever even had it, and my bios had been dumped to default later on and then suddenly my SATA devices were all fucked I would have needed to take the whole thing in and let some guy tinker with it. Instead I knew how to whisper to my bastard piece of shit and get her straightened out automatically.

    Honestly the only real reason to pay someone to build your own PC is to avoid having to decode those obtuse motherboard connectors that link up your case’s front side mini-RCA jacks. Fuck that stuff.

  5. Not_Id says:

    Oculus Ready?

    • Clavus says:

      For an Oculus-ready computer you’re looking at around $750, if you build it yourself that is. Prebuilds that put R9 290s or GTX 970s in their rigs easily go over $1000.

  6. RandomEngy says:

    wangle
    verb: To wrangle, but with one’s wang.

  7. Sin Vega says:

    How much of a discount do you get for buying ones that are this hideous?

    • airmikee says:

      You want a discount because your personal tastes and preferences aren’t sated properly?

      Feel entitled much?

  8. Radiant says:

    As a standalone upgrade do you recommend that Radeon R9 280?
    Looking to upgrade and a decent 3gb gfx card at 150 quid sounds pretty doable for me.

  9. Artist says:

    I build my own PCs since I was 14 (386 with 4mb Ram and a Tseng ET4000 gfx board). So far no pre-build PC could match prices or performance of what I nailed together. Ever. Or even can. Who claims the opposite probably needs a reality check.

    • that_guy_strife says:

      Agree wholeheartedly, flipside is the money you’re saving, is time you’ve spent acquiring knowledge and fiddling.

      And trawling search engines everytime a light blinks 3 times instead of 1.

  10. Megazell says:

    There are very few modern games that I am looking forward to playing. I play older stuff like Killing Floor, L4D 2, Serious Sam 3, HL1, HL2 DM and host of freeware goodies. I am also a 100% Linux users – So I build my own rigs well under $500. I am considering upgrading in about 4 months from my 2009 main right right now but not sure on the type of case I am going to go with this time around.

    • that_guy_strife says:

      I haven’t looked into them, but I wonder what are the specs for the remastered Homeworld.

      Also, idle curiosity, how well do emulators for PS1, 2, and GBA fare on your flavor of Linux ?

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      Yeah, I’m kind of puzzled by this article :

      – If you’re into “gaming” meaning you want to run the latest games at best settings at 1920×1080+ resolutions, then you’ll probably have more than $700 to spend on a PC. Also you already have a PC, so it’s more of a question of what components you need to upgrade…

      (Also, isn’t whole-case PC warranty (compared to specific-parts warranty) broken if you fiddle inside it?)

      – OTOH if you don’t have much money which generally means you don’t have your own PC yet, you’re probably better off getting a 15.6″ laptop (which is a lot more flexible than a big tower – big screen PC – for other uses than gaming) for a similar price.

      Search for better than average dedicated graphic card
      (dedicated + integrated might be more power efficient in theory, but tend to have all kind of issues with various games),
      (otherwise there’s also Intel’s integrated Iris new cards that look like they might finally be good enough for 3D gaming)
      and lower than average resolution
      (1366×768 should be a common standard for a while still),
      and replace the crappy 5200 rpm HDD by a $100 SSD…

      and you have an enormous library of deeply discounted games you can run well
      (the most demanding games also tend to be the latest, and therefore more expensive).

  11. Premium User Badge

    Fallingbadgers says:

    Dell have a tendency to offer random discount codes as well as time limited discounts which stack so the price you pay one day may vary dramatically from the next. I managed to get an i5 Alienware Alpha with 8gb of RAM and Maxwell graphics for £500 all in and i am now a convert to living room PC gaming.

    So worth checking the Dell site regularly

  12. bluecarrot says:

    Hi. I am the market for Steam Machines. As in, judging from previous discussions on this very website I must be the only person on earth who is waiting for them to come. They’re due in half a year (fingers crossed). And a lot of them will be just around this price! The Alienware Alpha will be replaced by the Alienware Steam Machine, hopefully with an updated GPU.

    Many may also have overlooked the fact that Asus also released their own not-a-steam-machine, the ROG GR8 (link to rog.asus.com). Can’t find a price for it, but the upcoming Steam Machine, GR8S, is listed as starting at $699 (link to store.steampowered.com). It seems to be just about as compact as the Alienware, but there are two intriguing differences: 1) it uses a desktop GPU (750Ti, bleh), and 2) they apparently managed to fit a second 2.5″ drive bay in there somehow. And it’s still half the size of an Xbox One. The GR8S will use whatever new and reasonable GPU that nVIDIA makes available by launch (link to rog.asus.com).

    I’m pretty sure I’ll get either the Alienware or Asus and dual-boot. Why? Because my only computer is a MacBook Air, and I really want to play some of those newer games at reasonable settings without building another one of those big ugly boxes I used to put together as a teenager. I am the market for Steam Machines. I am probably bigger than you think.

  13. Christo4 says:

    I would actually want someone to make a comparison between the console performance on games and to build a pc that needs to have only the same requirements.
    By that i mean, if for example we have witcher 3, it will surely need an 1000 euros gaming pc to be able to run smoothly, but on consoles it doesn’t run at high, probably most at medium graphical settings, only 30 fps, worse textures and 900p or something like that, if i’m not mistaken.
    So yeah, i would like to see how much money you would need for a pc to have the same performance as a console, not 1080p constant 60 fps at high-ultra settings… Ofc you’ll need to fork out a bit of dosh for that.

    • frymaster says:

      yeah, I seem to remember that back when it was trendy to moan at GTA 4 for being “not optimised” someone did a comparison test and found that, for example, you’d have to turn the view distance slider to only ONE THIRD of the way along to replicate the console distance. Of course, triple the distance is 9 times as many objects

      • Christo4 says:

        Yeah, something like that.
        It kinda bugs me when people, especially uninformed ones, say that you need a 1000 euros or more gaming pc vs 400 euros console (or whatever the price is), when they run at a much lower graphical quality than the pc.
        I honestly think that if you have a 500 euros PC it’s enough to get similar if not even better graphical setting than consoles, especially if you get an older 256 bit GPU, even on 1080p.

  14. popej says:

    I’m still rocking a pre-built 1st gen i7 920 with 6gb RAM that I bought from Overclockers. The only things I’ve purchased are a SSD and a new graphics card every 2 years or so (currently a MSI geforce 970).

    Honestly, it has no problems at all. Happily playing the Wticher 3 on the ultra preset with the Nvidia hair thing on. I’m not ‘that’ guy who pops up in every thread and says this either. I genuinely get 50-60fps smoothly.

    If you look at it ‘glass half full’ we have the last slow console generation and underpowered new console generation to thank for this.

  15. Lytinwheedle says:

    Wow, those cases are revoltingly hideous. I hope they add a nice large cardboard box that you can put over those hideous monstrosities.

  16. DrollRemark says:

    Funnily enough, this is basically the target I set myself at the end of last year. Although it’s true that you can get a decent pre-built box these days, I had a few second-hand components that made it somewhat pointless to go that route, so I made my own.

    Initial disclaimer: GTX570 supplied by a mate for £100, and he chucked in an old case of his too (although I had my own anyway). Had a decent PSU lying around. On top of that, then:

    MSI Z97: £90
    i5 4670K: £165
    8Gb RAM: £65
    Crucial 256 SSD: £75

    So that’s pretty much dead-on £500, without a monitor* or mechanical drive (which will only set you back about £30, to be fair).

    *I have an LG 27M45HQ, which cost me £160 and I cannot recommend enough. It won’t beat a hardcore TN type, but it’s a super sharp and workable 1080p monitor.

  17. TheNavvie says:

    I’ve only owned three PCs since 2001, built them all myself. One lasted until 2008, the next until late 2013. Both saw at least two CPUs, three graphics cards and the RAM was doubled, if not quadrupled. I define them as being separate PCs because they needed new motherboards (due to socket changes, natch).

    The third PC was built to a higher spec at the end of 2013 and I’ve yet to see any reason to upgrade.

    The point being, when most of the components can be kept between one build and the next, why would you buy a complete, pre-built PC? Just upgrade components are required.

    Granted, some of my success the past 14 years has been down to luck, but I’m not that lucky, at most a 5 and that’s with my lucky 8-ball and shades!

  18. uh20 says:

    Computers dont seem to be getting any better. They are getting smaller. Still cant build your own tablets yet. Unless you can custom build your own boards for batteries and screens and whatnot.