Gaming PCs and tight budgets don’t always get along.
After all, you need a powerful gaming rig and a high-end video card to play the latest and greatest PC games in all their glory. Sometimes, you may even need multiple high-end video cards.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t build a good PC on a small budget. Today, I’m going to share some of the industry’s best tips and tricks for putting together a good gaming computer on a small budget:
5) Yes, you can build a gaming PC for under $200
If you’re building a PC on an extremely tight budget, then you’re obviously going to be limited in your options.
That being said, many people are surprised to learn how cheap PC parts can be – especially if you’re willing to build the PC yourself.
Shop at discount retailers like NewEgg and look for refurbished parts or instant sales. If you do that carefully, you can end up saving a ton of money while building an amazing PC.
I just went on NewEgg and put together a halfway decent gaming PC for $198 USD. The only thing it needs is a monitor – and you could hook it up to any TV if you don’t have an existing PC monitor. Check out the parts I used:
(Prices accurate as of October 24, 2014)
That PC has a GTX 650 video card and a 2.8GHz processor. It’s not great, but it will run a surprising number of today’s PC games. And it costs $198!
4) Start small and work your way up
You know that PC I mentioned up above? You don’t have to own that PC for the rest of your life.
Many gamers on tight budgets start off with a PC like the one listed above before slowly adding parts to it over time.
You might choose to swap out that processor and RAM, for example, once you have a little extra money. Or maybe you want your PC to look cool so you buy an awesome-looking case.
One of the best parts about building a PC is that parts are getting cheaper every day. The top of the line video card which was just released today will cost 40% less at this time next year.
3) Look for refurbished PCs or laptops at Best Buy and other retailers
Best Buy’s “refurbished” products are a great place to look for bargains. If you don’t feel like building your own PC, then I suggest checking the refurbished section of your local Best Buy (or any other PC parts retailer).
Last time I shopped the refurbished section at Best Buy, I found a high-end Lenovo laptop priced at $350. Best Buy had dozens of these laptops which had been returned. That’s a big red flag, right?
Wrong! I started researching that Lenovo laptop and discovered that it retailed for $800. Dozens of customers had returned the laptop due to one specific problem: the laptop would often refuse to boot due to a problematic fingerprint reader.
However, you could easily disable the fingerprint reader by changing one setting in the BIOS, ensuring that it never caused problems again. I ordered the laptop, disabled the fingerprint reader, and I ended up getting a high-value laptop at a low-cost price.
Best Buy, Newegg, and other PC retailers all have discount or refurbished sections. Research these sections and make sure you understand the flaws in each refurbished product (if any). In many cases, the flaws won’t be a big deal – especially if you know your way around computers.
2) Consider financing your PC
PCs, just like vehicles, are often large and expensive purchases. Today, many manufacturers offer comprehensive financing plans. These financing plans let you spread out PC payments over a long period of time. Instead of dropping $2,000 on an awesome gaming PC today, you can spend $100 per month for the next 24 months.
Obviously, with this method you’re spending more in the long run. But if you have good cash flow but can’t afford a major purchase, then this may be the most effective way to pay for a brand new, high-end gaming PC.
Just make sure you understand the terms and conditions – including exactly how much money you’re paying for the loan. If you really mess up your payment plan, you can always file for debt relief from the government. National debt relief programs in the United States, for example, have helped people affordably consolidate loans and manage payments on one easy schedule.
1) Avoid using Windows
Unless you’re going the illegal route (which I won’t talk about here), you’re going to have to spend about $100 on a Windows license.
That adds a lot of money to a tight budget, which is why I recommend using Linux instead of Windows. Linux distros like Ubuntu are relatively easy to master. Steam also has a number of Linux-optimized games, including Dead Island, Borderlands, Civilization V, and Garry’s Mod.
In other words, you’re not missing out on much when you switch to Linux – and you save $100.