How to build a £600 Gaming PC

Conclusion

£600 Gaming PC

Conclusion

This has been a really enjoyable review, as ones that start unexpectedly often are.

It's such a common thought amongst almost everyone that you need to spend big money to get any kind of gaming performance from a PC. Sub-£1000 PCs are generally considered to be "internet" or "home office" PCs and when you look at the price of a serious CPU and GPU combination it makes perfect sense.

A GTX580 and i7-950 would be £700 before you factor in any other hardware at all, whereas our budget system here rocks up at the checkout shy of £600.

Clearly though this is in no way a system limited to merely browsing your local web-based emporium. Although it's perfectly capable of doing so without a hitch and having used it for a while I could barely notice the difference between it and my normal 980X based system for daily tasks. Only the very CPU intensive things such as video editing did the dual-core nature of the i3-540 rear its head.

Gaming is what we're here for and gaming it does with some vigour. As the graphs on the preceding pages demonstrate, in nearly every game we could find the Aria 540 bundle based system kept right up with the official OC3D test rig. One or two frames here or there are nothing to quibble about and certainly in gameplay terms aren't noticeable.

With the AMD HD6870 in both systems it's worth noting the performance here if you're looking at your own system and wondering about what to upgrade. Rather than looking at your CPU, clearly the first port of call should be a new graphics card. Assuming that you're not running a GTX580 SLI system on a Pentium III.

Special mention has to be made of the underlying system we have here, courtesy of the pre-overclocked, pre-built bundle from Aria. The benefits of having a pre-built system are obvious to anyone who either doesn't wish to build their own rig, or those of us who've found themselves at 6PM with a dead bit of hardware stopping their build in its tracks and leading to a lengthy RMA procedure.

When this pre-built nature is coupled to a hefty overclock that Aria supply it with we just have to love everything about it. The famous silicon-lottery we all have to contend with that can leave us with a CPU that requires 1.4v just to get a 500MHz overclock are eliminated with the combination of the great Core i3 processors from Intel, but also the quality control from Aria.

It's not even as if we had to compromise vastly the rest of the hardware to get some big numbers. A Corsair PSU and Samsung drive in a NZXT case aren't poor choices at any budget, much less down at this point.

Probably best of all though is the variations possible. Certainly we've used a HD6870 here, but you could just as easily go down to a HD6850 or perhaps a GTX460 should your budget require it. You could also, as the GPU is such a large part of the equation, go up to a GTX570 which is the best performing card on the market, short of dropping a huge wedge on its bigger brother. Having spent £53 on a case, but with £30 of our budget still available, the choice of case is seemingly infinite if you want something a little larger, or flashier, or stealthier or, well it's up to you.

So can you buy a brand-new gaming-class PC for £600? Thanks to the pre-overclocked bundle from Aria and some careful selection of your components the answer is clearly yes.

This wouldn't be a review without a score though. We can't score our own choice of system, that would be narcissistic and we've no need to be self-serving.

However we can score the bundle that underpins our choice here, and a 4.2GHz pre-built system that rocks as hard as this does, for £220, makes for an easy winner of the OC3D Gold and Value awards.

       

Thanks to Aria for their help with this review. Discuss in our forums.

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Most Recent Comments

12-12-2010, 20:26:45

tinytomlogan
Can you build a modern gaming rig for around £600? That's the question we posed, and you'll be surprised at the answer.

Continue Reading

13-12-2010, 00:45:54

Zeals
So you recommend Intel 1156 over AMD CPUs for a budget rig?

It also proves you can't bottleneck your GPU with your CPU SO you were right all along

13-12-2010, 04:07:18

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeals View Post

So you recommend Intel 1156 over AMD CPUs for a budget rig?

It also proves you can't bottleneck your GPU with your CPU SO you were right all along
It depends what you are lucky for in the rig dude. At this price with decent performance its deffo a really good idea to get the i3 and overclock it as the performace is great. Really depends on the budget tbh.

13-12-2010, 04:38:12

F-alienware
Nice. Good price on that OC combo too, go Aria !

13-12-2010, 04:39:45

MSIRawZ
Awesome review

13-12-2010, 07:33:05

Fodr Kreatr
simple: don't buy a case for it and run it in a freezer, no fans needed!

Jks ofc, that'd be nuts

13-12-2010, 07:55:30

Jackster
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fodr Kreatr View Post

simple: don't buy a case for it and run it in a freezer, no fans needed!

Jks ofc, that'd be nuts
I have put a old PC in a freezer once....

I WORKED

13-12-2010, 08:46:56

D4RK5iDERS
That looks nice, and for a reasonably good price!

13-12-2010, 10:56:47

Fodr Kreatr
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackster View Post

I have put a old PC in a freezer once....

I WORKED
Just don't leave it in there powered down. Things may get frosty

13-12-2010, 10:57:18

BloomerzUK
Damn your Tom.. you've got me thinking of building a new rig now!

13-12-2010, 12:06:28

AMDFTW
nice setup them i3's pump some beans dont they.

do you reckon they would do 4.5 with a dh14

13-12-2010, 12:10:49

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMDFTW View Post

nice setup them i3's pump some beans dont they.

do you reckon they would do 4.5 with a dh14
Its not hot mate......

13-12-2010, 12:59:25

BertDaSquirt
I'd say an i3 would do 4.5 with stock cooler if you had some amazing air flow... probs idle at 40-50 and load 68-79 ish... lol

would be funny if that tested true... oh well when i get it maybe i can find out!

13-12-2010, 13:31:56

Ollii
Hey everyone, I see there are actually two bundles for the I3 540 on aria:

The reviewed one:

• Intel® Core™ i3-540 Overclocked @ 4.20GHz - Dual Core CPU

• 4GB Mushkin Silverline 1333MHz 9-9-9-24

• MSI H55M-ED55 Micro-ATX Motherboard

• Coolermaster Hyper TX3 CPU Cooler

• Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

• Pre-Assembled & Tested

• 1 Years Warranty

• No Operating System

And this one:

• Intel® Core™ i3-540 Overclocked @ 4.30GHz - Dual Core CPU

• Mushkin 4GB (2x2G DDR3 1600MHz 8-8-8-24 Blackline - 996744

• Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 Intel H55 DDR3 Motherboard

• Gelid Tranquillo CPU Cooler

• Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

• Pre-Assembled & Tested

• 1 Years Warranty

• No Operating System

First one is £220 and second one is £280, never heard of a gelid cooler though any comments?. And just out of interest is the extra £50 worth paying?

13-12-2010, 13:34:55

tinytomlogan
Theres faster ram too which will give a better divider tie in and a higher ram speed add to that a better mobo with usb3.... For £50 Id probs pay it tbh dude.

13-12-2010, 13:42:16

Ollii
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post

Theres faster ram too which will give a better divider tie in and a higher ram speed add to that a better mobo with usb3.... For £50 Id probs pay it tbh dude.
sweet, I have to say I do like these bundle deals.

13-12-2010, 14:10:30

benj3
Great review Tom :>

13-12-2010, 14:14:30

BertDaSquirt
yeah i was wondering that, it will depend on how much i get for xmas... get paid this month 300 ish so... could buy it... but would then need to buy a psu if i want to use it before the end of january as my psu is 400 watts and sucks.... so i would need to buy a 4 pin power adapter which would cost £7 including postage which tbh is a waste. I'd also rather use new parts with new psu not risking the fact that the psu is dell and is over 6 years old.

***EDIT****

these bundle deals are sick! Aria provide much better performance for the price compared to competitors like overclockers....

13-12-2010, 15:55:08

AMDFTW
how do the rest compare in regards to bang4buck

13-12-2010, 16:03:07

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by BertDaSquirt View Post

so i would need to buy a 4 pin power adapter which would cost £7 including postage which tbh is a waste.
Que?

13-12-2010, 16:48:18

BertDaSquirt
Code:
Que?


?????

13-12-2010, 16:50:13

F-alienware
What are you talking about 4 pin adapter?

13-12-2010, 17:07:22

BertDaSquirt
4 pin atx power adapter as my current psu one is too short to reach to the top of my motherboard in my xigmatek utgard...

*** edit****

4 pin extension might make it easier to understand

13-12-2010, 17:23:40

F-alienware
I see.

you want to make sure your psu is powerful enough before spending any money on adapters. And you also want a good one with solid rail ampage if you're even so much as contemplating running an overclocked setup like that on it.

13-12-2010, 18:48:53

murphy7801
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollii View Post

Hey everyone, I see there are actually two bundles for the I3 540 on aria:

The reviewed one:

• Intel® Core™ i3-540 Overclocked @ 4.20GHz - Dual Core CPU

• 4GB Mushkin Silverline 1333MHz 9-9-9-24

• MSI H55M-ED55 Micro-ATX Motherboard

• Coolermaster Hyper TX3 CPU Cooler

• Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

• Pre-Assembled & Tested

• 1 Years Warranty

• No Operating System

And this one:

• Intel® Core™ i3-540 Overclocked @ 4.30GHz - Dual Core CPU

• Mushkin 4GB (2x2G DDR3 1600MHz 8-8-8-24 Blackline - 996744

• Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 Intel H55 DDR3 Motherboard

• Gelid Tranquillo CPU Cooler

• Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

• Pre-Assembled & Tested

• 1 Years Warranty

• No Operating System

First one is £220 and second one is £280, never heard of a gelid cooler though any comments?. And just out of interest is the extra £50 worth paying?
Then throw in a gtx 570 for a laugh because that will only cost another £100

13-12-2010, 22:36:00

Zeals
Just out of curiosity, what software comes with an Aria Rig by default?

14-12-2010, 03:22:12

MSIRawZ
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeals View Post

Just out of curiosity, what software comes with an Aria Rig by default?
Hi Zeals,

We don't supply any software per say. We do of course supply everything that comes with the motherboard i.e. Software CD and anything extra that the motherboard vendor suppied with the motherboard. We also supply the extra socket mounting that comes with each CPU cooler incase you wish to upgrade and use the same cooler on a different platform.

Hope that helps

EDIT: Just realised, you are on about our bundles right? lol

14-12-2010, 03:42:37

Zeals
Quote:
Originally Posted by RawZ@Aria View Post

Hi Zeals,

We don't supply any software per say. We do of course supply everything that comes with the motherboard i.e. Software CD and anything extra that the motherboard vendor suppied with the motherboard. We also supply the extra socket mounting that comes with each CPU cooler incase you wish to upgrade and use the same cooler on a different platform.

Hope that helps

EDIT: Just realised, you are on about our bundles right? lol
Yep, I hate bloatware xD Took me an entire day to get rid of all the bloatware on my laptop

14-12-2010, 04:29:03

Hay11Mac
Great review and video, surprising what you can get for your money...,

Well done Aria great prices

14-12-2010, 07:05:57

Jamzieth
Thats really good, i'm building something similar to this for a family member (full system no g-card (not needed for what he wabts the computer for. The on board graphics will do for now) inc monitor etc etc) for under £400

14-12-2010, 10:21:56

BertDaSquirt
@AlienALX

Exactly thats what i said;

I'd also rather use new parts with new psu not risking the fact that the psu is dell and is over 6 years old.



Meaning i'd rather go for the cheaper on so i can afford a new PSU.. but it all depends on how much money i get for xmas... also noticed an i5 bundle on overclockers gigabyte board and corsair dominator RAM @ £280

Then throw in a gtx 570 for a laugh because that will only cost another £100





Exactly what i was thinking and much easier if you have already got a decent case, psu storage etc... you could buy a new 6900 seriese card when it comes out and will still equate to £600--- sadly im not in that situation ...

If you want to see how bad my current rig is, check out my profile, ive got the rough specs listed.

14-12-2010, 14:57:03

tiagojcp
that i3 on the review has the same vantage score as my q8200@3.22ghz. Based on that do you thing it can handle well a card like the hd5970 (I'm waiting for the 6990 to buy it)? Or should I upgrade my cpu before thinking in upgrading my 4850? Putting in other terms: budget cpu = budget videocard?

14-12-2010, 15:10:32

BertDaSquirt
IMO i think your CPU is fine at the moment.. and you should get a new graphics card.. you will see dramatic game performance increases. Then your next upgrade after that would be new CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Storage e.t.c.

The reason i was thinking about buying this bundle is because im still stuck on a stupid AMD Athlon 64 x2 5000+... with a 6800GT...

14-12-2010, 15:26:32

tiagojcp
that i3 on the review has the same vantage score as my q8200@3.22ghz. Based on that do you thing it can handle well a card like the hd5970 (I'm waiting for the 6990 to buy it)? Or should I upgrade my cpu before thinking in upgrading my 4850? Putting in other terms: budget cpu = budget videocard?

14-12-2010, 15:30:40

tinytomlogan
If its one or the other get a GPU first.

14-12-2010, 16:23:30

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiagojcp View Post

that i3 on the review has the same vantage score as my q8200@3.22ghz. Based on that do you thing it can handle well a card like the hd5970 (I'm waiting for the 6990 to buy it)? Or should I upgrade my cpu before thinking in upgrading my 4850? Putting in other terms: budget cpu = budget videocard?
No it absolutely can't handle something like the 5970 you would be throwing your money away.

I used to own Crossfire Radeon 5770. In a review on this site with an I7 920 they knocked out nearly 18000 3d marks. In my system (Phenom 2 940 @ 3.4ghz) they knocked out 14500.

Your CPU will bottleneck anything over a 460 1gb IMO. I certainly wouldn't spend the money on a top level card and then put it in there.

BTW thanks for posting that though. Maybe now these people who keep wanting to buy X4 AMD chips can finally understand what I am saying. IE - They are no better than the 45nm quads and cost more. The I3 is where it's at now.

14-12-2010, 18:29:05

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienALX View Post

No it absolutely can't handle something like the 5970 you would be throwing your money away.

I used to own Crossfire Radeon 5770. In a review on this site with an I7 920 they knocked out nearly 18000 3d marks. In my system (Phenom 2 940 @ 3.4ghz) they knocked out 14500.

Your CPU will bottleneck anything over a 460 1gb IMO. I certainly wouldn't spend the money on a top level card and then put it in there.

BTW thanks for posting that though. Maybe now these people who keep wanting to buy X4 AMD chips can finally understand what I am saying. IE - They are no better than the 45nm quads and cost more. The I3 is where it's at now.
Alien thats almost all B******S.

Your scores were lower because it was AMD.

You will loose a bit where its a lower chip but its not huge. Look at the comparisons in the review against a 4ghz 950... slim to nothing in it.

BUT if you have that sort of money for a GPU then you may want to think about spreading the load a little more.

14-12-2010, 18:38:10

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post

Alien thats almost all B******S.

Your scores were lower because it was AMD.

You will loose a bit where its a lower chip but its not huge. Look at the comparisons in the review against a 4ghz 950... slim to nothing in it.

BUT if you have that sort of money for a GPU then you may want to think about spreading the load a little more.
I took those cards from a 3.4ghz Phenom 2 (14500) and put them with a 3ghz Phenom 1. Score went down to 12000. Reason they were faster on the 920 is because the 920 is faster and allowed them to go faster. I mean, you said it yourself, it was because it was an AMD.

2500 3d marks less due to a slower CPU. Wish I had something even slower to throw in there to test them with now

Here you go. 3D score for a 470 GTX with a Phenom 2 940 @ 3800mhz.

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i1...ron/3dmv-1.jpg

I've seen a 460 score more than that with a 920 OC to 4ghz. Bottlenecking. That's why I just got an I7 rig.

14-12-2010, 18:47:45

Zeals
Talking about bottlenecks incites the Wrath of TTL

14-12-2010, 18:52:31

tinytomlogan
Aye benchmarks will go down its a BENCHMARK, its FPS you want to look at.

14-12-2010, 18:57:00

F-alienware
Well yes, that's fair enough. However we already deciphered you only really need to make 60 with no less than 40 min to play a game as it was intended.

God I'm getting boring in my old age

14-12-2010, 21:00:30

Zeals
The great thing about TTL's gameplay it shows a worse case scenario, what happens when you play a Black Ops and not kill anything, so everything is shooting at you by the end of the level.

15-12-2010, 11:57:09

Fodr Kreatr
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeals View Post

Talking about bottlenecks incites the Wrath of TTL
Chargin his lazar

26-12-2010, 18:29:14

I3r0k3n7FEET
loved this review/report Tom, such an important topic imo.

though you said 'at the end of the day' far too much

27-12-2010, 06:43:41

Woozzer
I have almost the same

04-01-2011, 20:48:58

shawry99
Could someone recommend a case for this as Aria dont have the one in stock, I've posted this in the cases area, but in hindsight should of posted here.

04-01-2011, 20:53:23

tinytomlogan
Have you emailed Aria to see when they will have stock dude?

04-01-2011, 21:01:43

shawry99
No, my issue I need it fairly quickly, and they have a web special of the sapphire 6870 for £180 so didnt want to miss out - kind of didnt decide to actually take the plunge until gone 8pm

EDIT:

Ok, changes to Toms rig as follows

Sapphire HD 6870 - different make, but on offer 150+VAT

Seagate Barracuda ST31000528AS 1TB 3.5" SATA II Hard Drive - Samsung currently not available

Coolermaster HAF 912 Plus Midi Tower Case - Case from review not in stock

Including delivery it comes to 586.15 - unfortunately I dont qualify for free delivery

Just want to say thanks Tom for having this sort of stuff available, its a God send

13-01-2011, 21:33:25

Tortuga
I would love to see a Redux of this 600 pound gaming rig, sandy bridge style when the i3 chips are released. Will lose some budget with the p67? But it might be worth it in performance. Or maybe even an h67 with the lowest i3 chip for budget reasons. Its fun to think about.

EDIT* Now that I got to looking, I don't think there will be an i3 "K" Edition, so that might render this idea pointless lol.

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