December 2019 – Budget Gaming PC Build

If you are planning to get a great ‘Price Performance’ Gaming PC in 2020 on a limited budget of less than £450 then read on.

Extensive browsing of AliExpress and YouTube takes ages. Just before Christmas you may not have the time or inclination to do this research yourself.

CPU (Xeon E5-2650 V2)

Second-hand server processors offer great value. The E5-2650 V2 Intel Xeon CPU used to cost $1166+ 6 years ago and can now be bought for ~ £40. This offers similar performance to the more recent Ryzen 5 1600X which costs £80+.

Server Ram (2 x 8GB DDR3)

These Xeon systems can use cheaper DDR3 Server Ram and it’s ~ £22 for 2 x 8GB modules of DDR3 1866 MHz. The maximum officially supported speeds depend on the CPU chosen. If your motherboard has four slots this isn’t a guarantee the memory will be able to run in quad-channel. The cheapest X79 socket 2011 motherboards only run in dual channel so buy the fastest ram.

The memory controller is built into the CPU. The E5-2530 V2 can’t take advantage of 1866 MHz ram

Motherboards (X79 Socket 2011)

The following video reviews a cheap sub £40 motherboard which can accommodate these Xeon CPUs. It has four ram slots and comes in various revisions with important differences such as whether there is USB3.0 or an m.2 connector.

I am expecting an Atermiter X79G V1.21 motherboard from Santa this Christmas. The X79G V1.1, 1.2 and 1.21 have different designs of heatsinks. The V1.21 heatsink has vertical fins for airflow from the top of a case. The V1.2 heatsink has horizontal fins for airflow from the front of a case.

The Atermiter X79G V1.21 motherboard for socket 2011 CPUs has vertical VRM Heatsink fins for fan airflow from the top of case.

X79G V1.21 Bios Modding

This Russian website gives me hope that the ram can easily be overclocked via a bios mod. This also allows ram timing controls.

Fast Boot Drive

Any Solid State Drive (SSD) is a wonderful addition to a PC build. These are a great upgrade for any PC still using a spinning Hard Disk Drive (HDD). The SSD cost being <£20 for a useful size drive that can be used to store your operating system.

My current default recommendation is that if you have a M.2 NVMe socket then use it. These Xeon motherboards typically have 1 or 2 M.2 NVMe slots for very fast file storage. The small file access time is often far better on NVMe rather than SATA SSDs.

I have noticed a new model out of the Asgard M.2 NVMe drive, I’ve used in several recent ex-corporate office PC (Dell Optiplex 7010) upgrades where an m.2 adaptor that fits in the PCI-E graphics card slots as a boot drive if a bios mod is done.

The latest Asgard NVMe drives declares read speeds of 3300 MB/s and write speeds of 2500 MB/s

The Asgard M.2 NVMe drive is found from several sellers on AliExpress. Just search for ‘Asgard’ and you will find several options. I use 250 GB boot drive but these 1 TB drives for < £85 are tempting.

Being a gaming PC throwing in a cheap high capacity HDD is perfect for you Game library.

Graphics Card (GPU)

The XFX RX 570 RS graphics cards well balanced with many E5 V1 and V2 Xeon CPU’s

Ensuring that you are not bottlenecking your system with an underpowered CPU or wasting money on an expensive GPU you can’t fully utilise. I used a bottleneck calculator to find a good value GPU.

I found that the 4GB version of the XFX RX 570 can be picked up for under £60 from AliExpress and just add ~£20 for the 8GB version. These general pair well with Xeon E5 V2 gaming builds.

Learn more by emailing me and I can help you design and perhaps source and build you a great budget Gaming PC.