A Budget PC Build Guide – How to Get the Best Without Spending the Most

Becoming a member of the PC master race isn’t a very cheap proposition, but it’s one that many gamers hold dear in their hearts for one way or another. Whether you are trying to break free from the shackles of console gaming, want to customize your play with mods, or simply need the most bleeding-edge graphical capabilities out there, building your own PC is probably the most economically efficient way to go about this. But where to start, right? We’ve come up with some useful budget-friendly suggestions to help you build your own gaming PC just in time for some of this fall’s biggest titles. If you’ve wondered on what you should add to your PC, or you’re just curious about our suggestions, read on for tips on how to construct a great gaming PC in 2020 and beyond.

CPU

AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

Rocking four cores and eight threads, AMD’s Ryzen 3 3300X has a base clock of 3.8GHz and a turbo clock at 4.3GHz alongside an L3 Cache of 16MB, TDP at 65W, and 24 4.0 PCIe 4.0 lanes for pretty much all of the performance you could ever need for most games.

GPU

Nvidia GTX 1660 Super

Coming with 1,408 GPU Cores and a base clock of 1,530MHz (Boost Clock at 1,785MHz), the Nvidia GTX 1660 Super’s 5,027 GFLOPS, 6GB GDDR6 memory and 14 Gbps memory clock with a bandwidth of 336 GB/s compliment the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X’s performance well for crisp, clear 1080p gaming capabilities.

Motherboard

Asrock B550M-HDV

Motherboards don’t get enough love when it comes to the press around the latest PC gaming technology, but the Asrock B550M-HDV is not only an excellent all-around board but also adaptable for future upgrades and usage scenarios. In terms of performance, we have a B550 chipset  with memory coming in at 2x DIMM, 64GB, DDR4-4733 and one PCIe 4.9 x16 and one PCIe 3.0 x1 expansion slot. For video ports, we’ve got a D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and four USB 3.2 Gen 1 and two USB 2.0 outlets. Storage is provided via a M.2, 4x SATA and ethernet network connection.

Memory

Corsair Vegeance LPX 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4-3200

When it comes to memory, it seems like you can never have enough. On top of that, you can really break the bank – if you don’t know what to look for in hardware. We think the Corsair Vegeance LPX 16GB is probably the best option for most gamers on a budget. As far as the performance goes, we’ve got capacity coming in at 16GB( 2x 8GB) with a speed of 3200MT/s and timings at 16-18-18-36. Power consumption comes in at a decent 1.35V. There is some wiggle room for overclocking and, because of that, we really think this represents one of the best values for the money on the market right now.

SSD

Intel 660p 1TB

A solid-state drive is a must-have for gaming PCs and this option from Intel checks off all of the right boxes with very few issues that could hold it back. That said, the drive does have some issues with slowing down as it nears capacity. Keeping some room available shouldn’t be too hard with 1TB of total storage.

Power

EVGA GD 500W 80+ Gold

Your power supply helps bring everything to life – literally – but it also potentially limits your options for the future if not chosen properly. For a great middle ground, we think the EVGA GD 500W 80+ Gold is great for most everything you’re going to need your gaming PC to do over the next couple of years. That said, it does limit your expansion options moving forward and you might want to look at something a little more powerful if you plan on making adjustments to your build anytime soon.

Casing

Phanteks P300 ATX Mid Tower Case

We love the Phanteks P300 ATX Mid Tower Case for its simple yet classic design and ample room for all of hardware listed above. Measuring 450x200x400mm (HxWxD) and weighing 6kg, the Phanteks P300 ATX is a mid-tower with motherboard capability for ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX and two 3.5″ internal, and two 2.5″ SSD drive bays. Rounding out the tower, we’ve got two USB 3.0 front ports as well as an audio port. To keep your system cool, we’ve got two 120/140mm on the front, two 120/140mm on the top, one 120mm on the rear with a max GPU length of 380mm.

When it comes to audio, the sky is the limit on how much you could spend on your speakers. That said, you could also spend a ton of money on headphones – especially if you want something high quality. In that regard, we can’t help but recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4. Universally considered the best headphones for gaming, this product from Sony cancels out ambient noise from the outside world and totally immerses you in the action. As you can probably already imagine, as a Sony product, it isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s going to set you back close to $300 depending on the retailer. Whether or not that is worth it to you or not depends on your situation but, for that money, there are some pretty competent sound systems out there, too. For cheaper alternatives, the Bose SoundSport Wireless comes in a thin, lightweight form factor while the Jabra Elite Active 75t is often cited as a great all-around set of headphones for gaming and other PC activities. There are more expensive options out there for headphones but we really think you start to have diminishing returns the more expensive a piece of gear gets. One advantage to headphones over speakers is that you can use them on more than just your PC. We recommend that you sit down and budget everything out and go from there since headphones could possibly put you over your budget if you want to go for the top-end models.

IKEA and ASUS Team Up for Custom Gaming Furniture

One of the fastest growing niches in the furniture and office equipment segment are those products that are tailored for and built according to a gamer’s needs.

That’s not really that shocking when you consider how fast eSports is growing as both a profession, hobby, and entertainment outlet. To capitalize on this newfound love for all things gaming, IKEA and ASUS’s gamer-focused subbrand Republic of Gamers are teaming up to develop a line of gaming furniture.

We’d expect it will combine Ikea’s sleek design and affordable price with features that gamers could use. As things stand now, we’ll have to use our imaginations as for what this partnership could potentially produce because both companies were mum on specifics only going so far as to say that this would be a new “ecosystem” of products according to PC Gamer. The furniture will be designed by ASUS Design Centre in Taipei and Shanghai where IKEA also has an outpost that will enable the companies to work together. Aside from making things that look compelling, the companies will also make sure that the furniture is optimized for gaming and performance particularly among the eSports set.

We won’t have to wait very long to see what these two companies design. The first products are slated for a release in February 2021 in the Chinese domestic market with an eventual global rollout occurring after that.

The only hurdle we could potentially see to this is that IKEA isn’t really the first name in gaming furniture but neither is ASUS for that matter. If they can get the word out there about these products, they could be a pretty big success but these just don’t come to mind when you think of durable gaming furniture, chairs, desks, and other accessories.

What do you think of IKEA and ASUS’s partnership? Would gaming furniture be something that you would be interested in buying? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also, check out our other gaming content by clicking here.

What We Know About Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 Series

As much of the console world waits with bated breath for Sony and Microsoft’s new systems to drop this fall, Nvidia was kind enough to show us all what the future of PC gaming – and consoles – is going to look like in the future.

The GeForce RTX 30 Series promises to bring more of everything to users and, as Nvidia’s history has proven, it isn’t all marketing hype.

From Nvidia’s own marketing hype: “GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs also feature several world firsts: they’re the first gaming-class graphics cards with up to 24GB of new, blazing-fast GDDR6X VRAM; they’re the first GPUs with HDMI 2.1, for 4K high refresh rate and 8K gaming; they’re the first discrete GPUs with support for the AV1 codec, enabling you to watch high-resolution streams using significantly less bandwidth; and our Founders Edition cards are the first with innovative dual axial flow through cooling solutions.

And of course, GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs come packed with new technologies for esports competitors, livestreamers, creators, and gamers alike – NVIDIA Reflex reduces system latency, providing split-second PC gaming responsiveness; NVIDIA Broadcast turns any room into a home broadcast studio with AI-enhanced video and voice comms; updates to NVIDIA DLSS make 8K HDR gaming a reality on the GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card; and new NVIDIA Studio enhancements make creative applications run faster than ever before.”

NVIDIA also showed off their so-called Reflex tech that will help  “improve esports reaction time,” among other things. As anyone who follows eSports knows, that’s no small thing and lag can often mean the difference in many matches. The company also showed off a host of new streaming features to make it easier for gamers using NVIDIA tech to put their gameplay online. The company also demonstrated the NVIDIA Omniverse Machinima with Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord working the crowd.

NVIDIA Omniverse Machinima “gives you the power to remix, recreate, and redefine animated video game storytelling” the company claims. NVIDIA also displayed their next-gen ray tracing, DLSS, and discussed the RTX Ampere GPU. Of course, the marquee event of all of this talk was the demonstration of the next-gen games using this tech including Cyberpunk 2077.

All of this was capped off with a thorough introduction to the GeForce RTX 3080:

“Powered by the NVIDIA Ampere architecture, our second-generation of RTX, GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards deliver staggering rasterized, ray-traced, and AI-enhanced horsepower, giving you the performance to make your games more beautiful and realistic with maxed out settings.

GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs power the next wave of amazing game titles, including Cyberpunk 2077, Fortnite with RTX, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Minecraft with RTX for Windows 10. And they give competitive gamers the lightning response times needed to win in games like Valorant and Fortnite.”

What do you think about the GeForce RTX 30 Series? Did you watch the presentation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Review: Pwnage Ultra Custom Wireless Mouse

Bonus unboxing footage too.

There’s been a lot of buzz around the Pwnage branded mouse as they capture a market that seemingly is untapped for the most part by bigger brand names.

Pwnage brings us their “Ultra Custom Wireless Mouse” – a lightweight, wireless, and color customizable mouse with easily replaceable parts. I received mine recently, so lets talk about what you get with it – Mouse in white or black, extra back cover, extra primary button covers, extra rubber dpi buttons, USB C cable, USB wireless receiver, and button spacers. You also have the option to order an extra set of colored pieces if you wish!

The $90 base mouse still comes with an entire extra set of panels in the opposite base color.

The mouse comes in at only 69 grams using the honeycomb shell, while the solid shell bumps it up to 73 grams. hardcore users can use no cover at all, or even take out the battery and use it in wired mode only – but I think we can agree that defeats the appeal of this mouse. To put this weight into perspective, the 2 most popular big brand wireless mice right now are still both heavier – Razer Viper Ultimate (74g) and the Logitech G Pro Wireless (80g). However, the most impressive part is that the Pwnage is lighter WHILE being slightly bigger and more ergonomic. The G Pro and Viper are both ambidextrous, so some people find them less comfortable than an ergo mouse. I personally found the shape of the Pwnage to be suitable for medium to large hands, smaller hands might want to look elsewhere.

So the Pwnage so far on paper is more appealing than its main competitors, but how does it perform? The sensor in the Pwnage is the PAW3335, which is a high performing, low power consumption sensor. I also own a Logitech G305 and comparing them side by side, I can say the Pwnage works almost identically to the G305 Hero Sensor – at least from what a human can detect. The DPI levels match very closely after I set them both to 800. The mouse does go up to 16,000 dpi, but i don’t know what sane person would game at such an absurd dpi.

All the buttons have the perfect click and resistance; I often found myself doing a lot of misclicks on other mice, this was probably the first mouse I pulled out of the box and didn’t have to re-learn how to not accidentally click all the time. The side buttons are placed perfectly as well, no complaints. The scroll wheel includes an RGB effect and the rear has a RGB strip that lights up along with the Pwnage logo itself, which is visible only with the honeycomb shell, the solid shell will hide it.

How I set my Pwnage mouse up.

Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. The features beat out the more expensive brand name mice, while having a sensor that is just as good. You simply get more accessories/features for less money. At the time of writing, I purchased my Pwnage for $90 plus shipping, while the G Pro and Viper Ultimate are going for around $150, although I’ve seen those prices flex by about $20.

Also Pro Tip: I used a Gen X USB C magnetic charging tip and cable to make charging this mouse effortless. The magnetic cable just snaps into place. You can find them on amazon here.

Intel’s Next-Gen, Next-Gen Alder Lake Already Showing Up on Benchmarks

The future might be here sooner rather than later.

Because Intel’s next-gen, next-gen processors are already appearing on the SiSoft Sandra database.

Slated for release in 2022, this represents Intel’s path forward. Called Alder Lake, these processors will arrive following the 11th generation Rocket Lake that is on tap for next year. That could change pending a September 2 announcement from Intel though that would be a big surprise indeed.

It is also the processor destined to bring to the desktop Intel’s vaunted “Hybrid Technology” or the use of a larger CPU core in tandem with four smaller ones as PC Gamer is reporting.

In terms of design, the Alder Lake will employ a big.LITTLE configuration with a top-end processor of eight Golden Cove cores. The big.LITTLE design choice is seen as somewhat noteworthy. While it remains to be seen what Intel does with it, many industry watchers are somewhat perplexed by what they are hearing thus far about Alder Lake.

So why is this showing up on SiSoft this early?

Well, some people speculate that the Alder Lake processor could be coming out sooner than 2022 – like in 2021 to be exact. Thus far people are trying to read the tea leaves about what Alder Lake will be able to do based upon what we know about Rocket Lake.

That’s an inexact science at best. Another issue is that, as noted above, we won’t see Rocket Lake on PCs this year which makes a 2021 release for Alder Lake concurrent pretty much with Rocket Lake. Given that, the 2022 timeframe seems to make more sense but who knows. As we noted above, everything could change with a surprise from Intel on September 2.

TechRadar published the following rumored specs for Rocket Lake nearly one month ago.

The website cited the following:

  • “RocketLake S
  • Intel 0000
  • 1 Processor 8 Cores, 16 Threads
  • Genuine Intel Family 6 Model 167 Stepping 0
  • Base: 3.19 GHz
  • Maximum: 4.28 GHz
  • Intel(R) Gen12 Mobile Graphics Controller
  • Compute Units: 32
  • Maximum: 1.15 GHz
  • Device Memory: 6.33 GB

Tech Radar continues: “In addition, this latest leak details the processor’s built-in iGPU, which reportedly sports 32 Compute Units, with a core clock frequency of 1.15GHz and 6.33GB of VRAM. However, although the iGPU is expected to be using the Intel Xe graphics architecture, early benchmarking scores don’t look promising.”

Launching two generations in one year would be a big deal, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Intel to do. Dave James of PC Gamer points to the Broadwell generation as one example of this.

What is undoubtedly clear is that Alder Lake will be a significantly different processor than those previously released by Intel.

What do you think? Do you follow Intel as a company? How about its tech compared to its competition? Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section below.

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Source here

Could AMD Big Navi Challenge Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 in the Marketplace?

AMD is having a moment and the company looks set to extend it if tech rumors are to be believed.

The graphics card arms race continues and it looks like AMD is about to shake up the current world order with its Big Navi high-end option. Some people even think that Big Navi’s stats put it in line to challenge Nvidia’s own GeForce RTX 3080 but, with only paper to back up that claim, we’ll take a wait-and-see approach on that.

So what makes Big Navi special?

While reports prior to an official launch are necessarily vague, what we can tell you with some certainty is that the Big Navi graphics card will be a pretty big leap over rival Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 ti. A lot of the specs for Big Navi are referenced in comparison to that card. YouTube channel Moore’s Law is Dead said, for example, that the GPU for Big Navi is 40 – 60 percent more powerful than the RTX 2080 ti. The source for this claim is “someone who hasn’t been wrong in the past” for whatever that is worth.

For reference, the (Founders Edition) GeForce RTX 2080 ti’s specs are as follows: GPU Architecture: Turing, RTX-OPS 78T, Boost Clock: 1635 MHz (OC), Frame Buffer: 11GB GDDR6, Memory Speed: 14 Gbps.        

And the entire basis for the claim is that the Big Navi’s performance eclipses the RTX 2080 ti in such a way that it is seemingly positioned right behind or on par with Nvidia’s next-gen graphics card.

Multiple reports indicate that Big Navi will use AMD’s next-gen RDNA 2 graphics architecture and that we can expect to see it, as well as the RTX 3080 from Nvidia, this September. For what it is worth, the Nvidia graphics card will use the company’s new Ampere graphics technology.

Much of this caps off a year of pretty big wins for AMD. Both console titans Sony and Microsoft announced their next-gen consoles would be using RDNA-2 architecture. Naturally, that doesn’t mean much for the PC graphics card race. Given that both will be debuting around the same time, it will be interesting to see which company comes out on top.

What do you think? Does AMD’s Big Navi sound like something that could bring Nvidia down a peg or two or just more boastful marketing? Does it even matter? What graphics card would you choose if you had the option? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

And be sure to check out our other video game articles by clicking here.

Razer Releases First 60% Mini Keyboard

Razer releases its hit keyboard, The Huntsman, in mini form.

The Huntsman mini has already launched in its clicky key variation. Supposedly linear switches will be coming soon as well. Most importantly, the keyboard is available in WHITE and black. I have been dying to get a white viper ultimate, but sadly they have not hinted at even producing that at all, such a bummer.

The Huntsman keyboard has been quite popular in the gaming scene, as its optical switches are something new in a stale keyboard market. Everyone that has a huntsman of any variation has raved about it.

Now gamers have the mini 60% option so they can maximize their mousepad space for those low sensitivity flick headshots.

Find the keyboard here

Corsair Releases RGB light sticks…?

Gamers can’t seem to get enough RGB anything, so here are some sticks you can add to your desk.

If you were looking for a way to spice up your gaming setup some more, Corsair has you covered with their new iCUE LT100 Smart Lighting Tower Kit. The starter kit comes with 2 lighting towers that have 46 LEDs each and stand at 422mm tall. The LEDs are fully customizable with their iCUE software.

The light towers are required to be plugged into a power outlet and then route via USB to your PC. Aside from providing cool ambient lighting to your desk, the only practical function it has is one side has a headphone holder.

Judging by the product images it seems you can face the LEDs outwards to accent the desk or you could also face them towards the wall to diffuse the lighting for a different look. Using the iCUE software, you could program the lights to match your on screen actions and game colors; or you could turn your desk into a music visualizer light show.

Are these light sticks necessary? No. But, they do look pretty cool and can add flare to an otherwise bland setup. They are currently on amazon for $129.99. The price tag might be a bit tough to swallow for something not super functional. There are other things you could upgrade for that amount of money – but if your build is all complete, then maybe this would be a good pickup.

Ryzen 4000 Reportedly Delayed

Current events in the world have hurt tech manufacturers in particular.

The novel coronavirus has brought life to a standstill around the world, and it looks like it is hitting tech manufacturing particularly hard.

In fact, it could lead to the delay of the much anticipated Ryzen 4000.

And that has more than a few people disappointed, particularly PC gamers eager to show that, yes, PCs still have better capabilities than the latest consoles coming this winter from Sony and Microsoft.

Tweaktown reports, “According to motherboard manufacturers, due to the pandemic and competitive reasons, Intel and AMD kept changing their 2020 desktop roadmap and launch schedules, causing major headaches for the supply chain. In addition, NVIDIA and AMD are also keeping the launch schedules for their next-gen GPUs secret, to avert pricing manipulations by their opponents.”

For those of you that might remember, the Ryzen 3000 launched around this time last year so anticipating a followup around the same time this year not only makes sense, it’s pretty much expected. After all, those that can’t keep up are often left behind in the tech race – and AMD is keen to not be seen as lagging behind anyone, especially competitors like Nvidia.

Then again, how much pressure could you really feel if sales of your current-gen hardware are on fire? That might be helping AMD weather the lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s not a strategy for future growth. Nonetheless, the strength of the Ryzen 3000 line is impressive.

“According to motherboard manufacturers, sales for Ryzen 3000 series are hot. Accordingly, AMD is extending its life cycle, and definitely will not be launching the next-gen Ryzen 4000 series, based on Zen3 architecture and using TSMC’s 7nm EUV process, in Sep. The earliest Ryzen 4000 series will enter mass production is end of 2020, and launch in Jan 2021 at CES. Whether it will be changed to 5nm EUV process is unclear at the moment,” Tweaktown reports.

Another notch in AMD’s column is the struggles of rival Intel. Intel’s not had an easy road of late and the recent announcement that Apple would be dropping its silicon in favor of its own in-house manufacture only adds to those problems. Persistent issues with Intel’s latest Comet Lake line are getting tougher to ignore and the move by the company in Cupertino to ditch their longtime partner only underscores all of that.

“As understood, following Comet Lake, Intel will launch Rocket Lake at the end of 2020, at the earliest. But it will still stay on the 14nm process. The first 10nm desktop processor Alder Lake will only be released at the end of 2021 at the earliest, which is to say Intel is yet to fully enter the 10nm era for another one and a half years.”

What do you think of the possible delay of AMD’s Ryzen 4000? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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