This is a guide & a load of links to help you Build your own $100 Budget Gaming PC which is VR Ready and can even play 1440p games well enough IF you get an appropriate Graphics Card!
In this build we budgeted $100 on sourcing EVERYTHING excluding the Graphics Card.
Most of the parts in this Guide are 2nd hand BUT it is easily repeatable.
All of the items should be available to get yourself & put together.
Check out Processors on the Intel ARK Website
Optimization & Gaming Tweaks for Windows 10
Windows 10 Pro on Kinguin
Nvidia GTX 1060 (This was my Recommended Mid Range Card, however they are no longer $200-250, I would still recommend a cheap 1060 OR an AMD RX 580)
Now it might be best to go for a budget card 1050
ScrapYard Citizen – First Budget Server Dual CPU Build
- Look for Working Dell T3500 Workstations from eBay.
- Xeon X5600 / W3600 / W3500 Range CPUs (X5650 6 Core & W3565 4 Core being the best bang for buck I have found) The W3565 is my favorite CPU.
- You want a minimum of 2.9Ghz Core Clock on your CPU.
- Windows 10 Pro as an operating system, Tho Steam OS is a free option.
- Not as “Bang for buck” as it used to be GFX Cards – GTX 1060 (Amazing Card) OR RX 580.
- Then GTX 970, R9 290, GTX 960, R9 380 in that order again for performance to expense.
- If you want to go cheap then a 1050ti is a solid choice.
- Get at least 8GB Ram / 12GB is all you need max for just Gaming.
- RX480 Reference Models were NOT SUITABLE for this build, they work but you have to mess around with loads of stuff and I am lazy.
Sourcing The Parts
Our System Specs
Sourcing The Parts
We’re going to be grabbing a base unit and anything else we need for around $100 or for me around £70-80. This is going to be everything we need for the base unit ex-graphics card.
Firstly eBay is your Friend, I am going to spend $200 of my budget in this case on a graphics card a 2nd hand GTX 970 OR a brand new GTX 1060, I was kindly given a STRIX OC Gaming RGB GTX 1060 by Asus which is a little overkill for this budget build, but if you are looking for something that looks amazing as well as performs but still on a buget this card is for you the RGB element of setting up the card for your needs and astetics is really cool & it looks like a much more expensive card.
You might of seen on LinusTechTips or some other channels building super cheap rigs from Server Components and they are right, but you can source Servers or my preference Workstation PCs equivalent to 2nd Gen i7s incredibly cheaply & you can source much less obsolete tech with a little research or knowledge.
In All Cases look for Towers rather than Rackmounts or Blades.
HP Proliant ML350 G6 – Dual CPU
HP Proliant ML370 G6 – Dual CPU
HP Proliant ML110 G6
HP Proliant ML330 G6
The HP Proliant ML G6 Towers are erratic in price in the UK I have picked up a pair for £50 each fully outfitted before. But eBay can sometimes have none on for days.
Z600 – Dual CPU
Z800 – Dual CPU
The Z000 Ranges are a bit more expensive but extremely good build quality not suitable for super cheap builds.
Dell PowerEdge – T3500
Dell PowerEdge – T5500
The Dell PowerEdge T3500 & 5500 are perfect.
The T3500 especially so, they are widely available with new auctions available very regularly & they are old enough to be extremely cheap but new enough to have PCI-e 2 x16, DDR3 Ram, Support some powerful Xeon 4 – 6 core processors.
All of the Servers and workstations that I mentioned are easily source-able BUT it’s worth looking around as stocks change & you can get great deals if you are persistent.
Over the last month there have been dozens of the T3500 workstation of sale for £30-90 with varying Hardware. Other’s will be suitable too, the main things you need to check
Mobo & Case
Always search for the Workstation,Server or motherboard online to SEE ITS compatibility & specs. Towers require a lot less faffing around and are pretty much like standard rigs. Rackmounts or Blades might be loads cheaper BUT THEY ARE A PROJECT for you to get working.
Does it come with a power supply & what’s it’s Wattage
A lot of these Servers and workstations use proprietary PSUs and standard ones won’t work with the motherboards, tho you can hack some to work OR just use a 2nd PSU like I do IF you need more power. Do they have 6/8 pin for GFX?
x16 PCI-e Slot
Room on the board & case for a full length full height x16 PCI-e Card.
Does it have a x16 Slot, is that slot full height and full length & what Generation is it.
Gen2 x16 is perfect IF you can get Gen3 THAT IS AWESOME!
But go for at least a Gen2 x16 Full Height Slot.
You can source this incredibly cheaply later, it’s worth checking its ram compatibility online tho. Servers are especially finicky with Ram so always double check, ALSO for gaming I feel you only need 8GB with 12GB if you really want.
This will be the most expensive part of the build other than the GFX
We don’t want bottlenecking – And we’re talk more about that later BUT in brief
You want Quad Core at least
Xeon (Zee-on) is not a dirty word
Check out Processors on the Intel ARK Website
I recommend X5500 / X5600 / W3600 (6 Core) / W3500s where possible
These are all pretty cheap Xeon CPUs that are still relevant today
Processors will range from $5 – 200. So look around and check ALL appropriate compatible CPUs you might be able to get a better CPU at a cheaper price!
OR you might get one (or 2) with your system anyway.
The Best CPU I have found Price to Performance is the W3565.
Other than that the X55/5600 Range are awesome too. There are Hex Cores in that range for those of you that want to be budget power users…. Make sure you research your board’s compatibility. Go for something with at least 2.9GHz Core Speed.
IN ALL SITUATIONS GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND.
Make sure you google WHATEVER SYSTEM Spec on Google, then CPU compatibility, will it fit… If you ask me and I don’t know the first thing I will do is google your question as you asked it.
Real World Gains
It’s important to remember that tho synthetic benchmarks & stacking certain components like RAM might give us higher scores on those benchmarks it’s not necessary a real world increase to gaming performance. And we will find with most modern games that the GPU is the most important part of the system and CPUs won’t bottleneck as often as some people might think as long as they have strong single core performance and at least 4 threads.
The Spec & Cost Breakdown
So in this video and the most easily replicable I found was:
Dell Precision T3500 Quad Core Xeon W3565 3.2GHz
So after a couple of days eBay searching this time I spotted a
Dell Precision T3500
I was able to pick the System up including:
The Tower Case
PSU – 500w – Came with 1 6-pin adapter for GFX Cards
CPU – Xeon W3565 Quad Core 3.2GHz
GFX – Nvidia Quadro NVS 295 (This is Scrap)
Ram – 6GB 10600E Ram (3x2GB Sticks)
Total – £70 / $92
The CPU isn’t an X Series but has a good clock speed and spoilers the GPU gets maxed out in most of my tests before the CPU does.
RAM – Additional 2GB £3 / $4
I grabbed some extra 10600E Ram for the test just 2GB more, the joy of a lot of the workstations over servers is that Ram compatibilty and configurations are a lot more slack.. I have 4 sticks & 3 different types of stick in this PC (I don’t recommend it… But it seems to be ok)
HDD / SSD
I’m using a 2nd hand 120GB SSD that I got for $15 or £12 now. You might not want to use 2nd hand harddrives, or you might have your own. But you can grab super cheap mechanical ones or small 60-120GB SSDs for under $25 on amazon.
OS – Windows 10 Pro
OS wise you need to go Windows 10 pro, it’s cheap as hell I think you can get it for $20 on Kinguin or upgrade your version of Windows cheaply or for free.
I’ve made a huge Optimization and setup guide for Windows 10 & why to choose it, please check that out for more info.
- On eBay or where ever you buy make sure it’s USED & not for parts / not working.
- Sell anything you don’t want, you might want to not use the GFX Card or CPU the Workstation comes with, consider selling it!
- These workstations come with onboard Audio WHICH is awesome lots of the servers I have worked with required getting sound cards.
So with this Scrap Build I wanted to see how a more powerful clocked chip can compare to our previous ScrapYard Computer as if the single CPU still gives great performance IT OPENS UP A LOAD MORE build opportunities from eBay / Servers & Workstations. Again please checkout the build we made from a Proliant ML350 G6 for gaming, but we benched that with a 980ti and we learnt lessons from that build.. Like we don’t need 16 cpu threads!
We are not overclocking in this video at all, in the future we’re use FSBSet & EVGA Precision to get the most out of the build & with budget builds you should squeeze as much as you can out of your money BUT it deserves a whole video & article dedicated to it with signposting and tips… every overclock, CPU, GPU, motherboard and Ram are different.
But with the CPU I have other people seem to be getting the base 3.2GHz clock to 4.2-4.3
That would be pretty impressive. So yes OVERCLOCK but research and google the specifics of your setup.
Benchmarking – With a GTX 970
3d Mark Firestike & Extreme
9290 & then 4812 in Extreme (tho in extreme I was also recording using obs)
It’s a great score for $300 BUT these synthetic and don’t equade to real world frames in gaming really. Tho it’s done what I wanted here and is over there recommendation for VR.
Vive VR – In Game
I played some Vive Games, The Lab & Portal Stories VR, no complaints.
Couldn’t tell it wasn’t my main PC.
Ashes of Singularity – Benchmark
Are on the screens for you to look at,
Average Framerates of 39-40
Overwatch – In Game
1080 100 – 160 fps / 120 average
1440p 58 – 80 fps / 65 average
Star Citizen – In Game
It was locking at 60FPS in all of my tests I think it was an issue with me trying to use prescion.
But after I turned that off we had some impressive results in Area 18 & Single Player Vanduul Swarm. Smashing averages of 60 – 80 frames, with lows of 48 & highs of 120.
Benchmarking – With a GTX 1060
Star Citizen – With the GTX 1060 Low Frames of 55, highs again of 120 but averages close to 100 in Drone Sim Vanduul Swarm all on Very High Settings.
Thoughts & Conclusion
The PC is awesome, I have bought 4 or 5 now I can’t even remember. I have loads of ideas about shaving off costs / getting more performance for a little more money / Modding & doing silly stuff with them.
So bottlenecking is where a component is being maxed out or fully utilised and prevents another from being able to fully utilised because of that.
This is most common with CPU – GPU and vice versa. This actually happens much more rarely than you think BUT when we are talking about 970s and RX480s what we want is the GPU to be maxed out where possible, that means the rest of our budget system isn’t holding it back… and with this $100 computer we are not constraining the GTX 970 BUT IF WE WERE:
1440 / 4k – If you are buying something like this as a temp solution or even to upgrade or a backup and you upgrade your video card to a 1080 or something then you are likely to get the CPU bottlenecking eventually, you get great frames BUT your CPU will be maxed out and you might only be using 50% of your GPU. This is the time to up your Resolution, whether that be DSR or VSR (literally downscaling a higher res like 4k to a lower res like a 1080p monitor) that will basically put more pressure on your GPU to get it more utilised BUT also you get a much better visual experience.
Do the research and pick yourself up a bargain, I am going to need to see if I can get it to fully utilize a GTX 1080. I suspect I would need to change up the processor and perform much Overclock BUT that’s for another time.
For a Budget System I recommend a Nvidia GTX 1050ti, if you can raise the budget for a 1060 or RX 580 then it’s worth it.
Spraying / Modding
For those of you interested I have grabbed $3 or £2 of spraypaint from a £1 near my house and sparyed the front bezel and side panel Yellow & I’m going to do all the other T3500s I bought different colors:
I Cleaned it first
Added a £2 fan from amazon to the CPU with cable ties
Cables – Sata, Converters & Adapters (List them)
I am going to remove everything out of the case too.
Please checkout our original ScrapYard Citizen Build.
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Please share with me you budget build wants, desires, failures & successes!
*I take no responsibility for any money lost or bad luck that may befall you, also BE CAREFUL with PSUs those things can be dangerous!