Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?

Introduction

The release of the AMD Radeon 6500 XT discrete GPU inspired me to write this post. That GPU has gotten almost universally savage reviews, which I will discuss later in the post. Despite this, if you want to build a dedicated, low cost 1080P Intel gaming machine, it might be a good choice. This post will answer the question: Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?

Yesterday, I published a post titled: Can You Build an AMD Gaming PC for $900? Before that, it had been a while since I have done a build list for a budget 1080P gaming machine.

What is Wrong with the AMD Radeon 6500 XT?

Most professional reviewers and “techtubers” have written or filmed reviews of the AMD Radeon 6500 XT that completely trash it. Here are some examples:

These are all people that I admire and respect, who I still think have missed the point of this video card. Here are the main complaints, which are all technologically valid, along with my responses.

  • It costs too much for the performance you get
    • That is a reflection of the current terrible GPU market in 2022
    • You will need to spend $300-$400 right now to get a better GPU
  • The GPU only has 4GB of VRAM
    • This makes it less attractive to crypto miners.
    • 4GB is enough for many games at 1080P with the right settings
  • It only has four PCIe lanes
    • This is not really a problem with a PCIe 4.0 slot.
    • It can be a problem with a PCIe 3.0 slot with some games
  • The GPU only has a 64-bit memory interface
    • The high core clock speed and GDDR6 memory speeds, along with the 16MB Infinity cache help compensate for this
  • There are only two video ports (one DisplayPort and one HDMI)
    • This is not a problem for entry level gaming, where you usually have one monitor
  • It lacks support for AV1 decoding, as well as H.264 and H.265/HEVC encoding
    • This is a problem for content creators, not for entry level gamers

My take is that if you can find a Radeon 6500 XT for $250 or less, and you are going to use it just for 1080P gaming, it can be a good choice. If you are willing and able to spend two or three times more for a much better GPU, then you won’t be happy with a Radeon RX 6500 XT.

For all its shortcomings, this GPU is much better for gaming than any Intel integrated graphics. It is also much better for gaming than the typical entry-level discrete GPUs that desperate PC builders have been using over the past 12-18 months. This would include things like the GT 730, GT 1030, RX 560, GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, and GTX 1650.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?

Yes, you can build a complete Intel Gaming PC with all new parts for $850. Let’s look at a set of components that let you do this. Note: The Amazon links are affiliate links. The Micro Center and manufacturer links are not affiliate links.

CPU

I wanted a low-cost CPU with PCIe 4.0 support that also came with a stock CPU cooler. This made the 6C/12T Intel Core i5-11400 Rocket Lake processor an obvious choice. This CPU also comes with an adequate Intel CPU cooler in the box.

I did not pick a newer Intel Alder Lake processor since Z690 DDR4 motherboards are in short supply and DDR5 RAM is also in short supply (and expensive). Intel Rocket Lake was the first Intel client CPU with PCIe 4.0 support.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?
Intel Core i6-11400

GPU

I wanted to use an AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT GPU at or near the MSRP of $199.99. As I write this, Micro Center has the ASRock AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT Phantom Gaming D in stock at MSRP. This has been the case for several days now. OTOH, the supply could be gone at any time.

Also keep in mind that you should not pay more than about $250 for this model GPU.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?
ASRock AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT

Motherboard

I wanted a low cost Z590 motherboard in order to get better features and full memory overclocking support. Another requirement was four memory slots and a Flash BIOS button. I ended up picking the MSI Z590-A PRO motherboard.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?
MSI Z590-A Pro

Memory

I wanted 16GB of RAM, with two 8GB DIMMs so I would be in dual-channel mode. Another requirement was at least DDR4-3200 CL16 speed and timings. I ended up choosing a Crucial Ballistix Gaming 16GB BL2K8G32C16U4B memory kit.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?
Crucial Ballistix Memory Kit

Storage

I wanted at least 500GB of M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 storage from a reputable manufacturer. For this system I picked a 500GB WD Black SN750 M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?
WD Black SN750

Case

I wanted an affordable, decent case from a reputable company that had good air flow and could hold an ATX motherboard. My choice was a Fractal Design Meshify-C. I’ve built several systems with this case, and I know it works well. These are available in black or white.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?
Fractal Design Meshify-C

Power Supply

I wanted an affordable 650 watt 80 Plus Bronze semi-modular power supply from a reputable company. For this build, I selected an EVGA 650BQ 650 Watt 80 Plus Bronze power supply.

A 650 watt power supply is actually more capacity than this system will need, but it gives you a big reserve for a much better GPU in the future. This system will draw less than 200 watts at 100% CPU and 100% GPU usage, so you could get away with a 400 to 500 watt power supply for now.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?
EVGA 650BQ

Final Words

You could probably squeeze $50-$100 from this budget with a less expensive case and a lower cost Z590 or B560 motherboard. Personally, I would not go much lower with most of the other components.

Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850?

After a $20 bundle discount, this system would be $807.93 at Micro Center before tax. If you used a Micro Center credit card, it would be $767.54 before tax. If you found any of these components with a 20% open box discount at Micro Center, your cost could be even lower.

At Amazon, it would be $857.66 before tax.

I also have a companion post for a budget 1080P AMD gaming system.

If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerryThanks for reading!

Build Lists, Intel, PC Hardware

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