I’ve been thinking quite a bit about entry-level 1080P gaming systems lately. Because of this, I wanted to see how much I could squeeze the budget and still have a good quality system. This post will talk about how go about building an Intel budget gaming PC for $700. This budget is before sales tax.
My objective was to find out what level of 1080P performance I could get for a brand-new DIY system in this price range. I wanted to purposely use the much-maligned AMD RX 6500 XT discrete GPU as a starter video card.
My ground rules were as follows:
- Must have a discrete GPU
- All new parts
- No open box parts (even though open box is a good way to save money)
- All reputable “name-brand” parts, no house brands
- At least a 500GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 boot drive
- A semi-modular 80 Plus Bronze power supply
- The case must be air flow focused
- All parts that I could actually buy (they were in stock)
Recently, I published a post titled: Can You Build an AMD Gaming PC for $900? I also wrote a similar post: Can You Build an Intel Gaming PC for $850? Before that, it had been a while since I had done a build list for a budget 1080P gaming machine.
Building an Intel Budget Gaming PC for $700
Yes, you can build a complete Intel Gaming PC with all new parts for about $700. 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. These prices were accurate at the time of writing, but they can change at any time.
I wanted a low-cost Intel CPU with PCIe 4.0 support that also came with a stock CPU cooler. This made the 6C/12T Intel Core i5-12400 Alder Lake processor a great choice. It has a base clock of 2.5 GHz and a Turbo clock of 4.4GHz. There are six Performance cores and zero Efficient cores, so it works great on Windows 10.
After building this system, I am very impressed with this CPU, especially at this price point. It is hard for the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X to compete at its current pricing.
This CPU also comes with a decent Intel RM1 Laminar CPU cooler in the box. This CPU cooler is MUCH better looking than the old, boxed CPU coolers that Intel used for so many years. More importantly, it has better cooling performance.
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 $259.99. This has been true for over two weeks now. OTOH, the supply could be gone at any time, but it is holding up so far.
Also keep in mind that you should not pay more than about $275 for this model GPU. This GPU has drawn a lot of negative reviews for a number of reasons. Given the current GPU market, this card is actually a decent choice for a new build PCIe 4.0 capable 1080P gaming system.
This is a surprisingly good board for $139.99. It has a Realtek 2.5GbE LAN port and three M.2 PCIe NVMe 4.0 slots (although one is only an x2 slot). It is not terrible looking for this price point.
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.
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 Blue SN550 M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD. I made this choice primarily due to the low price. The WD Blue line is their budget offering, and this model has 2,400MB/sec sequential reads and 1,750MB/sec sequential writes. This is fairly low for an M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD, but it is far better than any SATA AHCI SSD.
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 MSI MAG Forge 100R.
This case comes with three 120mm PWM fans and an open mesh front panel. The side panel is tempered glass, not plexiglass.
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.
Sneak Peak Benchmarks
Even this budget Alder Lake CPU has very impressive single-threaded CPU performance in CPU-Z. This single thread score beats the reference Ryzen 9 5950X system (although most Ryzen 9 5950X results are closer to 675-680 in real life instead of 648).
In Cinebench R23, the Multi Core score was 12,413, which is not too shabby for a $170 CPU.
You could probably squeeze $25-$50 from this budget with an even less expensive case and a lower cost B660 motherboard. Personally, I would really not go much lower with most of the other components.
Building an Intel Budget Gaming PC for $700
At this point, I have built the system on my test bench and done some initial testing. I have started doing the final installation in the case, after which I will do more complete testing.
After all the bundle discounts, this system would be $746.23 at Micro Center before tax. If you used a Micro Center credit card, it would be $708.92 before tax. If you found any of these components with a 20% open box discount at Micro Center, your cost could be even lower.
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 GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!