The increasing popularity of eSports and new PC hardware means that more gamers can now build a PC for competitive gaming. Most popular competitive PC games are not super-demanding on hardware, with titles like CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, and Overwatch running decently on “low-end” graphics cards. However, for gamers who want to play competitively, you will need more graphics power in order to deliver smooth framerates and responsive gameplay.
Below is a list of components for a budget PC which can handle popular eSports titles at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and produce high frame rates.
Pentium G4560 and Radeon RX 550
Intel’s latest processor range includes the Pentium G4560, which offers two physical cores, 3MB of L3 cache, and a clock speed of 3.5GHz – all at almost half the price of an Intel Core i3-7100. The specifications make it perfect for a budget gaming rig, as it can run most lightweight gaming titles. AnandTech’s benchmark data shows that this chip can maintain good frame rates in most titles and does not limit GPU performance enough to notably affect gameplay at 1,920 x 1,080.
The CPU can be paired with AMD’s new Polaris graphics cards, which offer a good price-performance ratio. The modestly-powerful but inexpensive Radeon RX 550 is a top candidate, and is more than capable of running many eSports titles. Users may have to lower graphics settings to “Medium” for more demanding games, but the RX 550’s price point is great for those on a budget.
We compared prices from numerous South African online stores to find the cheapest pricing on components for our budget gaming PC.
The component list focuses on the price of an eSports-ready PC, and does not include unnecessary hardware or peripherals.
|Pentium G4560 3.50GHz||R1,048|
|AsRock H110M-DVS R3 Micro-ATX motherboard||R713|
|Cooler Master Elite 343 Case||R513|
|Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 2GB||R1,542|
|Corsair 8GB DDR4 ValueRAM 2,133MHz||R936|
|WD Blue 1TB 7,200RPM HDD||R798|
|Corsair VS 450W PSU||R545|
If users are willing to spend more than the amount above, there are several performance upgrades which can be made to the system. Every gaming PC should include an SSD as a boot drive and storage for most-played games, which is more expensive than an HDD. If you are interested in playing performance-heavy games, you may need to upgrade to a quad-core chip, such as an Intel Core i5-7400.
A graphics card upgrade may also be in order if you wish to play the latest high-end titles.
Both the Radeon RX 580 and GeForce GTX 1060 are powerful cards which can handle gaming at 1080p.
More RAM can be added to the board if the user is multi-tasking and requires more memory, as the 8GB listed in the build only occupies a single slot on the motherboard.
- ^ benchmark data (www.anandtech.com)
- ^ R1,048 (www.pcexpress.co.za)
- ^ R713 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R513 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R1,542 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R936 (www.pclinkshop.co.za)
- ^ R798 (www.zapsonline.com)
- ^ R545 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ Biostar unveils new AM4 motherboard for cryptocurrency mining (mybroadband.co.za)
As Ethereum grows in value, more users are interested in getting involved with the platform. Certain cryptocurrency blockchains can be mined using computer processing power, which earns miners a passive income after an initial investment in mining hardware. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum is designed to be mined with consumer graphics cards – making it easier for the average user to earn Ethereum.
The amount of Ethereum generated from your mining rig will depend on how many graphics cards you include in your build. AMD graphics cards are more effective than Nvidia GPUs at mining cryptocurrency, and the new Radeon RX 400 and RX 500 series offers great mining performance. A few basic components are also necessary, including a motherboard with enough PCIe slots for your graphics cards, a power supply large enough to run your hardware, a small SSD, and a basic processor.
The cost of the power supply and motherboard will depend on how many graphics cards are in the build, and powered PCIe risers may be required to support multiple graphics cards. A full chassis is not required, although users may need to modify their case or test bench to support more graphics card risers or provide better cooling. The power of a mining rig is measured according to its hash rate, measured in megahashes per second.
Our example rig includes four Radeon RX 480 graphics cards with a hash rate of 25MH/s each, for a total of 100MH/s. We have listed the components and pricing for a mining rig which includes a motherboard and power supply with support for up to six graphics cards, and powered PCIe risers to allow for external GPU mounting, below.
|Motherboard||AsRock H81 Pro BTC||R899|
|Processor||Intel Celeron G1840||R676|
|Memory||Corsair Value Select 4GB DDR3 1,600MHz||R452|
|Storage||Transcend SSD370S 64GB 2.5-inch SSD||R771|
|PSU||Cooler Master Vanguard 1,000W Modular PSU||R3,425|
|Chassis||Cooler Master Test Bench V1.0||R887|
|Graphics Cards||4x Sapphire Radeon RX 480 Nitro+ 8GB||R4,366 x 4|
|PCIe Risers||4x SATA-powered USB 3.0 PCIe Riser||R195 x 4|
After you have purchased your hardware, you will need to set up your system for mining Ethereum. While you can mine Ethereum on a Windows PC, a cost-efficient option is to use the ethOS 64-bit Linux operating system.
ethOS is available to download from its official website. The operating system requires a 16GB or larger SSD, a minimum 2GB of RAM, and a basic 64-bit processor. Users can download and install the OS on their SSD, after which they can connect it to their mining rig and configure their mining settings.
ethOS uses a browser-based terminal which makes it easy for users to set up a destination wallet address and connect to a mining pool.
The OS is configured for pool mining, which is the most efficient way for most Ethereum miners to operate – unless they have multiple mining rigs and a lot of hashing power.
- ^ pre-built mining system (mybroadband.co.za)
- ^ 25MH/s each (www.cryptocompare.com)
- ^ R899 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R676 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R452 (www.pclinkshop.co.za)
- ^ R771 (www.wootware.co.za)
- ^ R3,425 (www.wootware.co.za)
- ^ R887 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R4,366 (www.wootware.co.za)
- ^ R195 (www.geewiz.co.za)
- ^ official website (ethosdistro.com)
- ^ If you invested R50,000 in Ethereum in January, you would be a millionaire today (mybroadband.co.za)
Windows remains the favourite operating system among PC gamers and has access to more titles than any other platform. However, Windows is expensive – especially when compared to free operating systems such as Valve’s SteamOS. SteamOS is based on Steam’s Big Picture mode and can be installed on most PCs.
If you are a gamer who prefers a streamlined experience – similar to gaming consoles – a SteamOS gaming machine is a great option. This approach is only recommended for dedicated gaming systems, as SteamOS does not have as much functionality as Windows or Linux systems. We have outlined everything you need to know about building your own SteamOS gaming console below, including hardware selection, pricing, and available games.
SteamOS requires a 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, and 200GB of storage.
The budget build we put together meets the minimum requirements and will be able to handle most games in 1080p. The Intel Pentium G4560 dual-core processor is a great value chip, and its hyper-threading and high clock speeds make it perfect for a budget gaming build. We paired it with a Radeon RX 470 – a powerful graphics card with good overclocking potential and value.
Both an SSD and hard disk drive were included, as the performance gained from running your OS on an SSD is worth the extra cost.
|Processor||Intel Pentium G4560 3.5GHz||R1,096|
|Memory||Corsair ValueSelect 8GB DDR4 2,133MHz||R941|
|Graphics Card||HIS Radeon RX 470 IceQ OC 4GB||R2,899|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital 1TB 7,200RPM||R757|
|SSD||Samsung 750 Evo 120GB SATA6G||R872|
|Power Supply||Antec VP500P 500W||R637|
|Case||CoolerMaster MasterBox Lite 3||R666|
SteamOS and Peripherals
Installing SteamOS is straightforward and the operating system is compatible with most modern hardware. Follow the steps below to install the free operating system on your PC.
- Download SteamOS
- Unzip the SteamOS file to a formatted FAT32 USB stick.
- Insert the USB stick into your target machine and boot off the stick.
- Make sure you select the UEFI entry, it may look something like “UEFI: Patriot Memory PMAP”.
- Select “Automated install” from the menu.
- The rest of the installation will automatically repartition the drive and install SteamOS.
- Once SteamOS is installed, your system will automatically reboot and create a backup of the system partition.
Once you have set up your Steam console, you can set up your peripherals – such as controllers and audio devices. Controller options include Valve’s Steam Controller or an Xbox 360/One controller – which are supported by SteamOS.
The library of games available for SteamOS is constantly growing, with triple-A and indie games porting to the system from Windows.
There are currently over 2,200 titles which work with SteamOS.
If you are an avid game collector and purchase a variety of titles, you might find yourself limited by the smaller collection of games available.
For “casual” gamers or those on a budget, the limitations of the platform will not deter you.
- ^ favourite operating system among PC gamers (store.steampowered.com)
- ^ R932 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R1,096 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R941 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R2,899 (www.wootware.co.za)
- ^ R757 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R872 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R637 (www.rebeltech.co.za)
- ^ R666 (www.wootware.co.za)
- ^ Download SteamOS (store.steampowered.com)
- ^ Steam Controller (store.steampowered.com)
- ^ Graphics card performance over the years – AMD vs Nvidia (mybroadband.co.za)