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Guide: How to get into PC Gaming on a Budget

If you’re into games there’s a good chance you got your start on consoles like most people. Consoles are great, you simply buy it and it all the games on it just work, plus you can play with all your mates who own it too. But you’ve probably heard people talk about PC gaming and how it’s really the way to go.

You’ve heard how PC games have free mods to make games better, the online play is free unless it’s an MMO, there’s a much wider selection of games, and they usually look better on PC too.

So you want in on that but you don’t want to spend all your money on a powerhouse of a machine. Well, you’re in luck. In the following guide I’ll show you how to make the most of your money when buying or building a PC and how to get the best savings on games for it too.

Guide: How to get into PC Gaming on a Budget
Here’s SteamDB’s estimation of what I paid for my games versus what they should’ve cost. The real price is probably closer to £2000 but that’s still a big saving!

I’ll go over building one first. If you want to build one, you’ll need to know what goes into a PC. To lay it all out simply, you’ll need the following:

  • A GPU (graphics card)
  • A CPU (processor)
  • A Mother Board
  • A PSU (power supply)
  • An OS (Windows is the most common)
  • A HDD or SSD (storage)

But where are you going to get all these things? PC Parts Picker is the best place to go as it shows you the prices of any PC component you want, “builds” it there on the site, and checks for any incompatibility. Now that may sound intimidating if you’re new to PC building and you don’t know what parts go where, it’s a good thing then that it includes build guides. Many other users will have uploaded their own builds with specs and descriptions of each component so you can get a better understanding of what each one does and why you would want it.

Guide: How to get into PC Gaming on a Budget
A CPU on PC Parts Picker with a list of prices.

Apart from build guides you can just check out other peoples’ builds. Here’s an example from one of our own writers. This build will play just about anything you want. A part list like this is a great place to start. It costs £500 now but you can change that list and maybe get a smaller hard drive or a different processor to suit your needs. A major benefit of building it yourself is that you’ll get a more powerful machine for a better price. Even buying £1000 worth of parts may be more affordable since you can buy them separately and only pay a little each time, rather than shelling out all at once.

Building a PC is a lot less difficult than it sounds. You basically just slot things in together. YouTube is full of video tutorials on how to put the parts together. Though there may be a few things you should know first.

Now if you’re not into putting things together or you’re just impatient like me, you can buy a prebuilt PC. Usually when buying a prebuild you’ll end up paying more. You could get a rig with the same parts as one you’d build yourself but you’ll pay extra for not having to put it together. If you don’t mind buying used products then you can still get a decent machine for a good price. For example, here’s the one I bought on eBay. It cost £370 and runs most things on high at around 60fps.

Remember, even though three or four hundred sounds like a lot of money, if you’re a big gamer you’ll likely get the worth out of it. I mean, it’s not just for games but you can watch movies and do work and everything on a PC. A powerful pc that runs smoothly makes all that a lot more enjoyable. I used to hate trying to write essays on my laptop because it couldn’t keep up with my typing and it crashed all the damn time.

So you’ve got a PC now and saved a bunch of cash in the process. It’s time to put that spare change to good use and get some games!

The best way to save money on PC games is to buy them digitally. I exclusively buy my PC games that way. Yes this means I’ll never be able to trade them in but since they’re so cheap and they’re not taking up physical space that isn’t a concern. The most important thing really is to shop around. There’s no point sticking to one store so that’s why I buy on Steam, GOG, Humble Bundle and Bundle Stars. I’ve got the most bang for my buck from those last two especially. You see while you can buy games on them like a regular store, they also offer game bundles. Humble Bundle will offer bundles with separate tiers.

The first tier will have a couple games in and you can pay what you want for those. The second tier will have more and you beat the average payment to get them. For these, it’s best to get in early as you end up getting 5 or 6 games for less than a tenner. The third tier has a fixed price but it gets you the other tiers as well. Bundle Stars often gives you tiered bundles too but in a different way. They’ll show you a selection of games and then you pay £1 to pick 2 of them, £4 to pick 10 of them etc.

Bundles are a great way to get a lot of games for cheap. You may end up with a library of games you don’t want since you’ll not want everything in a bundle but it still ends up costing you less. Moreover, lots of them are DRM free. That means you can install them on any PC as many times as you like. GOG is especially good for this. Almost everything there is DRM free. So, if you and a couple of friends want to save some cash you can share a GOG or Humble Bundle account. Then if one of you buys a game, you can all play it!

Guide: How to get into PC Gaming on a Budget
Humble Bundle’s current bundle. 9 great games for practically nothing!

Surely it must be a hassle trying to search for game deals on all these sites I hear you say. No! It’s really easy these days. If you’re a reddit user check out /r/gamedeals. There, now you have a list of everything that’s on sale right now. Another great resource is Is There Any Deal. There you can check, get ready for it, if there’s any deals on games you want. Just search one up and it’ll show you where it’s on sale and what its historical lowest price is, so you know whether to wait for a better deal. Another good idea is to make use of the wish list feature offered on Steam and the others. If you make a wish list on Steam you’ll get emails and notifications, if you have the mobile app, when a game you want is on sale.

So now you know all you need to get a PC and a bunch of games without breaking the bank. I hope this guide helps anyone looking to get into PC gaming. If you’ve got any more tips feel free to leave a comment down below.