Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Gaming on a Budget : Buying/Building a PC - Part 2 Motherboards and Memory

In Part 1 of Gaming on a Budget : Buying/Building a PC I talked about where to start when you want to get into PC gaming, and also talked about CPU choices. In Part 2 I would like to talk about the most important part of any PC the motherboard and also RAM.


The motherboard is the most crucial of all parts in your computer, it allows all your peripherals to communicate with each other and is a component that not a lot of people put too much time into when deciding on PC components for some reason. Going for the cheapest Motherboard available for your processor is rarely a good idea, as they are usually on a lower specified chipset and components, can become a performance bottleneck, and most probably don't have the features you'd want in the future like they only have 2 slots for RAM, or they only have a few SATA ports. On the otherside of the price spectrum the rules of diminishing returns also applies, where the added features and performance don't really justify the increased costs.

By now you are probably wonder, so what kind of motherboards should I look for? Well here are a few suggestions based on the CPU choice on the previous blog post. For the AMD A8-6600K Quad Core Processor APU I suggest a motherboard like the MSI A88X-G43 AMD Motherboard - Socket FM2+ or the MSI AMD A88X G45 Motherboard - Socket FM2 plus both are under R1500 and offer a good mix of performance and features for the price, with both rocking 8 SATA ports for example, with the G45 board having 8 USB 3 ports over the G43's 4 USB 3 ports and a few other nifty features.

On the intel side of things to motherboards that would work well with the Intel Core I5 4690 would be the most motherboards with a Z97 chipset. Personally I feel buying a motherboard that doesn't allow overclocking can come back to bite you in the future. With that in mind here are two Z97 chipset boards that don't break the bank. The MSI Intel Z97 PC Mate and the Gigabyte Z97-D3H ATX Motherboard. There is also the MSI Intel Z97 Guard-pro which is closer to the Gigabyte motherboard price wise. One of the things personally like that the Gigabyte has over the MSI is the 3 year warranty, where as the MSI has a 2 year warranty. 

Keep in mind these are just suggestions and the majority of brands out there make really good products.


So now you have your CPU and Motherboard of choice and it's time to choose how much RAM and which type to get. Luckily it doesn't matter which of the above CPU's and Motherboards you have chosen as all of them support DDR3 which makes things a bit easier. Though there is still a truckload of different Memory manufacturers out there with different specs for DDR3 RAM.

When it comes to choosing DDR3 RAM for a gaming PC. these days most new games prefer rigs with 8GB ram, you can buy more if you want but it's not needed. It's usually two buy a pair of 4gb sticks over a single 8gb stick as two sticks running Dual Channel mode does outperform a Single Stick. I personally prefer DDR3 RAM at 1600mhz as it offers a good mix of performance and price.

A few possible options to look at when buying RAM are Crucial Ballistix S XT 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1866MHz DDR3 Gaming or possibly two Corsair Value Select A - 4GB DDR3 DRAM Desktop Memory - 1600Mhz. I'm personally using Corsair Vengeance DDR 1600mhz and can recommend them to anyone. There is also the Apacer Black Panther DDR3 1600mhz in the price bracket on Takealot.com but I don't have much experience with them and they only have a 1 year warranty. But if anyone reading this uses them please be sure to share your thoughts on them in the comment section.

This concludes part 2 of the Gaming on a Budget : Buying/Building a PC series. In Part 3 I would like to talk about Cases and Storage options like Harddrives and SSDs. Keep in mind this series is only a guide to help you get into PC gaming and the only reason I'm using products from one store is to keep things simple. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to post in the comment section.