Student Budget Build 2020: 1080p Gaming

Welcome to our 2020 student budget build guide for 1080p gaming!

Wait a second, aren’t you meant to be studying?! In all seriousness, studying can be stressful at times, and gaming is a great way to unwind after working hard. Let’s get into looking at gaming on a student budget!

For 1080p Gaming, the Human Eye Can Only See 60 FPS…

Not really, though… but in your case as a student, you might as well believe that.

Yes, we could go for a high frame-rate build, but that would add high costs to get those silky smooth visuals out of the system.

Instead, we’re aiming for a perfectly sensible 1080p 60 FPS gaming experience, with the general aim to have games running on high settings. So at least things will look pretty.

Within this, we’re assuming that outside of gaming on this machine, you’re going to be using it for just light productivity tasks (browsing online, writing assignments, etc) and not something more heavy-duty.

With that being said, let’s get into the build!

The Build

CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

Can we just say how impressive it is that AMD have a CPU that is $130 that performs this well in games? It wasn’t all that long ago that quad-core CPUs were the premium gaming CPU option—now we have them as entry-level CPUs in a range. Competition at its best!

The single CCX node here really helps with performance and makes this CPU a no-brainer for gaming on a budget. What you end up getting is a nicely optimised CPU with a large L3 cache, making it the best current option for gaming on a budget.

If you’re still somehow not convinced, we can even use the provided cooler by AMD to give us a little more saving too. Bargain.

GPU: ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER Overclocked

What a great little GPU here for 1080p gaming! The GTX 1650 Super has quickly become the go-to card for 1080p 60 FPS gaming. Thanks to its compact size, as well as its less-than-monstrous power requirements, it has become very popular for small builds.

This will handle pretty much everything you throw at it, with potentially a little bit to spare, too (thanks to the out-the-box overclock ASUS has provided). All told, a great buy for the price.

Putting this CPU and GPU together is a solid choice for gaming performance requirements on today’s games. However, what is a little more unknown is exactly how long this will last on future titles. However, we have picked current-generation hardware with the hope that this will still be capable of at least running everything as long as you want to use the build, even if this does mean that you might have to scale down some settings from their highest settings for top-of-the-line future releases. On the plus side, older games and indie titles should all run like a dream!

If you want an idea about why we’ve gone with a combination of this CPU and GPU, take a look at this video from Hardware Unboxed. It does a good job at showing how GPU performance scales in different games based on the CPU performance.

RAM: OLOy 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 3200MHz

We’re going with some decently fast RAM here, which isn’t super expensive. Although the 16GB costs around $30 more over a decent 8GB kit, it’s well worth spending that little bit extra.

Storage: Seagate BarraCuda 2TB

So, we’re going with one main large drive here, which is still fine for current games because there are not many out in the wild which can truly take advantage of SSD speeds once you’re in-game and playing (although that will likely change after the upcoming consoles release).

You’ll have to deal with the slower boot-up times of not having your OS on an SSD, but in exchange you’ll have tons of storage space at a low price.

Motherboard: ASRock B550M-HDV 

Although this isn’t super fancy as far as motherboards go, this has plenty of functionality and features for what we need. And this will ensure we are on a platform that can take upgrades further down the line.

PSU: Antec VP500P Plus 500W

Although this isn’t modular, it provides us with enough power overheads for the build. This makes it a good choice for our purposes!

Case: Antec VSK10

This is a great compact case for building in when you have a simple 1080p gaming PC like this one. One advantage, outside of the acrylic side panel, is that you get a PSU shroud. So you can hide away the spare cables from the non-modular PSU!

Total 2020 Student Budget 1080p Gaming Build Cost: $595

This is quite a powerful gaming PC for the price—almost as good as a PC you could build for twice the cost a few years ago. Yes, it’s not going to set the world on fire with 4K gaming and/or ray tracing. But you know what? The games will still look very nice, and will run well at 60 FPS or higher on even max settings.

Where you might need to fiddle a bit in some games are the more graphically intensive settings. This is down to both the GTX 1650 Super only having 4GB of VRAM, as well as the Ryzen 3 3300X being a quad-core CPU. They are more than capable together for the vast majority of situations, but there are always exceptions to this if you try and play brand new, poorly optimised games.

If you fancy spending a little more, consider getting a SSD to act as a boot drive for the system as this will add a bit of a spring to the step of the build!

Go Forth and Build!

Now, before you go buying parts for our student budget build for 1080p gaming, there’s a few extras that you need to be aware of:

  1. A copy of Windows. If you are a student or work for a big business, you might be able to get a copy for free or at a significantly lower cost. If not, we recommend Windows 10 on disc ($90) or USB ($120).
  2. An optical drive—critical if you are wanting to install Windows 10 via disc. Good thing here is DVD-RW drives are cheap these days (here’s one for $21).

We also have general recommendations for:

If you want to see other builds with higher performance, check out the main page at Logical Increments.

There you have it—a student budget build PC for 1080p gaming!

If you have any questions or suggestions about this build, then let us know in the comments.