I'm just a small-time guy working a normal job as a physician assistant. My passion is building PCs and testing/reviewing PC hardware.
In this article, I will discuss benchmarks of the recent budget build PC I did for a friend at work. The system is an Intel Core i3-8100, Coffee Lake series processor-based system. The system was built with a budget of $500. This did turn out to be a decent performing system but for another $100, you could have a system that meets that magical 60 frames per second (fps).
First, let’s talk about what comprises this system. The system was assembled using the cheapest parts from Amazon, B&H Video, Newegg, and others. At the heart of the system is Intel’s newest line of processors, the Coffee Lake series. The Intel Core i3-8100 processor was chosen here. This is a four-core, four-thread processor with a base clock of 3.6GHz. The Core i3-8100 offers a 6MB cache and operates at just 65 watts TDP. The i3-8100 supports up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM up to 2400MHz in a dual channel setup. The processor also offers Intel’s UHD Graphics 630 and supports DirectX 12 and OpenGL 4.5.
This processor was dropped into a Gigabyte Z370-HD3 motherboard, which has everything a budget build motherboard needs as it gives you 4 RAM slots supporting 64GB of DDR4 RAM and the board also supports crossfire for around $100. The RAM is nothing special as I purchased the G. Skill NT Series RAM, 8GB with two modules of 4GB ach, clocked at 2133MHz. I placed a $30, 3.5” Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200RPM mechanical hard drive in the system for storage. The graphics card that was chosen was more for keeping this build in the budget. I went with the AMD Radeon RX 550 2GB graphics card. This card is the XFX Radeon RX 550 and was purchased for just $80. This RX 550 has 512 stream processors. The XFX RX 550 operates at a 1203MHz core clock and the 2GB of GDDR5 video memory operates at an effective 7000MHz. It is a single fan card and requires just 75 watts TDP. The case I chose was the very budget DIYPC Solo T1-R ATX mid-tower case. Powering the build is the EVGA 400 watt power supply.
Now, what this article is all about, which is, “How does this system fare for gaming?” Well, let’s find out. In these tests, I cranked all of the settings up to the highest levels to attempt to get some benchmarks. For testing, I chose six total games and tested them at 1080p and settings ranging from medium to very high settings. For the most part, all of the games played fairly well with this setup but we, unfortunately, did not get the requisite 60 fps on any of the games at the highest settings. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Grand Theft Auto V
|GTA V||1080p, Very High Settings|
First up is GTA V at 1080p and very high settings. The game played fairly smoothly without lag or stuttering. There was however some stuttering in the more populated areas. I did manage to squeeze a minimum of 43 fps and an average of 48 fps with very high settings. If you were to drop the resolution to 720p and lower the settings slightly, you could get 60 fps average, I do believe. The game did play as well as it would on consoles and did maintain the console standard of 30 fps overall.
Player Unknown's Battle Ground (PUBG)
|PUBG||1080p, Medium/High Settings|
The next game tested was Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds. This game is notorious for making all computer hardware look weak given the lack of optimization since launch. The game faired okay ate 1080p on all medium and high settings. There was some occasional stutter but overall, the gameplay was okay.
|Battlefield 1||1080p, High Settings|
Battelfield 1 was tested next at 1080p on high settings. The game was smooth and looked really good, even with this lower end budget graphics card. There was minimal stutter during the more intense battles but overall, not bad.
Witcher III: Wild Hunt
|Witcher III||1080p, High Settings, Hair Works Off|
Witcher 3 followed at 1080p on high settings and hair works off. Again, not a bad experience but this game, outside of one other, had more stutter, more often, and made the game somewhat difficult to play. However, the RX 550 held its own and the game was playable.
Far Cry Primal
|Far Cry Primal||1080p, High Settings|
Far Cry Primal was the last “real” test. At 1080p and high settings, the game played okay but we were unable to maintain the 30 fps at all times and barely maintained over 30 fps on average.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
|Ghost Recon Wildlands||1080p, Low Settings|
Finally, there was Ghost Recon Wildlands. I debated even posting the benchmarks given how bad the game played. I will say that if you have this setup, do not even try to play this game because you will be sorely disappointed. This game barely stayed in the 20 fps range and was an absolute stuttering mess over the 30 minutes or so time I tried to run the game.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Well, there you have it. For a $500 system, especially one that gives you a Coffee Lake processor, you have a decent entry-level gaming PC. Now, if you were to spend around $100-$150 more, you could get an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti or possibly an Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB model and probably hit the magical 60 fps in many of the current Triple A games. Overall, the system is a good entry-level system and will give you good performance for the next couple of years.
Now, would I buy this system and replace my old budget build system? Probably not given how much better than old G4560 system looks. I definitely would not replace my current Kaby Lake series, Intel Core i7-7700K system. If I was to build a system on a budget today then, yes, I would definitely get this system. However, I would probably wait until early 2018 when the Coffee Lake budget boards come out. Still, this is a pretty good system for the price, especially if you are getting this system just as a gap filler until you can purchase a Core i7-8700K CPU. All in all, it was a good system and a great challenge trying to build a decent Coffee Lake system for $500 or less.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
William Cobb (author) from Columbia, SC on July 31, 2018:
At the price point on these components, at the time of writing of the article, no way do you go with a Ryzen 3 1200 or Ryzen 3 2200 and you especially don't go with a Ryzen 5 1400, 1500x, or 2400 because you would go over budget. This system, even with the equivalent priced Ryzen 3 2200 and an nVidia GTX 1050 Ti, which you still can't get at MSRP or even close, this system would beat it pretty easily.
Stella on July 31, 2018:
You got the brands mixed up. Always get nvidia (Intel) gpu and 99% get a ryzen (amd) cpu. Especially the 2xxx ryzens. The 1% is reserved for the 8700k.
William Cobb (author) from Columbia, SC on February 15, 2018:
It would handle streaming but probably only stream at 720p and 30fps. The GPU is a weak link. Throw a GTX 1060 6GB in there and it should do 1080p at 30fps streaming.
Andre on February 15, 2018:
i love this build! is it also capable of streaming?