Our Radeon RX 460 Build
AMD wanted us to explore using the RX 460 as the basis for a budget gaming build. What did our ~$500 get us?
This content was sponsored by AMD.
Be sure you check out part 2 of our story where we detail the performance our RX 460 build provides as well as our contest page where you can win this PC from AMD and PC Perspective!
Just before CES this month, AMD came to me asking about our views and opinions on its Radeon RX 460 line of graphics cards, how the GPU is perceived in the market, and how I felt they could better position it to the target audience. It was at that point that I had to openly admit to never actually having installed and used an RX 460 GPU before. I know, shame on me.
I like to pride myself and PC Perspective on being one of the top sources of technical information in the world of PCs, gaming or otherwise, and in particular on GPUs. But a pitfall that I fall into, and I imagine many other reviewers and media do as well, is that I overly emphasize the high end of the market. And that I tend to shift what is considered a “budget” product up the scale more than I should. Is a $250 graphics card really a budget product that the mass market is going to purchase? No, and the numbers clearly point to that as fact. More buyers purchase cards in the sub-$150 segment than in any other, upgrading OEMs PCs and building low cost boxes for themselves and for the family/friends.
So, AMD came to me with a proposal to address this deficiency in my mental database. If we were willing to build a PC based on the RX 460, testing it and evaluating it honestly, and then give that built system back to the community, they would pay for the hardware and promotion of such an event. So here we are.
To build out the RX 460-based PC, I went to the experts in the world of budget PC builds, the /r/buildapc subreddit. The community here is known for being the best at penny-pinching and maximizing the performance-per-dollar implementations on builds. While not the only types of hardware they debate and discuss in that group, it definitely is the most requested. I started a thread there to ask for input and advice on building a system with the only requirements being inclusion of the Radeon RX 460 and perhaps an AMD FreeSync monitor.
The results were impressive; a solid collection of readers and contributors gave me suggestions for complete builds based around the RX 460. Processors varied, memory configurations varied, storage options varied, but in the end I had at least a dozen solid options that ranged in price from $400-800. With the advice of the community at hand, I set out to pick the components for our own build, which are highlighted below:
Our Radeon RX 460 Build
|Budget Radeon RX 460 Build|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-6100 - $109|
|Cooler||CRYORIG M9i - $19|
|Motherboard||ASUS H110M-A/M.2 - $54|
|Memory||2 x 4GB Crucial Ballistix DDR4-2400 - $51|
|Graphics Card||XFX Radeon RX 460 2GB - $98|
|Storage||240GB Sandisk SSD Plus - $68
1TB Western Digital Blue - $49
|Case||Corsair Carbide Series 88R - $49|
|Power Supply||EVGA 500 Watt - $42|
|Monitor||Nixues VUE24A 1080p 144Hz FreeSync - $251|
|Total Price||$549 on Amazon; $799 with monitor on Amazon|
I’ll go in order of presentation for simplicity sake. First up is the selection of the Intel Core i3-6100 processor. This CPU was the most popular offering in the /r/buildapc group and has been the darling of budget gaming builds for a while. It is frequently used because of it $109 price tag, along with dual-core, HyperThreaded performance at 3.7 GHz; giving you plenty of headroom for single threaded applications. Since most games aren’t going to utilize more than four threads, the PC gaming performance will be excellent as well. One frequent suggestion in our thread was the Intel Pentium G4560, a Kaby Lake based part that will sell for ~$70. That would have been my choice but it’s not shipping yet, and I don’t know when it will be.
While the Core i3-6100 does come with an OEM cooler from Intel, I included the CRYORIG M9i tower cooler for just $19. This will give us much lower noise levels, much lower temperatures at idle and under load and it will just make us all feel better too, right?
For the motherboard, I went with the ASUS H110M-A/M.2 with a price tag of $54. This motherboard is a microATX design, perfect for the case we selected, but offers all the staples needed to get your machine up and running for gaming with the RX 460. It has one full length PCIe x16 slot for the GPU and two x1 slots for future expansion. There are four SATA ports for storage, two DIMM slots for DDR4 memory as well as USB 3.0 for high speed external connectivity. The M.2 port means you have some time for upgrades down the road, though I feel the cost of current M.2 SSDs is too high for this price segment.
I went with 8GB of Crucial Ballistix memory in a 2 x 4GB configuration due to the advice of one of the contributors from /r/buildapc. Many budget builders were offering, and have been for years, a single stick of RAM to save money and offer upgrade options down the road, under the assumption that gaming performance doesn’t see an impact from single channel integration. Recent benchmarks that focus not on average performance but on minimum frame rates and stutter show that is no longer the case. Getting a dual-channel memory kit removes these concerns.
My storage selections might be controversial simply because I included both a budget minded SSD as well as a 1TB Western Digital Blue hard drive for mass storage. In my mind, building ANY PC without an SSD in 2017 is a crazy idea – they offer such a drastic improvement in performance and user experience that I simply can’t recommend anyone withhold the beauty of flash storage from their build. The Sandisk SSD Plus is not the best SSD on the market, but the cost of only $68 for a 240GB capacity is amazing.
Ah, finally, the king of this build, the XFX Radeon RX 460 2GB graphics card. With a price tag of just $98, this GPU offers an impressive feature set along with 1080p gaming performance. There are RX 460 options for everyone, including completely passive coolers and single slot designs, but this XFX model includes a 6-pin power connection (some other models do not) that can help keep our system stable should we decide to do any overclocking. The dual slot cooler is perfect for our system build and chassis and keeps the card temperatures low. With support for a dual-link DVI, an HDMI and a DisplayPort output, this card will also allow users to branch into multi-display environments to improve productivity effectiveness.
For our chassis, I am going with the Corsair Carbide 88R, one I have not used previously but that was recommended by more than a few people in the /r/buildapc thread. It’s a microATX design to match our motherboard but offers cable pass through openings for a clean build design. It comes in at just $49.
The EVGA 500 watt power supply has been a stable of budget builds for years with a combination of reliability and low cost. I have used this PSU in several builds previously, even with much higher cost / higher power hardware with great success, so the $42 price tag is an easy sell.
Finally, we need to talk about that monitor. The Nixeus VUE24A has a steep price tag considering the rest of the components selected, but for a good reason. There were a lot of other FreeSync capable monitor suggestions, but I have a bone to pick with most of them. I require that any FreeSync monitor I recommend or use have support for LFC, low frame-rate compensation. FreeSync displays with small frequency ranges, in my opinion, make the experience WORSE. This Nixeus is a 144Hz TN screen and supports variable refresh from 40Hz all the way up to its maximum, but will run you ~$250. It's steep, I know, especially for this build. But I'm assuming you'd keep the display through a few upgrade cycles.
Our total price including the FreeSync monitor is $799. If you only need the PC itself, or choose to go with another display option, the system components will run you only $549 or so. That is a hell of system for that price, especially considering the inclusion of both an SSD and HDD for storage, a speedy dual-core HyperThreaded processor and a discrete Radeon RX 460 graphics card for 1080p gaming capability.
The next step is to build the PC and get Windows and some games up and running on it ASAP. Once we do so we will post a follow up story and video to discuss the real-world gaming performance, as well as the productivity capability, that our RX 460 system provides budget-minded gamers. Once we have that data, and make up my mind about AMD’s budget gaming graphics card, we’ll host our raffle to give the complete system to a lucky reader!
Check back next week!
If you have any questions on our build selection, or if you have experiences with these specific components, please share them in the comments below. I am very curious what our audience thinks about these budget-builds and if you want to see more of them!