June 24, 2012
Even in this era of austerity, things are changing for the better for the prospective PC buyer. Where before the £500 mark was considered the sweet spot, the law of diminishing returns for new processors and graphics cards is fast gaining traction, meaning the best ratio of "performance to the pound" is increasingly beginning to crop up around the lower-end of the scale.Our recent dissection of Acer's latest Ultrabook put this into an encouraging perspective. Here, we were able to enjoy modern DirectX 11 titles such as Battlefield 3 on a modest 1.6GHz dual core CPU setup with a discrete NVIDIA graphics chip. This has huge implications as far as cost efficiency is concerned for those building a desktop PC from scratch, where higher-clocked processors and cards are available for a fraction of the price of their mobile counterparts. With this in mind, and taking into account the kind of price tag a new console might be launching at, we ask ourselves: is it possible to build a respectable gaming PC on a budget of no more than £300? To what extent are we able to out-perform console and how much are we actually missing by not opting for the default quad core CPU/high-end GPU most PC enthusiasts would recommend? If we take as given that ultra level graphical quality options are off the table, what kind of gaming performance can we enjoy? Let's just say that the results of our tests were very surprising.