Battlestation Inspo – Build a Custom Desktop PC for $500
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We all love looking at Battlestation Inspo. Whether scrolling through r/battlestations or casually admiring someone’s setup on social media, it always looks like goals that will never be achieved. Why? Because most setups cost quite a bit of money. You hear many stories of people having crazy custom setups that costs anywhere form $1000 to $3000! So it always seems like a custom setup is out of reach. Well no, it isn’t. I’m going to help you get one for around $500.
Now, just to clarify things – this will not be a high-end setup. That would be impossible, since a i9 processor costs $500+ by itself and an i7 processor isn’t that far behind. Also decent GPU’s tend to be pricey as well, and are difficult to find deals on them. So for the purpose of this we are staying in the low to mid-level range.
Also, this also assumes that you at least have a desk, monitor, keyboard/mouse and an install USB for Windows or Linux. Those are not factor into the price. I’m only accounting for the computer tower and all the internal components.
Additionally, this isn’t for you if you already have built a setup. This is geared towards starter folks who want to get into building their own setup and don’t want to spend a ton a money all at one, want to experiment and complete a configuration/setup successfully without spending a lot of money and just want to give it a try. The great thing about custom setups – Once you have all the parts, you are pretty much set. You can replace the parts a little at a time as you go, so you end up spending less in the long run.
Next, I’m only going to guaranteed that this will work with Windows/Linux – I only add this because I have been asked if this setup with work on MacOs. Hackintosh’s aren’t my thing (nor do I plan on touching it anytime soon) and with how proprietary MacOs is it quite a process to get it working so I would rather not trend down that road.
And Lastly, all these parts are from Amazon. Why? Besides the cheaper price and fast shipping with Prime, Amazon has a very flexible return policy on PC parts. If your part is defective or not compatible and you need to return, Amazon will accept it no questions asked, as long as you return it within 30 days from the date of purchase. Makes it very easy and convenient to swap out parts without having to go to the store.
Okay with that, let’s start with:
So as I stated above, an i7 or i9 processor would not be within our budget – so those are out of the question. There are i3 and i5 processors that will work in this scenario. The i3 price looks tempting ($119) but for this setup we’re gonna go with the i5. Easy start so far.
Next stop, motherboard. We’ll need the motherboard to match with the processor. Now there are some decent motherboards that are around $100, but Asus has a deal on a Motherboard for $85. And it has good reviews. Looks like we have a winner!
Okay we’ll need some semi-decent memory for our setup. Windows and Linux can run on 4GB, but that feels too low, so we’re gonna go with 8GB. And feel free to add more later on – the motherboard supports up to 64GB of RAM.
So the motherboard has an internal graphics card, so we could technically skip this step. But our system would be much beter with one. Plus, it is good practice to install one. Of course GPU are the toughest as the they to be the most pricey, but since the Bitcoin hype has died down a bit the prices have dropped. In fact, here’s a nice budget friendly 2GB GPU for $49. Neat.
Power Supplies are always tricky to pick out, but luckily there is a neat calculator that will help with with figuring out how to pick out a power supply. Based on the stats I put in, I can get a power supply between 450w-600w. I decided to go with 500w and found one at a decent price.
The great thing about SSD is that it’s easy to go cheap on them. Keep in mind though that going cheap here will probably mean that your desktop desktop performance won’t be as great as it should, so you want better performance then it’s better to go on the price. However, we’re just experimenting here, and this $20 SSD is too hard to pass up.
So for the CPU to stay cool and functional, we’ll need to get a decent CPU fan. We could get a cooling system, but for a basic setup like this, a fan is all that is really needed. Here is a cheap fan which have heat sinks, which will surely get the job done.
Lastly, we need a case to put everything in! Cases tend to run in the $100 range, but I got lucky and found this very neat and stylish case for $50. Looks decent and has reasonable airflow. A very great deal, and they have other color options for $10 more.
Optional – Fans
The tower comes with two fans which looks sufficient enough to keep the computer components cooled down, however if you want to add some style to your desktop, you can get some lighted fans to spark joy. Here are some cheap fans for $12 (comes 3 in a pack).
Total: $520 (with fans $532).
So it’s a little over our budget price, but as you can see with a little work and wiggle room it is possible to make a computer for around $500. However, if you went with an i3, the total would be $438 ($450 with the fans) which would put you right under budget. The great thing is about custom build is that you can make it your own, the way you want it to be and at your own price without sacrificing you wallet.
P.S. Enjoyed the Inspo photo this week? You can get some of the items from that setup below: