About a month ago, AMD reached out and asked if I would be willing to look at an AMD-based (CPU and GPU) system that could play Battlefield 1 (BF1) at under $1000.
Like any responsible hardware evaluator, I decided to take on the challenge, and since I had never played BF1 before, I decided it would be a nice experience to play through the entire campaign and then go online for some matches. I decided I would pair the PC with a 4K monitor, just to see how far the PC could go. Worry not, I also experimented with 1080p and 1440p, and tried three different quality levels to explore different configurations.
To boost things up a notch, I also decided to use the system without an overclock, and then try out overclocks on the CPU and GPU and see how far I could push the system. I made sure to gather some quantitative data along with my qualitative findings and let me tell you I was surprised.
Our configuration consists of an AMD FX 8370 CPU (comes with the Wraith cooler), MSI 970A Gaming Pro Carbon, Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3, MSI Radeon RX 480 8GB, Intel 600p series M.2 SSD, Corsair CS550 PSU, and a Corsair C400 case. The total price tag comes to $922 sans OS and sales tax.
There are many other ways to build a powerful AMD gaming system for under $1000, but this system not only looks great, but it also uses high-quality parts. One funny aspect of this build is that it's using an Intel 600P series M.2 SSD, and when I had a buddy produce a similar configuration, he was left also picking the Intel drive because of its low cost.
The cost of the products here are in many cases higher than prices on the market; I would estimate this build could be done for roughly $80 - $100 less.
Taking Advantage of the Season
My job isn't to help people build computers, so I went to someone who helps people pick configurations every day, knows the price of all types of hardware, and knows how to cut costs. I took a trip to my local Microcenter and asked a friendly sales associate named Kyle to help me configure the best AMD system he could for under $1000. I showed him the list above, and he took it as a personal challenge to beat the AMD supplied configuration. Since the holiday season is coming up, a lot of older stock is being discounted to move in more popular products, and there are great deals to be found. The AMD FX 9590 Black Edition CPU runs at higher frequencies than the FX 8370; the downside is it gets hot, requires a very good cooler, and a 990FX motherboard with a nice VRM to run well. It was on discount and only cost $159, $20 cheaper than the FX 8350 above.
GIGABYTE's 990FX-Gaming motherboard not only has the latest features such as USB 3.1 type-C and x4 PCI-E 2.0 M.2, but it supports the 220W FX 9590. He chose another good-looking case, one of his favorite recommendations; the NZXT S340. Then he added in an ASUS RX 480 ROG STRIX, a very nice RX 480 with a hefty cooler. He chose the cheapest memory they had, the Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB kit, which runs at 1600MHz (a tad slower than what AMD had chosen). PSU was up next, and he wanted to originally use a 750W PSU, but I convinced him we did not need that much power and we settled for a CX650M at 650W.
The next thing he chose was the cooler, a single radiator AIO water cooler; the Corsair H55. He went after storage to find something reasonable to give us some extra room for the OS and RGB strip, and the 256 Intel 600p was only $70! Nothing even came remotely close to the value the Intel 600p provides, and that is the reason AMD chose it. After the OS was added, we had about $30 left and tossed in a remote controlled RGB LED strip because the motherboard doesn't have RGB cable support.
The total bill came to $1000.90, not including tax, well within the 0.1% margin of error I decided to set after the fact. The configuration above is not what I used in this article, but just an experiment to see what could be had if you walked into a store or ordered today.
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