How Budget Players Can Set Up “Low-End Gaming” Rigs
Gaming rigs have been getting fancier as of late. If you are a gamer on a budget, it may seem as if you are no longer able to play your favorite titles without giving up your life savings.
Though we are in the age of sophisticated gaming rigs, there are ways budget players can make up their own “low-end” gaming rig. This article will explain how.
A Brief Note on Contemporary Gaming Rigs
Nolan Sorrento, a gaming enthusiast, recently posted a video of his gaming rig on YouTube. While most gamers spend around $5,000 for a gaming setup at most, Sorrento spent a mind-boggling $30,000 on his. The result was a breathtaking, sci-fi-inspired gaming setup that looks as if it came straight out of “Ready Player One.”
Sorrento’s setup includes three giant high-definition screens and a “zero gravity” reclining gaming chair. As elaborate as it may seem, he is hardly the only gamer creating uber-fancy computer setups with the sole aim of gaming.
A similarly over-the-top setup was created by a family of gamers, where the parents installed a giant screen on the ceiling like computers seen in the sci-fi classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Another gamer remodeled an entire room for months to create a gaming rig with the best audio and visuals current technology has to offer.
While some gamers love to show off extravagant gaming rigs such as these, most prefer to use budget devices. While gaming gear is becoming more advanced, a strong but powerful force for “low end” or “low spec” gaming is ironically rising.
What is “Low-End” Gaming?
Low-end gaming is a term that can be interchangeably used with budget gaming. However, even the minimal price tag for budget gaming is increasing. Several years ago, a budget gaming rig cost less than $1,000, including all the peripheral hardware. These days a budget gaming rig is anything that costs less than $1,500. Low-end gamers stand out even amongst this crowd for their insistence on using older hardware to play popular games.
Low-spec gamers are not embarrassed about using graphics cards or memory cards from as far back as 1999. Some low-end gamers face money constraints that prevent them from buying anything that’s too expensive.
However, a hardcore segment of low-spec gamers uses graphics cards from the early 2000s because they can and want to. Familiarity, comfort, and not wanting to bow to a gaming industry prone to price hikes are some of the reasons for the rise of low-end gaming.
Low-end rig gamers are obviously limited in the number of games they can actually play. For example, a graphics card from 2003 will not be powerful enough to support many of the recently-released popular gaming titles. Even older games may not work well on rigs still running Windows XP. But that doesn’t deter the dedicated budget gamer. In fact, gamers may go as far as to tweak the games to run on low-power rigs.
How “Low-End” Gaming Became Popular
The rise of low-end gaming is best evidenced by the YouTube channel “LowSpec Gamer.” Created by a dedicated gamer based in Barcelona, the channel gets tens of thousands of views per month.
And the videos? Rather than showing off rigs, the videos are a collection of recommendations and tutorials that instruct viewers on how to tweak older systems to run games.
The videos give explainers on things such as how to run Witcher 3 with only 2GB of VRAM or how to alter.ini files for an older operating system to run a game. The creator of the channel himself was inspired by electronic “dumpster divers.” These are gamers who collect computer parts thrown away in favor of newer parts to outfit as gaming rigs.
Instead of going for the newest processors, these low-end gamers are running well-known titles on Intel Pentium or Core 2 processors. It saves money without ruining the fun, according to these gamers. Low-end gamers certainly inspire budget gamers as well, who only use older hardware due to monetary reasons.
Low-end and budget gaming is more prevalent that it may appear to be. Sorrento, the $30,000 gaming rig owner, for example, had most of his equipment paid for by sponsors to save money—a highly effective budget gaming strategy.
The Basic Requirements for a Low-End Gaming Rig
Anyone with the right amount of interest can become a low-end gamer, as enthusiasts often claim. Setting up a rig that costs less than $1,000 is not difficult, but gamers should understand that some titles will be off-limits to them.
The LowSpec Gamer from YouTube found that, no matter what he did, “Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus” was not able to play on a rig that had less than 2GB of VRAM.
There are two options here that budget gamers can use to own their personal system. Either build a gaming PC from scratch or modify an existing desktop computer. The latter is easier for most gamers with limited hardware skills.
When setting up a low-end rig, there are three main features you should pay attention to: The processor, GPU, and memory.
Other features matter, too, but the above three are vital for a budget gaming PC that actually works.
The best processor in the current market for gaming is hands down Intel Core i7. AMD chips are cheaper, but even the top AMD chips can’t match the processing power of the Core i7.
While most gamers would aim for a Core i7, low-end gamers can make do with older Intel chips like the Pentium or Celeron. The rest of the gaming rig hardware would depend on the type of processor in use.
It’s highly recommended for gamers to aim for a Core i7 or an i5 if possible. But if you want to use an older operating system like XP, an Intel Pentium processor would suffice. However, the i7 and i5 processors are not known to be incompatible with older operating systems.
The memory capacity that your gaming rig requires will depend on the titles you plan to play. Usually, the higher the RAM, the better. But keep in mind that the supported RAM capacity is closely related to the processor you use.
For example, if you choose an Intel Pentium processor, you can safely support up to 8GB of RAM. You can technically go higher, but most of the extra capacity would be wasted on the processor. With Core i5 or i7 chips, you can go up to a maximum of 32GB of RAM, though it only supports 32GB of RAM under certain circumstances.
You will need a minimum of 4GB of RAM on your low-end gaming rig to play most games. Vanilla World of Warcraft, for example, would require at least 4GB of RAM. Going up to 8GB is recommended, though you can push up to the fancy realm with 16GB.
Overall RAM aside, gamers should also think about VRAM, or RAM specifically allocated to multimedia purposes. Aim for at least 2GB of VRAM, though 4GB is highly recommended in this case as well.
The Graphics Card
This is the tricky part. You will have to choose the graphics card carefully, considering the processor, RAM, and the motherboard of the PC.
It’s recommended to first make a list of the games you plan on playing. You will then have to find a graphics card that supports these titles. Some new graphics cards may not be compatible with older games you want to play. Therefore, there might not be a point in aiming for the latest card.
You can use either AMD or NVIDIA cards depending on your budget, preferences, and motherboard fit. However, NVIDIA may have the upper hand here. Low-spec gamers have found excellent success with GTX 570 and GT 1030 cards paired with pre-i7 CPUs and 2 to 4 GB of VRAM.
Don’t forget that the graphics card must fit onto the motherboard. This is a common mistake that can easily be avoided with some vigilance.
Once you have the basic hardware setup ready, next comes the software you will need to tweak to support older games.
Make sure you have an operating system Windows XP or above. Windows 7 is actually great because it supports the latest versions of many games and is backwards compatible with most classic titles. With XP, you will have serious software tinkering, and to do that you wouldn’t need Windows 7.
Get your computer ready for low-spec gaming by manually adjusting the GPU brightness, fps, and other display factors. Most titles don’t play because of fps. Therefore, you may have to adjust these features to suit the games you like to play.
Software tweaking cannot be generalized because you will encounter different problems depending on the game. You can refer to other guides and YouTube tutorials on how to make the necessary adjustments for gaming purposes based on your OS.
Putting the Rig Together
Based on the above framework, you can add external hardware like mice, keyboards, and screens to complete your gaming rig. Be aware that the system would require some ironing out before you can play games as smoothly as you would like.
Gaming hardware may be getting more expensive as technology advances, but budget gamers are strongly supported by the market. PC suppliers like Dell and HP make computers aimed directly at budget-minded buyers.
The most expensive portion of the gaming rig is always the graphics card and the display. But brands like AMD are already designing powerful GPUs that don’t cost as much.
When it comes to gaming, what really matters is skill rather than sophisticated gadgets. The rise of “low-end” gaming shows that gamers are far more interested in performance and titles than how shiny the display looks.