Building Gaming PC Without Graphics Card – Integrated Graphics [2021]

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We have reached a point now where the integrated graphics cards in the CPUs have easily replaced the entry level discrete GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD.

While both the top CPU brands, i.e Intel and AMD, have made strides with their iGPUs, AMD particularly has made a tremendous mark in this regard.

AMD with their Radeon Vega integrated graphics, have outstanding performance in the lower gaming PC bracket. And if you play light games such as Minecraft, League of Legends, DOTA and even some AAA titles at low graphics, then you will find the performance from the newer integrated graphics cards quite satisfactory.

This article is dedicated as a build guide for gaming PC without graphics cards. Technically, we will talk about build guilds that do not have a standalone video card, but do feature an integrated graphics card.

The following questions should clarify some concepts and misconceptions regarding the theme of this article. We highly recommend that you read through them as a primer.

Jump Directly to PC Build Recommendations

Some Brief FAQs

Dedicated vs Integrated Graphics Cards

Building Gaming PCs Without Graphics Card

Dedicated, or discrete, graphics cards/video cards are standalone devices that plug into the PCIe slots of your motherboard.

On the other hand, integrated graphics processing unit, or iGPUs, are built into the CPUs. They are not a standalone device.

The primary function of both is the same: they add video and graphical display ability to your PC.

However, enthusiasts with large budget often opt for dedicated GPUs for their gaming rig as they are more powerful and can thus render intense graphics while maintaining good frame rates.

On the flip side, if you have budget constraints and you want to minimize your costs, then a PC build with no dedicated graphics card, and an iGPU instead, is recommended.

Do PCs Need a Graphics Card?

Yes, if you want to connect a display to your PC and render graphical data, then YES you need a graphics card. If you are reading this right now on your PC screen, then you have a graphics card.

The real question is, do you need a DEDICATED GPU or not? The answer to this question is No!

If your CPU has an integrated graphics card and your motherboard has video output ports then you do not need to have a dedicated graphics card!

Can You Play Games Without a Graphics Card?

Again, there are some misconceptions about integrated and dedicated graphics cards.

If you do not have a dedicated graphics card then you can still certainly play games IF your CPU has a good enough integrated graphics card.

However, it is worth noting that the integrated graphics cards built into CPUs are generally much weaker than dedicated graphics cards.

Fortunately, some of the recent iGPUs, particularly those from the AMD Radeon Vega series, can easily play AAA and popular online games at low-high graphic settings – depending on the game.

Do Motherboard have Onboard Graphics Processing?

No, motherboards do not have an onboard graphics processing chip.

The video ports on a motherboard are powered by the integrated graphics card found on the CPU.

In other words, if you do not have a CPU with an iGPU, the motherboard video output ports WILL NOT WORK!

Also Read in Detail: Do Motherboards Have Integrated Graphics?

Who Would be Interested in Getting a Gaming PC without Graphics Card?

Again, when we talk about a PC without graphics card, we are essentially talking about a PC with an integrated GPU instead of a dedicated GPU.

So the people interested in this kind of gaming PC would be those who:

  1. Have a limited budget
  2. Play very light games
  3. Do not want to play games at extraordinarily high graphics (i.e 4k)
  4. Do not indulge much in AAA titles; more interested in online multiplayer games

With that said, let us now get into the build guide for gaming PC with integrated graphics cards.

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Build Guide for Gaming PCs Without Graphics Card

Let us now get into the nitty gritty details of a gaming PC build without a graphics card.

It should be pointed out that if you are in the pursuit of building an enthusiast grade gaming rig, then that is not possible without a discrete GPU.

A gaming desktop PC with an integrated GPU is intended for budget builds mostly.

I. CPUs with Integrated Graphics

The first and the most important component for a PC build like this is the CPU.

Unlike with other builds where you look at only the single-core and multi-core CPU performance with little to no regard for how the iGPU performs, for this build, you have to look at the iGPU performance of the CPU as well.

Since you will not be investing in a discrete graphics card, knowing how the integrated graphic card performs is crucial for building the right gaming desktop PC here.

Understanding the CPU Models with iGPU

Both Intel and AMD have a plethora of CPU models with an integrated graphics card.

Intel CPUs with iGPU

In the case of Intel CPUs, almost all of their desktop based commercial processors come with an integrated graphics card.

Only the ones with the ‘F’ suffix do not come with an integrated graphics card. Examples include, Intel Core i9-9900KF, or the Intel Core i7-11700KF.

Some of the popular integrated Intel GPUs include Intel UHD 630 found in 8th-10th Gen processors and Intel UHD 750 found on the newer 11th Gen processors.

AMD CPUs with iGPU

Unlike with Intel, only a select few CPUs from AMD offer an integrated graphics card. These are popularly known as APUs, short for accelerated processing unit. Accelerated processing units are basically AMD CPU with a Vega graphics card built in.

AMD processors with an integrated graphics card have the ‘G’ suffix in their name such as the AMD Athlon 3000G or the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G.

AMD APUs feature the powerful Radeon Vega integrated graphics cards i.e Vega 3, Vega 6, Vega 8 and Vega 11.

It is common knowledge that the AMD APUs perform better than Intel CPUs as far as graphics processing is concerned. 

Therefore, if you are building an economical gaming PC without a graphics card, we recommend that you go for AMD APUs.

You will learn more about their prowess in the benchmarks below.

Benchmarking CPUs with Integrated Graphics Card

In the following text we will benchmark the CPU performance in terms of single core and multi-core and graphics performance:

List of Popular CPUs with Integrated Graphics in 2021

The following are the popular and latest CPUs with their integrated graphics.

It is crucial that you select the right processor with the right graphics. Sometime a CPU may have an excellent ‘CPU’ performance but lag behind in terms of its graphics prowess.

CPU iGPU Specs Passmark
Benchmark
AMD Athlon
3000G
(MSRP $50)
Vega 3 2 Cores
4 Threads
3.5 GHz
4455
AMD Ryzen
3 3200G ($99)
Vega 8 4 Cores
4 Threads
4.00 GHz
7224
Intel Core
i3 10100
(MSRP $122)
Intel UHD
630
4 Cores
8 Threads
4.3 GHz
8820
AMD Ryzen
5 3400G
(MSRP $266)
Vega 11 4 Cores
8 Threads
4.2 GHz
9372
AMD Ryzen
3 4300G
(OEM Only
$139?)
Vega 6
(4000)
4 Cores
8 Threads
4.0 GHz
10885
AMD Ryzen
5 4600G
(OEM Only
$199?)
Vega 7
(4000)
6 Cores
12 Threads
4.2  GHz
15733
AMD Ryzen
7 4700G
(OEM Only
$299?)
Vega 8
(4000)
8 Cores
16 Threads
3.0 GHz
19915
Intel Core
i5-11600K
(MSRP $272)
Intel UHD
750
6 Cores
12 Threads
4.9 GHz
19929
  • Passmark Source: cpubenchmark.net
  • Note that most of the AMD APUs from the 4000 Renoir series are OEM Only and hence can only be found on Pre-built PCs. 
  • The mentioned prices are only the release or the MSRP price, they are not the actual listing price. Due to the CPU and GPU shortage and availability, the prices of these components fluctuate heavily.

Most Newer AMD APUs are OEM Only (Unfortunately)

Most of the AMD APUs from the 4000 and the 5000 series are OEM only. Meaning they can only be found on pre-built PCs by brands like Dell or HP.

The only APUs that you can grab off the shelf and build a PC out of easily are the 3000 series APUs like the Ryzen 3 3200G and the Ryzen 5 3400G.

You CAN grab 4000G Pro series APUs like the Ryzen 5 4650G off the shelf for building a custom PC, but they are hard to find and are generally quite expensive. On top of that they are not boxed and do not come with a CPU cooler as well.

Single Core Performance

Here is the single core performance of the popular CPUs with iGPU mentioned above. The scores are based on the Cinebench R20 Benchmark.

cpu with integrated graphics single score

The single core performance of a processor is an important measure of its prowess. Most of the software and games still utilize a single core for most of their tasks.

Whether you are sculpting in Blender, designing in AutoCAD, or playing a game, any task that is single thread heavy benefits from a CPU with a better single-core performance.

Single-Core performance is very important particularly for those software, games and tasks that do not scale well with multiple cores.

You will notice that most online multiplayer games like League of Legends, DOTA, Fortnite etc, often rely on one or two cores mostly. This is done in order to cater to a wider demographics of gamers around the world and to appeal to those with a lower budget or older PCs.

Hence again, for most online titles, and also for many AAA titles, single core performance > multi-core performance.

Who is the Winner?

We can clearly see that the Intel CPUs with their inferior integrated Intel HD graphics cards have a better single-core performance.

Intel Core i5-11600K with its MSRP of $272 particularly has a great performance/dollar ratio for a mid range gaming computer build with integrated Intel UHD 750 GPU.

In the budget range, the Intel Core i3-10100 wins the single-core performance race.

However, single-core CPU performance is not the prime determinant of the best CPU for a budget gaming PC. You have to particularly look at the GPU performance here as well. Intel UHD graphics are, unfortunately, inferior to the AMD Vega CPUs.

If you want to go for sheer single core performance, the you could potentially look into an Intel CPU. However, for gaming you will find it hugely lacking.

Multi Core Performance

The following chart shows how the multi-core performance compares across these CPUs.

Multi-Core performance of a processor is another important measure which determines how well the CPU will perform in multi-threaded environment.

So whether you are multitasking, rendering large videos, or playing a game that is designed to use many cores like simulation and strategy games, then the more cores you have, the better will be the performance.

Who is the Winner?

Quite understandably, the AMD Ryzen 7 4700G has the best multi-core performance because it is the only CPU in this list with an 8 core processor and 16 threads.

For a budget gaming PC, an 8 core / 16 thread CPU is an overkill and given its predicted price of about $300, this is a very expensive CPU to have for a budget build.

We suggest you strike a good balance between price and performance.

For a very light gaming PC the AMD Ryzen 3 3400G with its Vega 11 graphics card should suffice.

Does PC Gaming Use Multiple Cores?

In terms of PC gaming, simulation games and strategy games like Cities: Skyline or Ashes of Singularity are the type of games that make use of multiple cores heavily.

Lighter and most online games such as Minecraft, League of Legends, CS:GO do not make use of a lot of cores.

For instance, Minecraft uses 2-3 cores at max. Having a CPU with more cores will not benefit the game. It COULD, however, benefit your overall system performance particularly if you have other software and applications running in the background.

If you are a gamer streamer, for instance, on platform like Twitch or YouTube, then you will need a good amount of cores. In fact, video encoding which is the process that takes place while streaming is something that can eat through your core count. The more cores you have the smoother will be your streams.

Integrated Graphics Gaming Performance

If you are building a gaming PC without graphics card than you need to pay special attention to how the various iGPUs perform.

This is the most important section for you as a gamer. Of course iGPUs are the not at powerful as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX, GeForce RTX or the AMD RX 5000 or 6000 series discrete graphics card, but for a light gaming desktop PC, these should more than suffice.

Again, if you are attempting to build a high performance gaming rig out of an iGPU then you will be disappointed, however, if you are casual gamer or someone who plays PC games with low GPU demands, then this is the right build to go for.

G3D Mark Scores

GPU G3D
Mark
Notes
Intel UHD 630 1395 As found on 8-10th Gen
Intel CPUs
Nvida GeForce
GT 740
(MSRP $79)
1543 Dedicated GPU
Basic
Intel UHD 750 1684 As found on 11th Gen+
Intel CPUs
AMD Radeon
Vega 3
(2018 Version)
1071 AMD 2000 Series APU
AMD Radeon
Vega 6
(2018 Version)
1274 AMD 2000 Series APU
AMD Radeon
Vega 8
(2018 Version)
1704 AMD 2000 Series APU
AMD Radeon
Vega 11
(2018 Version)
2139 AMD 2000 Series APU
Nvidia GeForce
GT 1030
($79)
2613 Dedicated GPU
Entry Level
AMD Radeon
RX 550
($79)
2764 Dedicated GPU
Entry Level

Notes:

  • The AMD Vega 3, 6, 8 and 11 G3DMark scores are from AMD 2000 Series APU released back in 2018.  Hence they do not reflect the scores of 3000, 4000 and 5000 series iGPU of the same name.
  • G3DMark Source: videocardbenchmark.net
  • The prices mentioned above are the release price or the MSRP. Due to the CPU and GPU shortage all over, the listing price may be higher (or lower if you are lucky).

You can see here that some of the discrete GPUs have a lower performance than the integrated GPUs found on AMD CPUs.

Most of the newer iGPUs have practically rendered the entry level dedicated graphics cards useless.

Difference Between Radeon Vega Graphics in 3000, 4000, and 5000 Series AMD APUs

AMD uses the same name for its iGPU in its successive CPU series. But the performance difference can be drastic.

For instance, AMD offers RX Vega 8 graphics in both its 3000 series Ryzen 3 3200G and in its 4000 series AMD Ryzen 7 4700G CPUs.

However, the difference in both is huge to say the least.

For instance, the RX Vega 8 in the Ryzen 3 3200G operates at 1250 MHz and has a processing power of 1280 GFLOPS. RX Vega 8 in the Ryzen 7 4700G, however, operates at a whopping 2100 MHz with processing power of 2150 GFLOPS!

Therefore, do not get confused by the APUs having the same Vega Series iGPU name. Know that each successive APU series improves drastically on the performance of the iGPU despite having the same name and model number.

3D mark 11 2000 vs 4000

Image: 3DMark 11 Vega 8 (R2000/R3000) vs Vega 8 (R4000). Source: Notebookcheck.net

The RX Vega 8 in Ryzen 4000 series APUs is about 40% more powerful than the RX Vega 8 in Ryzen 2000/3000 Series APUs according to 3D mark 11.

Here is a comprehensive Performance benchmark scores for the AMD APUs by Notebookcheck.net. Note that these are based on the mobile version of the APUs, which are quite close in performance to desktop version in reality.

GPU Performance Rating*
Vega 3
(R2000/3000)
6.7
Intel UHD 630 6.7
Vega 6
(R2000/3000)
9.4
Vega 8
(R2000/3000)
10.8
Vega 11
(R2000/3000)
13.1
Vega 6
(R4000/5000)
13.6
Vega 7
(R4000)
14.2
Vega 8
(R4000)
15.2
Vega 8
(R5000)
21.6
  • The Performance Rating Scores are taken from notebookcheck. The scores represent an aggregate of 3DMark11, Fire Strike and Time Spy tests. 

From this table you can see that Vega integrated graphics cards are not created equally. A Vega 6 found on a 3000 series Ryzen APUs (9.4 points) is weaker than the Vega 6 found on the 4000/5000 series AMD CPUs (13.6 points).

Our Overall CPU Recommendation For PC without Graphics Card

For starters, if you want the best graphics performance and if you are gamer on a budget, then we recommend going for AMD CPUs with the Vega graphics cards. They have better graphics processing and thus can offer you better frame rate compared to Intel integrated graphics.

Now as mentioned earlier, you can go about this in two ways:

  • With 3000 Series CPUs, you can grab them off the shelf and build a custom PC out of them all by yourself
  • With 4000/5000 series, you will need to get a pre-built desktop – for now.

3000 Series AMD CPUs for Custom Build PCs

If you choose to go with the 3000 series AMD CPU with integrated graphics then we recommend the following

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G w/ Vega 8: For Very-Low Budget Gaming Computer (~500)
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3400G w/ Vega 11: For Budget Gaming Computer(<$600)

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Gaming Performance

The following video compares AMD Ryzen 3 3200G performance in various PC games.

  • Read Dead Redemption 2: 29 FPS @ 720p / Lowest Preset
  • Fortnite: 33 FPS @ 1080p / Medium Preset

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G Gaming Performance

The following video compares AMD Ryzen 5 3400G performance in various PC games.

  • Read Dead Redemption 2: 35 FPS @ 720p / Lowest Preset
  • Fortnite: 80 FPS @ 720p / Lowest Preset

Overall, both the Ryzen 3 3200G and the Ryzen 5 3400G should be able to support most PC games at low graphics and at decent frame rate.

4000/5000 Series AMD CPUs for Pre-Built PCs

If you choose to go for 4000/5000 series AMD G series processors, then a typical desktop build with AMD Ryzen 7 4700G with RX Vega 8 (4000) can cost you anywhere from $800-$899.

Of course, as mentioned earlier, the RX Vega 8 found on AMD Ryzen 7 4700G is much better than the same found on the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G as discussed earlier.

II. Motherboard for a PC Build with an Integrated Graphics Card

A motherboard is a secondary concern after the CPU for this build. In our opinion, for this build any budget motherboard from the newer AMD or  Intel chipset series should suffice.

We do have a few pointers for you to follow particularly for this build:

Make Sure the Motherboard has the Required Video Out Ports!

If you are building a gaming PC without graphics card then it is crucial that your motherboard has all the required video output ports that you need.

Generally, the display connectivity on your PC is handled by the discrete video cards, however, since we are opting it out here for integrated graphics instead, your motherboard MUST have all the required ports for you to connect your display to.

If you want to connect two monitors, you will need to have two video output ports on your motherboard. If you want to connect three monitors, you will need to have three video output ports:

Gigabyte A520 Aorus Elite

Image: Gigabyte A520 Aorus Elite

Take the Gigabyte A520 Aorus Elite motherboard. This has two video output ports i.e DVI and HDMI. And despite being a rather expensive motherboard, it does not feature the good old VGA port.

Hence if you have old monitor with only VGA input, then this motherboard will not support it unless you buy an an HDMI-VGA or DVI-VGA adapter.

You could connect two monitors to this and ideally your monitors will need to have the same video input ports too.

AMD A320M-HDV R4.0

Image: Asrock AMD A320M-HDV R4.0

Here we have another motherboard that has three different video output ports.

Asrock AMD A320M-HDV R4.0 is a highly affordable motherboard that offers 3 types of video output ports including DVI, VGA and HDMI.

Choosing a Motherboard Suitable for a Gaming PC with No Video Card

Again, we recommend that you stick with an affordable motherboard.

While not a rule of thumb, a common guideline you can follow is that the motherboard should be half the price of the CPU.

But in order to truly understand how to choose the right motherboard, there are two important considerations:

1. Choose the Right Chipset

The choice of the chipset matters a lot.

The chipset determines, among other things:

  • To a large extent the price of the motherboard
  • Its processor socket
  • How many PCIe lanes, expansion slots, USB ports it would have and their version too.
  • Whether it would have overclocking capability or not
  • Whether it would support dual graphics cards or not
  • The size of its VRM and heatsinks

Both AMD and Intel have chipsets for different budget ranges.

Popular AMD Motherboard Chipsets

  • A Series: i.e A320, this is the chipset series for entry level motherboards.
  • B Series: i.e B550, for mid range and most staple gaming pc builds.
  • X Series: i.e X570, for high end builds

For an AMD gaming PC without graphics card we recommend that you stick with the entry level chipset such as the AMD A320. For a basic gaming PC build, a motherboard featuring this chipset should more than suffice.

You could go for the newer A520 chipset as well with its general PCIe lanes conforming to PCIe v3.0, instead of V2.0, but for a an affordable build, A320 should more than suffice.

If you have a bit more to spend, then B series is highly recommended. The newer B series motherboard such as the B550 offers PCIe v4.0 support for the primary x16 slot.

Also Read: Does it matter which x16 slot I use?

The following chart explains how the chipsets differ.

AMD 500 Series Chipset comparison

Intel Motherboard Chipsets:

  • B Series: i.e B460, and B560 for entry builds
  • H Series: i.e H310 and H510 for mid range builds
  • Z Series: i.e Z490, and Z590 for high end builds

Again, if you choose to go with an Intel build, you could go with the low end B series or a mid range H series chipset.

Also Read:

2. Brand Name Matters

Motherboards from top class brands such as ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI are expensive.

If you want to go for economical options we recommend cheaper brands such as ASRock and Biostar. ASRock, in particular, is a very popular budget brand for motherboards.

Also Read: Does Motherboard Matter for Gaming?

3. Form Factor

Another important consideration is the form factor of the motherboard.

There are basically three common form factors:

  • ATX – 12 x 9.6 inches
  • Micro-ATX – 9.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Mini-ITX – 6.7 x 6.7 inches

For this PC gaming build, we recommend that you stick with either the Micro-ATX or the Mini-ITX.

Micro-ATX motherboards are the cheapest. They have ample expansion capability and at the same time offer you the best value.

Mini ITX motherboard, on the other hand, are great or a mini PC build. If you are an enthusiast and want to build a compact mini PC for gaming that you can perhaps carry around as well, then this is something you can look into.

Mini ITX motherboards are generally more expensive due to their compact form factor and they only offer a single PCIe x16 expansion slot. Hence if you want to add a number of PCIe components to your PC, this may not be the best form factor to go for.

Also Read: 10 Things that can be plugged in PCIe Slot

III. RAM For Your Gaming PC Build with iGPU

The amount of RAM you should aim for depends upon your overall budget and requirements.

If you are building a PC only for gaming, then 8 GB DDR4 RAM should suffice.

I say 8 GB of RAM because for a gaming PC without dedicated graphics, it is a given that you would not be playing AAA titles at high graphics and texture settings anyways.

However, if you are building a gaming AND an editing desktop, then I would recommend 16 GB DDR4 RAM.

It should be noted that 8 GB RAM kit can be more expensive than a 16 GB RAM kit if you take the overall cost/GB.

For instance, at the time of writing this article a single Corsair Vengeance LPX 8 GB DDR4 stick (3200MHz, C16) was listed at $51. At the same time, 2 x 8 GB DDR4 stick with same specs was listed at about $88. Hence the 16 GB DDR4 kit has a lower cost/GB

So if you absolutely want to save up on the cost, then by all means go for 8 GB DDR4 RAM. However, if you have some flexibility in your budget, you could find a 16 GB deal more appealing.

There are many factors that determine the price of the RAM, size being one, the other factors include CAS Latency and Clock Speed.

The faster the RAM stick, and the lower the CAS latency, the more expensive the RAM would be.

For a budget build we recommend you stick with a DDR4 RAM with an average CAS latency of around 16 and Clock Speed of 3000-3200 MHz to minimize your cost.

Single or Dual Stick?

An important question that often comes up is should you go for single or dual channel RAM configuration.

In other words, if you plan to get an 8 GB stick, should you get a single  8GB stick or 2 x 4 GB sticks?

Essentially having more channels technically means having more bandwidth and in turn having a higher transfer rate.

However, in all honestly, the difference is not significant at all. You are okay either way. You should just focus on getting the better deal for your budget gaming PC.

Also Read: How to Tell if RAM will Work with Your Motherboard?

IV. Recommended Hard Drive for this Build

If you are remotely concerned about the performance of your gaming PC, then we would recommend that you invest in an NVMe SSD in a heart beat.

NVMe SSDs have come a long way in terms of their cost/GB. They are no longer catered toward enthusiasts and high performance gaming builds.

While an NVMe SSD is still expensive if you take the per GB cost, you can find a decent 3rd Gen 500GB NVMe SSD for about $60. The cost of an NVMe SSD is still about 4-5 times as much as a basic HDD, but the performance gains are quite worth it.

In any case, dishing out $50-$60 is quite common for storage even for a budget gaming PC build. The only question you need to ask is whether you need capacity or performance.

Here is a bit of a primer in to the hard drives to help you understand.

There are three types of a hard drives that you can buy:

1. Normal Hard Disk Drives

Budget Hard Disk Drives

Image: WD Blue is a budget line of Hard Disk Drives.

HDDs are slow with a transfer rate that maxes out at about 200 MB/s. 

However, while they are slow, they are stupendously cheap.

At the time of writing this article a WD Blue 2 TB would cost you only $50. So about $0.025 per GB.

A hard disk drive is still quite useful if you have serious budget constraints OR if you want a large archival drive for saving up a lot of data that you rarely or occasionally use like media.

2. SATA SSD

A SATA SSD is a type of SSD that connects to the SATA 3 interface and has a max transfer speed of about 550 MB/s.

At the time of writing this article, these could cost you about about $100 per 1 TB (i.e Samsung 870 EVO) or about $0.1 per GB.

Due to the high cost and not so extraordinary performance, we do not recommend SATA SSDs.

the only advantage SATA SSDs have is that they connect to a mere SATA port which are found in abundance on any motherboard.

Also Read: How many SATA ports do I have?

3. NVMe SSD

crystal magic disk speed comparison

Image: Seagate 3TB BarraCuda SATA vs Samsung SSD 850 EVO vs Samsung 970 EVO NVMe Source/Credit: Jollibeee86 Reddit

NVMe SSDs connect to the PCIe interface and they are super fast. They are the holy grail when it comes to hard drive performance. Any gaming PC build worth its salt would feature an NVMe SSD.

The only caveat is that you need to have a free M.2 slot on your motherboard in order to plug these.

A 3rd Gen NVMe SSD can have speeds of upto 3500 MB/s (sequential Read). This is about 18 times as much as a normal HDD and about 6-7 times as much as a SATA SSD.

A low end 500 GB NVMe SSD such has the Crucial P2 with sequential read speed of about 2400 MB/s, could cost you about $59. or about $0.118 per GB.

At this rate, the NVMe SSD is about 4-5 time as expensive as an HDD, but the performance levels are off the chart.

Better NVMe SSD like the 3rd Gen Samsung 970 EVO or the 4th Gen Samsung 980 Pro are more expensive. The fourth Gen NVMe SSDs also require the PCIe v4.0 – which is supported by a select motherboard chipsets.

V. Choosing the Right Power Supply Unit (PSU)

There are a few common questions that all gamers or PC builders ask when it comes to power supply

  1. How many watts do I need?
  2. What is the power supply Efficiency and does it matter?
  3. What about the actual physical size of the power supply?
  4. What connectors the power supply has – we recommend modular PSU

How Many Watts Do You Need?

Considering the fact that we are talking about a gaming PC without a dedicated graphics card, the wattage requirement for this gaming build will be quite low.

While there are manual ways to calculate the power supply requirements using the TDP of your individual components, this can be challenging and a bit misleading because TDP does not equate to normal operating load of the components and also it does not factor in high load scenarios where the power draw can surpass the TDP.

Therefore, we recommend you use automated tools as follows:

Power Supply Efficiency

The efficiency of the power supply is quite simple to understand. You should aim to go for a power supply with the highest efficiency possible.

A power supply with a higher efficiency will draw lower power from the wall. So for instance if you have a PC that requires 500 watts, a power supply with 70% efficiency will actually draw 714 watts from the wall socket.

The same PC on a 85% efficiency power supply will draw only 588 watts from the power socket. Hence, the greater the efficiency the lower would be your operating cost.

Ideally you should look for a power supply with the 80PLUS certification which you can read about here.

power supply unit efficiency standard

Image: 80 Plus Efficiency Level Certifications. Source: Wikipedia

Basically, this certification states that its certified power supply units will at least maintain an 80% efficiency at all load levels, even on the most basic 80 Plus certification.

The bronze, silver, gold, platinum and titanium further improve on the basic efficiency by reaching even 94-96% on the 80 Plus Titanium certification.

Of course, the higher the certification level the more expensive the power supply would be. We recommend that you stick with lower certification level to save cost for a basic build like this.

Size of the Power Supply

Just like motherboard form factors, there are plethora of power supply form factors as well. However, for the sake of simplicity in this article, ATX12V is the form factor most commonly used. This has a 150mm width, 86mm height and a depth of 140mm.

Before you choose a power supply, it is critical that you look at the specifications of the case/chassis in order to find the suitable size.

The last thing you want to do is to go for a power supply that does not fit in your case.

PC Build Recommendations without GPU

Custom PC Build Recommendations

Important Point to Keep in Mind: Be advised that CPUs and GPUs are currently low on stock due to a global crisis.

1. Ultra-Budget Gaming Build without a Dedicated GPU (Approx Cost ~ $270-$315)

Build Notes:

The motherboard ASUS PRIME A320M-K in this build MAY require a BIOS update. While most users haven’t faced issues running a 3000 series AMD processor on this motherboard , there is a possibility that BIOS update may be needed.

The is the cheapest build that we can recommend. It offers the AMD Athlon 3000G (MSRP $49) with Vega 3 graphics. This is almost on part with Intel UHD graphics.

Note that the A320 chipset on the motherboard does NOT support overclocking.

2. Budget Gaming Build with iGPU (Approx Cost ~ $370-$430)

Build Notes:

There are three major upgrades here compared to the previous build.

For starters the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G (MSRP $99) CPU is much more powerful and has a more powerful Vega 8 graphics.

Furthermore, I have included a 500GB SSD here for good measure. The performance gains from an SSD will be readily visible compared to an average HDD.

Alternative Consideration: If you would rather have a larger storage, then you can go for the 2TG Seagate Barracuda as mentioned in the ultra-budget build above. The cost will be more or less the same. I would personally recommend that you stick with an SSD.

The B450 motherboard here is also overlclockable. So a definitely a step up from the A320.

I have kept the RAM amount the same because this is essentially a budget GAMING build. If you do professional work then you may want to consider upgrading the RAM.

3. Mid Performance Gaming Build with iGPU (Approx Cost ~ $500-$550)

Build Notes:

A few important changes here. The CPU selected here is the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G (MSRP $150) with Vega 11 graphics. As far as building a custom gaming PC goes without a dedicated graphics card, this is the best that you can get.

Unfortunately, this CPU is very hard to find in regular stock and thus the market price for this can be very high.

Another important upgrade here is the 16 GB DDR4 RAM indicating that this is a build that you can use for professional work as well.

Alternative Consideration: If you want to remain as economical as possible and just focus on the GPU aspect of this build for gaming, then you can by all means stick to 8 GB DDR4 like the previous builds.

I have also selected a slightly more capable and efficient power supply here.

Alternative Consideration: Again, You don’t have to go for this PSU if you want to remain as economical as possible. The budget power supply found in the previous builds can also work.

If you like to stream your low-key games, then this is again a great build.

Prebuilt Desktop Recommendations

If you want save yourself from the trouble of building a desktop, then this is recommended.

Best Prebuilt Desktop with AMD Ryzen 7 4700G and AMD Vega 8 Graphics

Best Prebuilt Desktop with Integrated GPU
Image Source: HP

Core specs:

CPU AMD Ryzen 7 4700G 4.4 GHz
(8 Cores / 16 Threads)
Graphics Card AMD Vega 8 iGPU
RAM 8 GB DDR4
Storage 256 GB NVMe SSD
Peripherals Mouse and Keyboard Provided

Build Notes:

This pre-built desktop offers the AMD Ryzen 7 4700G APU which CANNOT be bought off the shelf as mentioned earlier.

Incidentally, the Vega 8 iGPU on Ryzen 7 4700G has the highest scores on the notebookcheck.net benchmarks.

Again, the Vega 8 Graphics on a 4000 series AMD APUs is far better than the same found in the 3000 or older series APUs.

Hovering around ~$600 mark, this is a bit towards the expensive side of the spectrum for a budget desktop, but nevertheless it offers one of the most capable iGPUs in the market and also it can save your from going through the arduous task of building a PC yourself.

As far as sheer gaming performance goes, this one will definitely take the cake with its Ryzen 4000 series Vega 8 iGPU.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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