Build a DX10 rig for under £176

We like big explosions, the bigger the better, in fact.

We also like smoke effects, water ripples, dappled lighting filtering through jungle canopies and creeping up silently behind people, before murdering them with our bare hands. But enough about our weekend pastimes…

What we really like are the fantastic visuals that DX10 gaming offers.

If you listen to most people, they will tell you that you need a quad-core, DDR3, triple-SLI setup to play Crysis. The sort of setup that requires you to remortgage your house to own. These people are wrong, and we're going to show you why.

We've previously demonstrated how to build a DX10 setup for just under £300, a not unreasonable amount that should be within the reach of most people. But what if you just blew all your money on a sordid weekend in Amsterdam, and you've resorted to scrambling under the sofa for loose change? Would you believe us if we told you that it's possible to build a DX10-capable rig for well under £200? Well, it's true.

Of course you can't connect it to a 22-inch wide screen monitor without the frame rates plummetting, but if you're on that tight a budget, a big monitor is probably the least of your concerns.

Whenever you work to such a tight budget, something has to give and this project will be no exception. We need to prioritise in certain areas, while others can be largely ignored.

Yes, a case is important to stop your gear being an untidy heap of electronics on the floor, but really you just need a metal box to screw things onto. Optical drives are dirt cheap, and with memory stick capacities being what they are, hardly anyone burns DVDs, so we only need a DVD ROM.

It also means no quad-core and no SLI. But dual-core chips are surprisingly cheap, and we'll see just how well a budget DX10 card performs. Don't forget that if you have any parts available from an existing PC, such as cases and drives, you can reuse them and put the money towards a higher-end CPU or graphics card.


Quad-core might get all the attention, but in all honesty, it literally is a load of hot air. Windows XP was never designed with multiple CPUs in mind and even Vista doesn't take full advantage of multiple cores. Add this to the fact that many games are still not coded for quad-core, then the advantages are limited.

Sure, a quad-core CPU will generally run apps faster than a dualcore CPU, but it certainly won't be twice as fast. Dual-core chips are the norm now, and although Intel has made great strides with the Core2 Duo platform, they are not the cheapest of chips.

AMD was, of course, the first to bring us dualcore CPUs, and it has a healthy range of CPUs to choose from. While AMD might be in the process of being mugged down a dark alley by Intel on the performance front, when it comes to the budget end of the spectrum, things are less clear-cut.

In addition, with the release of Phenom, many of AMD's older chips are being slashed in price. A few months ago, it was no contest; Intel would have been the first choice, no matter what your budget. Thankfully, the market never stands still and at this point in time, some AMD chips offer exceedingly good value for money.

If we were to spend around a third of our budget on the CPU, then Intel's dualcore 1.8GHz Pentium D E2160, at £43 would be a good choice. However, for a fiver less, you can buy an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+, which runs at 2.3GHz. In performance terms, the AMD chip is slightly ahead of the E2160 in most areas. And as it consumes only 65-watts, it will run cooler and use less power.