Com­bin­ing mod­ern hard­ware with a tight bud­get, how low can you go?


What would life be with­out a lit­tle chal­lenge along the way, eh? What­ever your pas­sion or your hobby, find­ing new ways of test­ing your­self, and push­ing the lim­its of what you can do, is key to achiev­ing ful­fill­ment for us hu­man be­ings. Whether that’s in sport, in gam­ing, with PCs, or in your work, there’s no ar­gu­ing that it’s part of the hu­man con­di­tion, and some­thing we’re all se­cretly ob­sessed with.

The re­al­ity is, we’re masochists. All tor­tur­ing our­selves to be­come bet­ter at what we do, con­stantly striv­ing for more. At least, we are here in the of­fice. Not lit­eral masochists, of course, al­though that’s not to say there’s any­thing wrong with that. Far be it from lit­tle ol’

Max­i­mumPC to tell you how to con­duct your love life. It’s more to do with the fact that we just love push­ing the boat out as far as it’ll go. Whether that’s ex­pand­ing our tech­ni­cal knowl­edge, build­ing even cra­zier high-end sys­tems, or get­ting the ab­so­lute max­i­mum out of a bud­get part, it all helps to en­hance our ex­pe­ri­ence as jour­nal­ists, and bring you bet­ter con­tent and cov­er­age in turn.

Wait, where were we? Oh yes, of course: sys­tem build­ing. So, that big cheese from the front of the mag, or “el ed­i­tor de la muerte,” as we like to call him in the of­fice, set us a chal­lenge. With the launch of AMD’s lat­est Athlon pro­ces­sor (an an­niver­sary edi­tion, which is se­cretly a su­percheap Ryzen part with in­te­grated graph­ics), he wanted to see just how lit­tle we could spend on a rel­a­tively fast rig that would be ca­pa­ble of do­ing light PC work. We say “wanted,” but he es­sen­tially del­e­gated this to the smaller cheese, and here we are.

The rules were sim­ple: Spend no more than $300, use a sin­gle stick of DDR4 (again, masochism, right?), and in­stall Linux. Oh, and try to get it play­ing a game of some de­scrip­tion.

So, join us on a jour­ney into the won­der­ful world of su­per-bud­get builds, as we strug­gle with BIOS up­dates, ar­gue over find­ing the per­fect parts, and pull out what lit­tle hair we have left be­tween us while we bench­mark it to hell and back.

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