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How I built a 12th-Gen RTX 3080 rig for under £1000

A motherboard bundle and GeForce Now means you get the gaming rig of your dreams - all for under £1000!

 

How I built a 12th-Gen RTX 3080 rig for under ?1000

 

Scandalous. Preposterous. Ridiculous.

These are not Harry Potter spells. These are the words of gamers as they price up an RTX 30-series gaming rig in the retail or even the second user market. For instance, eBay is still littered with scalpers who are attempting to sell high performance Nvidia and AMD graphics cards at over three times the MSRP. Worse still, there are hundreds of second-hand GPUs for sale which have been plugged into a rack and mining Ethereum for the past year.

This presents a problem for the gamer who is carefully selecting which parts they can save a few pounds on, and which ones they can splurge on. For those who don't want to risk losing their money on a dead card, they give the challenge to someone who (supposedly) knows their stuff. In this case, that person was me.

How this article came to be...

I was recently asked to build a gaming PC for my nephew, and was given the brief "I want it to be able to play everything!"

I was given a budget of no more than £1000, which were the life savings of a child who had cleaned the family car almost every week for a year, and put out the recycling every day after school. With a very nice Gigabyte 144Hz 1440p monitor already taken care of by his parents (as a bonus), it was up to me to deliver a gaming PC under budget.

Knowing the price of the graphics cards that are currently in stock, and the warzone that is eBay, my heart sank a little, I have to be honest.

GPUs: The time to buy is now

Before I get into the build side of this article, I found that during my research, something very important was uncovered: there is no better time to purchase a graphics card than right now.

The current rumblings around the internet are that graphics cards are going to eventually come down in price... but the price movements are not very encouraging right now. It looks like the price drops will still be dropping slowly on the run up to Intel ARC Alchemist, AMD Navi and Nvidia Lovelace releases, even on cards that are over two years old.

So, if you are in the market for an RX or RTX card (and you already have the money) then you should be buying your GPU now. Whether that is an upgrade or a new build PC, or pairing it with a motherboard bundle, there are a few reasons you need to part with your money:

  1. You're missing out on the top games now. Why wait?
  2. There's no guarantees of stock availability on new cards, and you could be another year out from buying a next-gen card. Granted, Britons are incredibly good at queueing and waiting, but not that good.
  3. At the time of writing (March 23rd 2022), you can save around £400 on an RTX 3080 Ti right now, £600 on an RTX 3080 and over £300 on an RTX 3070 Ti. But only while stocks last. Another reason to buy ASAP.

 

RTX 3080 graphics card - motherboard bundle

 

Building an RTX 3080 rig for under £1000

Yes, it is entirely possible to build a gaming rig that houses the titan graphics card that is the RTX 3080. I will preface this build with the fact that I already had the bare essentials available to me to make this possible. Here's what I already had:

  • Phanteks Eclipse P400A Case
  • Power Supply Unit
  • SATA III HDD
  • RGB Keyboard and Mouse

Now, even if you were to buy these brand new, you would have plenty of change out of £250 if you shop smart. A Phanteks Eclipse P400A is around £83, a Seasonic B12 BC Series 750W 80+ Bronze PSU is around £70, and large capacity storage is available at very affordable prices. A gaming mouse and keyboard bundle can be found for around £55, even if you want a mem-chanical keyboard like the MSI Vigor GK30 Combo.

How not to buy an RTX 3080

So, the secret to my RTX 3080 build begins with repurposing the PC parts I already have, and pairing it with my secret weapon - Nvidia's incredible service - GeForce Now.

 

How not to buy an RTX 3080

 

Nvidia's streaming service allows you to utilise powerhouse RTX graphics cards via the magic of high speed internet, meaning you don't even need to buy a GPU any more. You can rent one for the games you own!

1440p gaming at 120FPS

 

\Nvidia GeForce Now internet requirements

 

Nvidia changed their requirements from a conservative 35mbps to a more reasonable 25Mbps late last year, and have improved a lot of the issues that were plaguing users who experienced lag and latency. The service is now extremely stable for most users, as long as you're using a wired Ethernet connection or 5GHz wireless.

The motherboard bundle I chose for this build supports up to 2.5 Gbps network speeds (Intel I225-V 2.5Gbps LAN), and the PC will be hooked up directly via Ethernet to the router. This will ensure the best connection speeds and zero interference when playing games over the internet.

In all honesty, the Nvidia's GeForce Now service requires a connection speed that most Virgin, Sky or BT users already exceed. Virgin's Gig1 Fibre Broadband, for example, averages download speeds of 1,130Mbps.

Buying vs. subscription model

The title of this article is "How I built a 12th-Gen RTX 3080 rig for under £1000". You may be wondering how I have costed this. basically, I took into consideration the fact that most gamers will upgrade their graphics card after two years, and go for the latest generation to keep up with the newest titles.

The GeForce Now subscription costs £89.99 for six months.

89.99 * 4 (2 years) = 359.96

This works out at £359.96 for an RTX 3080 for two years.

If you purchased an RTX 3080 right now, you'd be looking at spending around £1100.

Motherboard bundles - are they worth it?

I have written a few articles on motherboard bundles in the past. They are, by far, the very best value you can expect to see when building or upgrading a PC, and include the big and tasty ingredients ready installed.

A motherboard bundle, for the uninitiated, consists of: -

  • Motherboard
  • Processor
  • Memory
  • CPU Cooler

This leaves you with the case, PSU, storage and peripherals to purchase. Which I already have.

Z690-A 12th-Gen Intel Motherboard bundle

On to the meat of this article, and it's time to tell you about the motherboard bundle itself.

Z690-A 12th-Gen Intel Motherboard bundle

This motherboard bundle has got everything you need and more for a solid gaming PC. At the top of the list of specs is the superior and cost effective Core i5-12600K, a processor which exceeds benchmarks set by AMD's "best ever gaming processor", the Ryzen 9 5900X, having faster single, dual, quad and octa core performance overall.

The Z690-A motherboard is packed with features that make it the ideal poster child for 12th-Gen builds. The MSI PRO Z690-A supports DDR4, PCIe 5.0, has enhanced power design to take on the might of the Alder Lake processors like the Core i5-12600K. The board also has a premium thermal solution, optimised for 12th-Gen processors, and offers studio grade sound with a High Definition audio processor built-in.

As if this weren't enough, the bundle has 16Gb of Kingston Fury Beast DDR4 2666MHz memory, and comes with an MSI MAG CORELIQUID 240R AiO to help everything stay cool in the heat of battle.

All of the above features put this build in the higher echelons for a gaming PC - sans GPU. With excellent cooling, latest generation processing power, and high specification memory, you have the foundations for a heck of a battlestation.

One might look at this specification and the use of GeForce Now and think - that can't play everything. This is true, for the most part. There are lots of games that you couldn't play if they are not supported by Nvidia's service. But the great thing about the i5-12600K is that it has integrated graphics with the Intel UHD 770.

Here's what you can expect from the Intel UHD 770 when paired with 16GB DDR4: -

UHD770-game-benchmarks

These are respectable framerates, considering there's no dedicated GPU. They are not mind-blowing frames by any stretch of the imagination for Warzone or Apex Legends, so if these are the games you are interested in playing - then you'll be better served adding the GPU. If you are a LoL or Valorant fan, then you'll be plenty happy playing AAA on GeForce Now, and playing the Ray Traced shiny titles on your subscription. Swings and roundabouts, as they say.

It's not for everyone...

Not surprisingly, the PC I built went down a storm. So far, the Nvidia GeForce Now subscription has been extremely reliable over Ethernet, and games like Minecraft, ARK: Survival Evolved, Spintires and Metro Exodus have played very smoothly on the machine, with very high framerates and low ping across the board. Cyberpunk 2077 also ran perfectly for my brother, who commandeered the rig for "testing purposes".

There is a problem, however -but only for some gamers. Nvidia GeForce Now only supports certain games. A full list can be found here.

If you have purchased a PC that does not have a dedicated graphics card, then you will not be able to play all of the latest games that require you to have a powerful GPU, as well as a high-end processor. There are solutions, such as Game Pass for PC and Xbox Cloud, but this might be a subscription too far for some.

If you want to be able to play a lot of the latest AAA titles, you are going to need a dedicated GPU until Nvidia include those games in their remit for the GeForce Now service.

With the savings we've already looked at for RTX 30-series graphics cards right now - and the healthy stock availability - I will refer to my earlier statement:

There is no better time to purchase a graphics card than right now.

Shop RTX graphics cards at CCL