If I had $300 to spend on a budget Intel upgrade, here's the CPU, motherboard and RAM I'd buy this Black Friday

Black Friday $300 combo deals
(Image credit: Intel, Asrock, Teamgroup)
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 12600KF | $311.25 $140
  • Motherboard: ASRock Z690 PG Riptide | $124.99
  • DDR4 RAM: Teamgroup T-Force 16GB |$34.99

Amongst all the hoo-hah over the latest hardware releases, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that some of the slightly older components of yesteryear don't suddenly age out into obscurity the second a new model is released. Canny buyers will often look out for deals a generation or two back, grabbing super-speedy components at a great price that others may have overlooked simply because they're not the latest and greatest thing.

As Black Friday 2023 kicks into high gear, I've spotted some slightly older components that go together like cheese and wine, and as a combo I reckon this would make the basis of a fantastic budget gaming PC, all for just under $300.

Bit of a magic trick this one, so make sure you're watching very closely... 


Intel Core i5 12600KF | 10 cores, 20 threads | 6 P-cores + 8 E-cores | 4.9GHz | LGA 1700 | $311.25 $140 at Amazon (save $171.25)

Intel Core i5 12600KF | 10 cores, 20 threads | 6 P-cores + 8 E-cores | 4.9GHz | LGA 1700 | $311.25 $140 at Amazon (save $171.25)
The Core i5 12600KF has been around for a little while now, but don't let that fool you into thinking its no longer a great performing CPU. It comes close to its more recent siblings in the benchmarks for a lot less money, and while it's a little power hungry compared to some of its competition we still think it makes a fantastic CPU for a modern gaming rig. 

Price check: Newegg $159.99

Let's kick things off with a bang. This Intel Core i5 12600KF might be from the older Alder Lake family, but it's certainly far from a slouch. Those 10 cores (six performance, four efficient) and that 4.9GHz turbo frequency means that when it comes to gaming benchmarks this chip actually isn't that far off of our current favorite gaming CPU, the much newer Intel Core i5 13600K. 

It's the KF designation too, which means it's unlocked and ready to overclock providing you pair it with a decent cooler and an overclocking-ready motherboard. 

Speaking of motherboards...


ASRock Z690 PG Riptide | LGA1700 | ATX | 4x DDR4 slots | 3x M.2 | 8x SATA | $124.99 at Newegg

ASRock Z690 PG Riptide | LGA1700 | ATX | 4x DDR4 slots | 3x M.2 | 8x SATA | $124.99 at Newegg
This ASRock LGA1700 motherboard might be getting on a bit, but it still comes with some hefty credentials. There's support for four sticks of DDR4 up to 4800MHz (OC), a PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, three M2 slots and eight SATA connections. Not only does this provide you with a lot of options for your hardware choices, but those clever unevenly structured VRM heatsinks keep things nice and cool, so there's good overclocking potential here.

I know what you might be thinking. What, no Black Friday deal? But in all honesty, given the options on offer here this motherboard is still a great deal at this price, especially as it was on the more expensive end of the market when it was released. 

The real talking point here beyond its plethora of useful ports are those chunky heatsinks and optimised VRMs, meaning this mobo is well suited to pushing the most out of that unlocked Intel CPU.


Teamgroup T-Force 16GB | DDR4 | 3600MHz | CL18 | 2x 8GB | 1.35v | $34.99 at Amazon

Teamgroup T-Force 16GB | DDR4 | 3600MHz | CL18 | 2x 8GB | 1.35v | $34.99 at Amazon
Cheap this may be, but the specs are absolutely on point. 16GB of DDR4 from an established brand with decent timings and a 3600MHz clock speed is an excellent shout for those of you looking for budget DDR4 with very few drawbacks. 

And to finish off, how about some good DDR4 for silly money? While you could spend up a bit and get a faster clock speed, these Teamgroup sticks of DDR4 will certainly hum away nicely nestled next to that Core i5, and those integrated aluminium heatsinks should make sure everything stays well within the correct temperature ranges and provide some nice overclocking thermal headroom should you wish to push them a bit further.

Ta, and indeed, da. A genuinely good CPU/Motherboard/RAM combination all for under $300, with fantastic overclocking potential and great performance straight out of the box.

Of course you'll need to give these components a decent PSU and cooler to make sure everything stays powered up and chilled out, but it's difficult to think of a better way to start off a build for this kind of money, or perhaps upgrade an ageing machine to bring it up to, if not quite the modern day, then somewhere very much near it.

For my next trick, I'll be pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Or perhaps a GPU out of a Black Friday deal list. Time will tell...

Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.

Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.