Recommended Custom Gaming Builds
May 2013 Budget Builds
If you need help choosing the right parts for your own cost-effective custom gaming PC build, our custom build examples are here to help. The painstaking research has been done for you and we have carefully selected the best bang for your buck components on the market right now to make up 4 builds in 4 different price ranges to suit any type of budget.
Each of the following custom build examples are capable of handling current games that can be demanding on your system (games such as Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Starcraft 2, Guild Wars 2, Skyrim, World of Warcraft, SWTOR, and Diablo 3 to name a few current popular titles that can really test your machine at times).
The builds continually stay updated each month to keep up with any notable changes in the fast changing PC hardware industry that would lead to better performance for the money. Also keep in mind that all the builds are customizable so you can mix and match parts to fit your particular needs and budget if you need to.
We recommend Tiger Direct as the place to buy individual parts at the moment simply because they generally tend to have some of the most competitive prices in the industry, and their shipping has always been fast and reliable worldwide. So here are the builds, starting off with the Budget Gaming PC which will suit those on a very tight budget:
Budget Gaming PC Build
ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 AM3+ ($90)
AMD FX-6100 ($110)
Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB (DDR3 1333 MHz) ($38)
EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti (2GB) ($175)
Western Digital Blue 500GB (7200 RPM, 16MB Cache) ($60)
Lite-On Internal DVD Writer ($20)
Cooler Master Elite 430 Mid Tower ($50)
Corsair CX430 V2 Series 430 Watt
Total Cost: $593 (USD)
May 2013 Budget Gaming Build
Budget Build Summary
This is a great example of a highly capable gaming computer build at a very affordable price, but don't underestimate it just because it's cheap. You will find it to be a strong enough build to take on any of the latest games quite well and it could easily outperform many pre-built computers in stores today that go for twice the price or more.
Building your own system is really the only way to truly get the most bang for your buck. Let's take a closer look at each component chosen for the budget build and why they made the cut. We will also point out some modifications you can make to this build to squeeze out some extra performance if you have a slightly larger budget to play with.
Firstly there is the ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 AM3+ Motherboard which is a great value board and comes with all the features you need. ASUS are known to produce great quality bang for your buck motherboards and this one is no exception. They are also very easy to work with which is great for novice builders.
Next up is the CPU and the AMD FX-6100 Six-Core Processor is a great budget pick. In our opinion AMD is the way to go for those on a tight budget. The FX-6100 gives you great bang for your buck and will handle the latest games. If you want an even faster AMD processor and have a little extra to spend, the AMD FX-8120 would be our next value choice to fit in with this build.
The RAM included for this build is the Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB 1333 MHz because it's fast and cheap. These days 4GB is the minimum amount of RAM needed in your build for smooth performance in the latest games.
Now to the graphics card which is perhaps the single most important component in any gaming rig (in other words if you have more to spend on a custom build, consider upgrading the graphics card first and foremost). The EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB Video Card is one of the best bang for your buck budget cards on the market right now and even at such a cheap price this card is capable of handling the latest games.
The hard drive chosen for the budget build is the Western Digital Blue 500GB Hard Drive. 500 gigabytes of storage is a large amount and is more than enough for most people. Western Digital are a great choice for reliable drives and their range of "blue" drives are speedy, quiet and well priced.
The case that houses the budget build is the Cooler Master Elite 430 Mid Tower which is very good value for money and comes with everything you need. This case is easy to work with and comes with decent cooling and ventilation (comes with 2 built-in fans), there's plenty of room for all your parts, and overall it's good quality throughout for a budget case. It also has a tool-free design which is handy too. If you wanted to use a different case that is no problem, any ATX case (mid-tower or larger) will work fine with the budget build's components.
Next up is the often overlooked power supply, and the Corsair CX430 V2 Series 430 Watt Power Supply is a quality budget unit. 430 watts of power is enough for the budget build also taking into account any common upgrades you may wish to make in the future. The truth is many novice builders overestimate how much power they really need.
Finally, there is the Lite-On Internal DVD Burner which is great for the price and does everything you would need it to do including reading and writing of many DVD and CD formats. So that makes up the core system for the budget gaming desktop build. All you need for a working system is a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and operating system software too (64-bit Windows 7 is what we would recommend, even with Windows 8 just being released).
You may have noticed a dedicated sound card was not included for this build as the integrated audio on the motherboard is good enough for most gamers these days.
If you had a little more to spend on modifications to the budget build for slightly better gaming performance, your best bet is to add another 4GB of RAM and to upgrade to an even better graphics card such as the GeForce GTX 660 Ti which is recommended in the next build. Your next option after this is to upgrade the CPU as mentioned above when we discussed our choice of CPU.
Ok, let's now take a look at the mid range build which will appeal to those with a larger budget for their custom gaming desktop computer for even better performance and longer lastability.
Mid-Range Gaming PC Build
ASUS P8Z77-V LK Intel Z77 ($135)
Intel Core i5-3570K ($220)
Corsair Vengeance 8GB (DDR3 1600Mhz) ($65)
EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2GB) ($300)
Western Digital Blue 1TB (7200 RPM, 64MB Cache) ($80)
Lite-On Internal DVD Writer ($20)
Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid Tower
Corsair CX600 V2 CX Series 600 Watt
Total Cost: $955 (USD)
May 2013 Mid Range Gaming Build
Mid-Range Build Summary
The mid-range custom gaming desktop computer build will let you experience completely smooth gaming into the future, and is capable of handling the latest games very well. Compare it to pre-built PCs of this type of price range and you will be hard-pressed trying to find the same performance, reliability, and expandability that the mid-range build provides.
Just because it is named the 'mid range' build, doesn't mean it can't handle high end gaming. This build will take anything you throw at it with relative ease and you can expect it to play all of the latest games very well. Let's take a closer look at the component choices for the mid-range build.
First off there's the Intel Core i5-3570K Processor which is one of the best bang for your buck processors at the moment in this sort of price range and will handle the latest games very well. The stock fan that comes with it will serve you well, unless of course you plan on overclocking in which case you will need an aftermarket CPU cooler (our recommendation would be the cooler included in the following high-end build which will work well with your i5-3570K).
The ASUS P8Z77-V LK Intel Z77 Motherboard is a great companion for your Core i5 CPU and is straightforward to work with. It also comes with all the features you would need from a good motherboard including SLI support if you plan on adding another GeForce video card at a later date for more visual grunt. As we mentioned with the previous build, you can't go wrong with ASUS motherboards.
The RAM chosen for the mid range gaming PC is the Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM which is very fast high quality RAM at a good price. Many will agree that 8GB of RAM is all you need to tackle any game on the market right now and into the near future.
Now to the beast of a video card, the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB, which is one of the best value cards in the mid/high range video card market at the moment. One of these cards is enough to easily handle any of the latest games smoothly for a while to come.
The hard drive chosen is the Western Digital Blue 1TB which is twice as large as the hard drive used in the previous budget build. If you don't think you need 1TB of storage then you can stick with the 500GB drive from the previous build to save a bit of money, although there isn't much of a price difference so in terms of overall value the 1TB drive is your best bet.
The Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid Tower is an excellent value case to house all of your components and comes with all the features you need. The HAF 912 is our pick as one of the absolute best budget cases on the market right now. For those who have quite a tight budget for your build you could save money by opting for a slightly cheaper case such as the one recommended in the previous budget build, which would still be easily capable of housing all the mid range build's components.
Now to the power supply and the Corsair CX600 V2 CX Series 600 Watt Power Supply is great value and a high quality unit to run your build. 600 watts is more than enough power for this build also taking into account any common upgrades you may wish to make in the future such as adding another graphics card, adding more RAM, etc.
Once again, these are all the core parts you need to make up your actual PC tower, but for a new working build you will also need a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and operating system software. Our own personal recommendations for these parts can be found at the bottom of this page.
The High End Gaming Builds
If you have the money to spend on a killer high end machine, take a look at our high end build suggestions for this month. Once again all the parts are carefully selected with maximum gaming performance in mind. With a high-end build you will tear through any game even on high settings, and the build will have longer lastability allowing you to enjoy flawless gaming for years to come without needing to upgrade. Take a look at the current high end builds for yourself:
May 2013 High End Gaming Computer Builds.
Making Changes To The Builds
If you want to make changes to the builds, however big or small, that is fine. The parts can be mixed and matched to suit your own particular budget, your taste, and your gaming needs. Just make sure when swapping parts around they are still compatible with the rest of your system, and in many cases they will be because components these days are made to be interchangeable.
If you're new to building computers you can read the updated component buying guides throughout the site to learn how to choose components for yourself so that you can check that your parts are compatible (start here).
Operating System Software
For a new working build you will also need some operating system software and we recommend Windows 8 which has been recently released by Microsoft and we love it.
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit ($90)
Peripherals and Accessories
If you're on a tight budget for your build, it would be ideal if you can reuse old peripherals such as the mouse, keyboard and monitor to save money. But if you plan on getting these parts new, here are our current top recommendations in various price ranges for the best value mice, keyboard, and accessories (from least expensive to most):
Logitech M110 Optical Mouse ($15)
Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse ($70)
Logitech G700 Gaming Mouse ($100)
Microsoft Wired Keyboard ($10)
Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard ($50)
Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard ($200)
Logitech LS21 2.1 Speakers ($25)
Logitech Z323 2.1 Speakers ($45)
Logitech Z623 2.1 Speakers ($130)
ASUS VE247H 24" Widescreen HD LED (2ms) ($190)
ASUS VE278Q 27" Widescreen Full HD LED (2ms) ($320)
Putting Your Components Together
If you are building your first PC you can feel safe that these days it's actually quite easy to do, and in most cases you don't need any prior experience. The instructions that you receive with the actual parts is enough for many first-time builders, and installing your components these days is quite a straightforward process.
The real trick to building a PC is not actually building it, but choosing the right parts that give you the best performance for your price. If you get stuck with building your system our installation guides are here to help. However you go about getting your dream gaming machine, good luck and long live PC gaming!
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