Recommended Gaming Desktop Computer Builds: May 2017

(Best PC Builds for $500 and $800)


Last Updated: May 10th, 2017

Welcome to the latest gaming desktop computer builds where every month we help you to get the most bang for your buck when choosing the best parts for your new custom gaming rig.

Don't spend hours wading through confusing technical reviews, benchmarks and hardware sites: we've done the extensive painstaking research for you and we bring you what you need to know about the latest happenings in the fast-changing PC market.

On this page we have the Budget and Mid-Range builds to maximize gaming performance and reliability for $500 and $800 respectively, but we also have our monthly High-End Builds for the more hardcore gamers and enthusiasts.

You can use these gaming computer builds exactly as they are, or as a base of inspiration to make your own tweaks and adjustments. Alright, let's get into the builds starting with the Budget Build which will have you playing the latest games quite well without spending a fortune.



The Budget Gaming PC Build


(Best Performance & Reliability for ~ $500)



PART MODEL PRICE*
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB $130
Processor Intel Core i3-7100 $115
Motherboard MSI Pro B250 (Micro ATX, DDR4, USB 3.1) $70
RAM Ballistix Sport LT 8GB DDR4 2400 MT/s $60
Hard Drive WD Blue 1TB (7200 RPM) $50
Power Supply EVGA B1 500 Watts (80+ Bronze) $40
Case Rosewill Galaxy-01 Mid Tower (ATX) $45
ESTIMATED TOTAL
$510

*All prices listed were correct at the time of writing but may fluctuate day to day.


Expected Performance:

  • 1080p (1920 x 1080):
    Smooth
  • 1440p (2560 x 1440):
    Playable/Average
  • 4K (3840 × 2160):
    Unplayable

The above is the expected average performance of this build for each main resolution in modern, graphically-demanding games on ultra settings (ie: maximum in-game graphics settings).






The Budget Build: Full Breakdown & Recommended Peripherals

A great example of how to put together a very capable, reliable, balanced and cost-effective gaming PC for a small-ish spending budget. If you want the minimum setup to play the latest PC games nice and smoothly in 1080p (the most common resolution today), look no further than a build such as this one that contains an excellent value for money i3 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a very capable 1050 Ti graphics card, among other carefully-considered component selections for this month.

Firstly, just a quick heads up for those who may not be aware - the above list of components does not include the operating system (OS) software, but this software is required for a new running build. In fact, so is a monitor (display), keyboard, mouse, and either a set of speakers or a headset for audio (if your monitor doesn't have built-in audio). We provide suggestions for these parts below.

As well as having very solid performance in the very latest most graphically-demanding PC games on the market right now, this Budget Build will also run older games and fairly recently released games flawlessly. This build also provides great general performance for home and office applications.

It's also upgrade-friendly (you could easily add more memory, storage, drives, cards, etc) and should last you a fair while without having to upgrade.

The build includes the latest generation i3 processor, a reliable yet low-priced motherboard, the current best bang for your buck budget video card, and a healthy 8GB of the latest DDR4 RAM. To top it off you have a well-priced mid-tower case that is both functional and low-key stylish (not over the top), a decent-quality 500 watt power supply, and a 1TB hard drive (large enough for many gamers).

This setup will easily outperform many pre-built computers that sell for WAY more than this, and you'll also find it to be more powerful than consoles when it comes to gaming. Let's take a closer look at each component and why they made the cut.

Graphics Card

We'll start with the the all-important graphics card because it's the biggest factor when it comes to gaming performance. For this month we've switched the Radeon 470 for the slightly better value (currently) EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB. This is currently your best for a great gaming card on a budget.

The 1050 Ti will allow you to easily play any modern games nice and smoothly in full HD (1080p resolution) even with the in-game graphic settings cranked up. With 4GB of video memory this card is also fairly future-proofed as well so you won't have any trouble playing the latest games for a long time to come.

Processor

Now to the CPU/Processor, which is the second most important component in a gaming system, and this month we've ditched the previously recommended i3-6100 for the all-new Intel Core i3-7100 which is the latest 7th generation budget CPU from Intel.

It's basically the same exact price as the i3-6100, but with a slightly faster base clock speed and a more modern platform. A no-brainer for a new budget gaming computer and it'll serve you well. It comes with a decent CPU cooler which is good enough to keep things running nice and cool (so no need to buy a separate cooler).

Motherboard

Now to the motherboard, which you could consider the heart of your gaming machine where your other components all connect to, and we've opted for the MSI Pro B250. It'a a smaller mATX sized board but it's perfect for a budget build and comes with everything you need.

RAM

As for memory, you've got the latest DDR4 memory, namely the Ballistix Sport LT 8GB DDR4 2400 MT/s. Can't go wrong with Crucial RAM as they've been one of the most reliable names in the memory game for a long time, and 8GB is the sweet spot for gaming right now and all you need for flawless performance.

Yeah you could shave off a few dollars by going for 4GB and get away with it (ie not noticing much of a difference in gaming performance), however now we're starting to see some games really benefiting from 6GB and above so you might aswell get 8GB and be done with it. RAM is fairly cheap. As for getting more than 8GB? Waste of money for a budget-friendly build and better spent somewhere else.

Hard Drive

Now to your storage and when building a PC on a tight budget it's probably best to avoid SSDs (Solid State Drives) because traditional storage still offers much more space per dollar. However, if you do want to take advantage of faster boot and application load time and don't mind spending an extra 50 bucks or so on your build, the SSD included in the upcoming Mid-Range Gaming Build below would be our suggestion.

Ok, as for the standard hard drive we've included in this budget build, you can't go wrong with the very pouplar Western Digital 1TB Blue. Good value and Western Digital are a top name for reliability. If you want to get a Seagate drive instead, they're totally fine too and would be our second choice.

1TB is more than enough storage space to please most, however since this is a "budget" PC you could save a little extra money by opting for a smaller size such as 750GB, 500GB or even 250GB if you don't think you'll need much space.

If you're really not sure, it all comes down to whether or not you'll be storing large amounts of videos, games and other data-intensive stuff on your PC. But don't worry too much because if you run out it's very easy to add a secondary drive (either internal or external).

Power Supply

Now onto the often-overlooked PSU (don't underestimate the importance of a decent PSU) and we have the EVGA B1 500 Watts which is an excellent budget-conscious choice to reliably power this setup. It's a decent quality unit with a 80+ Bronze rating which is nice, and 500 watts is more than enough for our needs including plenty of wiggle room to accommodate any potential upgrades you may wish to make later.

Case

Finally we have the Rosewill Galaxy-01 ATX Mid Tower which fits our needs nicely as a budget-friendly case that doesn't sacrifice much on quality. It's sturdy enough and will comfortably house all of your precious components with some room to spare too.

It's got decent airflow and built-in cooling with 3 pre-installed fans, plenty of ports (including a USB 3 port on the front) and drive bays, and is easy to work with for first-time builders. To top it off it has a nice blue LED lighting effect. Overall a great buy and easily one of the best cheap gaming computer cases on the market.


Recommended OS/Peripherals for Budget Build:







The Mid-Range Gaming PC Build


(Best Performance & Reliability for ~ $800)




*All prices listed were correct at the time of writing but may fluctuate day to day.


Expected Performance:

  • 1080p (1920 x 1080):
    Flawless
  • 1440p (2560 x 1440):
    Smooth
  • 4K (3840 × 2160):
    Playable/Average

The above is the expected average performance of this build for each main resolution in modern, graphically-demanding games on ultra settings (ie: maximum in-game graphics settings).






The Mid-Range Build: Full Breakdown & Recommended Peripherals

This well-balanced, very high-performing and awesome-looking gaming PC build boasts a fast i5 processor and a powerful GTX 1060 6GB graphics card which is capable of flawless gaming in 1080p (full HD) and very decent performance in 1440p. It's also built to last, upgrade-friendly, beginner-friendly, and only high quality brand-name components have been included.

Graphics Card

First to what matters most to us gamers, and at this moment in time if you're putting together a new gaming build around this sort of price range it's hard to go past the powerful yet well-priced GTX 1060. The particular model we've chosen for this month's mid-range machine is the EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB which we definitely suggest getting over a 3GB variant - our logic being that if you're dropping a decent amount of coin on a rig like this then you may as well future-proof that little bit more. With this card in your arsenal your PC will dominate modern gaming in 1080p (full HD) on ultra settings, and it'll also fair quite well in 1440p.

It's worth noting that for this price point it's pretty much neck and neck between the 1060 and AMD's direct competitor in the RX 480 - either card will do just fine and the reason we've opted for the 1060 is because of its current attractive price. Note that if you do end up favoring the 480 over the 1060, then we'd suggest the 8GB model (and yes the card is compatible with the rest of the mid-range build's components).

Processor

For a mid to high-end PC the latest 7th generation Intel Core i5 7500 is probably your best bet in terms of performance for your money. It comes with a decent stock fan which will be adequate for most people - if you do want to overclock you'll need a different motherboard and get an aftermarket CPU cooler too. But most gamers don't need overclocking so we would recommend this setup for the majority of PC builders.

Motherboard and RAM

The MSI Pro B250 PC MATE is a good, no-frills, well-priced motherboard that'll serve as a great base for a mid-range gaming build of this caliber.

Just keep in mind if you plan on adding a second graphics card to your build at a later stage to run in SLI - you'll need to get a SLI capable motherboard that'll set you back a little more than this one. However, most gamers building a mid-range rig shouldn't worry about SLI at all as a single decent graphics card like the one included in this setup is more than enough power.

As for the RAM, it stays the same from the previous budget build above. 8GB of DDR4 RAM is plenty for gaming now and into the near future. 8GB is the sweet spot at the moment, however if you want to get more to further future-proof your build, that's fine but just keep in mind that when it comes to gaming you won't see much of a difference (if any) between 8GB and 16GB in 2017.

Hard Drive and SSD

The standard 1TB hard drive from the previous budget build remains the same, however for the mid-range PC we've also included an SSD. Specifically, the excellent bang-for-your-buck SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB. You don't NEED an SSD, but these days they're fairly affordable and it's a very nice addition to any build that will allow you boot your PC (and any programs you throw on the drive) quite a bit faster.

For any first-time builders who may be wondering, setting up a dual hard drive and SSD setup is very straightforward to do, and simply involves installing your OS and any frequently-used programs/games on there and then you make your Western Digital hard drive as the secondary drive where you stash all of your other files.

Case

Now to the case, the Corsair Carbide SPEC-01 (Mid-Tower, ATX), which is good value and hard to fault at this price. It's got the quality, features and looks of more expensive cases, yet it's only around 50 bucks. Can't go wrong with this one, 'nuff said.

Power Supply

Next up is the often overlooked power supply where some beginners make the tempting sin of picking the cheapest one they can get their hands on. The thing is, the quality of your PSU does matter and it's a definite risk to have a low quality unit powering an expensive setup of high-end parts.

For this month's mid-range build we have the high-quality and reliable EVGA GQ 650 Watts (Semi Modular, 80+ Gold). Can't go wrong with a good EVGA PSU - they have taken over the PSU market in recent times and for good reason. The 650W GQ is a gold-rated unit which is ideal for a mid to high-end PC, and is also SLI-compatible too if you end up going down that route. 650 watts is more than enough with plenty of room for any type of upgrade (yes, even a dual 970 SLI setup).

Recommended OS and Peripherals:







Optional Add-On Components for Budget & Mid-Range Builds



For either builds above, you may want to consider the following add-on components (DVD drive, wireless card, mouse mat and anti-static wristband) depending on your wants/needs, however they are all optional and not required for a complete build.


  • Asus DVD Drive - These days you don't require an optical drive (ie the DVD drive above) as most people download all their games using Steam, but the above Asus drive is what we'd recommend if you still want one. Note that if you DO get a DVD drive like this one, you may as well get the Windows 10 Disc Version instead of the USB-install version that we've suggested above as the disc version is typically cheaper.
  • TP-Link Wireless Card - If you want your desktop to have wireless internet/networking capabilities you'll require a wireless adapter card such as this one which fits into your motherboard, although you can get USB dongle versions too (we prefer the card as it frees up a USB port). Whilst all motherboards support LAN/wired networking, they rarely have built-in wireless support unfortunately.
  • SteelSeries Gaming MousePad - If your desk doesn't allow for smooth, comfortable mouse movement (or you just prefer a mousepad) then it's worth picking up a cheap, decent pad like this one to improve your gaming experience.
  • Anti-Static Wrist Band - This is something you wear whilst building a PC to avoid damaging your precious components with anti-static electricity, however it's totally optional as you can apply the same effect by constantly grounding yourself by touching your case with one hand before handling your hardware (see more in our PC building guide). If you wish to take extra precaution though, get the wrist band as it costs nothing and can give extra peace of mind.




Assembling the Budget or Mid-Range Gaming Build



If you're putting together your very first gaming desktop computer you can rest assured that these days it's a very straightforward process and you don't need any prior experience. Basically, if you can build Lego, you can build your own PC. However, as simple as it is, if you're brand new it helps a lot if you have a step by step guide by your side to make the process even easier and to avoid any potential problems.

All the best with your killer new gaming desktop, and long live PC gaming!




Home | About Us | Contact Us

Budget Gaming Builds | High-End Gaming Builds

Best GPUs | Best CPUs | Best MobosBest Laptops

Privacy/Disclaimer | All Articles