Published: Oct 3, 2019
This sample PC build details how to go about building a very flexible hybrid gaming and workstation PC for a variety of usage, including 1080p gaming, 1080p video editing, the Adobe suite, music production using Audacity, and game capture and streaming. If you're planning a similar custom computer, this build might help spark some ideas for your research. This custom parts-list was requested by a reader using our Human PC Build Generator service; check it out if you want a longtime hardware expert to plan the best personalized PC build for YOUR specific requirements, budget, country, and other preferences.
The following is a summarized version of the requirements sent in for this requested build.
Requested By: Jeremiah
Planned By: Julz
Target Budget/Ballpark: ~ $1500 US (including accessories listed below. loose budget though)
Accessories to Include in Budget:
Primary PC Usage:
Secondary PC Usage:
Target Resolution: 1080p
Target Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Virtual Reality: If possible
Aesthetic/Design Preferences: Low Key
Other Preferences: Wants a GPU ~$350 (better than a GTX 1660 Ti)
Based on all requirements sent in, the following parts-list is what I conjured and tweaked to the best of my ability.
* The retailer linked under "Best Price" column was cheapest at the time of writing (second retailer included to cross-check)
Best $1500 Gaming, Editing, Music Production & Streaming PC
|Best Price *||Alternate Retailer|
|GPU:||MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Ventus XS OC (6GB GDDR6)|
|CPU:||AMD Ryzen 5 3600|
|CPU Cooler:||AMD Stock Cooler (comes with CPU)||-|
|Mobo:||MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX|
|RAM:||Corsair Vengeance 16GB 3200 MHz (2x 8GB)|
|SSD:||Samsung 500GB 970 EVO (NVMe M.2 SSD)|
|HDD:||Seagate BarraCuda 3TB (SATA, 7200 RPM, 64MB Cache)|
|Power Supply:||Corsair CX550M (550 Watts, Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)|
|Case:||Phanteks P300 (Mid Tower, 1 Fan)
Corsair 200R (Mid Tower, 2 Fans)
|Front Fan (for P300):||1 x Noctua NF-P12 120mm (1 is fine for this PC)||-|
|Sound Card:||Asus Essence STX II (192 kHz)||-|
|Monitor:||BenQ GL2460HM 24" 1080p Gaming (TN, 60Hz, 2ms response time, HDMI, DVI, VGA, Speakers)|
|Capture Card:||Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro (1080p 60FPS)|
|Operating System:||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (USB Flashdrive Edition)|
$1550 - $1580 (US Dollars)
Notable Build Capabilities/ Features
|Estimated Wattage||~ 350 Watts|
|RAM Slots||4 (2 slots free)|
|Max RAM Support||64GB|
|Built-in WiFi?||No (get wireless PCIe/USB adapter)|
|Hard Drives Supported||6 x SATA 6Gb/s Drives, 1 x m.2 SSD|
|VR-Ready?||Yes (A Mid-Range VR Build)|
The full detailed breakdown of the build and why each component was selected is reserved for the reader who requested the build, but below are the cliffnotes. If you request your own personalized PC build, if we feel it's necessary for clarification for you, you'll get a more detailed breakdown of why each carefully selected component was chosen for your particular build and situation, to better help you plan and tweak your dream optimal build. Included are bite-sized TL;DR versions if you just want a quick overview (Too Long, Didn't Read).
For a very well-rounded rig for all sorts of production tasks, it's very tough not to recommend a new Ryzen which are the more flexible option compared to Intel - specifically when it comes to streaming, multitasking, music production, and editing in general.
Certain Adobe programs may benefit from an Intel ever so slightly in specific situations, but the difference would be negligible and not worth it in my opinion compared to the upside/flexibility of the Ryzen 3000 series, and plus the differences AFAIK are only a little noticeable on the higher-end CPU side of things, and for a 1500 dollar PC build with all those accessories included in the budget we have to stick to mid-range CPUs like the Ryzen 5 and I cannot recommend Intel for such a flexible hybrid gaming/work build (though even if this was just for gaming, for most people I'd still go a Ryzen over Intel in this price tier right now).
So, for your requirements, the CPU is paramount in importance, but the best I could fit here with those accessories is a Ryzen 5 3600 and without going lower than the RTX 2060 (which you mentioned was the card you want as you said you wish to go higher than a GTX 1660 Ti). The 3600 is a great CPU though, with a good amount of cores and threads, and comes with a stock cooler that's enough if not overclocking (which wasn't a requirement of this build).
TL;DR - For a workstation PC you cannot ignore Ryzen right now, and the R5 3600 is the best you can fit in this budget taking into account all components and accessories requested.
Adobe programs are known to be better optimized with NVidia, so that's your best bet IMO considering all that Adobe in your workflow. For your budget range, along with allocating as much to the CPU as possible for all your varied production, the best I can fit is a GTX 2060 which will provide flawless 1080p performance. It's also a VR-Ready card so you'll be able to play any modern VR game.
For demanding tasks like video editing, streaming, music production, and so on, RAM is important. You want the most memory you can get your hands on, but for a $1500 build budget including all those accessories in the requirements, 16GB is the most you can squeeze in. Though they are fast 3200MHz DDR4 modules, and you have 2 free slots on the motherboard to upgrade later on should you want an extra boost.
Speaking of which, if you asked what's the first thing I'd change about this PC build with an extra $100 or so to throw at it (for the best return on investment), I'd look to just get 32GB from the start as it could give you a noticeable little increase in performance during heavy multitasking and work sessions. 32GB is the ideal for a powerhouse workstation rig, but 16GB is still a healthy amount to start with. But if you get 32GB from the start, I'd favor getting two 16GB sticks, instead of 4 8GB sticks, so that you keep 2 slots free for the future (the motherboard listed can hold up to 64GB total so you're good there).
TL;DR - 16GB 3200MHz is the fastest, most amount of RAM you can fit in this budget, though 32GB wouldn't be hard to squeeze in if you really wanted to by making a couple sacrifices here or there (or slightly increasing the overall budget) and is the ideal for a flawless work rig.
For a Ryzen 5 3600 build, now the Tomahawk Max is available in the US, there's no reason to go for a more expensive X570 motherboard for a build like this unless you're doing some serious overclocking or you have a need for the new PCIe 4.0 support of this latest motherboard chipset (most people won't). A B450 like the Tomahawk Max is much better value, and besides, it's still a high-quality base for years to come.
Most B450 boards will require a BIOS update prior to installing a Ryzen 3000 series CPU like the 3600, however this newly released Max edition comes with Ryzen 3000 support out of the box which is great and a reason why so many people have been waiting for this board to release so they can go ahead and build a good value Ryzen 3000 ready build. Also, for a workstation build like this you'll absolutely want a full-sized ATX board and not a microATX model, so that you have plenty of room for an internal sound card and capture card.
TL;DR - Best value type of mobo to get for a Ryzen 5 is a B450 model, and the Tomahawk Max is a high-quality pick that has all the features for this build.
When it comes to picking a sound card for audio production, you could go the internal PCIe card route or you could buy an external sound card instead, and price ranges vary wildly all the way from around 50 dollars for a budget consumer card all the way to thousands of dollars for high-end professional equipment.
As no specific requirements were mentioned for the sound card to be included in this build, included is the safe-bet Asus STX II which is a mid-range option in the grand scheme of things for audio production, however it's on the higher-end side of quality as far as internal consumer PCIe cards go. It may not be necessary, but it's worth considering if you want the very best internal sound card for music production you can get (it's also provides superb quality immersive audio for gaming, though for the record is definitely overkill for most gamers as on-board motherboard audio these days is more than enough for most).
But it's just a suggestion, and whether or not you could get away with a cheaper consumer-grade internal card like a cheaper Asus or Creative model under 100 bucks (or even under 50 for a basic model), or on the other hand if you'd be better off with an external sound card (also known as an audio interface) - as with anything it all depends on your specific requirements.
TL;DR - Asus STX II is a proven high-quality internal sound card for audiophiles.
Hope this guide helped in your research, and good luck with your new setup. Need further help?
For Simple Questions
If you need further help choosing the optimal bang-for-buck parts-list for your specific requirements, feel free to post a question in our main comments section (on our Latest Gaming PC Builds page). We'll respond to you ASAP and do our best to help steer you in the right direction.
For Detailed Help (Premium Email Support)
To have ongoing access to our exclusive support email (reserved for customers only), check out the "Master" or "VIP" editions of our book (The Gaming Build Blueprint Manual). These editions come with included long-term support. This might come in real handy if you're building your first PC but are still a bit worried or intimidated. You'll have the peace of mind to be able to ask us for help at any stage of your build.