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The Best PC Builds for Gaming / VR

May 2022 Recommended Parts to Maximize Bang for Buck When Building a PC

Pictured: Half-Life: Alyx Levitation (left) is an exciting new 4+ hour add-on campaign for the VR masterpiece created by modders, and Elden Ring (right) continues to be one of the most popular new games in the world right now

Last Updated: May 13, 2022

In this latest update to the best gaming PC builds for the money series, we'll take a look at some of the best value components on the market right now in my opinion for anyone wanting ideas on how to build the best bang for buck setup this month.

Intel has struck back hard at AMD in recent times with their latest 12th-gen CPUs, which offer great value for gamers relative to Ryzen 5000, though AMD have also returned fire by dropping prices on their CPUs and also releasing new competition such as the Ryzen 5 5600, Ryzen 7 5700X, and Ryzen 7 5800X3D which are all worthy of consideration.

On the graphics card front there's good news at long last, with GPU prices finally falling over recent months making May the best time to build a PC in a long time. Whether you're planning the best cheap gaming PC build on a budget for 1080p, or a more powerful system for VR, 1440p, 4K, or 144Hz/240Hz, the builds below are thoroughly researched to help you stretch your money further within the US, Canada, UK, or Australia.

Choosing parts for a custom build can be confusing, as PC hardware is a vast sea of endless choice and near limitless configuration possibilities, with new component models seemingly releasing every 5 seconds. Plus, not all parts are equal in terms of value, with certain parts - and more specifically certain combinations of parts - making for much smarter purchases than other combinations.

Finding these sweet spots in the market takes experience, so if you want the opinion of someone who has kept a close eye on the PC building market for many years and who has built dozens and dozens of custom PCs locally for others over the years as a side hustle, it's my hope that this detailed gaming PC build guide serves as a solid foundation for your research.

Each and every component recommended below has been carefully vetted and selected over others based on many factors including price vs performance, reliability, upgrade flexibility, brand quality, and last but not least, matching color themes and aesthetics to make for a slick setup that will be universally attractive to most.

So, let's cut straight to the component chase, and when you're ready to build see the PC assembly guide if you want everything explained in layman's terms and with plenty of photos. Also don't miss the intro to building PCs if you're new to hardware and want a quick refresher on the various parts.

The May 2022 Builds (Overview)

Before getting into the best gaming PC builds for different budgets, please keep the following in mind:

  • Any prices mentioned below are in USD (US Dollars).
  • Build price targets are only estimates as hardware prices fluctuate often.
  • If you slept through all math at school (understandable), the < and > symbols mean "less than" and "greater than".
  • Recommendations are my personal opinion, so I encourage you to do your own research to make sure you choose the right parts for your specific needs. But I do strive to be as objective as possible in terms of continually considering as many different models and brands as I can in order to make these builds the best bang for buck they can be.

Swipe Left to Scroll:

Best PC Builds for Gaming Performance, Airflow, Reliability, and Longevity

< $600 Gaming PC Build


AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

Other Stores:

US / US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- 6 Cores

- Socket AM4

- APU (Has Integrated Graphics)

AMD Stock Cooler

- Comes With 5600G

Gigabyte B550M DS3H

US / UK / AU



US / UK / AU

- Micro ATX

- All Specs: Gigabyte, MSI

TeamGroup T-FORCE Vulcan Z 16GB



Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB

US / UK / AU


Crucial Ballistix 16GB


- 2x8GB, 3200MHz CL16

- Get Cheapest in Your Region

- G.Skill Ripjaws V Also Good

Radeon Integrated Graphics

- Ok for Non Demanding Games at Low Settings

Western Digital Blue 1TB


- Best Budget M.2 SSD (SATA)

- Get 2.5 Inch Version if Wanting Portability

Corsair CX550M

US / UK / AU





Cooler Master MasterWatt 550

US / UK / AU

- Best Value Semi-Modular Bronze PSUs

- 500-550w Enough for Future Mid-Tier GPU

- Ignore Reviews for Old CX550M "Green" Model

Thermaltake Versa H18

US / UK / AU

- Mini Tower

- 1x 120mm Fan (Rear)

- Max GPU Length: 350mm (All Specs)

- H15 Also Good


SickleFlow 120mm LED

US / UK / AU

- Install in Front

- 1 Enough if No Plan to Upgrade GPU

- Get 2 for Maximum Airflow

- NF-P12 Better (But No LED)

< $800 Gaming PC Build


Intel Core i3 12100F

Other Stores:

CA / UK / AU


Intel Core i3 12100

CA / UK / AU

- Socket LGA 1700

- 4 Cores

Intel Stock Cooler

- Comes With CPU

Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4

CA / UK / AU


ASUS TUF Gaming B660M-PLUS WiFi D4 (WiFi 6)

CA / UK / AU

- Micro ATX

- All Specs: Gigabyte, ASUS

As Above NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 (8GB GDDR6)

CA / UK / AU


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super (6GB GDDR6)

US / US / UK / AU

- 3050 Only Slightly Faster

- 1660S Worth it if $40+ Cheaper

As Above As Above Cooler Master NR400

US / UK / AU

- Mini Tower

- 2 120mm Fans

- Max GPU Length: 410mm (All Specs)

< $1000 Gaming PC Build


Intel Core i5 12400F

Other Stores:

CA / UK / AU


Intel Core i5 12400

CA / UK / AU

- Socket LGA 1700

- 6 Cores

Intel Stock Cooler

- Comes With CPU

ASUS Prime B660-PLUS D4


ASUS TUF Gaming B660-PLUS WiFi D4 (WiFi 6)


- All Specs: ASUS, ASUS

As Above AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT (8GB)

US / UK / AU


NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (12GB)

US / US / UK / AU / AU

- RX 6650 XT Faster

- RTX 3060 Has More Features

Kingston A2000 1TB

US / UK / AU


WD Blue SN570 1TB

US / UK / AU

- Best Value NVMe Gen3 SSDs

Corsair CX650M (Bronze)

US / US / UK / AU


be quiet Pure Power 11 600W CM (Gold)



Cooler Master MasterWatt 650 (Bronze)

US / UK / AU

- 550w Fine if No Plan to Upgrade GPU

- Corsair RM550x Gold Also Good (UK / AU)

- EVGA 600 BQ Also Good

- Seasonic Focus GX-550 Also Good

Phanteks P400A


- Mid Tower

- 2x 120mm Fans

- Fan Controller (On Top Panel)

- 'Digital' Model Also Good (3 RGB Fans)

- Max GPU Length: 420mm (All Specs)

- NR600 Also Good (Specs)

- H510 Flow Also Good (Specs)

< $1500 Gaming PC Build

Mid Range

As Above ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports White (get LGA 1700 mounting kit from Arctic)



Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black

US / US / UK / AU


Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black

US / US / UK / AU
ASUS ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WiFi D4


- WiFi 6

- All Specs: ASUS

As Above


Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200MHz (if Want White)

US / UK / AU

- 2x8GB, CL16

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (8GB GDDR6)



AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT (12GB GDDR6)

US / US / UK / AU / AU
As Above Corsair RM650x

US / UK / AU / AU


Older RM650x (if Cheaper)

US / AU / AU


Super Flower Leadex III Gold 650W

UK / UK / AU


SuperNOVA G3 650


- Tier-A PSUs

Corsair 4000D Airflow

US / US / UK / AU

- Mid Tower

- 2x 120mm Fans

- Max GPU Length: 360mm (All Specs)

- Lancool 215 Mesh Also Great (Specs)

- 500DX Also Great

< $2500 Gaming PC Build

High End

Intel Core i5 12600KF

Other Stores:

US / US / UK / AU


Intel Core i5 12600K

CA / UK / AU

- Socket LGA 1700

- 10 Cores

- Best Value High-End CPU

Noctua NH-U9S Black



Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L RGB V2

US / UK / AU

- ML240L RGB V2 Good Value Liquid Cooler

- Mount ML240L to Top With Fans Blowing Upwards

MSI PRO Z690-A (WiFi 6, DDR4 Version)

US / US / UK / AU / AU

- ATX (Full Size)

- Good Value Z690

- All Specs: MSI

G.Skill Trident Z Neo 16GB 3600MHz (or 32GB kit)

UK / AU / AU


Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB 3200MHz (if Much Cheaper)

US / UK / AU

- 2x8GB, CL16

- Avoid Corsair RGB Pro for Hyper 212 (Too Tall)

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)

US / US / UK / AU / AU


AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT (16GB GDDR6)

US / US / UK / AU / AU
WD Black SN750 SE 1TB

US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Best Value Gen4 NVMe

- Samsung 980 Also Good (But Gen3)


Seagate Barracuda 2TB (7200 RPM)

US / US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Store Tons More Games

- Avoid 5400 RPM Drives (Slow)

Corsair RM750x

US / UK / AU / AU


Older RM750x (if Cheaper)

US / US / UK / UK / AU


Super Flower Leadex III Gold 750W


- Tier-A PSUs

- SuperNOVA G3 750 Gold Also Good

Cooler Master MasterCase H500 ARGB

US / UK / AU / AU

- Mid Tower

- 2x 200mm RGB Front Fans

- 1x 120mm Rear Fan

- Max GPU Length: 410mm (All Specs)

- Pro M (Specs) Also Great

- Enthoo Pro (Specs) Also Great

< $3000 Gaming PC Build


AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D (8 Core, Socket AM4)

US / US / UK / AU


Intel Core i7 12700KF (12 Core, Socket LGA 1700)

Other Stores:

US / US / UK / AU / AU


Noctua NH-U12S Black

US / UK / UK / AU


BK024 Dark Rock Slim

US / UK / UK / AU

- Compact Coolers for Easier Meshify C Install

- But Powerful Enough for 12700KF (Even if Over-clocking)

- Scythe Mugen 5 Rev.B Also Great

MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk (AMD)

US / US / UK / UK / AU / AU


As Above (if Intel)

- ATX (Full Size)

- All Specs: MSI

- B550 Aorus Pro V2 Also Good (AMD)

- ASRock B550 Steel Legend Also Good (AMD)

G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 3600MHz CL16



Vengeance LPX 32GB 3600MHz C18

US / UK / AU / AU

- TG Dark Pro 16GB 3200MHz Good Premium Option (CL14)

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT

US / US / UK / AU / AU

- 16GB GDDR6

Sabrent Rocket 1TB

US / UK / AU

- Very Fast Gen4 NVMe


WD Black 2TB

US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Premium 7200RPM HDD

Corsair RM850x

US / UK / AU / AU


Older RM850x (if Cheaper)

US / UK / AU


Super Flower Leadex III 850W Gold


- Tier-A PSUs

- G2 and G3 and P2 Also Great

Fractal Meshify C

US / UK / UK / AU

- Compact Mid Tower

- 2x 120mm Fans

- Max GPU Length: 315mm (See All Specs)


2 x Noctua NF-A14 PW 140mm Fan

UK / UK / AU / AU

- Install Both in Front

- Move Stock Front Fan to Rear Top

< $4000 Gaming PC Build

Cutting Edge

Intel Core i9 12900KF

Other Stores:

US / UK / AU


Intel Core i9 12900K

CA / UK / AU

- Socket LGA 1700

- 16 Cores

- Fastest CPU on Market

Noctua NH-D15 Black

UK / UK / AU / AU


NZXT Kraken X63 280mm (LGA 1700 Install Kit Required)

US / UK / AU


EVGA CLC 280mm (" ")


- If Liquid, Install Front of P600S (Fans As Intake)

- And Move 1 Front 140mm to Rear Top of P600S

Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Pro (WiFi 6, DDR5)

US / US / UK / AU / AU

- Good Value High-End Z690

- DDR5 Memory Only

- All Specs: Gigabyte

- Compatible w/ NH-D15 Source

Corsair Vengeance 32GB 5600MHz C36 (DDR5)



Corsair Vengeance 32GB 5200MHz C40 (DDR5)


- Compact (Best Clearance for NH-D15)

- 2x16GB

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090

US / US / UK / AU / AU


Samsung 980 Pro 1TB

US / US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Premium Gen4 NVMe


Samsung 870 QVO 2TB

US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Extra SSD for Games

Corsair HX 1000 (Platinum)

US / UK / UK / AU


Corsair RM1000x (Gold)

US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Get HX 1200w if Similar Price

- Tier-A 850w PSUs Fine Instead if No GPU Upgrade

- Supernova 1000 P2 and Prime TX 1000 Also Great

Phanteks Eclipse P600S


- Spacious Mid Tower

- 3 x 140mm Fans

- Max GPU Length: 435mm (All Specs)

- H500P Also Good (Specs)

- 750D Airflow Also Good (Specs)

Swipe Left to Scroll

Best Gaming PC Build Under $600

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G (6 Core, Integrated Graphics)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard (Included)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte B550M DS3H (Micro ATX, Socket AM4)
  • RAM: TeamGroup T-Force Vulkan Z 16GB (2x8GB, 3200MHz, CL16)
  • Graphics: Integrated With CPU
  • SSD: Western Digital Blue 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX550M (Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Thermaltake Versa H18 (Mini Tower, 1 Included Fan)
  • Extra Fans: Cooler Master SickleFlow 120mm (1 or 2, Any Color)

When planning the best cheap gaming PC build, getting an AMD CPU that has a good integrated graphics chip is a great bang for buck solution worth considering if you only play less demanding games. It means you don't have to fork out the funds for a graphics card, but you'll still get okay gaming performance for a good entry-level gaming PC build.

Integrated graphics on Intel CPUs aren't as good for games, so if you do want to save money and go the integrated graphics route, the latest AMD CPUs that come with integrated graphics are what you should be looking for (which are technically called APUs: Accelerated Processing Units). The latest AMD APUs are currently the Ryzen 3 5300G, Ryzen 5 5600G, Ryzen 7 5700G. Each is a decent step up from one another in terms of actual processing power, but for integrated graphics performance, they are all relatively close to each other, making the cheaper 5600G and 5300G the better value options if you're building a gaming PC on a budget.

Recommended Usage:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Low/Med Settings)
  • 720p 60Hz (Medium Settings)
  • Stopgap PC (GPU Upgrade Later)
  • Cheap Office PC

Besides, you can't fit a 5700G in a cheap PC build anyway - at its price point you might as well just buy a graphics card and get much better gaming performance (and pair it with a cheaper CPU as with the next build below). When you also get a healthy 16GB of RAM at the fairly fast speed of 3200MHz - which is the sweet spot for value when it comes to choosing RAM for gaming - you end up with a solid gaming experience at 1080p (full HD) in many popular titles if you keep those graphics settings on low (or medium if it's a really old or lesser demanding title).

For modern graphically demanding games (or for VR), integrated graphics is not enough and you'll need a graphics card, but for the right type of games a 5300G or 5600G can be enough. Graphics performance aside, they're also decent CPUs, especially the 6-core Ryzen 5 5600G. So if you want to add a graphics card later on then you'll be fine to do so and keep the 5300G or 5600G as your system's CPU. In other words, these APUs can be great as a temporary/stopgap setup to do some light gaming on until you can afford throwing a budget or mid-range GPU into your rig.

To go along with a 5600G and 16GB of RAM to make for the best gaming PC build on a budget around $600 or less, you'll want to eye off a cheap yet respectable B550 motherboard such as the Gigabyte B550M DS3H which is far superior than the previous B450M DS3H and of good enough quality for a modern Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5 system (even Ryzen 7 would be fine with it if not overclocking the CPU). I've used this motherboard before for a Ryzen 5 3600 build and was impressed with what it serves up for the price, and can recommend it for anyone wanting the best cheap AMD motherboard as it comes with everything you need for a basic entry-level gaming PC like this.

Like most motherboards, it doesn't have built-in WiFi, so if you want wireless capability in your PC look at a different B550 board such as the MSI B550M Pro-VDH WiFi, or ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming if you want the latest WiFi 6 (AX) standard for next-gen gaming routersAlso keep in mind, instead of buying a WiFi-ready motherboard, you can include a PCIe WiFi adapter in your PC build instead, which slots onto the motherboard underneath where the GPU goes. Wired LAN is better for online gaming though, so you don't absolutely need WiFi when building a new gaming PC if you'll just be using an Ethernet cable.

Don't be fooled by price; the B550M DS3H is fine for budget AMD builds

Cheap yet decent fans

Rounding out the best gaming PC build for under/around $600 is the decent quality yet very affordable 550 watt power supply, the Corsair CX550M, that'll comfortably handle an upgrade to a mid-range GPU such as a RTX 3060 or RX 6600 XT in future. You also want a budget case that still has decent airflow; the Versa H18 has a mesh front panel which makes for better airflow than a lot of other cheap PC cases. I'd also install an extra 120mm fan in the front to boost airflow, especially if you chuck in a graphics card down the line, though if you wanted to save as much as possible you would be just fine only having the H18's one included rear fan - a Ryzen 5 5600G on its own (without a graphics card) doesn't need much in terms of overall system cooling.

Cooler Master SickleFlow fans are cheap but perform well enough, aren't too loud, and come in different LED colors. I put two blue ones in a Versa H18 build I did a while back (pictured above) to match the built-in blue LED strip on the front of the case (not shown since I had it turned off for that photo). If you don't care for matching blue lights, any color fans will do. I added 2 fans and not just one because I used the case to house an upper mid-tier GPU and wanted maximum airflow as the climate here is hot, but 1 extra fan might be all you need for your setup. If you don't mind spending a little extra to get the best performing fans that are also the most quiet, look out for Noctua or Arctic fans which are two of the best manufacturers in that regard.

Lastly to storage, and there's no reason NOT to include an SSD in a PC build these days as they are much faster and more reliable than HDDs, and well worth the extra money. A good value M.2 drive like the 1TB WD Blue will conveniently slot into your motherboard, freeing up space within a small-ish build like this, but you could always get a 2.5 inch sized SSD instead which installs on one of the H18's two 2.5 inch drive bays.

Best Gaming PC Build Under $800

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 12100F (4 Core, No Integrated Graphics)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard (Included)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4 (Micro ATX)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB Black (2x8GB, 3200MHz, CL16)
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 (8GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: Western Digital Blue 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX550M (Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Cooler Master NR400 (Mini Tower, 2 Included Fans)

At this price, assuming you find a GPU at a reasonable price not too far beyond its MSRP, you can build a very good gaming PC that will run any game on the market, and many at or around 60FPS at 1080p (even on high settings). You won't get 60FPS on high settings with the most demanding AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher 3, Metro Exodus, Control, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Escape from Tarkov, Watch Dogs Legion, etc, but you could still run these on low or medium settings just fine. But for less demanding titles like Fortnite, Minecraft, CSGO, Valorant, Warzone, Dota 2, WoW, and many other popular titles, and also for medium-ish demanding games like GTA V, God of War, PUBG, Apex Legends, Star Wars Battlefront 2, and modded Minecraft (vanilla Minecraft isn't demanding) just to name a few, this desktop build is plenty.

Recommended Usage:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Med/High Settings)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Low Settings)
  • VR 90Hz/80Hz (Low Settings)

The CXM is a good value, mid-tier PSU

Touching on graphics first as it's the most important component in a custom PC when it comes to gaming, NVidia and AMD recently released their latest entry-level GPUs, the RTX 3050 and RX 6500 XT. Neither are all that impressive in terms of value, but that was to be expected given the state of the GPU market where any and all cards cost more than they used to (and may never go back to their original prices, but we'll see). Between the two, the RTX 3050 is the clear winner, offering better gaming performance as well as extra VRAM (8GB vs only 4GB with the 6500 XT). As explained in the best GPUs for gaming in 2022 guide, the 1660 Super is still worth considering these days as well, as it performs very closely to the 3050 and you may be able to find it for cheaper. If you can't, and the 3050 is either a similar price or only a little extra money, just stick with the newer card. But when building the best budget gaming PC, do consider buying a used GPU, as new GPUs are not cheap.

For the CPU, at the time of writing Intel actually steals the show within the budget segment of the market, partly because AMD's current-gen budget range (Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300x) are difficult to find at reasonable prices (or in stock). But also because Intel's latest 12th gen CPUs are objectively impressive - the latest i3 12100 is currently the best value CPU for gaming on a budget, and reviews show it beating the Ryzen 5 3600 in most games (for less money). Until AMD releases new CPUs to combat Intel's current crop, it's advantage Intel for the time being if you want the highest FPS for the lowest cost. As for choosing between the i3 12100 vs i3 12100F, the 'F' model simply means it lacks an integrated graphics chip and is therefore a bit cheaper. Apart from the 12100F not having integrated graphics, the 12100F and 12100 are exactly the same CPU.

When you're building a computer with a discrete/dedicated graphics card like in this $800 build example, there's no strong need for having a CPU that comes with integrated graphics, so the 12100F is the best value overall. There is the odd case where integrated graphics is worth having as a backup, for example if you ever sold your GPU and wanted to continue using your PC in the meantime until you bought another one, or in the rare case your GPU failed in which case you could just fall back to the integrated graphics until you replaced it. But overall, while less flexible, the 12100F is best if you just want to stretch every dollar as far as you can.

Choosing a motherboard for the i3 12100 comes down to looking at Intel's latest 12th-gen motherboard chipsets which use the new LGA 1700 CPU socket. The Z690 chipset is Intel's high-end platform which allows for overclocking, but on a budget you want to look at H670, B660, or H610 motherboards. These are cheaper than Z690 boards (which can be very expensive), and B660 or H670 can still have plenty of features (though I'd give H610 a miss as it's very limited). Besides, you can't overclock the 12100 or 12100F, as these are called locked processors, which makes Z690 and its overclocking potential are waste of money for these CPUs anyway. To overclock an Intel CPU, you must have a CPU that has a "K" at the end of the model name (like the i5 12600K). For anyone wondering, unlike Intel, you can overclock any AMD Ryzen CPU.

To build the best bang for buck Intel gaming build with a i3 12100 (or even a i5 12400 for that matter), I chose the Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4 which is one of the cheapest options yet is still of fair quality and has all the features you'd need for a basic gaming or work build. There are also two different WiFi versions of this board available as well (one for 'AC' WiFi 5, and one for the latest 'AX' WiFi 6 standard if you want to use the best gaming routers on the market). Though if you want a more feature-rich board that also has wireless (WiFi 6), the ASUS TUF Gaming B660M-PLUS WiFi D4 is a great Micro ATX B660 option if you're willing to fork out a bit more.

For RAM, 16GB of 3200MHz DDR4 memory is still the sweet spot these days, and a staple recommendation for most of these recommended PC builds. Just make sure to always get two sticks/modules of 8GB, and not just a single 16GB stick (2 sticks work slightly faster than just 1). The same good value 550 watt power supply remains from the $600 build as it's plenty of power for these parts, as well as being enough to accommodate a future GPU upgrade to a mid-tier card like a RTX 3060 Ti or RX 6600 XT.

Last but not least is the compact Cooler Master NR400, which is one of the best airflow cases on a budget with a front mesh design and 2 pre-installed fans (no need for more fans unless you throw a high-end GPU in this case). Like all cases in  this gaming PC build guide, it has a universally attractive (yet not over the top) style that will appeal to most, and you can always spruce it up by adding more lighting if that's your style (eg RGB fans). That's it for the best gaming PC build under $800 (USD), so let's move onto the next setup and see what we can do with a slightly bigger budget.

Related: Saving More Money When Building a PC

Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 12400F (6 Core, No Integrated Graphics)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard (Included)
  • Motherboard: ASUS Prime B660-PLUS D4 (ATX)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB Black (2x8GB, 3200MHz, CL16)
  • Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT (8GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: Kingston A2000 1TB NVMe (M.2 SSD, PCIe 3.0)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX650M (Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Phanteks P400A (Mid Tower)

Assuming you can find a graphics card in stock and at a price that's not too crazily inflated, the best GPU you can squeeze into a $1000 PC build is a RX 6650 XT (which AMD just replaced the RX 6600 XT with) or the RTX 3060 from NVidia. They're close in gaming performance, but the 6650 XT is faster in most games (though more expensive).

That said, the RTX 3060 has plenty up its sleeve - besides the extra VRAM that should come in handy in future VRAM-hungry titles as well as for demanding VR titles, it boasts NVidia's exclusive DLSS upscaling feature that boosts performance for little to no image quality loss, it has better ray tracing performance than AMD cards, and it also has a better built-in hardcore encoder for superior streaming performance. But if all you care about is pure gaming performance, you can't go wrong with either (see the GPU buyer's guide for more).

For your CPU choice, like any price segment right now, it's hard to ignore Intel's latest offerings which have just recently overtaken AMD. Not long ago, these recommended builds were almost all AMD, and now the tables have turned as is the cyclical nature of the hardware market. Specifically, the i5 12400F and regular 12400 are what you should be seriously considering for a mid-range gaming PC build like this. These CPUs offer frame rates that are on par or better than the previous mid-range king, the Ryzen 5 5600X, but at a more affordable price.

The only reason I would get a 5600X is if you find it discounted well under its MSRP, as it's been toppled fair and square by the 12400 and 12400F (or if you know the 5600X performs faster for other demanding non-gaming applications that you plan to use). Remember the "F" model simply means it has no integrated graphics, which isn't a problem if you're buying a dedicated graphics card (as the far majority of gamers will be doing). So unless you have a need for integrated graphics (as a backup solution, perhaps) the 12400F will save you some cash.

Recommended Usage:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Ultra)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Low/Medium)
  • 1440p 60Hz (Medium/High)
  • VR 90Hz/80Hz (Medium/High)
  • Value Workstation PC

When cheaper than a Sabrent Rocket and WD SN750 Black, the A2000 is a good buy

For a $1000 gaming PC build it also makes sense to consider a slightly faster SSD, allowing for speedier load times whether that's in-game or when using your PC in general. The Kingston A2000 and WD Blue SN570 are two of the best value NVMe SSDs at the moment, and are slightly faster than SATA SSDs like the WD Blue included in the $800 build above. To power these parts, you ideally want a 650 watt PSU (Power Supply Unit) to keep your options open, but 550 watts is enough if you're not planning on much (or any) future upgrades. One of the most important things to remember when building your first computer is to never go too cheap when choosing a PSU for a gaming PC, as your system is only as reliable and strong as its weakest link (a bad PSU puts your whole build at risk).

For the case, the slick Phanteks P400A has good airflow out the box with a top-notch front mesh design and 2 good-quality 120mm fans included. Feel free to add an extra aftermarket fan to the front to boost airflow further, though you're better off just getting the 'Digital' version of the P400A instead that comes with 3 front RGB fans. For mid-range systems like this though, 2 fans is adequate. You only really need 3 fans or more if your setup will live in a particular warm room or if you're using a higher-end GPU that generates a lot of heat (or, for aesthetic reasons). Rounding out the best gaming PC build under $1000 is a good value 16GB 3200MHz RAM kit, which is the sweet spot in terms of RAM size and speed - you just don't need more than 16GB (or faster than 3200MHz) for a gaming desktop, and spending more on RAM is a luxury and you're better off putting that extra money elsewhere for a more noticeable return on investment (in other words, 32GB is overkill for gaming).

Best Gaming PC Build Under $1500

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 12400F (6 Core, No Integrated Graphics)
  • CPU Cooler: Arctic Freezer 34 eSports (White, INSTALL KIT REQUIRED)
  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WiFi D4 (ATX)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB White (2x8GB, 3200MHz, CL16)
  • Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (8GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: Kingston A2000 1TB NVMe (M.2 SSD, PCIe 3.0)
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM650X (Fully Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Corsair 4000D Airflow (Mid Tower, 2 Included Fans)

Moving on up and to build the best $1500 gaming PC build, I would personally stick with the 12400F or 12400, as these CPUs are all the processing power you need to handle the majority of modern games, even on a 144Hz monitor which requires more CPU grunt than 60Hz if you want to reach performance levels of 100FPS and above to take advantage of such a fast display. Sticking with these very capable yet affordable CPUs allows you to allocate more budget to your graphics card, which is generally more important than your CPU when it comes to gaming performance (at least in most games).

But what I would change in terms of the CPU is the CPU cooler. The stock cooler that comes shipped with the 12400/F is okay - assuming your setup is adequately cooled and that your room isn't too hot - but Intel's stock coolers aren't the best and at this budget you're better off getting a better cooler like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black (or the RGB Black if that's your style). It doesn't cost much and brings tangible benefits in cooling performance, noise reduction, and aesthetics over the stock cooler.

If you want something a fraction better but that also looks fantastic for a white PC case like the 4000D Airflow White (a great high-airflow and very slick looking choice by the way), check out the Arctic Freezer 34 eSports which is an excellent yet still very affordable air cooler. Just keep in mind that since 12th Intel CPUs are new, you'll need to get a separate LGA 1700 mounting kit from the Arctic website to be able to install this cooler with a 12th gen CPU (until Arctic starts shipping the cooler with the LGA 1700 bracket as Noctua have been doing for a while already).

Recommended Usage:

  • VR 90Hz (High/Ultra)
  • VR 120Hz (Med/High)
  • 1440p 60Hz (High/Ultra)
  • 1440p 144Hz (Medium)
  • 4K 60Hz (Medium)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Medium/High)
  • 1080p 240Hz (Low)

The Hyper 212 or Arctic Freezer 34 are nice upgrades from the stock cooler

For graphics, the RTX 3060 Ti, RX 6700 XT, and new RX 6750 XT are the best graphics cards you can afford if trying to stay nicely under a theoretical $1500 build budget without sacrificing on your other components (you could technically get a more powerful GPU like a RTX 3070 or 3070 Ti, but that would be at the expense of your other parts unless you find them at a great price). Giving a one size fits all recommendation from the aforementioned GPUs is difficult, as it depends on pricing and availability in your region. Plus, you have to weigh up whether you care about the superior ray tracing performance of NVidia cards, as well as its DLSS support which works better than AMD's FSR technology. NVidia also has the edge when it comes to building a PC for both gaming and streaming, as it includes faster built-in video encoders on their cards compared to AMD cards. Resolution also matters if you want to nitpick; the RX 6000 series tends to perform faster at 1080p and 1440p, while NVidia typically holds the crown at 4K and VR. Generally speaking, it's hard to go wrong with either a RTX 3060 TI, RX 6700 XT, or RX 6750 XT (the last of which is a faster clocked 6700 XT for around 50 dollars more, offering a few percent extra performance).

The power supply is worth talking about here, as when you start getting into high-end territory of 1500 dollars to build a powerful system your choice of power supply starts to become quite important. Not that it's ever NOT important, as you should always choose a good PSU for a gaming PC, but once you start building with the likes of a reasonably powerful card like a 3060 Ti or 6700 XT, if you want your PC to be as reliable and long-lasting as possible without encountering issues, as well as to be well positioned to potentially upgrade to an even faster GPU in future, it's wise to use a reliable, trustworthy PSU of fairly high quality that has good feedback from professional reviewers (don't solely judge units by customer reviews as PSUs are complex products to assess fairly). Doesn't mean you need to spend a ton on a PSU, but I highly suggest avoiding low or even mid-tier units as the small money saved can come back to haunt you later and cause issues for your system.

The SuperNova G3 or G2 series from EVGA, the RMX series from Corsair (both the 2018 and 2021 versions), and the Super Flower Leadex III are some of the best gaming power supplies on the market today that are worth the extra dollars over inferior, more "mid-tier" models. I'd look to get whichever of the aforementioned units are at a better price in your region. There are many cheaper options than these units, but like I said I wouldn't risk it for a fairly powerful RTX 3070 Ti (or even 6700 XT). In terms of wattage requirements, 650 watts is plenty for this system - the official PSU requirements for a 3060 Ti is 600w and it's 650w for a 6700 XT. But if you're planning ahead for a future GPU upgrade to something quite powerful, look to get a 750 watt power supply from the get-go instead.

Oh, and if you're wondering about PSU cables for a RTX 3060 Ti or 6700 XT, you can technically get away with a PSU that has a single 8pin PCIe cable, but ideally you want a PSU that has 2 8pin PCIe cables (but any good model will have this). Some 3060 Ti and 6700 XT models require 2x 8pin connectors, and while you can technically just use one of the PSU's PCIe cables to connect them both (PSU cables have multiple connectors daisy-chained on the same cable), for the best stability you want to use 2 separate PCIe cables to connect to the 2x 8pin ports on the card.

Related: How to Connect PSU Cables

Best Gaming PC Build Under $2500

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-12600KF (10 Cores, No Integrated Graphics)
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U9S chromax.black
  • Motherboard: MSI PRO Z690-A WiFi DDR4 (ATX, WiFi 6, LGA 1700)
  • RAM: G.Skill Trident Z Neo RGB 16GB DDR4 (2x8GB, 3600MHz, CL16)
  • Graphics Card: NVidia GeForce RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)
  • SSD: WD Black SN750 SE 1TB NVMe (M.2 SSD, PCIe 4.0)
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB (7200RPM)
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM750x (Fully Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Cooler Master MasterCase H500 (Mid Tower)

Like the budget and mid-range CPU markets at the moment, in the high-end segment Intel has also recently stolen the show back from AMD with their impressive i5 12600K, i7 12700K, and i9 12900K (and their "KF" versions which are the same except without integrated graphics).

Recommended Usage:

  • VR 90Hz (Ultra)
  • VR 120Hz, 144Hz (High)
  • 4K 60Hz (Ultra)
  • 4K 144Hz (High)
  • 1440p 144Hz (High/Ultra)
  • 1440p 240Hz (Low/Medium)
  • 1080p 240Hz (Low/Medium)

After a lacklustre 11th generation launch a while back - a series that did not compete that well against AMD's Ryzen 5000 range (11th gen Intel wasn't all that much faster than 10th gen) - this time around with 12th generation "Alder Lake" Intel has surpassed AMD fair and square. The i5 12600K and 12600KF are the best value among the upper mid-range to high-end CPU range, and are all the processing power you need for a good majority of gaming situations. They beat the previous upper mid-range gaming king - the Ryzen 5 5600X - in most games. They also come close and sometimes beat the Ryzen 7 5800X as well. Instead of getting an expensive i7 or very expensive i9, most gamers are better off getting the i5 and putting the extra money into the graphics card or other components. 

There's also the 5700X to think about, which is the latest Ryzen 7 on the block having just released in April 2022. Priced at $299 USD, it gives equivalent performance to the Ryzen 7 5800X which initially sold for $449 US. Plus, the 5700X is much more power efficient. That means the 5800X, unless heavily discounted, is effectively now obsolete. But the real question is how the 5700X holds up versus the 12600K. The latter wins out in most games, but the 5700X isn't far behind. Ultimately, the 12600K holds its value crown in its respective segment of the market from a gaming performance standpoint, given its lower price. It's also more than enough for a high-end gaming system, even though it's "just" an i5.

Unless you're aiming for super high frame rates for competitive gaming (think 240Hz displays), or unless you're playing the most CPU intensive games and want the closest thing to flawless performance, there's no practical need for an i7 or i9, and an i5 like the very capable 12600K is more than enough. Another reason to go beyond an i5 would be if running CPU intensive non-gaming applications, such as those programs that benefit from having more cores and threads. But the focus of this gaming PC build guide is primarily gaming, and for that a 12600K is absolutely plenty for the majority of gamers. 

Also, pairing the 12600K or 12600KF with the super powerful RTX 3080 (or 3080 Ti / RX 6800 XT) is totally fine and won't cause a CPU bottleneck in the far majority of situations, especially if gaming at high resolutions (4K, VR, but even 1440p) as performance in these situations are almost always GPU-bound. In terms of the 12600K vs 12600KF (only difference is the latter lacks integrated graphics), if you want to save money get the 12600KF as there's rarely a need for having integrated graphics when building a PC with a dedicated graphics card. 

The 5700X is the latest Ryzen 7 on the block having just released in April 2022. Priced at $299 USD, it gives equivalent performance to the Ryzen 7 5800X, a chip that intially sold for $449 US. Plus, the 5700X is much more power efficient. That means the 5800X, unless heavily discounted, is effectively now obsolete. But the real question is how the 5700X holds up versus the current upper mid-range CPU king, the 12600K. The latter wins out in most games, but the 5700X isn't far behind. Ultimately, the 12600K holds its value crown in its respective segment of the market from a gaming performance standpoint, given its lower price.

To keep a 12600K or 12600KF nice and cool, whether at stock speeds or if overclocking it a little, you'll want a decent mid-range cooler of which there are many out there. Noctua are the best of the best when it comes to air coolers, not just in their quality and performance but in their support and ease of installation as well (factors I always keep in mind when making component recommendations in this guide). So, considering their range of coolers is always something I recommend as a starting point for high-end PC builds. Specifically, the NH-U9S would do well with the 12600KF (or 12600K) - it's powerful enough to keep it under wraps yet not overkill so as to be a waste of money.

If you prefer to get a liquid CPU cooler instead (referred to technically as a liquid AiO: All In One), the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L V2 RGB is one of the best bang for buck models on the market right now and is also easy to install (can confirm as I've now used it twice for other people's builds: I used to build PCs for people as a side hustle). If you also get the H500 case I've used in this build, I suggest installing the AiO to the top of the case, and make sure to orient the AiO's fans as exhausts so that they blow air out the top of the case (instead of sucking air into the case). 

Liquid value; a very decent AiO for the price

Also worth noting is the tubes on the ML240L isn't that long, meaning if you install it in the front of a case with the tubes on the bottom of the radiator (the optimal way to install an AiO as Gamer's Nexus explains here), the tubes may not reach in larger cases. Do your research in advance if wanting to use the ML240L in a difference case. Oh and if you're wondering, overall it doesn't really matter whether you use an air cooler or a liquid AiO, as the difference in cooling performance is rarely significant. Liquid will typically win slightly, but air coolers are better bang for buck and have less maintenance (plus less potential for issues such as water leaks). Choosing either way is really more of a personal preference in terms of aesthetics.

Choosing a compatible motherboard for the i5 12600KF means sifting through the latest Z690 chipset range, as that's the platform required for these latest Intel CPUs (since they use a brand new LGA 1700 socket). It's early days in terms of Z690 motherboard tests and reviews out there in internet land, but so far in my research the MSI PRO Z690-A WiFi DDR4 is my current top value pick for a good, reliable Z690 that won't break the bank and that has everything you need. It also comes with the latest WiFi 6 standard built-in as well which is handy. Also be aware this is the DDR4 version of the motherboard, and there's a more expensive DDR5 model of the board. Intel 12th gen is the first series to support next-gen, cutting-edge DDR5 memory, however it also supports DDR4 as well. Since the difference between DDR4 vs DDR5 for gaming is so minimal (we're talking a few FPS faster), DDR4 is absolutely fine and will save you some money, and is arguably the best bang for buck.

That said, if you want to be on the cutting edge and don't mind paying extra, consider getting a DDR5 motherboard (and therefore DDR5 memory instead). Just don't feel like you're missing out by sticking with the tried and true DDR4, as DDR5 is brand new and won't be "taking over" PC gaming anytime soon. And again, the performance difference is so small that it just doesn't matter, and at this stage I only suggest DDR5 for those who have specific non-gaming demanding workflows that have tangible benefits from DDR5, or if you're splurging on a luxury build like the last build in this series below and simply want the latest and greatest platform you can get your hands on.

As for the amount and speed of RAM, 16GB of 3200MHz or 3600MHz RAM is all you need for even the most demanding of modern games. Anything more (or anything faster) is a luxury. Having more such as 32GB would help in heavy non-gaming applications that lean heavily on memory such as video/photo editing and game development, but if you're just gaming then 16GB is fine and I'd say you're better off putting the extra money you would have spent on another 16GB towards something else (like the GPU).

Moving onto storage real quick, and at this point you can afford a very fast NVMe SSD using the latest PCIe Gen4 standard (PCIe 4.0 to be exact) such as the good value WD Black SN750 SE that'll make for blazing fast load times. Saving money with a PCIe Gen3 drive would be absolutely fine though, even for a high-end build like this, as the difference is not going to be noticeable for gaming. But PCIe Gen4 drives aren't much more expensive, really.

And of course, that brings us to the graphics card and unless you've been chilling under a sizeable rock this past year or so, you'll know that GPUs - and especially very in-demand cards like the RTX 3080 - are difficult to find in stock at non-ridiculous prices. The demand is very high, not just from gamers but from cryptocurrency miners who have been gobbling up all in sight. The RX 6800 XT is also impressive, and it's great AMD have brought the fight to NVidia in the high-end GPU market for the first time in forever (the previous two gens, RTX 2000 and GTX 1000, were both a no contest with AMD basically non-existent in the high-end market).

A 3080 I recently used for someone else's build

At the time of buying, if you find the price of the 6800 XT less inflated than the RTX 3080 in your region, it could be the better buy assuming you don't care about having DLSS, better ray tracing support, and better hardware encoders (all benefits of choosing NVidia). In fact, the RX 6800 XT is actually the superior choice for 1080p or 1440p, where it generally outperforms the RTX 3080. At the very high-res of 4K, whether 4K 60Hz or 4K 144Hz, NVidia does win in most 4K benchmarks though, making it the best GPU for 4K if that's what you care about most. Overall, the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT are tough to separate, and you can't go wrong with either, really. As for which specific RTX 3080 graphics card model to buy (f that ends up being your choice), the Founder's Edition is great and all with a good cooling solution, but is super exclusive. Third-party cards have better coolers anyway, and some are factory-overclocked to be a little faster than the base FE model.

Check reviews on specific models if concerned about certain things like noise levels, OC levels, aesthetics, and so on, but it'll be hard to find a "bad" 3080 out there and all reviews I've seen so far are net positive, with no models that stand out in a bad way to be avoided. Just like with choosing an AMD or NVidia card for your next build, picking and choosing your desired 3080 model is a luxury afforded to no living breathing human at this moment in history (only lighting fast bots serving their sometimes scalping masters). Getting any 3080 during the current supply state of doom is a win, assuming you don't overpay too much over MSRP (and if you find one at MSRP, count yourself extremely lucky).

In terms of power cable requirements for a RTX 3080 build, as mentioned with the RTX 3070 build, most RTX 3080 models will have 2 8pin connectors, and for maximum stability make sure to use two separate PCIe cables coming from your power supply to connect them (instead of using just one daisy-chained PCIe cable). Any half decent PSU will have multiple PCIe cables to allow you to do this, but my point is that you shouldn't get lazy and just use one PCIe cable as it can spell trouble. As for choosing a good power supply model, with such a powerful GPU you ideally want nothing less than a tier A unit such as the RMX series from Corsair (whether that's the 2018 or newer 2021 model - both are great).

The Leadex III Gold series from Super Flower are also top notch and well known as some of the absolute most reliable. You could go for cheaper PSUs for a high-end build like this, but I can't personally recommend it as saving a few dollars upfront may come back to haunt you in a few years - you want a high-quality, reliable PSU that will take great care of your system over many, many years of heavy use (and be as quiet and power efficient as possible too). Oh, and 750 watts is plenty for a RTX 3080 or RX 6800 XT build, and I'd only consider 850 watts or more if you're sure that you may upgrade to an even crazier GPU in future (like a 3090, or a future 4090 or whatever it will be).

Topping off the sub $2500 gaming desktop is the MasterCase H500, one of Cooler Master's best gaming PC cases that features standout 200mm RGB front fans which look awesome in action, and along with the front mesh case design provide good airflow. The H500 also comes with a rear 120mm fan, meaning complete airflow out the box without needing to buy and install extra PC fans. I've recommended this case a lot over previous editions of these builds, but it's still a great choice in my opinion.

If you want more lighting inside the case to supplement the front RGB fans, RGB RAM, and Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition (if that's the cooler you decide on), consider a 3-pack of RGB 120mm fans and use one to replace the stock exhaust fan and mount the other 2 on the top of the case. I wouldn't get a 3-pack of 140mm fans as the H500 only supports a rear 120mm fan (though you could buy 2x 140mm fans as the top of the case does support that size). 

Installing the 3080 Eagle for a lucky local

Best Gaming PC Build Under $3000

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D (8 Cores, No Integrated Graphics)
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black
  • Motherboard: MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk (ATX, AM4)
  • RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB Black DDR4 (2x8GB, 3600MHz, CL16)
  • Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT (16GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: Sabrent Rocket 1TB NVMe (M.2 SSD, PCIe 4.0)
  • HDD: Western Digital Black 2TB (7200RPM)
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (Fully Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Fractal Design Meshify C (Mid Tower)
  • Extra Fans: 2 x Noctua NF-A14 PW 140mm Fan (Black)

Recommended Usage:

  • VR 90Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz (Ultra)
  • 4K 60Hz (Ultra)
  • 4K 144Hz (High)
  • 1440p 144Hz, 240Hz (Ultra)
  • 1080p 240Hz, 360Hz (eSports)

Moving on up from the 12600KF and RTX 3080 build, and with a few extra green pieces of paper at your disposal, if you want to build an even faster gaming PC that is still somewhat value oriented (at least relative to other component combinations that you could go for) what I recommend right now is a Ryzen 7 5800X3D and RX 6900 XT build. Just keep in mind a RTX 3080 or RX 6800 XT is more than enough graphical power for the far majority of gamers, and going beyond that is not recommended unless you know you would actually benefit from it. In other words, at these price points we're deep in diminishing returns territory - the RX 6900 XT is indeed faster than the 6800 XT and RTX 3080, but the difference in performance won't be worth the price premium to most.

Same goes with the processor - the 12600K will easily take on any modern game - even CPU demanding games - and give you high, consistent frame rates. So, faster CPUs like the Ryzen 7 5800X3D or Core i7 12700K are more of an unnecessary luxury when it comes just to gaming. But if you just want the best of the best and are willing to pay for it with a build around a hefty $3000 US budget, a 5800X3D and RX 6900 XT setup is among the best gaming systems money can buy right now. AMD just released the RX 6950 XT as a mid-cycle refresh, but at around $150 over the standard 6900 XT - I'd stick to the standard version myself assuming you find it for $150 cheaper (or less) than the new 6950 XT.

The 5800X3D is the latest AMD processor to be released; not to be confused with the older 5800X, the 5800X3D features new 3D V-Cache technology that boosts gaming performance quite significantly over the original 5800X and even matches the more expensive i9 12900K in some games (while losing in others). If all you care about is gaming performance, it's a great option, but if you're also doing heavy multi-core workloads with your PC (and not just gaming) you may want to consider the Ryzen 9 5900X or sticking with Intel (both of which beat the 5800X3D in productivity). Between the 5800X3D and 12700K for gaming, it's a very tough call, and either will serve you well.

For the motherboard, if you want to stick to Intel, a 12700KF (or 12700K) I would still opt for the MSI Z690-A WiFi DDR4 as suggested for the 12600KF build as it's a solid motherboard at a good price (and no need for the DDR5 version unless you're looking to really splurge). For AMD, at this price point you can afford any high-end B550 or X570, and either chipset will do and it's more about comparing the merits of a particular board versus another rather than simply choosing between the B550 or X570 chipset.

G.Skill is a reliable memory manufacturer

Adding 2 extra Noctua fans in the front of a white Meshify C

The B550 Tomahawk and B550 Steel Legend are evenly priced and equally impressive in their feature sets, quality, and design, but the Tomahawk gets the slight edge for its handy BIOS flash feature. Neither have onboard WiFi though, so look at other options if you need that in a board. For RAM, take your pick among the many good 3600MHz and 3200Mhz options out there, and once again as mentioned before 16GB is plentiful - no need for 32GB unless your non-gaming workflow would benefit (or if doing some intense multitasking, streaming to Twitch, etc). I simply chose the G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 3600MHz CL16 as the top option since it is good bang for buck at the time of writing.

For a good case to house your previous parts, the Meshify C has been an extremely popular choice among PC builders for a long time thanks to its high-airflow, slick design and good build quality at a reasonable price. The second version of this case is out (Meshify 2, not to be confused with the Meshify S2), but it'll set you back a fair bit more and the original Meshify C remains a better value proposition in my eyes. Airflow of the Meshify C is decent out the box with its 2 included fans, but for optimal cooling of an extreme gaming build like this you ideally want to add another fan or two. Fitting a couple high-quality Noctua NF-A14 140mm fans in the front will do exactly that, as these are some of the best fans on the market. 140mm fans are also better than 120mm ones for the least noise (as they don't have to spin as fast in order to move the same amount of air as a 120mm). 

If you do get extra fans for the Meshify C as I suggest, consider putting 2 x 140mm fans in the front as mentioned, and move the front stock fan to the rear-top of the case (positioned as an exhaust so that it pushes air out the top of the case through the vents). To keep a 5800X3D or 12700KF cool and quiet, the Noctua NH-U12S is a great choice, with a low-profile design which makes it easier to install in the compact Mid Tower that is the Meshify C. It's not a small case, but its more compact nature makes it difficult to work with if using a large cooler like the NH-D15. I've used the NH-D15 in the Meshify C and it was a very tight fit and hard to manage, so it's not a combo I can recommend.

Best Gaming PC Build Under $4000

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-12900KF (16 Cores, No Integrated Graphics)
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Pro (ATX, DDR5, WiFi 6, LGA 1700)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB DDR5 (2x16GB, 5200MHz, CL38)
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 (24GB GDDR6X)
  • SSD: Samsung 980 Pro 1TB NVMe (M.2 SSD, PCIe 4.0)
  • SSD #2: Samsung 870 QVO 2TB (SATA, 2.5")
  • Power Supply: Corsair HX 1000 (Fully Modular, 80+ Platinum)
  • Case: Phanteks Eclipse P600S (Mid Tower, 3 140mm Fans)

Recommended Usage:

  • VR 90Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz (Ultra)
  • 4K 144Hz (Ultra)
  • 1440p 240Hz (Ultra)
  • 1080p 240Hz, 360Hz (eSports)
  • Ultimate Workstation PC

If you're planning to throw such a ludicrous lump of cash at a gaming system, this is the zero compromises parts-list of near perfection that I can suggest based on the current market. This beautiful monstrosity ticks all the boxes that matter to a hardcore gamer, including the fastest gaming performance on the planet for cutting edge VR, 4K, or any other gaming usage. But it's not just about pure performance but optimal cooling and airflow for maximum efficiency and longevity, near-limitless future upgrade flexibility, a healthy amount of cutting-edge blazing-fast DDR5 memory, premium dual SSD storage including the current best PCIe Gen4 SSD on the market from Samsung, the king of gaming GPUs powered by a mammoth top-tier Platinum-rated power supply to handle it with ease, and an all-class spacious tempered-glass case that comes with everything you need including 3 high quality 140mm Phanteks fans.

Let's get into a little more specifics on certain components starting with graphics, and because I enjoy sleeping peacefully at night, it's hard to ever recommend a RTX 3090 over the already supremely powerful RTX 3080 or RX 6900 XT. The RTX 3090 is so wildly priced, and I'm talking even if you strike gold and manage to find one at/near MSRP (a rare feat considering the current sorry state of the GPU market). The price vs performance of the "cheaper" 3080 or 6800 XT is far superior, making the overpriced 3090 a very tough recommendation unless you're swimming in boatloads of cash and have more disposable income than GabeN, in which case I'd greatly appreciate a spare 3090 sent to my humble peasant door kind sir. But seriously, if you're after the single most powerful gaming card on the planet, the RTX 3090 stands alone on the throne, nicely outperforming every other released consumer GPU in history including the ludicrously priced $2499 US Titan RTX that makes the 3090's $1499 US launch price look reasonable by comparison. With its crazy 24GB of VRAM, the 3090 will deliver the ultimate 4K 144Hz or PC VR gaming experience that money can buy right now. 

Touching on virtual reality for a second, a 3080 is definitely more than enough to handle any current VR game on maxed settings. But that extra pixel pushing power of a 3090 can make a tangible difference to VR enthusiasts as it'll allow you to crank up SS (Super Sampling) higher than a 3080 could, which improves visual fidelity and increases immersion. Plus, it'll leave nothing to chance for Valve Index owners wanting to take full advantage of that headset's super demanding 144Hz mode without sacrificing much (if anything) in terms of visual settings. 

The even faster RTX 3090 Ti is now out too, but on paper (ie MSRP) costs 500 dollars more than a regular RTX 3090 for only 10% faster performance on average. If you just want the single fastest gaming GPU on the market without concern for getting value for your money, in order to squeeze out a few extra frames for VR or 4K gaming, the 3090 Ti is the dream right now. But in general, it seems a regular 3090 makes more "practical" sense (practical when comparing the 3090 Ti vs 3090 - in general, neither is practical for the majority of people). However, if you find a 3090 Ti for say only a couple hundred extra over a 3090 in your particular region, it can make sense if you're going all out and know that the extra grunt will benefit you (eg VR or 4K gaming).

As for power requirements for such a powerful GPU, a good quality 850 watt power supply is plenty for either a RTX 3090 or 3090 Ti, but for maximum headroom and full flexibility for future upgrades, I would get a 1000 watt PSU, and ideally get a Platinum-rated model for the best in efficiency. Because at this price point, you can. For the CPU, the single best gaming CPU on the market right now is the freshly released i9 12900KF which has taken the crown from AMD. The previous gen 11900K was a letdown, but as already mentioned, with this latest 12th gen launch Intel has smashed it out of the park and the 12900KF is now the chip to beat (or the 12900K if you want integrated graphics, remember the "F" at the end of an Intel CPU model number means it does not have integrated graphics). The 12900K or 12900KF will give the highest frame rates of all processors on the market, but it gets real hot so you need some serious cooling to keep it, well, cool. There's nothing more effective than the menacing, notorious Noctua NH-D15 (see the NH-D15 install guide if you need) and it's long-been the best air cooler on the market, so that's what I suggest unless you want to go with a liquid cooler instead (I'll get to that).

Noctua's flagship cooler is a beast in every sense of the word, as the better the performance of an air cooler, the larger its surface area. So, think through your other components when using this monster as you need a case that fits it, a motherboard that won't have its top PCIe slot covered by it, and RAM modules that aren't too tall in height so that they clash (especially if you want all 4 RAM slots occupied either now or in future). If mixing and matching parts to use with this legendary cooler, check out the Noctua compatibility charts to confirm motherboard and case compatibility.

For this $2500 build example, I've gone for a roomy case that has no issues with the NH-D15, as well as low-profile DDR5 Corsair RAM that also won't get in the way if/when you have all 4 RAM slots populated. Also, the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Pro motherboard, which is in my opinion the best value high-end Z690 DDR5 motherboard from what I've seen so far out there. It's also officially compatible with the NH-D15 (not all Z690 boards are). As with any of these PC build examples, feel free to install a liquid AiO instead if you prefer, but also plan in advance in terms of choosing the right radiator size for your case (ie 240mm or 280mm, and also plan your fan setup). 

The air cooler to end all air coolers

If you're thirsting for water instead, the NZXT Kraken X63 and EVGA CLC 280mm are two of the best liquid AiO coolers you can get. Last but not least, there's a plethora of good high-end PC cases you could use, but the P600S makes my shortlist as one of the best all-round options right now due to its impressive simultaneous soundproof and airflow-focused design, generous space to easily accommodate any upgrade imaginable, slick but not over-the-top look, and excellent performance out the box with three good quality 140mm Phanteks fans pre-installed (2 front, 1 rear) to keep this ridiculously powerful RTX 3090 build under control. It comes in various colors too, all of which I can recommend. That wraps up the breakdowns of the best gaming PC builds for this month (in my opinion of course). Hope it's helped you in your research, but we're not done yet so let's now go over everything else to know about building your first PC including choosing software, accessories, installation, and more.

See Also: Recommended Prebuilt PCs

Software, Accessories, & Installation

Recommended Operating System

Choosing an operating system for a new gaming PC build basically comes down to either Microsoft Windows or some variant of Linux (such as Ubuntu or Manjaro just to name a couple).

However, if you're new or unsure, just stick to Windows. While Linux is free and can offer more control and security features, it's a more advanced OS that takes a while to learn and get used to, and it also has less support overall for gaming compared to Windows (but it's always getting better). If you're interested, check out these good resources on learning Linux: 123).

As for Windows 11 which is just about to be released, I would still build with Windows 10 normal for now, and then once Windows 11 has been out for a while and the kinks have been ironed out with some updates from Microsoft, then you can easily update from Windows 10 to 11 for free with a couple clicks.

To get Windows 10 for a new gaming PC build you have 3 options:

1) Download Windows Onto a USB Drive (For Free), Then Buy/Activate Later

This is the cheapest way to get Windows 10 up and running on your new PC build as you don't have to buy a Windows 10 license/key straight away. You can do this for free and then buy a key later when you have perhaps saved up more money, and until then your PC will still be 100% functional without any limitations. The only downside is you'll see a watermark image in the bottom right of your screen reminding you to upgrade (watermark disappears when gaming).

All you need is an empty USB flash drive that's 8GB or bigger (like this) and access to another desktop or laptop to download Windows onto the USB. Here's how you do it:

  1. Clear all data on the USB drive by formatting it (it must be blank). Do this even if it's brand new.

  2. Go here to download the Windows 10 installer to your computer, then follow the steps on that same page under the heading "Using the tool to create installation media". Both of these things can take a while (up to a few hours depending on your internet connection).

  3. When you've finished installing all your PC parts and you've also set your RAM speed within the motherboard BIOS (explained in what to do after building a PC), insert the USB drive into a USB 2/3 port (depending on type of USB drive) on either the front or rear of your new PC build.

  4. Reset the computer and the Windows installation should automatically begin on-screen. If it doesn't, re-enter your motherboard BIOS and set the boot priority order so that the USB drive is showing up first in the queue, and then exit the BIOS making sure that it also saves your changes. The Windows installation should begin once the system restarts, otherwise keep retrying this process by tinkering with the boot queue within the BIOS as mentioned until it works, or try a different USB port.

  5. Follow the steps on-screen to install Windows, and click "I don't have a product key" or something similar when that options appears. Full photo steps for every aspect of this is included in my extended eBook manual for DIY beginners, but to be honest it's not hard to figure out on your own unless you're completely not tech-savvy and have never used a Windows PC before (in which case I can comfortably recommend the manual for detailed guidance on every aspect of building, owning, and maintaining a PC for the first time). Oh and as for the Windows privacy settings screen - which can be confusing as to which to select or not - I personally turn them all off. Read them through and make your own decision, but if you don't understand what one of them means I would default to turning them off (I personally don't like to enable something if I don't understand what it is).

  6. If you're wondering, no you don't need to connect to the internet to finish the installation, nor do you need to sign into a Microsoft account. But once Windows is installed you do want to connect to the internet to first update Windows (search and click on "search for updates" from the main search bar in the bottom left of the Windows desktop screen), and then to download driver software for your motherboard and GPU (and also for a wireless adapter if you installed one). I cover all this over in this article.

  7. In your own time, buy a product key from the Microsoft Store or from Amazon (or elsewhere, but make sure it's a legit key you're buying).

2) Buy Windows 10 Physical Copy (USB or DVD)

Instead of downloading Windows onto a USB drive explained above, you could just buy the official USB or DVD version either online or in a physical store. You simply insert the USB or DVD when you've finished building your PC (and finished BIOS setup).

The DVD version (available at Amazon, and B&H) is usually cheaper than the USB flash drive version, so get that if you're including a DVD drive for your PC build (and don't forget to ensure your case has a 5.25" drive bay as not all do). But if you're not including a DVD drive in your build (which will actually be most people these days since physical media is fast becoming ancient), get the USB version (available at Amazon, B&H, and BestBuy

Consider Windows 10 Pro instead of Home if you're building a hybrid gaming and workstation PC for professional use if you need its advanced features like BitLocker, remote desktop, and domain join. If you don't know whether you need Windows 10 Pro or Home, chances are you're not going to benefit from Pro, so just stick with Home to save money. Besides the Microsoft Store, you can also find Windows 10 Pro on Amazon (DVD, can't find USB version), B&H (DVD or USB), or BestBuy (USB).

3) Reuse Your Previous Copy of Windows

If you already have Windows on another PC and it's a full retail version that's eligible to be reused on another system, this is the way. See our reusing PC parts guide for more details on this, but I can pretty safely say that if your previous PC was a prebuilt one (and not a custom built one by either you or someone else), then chances are you won't be able to reuse Windows as it's likely tied to that single machine.

Other Software for New PC Builds

You don't want to immediately bloat your fresh new PC build with a ton of software, but there are some key programs that will make your gaming PC more secure, useful, and/or fun. I'm talking anti-virus and malware software (crucial if you use your PC for important work), hardware monitoring and benchmarking programs (ie to conveniently check system temperatures/stats, show FPS on-screen when gaming to see how your build is performing, stress-test your CPU and GPU, and so on), and VPN software if you want to further secure your PC when online.

For vetted recommendations for all of these things and more (including the best places to actually buy PC games), see our continually updated list of recommended applications for gaming/workstation PCs:

Recommended PC Gaming Accessories

If you want recommendations for accessories, see the following buying guides:

Recommended Wireless Setups

Last but not least, if you choose a motherboard that doesn't have built-in wireless, you can still get wireless functionality (for WiFi) by buying a wireless adapter. These come in either USB or PCIe models; the latter is usually best for signal strength and range, but make sure you have a spare PCIe slot on your motherboard to accommodate it (most boards will) and that your graphics card doesn't cover that extra slot (if it's a huge GPU with a smaller board for instance).

You'll also want a good router if you'll be gaming online via wireless, especially if you'll be using an Oculus Quest 2 for wireless PC VR via AirLink/Virtual Desktop. Just remember wired Ethernet is best for online gaming so your best bet for the fastest, most secure online gaming sessions is to just plug your PC straight into your router or modem using an Ethernet cable (if you don't have a cable you can buy one for cheap almost anywhere).

Building Your Gaming Computer

Required Tools:

  • Phillips-head screwdriver size #2 (medium head) like this or this. Ones with a magnetic tip such as these ones are handy to avoid dropping screws into the deep dark depths of your case.

  • Phillips-head screwdriver size #1 (small head) like this, this - but only if installing a M.2 SSD as the screw used to secure M.2 drives to the motherboard are smaller than all other computer screws.

Optional Tools:

  • Anti-static wrist strap like this one or this one if you want to be extra safe (but you can instead simply periodically touch a metal object before handling components).

  • Flashlight or directional lamp to see inside your case better if your room lighting is poor, which may come in handy when trying to connect cables to the motherboard (or just use your phone's flashlight).

  • Cable/zip ties and scissors (however most cases comes with zip ties already).

  • Full PC toolkit if you want to get fancy and be prepared for anything both now and in future (see recommendations in our computer tools guide). Or just get a basic screwdriver kit like this one and call it a day (most builds don't need anything other than screwdrivers).

For your first gaming PC build, you will need a full walkthrough/tutorial to follow; manuals that come with hardware components don't contain detailed instructions or explanations that you probably need as a beginner (though don't throw them out as you will need to refer to them during installation; especially the motherboard and case manuals). To learn how to put together your first PC, it boils down to either following a written or video tutorial:

Option A: Written Tutorial (Most Detail)

Our complete photo guide to assemble a PC was carefully crafted with complete beginners in mind and includes all the little important details you need to know as a first-timer, including photos from multiple builds (one Intel, one AMD), along with diagrams throughout to help illustrate certain steps. Our tutorial has been fine-tuned over multiple years to be as easy to follow (yet detailed) as possible so that no noob gets left behind - even if you're a complete beginner who's never seen the inside of a PC before.

Option B: Video Tutorial (Quicker)

Linus's POV build guide. While a YouTube video doesn't provide as much in-depth guidance and instruction as a written guide, and generally moves through the steps quite quickly while missing certain little details that could be important to understand as a beginner, in conjunction with using other guides it may be enough for you to build your first PC (especially if you're a little more tech savvy and understand the basics of computers).

Reminder: No matter how you learn to build your PC, don't forget you need to manually set your RAM speed (such as 3200MHz). All DDR4 memory modules are automatically set to 2133MHz or 2400MHz, so if your RAM is faster than that (99% of you) you need to manually set the speed in the BIOS (by first enabling "XMP"). See what to do after building a PC for more.

Scared to Build Your Own PC?

If it's your first time building a gaming PC, stress less as it really isn't anything to be overwhelmed or scared by if you simply take your time and follow basic safety precautions. If you're afraid because you perhaps don't consider yourself tech-savvy, transform that fear into excitement because it's actually quite hard to go too wrong if you take it slow one step at a time, and if you get stuck, everything is "figureoutable" with a few internet searches or posting in a helpful community like r/BuildAPC (or commenting on one of our articles; I try my best to reply to every comment).

If you've heard the saying that building a PC is essentially adult Lego, that's no exaggeration, as it really is just a matter of plugging things in, connecting things, screwing a few things in here or there, tidying and tying cables, and so on. Far from rocket science, especially if you stick to a typical gaming build such as the ones above which don't have any overly complicated installations (I avoid recommending parts that aren't that beginner-friendly). 

Sure - building a PC takes a little patience, and your first go will likely span a good few hours minimum (sometimes a whole day), but it's well worth it to not only get the fastest gaming PC for your money but to become way more self-sufficient and prepared to handle upgrades, to troubleshoot and overcome potential problems in future (not to mention reaping all the other benefits of building your own PC).

No Time to Build a PC?

No hard feelings, friend. Buying a premade desktop isn't the end of the world if you don't mind paying a bit more for the convenience of having a pre-assembled system that's ready to go, and if you don't mind the various downsides to prebuilt PCs such as companies typically using cheaper parts.

If going this route, make sure to do your homework to find a respectable model from a reputable company that's not a complete rip off - surprisingly hard to do once you've opened your eyes and gained a little knowledge about building PCs, but definitely possible. If you want my opinion, see the best prebuilt gaming PCs for the money for hand-picked, vetted recommendations for desktops that won't blow up within the week.


Can I mix and match parts from different builds?

Of course; customizing parts for your exact usage and aesthetic preferences is part of the fun. This best gaming PC builds series is simply my own opinion on what I would personally buy if building a PC at a certain budget based on the current market. Just don't forget to always check compatibility between all of your parts when changing things around, and don't just rely on auto tools like PCPP which don't check for absolutely everything and can make the occasional mistake (though it's generally quite accurate and I'm a fan). If you need help or a second opinion on your parts-list, feel free to ask in the comments.

Why isn't Windows included in the build prices?

Because there are various ways to get Windows for a new gaming PC build. For example, some will already have a (legal) copy of Windows they can reuse from a previous PC, some people will use Linux (which is free but more complicated), and some people will download Windows onto USB using another computer and install it for free on the new build (and then buy an activation key later in their own time). So for simplicity, the above builds just focus on the core parts.

Why aren't accessories included in the build prices?

Choosing accessories such as a monitor, keyboard, mouse and headset comes down to personal preference a lot more than when buying hardware (which is more based on objective data/facts of what performs best), and like the OS, many people will reuse PC parts for a new build too. For specific accessory recommendations, see our main menu.

Should I wait for part X to release before building?

An age-old question that comes down to various factors, including whether you just want to build now or are not in a rush for a new system and are willing to play the waiting game if there is something coming up that could be worth holding out for. The hardware game is a fast moving one with new parts always seemingly (and sometimes actually) just around the corner, either real soon or in the not too distant future.

But if you wait for all new releases before building your computer you'll be waiting forever. However, not all new releases are created equal, so it does depend on your particular build and the particular part you may be waiting for. Some might be worth the wait, others not so much. Also keep in mind that if do hold out for a new part, it may not be the best overall value for money once released, and previous generation parts might drop enough following a new series launch to actually be the better buy overall even after that new part is released.

Do the builds have WiFi capability?

Most modern motherboards don't actually come with built-in WiFi, so if you want wireless internet access for your new desktop you can either buy an external USB or internal PCIe adapter or choose a motherboard that does have WiFi. If the recommended motherboard we suggest for a certain build doesn't have WiFi, in that build's guide we typically mention a secondary motherboard choice that does have WiFi.

How Do You Decide On the "Best" Builds?

When building your own PC, when planning a parts list you have near-limitless combinations to choose from. So how on Coruscant do I begin to narrow the entire hardware market to the absolute best picks to publish on this page each quarter/month? It's not easy, but there is careful strategy behind these recommendations, with an aim of getting as close as possible to what the objectively-best value part combinations are right now for gamers who not only want the fastest gaming performance for the money but that also want a quality, reliable, awesome looking system that's built to last (and that is also flexible for future upgrades).

Countless hours of ongoing research goes into each iteration of this guide, which includes considering the thoughts of the most credible, trustworthy reviewers and testers in the industry, studying many detailed benchmarks and comparisons, as well as blending in my own subjective opinion based on many years of carefully analyzing the hardware market for both work and play. When hand-picking and selecting the parts I take into account everything that makes for a good custom PC build including: 

  • Only recommending high quality, reliable components from top brands and manufacturers
  • Ensuring full compatibility between all parts and manually checking what auto tools like PCPP can't check (ie RAM/cooler clearance among other things)
  • Allowing plenty of future flexibility for easy upgrades down the line, including enough wattage (PSU) to accommodate a more powerful GPU later on
  • Ensuring adequate - and ideally optimal - airflow for each parts-list to keep your PC running cool
  • Designing part lists that will look great with universally attractive parts and matching colors/themes wherever possible (all the builds look great; no eyesores here)
  • Favoring beginner-friendly components for a hassle-free, easy install if building your first PC

All that said, the nature of anything "DIY" obviously implies you should do your own research to ensure you choose the right parts for any particular wants and needs that you have, and so despite these being the greatest gaming PC builds in the known galaxy you shouldn't just take my word for it, especially when it comes to a large and (hopefully) long-lasting purchase like a new gaming desktop.

Though a lot of time and ongoing effort does go into giving the best, most accurate, nuanced, well thought-out recommendations possible, and these example PC builds are not just haphazardly hashed together at random overnight. So if you're after a solid "safe bet" parts-list to buy or to use as a base for your research, I'm confident you may find these build templates to be somewhat helpful in your ongoing research. Thanks for reading and good luck with your setup!

Questions / Feedback

Need help choosing parts, have general feedback, or just want to let me know you found the guide helpful? Leave a comment below, and if you include a question I'll do my best to get back to you when I get a chance.

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About Me

Indie game dev currently working on my first public release after years of hobby projects, a story-driven VR FPS adventure built using Unreal Engine (to be announced once I'm ready here and here for anyone into VR FPS's). Also likes writing and updating these tech articles, which helps fund development of the game. 

My favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, HL1, and HL2, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Alyx. If you want help with a new build or upgrade feel free to ask on the main PC builds guide. If you found the site real helpful and want to help support the work I do here, sharing an article with anyone you think might also benefit from it does help and is appreciated in advance. - Julz