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Top 5 Best PC Builds for Gaming/VR

November 2022 Recommended Parts for New PC Builds (Maximize Bang for Buck)


best pc builds q4 2022

Pictured: Big Releases in Q4, Saints & Sinners Chapter 2 (Left), sequel to one of the best VR games of all time, and COD MW2 2022 (Right).


Last Updated: November 21, 2022

In this latest update to the best PC builds for gaming series, we'll take a look at some of the best value components on the market right now in my opinion for anyone looking to build the best bang for buck setup this month for PC gaming, VR gaming, or live game streaming (Twitch/YouTube streamers).

Unlike earlier this year and last year, graphics card pricing and availability is way better these days, with the demise of Ethereum mining in recent months playing a key role in bringing balance back to the GPU market (cryptocurrency miners are no longer buying up every graphics card in sight), and the 2022 holiday season is shaping up to be an infinitely more attractive time to build or upgrade a gaming PC compared to this time last year.

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 various factors including price vs performance, reliability, upgrade flexibility, brand quality, as well as matching color themes and aesthetics to make for a slick setup that will be universally attractive to most people.

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 November 2022 Builds (Overview)

Before getting into the best PC builds for gaming, please note:

  • 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.


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Best PC Builds for Gaming, Airflow, Reliability, & Overall Value

CPU COOLER MOTHERBOARD RAM GPU SSD POWER CASE
< $600 Gaming PC Build


Cheap

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

Other Stores:

US / CA / UK / AU

- 6 Cores

- Socket AM4

- APU (Has Integrated Graphics)

AMD Stock Cooler

- Comes With CPU

Gigabyte B550M DS3H

US / CA / UK / AU

OR

MSI B550M PRO-VDH WiFi

US / CA / UK / AU

- Best Cheap Micro ATX B550 Boards

- All Specs: Gigabyte, MSI

TeamGroup T-FORCE Vulcan Z 16GB

CA / UK / AU

OR

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB

CA / UK / AU

OR

Crucial Ballistix 16GB

UK / AU

- 2x8GB 3200MHz

- Get Cheapest in Your Region

- G.Skill Ripjaws V and Silicon Power Turbine Also Good

Radeon Integrated Graphics

- Fine for Non Demanding Games at Low Settings

WD Blue SN570 1TB (if < $90)

US / CA / UK / AU

OR

PNY CS2130 1TB (if < $75)

US / CA/ UK/ AU

- Best Budget M.2 SSDs (NVMe Gen3)

- Get 2.5 Inch Version if Wanting Portability

Corsair CX550M (if < $55 US)

US / CA / UK / AU

OR

EVGA 500 BQ

CA / UK

OR

Cooler Master MasterWatt 550

US / CA / UK / AU

- Best Value Semi-Modular Bronze PSUs

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

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 / CA / 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


Good

Intel Core i3 12100F

Other Stores:

US / CA / AU

OR

Intel Core i3 12100

US / CA / UK / AU

- Socket LGA 1700

- 4 Cores

- 'F' Model Lacks Integrated Graphics

Intel Stock Cooler

- Comes With CPU

Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4

CA / UK / AU

OR

MSI PRO B660M-A WiFi DDR4

US / CA / UK / AU

- Micro ATX

- Best Budget B660 Boards

- All Specs: MSI, Gigabyte

As Above AMD Radeon RX 6600 8GB (if < $260)

US / CA / UK / AU

OR

NVidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB (if < $230)

US / CA / UK / AU
As Above As Above As Above

OR

Cooler Master NR400

US / CA / UK / AU

- Mini Tower

- 2 120mm Fans

- Max GPU Length: 410mm (All Specs)

< $1200 Gaming PC Build


Great

Intel Core i5 12400F

Other Stores:

CA / UK / AU

OR

Intel Core i5 12400

CA / UK / AU

- Socket LGA 1700

- 6 Cores

- 'F' Model Lacks Integrated Graphics

Intel Stock Cooler

- Comes With CPU

ASUS Prime B660-PLUS D4 (ATX)

US / CA / UK / AU

OR

ASUS TUF Gaming B660M-PLUS WiFi D4 (Micro ATX)

CA / UK / AU

OR

ASUS ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WiFi D4 (ATX)

US / UK / AU

- All Specs: ASUS, ASUS, ASUS

As Above AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT (if < $420)

US / US / UK / AU / AU

- 12GB GDDR6

As Above Corsair CX650M Bronze (if < $70)

US / US / UK / AU

OR

EVGA 600 BQ Bronze (if < $70)

CA / UK / AU

OR

CM MasterWatt 650 Bronze (if < $65)

US / UK / AU

OR

Corsair RM650x Gold (if < $100 and want top quality)

US / UK / AU / AU

- 550w Fine if No Big Future GPU Upgrade

- 650 BQ Also Great

Phanteks P400A

UK / AU

OR

Corsair 4000D Airflow

US / US / UK / AU

- Both Have 2x 120mm Fans

- P400 Max GPU Length: 420mm (All Specs)

- 4000D Max GPU Length: 360mm (All Specs)

- NR600 Also Good (Specs)

- H510 Flow Also Good (Specs)

- CK560 Also Good (Specs)

< $2000 Gaming PC Build


Amazing

Intel Core i5 12600KF 10-Core (12th Gen, if on sale)

Other Stores:

US / US / UK / AU

OR

Intel Core i5 13600KF 14-Core (13th Gen)

US / CA / UK / AU

OR

AMD Ryzen 5 7600X 6-Core (Most Longevity)

US / CA / UK / AU
Noctua NH-U9S Black

UK / AU

OR

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L RGB V2 (if prefer liquid)

US / UK / AU

OR

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black (if not over-clocking)

US / US / UK / AU

- Mount ML240L to Top With Fans Blowing Upwards

- ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports Also Great

MSI PRO Z690-A WiFi DDR4 (if Intel)

US / US / UK / AU / AU

OR

MSI PRO B650-P WiFi DDR5 (if AMD)

US / CA / UK / AU

- ATX (Full Size)

- All Specs: Intel, AMD

- ASUS ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming WiFi DDR4 Great if Want White

G.Skill Trident Z Neo 16GB 3600MHz DDR4 (or 32GB kit)

UK / AU / AU

OR

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 (if Cheaper)

US / UK / AU

OR

G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 3600MHz CL16 DDR4 (non-RGB option)

US / AU

OR

Vengeance LPX 32GB 3600MHz C18 DDR4 (value 32GB)

US / UK / AU / AU

OR

Kingston Fury 16GB 5200MHz CL40 DDR5 (if AMD)

CA / UK / AU

- Avoid Corsair RGB Pro and Ripjaws V for Hyper 212 (RAM Too Tall)

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB
(if < $700)

US / US / UK / AU / AU

OR

Wait for NVidia RTX 4070 etc
WD Black SN770 1TB

US / CA / UK / AU

- Best Value Gen4 NVMe SSD

- 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

OR

Older RM750x (if Cheaper)

US / US / UK / UK / AU

- Tier-A PSUs

- SuperNOVA G3 Gold and Leadex III Bronze 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

- Lancool 215 Mesh Also Great (Specs)

- 500DX Also Great
(Specs)

< $2500 Gaming PC Build


Cutting Edge

AMD Ryzen 7 7700X (if <= $400)

US / CA / UK / AU

- Fastest Gaming CPU

- Socket AM5

- 8 Cores

Noctua NH-U12S Black (if Meshify C case)

US / UK / UK / AU

OR

BK024 Dark Rock Slim (if Meshify C)

US / UK / UK / AU

OR

Noctua NH-D15 Black (if bigger case eg P600S or H500)

UK / UK / AU / AU

- NH-U12S and BK024 Are Compact for Easy Meshify C Install

- Scythe Mugen 5 Rev.B Also Great (Meshify C)

MSI MAG B650 Tomahawk WiFi Gaming (if < $260)

US / CA / UK / AU

OR

MSI PRO X670-P WiFi (if < $290)

US / CA / UK / AU

- ATX (Full Size)

- All Specs: B650, X670

Gigabyte X670 AORUS Elite AX Also Good (if < $270)

Corsair Vengeance 32GB 5600MHz C36

CA / UK / AU

OR

Corsair Vengeance 32GB 5200MHz C40

CA / UK / AU

- Best Value DDR5 Memory

- Compact (Best Clearance for NH-D15)

- 2x16GB

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 16GB

CA / UK / AU

OR

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 24GB (if on sale < $950)

US / US / UK / AU / AU

OR

Wait for AMD RX 7900 XT / XTX (December)
Sabrent Rocket 1TB

US / UK / AU

OR

Samsung 980 Pro 1TB

US / US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Very Fast Yet Affordable Gen4 NVMe SSDs

+

WD Black 2TB

US / UK / UK / AU / AU

- Premium 7200RPM HDD

Corsair RM850x

US / UK / AU / AU

OR

Older RM850x (if Cheaper)

US / UK / AU

OR

Super Flower Leadex III 850W Gold

AU

- 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

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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 SN570 1TB (M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen3)
  • 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 PC build for gaming on a really tight budget, getting an AMD CPU that has good integrated graphics is a great bang for buck option worth considering if you only play less demanding games and will save you a lot of money. 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.

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 cheap CPU like an i3 12100F as with the next build below). When you also throw in a healthy 16GB of RAM at the fairly fast speed of 3200MHz, 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 an older or less-demanding title).

For modern graphically demanding games (or for VR gaming), integrated graphics is not enough and you'll need a graphics card, but for the right type of games the integrated graphics included with the 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.

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 right now, you'll want to eye off a cheap yet respectable B550 motherboard such as the Gigabyte B550M DS3H which is of good enough quality for a basic gaming PC build like this.

Like many motherboards, it doesn't have built-in WiFi though, so if you want wireless capability in your PC look at a different B550 board such as the also-good value MSI B550M Pro-VDH WiFi (or ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming if you want the latest WiFi 6 standard for next-gen gaming routers

Also 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 that fast and secure Ethernet cable.

Rounding out the best PC build for gaming under 600 US dollars 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). 



Recommended Usage:

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

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

Cheap yet decent fans

The CXM is a good value PSU

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. One of the best value SSDs right now is the WD Blue SN570 (more on that in the $800 build breakdown), which will conveniently slot into your motherboard, freeing up space within a small-ish build like this. You could get a more traditional 2.5 inch sized SSD instead (which installs on one of the H18's two 2.5 inch drive bays), but the thin and compact M.2 format is ideal to save space.





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 RX 6600 (8GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: Western Digital Blue SN570 1TB (M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen3)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX550M (Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Cooler Master NR400 (Mini Tower, 2 Included Fans)

Recommended Usage:

  • 1080p 60Hz (High Settings)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Low Settings)
  • 1440p 60Hz (Medium Settings)
  • VR (Medium Settings)

Moving onto the best PC builds for gaming that include an actual discrete/dedicated graphics card, starting with this great value $800 build. Thanks to a steady decline in graphics card pricing over the past few months (at last) it's finally possible to put together some decent value gaming PC builds again. With a budget of under 800 US dollars or thereabouts, an i3 12100F and RX 6600 build is what I'd personally go for based on current pricing this month. Right now, AMD cards are the better value overall when planning the best pc build for gaming, as NVidia cards are more overpriced overall. The RX 6600 is a good example, which you can find for $250 and under which isn't bad considering it launched at an MSRP of $330. NVidia's competing cards on either end of the performance spectrum relative to the RX 6600 (RTX 3060 and RTX 3050) are currently nowhere near as good value, with both being severely overpriced at the time of writing this.

If going for NVidia though, I'd actually consider the RTX 2060 as an option instead of the RTX 3050 or RTX 3060. At the time of writing you can find a new 2060 for under 250 USD, but if you find the RX 6600 around the same price then I'd just stick with it as it's the faster and newer card. Only reason to get a 2060 over a 6600 (if they're the same price) would be for the superior ray tracing performance of the RTX 2060 (roughly 15-20% better than the RX 6600), though at this price range you should consider forgetting about ray tracing (which is not necessary and basically a luxury nice-to-have rendering feature) and just aim to get the best "normal" gaming performance you can get for your money. Oh and if you want the RTX 2060 Super for a good price, that's also worth a look despite its age as it holds it well in modern games (and performs decently for VR; I played through Half Life Alyx on a 2060 Super and it ran nicely at medium settings).

For the CPU, at the time of writing Intel steals the show within the lower-end 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). 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, which is what this gaming PC build guide is mostly all about.

Choosing a motherboard for the i3 12100 comes down to looking at Intel's latest 12th-gen motherboard chipsets which use the 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, which can be quite expensive, but B660 or H670 can still have plenty of features so you won't be missing out on much (though I'd give H610 boards a miss as they're very limited). Besides, you can't overclock the 12100 or 12100F, as these are 'locked' processors, which make Z690 motherboards and their overclocking ability 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 (eg i5 12600K, 11600K, 10600K, 9600K, and so on). As a side note for anyone wondering, unlike Intel, you can overclock any AMD Ryzen CPU.

So, to build the best PC build for gaming using a Intel Core i3 12100 (or even an Intel Core i5 12400 if you want a faster CPU), I chose the Gigabyte B660M DS3H DDR4 which is one of the cheaper options yet is still of fair quality and has all the features you'd need for a basic gaming or work system. There are 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 the MSI PRO B660M-A WiFi DDR4 is my top pick and you get a lot for the price.

For RAM, 16GB of 3200MHz DDR4 memory is still a nice sweet spot for value for money, and a staple recommendation for most of these example builds. Just make sure to always get two sticks/modules of 8GB, and not just a single 16GB stick - having 2 sticks leads to faster performance. The same good value power supply recommendations remain from the $600 build, as 500 - 500 watts is still plenty of power for these parts. It's also enough to accommodate a future GPU upgrade to a stronger card than the RX 6600, such as the RTX 3060 Ti, RX 6600 XT, or RX 6650 XT. However, if you plan to a more serious graphics card upgrade down the road with this build, say a RTX 3070 or RX 6800 or equivalent, consider getting a 600 to 650 watt power supply from the get-go to be on the safe side (see the PSU recommendations from the $1200 build).

The SN570 1TB SSD remains a recommendation for the $800 build, since it's one of the best value PCIe Gen3 drives out right now as explained here and is fast enough for modern gaming. No need to spend more on a PCIe Gen4 drive as the difference between PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 SSDs for gaming in terms of load times is typically negligible (in other words, Gen4 SSDs are not hugely important for gaming, though the extra speed does help for general PC productivity hence why I recommend them in the high-end PC builds further below).

Last but not least for the current best gaming PC build under $800 is the compact Cooler Master NR400, which is one of the best budget PC cases that still has decent airflow with its front mesh design and 2 pre-installed fans. There's no need for more fans unless you throw a much more powerful GPU in, or if your room gets real hot. Like all cases mentioned in these sample builds, the NR400 has a universally attractive style that will appeal to most, and you can always spruce it up by adding more lighting if that's your style (eg buying some RGB fans, getting a CPU cooler or RAM with RGB, installing an LED strip, etc).

Related: Tips to Save More Money When Building Your Own PC





Best Gaming PC Build Under $1200

  • 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 6700 XT (12GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: Western Digital Blue SN570 1TB (M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen3)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX650M (Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Phanteks P400A (Mid Tower)

Recommended Usage:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Ultra)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Low/Medium)
  • 1080p 240Hz (Low)
  • 1440p 60Hz (High/Ultra)
  • VR (High/Ultra)

As mentioned above, in the current GPU market if you want the most bang for buck to build the best gaming PC for your money, AMD's RX 7000 graphics cards are your friend at the moment as they're more competitively priced relative to NVidia. When planning the best PC build for gaming under $1200 or thereabouts, you can squeeze in the very capable RX 6700 XT, which has come down in price quite nicely in recent months to the point where you can pick one up new for under $400 US. This card will easily dominate 1080p gaming at max settings, and will perform very nicely for 1080p 144Hz monitors, but it's also more than suitable for excellent 1440p performance on good settings (60FPS at high/ultra settings depending on the title). The 6700 XT is also one of the best GPUs for VR gaming as shown by this 6700 XT VR gaming benchmark and will allow you to run high settings smoothly in most VR titles (and maxed-out 'ultra' settings in some). The 6700 XT and RTX 3060 Ti are close in VR performance, but the 6700 XT can be found for cheaper making it the better value option (the factors of ray tracing performance or DLSS support does not matter for VR).

Dropping slightly down to a RX 6600 XT or RX 6650 XT is also a worthy option around this price range if you want to save a little money, as performance of these cards isn't too far behind the 6700 XT, and like most AMD cards, they have also dropped in price nicely in the past few months. NVidia's competing cards, the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070, are less overall bang for buck based on current pricing, but if you really want the best ray tracing performance for certain titles then they are worth considering seeing as they do outshine AMD in that area (but remember not everyone cares for enabling ray tracing in the games that support it; it's just extra eye-candy that won't make a big difference to the experience generally speaking). NVidia cards also have the advantage of DLSS support in the games that include a DLSS option, but AMD does have a comparable feature that comes close in quality so I don't think the lack of DLSS is a deal breaker for most.

Moving onto the CPU for the best PC build under $1200, and like the $800 build above it's hard to ignore Intel's offerings right now, with the Intel Core i5 12400F and regular 12400 (non F) offering frame rates on par or better than the previous mid-range king, the Ryzen 5 5600X, but at a more affordable price. The Ryzen 5 5600 (non X) can be found around the same price as the 12400F, but the Intel chip wins in most gaming benchmarks. Plus, with Intel's 12th generation CPUs you're able to upgrade to the upcoming Intel 13th gen (codenamed Raptor Lake) in future if you wanted to, whereas if you go for AMD's 5000 series (eg 5600X) then you're at the end of the road in terms of upgrade path as the very latest Ryzen 7000 series uses a new AM5 socket (which requires a new motherboard and also DDR5 memory: AM4 motherboards like the B550 and X570 chipsets are NOT compatible with Ryzen 7000).

The only reason I would get a 5600X is if you find it for the same price as the 12400F or 12400, and you also don't plan on ever upgrading your CPU. Or, if you know for sure that the 5600X performs faster for other demanding non-gaming applications that you plan to use (and again, also don't plan on upgrading your CPU). As for the Ryzen 5 5600, if you find it cheaper than a 12400F, and again you don't mind the end-of-life platform that is AM4, it's worth considering without a doubt (and pair it with a B550 motherboard). But overall, the 12400F is the best value right now in the "mid-range" CPU market. As for choosing between the i5 12400F or 12400, remember that 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 and is the best bang for buck.

For storage, the WD Blue SN570 is still a great value option,  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 PC build under $1200 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).

But last and definitely not least, your power supply, and 650 watts is plenty for this system. The official PSU requirements is 650w for a 6700 XT (and 600w for a RTX 3060 Ti). This wattage is also generally going to be enough for a GPU upgrade in future, assuming you stick to decent-quality PSU units like the ones recommended for these builds, though it depends on how much you upgrade. If you're planning to throw in a much more expensive graphics card in future, look to get a 750w PSU from the get-go if possible. Otherwise, a good quality 650w unit will go a long way for most people. Oh, and if you're wondering about PSU cables for a 6700 XT (or RTX 3060 Ti if you go that route), 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 $2000

  • 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: AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT (16GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: WD Black SN770 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)

Recommended Usage:

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

AMD's best mid-range CPU right now is their latest Ryzen 5 7600X from the fresh new Ryzen 7000 series, but it requires spending more money on a DDR5 compatible motherboard and some DDR5 memory too (both of which cost more than the DDR4 platform) because the Ryzen 7000 series only runs on DDR5. Intel on the other hand supports either DDR4 or DDR5, including their latest 13th generation "Raptor Lake" series of CPUs that have only just released. From Intel's latest series, the Core i5 13600K and 13600KF are the most interesting for gamers seeking value for money. Choosing between the 13600K and 7600X is a tough call, as the latter is only slightly more expensive and gaming performance is very close.

The Intel chip will save you a bit of money overall though, especially if you get DDR4 memory and a DDR4 motherboard such as a Z690. Plus, when it comes to gaming performance, you'll hardly notice a real-world difference between DDR4 and DDR5. The 13600K is also faster in productivity applications too. That said, the 7600X is on a more "future proof" platform (AM5) which will allow you to upgrade to future CPU generations down the track should you decide to. Overall, your choice comes down to personal preference, but right now the best bang for buck is the 13600K or the 12600K from the previous 12th generation if you find it discounted. In terms of the 13600K vs 13600KF, the only difference is the latter lacks integrated graphics, so if you want to save money get the 13600KF as there's rarely a need for having integrated graphics when building a PC with a dedicated graphics card. 

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 getting one of Intel's higher-end CPUs such as the i7 13700K or i9 13900K. An i5 like the very capable 13600K is more than enough for the far majority of gamers, even for 144Hz monitors where CPU requirements are higher (relative to 60/75Hz displays). One reason to consider going beyond an i5 (to an i7, i9, or a Ryzen 7 or 9) would be to maximize performance in demanding non-gaming applications that hammer the CPU (ie programs that benefit from having more cores and threads). Same thing goes for AMD: a Ryzen 5 is more than enough for gaming, with the Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9 generally being overkill for gamers. Furthermore, pairing the Core i5 13600K or Ryzen 5 7600X with a super powerful GPU like a RX 6900XT or NVidia equivalent is totally fine and won't cause a CPU bottleneck in the far, 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.

To keep a 12600KF, 13600KF, or 7600X 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.

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 including WiFi 6 support. Also be aware this is the DDR4 version of the motherboard; there's a more expensive DDR5 model of the board. Intel 12th gen was the first series to support cutting-edge DDR5 memory, however it also supports DDR4 as well, and since the difference between DDR4 vs DDR5 for gaming is minimal (we're talking a few FPS faster) DDR4 is more than fine and will save you 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 some DDR5 memory sticks instead of DDR4. In which case I'd also get the 13600KF instead of the 12600KF. 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 anytime soon. And again, the performance difference is so small that it just doesn't matter.

As for the amount and speed of DDR4 RAM to include in a high-end $2000 build like this, 16GB of 3200MHz or 3600MHz RAM is still honestly all you really need to maximize gaming performance, even for the most demanding modern PC games. Having 32GB would help in heavy non-gaming applications that lean heavily on memory such as video/photo editing and game development, and even perhaps in a small handful of gaming situations, but the jump from 16GB to 32GB gives you diminishing returns on the extra investment. Put another way, if you mostly just care about gaming performance and want the most bang for buck, 16GB is still fine in 2022 and going into 2023, and IMHO you're better off putting the extra money you would have spent on another 16GB towards something else (like the GPU). That said, go for 32GB if you don't want to ever have to think about upgrading your RAM down the road in a few years time when 32GB may eventually become more beneficial in new games.

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 SN770 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 these days, so for a 2K build you might as well go for it IMO.

Now to the most important component for a gaming rig, and as with the other best PC builds for the money above, at this moment in time AMD wins the value war. Their mighty RX 6900 XT has significantly dropped in price over recent months to the point where you can find them for as low as $700 to $750, making it a fairly nice option considering its original MSRP was $1000 and also considering that competing NVidia cards are more overpriced right now (RTX 3080 and 3080 Ti).

But while AMD holds the value position right this second, there are other factors to consider. For example, 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. For VR gaming it's murkier, with no clear winner from what I see in the space. Generally speaking, it's hard to go wrong with either AMD or NVidia, but overall if you don't care for the aforementioned features and just want the most gaming performance for your money, AMD is your best bet right now.

When in genuine "high-end" territory, your choice of power supply starts to become very important. Not that it's ever NOT important, as you should always choose a good PSU for your gaming PC, but when building with a very powerful GPU like a RX 6900 XT (or even lesser cards like a RX 6800 or RTX 3070 or better) 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 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 truckload on your PSU purchase, but I highly suggest sticking to top-tier units when planning a powerful gaming PC build.

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. Oh, and 750 watts is plenty for 12600K 6900 XT build, even if overclocking your CPU. If you plan on upgrading to a monster GPU in future though (ie RTX 4090), do consider a 850 watt PSU instead though.

Topping off the $2000 build 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). 





Best Gaming PC Build Under $2500

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7700X (8 Cores)
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black
  • Motherboard: MSI MAG B650 Tomahawk WiFi (ATX, AM5, WiFi 6)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB 5600MHz DDR5 (2x16GB, C36)
  • Graphics Card: NIVIDA GeForce RTX 4080 (16GB GDDR6X)
  • 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 (Ultra / 120Hz / 144Hz)
  • 4K 60Hz / 144Hz (Ultra)
  • 1440p 144Hz / 240Hz (Ultra)
  • 1080p 240Hz+ (Pro Settings)
  • Best Build for Streaming (Twitch)
  • Best Workstation Build

If planning the ultimate gaming PC build, this is the zero compromises parts-list of near perfection that I can suggest based on the current market featuring the new Ryzen 7 7700X that now dominates CPU game benchmarks. This beautiful monstrosity ticks all the boxes that matter to hardcore PC or VR gamers, or for streamers wanting the best encoding performance to stream flawlessly to Twitch or Youtube while simultaneously gaming at high frame rates.

But it's not just about pure performance but also optimal cooling and airflow for maximum efficiency and longevity, future upgrade flexibility with the brand new AM5 socket that'll allow you to upgrade to a future Ryzen series, cutting-edge DDR5 memory, a premium dual storage setup including a super fast yet affordable Gen4 SSD and premium HDD for mass extra storage, an all-class spacious tempered-glass case with extra high-quality 140mm fans, and the latest RTX 4080 from NVidia.

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 recommend the RTX 4080 or RTX 3090 over the RX 6900 XT from the previous build. The 4080 / 3090 gives diminishing returns over a beast like the 6900 XT, but if you want the very best gaming performance money can buy right now without burning money on a crazily high-priced RTX 4090, the latest RTX 4080 is the card to get.


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

The Ryzen 7 7700X is my current top choice for gamers wanting the absolute fastest gaming CPU possible, which I would also recommend over Intel latest 13th gen when building a PC of this calibre (due to AMD's currently superior longevity in terms of future upgrades). Motherboard choices for the latest and greatest AM5 socket that these new Ryzen 7000 processors are based on is limited at the moment given how new these chips are, with your only choices being between the X670 and slightly more feature-rich (yet unnecessary) X670E motherboards. Based on the boards out at the moment, the MSI PRO X670-P WIFI is my top value pick right now and has everything you need for a very good 7700X build (including good quality onboard audio, the latest WiFi 6 built-in, and high quality VRMs to keep the board cool even if overclocking the 7700X).

You'll also need some brand spankin' new DDR5 memory for a 7700X build, seeing as the new AM5 socket only supports DDR5 (DDR4 is now a thing of the past for AMD CPUs moving forward). Enter good old Corsair and its Vengeance sticks - the 32GB 5600MHz and 5200MHz options offer good value right now from what's out there at the moment, and these speeds are more than enough for a 7700X gaming build (6000MHz or faster will give diminishing returns for gaming AFAIK).

To cool a powerful CPU like the 7700X, or 7900X/7950X if wanting to build a powerful hybrid gaming and workstation PC, there's nothing more effective than the menacing, notorious Noctua NH-D15 (see the NH-D15 install guide if you need) which has long-been the best air cooler on the market. But Noctua's flagship cooler is a beast in every sense of the word - the better the performance of an air cooler, the larger its surface area.

This means you need to think through the other components when using this monster - you need a case that fits it comfortably, 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 example, if choosing a more compact case like the Meshify C, while the NH-D15 will fit, it'll be a tight fit and installation won't be that easy (speaking from experience here; I've used the NH-D15 and Meshify C for someone's build once and it was tricky). For the Meshify C, the ideal would be a more compact, low-profile cooler like the Noctua NH-U12S Black or BK024 Dark Rock Slim, both of which are still excellent coolers that'll handle a top chip like the 7700X no problems (even if overclocking).

Lastly on CPU coolers, and as with any of these PC build examples, feel free to install a liquid AiO (All in One) instead if you prefer the look, but make sure to choose the right radiator size for your case (ie 240mm or 280mm) and also plan where you're going to install it etc.


The air cooler to end all air coolers

Back to the choice of case, and 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. But if it's not up your alley or you want a different style of case, any of the recommended cases from the $2000 build from above would work just great for this setup too (and would provide more room for a NH-D15 cooler if you want the very best of the best cooling in your rig possible).

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).

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.






FAQ

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

Found this build guide helpful? Have a quick question on your build? Let me know in the comments below.






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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