The Best Gaming PC Builds for the Money: Q4 2019 Recommended Components
From Minesweeper to Minecraft, Crysis to Control: Learn how to choose the right parts for your needs
Sample Gaming PC Builds for Beginners
Pinpointing the Current Best Value Parts on the Market to Strategically Stretch Gaming Performance, Component Reliability, Airflow & Aesthetics
Last Updated: October 21, 2019
It's that time again; another freshly-updated instalment of our best gaming PC builds for the money series. If you're looking to build the best bang for your buck gaming PC for maximum gaming performance right now in Q4 2019, the carefully-crafted recommended PC builds below are here to help you more easily make sense of the current market and choose the best value parts.
Unless you've been chilling under that cliche rock for considerable time, or you've just emerged from a non-stop 3-month-long mad gaming marathon on your quest to becoming the next 7-figure eSports superstar (never stop believing), over the past few months the hardware game has become real interesting with newfound heartily-healthy competition between giants Intel and AMD on the CPU front, and also between AMD and NVidia on the graphics side of things. There's currently a fiercely closely-contested mid and high-end gaming CPU war waging, the likes of which we've not seen for a long, long time.
When it comes to the latest Ryzen 3000 series CPUs that released a bit earlier in 2019, all the hype leading up to the launch has proven to be (mostly) real, and AMD CPUs have closed the gap on Intel's long-term grip on top-dog gaming performance. But that's not to say you should lose your balance of perspective and buy into extreme fanboy viewpoints. After all, only a Sith deals in absolutes.
Intel dead? Come on now, the empire does not fall so easily, and objectively and technically speaking, they still have an ever-so-slight edge for performance-perfectionist gamers wanting to fully maximize frame rates for competitive high refresh-rate gaming.
But the gap between Intel and AMD from a gaming standpoint is now so close that casual gamers and anyone building a hybrid gaming and multitasking/workstation/streaming computer should be seriously considering team red for their next build, as Ryzen CPUs now offer even more overall flexibility compared to previous generations (speaking of which, Ryzen 2nd gen is far from dead and currently represents great value).
But for the more serious gamer caring primarily (or solely) about squeezing out the highest frame-rate possible for 144Hz or 240Hz gaming (ie 144FPS and 240FPS+), Intel will still deliver those added extra frames to quench your quest for perfectionist-levels of performance.
That's not to say that AMD isn't good for such high frame rates, because as mentioned they come mightily close to the point that they're hard to ignore if you're doing anything else with your PC than gaming (although that said too, Intel can still make sense depending on the specific applications you're running...). Yup - one thing certainly hasn't changed; choosing parts can still be kinda complicated. It's a nuanced thing that depends on various factors and your specific requirements.
One thing is very clear though. All this competition between the big boys is great for us consumers as it leads to better prices for all, and the remainder of 2019 and into 2020 looks to continue the trend of the first half of the year as a good time to build a new PC. You definitely wouldn't have caught me saying this in the previous couple of years though, where hardware prices weren't nearly as attractive as they are now (*cough* last year's GPU Drought of Doom).
It's not just CPU and GPU prices that are much better these days though, as RAM and SSD prices have dropped of late too, and you'll see that reflected in our latest PC builds below which include bolstered storage and memory selections compared to the first half of 2019.
Let's cut the small talk and get into the best gaming PC builds for Q4 2019 (IMHO) for all spending budgets, and I hope they come in handy for planning your dream new setup. If you get stuck in research land of doom, leave a comment at the end and I or someone else will help you, and if you have any feedback on the builds (including the all-new tier names) then let me know too!
Note: See the full build guides linked below for each tier if you want detailed explanations and our thought process on why each component made the cut, including recommended alternative parts for different usages/preferences, estimated FPS in popular games, recommended monitors and peripherals, and any other relevant build tips. We don't just haphazardly recommend any random parts; each recommendation is carefully thought out to cleverly maximize any given budget based on where the current best bang for buck is within the hardware market.
Swipe to Scroll the Builds:
Optimal Gaming Performance, Component Quality & Build Balance for the Money
The target budget for each build includes the core hardware components only - NOT the monitor, Windows, or accessories (as these are down to personal preference).
A Note on Monitors:
The suggested resolutions and refresh rates in the "Display" column on the far left is only a suggestion for most gamers. Feel free to use a higher resolution/refresh-rate for a certain build. For example, the $800 build is recommended for a 1080p 60Hz monitor, but if you only play less-demanding games or don't mind using lower graphics settings you can use a 1080p 144Hz monitor with that build.
But same thing goes for using a lower resolution/refresh-rate for a certain build. For example, the $2000 build isn't in the same row as 1080p 144Hz, but some gamers will want to use such a strong build for 1080p 144Hz as some demanding games will require such a strong build to get 144FPS+ on ultra consistently.
A Note on the $5000+ Builds:
These are SLI builds (as in, they have two NVIDIA video cards) and only recommended if you understand the pros and cons to SLI and that not all games will take advantage of a second GPU (see the best games that support SLI here). SLI isn't for casual gamers wanting a quick plug-n-play experience, but for patient enthusiasts who don't mind tweaking settings. Also, these SLI builds are best if you install a full water cooling loop in your PC to handle the extra heat of dual cards, but you can get away without a full water loop such as the $5000 build if you use a good AiO liquid cooler for your CPU, choose a high airflow case, have enough case fans, etc.
Choosing an operating system for a gaming desktop comes down to Windows or Linux, but you're better off sticking to the former for simplicity (either Windows 10 Home, or Windows 10 Pro). While Linux is free and offers more control/security, it has a much steeper learning curve (if interested see this this good tutorial or this one).
Ways to Get Windows 10 for a New PC Build:
A: Buy a Windows 10 license direct from Microsoft online then download their Media Creation Tool to download Windows onto your own USB flash drive. Then plug it into your case when you first boot-up (cheapest way if you already have a spare flash drive that's 4GB or bigger)
Note: Consider Windows Pro edition instead of Home if you're building a hybrid gaming and workstation PC (USB version or DVD version).
Recommended Utility/Gaming Applications
As for other software applications to install to kick-off your new gaming PC in style (such as good anti-virus/malware, system monitoring, handy utilities, gaming applications, etc) see our continually-updated list of recommended applications for ideas:
We include specific monitor and accessory recommendations within the individual build guides (linked in the main table above), but you can also see all our recommended monitors/accessories for all budgets below in these guides:
If you're just building a PC for gaming you can skip this, but if you're planning your parts-list for other demanding tasks other than gaming (such as streaming, video editing, 3D rendering, audio engineering, game development, machine learning) see these accompanying guides:
But note that many of the main gaming builds already naturally double-up as great workstation, streaming and/or editing PCs too. For example, the $1500 "Gravity Gun" tier is an excellent multitasking/work system with the flexible Ryzen 7 3700X CPU, the $1000 "AK-47" is a good budget workstation system, and the $8000 and $10,000 builds (Elon Musk and Skynet V1) are not just the most overkill of overkill gaming builds but are great for 3D rendering/animation, game development, and machine learning/AI.
What About VR Gaming?
Any build $1000/1500+ will be fine for virtual reality headsets (see that guide for extra tips), with the $2000+ builds being ideal if you want the best possible performance now and over the next few years of the unfolding, utterly-exciting unknown rabbit hole that is VR gaming (btw Vader Immortal VR episode 1 and 2 looks like insane fun for SW fans).
Elon Musk vs Skynet: Coming to Earth 2066
How the Best Builds Are Decided
Each sample parts-list is carefully crafted for maximum value & performance at that price point
Each quarter we spend a great too many hours and all-nighters to obsessively, objectively re-think and tweak our recommended builds based on any recent changes in the market, to compile what we believe to be the current best PC builds for gaming at different price points for avid/pro gamers looking to fully maximize frame rates for any given budget and target resolution. We also update the main table above more frequently, such as twice monthly or sometimes even weekly, if there are any noticeable changes in the market from month to month and week to week that would affect our top picks.
The PC builds are crafted from a combination of objective analysis of what makes the fastest gaming PC build for a certain price point by weighing up multiple professional reviews, benchmark data and trusted expert opinions across the industry at large, as well as our own subjective opinion on what makes the best PC build for gaming right now without sacrificing on your other important parts, too.
In other words, each recommended parts-list is simply what we would personally buy right now if we had to build the best PC for any given price and target resolution as avid gamers wanting to get the highest frame rate possible at the highest graphics quality (though FPS is more important than quality if you're a competitive gamer; there's a reason most pro gamers use lower settings than most to achieve higher frame rates for 144Hz/240Hz monitors).
In our recommended computer builds we also favor beginner-friendly configurations of components (no intricate 8-hour custom water cooling loop installations unless you poke around the bottom of our builds chart; as a first-time builder just ignore the $4000+ enthusiast/workstation builds) that are easy to work with if you're a first or second-time builder, because ever since starting this best PC builds series way back around a decade ago (we were one of, if not the first site to do monthly/quarterly gaming builds but now it kinda seems like every dude and his 5 dogs are doing it) we've noticed a good chunk of our readers are first-time builders who are a little overwhelmed (don't be; building a PC really is simple and well worth it).
In our best gaming PC builds lineup we also avoid recommending a parts-list that would require extra potentially-confusing or troublesome steps such as combining a new Ryzen 3000 CPU with a B450 motherboard which would require you to update your new motherboard's BIOS using an old CPU before you're able to install your CPU.
Each build is planned for maximum gaming performance first and foremost, but in meticulously designing these example builds we also take into account all the other important aspects of building a good, well-balanced, long-lasting custom PC including getting the highest component quality and reliability for the money, ensuring good airflow to handle strenuous gaming sessions (AAA games can be some of the most taxing applications out there), allowing for good future upgrade flexibility so you don't encounter a dead-end with your rig a few years down the track, and last but not least choosing a universally-attractive matching parts-list that will look great once construction is complete and your battlestation of gaming glory is fully operational (insert Emperor laugh here...here's hoping Episode 9 is good).
Gaming Builds FAQ
There are many factors to consider when choosing how much to spend, and we discuss this in our introduction to building a gaming PC but let's quickly recap. The biggest factors in how much power you need is the screen resolution you want to play in (1080p, 1440p or 4K), and what types of games you're playing (as they can vary dramatically in how demanding they are on your hardware).
As a general rule of thumb, for standard 1080p resolution (full HD), which is what most gamers use in 2019 and will continue to do so in 2020, $400 - $800 will serve you well depending on the games you play and the performance level you'd be happy with. You can get away spending $300 to $400 if you're only playing lesser-demanding or older games, or you don't mind dropping to 720p resolution.
Next step up in quality is 1440p, which is also quite popular these days, and generally speaking for a good experience in most modern games you'll want to spend $800 to $1000 minimum. For a great experience in 4K resolution, to take full advantage of VR gaming, or for great high refresh-rate gaming on 144Hz or 240Hz monitors, you're looking at $1200-$1500 and above depending on your exact needs.
Of course! Customizing parts to your exact preferences can be part of the fun of building a PC.
Our list of the best gaming PC builds are our own opinion on what would make a great "safe bet" buy for any particular budget if you care about gaming most.
Just don't forget to always check compatibility between all of your parts when changing things around. If you need help or a second opinion, feel free to ask us in the comments and we'll gladly help a brother out.
Most modern motherboards actually 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.
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 for a new build, and some people will use Linux (which is free but more complicated). So when planning the best PC builds for gaming above we just focus on the core parts-list.
Choosing peripherals/accessories such as a monitor, keyboard, mouse and headset comes down to personal preference a lot more than the actual hardware (which is more based on objective data/facts of what performs best), and again like with the operating system, many people will reuse PC parts for a new build (see that article for tips). But for each build guide we include our top accessory recommendations for that specific build.
The age-old question older than is Intel better than AMD (yes, no, sometimes, maybe, depends). Overall, it 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. Case in point? Some Ryzen 2nd gen chips are a slight steal right now, such as the Ryzen 5 2600 which is amazing value objectively-speaking.
Possibly, but it depends on pricing and availability in your particular country, etc.
Hardware is an international product, and generally speaking if a certain component is a good buy in the USA it's usually also a good buy in other countries (if it's not overpriced where you live).
All the Amazon product links we list in the builds table will automatically direct you to your local country's store where possible, and in our individual build guides we also provide additional links for Australia and the UK.
We keep the main builds chart above continually updated at least once a month (to reflect any noticeable changes in the market that would alter our top picks) and we update the detailed, individual build guides for each tier once a quarter (every 3 months). So, for the very latest recommendations at any given time, refer to the table above first.
Nope - we're 100% independently operated and not affiliated with any specific manufacturer or brand, and pride ourselves on being as objective and unbiased as humanly possible in our recommendations.
If we include a certain company over and over again (eg we do love recommending ASUS boards, especially for beginners, and we do have a thing for EVGA and their typically great value PSUs right now), it's simply because we think it's a great buy.
Nor are we fanboys of any company: we love to see the underdog do well because that's essentially what we are as a site, but we don't let that emotion get in the way of our objective recommendations. Hence why post Ryzen 3rd gen there's still a lot of Intel in our chart, because the facts do not lie and for serious gamers they are still the (ever so slightly) better choice in the high-end.
Because these are the greatest gaming PC builds on the planet handed down by legendary PCMR elders who have gone before me.
Seriously though, don't trust what we or anyone says on the internet without doing your own research, especially when it comes to a large and (hopefully) long-lasting purchase like building a new gaming PC. In saying that we do pride ourselves on giving the best, tailored, well thought-out recommendations that we possibly can and for many years have obsessed over the ever-evolving DIY landscape to better serve you as beginner or intermediate builders.
Our recommendations aren't just quickly hashed-up selections at random like some of the advice and guidance you might find elsewhere online and we never recommend anything without proper thought, weighing up all the options available, and carefully comparing our findings with what the smartest minds in the industry are thinking (people much smarter than me).
While there are good builds out there if you know where and what to look for, there is a ton of inaccurate, misleading, or straight-up bad advice/builds out there in internet land, so you have to be careful from where and whom you take your advice if you're a beginner who doesn't know any better. For example, while age is no barrier to smarts/awareness (or even experience if you start early enough), any 14 year old kid can whip up a YouTube channel and start pumping out tech recommendations without too much nuanced thought, and some people might see a flashy professional intro or something and assume it's good advice.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not alluding to say our advice and builds are the best in the land, though I'm not gonna lie and say part of our aim isn't to provide the very best, most accurate recommendations possible - and that means conjuring the best starting-point builds for casual or serious gamers/VR enthusiasts that we can. But again, always do your own research.
Great - tell G Ma to post a better sample build below with accompanying reasoning as we are more than open to different viewpoints and any feedback on how you feel a certain tier could be improved to be a better starting point for beginners, especially if you or Grandma are fellow enthusiasts who enjoy this stuff and who genuinely wants to help make our builds the best they can be. If you make a good case we'll definitely take it on-board because we don't live in echo chambers of egoic delusion.
You're dead to me ;) If George didn't create the best alternate universe to our own Milky Way in the history of mankind, I'll mail you a couple Titan RTX's by the week's end to SLI your face off. And citing prequels as your data point (so to speak) won't be winning you monster overkill GPUs anytime soon, for contrary to popular opinion I like them just as much. Oh, and the sequels don't count as they're not George-created so they never stood much of a chance to be as good perfect as 1-6 (Rogue One was alright though).
Enjoyed the builds or have your own 2 cents to share? Need help tweaking a certain build for your requirements?
Comment below and we'll help a gamer out.
Anyway, hope the builds help you in your research. Oh and subscribe via email below to be notified when the next instalment of our best gaming PC builds are published.
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