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The Best Gaming PC Builds for the Money: Q4 2020 (October Update ft. RTX 3000)

Recommended Components to Maximize Bang for Buck When Building a PC


Our recommended custom desktop computer builds for gamers

Our featured game this time is the astronomically anticipated, perpetually postponed Cyberpunk 2077 which finally, actually, truly releases November 2020. Well, probably. Whatever happens, chances are sky-high it'll be worth the wait (Background Image Credit: Steam)



Always Updated, Beginner-Friendly PC Build Templates

Pinpointing the Current Top Value PC Parts on the Market to Strategically Stretch Gaming Performance, Component Reliability, Airflow & Aesthetics



Last Updated: October 5, 2020

Welcome to the latest instalment in our best gaming PC builds for the money series. In this comprehensive guide to selecting the current best value PC hardware for your particular budget, we've done the painstaking, meticulous hardware market research to carefully plan and publish what we believe to be the current best custom PC builds for gaming right now to help you plan the perfect parts-list and stretch your money further.

The ever-changing and almost-always confusing PC hardware landscape can be tricky to navigate as a first or second-time PC builder, as there's almost endless configuration possibilities you could assemble. However, not all parts are created equal in terms of value, so we hope our PC build examples help you in becoming a savvier shopper and more easily understand how to choose the right parts for your awesome new setup.

You're probably already aware that taking the DIY path to build your own computer is the best way to stretch your money further and get a highest performing, longest lasting, best looking custom gaming PC for less money than buying a premade gaming desktop. But when building your first PC, choosing the right combination of compatible, high value-for-money PC parts can get quite confusing. Especially if you don't continually keep up with latest happenings in the ever-evolving hardware market where new models seemingly get released every 3 seconds.

New to Hardware? Intro to Building Your 1st PC

Each build is carefully crafted for max gaming performance, cooling & reliability for that price point

Picking parts isn't just confusing because of the near-limitless hardware combinations you could go for, but also because of all the little things you need to consider when choosing the best PC parts-list such as ensuring full compatibility between all components, allowing for flexible future upgrades, making sure you have all the necessary features for your needs, and so on. 

That's why each quarter of the year I tap into the decade-plus experience I have with build design and assembly to analyze the current market and publish the best gaming PC builds I can muster (IMO), in order to help spark ideas for your first (or next) custom setup. So if you're planning your dream custom computer to assemble this holiday season to take your gaming experience to the next level, I hope the following in-depth PC build templates and accompanying explanations come in handy during your research.

Let's get straight into the recommended builds for this quarter, followed by full breakdowns of why each component made the cut, along with a ton of beginner tips and tricks to level-up your DIY knowledge. If you're new to PCs and you get confused when we mention different resolutions, frame rates, or refresh rates, don't miss the important "About Resolutions, Refresh Rates & Estimated FPS" section as it explains most of the basics. Good luck and have fun.

No Time to Build a PC? The Best Prebuilt Gaming PCs for the Money






Recommended PC Builds: Q4 2020 (Main Chart)



Please keep these things in mind when using our builds in your research:

  • Total costs for each build is in USD (US Dollars).
  • Total costs are estimates, and not an exact amount. Hardware prices continually fluctuate based on supply vs demand.
  • For simplicity, the total costs are for the core components that make up the tower only. Windows, and accessories (monitor, keyboard, mouse) will cost extra. We leave these out as they're completely down to personal preference (and there are tons of different types). Plus, you might want to reuse accessories from a previous PC, re-use Windows (if your current copy allows you to use it on multiple PCs), or buy used accessories to save money on your PC build.
  • Our suggested parts link to Amazon US, as we plan these builds primarily around the North American market, but the links will automatically re-direct you to your local store if you're outside the USA (for our readers in Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain).
  • For each part we also list an alternative store for the US, as well as a direct links for the UK and Australia. If we find a more suitably-priced part for the UK or AU, we may link to a different component for that region (one that's still compatible with the other parts).

  • Read the full build breakdowns below for explanations on why we chose certain parts, which also includes FPS estimates for various games. If you're confused about certain specs, see our individual hardware guides too (motherboard FAQgraphics card FAQpower supply FAQ - see the rest in our main site menu).
  • After reading this guide, if you're still stuck or want a quick second opinion on your parts list feel free to ask a question in the comments and we'll help a fellow builder out (usually within 48-72 hours - for faster support see the premium email support included with certain versions of our full eBook for first-time PC builders).


Swipe Left to Scroll:


Best PC Builds for Gaming Performance, Airflow, & Longevity (Q4 2020)

BUDGET
CPU
COOLER
MOTHERBOARD
RAM
GRAPHICS
STORAGE
POWER
CASE
$300 Gaming PC Build


Probe Droid

AMD Athlon 3000G

- 2 Cores, 4 Threads

- APU (CPU With Graphics)

- 3.5GHz Base Speed



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
AMD Basic Cooler

- Stock Standard Cooler

- Comes With the CPU

MSI A320M-A Pro MAX

- Micro ATX

- 1 Case Fan Header

- Good if < $60

- Plug 2nd Case Fan to PSU

- Or Buy Splitter (Explained Below)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
TeamGroup T-FORCE VULCAN Z 16GB

- 3200MHz DDR4

- 2 x 8GB (Dual Channel)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
AMD Integrated Graphics

- Radeon Vega 3

- Built Into CPU

TeamGroup T-Force Vulcan 500GB

- 2.5" SSD (SATA)

- DRAM Cache (Longevity)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Thermaltake Smart 430

- 430 Watts

- 80+ White Certified

- Non Modular

- Get 500w (Below) if Similar Price



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Rosewill FBM-01

- Mini Tower

- 2 Included Fans (120mm, 80mm)

- Good if ~ $40



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
$400 Gaming PC Build


Baby Yoda

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

- 4 Cores, 4 Threads

- APU (Integrated Graphics)

- 3.6GHz Base (4.0GHz Boost)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
AMD Wraith Stealth

- Stock Standard Cooler

- Comes With the CPU

ASRock B450M Pro4

- Micro ATX

- Ryzen 3000 Ready BIOS

- 2 Case Fan Headers

- 1G LAN, 4 RAM Slots, 1 M2 Slot



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above AMD Integrated Graphics

- Radeon Vega 8

- Built Into CPU

As Above Thermaltake Smart 500

- 500 Watts

- 80+ White Certified

- Non-Modular



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
DeepCool Matrexx 30

US / UK / AU

- Mini Tower

- 1 Included Fan (Rear 120mm)

- Good if < $45

+

SickleFlow 120mm LED Fan (Green)

US / UK / AU

- Install in Front

$500 Gaming PC Build


Turret

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

- 4 Cores, 8 Threads

- APU (Integrated Graphics)

- 3.7GHz Base (4.2GHz Boost)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above As Above As Above AMD Integrated Graphics

- Radeon Vega 11

- Built Into CPU

Western Digital Blue 500GB

- M.2 SSD (PCIe SATA)

- DRAM Cache (Longevity)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
EVGA 500 BR

- 500 Watts

- 80+ Bronze Certified

- Non Modular



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Thermaltake Versa H18

US / UK / AU

- Mini Tower (Tempered Glass)

- Built-in Blue LED Strip

- 1 Included Fan (Rear 120mm)

+

2 x SickleFlow 120mm LED Fan (Blue)

US / UK / AU

- Install in Front

$600 Gaming PC Build


Snow-speeder

AMD Ryzen 3 3100

- 4 Cores, 8 Threads

- 3.6GHz Base Speed

Good if < $110



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above ASRock B450M Steel Legend

- Micro ATX

- Ryzen 3000 Ready BIOS

- 2 Case Fan Headers



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (Black)

- 3200MHz (CL16)

- 2 x 8GB (Dual Channel)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
XFX RX 570 RS

- 4GB GDDR5

- Get 8GB Model if Similar Price



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above As Above

OR

EVGA 500 GD

US / UK / AU

OR

be quiet! Pure Power 11 500

US / UK / AU

- Both 500 Watts

- Both 80+ Gold Certified

- Both Non-Modular

Fractal Design Focus G

US / UK / AU

- Mini Tower (Acrylic Window)

- 2 Included Fans (Front 120mm White LED)

+

Silent Series LL 120mm LED Fan

US / UK / AU

- Install in Rear (As Exhaust)

$800 Gaming PC Build


AT-ST Walker

AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

- 4 Cores, 8 Threads

- 3.8GHz Base Speed

Good if < $130



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above ASRock B450 Steel Legend

- ATX (Full Size)

- Ryzen 3000 Ready BIOS

- 3 Case Fan Headers



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above EVGA GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra (or wait for 3050 etc)

- 6GB GDDR6

- Dual Fan

- Zotac Model Also Good



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Western Digital Blue 1TB

- M.2 SSD (PCIe SATA)

- DRAM Cache (Longevity)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Corsair CX550M

- 550 Watts

- 80+ Bronze Certified

- Semi Modular



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Cooler Master NR600

- Mid Tower (Tempered Glass)

- 2 Included Fans (1 Front, 1 Rear)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
$1000 Gaming PC Build


Storm-trooper

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

- 6 Cores, 12 Threads

- 3.6GHz Base Speed



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above As Above

OR

MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

- ATX (Full Size)

- Ryzen 3000 Ready BIOS

- 4 Case Fan Headers



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (White)

- 3200MHz (CL16)

- 2 x 8GB (Dual Channel)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Wait for RTX 3060 or AMD Big Navi

- May Be 6GB or 8GB

- Likely To Be GDDR6

As Above

OR

Crucial MX500 1TB

- M.2 SSD (PCIe SATA)

- DRAM Cache (Longevity)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Corsair CX650M

- 650 Watts

- 80+ Bronze Certified

- Semi Modular

- EVGA 650 BQ Also Good



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Corsair 275R Airflow

- Mid Tower (Tempered Glass)

- 3 Included 120mm Fans

- 2 x Front 120mm (Intake), 1 Rear 120mm (Exhaust)

- Ignore False Flag With Tomahawk if Using PCPP (see here or here)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
$1200 Gaming PC Build


Tie Fighter

As Above Cooler Master Hyper 212 (Black Edition)

- Great for Stock CPU Speed

- Good for Overclocking Too

- RGB Black Edition Also Great



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
MSI B550-A Pro

- ATX (Full Size)

- Great Value B550 Model

- Get B550 AORUS PRO AC if Need WiFi



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB

- 3600MHz (CL16)

- 2 x 8GB (Dual Channel)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Wait for RTX 3060 Ti or AMD Big Navi

- Confirmed to Be 8GB

- Likely To Be GDDR6

As Above EVGA SuperNOVA G3 650

US / UK / AU

OR

Corsair RMx RM650x

US / UK / AU

- 650 Watts

- 80+ Gold, Modular

Phanteks P400A

- Mid Tower (Tempered Glass)

- 2 Included Fans

- Fan Controller (On Top Panel)

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

- NZXT H510 Also Good Value But Worse Airflow



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
< $1500 Gaming PC Build


Jedi

Intel Core i5-10600K

- 6 Cores, 12 Threads

- 4.1GHz Base (4.8GHz Turbo)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above

OR

ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports

- Great Value for Stock 10600K

- Decent for Overclocking Too



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
MSI Z490-A Pro

US / UK / AU

OR

ASUS Prime Z490-P

US / UK / AU

- Both ATX (Full Size)

- Both Socket LGA 1200 (Intel 10th Gen Only)

- Both 2 x M.2 Slots

- 2.5G LAN (Z490-A Pro), 1G LAN (Z490-P)

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB

- 3200MHz (CL16)

- 2 x 8GB (Dual Channel)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Wait for RTX 3070 (Launches Late Oct)

- 8GB GDDR6

US / UK / AU
Sabrent Rocket 1TB

- Best Value NVMe M.2 SSD

- DRAM Cache (Longevity)

- WD Black SN750 Also Great



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750

US / UK / AU

OR

Corsair RMX RM750x

US / UK / AU

- 750 Watts

- 80+ Gold, Modular

Cooler Master MasterCase H500

- Mid Tower (Tempered Glass)

- 3 Included Fans

- Phanteks Enthoo Pro M TG and Enthoo Pro Also Good Value



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
< $2000 Gaming PC Build


Vader

Intel Core i7-10700K

- 8 Cores, 16 Threads

- 3.8GHz Base (5.1GHz Turbo)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Noctua NH-U12S (Black)

US / UK / AU

OR

Cryorig H7

US / UK / AU

- Top Value, High-Quality Coolers

- Both Good Clearance for Tall RGB RAM

- Both Great for Stock Speeds

- Both Great for Overclocking

Asus Z490-Plus TUF Gaming

- ATX (Full Size)

- WiFi 6, 2.5G LAN

- Socket LGA 1200 (Intel 10th Gen Only)

- MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge Also Good Value



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above Asus TUF RTX 3080

- 10GB GDDR6X

- Triple Fan

- Gigabyte Eagle and Gaming OC Also Great



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
As Above

+

Seagate Barracuda 2TB

- Good HDD (7200RPM)

- Stores Lots of Big Games

US / UK / AU
As Above Fractal Design Meshify C

US / UK / AU

- Compact Mid Tower (Tempered Glass)

- 2 Included 120mm Fans

- Pure Base 500DX Also Great

+

2 x Noctua NF-A14 PW 140mm Fan (Black)

US / UK / AU

- Install Both in Front

- Move Stock 120mm Front Fan to Rear Top

< $3000 Gaming PC Build


Star Destroyer

Intel Core i9-10900K

10 Cores, 20 Threads

- 3.7GHz Base (5.3GHz Turbo)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Noctua NH-D15 Black

- ATX (Full Size)

- Ultimate Air Cooler

- Dark Rock Pro 4 Also Great



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming

- ATX (Full Size)

- Socket LGA 1200 (Intel 10th Gen Only)

- WiFi 6, 2.5G LAN



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (Black)

- 3200MHz (CL16)

- 2 x 16GB (Dual Channel)

- Low-Profile to Avoid Clashing With NH-D15



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
EVGA RTX 3080 FTW3 Gaming

- 10GB GDDR6X

- Triple Fan



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Samsung 970 Evo 1TB

US / UK / AU

- Premium M.2 SSD

- NVMe PCIe 3.0

- Top Speeds & Reliability

- DRAM Cache (Longevity)

+

Western Digital Black 2TB

US / UK / AU

- Premium HDD

EVGA SuperNOVA G3 850

US / UK / AU

OR

Corsair RMX RM850x

US / UK / AU

- 850 Watts

- 80+ Gold Certified

- Both Top Reliability

- EVGA G2 Also Great

Phanteks Eclipse P600S

- Large Mid Tower (Tempered Glass)

- 3 Included Phanteks Fans

- 2 x 140mm (Front)

- 1 x 140mm (Rear)

- Meshify S2 and Air 540 Also Great



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
< $4000 Gaming PC Build


RGB Death Star

As Above Corsair H100i RGB Platinum (Black)

- Install to Top of Case

- Position Fans Blowing Up (Exhaust)

- RGB Syncs With Case Fans

US / UK / AU
Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero Z490

- ATX (Full Size)

- Socket LGA 1200 (Intel 10th Gen Only)

- WiFi 6, 5G + 1G LAN



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
2 x
Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB (Black)

- 3200MHz (CL16)

- 4 x 16GB (64GB Total)



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Asus TUF RTX 3090 OC

- 24GB GDDR6X

- Triple Fan



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Samsung 970 Pro 1TB

US / UK / AU

- M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0)

- Ultimate PCIe Gen3 SSD

- DRAM Cache (Longevity)

+

Western Digital Black 4TB

US / UK / AU

- Premium HDD

Corsair HX Platinum 1000

- 1000 Watts

- Get 1200w Model if Similar Price

- 80+ Platinum Certified

- Highest Reliability



Alternative Stores:

US / UK / AU
Corsair 680X

US / UK / AU

- Large Mid Tower (Tempered Glass)

- 3 x 120mm LL120 RGB (Front), 1 x 120mm (Rear)

- White Version Also Great

- H500P Also Great

+

Corsair LL120 RGB Fans (3 Pack)

US / UK / AU

- Includes RGB Fan Controller

- Get White Version for White Case

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Live Streaming to Twitch As Well?

If you're not just gaming, but also live streaming your games to Twitch or YouTube, we recommend AMD Ryzen CPUs for their slightly better multitasking and CPU encoding performance. Not that Intel is bad for streaming, but AMD have a slight edge at the moment (especially if you're doing CPU encoding for the highest-quality streams). So, if you're building a PC for gaming AND streaming, in the builds above where we recommend the Intel i5 10600K, i7 10700K, or i9 10900K, consider the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, Ryzen 9 3900X, or Ryzen 9 3950X instead (and change the motherboard too). See our streaming PC build guide for more.






Build Breakdowns and Estimated Performance




The Best $300 Gaming PC Build (October 2020)

  • CPU: AMD Athlon 3000G (APU)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard
  • Motherboard: MSI A320M-A Pro MAX (Micro ATX)
  • RAM: TeamGroup T-FORCE VULCAN Z 16GB (2x8GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics: AMD Vega 3 (CPU Integrated)
  • Storage: TeamGroup T-Force Vulcan 500GB SSD (2.5")
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake Smart 430 (Non Modular, 80+ White)
  • Case: Rosewill FBM-01 (Mini Tower)

Build Breakdown

By strategically choosing a list of the most "bang for buck" cheap components on the market right now, you can stretch a seemingly insignificant budget of $300 US Dollars further than most people realize, and you can build a gaming PC that provides surprisingly decent performance in older games as you can see from our FPS estimates for this parts-list.

Like all our recommended builds, you have the ability to easily upgrade to a graphics card in future (this build relies on the CPU's integrated graphics chip) which would take 1080p performance to the next level. But as it is, the $300 build is more than capable of good 720p performance in many games, and decent frame rates in even 1080p (full HD) for certain titles. For example, if all you're doing is building a PC for World of Warcraft, this setup will get you around 60FPS on lower settings, and not far off 60FPS on medium settings (which is still great; you don't need 60FPS at all times to fully enjoy a game, so long as you don't often creep too low such as 30FPS).

The Athlon 3000G processor is an easy choice for a build of this amount, as for around just $50 US dollars nothing comes close. It comes with a built-in graphics chip that does a surprisingly good job, allowing for light gaming as mentioned, and as a CPU in general, while only being a dual-core it's fast enough for a speedy home office PC for internet use and work/study.

When you pair the 3000G with a healthy amount of fast RAM like the good-value, dual-channel 16GB 3200MHz sticks from TeamGroup we currently recommend (they are indeed reputable despite you perhaps not having heard of them), the 3000G can run non-demanding (or older) games at good frame rates. And these days, many popular games are actually not that demanding.  Buying 3000MHz RAM modules is fine too, but whatever you do ALWAYS get 2 sticks and not just 1, as running dual-channel memory (all modern motherboards support this so long as you have 2 RAM sticks) noticeably improves gaming performance over single-channel (1 stick).

RAM is fairly important for AMD CPUs, but even more so when it comes to an AMD APU like the 3000G. As for size, opting for 8GB of RAM instead isn't the end of the world, but you would get lower performance, and you'd also be stuck with that amount, as real cheap motherboards mostly only have 2 RAM slots. Getting 16GB out the gate is highly recommended to avoid a RAM bottleneck in future, and besides, 16GB isn't that much more expensive than 8GB these days and is entirely worth the extra money (again, especially in this unique situation where you are limited to a motherboard with only 2 RAM slots; every other build of ours has 4 RAM slots).

To compliment the stars of the $300 build (3000G + good RAM), you want to pick the cheapest possible components that are also the best quality that you can find, which is exactly what we've done with a very basic, barebones motherboard, but one that gets the job done and is better than other boards in its price tier, a cheap 500GB SSD that doesn't sacrifice too much on quality and reliability (unlike many cheap SSDs, this one has D-RAM cache, an important feature for a reliable, long-lasting boot drive), and a cheap but not-entirely-horrible power supply that is adequate for a basic gaming PC like this. 

Codename: Probe Droid

Target Budget: ~ $300 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Low Settings)
  • 720p/900p 60Hz (Low/Medium)

Estimated Frame Rates

720p LOW SETTINGS
GAME AVERAGE FPS
Rocket League 150 - 170
CSGO 80 - 100
Fortnite 50 - 60
Rainbox Six: Siege 50 - 60
GTA V 40 - 50
PUBG 30 - 40
Apex Legends 30 - 40
The Witcher 3 25 - 35


1080p LOW SETTINGS
GAME AVERAGE FPS
League of Legends 140 - 180
Rocket League 80 - 100
World of Tanks 80 - 100
CSGO 60 - 80
World of Warcraft 50 - 70
Fortnite 35 - 45
Overwatch 30 - 40
GTA V 25 - 35
SW Battlefront II 25 - 35
PUBG unplayable
Crysis lol

The 430 watts of power provided by the Thermaltake Smart 430, the cheapest PSU we can recommend that will suffice for cheap APU builds like this, is more than enough for a low-powered parts-list of this nature, and enough for low-powered GPU upgrades in future. Just note if you do plan on adding a graphics card later on, for more power-hungry budget cards like the RX 570 make sure to get a 500 or 550w power supply. But a 430-450 watt power supply is fine if getting a budget NVidia card like a GTX 1650 or 1650 Super (what we'd recommend) as they are more power efficient than AMD cards.

To round off our best $300 gaming PC build is a cheap, small Rosewill case, which as you can expect for the price is nothing fancy, but it is one of the better super-cheap cases out there as it looks decent and comes with 2 pre-installed fans, which most other cases in this price range lack. Just don't pay more than $40 for this little guy, otherwise you're better off getting something a bit better (with a side window and mesh front for better airflow) like the case in our next build below.

The best $50 CPU...In History.

Install Tips

  • Super cheap motherboards like the MSI A320M-A Pro MAX only have 1 fan header connection on them, meaning you can only connect 1 case fan directly to the motherboard. Since the Rosewill FBM-01 case we recommend has 2 pre-installed fans (a nice touch for such a cheap case, albeit being small and basic fans), you can connect one fan to the motherboard's single fan header, and one directly to the power supply (into a 4-pin Molex connector). Or, you can buy a cheap fan splitter (like this or this) to connect both fans to the motherboard's fan header, which allows you to control the speed of the fans. This isn't necessary though, unless you find that the fan that's connected to your power supply is too loud for your liking.

  • The Rosewill FBM-01 doesn't come with a 2.5" SSD drive bay, but there are screws on the bottom of the case to mount a 2.5" SSD meaning that you won't need to purchase a 2.5" to 3.5" bracket/adapter (the case does have 3.5" drive bays).

  • When building with a small case like this that has limited space behind the motherboard for cablge management, and a non-modular power supply with bundles of power supply cables that will go unused, you can simply tie up and tuck away those cables in an empty drive bay.

  • Unlike most other cases, the FBM-01 has the power supply mounted to the top of the case, so you might find it easier to install the power supply into the case before you install the motherboard.

  • This case isn't recommended for carpet. The FBM-01 draws air in from the front-bottom of the case near the pull handle, but this area can be blocked off if resting on carpet as this particular case isn't raised much over the floor (better cases with a similar airflow design aren't as restricted as they're often raised higher off the floor). If you want your PC to rest on carpet, look elsewhere.



The Best $400 Gaming PC Build (October 2020)

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G (APU)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard
  • Motherboard: ASRock B450M Pro4 (Micro ATX)
  • RAM: TeamGroup T-FORCE VULCAN Z 16GB (2x8GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics: AMD Vega 8 (CPU Integrated)
  • SSD: TeamGroup T-Force Vulcan 500GB SSD (2.5")
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake Smart 500 (Non Modular, 80+ White)
  • Case: DeepCool Matrexx 30 (Mini Tower)
  • Extra Fan: 1 x Cooler Master SickleFlow 120mm (Green LED)

Build Breakdown

Building on the previous system, with an extra $100 to spend your best bet to maximize return on investment as a gamer is to up your CPU to the 3200G, another great value AMD CPU with surprisingly good integrated graphics. A $400 budget also affords you a better motherboard such as the great value ASRock B450M Pro4 (one of the best budget B450 boards), as well as a better, more airflow-friendly case like the DeepCool Matrexx 30 which is quite basic but looks better than many other budget cases in its price tier.

The same 16GB 3200MHz RAM remains from the previous build, but that's all you need for modern gaming and so you'll see this same size and speed of RAM remain for the majority of the builds (just slightly different variations depending on the other parts). Just remember to always get 2 RAM sticks, and never just one, as running 2 sticks means your RAM will run (automatically) in what's called "dual channel" mode, which has been proven many times to notably increase gaming performance when using a CPU with integrated graphics (like the 3200G).

The same power supply from the best $300 build above remains for our recommended $400 setup, but with a little extra wattage (500w model instead of 430w) to more comfortably accommodate future upgrades. Same SSD too, as the T-Force Vulcan 500GB is currently top value, assuming you find it cheaper than other options like the WD Blue M.2 SSD in your particular region (otherwise get the M.2 instead).

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G processor and its integrated graphics chip is the entry point for 1080p gaming, but you'll still need to lower the settings to get smooth performance of 40FPS and higher (which is the base performance level you want to shoot for). But as mentioned with the 3000G in the $300 build, AMD's APUs go further than many people may realize, especially if you pair it with a very healthy 16GB of fast 3200MHz RAM (and dual-channel, ie 2 sticks).

In other words, for light or casual gaming, and especially for non demanding games, these days you don't need to buy a dedicated/discrete graphics card to get decent, smooth performance in titles like Fortnite, Rocket League, LoL, and so on. For example, if you're just playing League of Legends you'll get excellent performance of around 100FPS or higher on low or medium settings. With Dota 2 you'll get around 60FPS on medium settings too. Not too shabby at all. In Fortnite, on medium settings in 1080p you should get 40FPS minimum, which is more than playable. Crank down to low settings and you'll average up around 60FPS or higher.

Codename: Baby Yoda

Target Budget: ~ $400 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Low/Medium)

Estimated Frame Rates

1080p MEDIUM SETTINGS
GAME AVERAGE FPS
Fortnite 40 - 60
Rocket League 60 - 80
Overwatch 60 - 70
CSGO 80 - 100
League of Legends 110 - 130
DOTA 2 40 - 70

With more demanding games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, Assassins Creed Odyssey, Battlefront 2, GTA V, and so on, reality does strike back though and you'll definitely want a more powerful system for these more-demanding games. In other words, if building the best gaming PC for $400 US, planning your system around the Ryzen 3 3200G is the best overall value option right now for its surprisingly decent integrated graphics performance when paired with good RAM. This CPU alone rivals dedicated cheap graphics cards like the GT 1030 or RX 550, which aren't worth it anymore as getting them along with a CPU would work out more expensive than the 3200G (for roughly the same performance).

Back to the motherboard, and it's worth mentioning it was a close call between the ASRock Pro4 and the Gigabyte B450 Aorus M, another good value B450. The Pro4 wins out for its superior upgrade flexibility though, as it sports better VRMs/cooling, meaning better support for more powerful CPUs should you have that in your back pocket as a future upgrade. That said, not everyone upgrades their CPU, so either motherboard is a good value buy, as well as the MSI B450M Pro-VDH MAX which would be our third option right now based on pricing at the time of writing.

Install Tips

  • If installing an extra case fan as we suggest for the $400 build (to improve airflow, aesthetics and be ready for the future if upgrading to a graphics card) then you will need to mount it to the front-bottom of the case, and not the front-middle. If you try the latter, you'll find that the front panel won't be able to be re-attached (to install the fan you need to remove the front panel). 
  • Connect the additional front fan to the motherboard if you want to be able to adjust its speed (so if it runs too loud for your liking, you can turn it down a bit). If you connect the fan to the power supply instead, it will just run at maximum speed.
The Low-Spec King of 2020



The Best $500 Gaming PC Build (October 2020)

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3400G (APU)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard
  • Motherboard: ASRock B450M Pro4 (Micro ATX)
  • RAM: TeamGroup T-FORCE VULCAN Z 16GB (2x8GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics: AMD Vega 11 (CPU Integrated)
  • SSD: Western Digital Blue 500GB SSD (M.2 SATA)
  • Power Supply: EVGA 500 BR (Non-Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Thermaltake Versa H18 (Mini Tower)
  • Extra Fans: 2 x Cooler Master SickleFlow 120mm (Blue LED)

Build Breakdown

Our recommended $500 build is essentially the previous $400 setup but with the slightly-faster 3400G instead of the 3200G, which has a better integrated graphics chip for higher frame rates (and 8 threads instead of the 3200G's 4 threads; both are quad-core CPUs though). You can also squeeze in a better, more reliable, more efficient EVGA power supply, which will be better suited to accommodating a future graphics card upgrade (which, like the previous builds, are the logical upgrade to do in future).

Also included is another good budget case with respectable airflow (Versa H18), along with a couple extra 120mm value for money fans (SickleFlow are good budget fans but nowhere near quiet so keep that in mind) to make the most of its front-mesh design. Again, like the previous build, the extra fans isn't technically needed for this particular prats-list, since this is a low-powered APU build (ie integrated graphics; no graphics card), but it will make for optimal cooling, better aesthetics (a little bit of LED lighting you can see through the front), and a more "future proof" build that will be ready to cool a mid-tier graphics card should you upgrade to one in future (which this case is absolutely more than suitable for, being one of the better budget airflow cases IMO) without having to go back in and install an extra case fan later.

For storage, like all our cheap gaming PC builds, we suggest a 500GB SSD. Not a huge amount of space, but sufficient enough to get most people started for a fair while, and you can always easily add a second SSD (or HDD) down the track (internal, or even an external one if you prefer). Including a large 1TB drive in our cheaper build recommendations would mean having to sacrifice other parts. 500GB can go a long way for gamers who aren't installing a ton of games, but if you do plan on getting a heap from the get-go (5-10) then perhaps get 1TB instead.

In terms of performance, many gamers think that you need a discrete (ie dedicated) graphics card to build a good gaming PC, but if you're only playing less demanding games (many popular titles these days actually fall into that category) and also willing to compromise on the settings (graphics quality), using the solid integrated graphics capability of the 3400G is a completely viable solution as you can see from our FPS estimations just above.

Codename: Turret

Target Budget: ~ $500 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Low/Medium)

Estimated Frame Rates


1080p MEDIUM SETTINGS
GAME AVERAGE FPS
Fortnite 70 - 80
Rocket League 80 - 90
CSGO 130 - 150
DOTA 2 80 - 90
PUBG 35 - 45
GTA 5 40 - 50

Install Tips

  • If choosing the Versa H18 case, as mentioned you want to add at least 1 more fan, as like many other budget cases it only comes with 1 pre-installed fan. This one has it mounted in the back (exhaust fan), so to improve the flow of air within the case you want to add a front fan (or two) to more effectively draw air in from the front of the machine. 
  • Any 120mm fan/s will do, with the Cooler Master SickleFlow being a decent cheap option on a budget that moves a decent amount of air, and comes in different LED colors (red, green, or blue). However, these aren't anywhere near quiet, so look elsewhere if you're after that (you'd need more expensive, higher quality fans). The noise of these fans isn't overly bad though, and not going to be a problem for most people (isn't for me personally either as I've used these fans myself in a bunch of builds).
Cheap yet decent fans for airflow



The Best $600 Gaming PC Build (October 2020)

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3100 (Quad Core)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard
  • Motherboard: ASRock B450M Steel Legend (Micro ATX)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB Black (2x8GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics Card: XFX Radeon RX 570 4GB (RS XXX)
  • SSD: Western Digital Blue 500GB SSD (M.2 SATA)
  • Power Supply: EVGA 500 GD (Non Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Fractal Design Focus G (Mini Tower)
  • Extra Fan: 1 x Silent Series LL 120mm (White LED)

Codename: Snowspeeder

Target Budget: ~ $600 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 1080p 60Hz (Medium/High)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Low)

Build Breakdown

At this price point you can fit a decent budget graphics card to take gaming performance to the next level. You could include a graphics card in cheaper builds of $500 or less, such as an RX 550/560, but AMD's APUs (3200G and 3400G) are better value in that realm for most people. Anyway, the RX 570 is the best cheap graphics card on the market under $150, and can usually be found for even under $130. It beats its closest NVidia competitors in gaming performance, namely the GTX 1650 (not the Super though) and the older GTX 1050 Ti, and is therefore an easy recommendation and has been on the site for a long time now. It does use more power than NVidia's cards, but if that doesn't bother you an RX 570 is a no-brainer inclusion when looking to build the best budget gaming PC under $600.

RX 570 cards come in both 4GB and 8GB models, with performance between the two not being huge. Either is fine, but 4GB of VRAM (Video RAM, not to be confused with standard system RAM/memory) is more than enough for most games if playing in 1080p (which is really the only resolution that makes sense for a $600 gaming computer). So, the only reason we'd suggest an RX 570 8GB over a 4GB model is if you find one for the same or very similar price. For example, if you're eyeing off an RX 570 4GB but the 8GB is just $10 more, you might as well get it, but if the 4GB model is like $20-$30 cheaper, you might as well save the money as 8GB won't make a huge difference in most gaming situations (in 1080p resolution).

Paired with the fairly new Ryzen 3 3100, one of the current best budget gaming CPUs right now (along with the 3300X), and the $600 mid-range gaming PC build is capable of super smooth 60FPS on high settings in many games (1080p / Full HD). For the more demanding games like PUBG and Witcher 3, you'll still get good playable performance on decent settings with an RX 570 and 3100 combo, just not 60FPS (but remember that 40FPS or higher is still more than playable and enjoyable for most casual gamers). 

Can't go wrong with Corsair memory, and 16GB 3200MHz is the sweet spot

For older and/or less demanding games like Counter Strike Global Offensive, Fortnite (low/competitive settings), or League of Legends, an RX 570 and Ryzen 3 3100 combination is actually enough for use with a lighting-fast 144Hz gaming monitor too. But to reach up near 144FPS consistently you would need a better CPU and GPU (and especially for more demanding games or higher settings). Now to the motherboard, and the ASRock B450M Steel Legend is yet another good value budget AMD board, though doesn't provide any benefit over the ASRock Pro4 included in the previous build besides aesthetics (it looks a bit better and would fit in nice with the white case, though the ASRock isn't exactly an eyesore so it's not a huge deal). Therefore, either boards are good choices. In terms of power requirements, a respectable 500 watt unit is enough for this budget gaming PC, despite the reasonably power-hungry RX 570 (doesn't use that much power).

The EVGA GD is one of the better budget PSUs around right now, and same thing for the EVGA BR included in the $500 build above. The latter is Bronze rated, and the former Gold rated (meaning better efficiency), but either is a fine choice on a budget. EVGA have really made a name for themselves in power supplies over recent years, particularly in the value market. Their BR, GD (and also BT) series are fairly cheap, but not too cheap, and a nice balance of price vs reliability for budget builds. Not high-end models by any means, but for a budget gaming PC build of this nature its of adequate quality (and there are way worse PSUs out there; most cheap PSUs should be avoided).

Topping things off is the trusty WD Blue 500GB M.2 SSD, one of the best budget SSDs on the market without question that is also good to use as a boot drive (it has D-RAM cache which leads to better longevity and performance, which not all cheaper SSDs do). If you think you'll need more space for lots of games or files, go for the 1TB version which isn't much more money. Overall, the $600 gaming PC build is a fast, well-balanced, reliable, and slick-looking system for 1080p 60Hz gaming on a budget and will satisfy many a casual gamer.

Install Tips

  • If using the Fractal Design Focus G, since it's a smaller case and you'll likely be using a non-modular power supply (that has excess power cables attached to it), remove the HDD caddy/rack on the bottom of the case to free up some extra room for easier cable management (if you're not going to fit 3.5" or 2.5" HDDs/SSDs in future).
  • The Focus G case has 2 pre-installed 120mm fans (with cool-looking white LEDs) and both are mounted in the front (as intake fans, sucking air in). Ideally, for the best airflow configuration, you want to add an exhaust fan in the back of the case, and if you want it to match the stock front fans then try to buy a Fractal Design Silent Series LL 120mm fan (the exact fans pre-installed in the case).
A great value M.2 SSD



The Best $800 Gaming PC Build (October 2020)

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X (Quad Core)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard
  • Motherboard: ASRock B450 Steel Legend (ATX)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB Black (2x8GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics Card: EVGA GTX 1660 Super 6GB (SC Ultra)
  • SSD: Western Digital Blue 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX550M (Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Cooler Master NR600 (Mid Tower)

Build Breakdown

With an $800 budget you have enough to build a very good gaming PC to dominate 1080p 60Hz/75Hz gaming on maxed settings. In other words, in most AAA games you'll easily get well over 60FPS+ on ultra settings. This $800 PC build will also run 1080p 144Hz fairly well, but to get up and around 144FPS to take full advantage of such a monitor, you'll need to dial back the settings in most games to achieve high frame rates of 100-144FPS to put that 144Hz display to good use.

But for less demanding games like Fortnite, Rainbox Six Siege, Overwatch, League of Legends, DOTA 2, Rocket League, and CSGO, this $800 custom PC is more than enough grunt to make great use of a 144Hz screen on higher settings. And for those who would prefer a higher resolution 1440p monitor instead of a faster-paced 1080p 144Hz monitor, this setup would be suitable too if you dial back the settings (for 1440p 60Hz that is - 1440p 144Hz is not feasible for most games and requires a stronger CPU and GPU to take advantage of such a high-end display).

The CPU and GPU choices are easy choices in this tier, with the 3300X being the current clear budget gaming CPU king right now (assuming normal pricing of ~$120 US), and the GTX 1660 Super being the best GPU you can fit in this sort of budget (without sacrificing your other parts). When choosing a GPU for a build around 800 dollars, to maximize gaming performance you want to be looking at a card between 250 and 350 dollars (US). While AMD steals the show in the sub $200 GPU market with their top value RX 570 and 580 (and also in the entry-level market with their impressive integrated graphics solutions like the 3200G), when you start GPU hunting at $250 or higher it's very much advantage NVidia in many instances (though not all as we'll explain in other builds below).

NVidia's GTX 1660 Super series offers great performance and reliability, and is our top pick right now over the cheaper vanilla 1660, the 1660 Ti, and the RX 5600 XT, all of which aren't as good a value proposition compared to the 1660 Super. There are plenty of good 1660 Super models to choose from, but EVGA cards are generally a safe bet for cooling and reliability, and their SC Ultra model was currently the best bang for buck (IMO) at the time of publishing this, hence why its listed here as our current top pick. 

For a $800 desktop build you can also easily afford a large 1TB SSD, with the Western Digital Blue M.2 SSD being a great value choice, and at this price tier you also want to be thinking of a good quality case with decent airflow, which the Cooler Master NR600 is with its front-mesh design and 2 pre-installed fans (no need for more for this build).

For a reasonably powerful custom PC like this one, and for all our other build examples from here on in, you want to include a good quality PSU (Power Supply Unit) from a reputable manufacturer, that also has an efficiency rating of 80 Plus Bronze as a minimum. Corsair's CX range is a great inexpensive choice, and one of the best "mid range" PSUs you can get. The CX550M is semi modular too, meaning that you can detach any unused power cables for a cleaner finished build (and slightly easier cable management). 

As for how much wattage you need from your PSU for this type of parts-list, be aware a common newbie mistake when choosing a power supply is overestimating how much power you need. A decent quality 550 watt unit like the CX550M goes a long way, and could even handle builds with more powerful GPUs like a RTX 2060 Super, RX 5700, and even a RTX 3060. Sure, get a 650w PSU if you're planning on extensive future upgrades (or doing significant overclocking), otherwise 550 is absolutely plenty. Anyway, this custom $800 gaming PC is more than enough firepower to please a fair chunk of the gaming population for years to come if you're sticking to a standard 1080p 60/75Hz screen or using a 1080p 144Hz screen for less-demanding games.

Codename: AT-ST

Target Budget: ~ $800 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

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

Estimated Frame Rates

1080p (Ultra Settings)
GAME AVERAGE FPS
Fortnite 140 - 160
CSGO 230 - 260
DOTA 2 170 - 190
PUBG 80 - 100
GTA 5 130 - 150
COD WW2 110 - 130
The Witcher 3 70 - 80
Far Cry 5 75 - 95
AS Origins 80 - 90
SW Battlefront 2 120 - 140
Final Fantasy XV 70 - 90
Fallout 76 120 - 140
Fora Horizon 4 90 - 110
Monster Hunter: World 80 - 90
Battlefield V 90 - 100
Total War: Warhammer 90 - 100
Destiny 2 120 - 140
Deus Ex Mankind Divided 70 - 80
Dishonored 2 70 - 80
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 70 - 90
Hitman 2 90 - 100
Anthem 60 - 70
Ghost Recon Wildlands 80 - 90
The Division 2 90 - 100



The Best $1000 Gaming PC Build (October 2020)

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6 Cores)
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Standard
  • Motherboard: MSI B450 Tomahawk Max (ATX)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB White (2x8GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics Card: RTX 3060 (TBA Q4)
  • SSD: Crucial MX500 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX650M (Semi Modular, 80+ Bronze)
  • Case: Corsair 275R Airflow (Mid Tower)

Build Breakdown

Now we start getting into really good performance levels for solid 60FPS+ performance in 1440p on higher settings, and quite good frame rates for 1080p 144Hz monitors. That said, a $1000 gaming desktop like this is still more than suitable for standard 1080p 60Hz gaming - if you want to absolutely guarantee you stay above that magical 60FPS mark at all times on ultra settings in the most demanding games on the market (both now and over coming years).

Codename: Stormtrooper

Target Budget: ~ $1000 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 1440p 60Hz (High)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Medium)
  • 1080p 60Hz (Ultra)
  • VR 80Hz, 90Hz (Medium/High)

But at this tier, your options start to open up, so which monitor you use will depend on preference, budget, and the games you play. For example, for fast-paced FPS or Battle Royale titles, we highly recommend a 1080p 144Hz display for even smoother visuals (144FPS vs 60FPS makes a difference for fast games). For slower-paced games though, the higher pixel count and slightly slower display of a 1440p 60Hz screen may suit you better. 

The super popular Ryzen 5 3600 is an easy inclusion for this build as it's unquestionably the best overall bang for buck processor for gaming in the mid-tier market that's proven to perform very nicely in even the more CPU-intensive games on the market. Its 6 cores and 12 threads make for a relatively future-proof gaming system (well, more so than a quad-core CPU at least), as well as a super quick multitasking machine if you're running other demanding, non-gaming applications and/or if you like doing a gazillion things at once.

The stock cooler that comes included with the 3600 is the Wraith Stealth, which is absolutely fine if not overclocking the 3600 (and is actually adequate for mild overclocks). But if you plan to really push the 3600 to squeeze out some extra free performance (not necessary and we don't recommend overclocking for first-time builders) then grab a cheap aftermarket cooler like the Cooler Master 212 Evo. 

The cooler that comes with the 3600 is just fine for most people

The B450 Tomahawk Max is an easy selection being one of best B450 motherboards (and best overall value AMD motherboards in general), but since its price has been all over the place recently (due to availability issues), if it starts creeping into mid-range B550 models territory (over $120-130) then you're better off just getting a B550 for its better features. 

As for the graphics card, NVIDIA and AMD are releasing new mid-range GPUs later this year, so the most responsible thing is to wait it out to grab one of those as they will be faster cards for the same or lower price than the current stack of mid-range cards. Nothing too wrong getting a RTX 2060 Super RX 5700 XT if you find one at a good price (especially if hunting the used GPU market), but since the new high-end RTX 3000 cards have proven to be noticeably faster than RTX 2000 cards for less money, it's only natural that the upcoming mid-range RTX 3000 models (RTX 3060 and 3060 Ti, etc) will be worth waiting for if you care to get the most for your money.

Still a great motherboard in late 2020

Last but definitely not least is the power supply, which isn't ever a component you should overlook for any type of build (as your system is effectively only as reliable as its weakest link and buying a dud PSU risks your other parts if it fails) For a mid-range gaming PC build like this, the trick is finding a good-quality unit at an affordable price without eating too much into your budget, and as mentioned before Corsair's most recent CX units are a safe bet. Previous CX models from Corsair of years gone by were actually of lower quality and we generally recommended avoiding them, but modern-day CX units are much better since their refresh a couple years or so ago. Can't go wrong for the price, and 650 watts is more than enough for the $1000 desktop, with plenty of wiggle room for future upgrades.

The CXM series from Corsair is a nice balance of price vs quality / reliability



The Best $1200 Gaming PC Build (October 2020)

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6 Cores)
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 (Black Edition)
  • Motherboard: MSI B550-A Pro (ATX)
  • RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB (2x8GB, 3600MHz)
  • Graphics Card: RTX 3060 Ti 8GB (Releasing Q4)
  • SSD: Crucial MX500 1TB SSD (M.2, SATA)
  • Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 650 (Fully Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Phanteks P400A (Mid Tower)

Build Breakdown

Building upon the recommended $1000 parts-list, with an extra $200 to spend the best thing you can do to improve gaming performance is get a slightly better GPU, as the Ryzen 5 3600 is surprisingly capable and more than enough for even upper mid-range builds like this (or lower high-end, depending on how you look at it). 

The RTX 3060 Ti has been confirmed and will release in October or November, and since the RTX 3070 has a $499 MSRP we should see the 3060 Ti priced a fair bit under that, making it the natural GPU selection here for a $1200 gaming PC build. However, don't count out AMD and their soon to be announced Big Navi GPUs (RX 6000), as they could surprise the market with their late announcement and bring some killer value GPUs to compete with NVIDIA in this, and other, price tiers. We'll have to wait and see.

Back to the CPU, and if you're wondering about the newer Ryzen 5 3600 XT and if it's worth buying over the standard 3600, the answer is an easy no. The 3600XT costs more for almost no improvement in gaming performance. As for the 3600X vs 3600 debate, the 3600 is the better value overall as the slightly faster performance of the 3600X (and the better cooler it comes with) is not worth the extra money (IMO).

Codename: Tie Fighter

Target Budget: ~ $1200 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 1440p 60Hz (Ultra)
  • 4K 60Hz (Medium/High)
  • 1080p 144Hz (Medium/High)
  • VR 80Hz, 90Hz (High)

The Ryzen 5 3600 - CPU value king

Onto RAM, and since Ryzen processors do take advantage of faster memory in terms of gaming performance (more so than Intel in general), we've squeezed in some super-fast 3600Hz sticks from ever-reliable G.Skill which will net you a few extra FPS in most games compared to 3200MHz (though 3200MHz is more than enough and typically the sweet spot for value). Just don't forget to set the RAM speed in the BIOS after building your PC.

Moving on from the CPU, GPU, and RAM, and when you start getting into a healthy budget of 1200 dollars with a quite decently powerful PC, 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 stronger graphics cards like a 3060 Ti or better, if you want your system to be as reliable and long-lasting as possible without encountering issues, you want to ensure to buy a reliable, trustworthy power supply that won't let you down.

Doesn't mean you need to spend a ton, but avoid bad units at all costs (average PSUs can fail, and even sometimes damage other components when they do). The SuperNova G3 series from EVGA are some of the best units around, as are RMX models from Corsair; I'd get whichever you find cheaper in your region.

For the $1200 PC build we also step up to a B550 motherboard - specifically the B550-A Pro from MSI which is a good value mid-tier board. For cheaper budget AMD builds, there's no need to spend the little extra on a B550 vs a B450 board, as a B450 is still absolutely fine.

The new features that B550 boards bring you such as PCIe 4.0 isn't worth it for most people. That said, if you're building a more powerful AMD system and/or if you want to potentially upgrade in future to a stronger, next-gen AMD CPU, you may as well go for the newer B550 platform (or X570 if going for a Ryzen 9, though X570 isn't always better than B550).

G.Skill RAM is slick, fast, reliable

Because it fits in the $1200 build budget, we've also gone for a better cooler for the 3600 which will keep it running cooler and more quiet when under load (when gaming). While not entirely necessary, replacing the stock cooler by buying your own isn't just a good idea if overclocking, but is something to consider even when just running a CPU at stock standard speeds (ie not overclocking). The stock cooler of the 3600 is fine in general, but for a $1200 gaming PC you can afford to invest in a better cooler to have your system running cooler and quieter for longer (also giving you the option to overclock nicely should you want to later).

Plus, a good upgrade from the stock cooler doesn't have to cost much at all; the excellent value Cooler Master 212 series a prime example. This cooler has cult-like levels of popularity within DIY, and is a nice upgrade over the stock 3600 cooler for not much money (and also looks better if you get the Black or Black RGB model). Finishing off, and the Phanteks P400A case is highly recommended for great airflow and slick design at a good price.




The Best Gaming PC Build Under $1500 (October 2020)

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-10600K (6 Cores)
  • CPU Cooler: ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports
  • Motherboard: MSI Z490-A Pro (ATX)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB (2x8GB, 3200MHz)
  • Graphics Card: RTX 3070 (8GB GDDR6)
  • SSD: Sabrent Rocket 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVMe)
  • Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750 (Fully Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Cooler Master MasterCase H500 (Mid Tower)

Build Breakdown

It's unprecedented times, and I'm not talking about human malware - the fact that it's taken until the $1500 build for Intel to make an appearance shows how different the CPU landscape is right now compared to recent history. Such one-sided domination of the mainstream gaming CPU market (in AMD's favor) was unheard of just a few years ago, where the status quo was very much Intel winning most head to head CPU battles in terms of gaming performance - not just for the high-end segment, but the budget and mid-range CPU tiers as well. But with each iteration of AMD's revolutionary Ryzen series, they've bridged the gap on Intel to the point where the current Ryzen 3rd-gen (Ryzen 3000 series) is actually an objectively better buy in many tiers for building a gaming PC.

Codename: Jedi

Target Budget: < $1500 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 1080p 144Hz (High/Ultra)
  • 1080p 240Hz (Medium)
  • 1440p 144Hz (Medium)
  • 4K 60Hz (High/Ultra)
  • VR 80Hz, 90Hz (Ultra)

However, once you start getting into high-end gaming territory for more extreme builds focused on getting the highest FPS possible, despite AMD typically being the better value in mainstream price ranges, the truth is Intel are still a tad faster in most games. That's not say you shouldn't choose AMD for a high-end gaming PC build of $1500 or more, just that Intel still wins in most benchmarks, especially when it comes to high refresh-rate gaming (144Hz or faster displays). 

If you're NOT using a high refresh-rate monitor though where Intel CPUs have a slight edge (eg 1080p 144Hz/240Hz, or even 1440p 144Hz), and are instead going for higher resolution, lower refresh-rate displays like 1440p/4K 60Hz, Intel's lead is near non-existent. Put another way, for 4K 60FPS gaming, it really doesn't matter. Therefore, whether Intel or AMD is better for a high-end gaming PC comes down to which resolution and refresh rate your screen is, and what else you're doing with your PC (ie AMD does better for Twitch streamers using CPU encoding). The specific game/s you play is also a factor, as certain titles may run better on Intel or AMD. 

But all that said, you can't go wrong with either Intel or AMD. Anyway, the i5-10600K fits into our current best $1500 PC build nicely, and gives slightly higher frame rates than the Ryzen 5 3600, along with more headroom for overclocking (it's easy to get the 10600K to around stock 10700K performance if you wanted to do that). The previous-gen Intel i5 9600K is also good for a gaming PC build in late 2020, so if you find one for a lot cheaper than the 10600K then it's worth considering as it's not that much slower, but for the latest and greatest Intel platform stick with a 10600K. To cool the 10600K, either at standard speeds or when overclocking, you don't have a choice but to buy your own CPU cooler (Intel CPUs with a "k" in the name indicates it's an "unlocked" CPU that also doesn't come with a stock cooler). 

The Arctic Freezer 34 eSports Duo is a great lesser-known alternative to the staple recommendation that is the Cooler Master 212 Evo (but we can highly recommend either). It looks great as well, with many color schemes to choose from, so pick one that matches the case and other components you end up deciding on. The single tower version is also adequate, as you don't need a crazy-big cooler to cool the 10600K unless doing heavy overclocking (in which case consider investing in an even better cooler).

But for stock speeds or medium overclocks, a mid-tier air cooler like the Freezer 34 or CM 212 Evo performs well enough for most people. Both these coolers are also beginner-friendly installations, as most coolers have their own slightly unique installation process (which aren't created equal in terms of user-friendliness). Some say the 212 Evo is a little tricky to install, but I disagree and found it no more difficult than a basic AMD stock cooler installation, so I can highly recommend it to any beginner. You could argue I'm biased since I've now built a lot PCs, and so why wouldn't it be easy for me, but when I installed the 212 I judged the difficulty as objectively as I could from the perspective of a first-time builder.

To round-off the sub 1500 dollar gaming PC build we have the super-fast, well-priced Sabrent Rocket 1TB NVMe SSD (better value alternative to the top of the line Samsung NVMe SSDs), the standard 16GB of 3200MHz RAM which is all you need for maximum gaming performance at any resolution in 2020 (32GB is just a luxury, though practical for certain workstation usage such as building a gaming and video editing PC), and the MSI Z490-A Pro motherboard which is (IMO) one of the better value Z490 boards with decent VRMs for solid cooling performance whether overclocking or not (and also fine if you upgrade to an i7 or i9 in future).

Like most modern motherboards, this board doesn't have built-in WiFi, so if you want wireless capability in your PC you'll need to either choose another board that has WiFi (see the other Z490 recommendations in the other builds) or choose a wireless desktop adapter to include in your system. Just remember that wired LAN is better for online gaming.

And finally to the star of the show that makes this particular $1500 gaming PC build recommendation literally the fastest build at this price point in the history of this humble little site, and that's saying something as over the years I've published dozens upon dozens of different $1500 configurations. Unless you've been chilling under a significantly sizeable rock this past month, it would have been near impossible to miss the news about the upcoming RTX 3070 (releasing late October) which will start from $499 US, and most importantly, be faster than a 2080 Ti according to NVIDIA.

We'll have to see whether this bold claim turns out to be true across most games and resolutions once testers have their hands on one, but either way it's going to be a super-fast card at a great price, and a nice generational leap forward. So unless you buy a used GPU (see used RTX 2000 prices guide), the smart thing to do is hold off buying a new high-end graphics card and wait for the 3070. Plus, by then we'll know if AMD's next-gen Big Navi GPUs are worth considering too (right now it's anyone's guess whether they'll compete in the historically-NVIDIA-dominated high-end GPU market).

Just remember, based on how quickly the RTX 3080 and 3090 sold out last month, it's likely going to be tough getting a 3070 on launch or even in the month following (demand is through the roof). In the meantime, if you still want to build a PC, you can use the integrated graphics chip that comes with the i5 10600K to output a display to your monitor (just don't expect to game on it). That's an advantage the 10600K, and other Intel CPUs, have over the Ryzen 5 3600.

The 3600, and other AMD CPUs like the also-popular 3700X, 3900X, and 3950X, doesn't come with integrated graphics. So if you build a PC with Ryzen and no graphics card ('cause you're waiting for a 3070 as a sizeable chunk of Earth seemingly is) then your computer would be unusable until you manage to score that mythical 3070.

Anyway, to power a RTX 3070, NVIDIA's official requirement is 650w, but we recommend a 750w power supply to not only be on the safe side, but to give you headroom for future upgrades and/or for overclocking. If you never plan to upgrade your GPU in future though, you'll be fine with a 650w if you want to save a bit. As for which specific PSU to use for a 3070 build, our top 2 picks are still the Corsair RM750x or the EVGA SuperNova G3 750 - two proven quality, reliable, modular PSUs that are also efficient.

I'd get whichever you can find for cheaper, but the Corsair CX750M would also be just fine if you want to save money, as would a few other PSUs on the market (but whatever you do, don't blindly buy any random PSU with doing research). Topping off our recommended $1500 gaming setup and we've got the slick, high-airflow MasterCase H500, one of Cooler Master's best gaming PC cases on the market that features standout 200mm RGB front fans which look awesome in action.

Install Tips

  • If you end up building with the H500 case, besides the 2 included 200mm front fans (RGB), it also comes with a pre-installed rear fan (120mm) for effective, complete airflow out the box without needing to buy and install extra PC fans.
  • If you want more lighting inside the case to supplement the front RGB fans and the RGB of the RAM, get 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). Another way to add more lighting inside is to get the Cooler Master 212 RGB Black Edition cooler which isn't just an excellent performer but looks nice.
  • In terms of PSU cables for a 3070, all you need is a single 8pin PCIe cable which any PSU has (most modern PSUs have at least 2 PCIe 8pin cables). The 3070 FE (Founder's Edition) is different and has a 12pin connector instead, but it comes with a 12pin to 8pin adapter included so nothing to worry about if you buy the 3070 FE.



The Best Gaming PC Build Under $2000 (October 2020)

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10700K (8 Cores)
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S (Black)
  • Motherboard: Asus Z490-Plus TUF Gaming (ATX, WiFi)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB (2x8GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics Card: Asus TUF RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)
  • SSD: Sabrent Rocket 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVMe)
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB (7200RPM)
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM750x (Fully Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Fractal Design Meshify C (Mid Tower)
  • Extra Fans: 2 x Noctua NF-A14 PW 140mm Fan (Black)

Build Breakdown

Moving onto extreme performance territory, and let's not beat around the bush with this one and get straight to the GPU. To build the best $2000 gaming computer in Q4 2020, the only real choices anymore is to either buy a RTX 3080 (well, try ;p) or wait and see if AMD releases something that competes with it. You can't rule out AMD as you just don't know what's going to happen (and it is 2020 after all, the year of non-stop Milky Way trolling), but most will concur that the RTX 3080 is going to be tough to beat.

Reviews of the mighty 3080 have proven its worth and its new crown as the best gaming GPU to hit the market in a long time (3090 doesn't count as its price vs performance is way off). A RTX 3080 will net you super-high FPS in literally any resolution - even 4K 144Hz (for the first time, 4K 144FPS is a reality). That's perhaps the ideal display for such a monstrous card, but 4K 144Hz monitors don't come cheap, so most gamers will probably be better off getting a 1440p 144Hz or 240Hz screen.

For competitive FPS or Battle Royale players who want every little edge possible to be on the same playing field as true pro players, you'll want to consider a high-end 1080p screen with a 240Hz or 360Hz refresh rate, the latter of which being brand new to the market in 2020 (and would benefit from a 10900K in the next build). For my fellow VR gamers, the 3080 is absolutely all you need for the ultimate experience on any headset with maxed-out settings (and decent SS; a crucial setting for VR that further deepens immersion).

But if you follow tech news even just a little you'd know it was literally next to impossible to get a 3080 on launch last month, but even in October it could be a challenge. But if you're building an extreme gaming PC around this mark, keep your eyes peeled as it's simply a matter of having the luck (or market awareness) to grab one quickly when you see them in stock.

Codename: Vader

Target Budget: < $2000 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 4K 60Hz, 75Hz (Ultra)
  • 4K 144Hz (Medium/High)
  • VR 80Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz (Ultra)
  • 1440p 144Hz (High/Ultra)
  • 1440p 240Hz (Medium)
  • 1080p 240Hz (High)
  • 1080p 360Hz (Medium)

Estimated Frame Rates

4K (ULTRA SETTINGS)
GAME AVERAGE FPS
Doom Eternal 160 - 180
Rainbow Six Siege 165 - 175
Death Stranding 90 - 100
Far Cry 5 85 - 95
Gears of War 5 70 - 80
Jedi: Fallen Order 60 - 70
Horizon Zero Dawn 60 - 70
Assassin's Creed Odyssey 55 - 65
Red Dead Redemption 2 50 - 60
Flight Simulator 2020 30 - 40

As for which 3080 model to buy, the Founder's Edition is great, but many third-party cards will have slightly better cooling and some are factory-overclocked to be a little faster (though sometimes for slightly more cost). Plus, the FE is going to be very hard to get. If I had to pick one to buy right now in terms of bang for buck, based on reviews it would be the Asus TUF RTX 3080, but most models are going to be just fine as I'm yet to see a bad review of a particular 3080 (check reviews if you want to know the specifics though). Even the cheaper PNY and Zotac models look like good buys.

Besides, based on their mythical-creature level of availability, if your aim is to buy one this year without having to wait until 2021 (when stock will hopefully become normal, though that could happen sooner) you're unlikely to have too much choice on which model to buy. Right now, as soon as a 3080 is in stock, it disappears faster than you can say "freakin' bot scalpers". Speaking of which, whatever you do don't get sucked into the crazy hype too much and pay a ludicrous amount above the $699 US MSRP (as some people are well-known to be doing, further enabling those pesky scalpers). Patience, Padawan - you'll get that 3080 one day and it'll be worth the wait.

Used the white Meshify C for a recent build. An excellent case that's hard to fault

As for the other components that make up the $2000 build, first we have the Meshify C, a very popular choice among builders for its high-airflow, slick design and great price. At this budget you can step the CPU up to an i7 10700K for even higher FPS than the i5 10600K, and to keep the latest 10th-gen i7 cool and quiet the Noctua NH-U12S is a great choice. Noctua are known for producing some of the best high-quality air coolers on the market, and this one is no exception but is also very well priced (under normal pricing).

The NH-U12S is a lower-profile design than others so it won't get in the way of taller RAM module like the Corsair RGB Pro that we've gone for (3200MHz, which is all the speed you need for an Intel gaming build). The NH-U12S cooler is also easier to install in the Meshify C, which is a more compact-sized mid tower case that would be a little frustrating to use with an extra large cooler like the NH-D15.

A $2000 build budget also allows the inclusion of a better motherboard than in the $1500 build, with the Asus Z490-Plus TUF Gaming being one of the best value WiFi-ready Z490 models. This is also the first PC build in this guide where we recommend a second storage drive, specifically a 2TB HDD as SSDs larger than 1TB are generally too expensive to recommend. You don't need a second hard drive, as 1TB is a lot of storage for most people, but if you plan to install a ton of games and keep them, that extra 2TB might come in real handy (games can be quite large these days).

Install Tips

  • 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 we suggest for this particular setup, a simple yet effective airflow setup for the Meshify C is to put 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).
Installing 2 extra high-quality fans in the front of the Meshify C



The Best Gaming PC Build Under $3000 (October 2020)

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-10900K (10 Cores)
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15 (Black)
  • Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming (ATX, WiFi)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics Card: EVGA RTX 3080 FTW3 Gaming (10GB GDDR6X)
  • SSD: Samsung 970 Evo 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVMe)
  • HDD: Western Digital Black 2TB (7200RPM)
  • Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 850 (Fully Modular, 80+ Gold)
  • Case: Phanteks Eclipse P600S (Mid Tower)

Build Breakdown

Building on the previous build, the next logical step up is to include the 10900K - the single best gaming CPU on the market, which recently took that crown from the 9900K. Performance with a 10900K isn't going to be that much different than a 10700K, but if you're lucky enough to be planning the best $3000 gaming PC, it makes sense to get the best of the best to squeeze out maximum FPS. To tame this beast of a processor, you're going to need some serious cooling - even if simply running the 10900K at stock standard speeds. In terms of air coolers (we've saved a liquid cooler for the final build below) there's nothing more effective than the notorious NH-D15. 

Noctua's award-winning flagship cooler is an absolutely beast and highly recommended for maximum cooling performance and noise reduction - if your case has the stomach for it. There's no component more menacing in size (the bigger the cooler, the better its performance), so you need to think through your component choices 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. These same precautions apply for other large high-performance air coolers like the Dark Rock Pro 4 (another excellent choice, though I'd say the Noctua is slightly easier to install for a first-timer). If mixing and matching parts to use with this legendary cooler, check out the official Noctua compatibility checker tools on their website.

Codename: Star Destroyer

Target Budget: < $3000 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

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

Equal best high-end air cooler on the market, equal with the Dark Rock Pro 4

Alternatively, you can get a liquid cooler for a high-end CPU like this (as in an all-in-one unit for your CPU, not installing a custom water cooled loop which is far too complex if you're new), feel free to include one instead of an air cooler as many of them aren't harder to install these days (than an air cooler). Just keep in mind that you shouldn't just buy a liquid cooler over an air cooler solely for performance reasons alone; it's more an aesthetic preference, as premium air coolers perform roughly on par with water (and can be super quiet; like the NH-D15). Plus, air coolers will cost less. For this build, if you want water we'd recommend the H100i which is one of the easier models to install, and is good value overall. Can't go wrong with Corsair AiOs in general.

The dual storage setup of a fast 1TB NVMe SSD and 2TB supporting HDD remains from the previous build, but with faster models. And of course, the RTX 3080 remains, albeit a higher-end faster model in the FTW3 (Rog Strix would also be great). The 3090 wouldn't fit in this budget without sacrificing on other parts, and besides, a 3080 is all the power that literally 98% of gamers will ever want or need.




The Best Gaming PC Build Under $4000 (October 2020)

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-10900K (10 Cores)
  • CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i RGB Platinum Black (Liquid AiO)
  • Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero Z490 (ATX, WiFi)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 64GB (4x16GB 3200MHz)
  • Graphics Card: Asus TUF RTX 3090 OC (24GB GDDR6X)
  • SSD: Samsung 970 Pro 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVME)
  • HDD: Western Digital Black 4TB (7200RPM)
  • Power Supply: Corsair HX 1000 (Fully Modular, 80+ Platinum)
  • Case: Corsair 680X (Mid Tower)
  • Extra Fans: Corsair LL120 RGB Fans (3 Pack)

Build Breakdown

They say RGB boosts FPS, and building a $4000 gaming computer of this caliber won't let you down in that regard. Eternally cheap PCMR memes aside, if you're fortunate (or hard-working) enough to be dropping such ludicrous lumps of fat stacks on a new system, this is just one way I'd go about it to strategically assemble an absolute all-round machine of machines that ticks all the boxes including maximum gaming performance (duh), optimal cooling, complete future-upgrade flexibility, premium dual storage, cream of the crop reliability, and of course awesome matching aesthetics to finish it off in style (with RGB, more RGB, and extra RGB. With RGB too).

The Death Star is the ultimate overkill weapon obliterating any game in its path - at any resolution. Well, except 8K, which it will still somewhat struggle with despite the 3090 seemingly being marketed by NVidia as an 8K gaming card, but ain't nobody grabbing an 8k monitor anytime soon. But it's not all bad news for anyone who is going to do such a thing - the 3090 will run certain games well in 8K, just not all, and you'll have to sacrifice settings. But back to matters of Earth and practicality, and besides 8K gaming which is a niche within a niche, this insane $4000 sample build is targeted for gamers wanting to max-out a high-end 4K monitor (120Hz, 144Hz, or 165Hz - I'd say a 3090 is overkill for a standard 4K 60Hz screen as the 3080 eats that up).

Codename: RGB Death Star

Target Budget: < $4000 USD

Recommended Resolutions:

  • 4K 144Hz (Ultra)
  • VR 90Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz (Ultra)
  • 1440p 240Hz (Ultra)
  • 1080p 360Hz (High)
  • 8K 60Hz (Medium/High)

Estimated Frame Rates

4K (ULTRA SETTINGS)
GAME AVERAGE FPS
Doom Eternal 180 - 200
Rainbow Six Siege 180 - 200
Death Stranding 100 - 120
Jedi: Fallen Order 75 - 85
Horizon Zero Dawn 70 - 80
Red Dead Redemption 2 65 - 75
Flight Simulator 2020 40 - 50

Alternatively, the $4000 build is for serious pro gamers wanting to use a fresh 1080p 360Hz screen for elite-level eSports. And last but certainly not least, this is the ultimate setup for what I refer to as the semi-sleeping giant of gaming - virtual reality. Some are aware of its inevitability as the dominant gaming medium (yes, that's an opinion, but I believe it to be true without question), but many aren't.

But IMO, it is the greatest "resolution" of them all - finish Half-Life: Alyx and then try to disagree with me on that. With a RTX 3090 for VR you can crank up SS (Super Sampling, the most desirable VR setting for maximum quality and immersion) more than you could with a 3080. Plus, it will allow lucky Index owners to take full advantage of that headset's 144Hz mode without sacrificing much on settings (if at all, though it depends on the title as I don't think even a 3090 will max-out Flight Sim in VR at 144Hz Ultra).

But like the 3080 and 3070, the 3090 sold out almost instantly and will be tough to buy anytime soon unless you get lucky or unless you buy one off a sly scalper at sky-high price (don't do that). It is now the single most powerful consumer grade GPU in the world, replacing the Titan RTX from last-gen (and for way less money). But is the 3090 worth the extra money over the 3080? I like sleeping at night, so the answer is of course a big fat NOPE.

But of course, "value for money" and "$4000 gaming PC build" were never meant to be included in a sentence, so if you just want the best of the best at the expense of price vs performance, the 3090 is the best gaming GPU money can buy. As for power requirements, an 850 watt power supply is plenty, but for a ton of headroom for future upgrades and/or overclocking, consider a 1000w unit or larger as I've included in this build (and ideally get a Platinum-rated model for the best in efficiency). But all this talk of the 3090 means nothing if we don't answer the real question here. Can a 3090 run Crysis? Nope. Guess we'll have to wait for RTX 4000.

Install Tips

  • The 680X is a great showpiece case that has good airflow for an extreme system and comes with 3 pre-installed Corsair LL120 RGB fans in the front, plus one non-RGB Corsair 120mm pre-installed in the back. This fan setup is fine as-is, so adding more fans is unnecessary and only for aesthetic purposes.
  • If you do want more fans for more RGB goodness, a 3 pack of black Corsair LL120 RGB fans is a great choice (or white ones if getting the white 680X or another white case) as these are the same fans as the 3 pre-installed front fans of the 680X (and similar to the H100i RGB Platinum's fans but slightly different). You can use 1 to replace the rear stock fan, making sure to position it as an exhaust (air blowing out the back). Mount the other 2 to the bottom of the case as intake fans to suck air in through the bottom vents of the case (and blow it upwards into the case). 
  • Alternatively, you can position the 2 bottom fans to exhaust (blowing air out the bottom) which actually looks a bit better at the cost of a fraction less airflow performance. This is due to the design of the LL120 RGB fans, as the full RGB ring is visible only on one side (with the other side still showing RGB just fine, just without the full effect). The choice between these 2 installation methods will depend on your preference; slightly better airflow/temps, or slightly better aesthetics.





Recommended OS, Monitors, & Accessories



Windows vs Linux for a Gaming PC?

Choosing an operating system for a new gaming PC build comes down to either Microsoft Windows (latest edition is 10) or some variant of Linux (such as Ubuntu or Manjaro just to name a couple). If you're new or unsure, just stick to Windows. Specifically, Windows 10 Home is fine for the majority of people, and you'd only need Windows 10 Pro if you're building a professional workstation PC (and you actually know that you would use its extra features). 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 Linnux: 123).


Buying + Installing Windows 10

To get Windows 10 for your new gaming PC, you essentially 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 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 on when you have perhaps saved up more money, but 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, but the watermark disappears when gaming.

To do this you'll need a spare USB flash drive that's 8GB or bigger (or buy one like this one), and you also need to have access to a desktop or laptop in order to be able 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 done any necessary checks/tweaks in your motherboard BIOS software (explained briefly in our guide on what to do after building a PC and in more detail with step by step photos in our full PC building beginner's manual), insert the USB drive into a USB 3 or USB 2 port depending on what type of flash drive you have and reset your computer.

  4. The Windows installation should automatically begin, but if not then you'll need to re-enter your motherboard BIOS and set the boot priority order so that the USB drive is showing up first. During the installation of Windows it will ask you for a product key, but you can still proceed if you select the option to enter your product key later on.

  5. Follow the Windows steps on-screen to finish the installation. Full photo steps for every aspect of this are also included in our manual, 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 we can comfortably recommend getting the manual for detailed guidance on every aspect of building, owning, and maintaining a PC for the first time).

  6. Once Windows is installed you want to download all necessary drivers for your particular parts-list such as motherboard and GPU drivers (and drivers for things like wireless adapters and for any devices you find don't automatically work on your new PC). You also want to update Windows straight away. All this is explained in this article (quick overview) and in our manual (detailed photos for the less tech-savvy).

  7. In your own time, buy a product key from the Microsoft site or elsewhere (making sure it's a legit key).

2) Buy Windows 10 Now (USB or DVD Version)

If you can afford buying Windows from the start, the easiest and quickest way is to buy the official ready-to-install USB or DVD version. That means you won't have to do all the steps mentioned above, and you just insert the USB or DVD Disk when you've finished building your PC and it's time to install Windows.

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, get the USB version (available at Amazon, B&H, and OutletPC

Note: 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). You can also find them on Amazon (DVD or USB) and B&H (DVD or 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.


Recommended Utility/Enthusiast 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 if you need suggestions on good, reliable programs to consider:


Recommended Monitors/Accessories

If you want our recommendations for these, including what specs to look for as a gamer, see our dedicated guides:






Putting Your Parts Together (Tools & Tutorials)



Required: Phillips-head Screwdriver (get a size #2 like this one if you don't have a screwdriver already)

Optional Tools:

  • Anti-static Wrist Strap (if you want to be extra safe)

  • Flashlight (or just use a smartphone's flashlight)

  • Cable/Zip Ties and Scissors (however most cases comes with zip ties already)

  • Get Fancy: Full PC Toolkit

If it's your first time building a gaming PC, stress less as it really isn't anything to be afraid or overwhelmed by if you simply take your time, follow basic safety precautions, and take one step at a time. If you've heard the saying that building a PC is essentially like Lego for grown-ups, that's no exaggeration, as it really is just a matter of plugging things, connecting things, screwing a few things in here or there, following very basic safety procedures, tidying and tying some cables, and so on. Far from rocket science, especially if you stick to standard gaming builds such as the ones above which don't have any overly complicated installations (we avoid recommending parts that aren't beginner-friendly). Sure - it takes a little patience, but it's well worth it and you learn a lot, become way more prepared to handle upgrades or overcome potential problems with your PC in future, not to mention the other benefits of building a PC.

For your first gaming PC build, you'll need a full walkthrough/tutorial to follow though, as the manuals that come with your components don't contain the full written instruction or explanations that you 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 gaming PC build, you essentially have the choice of either following a written guide or watching a video guide:

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 tutoial 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 (Quickest)

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).

Important Reminder: No matter how you learn to build your PC, don't forget you need to manually set your RAM speed to its correct speed (such as 3200MHz) after you've built your PC. 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"). We explain it here.


No Time/Patience to Build a PC?

No hard feelings, friend. While building a PC is best, prebuilt systems are worth considering 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 (to increase their profits). But 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). If you want our opinion, see our latest roundup of the best prebuilt gaming PCs for the money for our latest hand-picked, vetted recommendations.


Going Beyond Basic Assembly

If you want to learn more than just how to build your PC, to transform from PC noob to intermediate ninja in the easiest way possible, we're proud to present our comprehensive all-in-one beginner's manual to owning your first custom PC: The Gaming Build Blueprint. This downloadable eBook (PDF format) includes all our core PC assembly guides in a single convenient guide, along with a ton of exclusive bonus content covering a vast range of useful tips and tricks relating to owning your first gaming PC including:

  • Quick and easy hardware and software maintenance to keep your PC performing in peak condition
  • The basics of game benchmarking (using MSI Afterburner) to see how your new rig performs in your favorite titles
  • More detailed BIOS device driver setup steps
  • How and when to upgrade certain parts (and how to find bottlenecks)
  • Full Windows 10 setup and extra tips
  • Linux overview and install steps
  • How to safely clean the inside and out of your PC
  • The basics of overclocking your CPU or GPU for more gaming performance
  • Tips to boosting gaming and general system performance.
  • And much more

We include 1 on 1 email/tech support with certain packages of the book too, for anyone who wants an experienced builder in their corner (ie me!) that they can reach out to at any time for help with anything related to building, tinkering/maintaining, or upgrading PCs. All purchases of our eBook contributes to our mission of publishing the best beginner-friendly DIY PC guides we possibly can (that get incrementally better and better with time), so if you enjoy our work and/or believe our guides help you to save time and money, our eBook is the best way to directly show your support for the site.






About Resolutions, Refresh Rates, & Our Estimated FPS



Gaming Resolutions (Overview)

  • 1080p (1980 x 1080): The most common PC gaming resolution, also known as Full HD. Stick to a 1080p 60Hz/75Hz monitor if on a budget or if playing slower-paced games, but for fast-paced games (FPS, Battle Royale, MOBA) a 1080p 144Hz monitor is ideal as they allow you to see up to 144FPS (if your hardware is good enough). 1080p 240Hz monitors are even faster, but cost a lot and are unnecessary if you're not a pro FPS gamer.
  • 1440p (2560 x 1440): A higher quality image that requires more powerful hardware, but a nice middle ground these days between the best graphics quality and performance. 1440p 60Hz isn't too crazy demanding, but will require fairly decent specs, but to run 1440p 144Hz well you will need a good CPU and very good (upper mid-range) GPU.
  • 2160p AKA 4K (3440 x 2160): The highest quality image that will require a high-end graphics card (RTX 2070 Super minimum) to run modern AAA games smoothly. CPU isn't as important for 4K, because while 4K 144Hz monitors do exist, getting 144FPS in 4K is insanely demanding and so most gamers using 4K stick to 60Hz monitors (which doesn't require more than a good mid-range CPU, and relies heavily on the GPU).


Game Settings (Overview)

Most games automatically set these for you based on your hardware, but you can manually tweak them to get the right balance of graphics quality (texture detail, special effects, lighting, etc) and performance (ie frame rate). The higher the settings, the more demanding the game is on your hardware (and therefore the lower your frame rate).

  • Low Settings: Running a game at its lowest graphics settings is helpful if you want the highest frame rates possible for 144Hz+ monitors or if building a budget gaming PC that struggles at higher settings.
  • Medium Settings: Improves the graphics quality slightly at the expense of slightly lower frame rates. A nice balance overall for many people.
  • High Settings: Nearing the maximum visual quality of the game's graphics/effects at the further expensive of lower performance. How much lower your FPS will be compared to medium/low will depend on the game.
  • Ultra: The maximum setting, which may be called something else like 'extreme' or 'very high' depending on the game. This is what you want if you care deeply about graphics quality over performance/smoothness, but your PC may not be powerful enough to run it well enough.

About Our FPS Estimates

In our build breakdowns we list the estimated average FPS (Frames Per Second) for various games. We calculate these by analyzing multiple benchmarks online, and/or by doing our own benchmarking where possible (I build PCs for people on the side so I often have access to all sorts of configs to do testing). The average FPS numbers for our builds are just estimates, so we can't 100% guarantee you'll get that exact average FPS.

There are various factors that could affect your performance such as slight hardware differences (eg GPU clock speed), not having your RAM set to its correct speed (explained just below), software differences (OS, drivers, game patches/versions), airflow (insufficiently-cooled PCs can throttle performance), or having advanced rendering features enabled (eg Anti-Aliasing). 

If specific performance in a certain game is important to you, we recommend doing your own performance research, though our FPS averages below are generally safe-bet ballpark estimates (that we spend a lot of time to make as accurate as possible). An easy way to do research yourself is searching YouTube for your game and the CPU and/or GPU you're considering (such as "Witcher ryzen 3600 2060 super") and you should find benchmarks. Also keep in mind:

  • Our FPS estimates are averages, so in action-packed scenes your FPS may go lower. So if we estimate a 60-70FPS average, you could get 40-50FPS during chaotic scenes. This is why it's best to aim above your desired FPS target; so if you want a consistent 60FPS for a game, get parts that average 80FPS or higher.
  • Don't forget to set your RAM to its correct speed when you first boot-up your PC. All DDR4 modules will automatically be set to either 2133MHz or 2400MHz, so for anything faster than that you need to manually set the speed in the BIOS (by first enabling "XMP"). See what to do after building a PC for more on this.
  • Our FPS estimates assume advanced rendering features are NOT enabled (Real-Time Ray Tracing, AA, Hairworks, etc).

What's a Good FPS?

Here's what different performance levels mean for your experience.


Above 45FPS (Very Smooth)

This is the ideal performance minimum you want to avoid lag getting in the way of your experience. 60FPS is ideal for standard 60Hz screens. For 144Hz monitors, you ideally want to reach 120-140FPS or higher.

30-45FPS (Still Playable)

At this frame rate the game may feel a little choppy or "laggy" at times, but it really depends on the game. You'd notice it in fast-paced titles, but in slower-paced games you might not notice it much.

Under 30FPS (Too Laggy)

This frame rate is only playable in super-slow games like RTS titles for instance. For shooters, MOBAs, racing, etc (read: most games) this level of performance will get in the way of playing at your best and your enjoyment.


Learn More: Frame Rates 101






How the Builds Are Decided (Research Process)



Note: If you're a longer-term reader and want to know what's changed in our best gaming PC builds since the last update (last quarter), subscribe to our email list down at the bottom and we'll send you exclusive build updates (and other site updates including future product releases and potential giveaways).

When building your own PC, you have near limitless options in the parts you can mix and match. So how on Earth Coruscant do we begin to narrow the entire hardware market to the absolute "best" picks? For full transparency, here's a little about how we decide the best gaming PC builds for each quarter. Each quarter of the year, all aspects of the site is essentially put on hold (except for our DIY support packages offered to certain purchases of our DIY eBook, which continues as normal) and the necessary time is allocated solely towards completely re-evaluating and tweaking all our recommended gaming PC builds above based on any recent changes in the market.

Whether days, a week, or sometimes even longer, however long it takes to thoroughly put each example build under a new microscope and have it ready for publishing to the world is how long it takes - no shortcuts and no rushed builds. Certain build tiers may not change much during a quarterly update, while others may have a complete makeover with a 100% fresh set of parts; it all depends on how much the market has changed over those 3 months. The exact timing of each set of quarterly builds depends on various factors (such as when notable new releases drop etc), but the attention to detail in planning a great set of parts that will hold you in good stead remains with every iteration. 

All that said, while the nature of anything "DIY" obviously means doing your own research, we always recommend you do exactly that and don't just take our word for anything (or anyone's on the internet for that matter). Despite the painstaking hours and careful care put into this comprehensive gaming PC build guide, these builds are simply our own opinion and intended as a roadmap to set your research off on the right foot, and we encourage you to do your own research (which is what building your own PC is all about) to ensure you buy the right parts for your specific needs as everyone will have slightly different uses for their system (and varying preferences or feature needs/wants).

But if you want a "safe bet" buy of a build for any given price range, we're confident that using our build examples as a starting point in your research will hold you in good stead (but if tweaking a build don't forget checking and manually thinking through potentially compatibility issues). 

Besides our own opinion, there is careful consideration and strategy behind our recommendations, with the aim of being as objective, unbiased, and real-world-data focused as possible in the planning of these custom ready-to-build systems, to get as close to what the "best" optimal well-balanced gaming build would be right now for most people (for any given budget) in terms of getting the most for your money as a performance-perfectionist gamer.

These builds are designed via extensive research and analysis of the current market, including considering the thoughts of the most credible, trustworthy reviewers and advisors in the industry, also blended with our own subjective opinion based on over a decade helping gamers make smarter purchase decisions. The chief aim is to maximize performance for any given budget, but in tweaking these parts we also take into account everything else that makes for a top-performing, long-lasting, reliable system, including:

  • Only recommending quality, reliable components from trusted brands and manufacturers
  • Ensuring full compatibility between all parts and manually checking what tools like PCPP may miss
  • Allowing plenty of future flexibility for easy upgrades later
  • Ensuring adequate airflow and cooling for the build
  • Favoring a matching parts-list that'll look awesome (in terms of color and design scheme/theme)
  • Favoring beginner-friendly components for a hassle-free, easy installation, including no overly complicated CPU coolers, complex lighting setups, no BIOS updates required for first-boot, etc

If you're a fellow enthusiast of sorts who also enjoys keeping tabs on the state of DIY and you ever have any feedback on the builds then do feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or by reaching out direct (much appreciated in advance). The aim is to keep these builds as helpful, cost-effective and high-quality as humanly possible for beginner (and repeat) builders, so we're always open to ideas or constructive criticism. I may know some things about hardware, but obviously nobody can ever know it all for the industry moves too freakin' fast. So if you think a certain recommendation or combination could be better, let us know your thoughts. Thanks guys.






Builds 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 nicely in the comments and when I get a chance I'll do my best to personally respond and help a gamer out (though please understand it may take a while to get back to you, and I also give priority to customers who purchase my eBook).

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.

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.

Why the endless SW references? Not a fan

Only a Sith deals in absolutes, but if you don't like (classic) SW then you're dead to me ;p

I don't live in the US, do these builds still apply?

Possibly, but it depends on pricing (and availability) of a certain component in your particular country. Hardware is an international product though, and generally speaking if a certain part is a good buy in North America, it's usually also a good buy in other countries (if it's not overpriced where you live). The Amazon product links we list in the builds table will automatically direct you to your local country's store where possible, but we also provide direct product links for Australia and the UK.

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.

Why should I trust these recommendations

Because this is the greatest gaming PC build guide in the galaxy. Nah, but seriously, you shouldn't. Never trust what anyone says on the internet without doing your own research, especially when it comes to a large and (hopefully) long-lasting purchase like a new PC. That said, a lot of time goes into giving the best, most accurate, nuanced, well thought-out recommendations possible, and these hardware recommendations are not just haphazardly hashed together at random overnight. Therefore, I hope you find them useful as a base for your ongoing research, and if you're after a solid "safe bet" parts-list to buy for your next build, these builds are carefully researched to be the best value examples at the time of writing.






Get Help / Your Feedback



Need further help or want a quick second opinion on your parts-list before pulling the trigger? Disagree with one of our recommendations or have your own 2 cents to share? Let us know in the comments below, or in the comments of another guide if it's more relevant to your build (such as our VR PC build guide or streaming PC build guide just to name a couple).

Any general feedback on the site is also more than welcome and appreciated in advance, including constructive criticism if you think there's something we can do to make these guides better for you. Anyway, hope the site helps somewhat in your research, and good luck.

- Julz (BGC Creator)


Note: Think you might need ongoing help and advice? See the "Master" or "VIP" packages of our comprehensive manual for PC building beginners which includes long-term access to our dedicated 1-on-1 support email to get specific, detailed guidance at any time you need throughout your DIY PC journey. If you get stuck at any stage (during planning, building, troubleshooting, upgrading, etc) you'll have us in your corner to offer guidance.