The Best Gaming PC Builds for the Money: Q3 2020 Edition (August & September)
Recommended Components to Maximize Bang for Buck When Building a PC
Long-time readers won't be surprised which game I'd feature for these Q3 builds. Judging from trailers (here and here), Star Wars: Squadrons (releasing October) looks seriously legit. VR support too, so another good reason to get into PC VR (besides HLA). Background Image: Steam
Always-Updated PC Builds for Beginners
Pinpointing the Current Top Value PC Parts on the Market to Strategically Stretch Gaming Performance, Component Reliability, Airflow & Aesthetics
Last Updated: August 5, 2020
It's been over 3 weeks in the making, but this latest Q3 edition of our best gaming PC builds for the money series is finally complete. In this guide we've done the painstaking, meticulous market research to publish the best custom PC build examples we possibly can to give you a solid base template to work with when planning your first (or next) gaming PC build.
The ever-changing and almost-always confusing PC hardware landscape can be tricky to navigate as a first-time PC builder, as there's almost endless configuration possibilities for you to assemble. This gaming PC build guide will help you make more sense of the current market and more easily choose the best value combination of parts for your particular budget.
Most people know that taking the DIY path and building your own PC has many benefits, and that it's simple to do these days (even if you don't consider yourself tech savvy). But what stumps many beginners from building a gaming PC is deciding which combination of compatible PC parts to use in the first place; not just because of the near-limitless hardware choices you have to choose from, but also because there's a range of little things to consider when choosing parts in order to make the most of your budget and avoid compatibility issues.
Each build is carefully crafted for max gaming performance, cooling & reliability for that price point
Choosing the right components and features for the best gaming PC build can get real confusing real fast - if you don't continually keep a pulse on the ever-evolving hardware market that is (where new models seemingly get released every 3 seconds).
That's why each quarter we tap into over a decade of build design experience to thoroughly analyze the current market in order to publish the very best gaming PC builds we can muster based, to help spark ideas for your first (or next) custom PC. We hope these build recommendations come in handy as a base for your research, or as your exact next setup (they're all thoroughly checked for 100% compatibility).
Please keep these things in mind when using our builds in your research:
The total cost of each build is in USD (US Dollars).
Total cost of each build is just an estimate (not an exact amount as hardware prices change often). For example, our best build for $300 may work out to be a bit higher or lower, depending on current pricing.
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 FAQ, graphics card FAQ, power supply FAQ - see the rest in our main site menu).
After reading the rest of 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 whenever possible.
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Best PC Builds for Gaming Performance, Airflow, & Longevity (Q3 2020)
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. 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 using the AMD alternative instead (and changing the motherboard too) such as the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, Ryzen 9 3900X, or Ryzen 9 3950X (depending on your budget). See our streaming PC build guide for full details.
Build Breakdowns and Estimated Performance
Before we get into the breakdowns of our best gaming PC builds, if you're confused about gaming resolutions, game settings, and frame rates, here's an overview of these things to get you quickly up to speed.
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 / 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 Suggested Prebuilt PC Alternatives
Below we also list prebuilt PC recommendations for various countries if you don't have the time or patience to build your own PC and are willing to pay more for the convenience of a prebuilt (as they cost more than building your own PC, and also often contain lower-tier parts too). See our prebuilt PC buying guide as well.
Even if you're set on building a PC yourself (which we highly recommend to any gamer if you have the time), you can learn something by comparing the prebuilt alternatives below with our recommended custom PC builds. If you dig into the full specs of a prebuilt you'll realize that in most cases (pun intended) you not only save money by building it yourself and get faster parts for gaming, but you'll also get higher-quality, more reliable component brands/models if you look carefully (ie better PSU, faster RAM, better motherboard brand, better case, better GPU brand, and the list goes on).
Note: Below we list prebuilt PC alternatives that we can recommend for the following countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. For fellow Australians, if you want a prebuilt we can build one for you (using any parts you like) for a small fee to cover the time required for assembly and testing, and ship it anywhere in AU (you pay shipping). Free email/phone support is included too. If interested, contact us here with 'prebuilt' in the email title.
About the FPS Estimates for the Builds
For our build breakdowns below, 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 the most action-packed scenes your FPS will 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 (eg Real-Time Ray Tracing or AA).
Here's what different performance levels mean for your experience:
Above 45FPS (Very Smooth)
Super smooth performance. This is the performance level you ideally want to have, to avoid lag getting in the way of your experience. And the higher, the better. For 144Hz monitors, you'll ideally want a 120-140FPS average or higher.
Under 45FPS (Mostly Smooth)
Slightly choppy/laggy, but not everyone will notice that much and in slower-paced games it's not going to ruin the experience.
Under 30FPS (Quite Laggy)
Often choppy/laggy, and only playable for super-slow games. For shooters, MOBAs, racing, etc (read: most games) this level of performance will get in the way of playing at your best and/or enjoyment.
Power Supply: Thermaltake Smart 430 Non-Modular (80+ White)
Case: Rosewill FBM-01 (Mini Tower)
How much do you need to spend on a gaming PC? It all comes down to which games you play, as not everyone needs powerful specs to get a great experience. 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 PC 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: $280-$320 (US)
Good 720p 60Hz (Low/Medium)
Okay 900p 60Hz (Low)
Okay 1080p 60Hz (Low)
Decent Cheap Office PC
Estimated Frame Rates:
720p LOW SETTINGS
150 - 170
80 - 100
50 - 60
Rainbox Six: Siege
50 - 60
40 - 50
30 - 40
30 - 40
The Witcher 3
25 - 35
1080p LOW SETTINGS
League of Legends
140 - 180
80 - 100
World of Tanks
80 - 100
60 - 80
World of Warcraft
50 - 70
35 - 45
30 - 40
25 - 35
SW Battlefront II
25 - 35
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!
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 (Q3 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)
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.
Built this little guy for someone earlier this year (with an Asus DVD Burner add-on)
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 real quick, 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.
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 (Q3 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 Fan: 1 x Cooler Master SickleFlow 120mm (Blue LED)
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 an extra 120mm fan to make the most of its front-mesh design. Again, like the previous build, the extra fan isn't needed 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 help cool a graphics card should you upgrade to one in future.
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.
If choosing the Versa H18 case, 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 bolster airflow you ideally want to add a front fan (as an intake fan) to more effectively draw air in from the front and through your system. Any 120mm fan will do, but the SickleFlow fans are a good cheap option with decent performance, and with a little LED lighting to spruce things up a bit.
Inexpensive extra fan to boost airflow and add a little LED lighting
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).
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).
The WD Blue M.2 is one of the best value SSDs to use as a main system/boot drive. Get the 1TB if you want to store tons of games.
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.
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).
The Best $800 Gaming PC Build (Q3 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)
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).
The Corsair CX550M is a good mid-tier power supply at a (usually) good price
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 or RX 5700. 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.
The Best $1000 Gaming PC Build (Q3 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: EVGA RTX 2060 Super SC 8GB (Black Edition)
SSD: Crucial MX500 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
Power Supply: Corsair CX650M Semi-Modular (80+ Bronze)
Case: Corsair 275R Airflow (Mid Tower)
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.
But yeah, at this tier your options start to open up, so which monitor you use for it will depend on the games you play (and of course your budget). For example, for fast-paced FPS or Battle Royale titles, absolutely get a 1080p 144Hz display (which this build will run decently). But for slower-paced games, the higher pixel count of a 1440p 60Hz screen may suit you better.
The super popular Ryzen 5 3600 is an easy inclusion for this build (and the next couple builds as well) 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 with the 3600 (the Wraith Stealth) is also quite respectable performance-wise (and it looks alright, too), and is absolutely fine if not overclocking, though you could get away with using it too if doing some mild overclocks. But if you plan to really push the 3600 to squeeze out some extra free performance (not necessary and we generally don't recommend overclocking if you're a first-time builder anyway) then grab a cheap aftermarket cooler like the ones we include in the next build below.
The motherboard was also an easy choice, with the Tomahawk Max being the best B450 board on the market that has great features, nice aesthetics, and excellent cooling/stability, but as for the graphics card, it was a more difficult choice. In this upper mid-range section of the GPU market, a heated battle between AMD and NVidia wages on, but as with our last builds earlier this year, the RTX 2060 Super gets our #1 recommendation over the slightly cheaper Radeon RX 5700 and the more expensive RX 5700 XT for the slightly lower chance of encountering driver issues with the NVidia card.
While you're unlikely to encounter issues as it's still a rare thing, the 5700 series has had enough occurrences of problems for users over the past year, which however rare is something I must factor into our recommendations here as these example builds are meant to be as beginner-friendly as possible (with the lowest chances of encountering trouble). That said, there's nothing wrong getting an RX 5700 or 5700 XT, and the latter will beat the 2060S fair and square (though costs a fair bit more).
Last but definitely not least is your trusty power supply, which isn't ever a component you should overlook for any type of computer build as your system is only as reliable as its weakest link (and many beginner builders make the mistake of buying a low-tier PSU selection thinking that it doesn't matter much). Buy a dud PSU and you're risking all your other parts, because if it fails it could selfishly damage everything else along with it.
For a mid-range system 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.
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB White (2x8GB 3200MHz)
Graphics Card: Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super 8GB (Windforce OC)
SSD: Crucial MX500 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 650 Fully-Modular (80+ Gold)
Case: NZXT H510 (Mid Tower)
Building upon our recommended $1000 parts-list, with an extra $200 the best thing you can do is up your GPU to the RTX 2070 Super, as opposed to spending that extra money on a better CPU or something else (which wouldn't yield anywhere near the same return on investment in terms of faster gaming performance).
But don't worry; the 3600 CPU won't be a bottleneck for the powerful 2070S, as the 3600 is a surprisingly good gaming CPU for its price and the 3600 and 2070S combo is proven to be excellent. Oh, and if you're wondering about the recently-released Ryzen 5 3600 XT, and if it's worth it or not 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).
Moving on from the CPU and GPU, at this budget your choice of power supply becomes quite crucial; you always want to get the best quality, most reliable PSU you can reasonably afford, but for upper mid-range builds with excellent GPUs like the 2070S, your PSU choice becomes even more important if you want a reliable, long-lasting system with less chance of things going wrong in future (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 for cheaper in your particular region.
For this rig we also include a B550 motherboard for the first time, namely the B550-A Pro from MSI which is a good value mid-tier board, as for all the previous AMD builds above there's really no need to spend the extra money on a B550 vs a B450 board as the latter is the better value (still) unless building a more high-end AMD system (as the new features that B550 boards bring such as PCIe 4.0 isn't worth it for most people).
Oh, and because it fits in the $1200 build budget, we've included a better cooler for the 3600 which will keep it running cooler and more quiet when under load (ie when gaming). While not entirely necessary, replacing the stock cooler by buying your own cooler isn't just a good idea if overclocking, but is something to consider even when simply running a CPU at stock standard speeds (ie not overclocking). The stock cooler of the 3600 is fine in general, but with a $1200 budget you can afford to invest in a better cooler to have your system running better for longer. Plus, a good upgrade from the stock cooler doesn't have to cost much at all, with the excellent value Cooler Master 212 series a prime example. This cooler has cult-like levels of popularity within DIY for its great value, and its black or black RGB versions look great too.
Lastly, the NZXT H510 gets the nod ahead for this quarter's best $1200 gaming PC build as its a slick, easy to work with case for beginners, and while airflow isn't as good as other cases in our builds due to the lack of a mesh front panel, it's not the worst in terms of airflow either and does an adequate job with its unique negative pressure fan setup (2 exhaust fans only; don't worry, it's designed to be that way so you don't need front fans). Performance wise, this custom $1200 gaming desktop, with its carefully tweaked and well thought-through combination of parts - it'll blitz 1440p gaming for years to come (in demanding games and on good settings). 4K resolution is also more than viable for this type of gaming computer (just don't expect 60FPS ultra in AAA titles), and it also makes for a top value VR gaming PC build capable of comfortably running any VR title on the market.
The Best $1500 Gaming PC Build (Q3 2020)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6 Cores)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo (RGB Black)
Motherboard: Gigabyte B550 AORUS PRO AC (ATX)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB (2x8GB 3600MHz)
Graphics Card: EVGA RTX 2080 Super 8GB (Black Edition)
SSD: Crucial MX500 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
Power Supply: Corsair RMx RM650x Fully-Modular (80+ Gold)
Case: Phanteks P400A (Mid Tower)
Codename: Tie Fighter
Target Budget: $1470-$1530 (US)
Good 4K 60Hz (High)
Good 1440p 144Hz (Medium)
Great 1080p 144Hz (High)
If you want to stretch 1500 US dollars (well over 2000 Canadian or Australian dollars) for maximum gaming performance, what we recommend is sticking with the stellar Ryzen 5 3600 and squeezing in a mighty RTX 2080 Super. At first it may seem like a lopsided combo that would lead to a CPU bottleneck (where the CPU holds back the GPU, as the 2080S costs significantly more than a 3600. But in reality, based on multiple benchmarks from multiple sources, it's more than fine and will indeed lead to the highest frame rates possible at this price point - especially in 1440p or 4K on a 60/75Hz screen where performance hugely depends on the GPU (and the CPU isn't anywhere near as important).
If gaming in 1080p 144Hz or 240Hz, you do want to consider a different combo though such as an i5-10600K (from the build below) and a RTX 2070 Super, which gives you more CPU firepower to reach those high 144FPS/240FPS targets consistently (for 144Hz or 240Hz monitors) as the 10600K is better than the 3600 for these scenarios.
G.Skill RAM is some of the best out there
That's not to say a Ryzen 5 3600 isn't good for 1080p 144Hz gaming, as it's still a strong enough processor for that resolution - especially for less demanding games like Fortnite. But the 10600K (an even the previous-gen 9600K) is objectively better for 1080p 144Hz (and 240Hz). But yeah, for higher resolutions (1440p or 4K), "settling" for a Ryzen 5 3600 and getting the best GPU possible will net you the best performance in most situations.
The Best $1750 Gaming PC Build (Q3 2020)
CPU: Intel Core i5-10600K (6 Cores)
CPU Cooler: ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports
Cooler: Stock Standard
Motherboard: MSI Z490-A Pro (ATX)
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB White (2x8GB 3200MHz)
Graphics Card: EVGA RTX 2080 Super 8GB (XC Ultra)
SSD: Sabrent Rocket 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVME)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750 Fully-Modular (80+ Gold)
Case: be quiet! Pure Base 500DX (Mid Tower)
Target Budget: $1720-$1780 (US)
Best 1080p 144Hz (High)
Value 1080p 240Hz (Low)
Great 1440p 144Hz (Medium)
Best Overall for Overclocking
It's unprecedented times, and I'm not talking about human malware - the fact that it's taken until the $1750 build for Intel to make an appearance shows how different the CPU landscape is right now compared to (most of) recent history. Such one-sided domination of the gaming CPU market (in AMD's favor) was unheard of just a couple years ago, where the status quo was very much Intel winning most head to head CPU battles in terms of gaming performance - and not just for the high-end segment, but the budget and mi-range CPU tiers as well. But with each iteration of AMD's revolutionary Ryzen line, 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.
But while AMD is clearly the best value right now in the budget and mid-range gaming CPU market (for most games), don't get too caught up in the hype as the truth is that high-end Intel CPUs (9th and 10th gen Core i7 and i9) are still faster than their Ryzen 7/9 competitors (in most games; CSGO is an exception where the latest AMD Ryzen 7 and 9 surprisingly beats the latest i7 and i9). That's not say you shouldn't choose AMD for a higher-end gaming PC build, as like I said, the latest Ryzen 3000 chips are great for gaming, just that Intel is a tad faster if you have a flexible budget (like $1500/$1750 or more) and just want to get the highest frame rates possible for 1080p/1440p 144Hz or 240Hz monitors. And since AMD is not just super-close to Intel for high-end gaming, but actually better for many other applications such as streaming, multitasking, and certain production programs (depends which one though), if you're building a PC as a hybrid gaming/work PC then it's hard to ignore the excellent value Ryzen 7 3700X or Ryzen 9 3900X.
But yeah, if gaming is all you care about, no matter what anyone tells you, the facts are Intel still has a slight edge (but it's small these days, so in the grand scheme of things either Intel or AMD is fine). So all that said, since these recommendations are the best gaming PC builds after all, Intel remains our top pick for this build and for the rest of our gaming rigs below, though here on BGC we entertain 0 fanboy-style (biased/narrow) thinking, and so that can change at any time should the data change (read: if the next Ryzen 4000 CPUs take the lead).
The best value Intel CPU for gaming is unquestionably the i5-10600K, which is very fast at stock speeds, but really shines when overclocked to the point where it can even get close to stock 10900K levels of performance (overclocking is quite simple but we don't recommend it for everyone, especially if you're a first-time builder just getting into PC gaming). To cool the 10600K nice and cool - either at stock speeds or when overclocking - you don't have a choice but to buy your own CPU cooler (any Intel CPUs with a "k" in the model 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.
Enough ranting about CPUs and coolers though, and to round-off the recommended $1700-$1800 PC build for this quarter you have a super-fast but well-priced NVMe SSD (Sabrent Rocket) which is a better value alternative to the top of the line Samsung NVMe SSDs (which performs very similarly). We also chose the MSI Z490-A Pro motherboard since it's IMO one of the better value, still-reliable Z490 boards on the market (with decent VRMs for good cooling performance).
We also move up to 750 watts of power from a top EVGA PSU, which gives plenty of headroom for this powerful parts-list, as well as future upgrades and overclocking (which uses more power), and the slick Pure Base 500DX which is be quiet!'s best value case in terms of airflow. They're known more for their super-quiet cases (you'd hope so based on their name), and not for airflow, but this model breaks that mould and delivers where it counts most for a super high-performance gaming build like this (yep; airflow, but it looks just great, too).
The Best $2000 Gaming PC Build (Q3 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 ROG Strix RTX 2080 Super 8GB (Advanced Edition)
SSD: Sabrent Rocket 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVME)
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB (7200RPM)
Power Supply: Corsair RM750x Fully-Modular (80+ Gold)
Case: Cooler Master MasterCase H500 (Mid Tower)
At this price point it's still not feasible to include an RTX 2080 Ti, but the RTX 2080 Super isn't far behind performance-wise and is still more than enough graphical grunt to please the vast majority of gamers. But what you can do with the extra $250 over the previous build is get the new i7 10700K instead of the 10600K from the $1750 build, which will increase 144Hz and 240Hz performance. You can also get a better CPU cooler for the i7, with the Noctua NH-U12S being an excellent choice (for both standard speeds or overclocking). Noctua make some of the best performing coolers on the market, and this one is no exception.
For a $2000 gaming PC build you can also afford a better motherboard, and we've gone for the good value Asus Z490-Plus TUF Gaming - one of the best value WiFi-ready Z490 models, meaning no need to choose a wireless desktop adapter card or USB dongle if you want WiFI capability (which you'd need to do for our budget Z490 picks from the earlier builds). This $2000 desktop build is also the first where we recommend a second storage drive, specifically a 2TB HDD as large SSDs are just not practical if trying to be cost-effective, but of course feel free to include a HDD in any of the builds if you need that extra space for storing tons of photos, videos, games, etc.
The Cooler Master MasterCase H500 is a BGC favorite combining both great form and function, and one of our recommended cases that has remained over multiple iterations of this gaming PC build guide. And for good reason as it's one of the nicest-looking, high-airflow designs out there, with 2 large standout 200mm RGB front fans included (and a pre-installed exhaust fan too) meaning great performance out of the box (not to mention easy, beginner-friendly cable management).
You don't need more than the 3 stock fans that come with the H500, even for a super-powerful gaming rig like this. But if you want more internal lighting, consider replacing the included 120mm exhaust fan in the back with an aftermarket 120mm RGB one, as the 2 front RGB fans don't light the inside of the case much. But speaking of those front 2 fans, they're great in terms of both cooling and aesthetic; some cases borderline false-advertise by showing bright LED/RGB fans in product photos, but are a bit of a letdown in the flesh (metal?). The H500 dodges this bullet, and photos don't do its beauty justice (IMO). Cooler Master produce some super awesome looking cases, and this one's no exception (the H500P is another banger).
The Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro modules look great, but are quite tall, meaning you must choose a compatible CPU cooler that won't clash with their height. The Noctua NH-U12S is a very flexible, low-profile cooler that won't get in the way of any type of RAM (but that isn't the only reason we selected it, as its performance for the price is excellent).
The Best $2500 Gaming PC Build (Q3 2020)
CPU: Intel Core i7-10700K (8 Cores)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S (Black)
Motherboard: MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge (ATX, WiFi)
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB (2x8GB 3200MHz)
Graphics Card: MSI RTX 2080 Ti 11GB (Ventus GP)
SSD: Sabrent Rocket 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVME)
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)
Like all of our best gaming PC builds, this 2500 dollar custom PC parts-list is tweaked for maximum gaming performance, cooling (airflow), reliability and aesthetics, which first and foremost means including the best gaming graphics card possible for the money without sacrificing on the other parts.
And yes, at this price range you can comfortably make way for the king of the current GPU crowd, though before selling a kidney to buy a NVidia RTX 2080 Ti, I suggest waiting until September when NVidia's new range of RTX 3000 graphics cards should be announced before making a decision. Just 'cause new NVidia cards are coming, doesn't mean the 2080 Ti will necessarily become obsolete though; proof is the GTX 1080 Ti, which remained a good buy for a long time following the initial launch of the RTX 2080 Ti.
But whether you get a 2080 Ti or wait it out for a 3080 Ti (or whatever it'll be called), this is the most powerful tier of consumer GPUs (well, besides a Titan RTX though that offers diminishing returns and is way overpriced for 99.9% of gamers). Whether you want amazing 4K, VR, 1440p, or 1080p 240Hz performance, a 2080 Ti (or upcoming 3080 Ti) will have you covered.
The high-quality host of supporting components will be familiar from builds above, except for the gem of a case that is of course the Meshify C. A compact, slick, high-airflow user-friendly case that is well in the conversation of most popular DIY case of these past couple years due to its also-excellent price.
Used the white Meshify C for a recent build. The hype is real; 9.5/10
Airflow of the Meshify C is decent out the box with its 2 included fans, but for optimal cooling of a beastly battlestation of this nature, 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 install extra case fans as we suggest for a powerful RTX 2080 Ti gaming PC like this, 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).
The Best $3000 Gaming PC Build (Q3 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: Asus ROG Strix RTX 2080 Ti 11GB (OC Black)
SSD: Samsung 970 Evo 1TB SSD (M.2 SATA)
HDD: Western Digital Black 2TB (7200RPM)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 850 Fully-Modular (80+ Gold)
Case: Corsair Air 540 (Mid Tower)
The Death Star system; the ultimate overkill weapon striking fear in the hearts of first-time builders and generating egregious amounts of envy from low-spec gamers. Construct this menacing all-black destruction machine and with the push of a button you'll hold the power to obliterate any game or resolution that dares stand in your way (well, except Crysis). But fear not young Padawan, for still easy to assemble, this computer is.
Building on the previous 2.5K build, the next logical step up is to snag 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 every extra FPS you can.
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 liquid coolers for our overkill builds further below) there's nothing more effective than the notorious NH-D15. Noctua's flagship award-winning air cooler, the NH-D15 is highly recommended for maximum cooling performance and noise reduction - if your case has the stomach for it.
There's no component more menacingly massive 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).
Equal best high-end air cooler on the market, equal with the Dark Rock Pro 4
That's why you'll see we recommend a mid-tower case on the roomier side (smaller mid-towers like the Meshify C can fit the NH-D15 though it makes for a tight, more difficult installation), as well as low-profile RAM (Corsair LPX) which won't get in the way as the NH-D15 can overhang RAM slots (but depends on the motherboard). If mixing and matching parts to use with this legendary cooler, check out Noctua's compatibility checker tools on their website.
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 Best $4000 Gaming PC Build (Q3 2020)
CPU: Intel Core i9-10900K (10 Cores)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i RGB Platinum SE White (Liquid AiO)
Motherboard: Asus ROG STRIX Z490-A Gaming (ATX)
Wireless Card: Asus PCE-AX58BT PCIe WiFi Adapter
RAM: 2 x Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB White (2x16GB 3200MHz)
Graphics Card: Asus ROG Strix RTX 2080 Ti 11GB (OC White)
SSD: Samsung 970 Pro 1TB SSD (M.2, PCIe NVME)
HDD: Western Digital Black 4TB (7200RPM)
Power Supply: Corsair RMx RM850x White Fully-Modular (80+ Gold)
We'll keep this one short and sweet as the word count so far already has this guide clearly past longest-article-in-known-history territory (for better or worse). Simply put, if you want to build the best extreme gaming PC using a 10900K and RTX 2080 Ti with standout aesthetics in the form of a seriously cool matching-white build theme, along with a high-end liquid cooler and customizable (and sync-able) RGB lighting, this is how we'd go about using a ~4K US budget.
Also featuring top-shelf storage drives, including the fastest NVMe PCIe Gen3 SSD on the market (970 Pro) and a massive 4TB high-end HDD (WD Black), and a mammoth 64GB of fast RGB RAM, this $4000 gaming build doubles-up nicely as a killer workstation PC (but you'd expect nothing less for this sort of budget). , a great CPU liquid cooler that's also one of the more beginner-friendly models to install, this sample $4000 rig is amazing inside and out but absolutely overkill indeed.
The Corsair H100i (and other Corsair liquid coolers) is one of the easier, more beginner-friendly installations, which is one reason we've selected this one (it's also generally good value overall too and looks great). But it must be said, these days liquid coolers aren't any more difficult than installing air coolers anyway, so there's no need to fear liquid coolers if you're a beginner (especially if you stick to the easier models to assemble). But yes, custom water cooling loops, which is something entirely different than all-in-one coolers like the H100i - that's definitely not recommended if you're a first-time (or even second time) builder.
If you do end up getting a 240mm liquid cooler like the H100i we suggest, if also using the P600S case we recommend installing it (the radiator/fans) in the top of the case (if you're not replacing the 2 stock front fans with RGB fans as we'll explain next). Just make sure to position the fans of the H100i so they face the correct way; for a top-mounted radiator, they need to be positioned as "exhaust" fans so that they blow air up through the radiator (and out the top of the case). Oh, and the H100i does come with thermal paste which is pre-applied to the cooler, so there's no need to buy and apply your own paste.
The $4000 build has a fair bit of RGB as it is, with the motherboard, RAM, GPU, and liquid cooler all having RGB (which you can sync using Corsair's software). But if you want more RGB lighting, we suggest a 3-pack of white Corsair LL120 RGB Fans which will perfectly match the RGB fans of the H100i RGB Platinum SE. You could then replace the 2 stock front fans of the P600S with 2 of those RGB fans (and switch the front panel of the P600S to high-performance mode which opens up the mesh so you can see the RGB). For the third RGB fan, replace the stock rear fan.
The Best $5000 Gaming PC Build (Q3 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: 2 x Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB Black (2x16GB 3200MHz)
Graphics Card: Titan RTX (24GB)
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)
Codename: 2nd Death Star
Target Budget: $4800-$5200 (US)
Ultimate 1080p 240Hz (High)
Great 1440p 240Hz (Medium)
Ultimate 4K 60Hz (Ultra)
Good 4K 144Hz (Medium)
Ultimate VR 144Hz (Index)
All-RGB Build Theme Example
Like the setup above, our final parts-list in the greatest build guide in the known galaxy is fittingly, fantastically surreal in both performance and aesthetic. It's also supreme overkill of the highest order. But the real question remains; can it run Crysis? No. But perhaps if you get lucky. 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 gaming system, this is how I'd go about it to strategically assemble an absolute otherworldly banger of a bombshell. Hyperbolic, virtue-signalling "look at how sophisticated I am" over-the-top descriptions aside (or just the plain bad writings of a rogue writer AKA yours truly), the 680X, with its slick black exterior and included tri RGB front fans is a sweet sight to behold once fully operational.
But more importantly than surface-level shine, the internal components of this system are even better, with the star of the overkill show of course being the sleeper-style RTX Titan with its insane 24GB of VRAM - the single most powerful consumer grade GPU in the world. Is this GPU worth the extra money? I like sleeping at night, so the answer is...bruh. Not. A. Chance. But "value for money" and "$5000 gaming PC build" were never meant to be included in the same sentence.
A Titan RTX may be practical for extremely complex GPU-heavy professional applications like machine learning and whatever Elon and Co are up to on the daily, but for gaming it delivers diminishing returns over a 2080 Ti. You're paying around double for the card, but aren't getting anywhere near double the performance - just like when using dual GPUs in SLI, another surefire way to waste Galactic Credits and regret it soon after (unless you're a patient enthusiast doing it for fun who embraces the potential challenges of building a SLI gaming PC.
Point is, we're listing this borderline-ridiculous $5000 gaming build for the fun of it, though to be fair there is that 1 in a 10000 gamer out there who will in fact be eyeing off a Titan RTX build. So if that's you, this rig won't disappoint and is nicely ventilated with the unique mammoth monster cube of a case that is the classic Corsair Air 540 (an oldie but a goodie if you have the space for it). And that wraps the breakdowns of our current best gaming PC builds for the money, so let's move on to software, monitors, accessories, and more.
The 680X comes with 3 pre-installed Corsair LL120 RGB fans in the front, and one non-RGB Corsair 120mm pre-installed in the back. This setup is fine for great airflow "out of the box", but to leave it at that wouldn't make this an "all-RGB build" example now would it. The 680X looks great as is, so don't think you nee to get more fans, but if you look at different 680X builds you'll see it looks just great when filled with fans.
If getting more fans, we suggest the 3 pack of black Corsair LL120 RGB fans (get the white version if getting the white 680X) which 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: 1, 2, 3).
Getting and Installing Windows 10
To install Windows 10 on a fresh new gaming PC, you have 3 options:
1) Download Windows Onto a USB Drive (For Free), Then Buy/Activate Later
This is the cheapest way to get Windows 10 up and running on your new PC 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:
Clear all data on the USB drive by formatting it (it must be blank). Do this even if it's brand new.
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).
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.
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).
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).
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:
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.
Thanks guys, and if you really want a copy but the price is too much for you to afford, email us with a paragraph or 2 why you deserve a free copy (with the email title as "monthly book giveaway"), and every month we'll pick 1 person at random who will get a free copy : )
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.
Of course! Customizing parts to your exact preferences can be a big part of the fun when building PCs. Our best gaming PC builds are simply our own opinion on what would make a great "safe bet" buy right now for any given budget if you care about gaming most.
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 absolutely everything (and can make mistakes). If you need help or a second opinion on your parts-list, feel free to ask nicely in the comments and we'll do our best to personally respond and help a fellow gamer out : )
Most modern motherboards actually don't actually come with built-in WiFi, so if you want wireless internet access for your new desktop you can either buy an external USB or internal PCIe adapter or choose a motherboard that does have WiFi. If the recommended motherboard we suggest for a certain build doesn't have WiFi, in that build's guide we typically mention a secondary motherboard choice that does have WiFi.
Because there are various ways to get Windows for a new gaming PC build. For example, some will already have a (legal) copy of Windows they can reuse from a previous PC for a new build, and some people will use Linux (which is free but more complicated). So when planning the best PC builds for gaming above we just focus on the core parts-list.
Choosing peripherals/accessories such as a monitor, keyboard, mouse and headset comes down to personal preference a lot more than the actual hardware (which is more based on objective data/facts of what performs best), and again like with the operating system, many people will reuse PC parts for a new build (see that article for tips). But for each build guide we include our top accessory recommendations for that specific build.
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.
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.
We're 100% independently operated and not affiliated with any manufacturer or brand, and pride ourselves on being as objective/unbiased as humanly possible in our recommendations. If we include a certain product over and over again, it's simply because we think it's a great buy.
We are not fanboys of any company: we love to see the underdog do well because that's essentially what we are as a "publisher", but we don't let emotion get in the way of our picks. Hence why post Ryzen 3rd gen (which is just great) we still recommend Intel for high-end gaming PC builds, because facts do not lie and for professional competitive/eSport gamers they are still the (ever so slightly) better choice for 144Hz/240Hz monitors (but AMD is still fine for that as the difference is small).
Because this is the greatest gaming PC build guide in the galaxy. Nah but seriously, 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 gaming PC. In saying that we do pride ourselves on giving the best, most accurate, nuanced, well thought-out recommendations we possibly can, and for many years have obsessed over the ever-evolving DIY landscape to better serve you as beginner or intermediate builders.
Our recommendations aren't just quick haphazardly hashed-up selections at random, and we never recommend anything without weighing up and comparing as many competing options as possible and also considering what the smartest minds in the industry are saying. But yeah, these "best" gaming PC builds are simply our own humble opinion, and intended as a base for your ongoing research.
The $1000 system or better is what we recommend as a good PC VR build (see that guide for more info on VR requirements).
If you're specifically building a PC for Half Life Alyx (easily the best AAA VR game so far), good news is it's a well optimized title for lesser hardware, so even the $800 build (with a GTX 1660 Super) would be fine if you want the cheapest possible PC build for VR.
That said, we'd still suggest the $1000 build as the minimum for a smooth VR experience in all titles without potential issues. And if you want absolutely flawless VR on high settings, you really want a RTX 2080 Super or better (and a Ryzen 5 3600 or Intel i5 10600K or better).
Only a Sith deals in absolutes, but if you don't like (classic) SW then you're dead to me ;)
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.
PS: 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.
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