The Best Gaming PC Builds for the Money

Recommended December 2018 Hardware Parts to Strategically Maximize Performance, Reliability, and Longevity for Any Budget When Building a PC


From $300 to $5000: How to Strategically Stretch Any Budget When Building Your Own PC for Max Performance

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2018

Building your own custom gaming PC in December 2018 and need a little guidance choosing the absolute best, fastest, most reliable parts-list for your particular budget and performance aims?

Our continually-updated, meticulously-researched recommended builds below are here to help, and represent what we believe to be the best bang for your buck based on continual borderline-obsessive monitoring of the ever-evolving hardware market from the perspective of a gamer looking for maximum performance for any given budget.

Use these gaming PC build examples exactly as is, as they've been carefully thought-out as excellent examples of how to stretch a particular budget for maximum gaming performance and overall build balance, or feel free to go wild and use these sample builds as a base for your more customized setup. We'll also be updating all the gaming PC builds throughout Black Friday week and Cyber Monday week if any noticeable deals are worth including in a certain parts-list as we'll be keeping a close eye on all the best hardware deals as they unfold.

We hope these builds help you in some way on your DIY quest, and good luck on your hunt for the perfect new machine to game in full graphical glory for years to come. Although consoles are great fun too, long live the master race...when done right, the PC really is the pinnacle of gaming with its vast sea of endless possibilities, and anything a console can do, a PC can do and do better. See you on the battlefield.

See Also: 

5 Compelling Reasons to Build Your Own PC

Your First Gaming PC Build: Guide for Beginners



MID JANUARY 2019 UPDATE:

We do a full update of all our builds monthly, however in January, for the first time in the site's history, we won't be doing a January update of all our builds (except for the $300, $400 and $500 builds which did need updating this month) as we're working hard on a re-design of all the builds to accommodate specific recommendations for other countries starting from Feb and beyond (which takes a ton of time, and we've also been creating a bunch of new guides which I'm sure you guys will love).

But the below December builds still apply for now - most if not all the December builds are still be on-point as good example builds for January, and on a month to month basis there usually aren't many, if any, big changes in the recommended parts overall. Plus, the only real big release in the market this month is the RTX 2060, which we'd consider instead of a GTX 1070/1070 Ti. So take that into account for the $1000 and $1250 builds below.

We'll be posting the new and improved Feb builds at the end of January for those not in a hurry to build, and they'll include more specific (and sometimes separate) recommendations for Canada, Australia and the UK (as well as our primary USA recommendations of course). Lastly, in the meantime if you want 1 on 1 help with your build then message us here if you just have a quick question or two, or if you want comprehensive help see our done-for-you personalized parts-list planning service.





The Best Gaming PC Builds: December 2018


Swipe to Scroll the Builds:


Optimal Gaming Performance, Component Quality & Build Balance for the Money

RESOLUTION
FULL REVIEW BUDGET GRAPHICS
CARD
CPU CPU COOLER MOTHERBOARD RAM HDD SSD PSU CASE



1

0

8

0

P
ENTRY LEVEL < $300 Vega RX8 (integrated) Ryzen 3 2200G Stock ASRock A320M Pro4 Ballistix Tactical 4GB DDR4 2666MHz WD 1TB Blue 7200RPM
- EVGA 450 BT Rosewill FBM 05
CHEAP < $400 Vega RX11 (integrated) Ryzen 5 2400G Stock MSI B350M Pro VDH Patriot Signature 8GB DDR4 2666MHz As Above - As Above Thermaltake Versa H15 SPCC
BUDGET < $500 GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Pentium G5400 or G5500 Stock Gigabyte B360M DS3H Patriot Signature 8GB DDR4 2400MHz As Above - As Above Cooler Master N200 or Corsair Carbide 100R
MID RANGE < $600 GTX 1060 3GB or RX 570 4GB i3-8100 Stock As Above Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR4 2400MHz As Above - As Above Corsair Spec02
60FPS ULTRA < $800 RX 580 8GB or GTX 1060 6GB Ryzen 5 2600 Stock Asus Prime B450-Plus HyperX Fury 8GB DDR4 2666MHz As Above Kingston A400 240GB EVGA 500 BQ Cooler Master MasterBox Pro 5

1

4

4

0

P

GOOD 1440P < $1000 GTX 1070 8GB
i5-8400 Stock or 212 Evo Gigabyte B360 HD3 8GB DDR4 2666MHz As Above As Above EVGA 550 SuperNOVA G3 Phanteks Eclipse P400
GREAT 1440P < $1250 GTX 1070 Ti 8GB i5-9600K Cryorig H7 or 212 Evo Asus Prime Z390-A Vengeance 16GB DDR4 3000MHz As Above As Above EVGA 650 SuperNOVA G3 NZXT H500 or H500i
60FPS ULTRA < $1500 RTX 2070 8GB Ryzen 7 2700X Stock Asus Prime X470 Pro As Above Seagate 2TB 7200RPM Samsung 860 EVO 250GB As Above Phanteks Enthoo Pro




4

K

/

V

R


GOOD 4K < $2000 RTX 2080 8GB
i7-9700K Corsair Hydro H100i v2 AIO Asus Rog Strix Z390-E As Above As Above As Above EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G3 Corsair 570X
60FPS ULTRA < $2500 RTX 2080 Ti 11GB As Above As Above As Above As Above As Above As Above EVGA G3 850 or Seasonic Focus 850 Corsair Graphite 780T
144FPS < $3000 2x RTX 2080 8GB (SLI) i9-9900K NZXT Kraken X62 Asus Maximus XI Hero Z390 G.Skill Trident 4x8GB 3200MHz 4TB Samsung 970 EVO m.2 500GB Seasonic Prime SSR-1000TR Corsair 900D
144FPS ULTRA < $5000 Titan RTX or 2x RTX 2080 Ti (SLI) As Above As Above MSI Meg Z390 Godlike (Haha, Meg) As Above As Above Samsung 970 EVO m.2 1TB EVGA SuperNOVA 1200W Platinum As Above






Best Gaming PC Builds for 4K & VR: Breakdowns


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $2500

Build Tier: Ultra 4K

Gaming Performance: 10/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

4K 60Hz or 1440p/1080p 144Hz (& flawless VR)

Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $2000

Build Tier: Good 4K

Gaming Performance: 9.5/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

4K 60Hz or 1440p 60Hz/144Hz or 1080p 144Hz (& great VR)



Best Gaming PC Builds for 1440p: Breakdowns


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $1500

Build Tier: Ultra 1440p

Gaming Performance: 9/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

1440p 60Hz or 1080p 144Hz (& good VR)


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $1250

Build Tier: Great 1440p

Gaming Performance: 8.5/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

1440p 60Hz or 1080p 144Hz (& good VR)


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000

Build Tier: Good 1440p

Gaming Performance: 8/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

1440p 60Hz or 1080p 60Hz (& entry-level VR)



Best Gaming PC Builds for 1080p: Breakdowns


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $800

Build Tier: Ultra 1080p

Gaming Performance: 7.5/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

1080p 60Hz or 1440p 60Hz


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $600

Build Tier: Mid-Range 1080p

Gaming Performance: 7/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

1080p 60Hz


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $500

Build Tier: Budget 1080p

Gaming Performance: 6.5/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

1080p 60Hz


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $400

Build Tier: Cheap 1080p

Gaming Performance: 5.5/10

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates:

1080p, 900p, 720p (60Hz)


Current Best Gaming PC Build Under $300

Build Tier: Entry-Level 1080p

Gaming Performance: 5/10 (entry level 1080p)

Recommended Resolutions/Refresh Rates: 1080p, 900p, 720p (60Hz)


Confused About Resolutions, Refresh Rates, or Frame Rates?

PC Gaming Resolutions Explained: 1080p vs 1440p vs 4K

PC Gaming Refresh Rates Explained: 60Hz vs 144Hz

Frame Rates Explained: 30FPS vs 40FPS vs 50FPS vs 60FPS and Higher



Gaming Builds FAQ

Which of the builds is right for me?

Can I mix and match parts around from different builds?

Do the builds have WiFi capability?

Is wired internet better than wireless for gaming?

Should I wait for component X or Y to be released before building?

When are the builds updated?

Why isn't Windows included in the price of the builds?"

Why aren't peripherals included in the price of the builds?

Are you sponsored by X or Y manufacturer because you recommend them so much?

Which countries are these gaming PC builds for?

Which online stores have the best prices on PC components?

Why trust your build recommendations? Are you hardware Jesus?


Which of the builds is right for me?

Of all the best gaming PC builds we recommend right now, if you're perhaps getting into the PC master race for the first time, you may be a little lost as to just how much you should spend on your new setup. It's a question that only you can answer...how long is a piece of string? This is 100% your call, soldier. How much you spend on a new gaming computer comes down to many factors, with perhaps the biggest ones (besides how much you actually have to spend) being what resolution you want to play in (1080p, 1440p or 4K), what types of games you want to play (demanding AAA titles, older games, or a mix etc), and what type of performance you'd be happy with in those games (flawlessly smooth at all times, or can you stand a little laggy-ness or toning down the graphic settings to get better performance?).

See Also: 1080p vs 1440p vs 4K: Gaming Resolutions Explained and Compared

As a general rule of thumb, for standard 1080p resolution (full HD), which is what most gamers still use in 2018 and will continue to do so in 2019, $500 - $800 will serve you well depending on the performance level you seek. Less if you're only playing lesser-demanding games, older titles, 720p resolution, or you don't mind 1080p on the lowest graphical settings.

Next step up in quality is 1440p resolution which is also quite popular these days; you're looking at spending $800 to $1500 for a build of that nature. For virtual reality and 4K resolution, the pinnacle of PC gaming if you can afford it, you're looking at throwing down $1500 and above, with $2000-$2500 allowing for the very best performance in this resolution. Anything more than this, such as our above suggested SLI builds (read: multi GPU setups) is pure luxury and overkill for 99.953632% of gamers.


Can I mix and match parts around from different builds?

Sure, the above best gaming PC builds are our recommended "safe bets" for any particular budget based on years of hardware experience and obsessing over the ever-changing market, but go ahead and tweak these builds 'till the ends of the earth until you're 100% satisfied.

Planning the perfect custom setup is a big part of the fun, but just don't forget to always consider compatibility between all of your components. Basics changes like using a different graphics card  instead of the one we included will almost always be totally fine, although there are always exceptions to the rule so always do your homework (for example, perhaps the card you opt for is bigger and would not fit in your case, etc etc).


Do the builds have WiFi capability?

All modern motherboards come with built-in wired networking capability (known as LAN), however most DO NOT have built-in wireless. If you want your PC to access the internet wirelessly (for gaming or non-gaming), you'll need to get a wireless adapter of which you have three options for:

  • Get an internal wireless network card to install on your motherboard
  • Get an external wireless USB adapter/dongle to plug into your PC
  • Get a motherboard with built-in wireless

Option 3 may require you to get a more expensive motherboard, as like mentioned most boards don't come with the built-in wireless feature, so it may not be within your budget to do this. The first 2 options are most common for a cost-effective desktop build, and whether you get an internal adapter card or a USB dongle is personal preference as either can work just as well.

If you get an internal adapter, you'll want to consider whether your motherboard has a spare PCI-E port for the adapter (in most cases you will unless you're really decking out your build with expansion cards) as well as enough space on your motherboard (in some cases the graphics card, if large, may get in the way). If getting a USB dongle instead you'll want to make sure you have a free USB port for it. For either option you'll also want to get one that matches the speed of your router, so if you have a 5GHz router then get an adapter/dongle that supports this speed.

Top Cheap Pick & Top Quality Pick (for fastest routers) And this is the USB dongle we suggest.



Is wired internet better than wireless for gaming?

Generally speaking, yes. If you're gaming online, a wired LAN connection is always the most ideal as you don't have to worry about dropouts and/or potential slowdowns in your connection. This becomes more important if you're gaming competitively. However, these days wireless connections can be just as good if you have a good internet connection, a good router, and good network card/dongle.


Should I wait for component X or Y to be released before building?

This is an age-old question that will never die. Truth is, there's always new parts coming out, either really soon or in the not too distant future, so 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. Also keep in mind that even if you wait for a new part, it may not even be the best overall value for money at the price at which its released, and over its initial first few months or so, and sometimes older parts represent better bang for your buck (case in point right now is the GTX cards being better value overall than the new RTX cards).


When are the builds updated?

We thoroughly look over, re-consider and tweak (where necessary) all our recommended gaming PC builds each and every month, but we also occasionally update a build mid-month if there's any noteworthy changes to the hardware market such as a big release that deserves to be included in any given build tier, or before big sales events like Black Friday/Cyber Monday to ensure the builds are freshly-updated for those days.

In other words, these gaming PC build examples are essentially always updated and ready to go; they're the flagship feature of the site and what keeps the majority of our readers coming back to the site, therefore we always keep a close eye on them so that they are practically never outdated. Also note that sometimes a particular build will stay the exact same month to month if it still remains as the best value for money parts-list for that price in our opinion.


Why isn't Windows included in the price of the builds?

We don't include the operating system, which for most builders will be Windows 10, because A) there are other choices other than Windows such as Linux, and B) some builders will already have a (legal) copy of Windows that they can reuse for their new build (such as a multi-machine edition they previously bought).


Why aren't peripherals included in the price of the builds?

Choosing peripherals such as your monitor, keyboard, mouse and headset comes down to personal preference a lot more than the actual hardware parts, so it wouldn't make sense to include specific peripherals for each recommended build. Plus, like with the operating system, a lot of readers will already have peripherals they can use from a previous desktop build. See our peripheral buying guides in the main top menu for our top picks on these parts if you want some guidance, which also includes which features to look for in each accessory and info on what current pro gamers use as of 2018.


Are you sponsored by X or Y manufacturer because you recommend them so much?

No - we're not affiliated with any specific manufacturer. BGC prides itself on being as objective unbiased as possible, and we're independently operated, and do not accept any outside incentives to suggest a particular brand over another. All our recommendations are solely our opinion on what we genuinely believe is the best choice for most readers, and are what we would buy ourselves if building a particular tier right now. If we include a certain brand or component over and over again, it's simply because we think it's a great buy. Nor are we fanboys of any company, however in saying that we do love to see the underdog do well, because that's exactly who we are in the hardware/gaming publishing space.


Which countries are these gaming PC builds for?

Hardware is an international product, and if a certain component is a good buy in the USA it's usually also a good buy in other countries, and all our Amazon links will automatically direct you to your local countries store where possible. However pricing may differ from country to country which may be something that affects your buying decisions. For example, a certain component may be a great value buy in one country, but overpriced in another. But overall, we tweak our best gaming PC build guides for the USA and Canadian market (they're both very similar).


Which online stores have the best prices on PC components?

The following are our top recommended hardware stores to buy parts (and accessories) as of 2018:

#1 Recommended Store: Amazon

#2 Recommended Stores (2-Way Tie): BHPhotoVideo and OutletPC

Our top recommended hardware store in terms of the most competitive pricing, biggest range, reliability of shipping, and customer service for computer hardware in the USA (or Canada for that matter) is good-old Amazon, who are hard to beat when it comes to PC components and accessories. They're a well-oiled machine and it's rare to encounter problems with them, and their handy Prime membership (you can get a 30-day free trial here) allows you to get unlimited 2-day free shipping (without needing a minimum order size). Two alternatives we can comfortably recommend to buy hardware online for the best price and that also have good, reliable shipping and service would be BHPhotoVideo and OutletPC, who are also trusted, well-respected names for all-things computers.


Why trust your build recommendations? Are you hardware Jesus?

First of all, we don't recommend you trust what we say blindly (or anyone for that matter)  and you should always do your own research, especially when it comes to forking out what's likely to be a fair chunk of change on a new computer. But we have made it a mission for many years to practically obsess over the ever-changing DIY PC sphere to better serve you - the first-time PC builder - as best as we possibly can, and as objectively as we can, so that you don't have to get lost in a vortex of oftentimes confusing models and specs, and also so you don't have to invest the obnoxious amount of hours that it takes us to stay in the loop of this fast-paced, revolutionary field (ie computer graphics and processing).

Point is, we've learned a thing or two over the years about what makes a solid build for any given budget, and a lot of effort has gone into and continues to go into this site to make it as helpful a resource for the newbie PC building community. We don't just recommend anything haphazardly, but instead carefully-consider all component selections after much objective analysis and comparison of what's out there right now, and re-evaluate those selections over and over again during our continual updates of these builds. So, take what you can from our guides and we genuinely hope they help you along the way, but remember they're here to supplement your own research, especially if you have more specific wants and needs than the average gamer.

PS I think we can all concur that Steve from Gamer's Nexus is the real hardware Jesus; even his hair agrees. Good objective channel for the more enthusiast crowd BTW if you want to take your DIY knowledge to the next level.







About the Author

A hobbyist game programmer turned hardware enthusiast, Julien "cyberjulz" is the founder of BGC and has kept a keen eye on the latest in DIY gaming ever since starting BGC back in '06 as an almost laughably-basic and brief 20 page site with the aim to make building PCs more accessible to the average gamer since most resources weren't too noob friendly. Over countless reinventions and reiterations to the quality, depth and usefulness of the content over many years the site has steadily grown into the expansive, comprehensive and ever-updated first-time PC builder resource that it is today that now reaches and helps thousands of gamers and power users each month to more easily plan optimal setups for their exact needs. You can learn more about the BGC mission and ways to support it here.


Questions, Feedback & Getting Further PC Build Help

Have a question or enjoyed the article and want to share some feedback, constructive criticism, or report an error to help us keep making BGC the best beginner building resource around? We're listening: feel free to comment or message on our Fanpage or email us here.

For those wanting comprehensive 1 on 1 help with planning the perfect custom build for your specific budget and performance requirements, our personalized parts-list research service might be for you. You send in your build requirements, in as much detail as you like, and we'll get to work to carefully and comprehensively plan the very best PC build for your specific situation to help you save money, stretch your budget as far as possible, and build the ultimate high-performing, well-balanced, reliable and upgrade-friendly system.