Plan the Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000

Recommended December 2018 Hardware to Build the Best Budget 1440p Gaming PC: How to Strategically Choose Parts to Max Performance, Reliability, Cooling & Aesthetics



The Best $1000 Gaming PC Build: Recommended December 2018 Parts

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 2.8GHz 6-Core
  • CPU Cooler: Stock (included with CPU)
  • Graphics: Asus GeForce GTX 1070 8GB OC
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte B360 HD3 ATX
  • RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury 2x4GB 2666MHz 
  • HDD: Western Digital 1TB 7200RPM
  • SSD: Kingston A400 240GB
  • Power Supply: EVGA SuperNova G3 550 Gold
  • Case: Phanteks Eclipse P400 Mid Tower


The $1000 Gaming PC Build: Overview


The epic white edition of the Phanteks P400 is stunning yet not just a pretty face as it's practical and easy to work with like many Phanteks cases

Planning the best $1000 gaming PC build in late 2018 to dominate 1440p resolution gaming in 2019 and beyond, or looking to get super-high frame rates in 1080p such as 144FPS for use with a 144Hz gaming monitor?

You're in the right place 'cause in this comprehensive beginner-friendly guide we'll be objectively looking at how to strategically stretch a budget of around 1000 dollars as far as possible when building your first PC, to end up with the fastest, longest-lasting, highest-quality, best-looking, and overall best PC gaming experience possible based on the current hardware market.

$1000 is a great amount to spend when building your first PC, as the type of battle station you can construct for this sort of price is quite impressive and all the power that a good 80-90% of PC gamers would ever dream of needing or wanting.

To put it into perspective a little, whilst you most definitely can build much more expensive custom gaming rigs for $1500, $2000 and even beyond that for faster gaming performance, spending 1000 bucks means you're throwing down around twice the amount that a console would cost, so you rest assured that for this price you can expect an epic PC gaming experience that blows a console setup away.

And an epic experience is exactly what you will get with this PC build, as a 1000 dollar budget gives you plenty to work with to achieve a very enjoyable, super-smooth, long-lasting gaming experience in 1440p (which is technically 2560 x 1440 pixels: a nice high-quality resolution) - and running decent graphics settings, too. Depending on the exact game, with the following best $1000 gaming PC build you can expect a flawless 60 frames per second in 1440p on medium, high or even maxed-out ("ultra") settings in modern AAA titles.

But with 1000 bucks you could quite easily run wild and haphazardly overspend on things you don't need, put too much money into components that don't matter as much compared to another, or any other number of rookie mistakes when planning a good build. Our following $1000 gaming PC build example is here to help guide you in your research to hopefully allow you to make wiser, more informed purchasing decisions, and is here to be used as a base for your hardware research as a ton of careful consideration has gone into this well-balanced, finely-tuned list of recommended parts.

Do tweak this build 'till your heart's content if you have any specific wants and needs, as part of the fun of building your own PC is of course designing the ultimate build for you, but don't forget to always double and triple check compatibility and try to think ahead to take into account any likely upgrade path for the future.

Without further ado I bring to you the current best gaming PC build under $1000 for this month, IMHO based on a blend of objective component selections and subjective reasoning as to how I would personally approach a build like this. In other words, if I had 1000 dollars to spend right now on a new setup primarily for gaming, this is how I would roll.



Full Parts-List and Specs Cheatsheet



Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000 (December 2018)

Check Price
Graphics Card Asus GeForce GTX 1070 8GB OC (Dual Fan)
CPU Intel Core i5-8400 (2.8GHz, 8th Gen, 6 Cores, 12 Threads, Locked)
CPU Cooler Stock (comes with CPU)
Motherboard Gigabyte B360 HD3 (ATX, 4 DDR4 Slots)
RAM Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB (DDR4, 2 x 4GB, 2666 MHz)
SSD (system drive) Kingston A400 240GB
HDD (secondary drive) Western Digital Blue 1TB (7200 RPM, 64MB Cache)
Power Supply EVGA 550 SuperNOVA G3 (80+ Gold, 550 Watts, Modular)
Case Phanteks Eclipse P400 Tempered Glass (Mid-Tower)

Estimated Total: *

$960 - $1020 (US Dollars)


Notable Features Cheatsheet

Estimated Wattage (Power Draw) 56W - 250W
RAM Slots 4 (2 slots free)
Max RAM Support 64GB
CPU Overclockable? No
Built-in WiFi? No (buy adaptor: see recommended add-ons below)
Hard Drives Supported 6 x SATA 6Gb/s Drives, 2 x m.2 SSD
VR-Ready? Yes
Front Panel USB Ports 2 x USB 3.0 (+ tons more on rear of case)
Optical Drive Support? No
Multi-Monitor Support Yes
Case Fans Included: 1 x 120mm (Front) + 1 x 120mm (Rear)

Max Fans Supported: 3 x 120mm OR 2 x 140mm (front), 2 x 120mm OR 2 x 140mm (top), 1 x 120mm (rear)
Case Dimensions 210mm x 465mm x 470mm (W x H x D)
Total Weight (Once Parts Installed) ~ 22 lbs
Max GPU/PCI-E Card Length 395mm
Max CPU Cooler Height 160mm
AMD CrossFire Support Yes
NVidia SLI Support No (upgrade to better motherboard if you want this as a future option)
Full Motherboard & Case Specs Gigabyte B360 HD3  |  Phanteks Eclipse P400 Tempered Glass


Note: Keep in mind hardware prices fluctuate often, so the total estimated cost for the best $1000 gaming PC build above may change at any given time. To check current pricing, clicking the "Build It" button above quickly and conveniently shows all exact current prices for these parts on Amazon, our go-to and highest recommended store to buy hardware.




Gaming Performance and 1440p Benchmarks


Below are aggregated benchmarks based on extensive analysis of multiple online benchmark sources to estimate what frame rate you can roughly expect from a system like this month's best $1000 gaming PC build in various AAA titles on maximum/ultra/extreme (whatever your specific game refers to it as) settings in 1440p resolution, which is the resolution recommended for a GTX 1070/Ti.

This gaming computer build is a little overkill if all you're playing is 60Hz in 1080p, although if you're using a 144Hz monitor for 1080p then it's a different story, and these $1000 parts will do fairly well in many games for 1080p 144Hz.

Learn More: Gaming Refresh Rates Explained


Performance Overview by Resolution:

1080p (1920 x 1080):

1080p 144Hz:

1440p (2560 x 1440):

1440p 144Hz:

4K & Virtual Reality:

FLAWLESS

GOOD/GREAT

GREAT

AVERAGE

GOOD/AVERAGE


Estimated Frame Rate for 1440p ULTRA

(i5-8400, 1070 8GB, 2x4GB DDR4 2666MHz)

GAME AVERAGE FPS
Overwatch 115 - 125 FPS
GTA V 100 - 110 FPS
AS Origins 60 - 70 FPS
Battlefield 1 85 - 95 FPS
COD WW2 85 - 95 FPS
SW Battlefront 2 85 - 95 FPS
Forza Motorsport 7 100 - 110 FPS
Wolfenstein 2 85 - 95 FPS
Rise of the Tomb Raider 65 - 75 FPS


Green = 40FPS and Over (Smooth)

Orange = Under 40FPS (A Little Stutter/Lag)

Red = Under 30FPS (Quite Noticeable Stutter/Lag)


Learn More: What's a Good Gaming Frame Rate?


How We Calculate Average FPS & A Disclaimer

The average frame rate ratings for this custom build are an aggregated estimation based on careful cross-check analysis of multiple benchmark data from trusted sources around the web. Simply put, we've done the extensive performance research on this parts-list for you to save time, but we encourage you to not just take our numbers for granted and to always do your own research.However, we do everything we can to make these as accurate as possible, please note there's no guarantee you'll get this exact average as there are different factors that could affect your frame rate such as other hardware differences, software differences (OS, drivers, game patches/versions, etc), cooling/airflow of your build, enabled game features/settings such as Anti-Aliasing, different RAM setups you might be using, and so on.

Also keep in mind these are averages, meaning that in the most action-packed scenes the frame-rate will go lower. For example, if we list the Witcher 3 average as 50-60FPS, your FPS may drop to 30-40FPS in the most intense scenes, so take that into account in your build planning.We always err on the conservative side with our numbers though, so we'll round things down if we need to instead of rounding up, so you can rest assured our averages are pretty safe bets in terms of what performance you can expect from a PC build like this.



Build Component Breakdown


Best $1000 PC Build: Recommended GPU

As always let's start off with the most important component in a gaming rig by far, and when planning the best $1000 gaming PC build at this point of time, the absolute best graphics card you can fit into your budget is a GTX 1070, which has no real competition in its price category and makes for an easy choice. You also might be able to squeeze in a slightly more powerful GTX 1070 Ti if you can find one on sale at a price similar to a standard 1070.

See Also: The Best Video Card Deals Right Now (Daily Updated)

Having a mighty GTX 1070 in a 1000 dollar setup is an impressive thing, and not something you'd ever likely see in mainstream pre-built gaming desktops, making this build a good clear-cut example of just how much better gaming performance you'll get by building your own system. In other words, good luck getting this kind of graphical firepower in a pre-built system around this price - not to mention a full roster of high-quality, reliable supporting components (prebuilts oftentimes use subpar quality brands and models).

So, with a 1070 in your beast you can expect killer 1080p performance as well as very solid 1440p performance as explained in more detail in the aggregated FPS benchmarks earlier in this guide. We're talking a super smooth 60FPS on medium/high settings in many modern games, and 60FPS ultra in some titles too (1440p).

As for the specific model of 1070 to get, that's going to solely depend on the current market and which models are priced best at the time that you order your hardware. PC parts are a dynamic market. At the time of updating this current best $1000 gaming PC build (9th December), the super slick white-themed Asus OC dual fan edition is selling for a very attractive $335 (after a $60 rebate) at OutletPC.com, so that's what we've gone with here. This model also fits in well with the other parts and really does look the part. Asus white GPUs FTW!

Honorable Mention:

If you're willing to throw a little more at this suggested $1000 custom build, the logical next step up for this setup is to instead get the 1070's bigger badder brother, the 1070 Ti, which would fit right into this parts-list without having to change any other parts and will give you even better 1440p performance and all but guarantee a maxed-out 60FPS high/ultra experience in most AAA titles. A 1070 Ti isn't actually a spruced up 1070, but instead more of a watered-down 1080, making it a true high-end GPU for excellent 1440p gaming (and decent 4K performance too although you're better off spending $1500 or higher on your rig for an ideal 4K experience). Also, as mentioned earlier, if you're lucky and keep your eyes peeled on gaming GPU deals you might find a 1070 Ti on sale for around the same price as a 1070.


Best $1000 PC Build: Recommended CPU and Cooler

The Core i5-8400; arguably the best bang for your buck gaming CPU...in ANY price tier. Hard to go wrong with this one.

If gaming performance is the most important focus for your new setup, I'd go with an Intel i5 when aiming to build the very fastest $1000 gaming PC right now for the highest frame rates possible. Specifically, the i5-8400 is your best bang for the buck option overall if you don't plan on overclocking. 

Getting a competing AMD option instead - such as the Ryzen 5 2600 which is included in the current best $800 gaming build - is worth considering if you have a bit less to spend on your CPU as it's cheaper (at least in the US as of the time of writing) and almost matches an i5 in terms of gaming performance. And if you're building a hybrid gaming/workstation setup, meaning that you value maximum multitasking and production productivity as much as you value your gaming performance, the Ryzen 5 2600 wins in that regard (though depends on the specific applications).

But for straight-up gaming, and I say this as objectively as possible and without a hint of bias in my bones, an i5, with its superior single threaded performance, cannot be matched right now in terms of overall bang for the buck. When I say Ryzen is the better multitasking/workstation CPU, don't get me wrong as I'm not saying an i5 is a slouch in that regard as it still has 6 cores. Plus, when it comes to building a video editing PC for Adobe programs, Intel chips are actually the slightly better performers in many situations. So again, Intel vs AMD depends on the specific applications you'll be using.


Is the Intel i5-8400's Stock Cooler Good Enough?

Good question. For this month's recommended $1000 build, we've left the stock cooler that comes with this CPU, because it does get the job done in most cases. Pun intended, because what I mean is that if you have a case with good airflow, and your new beast won't be living in an abnormally hot room, the stock cooler is probably going to be good enough.

I say probably though, because for some users Intel's stock coolers can get a little noisy when under real stress, but whether the noise is enough to annoy you or not will depend on you (it's not like it gets really loud or anything, though). Plus, some people just don't like the look of the Intel stock cooler, and I agree that it's not the most aesthetically pleasing looking thing. AMD's current stock coolers are better overall, I must say (and have way cooler names).

The Cooler Master 212 Evo is an affordable yet solid choice to cool an i5 or i7

Therefore, if you have the extra 30-50 dollars to spend on getting your own custom cooler for the i5-8400 for either aesthetic reasons or to have your processor running as cool and quiet as humanly possible - then consider getting a different cooler such as the very affordable Cooler Master 212 Evo or Cryorig H7 which will do a better job than the Intel stock one.

But for most gamers, and especially if you're trying to keep your build budget as tight as possible with the aim of fully maximizing gaming performance for the money and avoiding spending on nice-to-haves like an aftermarket cooler (which is exactly the aim of this recommended $1000 build), then the stock cooler will get the job done for gaming with the i5-8400 and you shouldn't have any issues with it.

Again, this is assuming your room is not that hot and your case airflow is good (the Phanteks Eclipse case is well designed for cooling if you do decide on that one). Plus, if you decide later on that the stock cooler isn't keeping your CPU as cool and quiet as you would have hoped, you can always easily uninstall the stock one and replace it with something better (just remember to first remove and then re-apply thermal paste).


Best $1000 Gaming PC Build: Recommended Motherboard

For an i5-8500 your best value for money bet is a locked B360 board like this

For an Intel Core i5-8400 processor, the best option you have in terms of bang for your buck is to get a 2018-released B360 motherboard. This chipset doesn't support overclocking, which is what you want for the i5 8400 as it's a locked (read: not overclockable) processor.

If you want to overclock you'll have to see one of our other recommended monthly builds (some of our builds are overclockable, some aren't, but we generally don't recommend it to first-time builders even though these days overclocking a CPU is straightforward to do if you're the patient type).

Getting an overclocking-friendly board for your locked i5-8400, which would be a "Z370" chipset motherboard, is going to be more expensive and a waste of money for our best $1000 gaming PC build 'cause you won't be using its full functionality.

In other words, Z370 boards aren't ideal for an i5-8400, and only recommended if you're getting an unlocked processor instead such as the i5-8600K (any Intel CPU with a "k" in the model number is unlocked/overclockable).

The Gigabyte B360 HD3 included in this suggested setup is a good value option for the i5-8400 that fits the needs of this build, and has all the basic features you likely need for a standard gaming rig like this. Gigabyte boards are generally great bang for your buck and this one is no exception assuming you don't need any fancy features. All the basics are covered; 4 RAM slots, good LAN, good sound, decent durability, and whilst not the flashiest looking board it does look clean and sharp. Keep in mind, like most motherboards there's no built-in WiFi so if you want wireless you'll need to get a separate adaptor as usual (either a PCI-E card or a USB dongle; either will work fine).


Best $1000 Gaming PC Build: Recommended Memory

Same 2666Mhz DDR4 modules from the previous recommended build tier...'cause they're good.

As for RAM for the $1000 gaming rig, 8GB is still the ideal for a mid/high-end setup around this price, as the money you'd spend on getting 16GB is best served towards your GPU and/or your CPU as that will influence frame-rates way more than jumping to 16GB from 8GB ever will. Personally I'd only start looking at including 16GB of RAM when you start creeping towards the $1500-ish mark, or if you're building a hybrid gaming/workstation setup (ie for the best video editing PC build).

For our current best gaming PC build under $1000, I've thrown in the same two Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 2666MHz sticks from the suggested 800 dollar gaming rig which also fits in well with the rest of this parts-list, aesthetically speaking. Dual-channel memory - as in getting 2 sticks compared to the single stick - is always the better option compared to just getting the single module, as it'll run a tad faster, but just make sure when doing this you have additional memory modules free on your motherboard if you think you might want to upgrade RAM later on. The Gigabyte B360 HD3 motherboard included in this parts-list does have a total of 4, meaning you'll have 2 slots free. This is good practice when building a PC 'cause even if you don't think you'll ever upgrade the RAM...you never know if you change your mind later.

Upgrading RAM is a common thing to do, and affordably gives an ageing system a nice little boost, and whilst 8GB is actually all you actually need for flawless 1080p/1440p performance now and into the foreseeable future assuming you have a good CPU and GPU up your sleeve, in a couple years upgrading to 16GB memory may become super helpful for your gaming performance as game requirements mature further. Yes, the odd game or two will run faster on 16GB compared to 8GB RAM in this day and age, but that doesn't make 16GB necessary 'cause if you have a strong CPU and GPU you'll achieve your desired 60FPS/144FPS anyway.

Also, 2666Mhz memory speed is all you need and as mentioned in more detail in other builds we've done, for strictly gaming purposes it's not worth shelling out the extra cash for faster RAM as it makes a negligible difference. In other words, there are diminishing returns as a gamer by spending more on faster RAM such as 3000Mhz or 3200Mhz, so I would only suggest getting that sort of RAM if you don't care about being cost-effective (ie for a luxury gaming setup where you don't care about maximum bang for buck) or if you're building a workstation PC and you'll know that your applications would benefit from it. Besides, 2666MHz is the fastest stock speed for DDR4 RAM, and anything higher means you'll have to overclock (in the BIOS), although to be honest this is simple to do.


Best $1000 Gaming PC Build: Recommended Case and PSU

The Phanteks Eclipse P400 a beautiful, spacious, high-quality and overall excellent bang for your buck Mid-Tower, with good cable management, airflow (comes with 2 fans), and supports long-length GPUs which is ideal for our dual-fan RX 580 as it's quite a long card. Highly recommended for a $1000 ish build, and comes in various colors to suit your taste but the black edition is fairly universally attractive and will look awesome with pretty much any component theme (white version would also look awesome for this setup). The tempered glass side-panel shows off your awesome new parts in style.


Phanteks provide some seriously epic yet affordable cases and the Eclipse P400 series is no exception. High-quality throughout and a slick see-through panel that shows off the insides of your new battle station in style


Of course, case selection is one of the more subjective parts in a custom gaming computer, so feel free to use another mid tower case for a build like this (or a full tower if you have the space for it), but just ensure to do your homework on compatibility, especially if you're using an aftermarket CPU cooler like the 212 Evo as it's a bit of a beast and may cause space issues in the smaller mid-towers.

Last but not least, let's cover your trusty PSU for this budget 1440p gaming PC build. EVGA produce some great value for money yet efficient, high-quality and reliable PSUs these days, and the SuperNova G3 Gold-rated model is one of their better quality units that will reliably, efficiently, and conveniently (it's fully modular) power a powerful gaming system like this for years to come. 550 watts of quality power is also more than enough for the components of the best $1000 gaming PC, with plenty of wiggle room for future upgrades.


Quality PSU for a quality PC: everytime a bad, cheap PSU is placed in a $1000+ gaming rig, somewhere in the world an innocent kitten dies



Recommended Operating System and Accessories


As with all our current recommended custom PC builds, 64 bit Windows 10 is what we recommend for the $1500 custom gaming build unless you have a seriously good reason to get another operating system like Linux. You have a few options with buying and installing Windows for your new PC:

Option A: Windows 10 Home 64-Bit (Flash Drive Edition) 

Option B: Windows 10 Home 64-Bit (DVD Disc Edition) (buy if you're getting an optical drive for your gaming build

Option C: Buy Windows from Microsoft and download it to an existing computer/laptop, then put it on a flash drive, then use that flash drive when booting up your PC. 

Option D: Reuse your copy of Windows if your edition is eligible for this.


See our top value for money picks of the best mice, keyboards, screens, headsets, etc, in our peripheral buying guides (see the top menu) should you need to buy these new and you're not reusing old parts. These parts will all come down to personal preference, and of course how much more you have to spend on top of your core ~ 1k components.



Building the $1000 Gaming Computer


That wraps our current best gaming PC build under $1000 as of December 2018 and we hope it helps you in planning the right setup for your needs around this price tier. Like all our recommended best gaming PC builds, if you're putting together your first custom system there's no need to fear anything, even if you're a complete hardware newbie, as it really is very simple to do these days. It's very hard to go wrong or get stuck if you simply follow a step by step article or video in your own time like our written PC build walk through for beginners or our current top recommended video tutorial included in our complete guide to building your first gaming PC. Good luck, enjoy, and happy gaming.






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 or Have Me Plan a Build for You

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 right build for your specific budget and needs to ensure you buy a good parts-list and don't waste your money, I also offer a personalized parts-list email service where you send in your exact build requirements and for a small tip I'll spend whatever time necessary to do the painstaking, in-depth research for you to thoroughly plan the perfect parts-list for your exact situation.