Last Updated: May 20, 2018
Welcome to our monthly-updated gaming PC build guide which is here to help you choose the best hardware components when building the best gaming desktop computer for your particular budget. We update and fine-tune all our recommended custom builds every month but we may also make small updates throughout the month where necessary (such as changing GPU recommendations as their pricing/stock can change the most often compared to other parts).
These gaming desktop computer builds can be used exactly as is as we do all the extensive research and compatibility checks for you to tweak these builds to the best of our ability. When mixing and matching parts around just remember to do your homework and always check compatibility between all your components, plan ahead for potential upgrades, and make sure your parts will give you the performance you're after the specific resolution/games/applications you'll be using.
When you're ready to assemble your new gaming desktop computer see our PC building installation guide if you just need the steps to put your parts together, or see our full eBook on building a computer if you want to learn everything else you need as a first-timer to plan, design, build, maintain and optimize a new build all in the one guide (which includes all the install steps, too).
Note that we link all our hardware and peripheral recommendations to Amazon as their prices, shipping and customer service is tough to beat.
Important to Know: Our suggested parts-lists below do not include Operating System Software or peripherals which you'll be needing for your new PC to be fully functional and ready to go. We recommend getting Windows 10 and for peripherals see our top-rated gaming monitors, keyboards, mice, and headsets. Also, if you want a CD/DVD drive in your build, make sure you choose a case that has at least one drive bay and this is the drive we would pick. For WiFi, see the FAQ below.
Can I mix and match parts around from different builds?
Of course, but whether or not your parts-list will stay remain compatible after your changes depends what you're changing around. If you're doing a big change to a certain build, such as switching from an Intel to an AMD processor, or vice versa, you'll need to change the motherboard which may also affect your other hardware choices as well (such as RAM). Intel CPUs only work with Intel motherboards, and vice versa for AMD.
But there are a lot of simple tweaks you could do to our recommended gaming desktop builds that won't require you to change any other parts. For example, adding an SSD to a build, adding a bigger hard drive, changing the case, or including a stronger GPU in a certain build (ie using the $600 build's GPU for the $500 build) won't affect the compatibility of all your parts and you won't need to change anything else.
Even with minor changes there are always exceptions to the rule though, so when changing any parts around always think about how it may affect your build overall and check for compatibility. If you're adding a lot more parts to a certain build, or a lot stronger parts, you may need to get a power supply with more wattage to accommodate for the extra power. However keep in mind that all our power supply selections give you a fair bit of wiggle room in terms of spare power for upgrades.
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:
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.Recommended Wireless Adapters:
Is wired internet better than wireless for gaming?
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 pretty much just as good if you have a good connection, a good router, and good network card/dongle.
Should I wait for X or Y new part 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 gaming desktop computer you'll be waiting forever. However, not all new releases are created equal, so it really depends 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 your money at the price at which its released, and sometimes older parts represent better bang for your buck.
When are the builds updated?
Typically in the first week of each month, but we may also update a build near the middle or end of a month if there's any noticeable changes to the hardware market.
Why don't you include Windows 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 use for their new build (such as multi-computer edition they previously bought).
Why don't you include peripherals 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 build. Plus, like with the operating system, a lot of readers will already have peripherals they can use from a previous desktop build.
Are you sponsored by X or Y manufacturer because you recommend them so much?
No - we're not affiliated with any specific manufacturer. We're 100% independently operated and do not accept any outside incentives to suggest a particular brand over another. All our recommendations are solely our objective 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 because we think it's a great buy.
Are these builds suitable for X country?
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. We tweak our builds first and foremost for the USA market, however most of the parts we recommend for our monthly gaming desktop computers will also be available for the below countries, and when you click on our Amazon links to the individual components we recommend, you'll be directed to your local Amazon store.
If you need help picking parts and tweaking your gaming desktop computer build for your particular wants and needs, we're here to help wherever we can so feel free to email us if you have a quick question, but keep in mind that maintaining the site keeps us super busy and we reserve detailed, priority support to customers of our eBook (which includes 60 days of available hardware help/advice) first and foremost, so please keep any questions as short and sweet as possible for a much better chance of getting a reply.
Yes, we may be able to give you a quick critique of your parts-list (although like mentioned customers will get priority), but don't expect to be spoon-fed a personalized build (at least not for free as we do have lives, too). Also, if you're a hardware pro and ever have constructive feedback on a build we're all ears as our #1 priority is to always keep these builds as on-point as humanly possible for the DIY community. Cheers and good luck, friend.