Last Updated: Oct 7, 2018
Designed, Written & Edited By: Julien "Zenakin"
Building on our current recommended 500 dollar gaming PC build, the following mid-range build is similar but steps things up where it matters most as a gamer and includes a faster processor and graphics card.
An i3 and GTX 1060 pairing is a formidable 1080p arsenal to buy, and provides a nice optimal balance of processing power and graphical grunt to achieve a pretty solid 60FPS across the spectrum of current AAA titles on high/ultra settings (depending on the game).
As with all our custom computer build examples, you'll be hard-pressed finding a pre-built gaming desktop computer with the same gaming power, component quality and reliability, and overall build flexibility. In fact, we can safely say that it's pretty much impossible to find a new off-the-shelf system that contains an i3 and mighty GTX 1060 for only 600 bucks.
If you do, please let us know, but it would be a true rarity, and it must be said that this $600 build along with our recommended $500 budget PC build (which is also formidably cost-effective) are perhaps the most bang for your buck gaming systems that we currently have published here at BGC as of Q4 2018. These are shining examples of exactly why building your own PC cannot be beaten when it comes to getting maximum performance for your hard-earned moolah.
Ok, let's tone down the excitement a bit and get real practical with the full details of this killer mid-range build, including the average FPS you can expect based on aggregating various 1080p benchmarks around the web for popular titles, and exactly why each component was carefully selected to be included in this current recommended rig. Grab your beverage of choice and let's break down everything you need to know to build the very best $600 gaming PC build based on the current market.
Best Gaming PC Build Under $600 (Q4 2018)
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB (Single Fan)|
|CPU||Intel Core i3-8100 (8th Gen, 3.60 GHz, Quad Core)|
|CPU Cooler||Stock (comes with CPU)|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte B360M DS3H (Micro ATX, USB 3.1, 4xDDR4 Slots)|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (DDR4, 2 x 4GB, 2400 MHz)|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Blue 1TB (7200 RPM, 64MB Cache)|
|Power Supply||Antec VP-450 (450 Watts, 80 Plus Certified)|
|Case||Corsair Spec02 Mid Tower (mITX/mATX/ATX, USB 3.0, 2 Fans Included)|
$585 - $615 (US Dollars)
(Adds Parts to Amazon Cart)
Notable Features Cheatsheet
|Estimated Wattage (Power Draw)||62W - 270W|
|RAM Slots||4 (2 slots free)|
|Max RAM Support||64GB|
|Built-in WiFi?||No (buy adaptor: see recommended add-ons below)|
|Hard Drives Supported||6x SATA Drives, 1x m.2 SSD|
|VR-Ready?||Yes (average performance, tho)|
|Case Fans||2 x 120mm Included (front LED + rear non-LED), 4 Additional 120mm/140mm Mounts|
|Front Panel USB Ports||2 x USB 3.0 (+ tons more on rear of case)|
|Optical Drive Support?||Yes|
|Case Dimensions (L x W x H)||19.7 x 8.6 x 16.9 inches|
|Total Weight (Once Parts Installed)||~ 20.64 Pounds / 9.7 KG|
|Maximum Video Card Length||16.77"|
|AMD CrossFire Support||Yes (not recommended)|
|NVidia SLI Support||No|
|Full Motherboard & Case Specs||Gigabyte B360M DS3H | Corsair Spec02|
Below are aggregated benchmarks based on extensive analysis of multiple online benchmark sources to estimate what FPS you can expect from the $600 gaming PC build in various AAA titles on maximum/ultra settings in full HD (1080p) resolution.
Estimated Frame Rate for 1080p ULTRA/MAXED
(i3-8100, GTX 1060 3GB, 2x4GB DDR4 2400MHz)
|Fortnite||85 - 95 FPS
|PUBG||55 - 65 FPS|
|Overwatch||110 - 130 FPS|
|CSGO||190 - 210 FPS|
|DOTA 2||130 - 150 FPS|
|GTA V||75 - 85 FPS|
|AS Origins||50 - 60 FPS|
|Battlefield 1||85 - 95 FPS|
|COD WW2||85 - 95 FPS|
|SW Battlefront 2||90 - 100 FPS|
|Witcher 3||50 - 60 FPS|
|Far Cry 5||50 - 60 FPS|
Performance Overview by Resolution:
1080p (1920 x 1080):
1440p (2560 x 1440):
VR and 4K:
Green = 40FPS and Over (Smooth)
Orange = Under 40FPS (A Little Stutter/Lag)
Red = Under 30FPS (Quite Noticeable Stutter/Lag)
Note On Our Estimated FPS Ratings (Disclaimer):
The performance estimates above for this build are simply an aggregated average based on carefully studying multiple online benchmark sources. Note that these are averages, meaning that in the most action-packed scenes the frame-rate will go lower than the above averages. For example, if we list the Witcher 3 average as 50-60FPS, your FPS may drop to 40FPS-ish in the most intense scenes.
Whilst we do everything we can to make these as accurate as possible, including cross-checking and using as many different reliable sources as possible, please note these are just an average estimation and there is always a chance you won't get the average FPS listed above (although you could get higher, too).
There are a few different factors that could affect your frame rate such as your particular hardware differences, software differences (OS, drivers, game patches/versions, etc), cooling/airflow of your build, specific enabled game features/settings such as Anti-Aliasing, different RAM setups you might be using, and so on. We always err on the side of being conservative with our numbers though, so we'll round things down if we need to instead of rounding up. In saying all that, the above numbers are a good place to start your research.
Let's begin our breakdown of the best gaming PC build under $600 with the brains of your system, and as of right now the Intel Core i3-8100 is one of the best budget/mid-range gaming CPUs and when paired with a decent graphics card is all you need for flawless 1080p performance. Pound for pound it's hard to beat for pure gaming performance and absolutely will not bottleneck a GTX 1060 no matter what anyone says, assuming you're playing on a standard 60Hz gaming monitor. Stronger CPUs may be necessary to reach super-high, abnormal frame-rate counts for high refresh rate monitors, but for most gamers who are trying to be cost-effective, an i3 will serve you well.
The suggested motherboard for the Q4 2018 edition of the mid-range build is the same Gigabyte board included in the $500 budget PC build so see that breakdown for why we've picked it. To summarize, it's a decent motherboard as a decent price that's all you need for a gaming computer of this nature.
As with most modern motherboards, it doesn't come with built-in WiFi so if you want wireless capability for online gaming or general internet (although we suggest wired internet for the fastest, most reliable online gaming experience) you'll need to buy either a PCI/PCI-E wireless card or get a USB WiFi dongle. See our builds FAQ for details and recommendations on these.
For a mid-range build you've got the option of a GTX 1060 3GB, the 6GB version, or an AMD RX 570. They're all very similar in terms of gaming performance, but if you're sticking to 1080p then I'd narrow the choice between the 1060 3GB and the 570 if you want the absolute most bang for buck because the 6GB 1060, which is around 50 bucks more than a 3GB variant, is not worth the money compared to the performance gains you'll get in 1080p. In 1440p it's a different story as the 6GB 1060 will give you bigger FPS gains in that resolution.
So, what to do - the 1060 3GB or RX 570 4GB? It's neck and neck: some games run better on the 1060, and vice versa for the 570. Check out this benchmark for which games will run better on each card if you care about ~ 10 FPS differences, which can make the difference between playable and annoingly-unplayable performance. For example, 35 FPS makes a fairly big difference over say, 25 FPS, which would be too laggy to play comfortable IMO.
As for the whole single vs dual fan debate, for a standard gaming computer build like this either a mini (single fan) or a dual fan variant is going to be just fine. The 1060 doesn't use much power and won't produce much heat, so the slight added cooling of dual fans just isn't necessary. Only reason you'd need to ensure to get a dual fan 1060 is if your build is struggling for cooling such as if your rig lives in a really hot room and climate, you have poor case airflow, or if a particular single fan model is overly loud (this one isn't), etc.
There are also versions of the 1060 that are factory overclocked, denoted "SC" or "OC" in the model number which stand for Super Clocked and Over Clocked respectively, which means they run a little faster out of the box. But since the difference in gaming performance will be minimal between different versions, as mentioned I would personally simply get the cheapest 1060 (essentially from any brand) you can find, unless you can find one of the slightly faster OC or SC models at a good price that's not much more than a standard model. For $600 though, the cheapest stock-standard 1060 is all we could fit into this budget, but it's a solid model from ever-reliable EVGA even though it's only a single fan version.
As mentioned in all our other PC builds on a budget, 8GB is the sweet spot for budget gaming these days (meaning: best overall value for budget/mid-range setups) and all you need for decent 1080p gaming now and into the near future. 16GB is just not cost-effective when planning a gaming PC build under $600 or so, and we'd only recommended investing in 16 gigs if you're putting together a more expensive rig 1000 bucks and above or so.
Dual channel RAM, meaning getting 2 x 4GB instead of 1 x 8GB, is the better option as they'll run a little faster and is what we've done here for this setup, although it's not as important when compared to choosing RAM for an integrated GPU build like our 400 dollar AMD gaming build (integrated AMD CPU/GPU combos love fast, dual-channel RAM).
Also, the motherboard for this setup has a total of 4 RAM slots, which is good for a budget board like this, so you have the room to upgrade to another 8GB later on to make the ideal gaming total of 16GB (in a perfect world where money's no issue). Also, 2400Mhz, which is the speed of these sticks, is all you can use with this build as the core i3-8100 only supports a max speed of 2400Mhz believe it or not. So if you got faster RAM than 2400Mhz (which isn't necessary at all for gaming anyway unless you're using an integrated APU/iGPU as mentioned before) you'd just be wasting money unless you want to overclock that RAM which isn't recommended.
For storage we've included a nicely-sized 1TB hard drive from trusty Western Digital, our number one pick for a reliable drive (followed closely by Seagate so feel free to go them instead). Now, whether or not to include an SSD in a $600 gaming PC build is going to come down to personal preference.
I've left one out to focus the budget on gaming performance first and foremost, but since you can pick up a small, entry-level SSD (120GB etc which is enough for your OS and a few programs) for around 30-40 bucks these days, consider doing that if you have a little more to throw down than $600.
Personally, I'd get an SSD if you can afford a 240GB model, which isn't something done for this recommended build 'cause the aim is to fully maximize gaming performance for the price, and for that chief aim you're better off using the money for an SSD to put into components that actually influence gaming performance.
Although remember that this price doesn't include peripherals and your OS, which you'll need if you're not reusing any old accessories that you might have, so factor that into your decision as well. This is the last PC build that we don't include/recommend an SSD though, and all our other monthly recommended desktop builds beyond this price-tier include at least a small one.
If you've studied all our recommended gaming PC builds, you'll notice that we're suggesting you use the exact same Antec VP-450 power supply used in all our cheap tier builds (even the $300 entry-level build) for this mid-range build as well. Why? Simply put, for a parts-list of this calibre you just don't need that much power as you'll see confirmed form the total power draw of this setup in the specs table above. 450 watts is more than enough for this setup, even taking into account common future upgrades you may wish to make.
Feel free to get a 500 or 550 watt unit if you're really planning to do some crazy upgrades later on, but for most gamers 450 will serve you well. Plus, the Antec VP-450 is a very decent quality budget PSU at an affordable price, and hard to beat in terms of reliability and efficiency compared to other wallet-friendly options.
Now to the case for the current best gaming PC build under 600 dollars to house your precious parts for years to come: the Corsair Spec02. This mid-range tower is hard to fault for the price and comes with everything you need for a mid-range gaming build like this. One thing that stands out as well is the design, with a classic, cool look with built-in red LEDs that is pretty universally attractive without being over the top. The see-through side panel is a nice touch for a budget case, too, and will show off your awesome new parts in action.
It comes with two fans, the front one of which is LED, with support for 4 more fans. Whether you need more fans or not will depend on your particular setup: if you're sticking with this exact $600 PC build, the 2 fans it comes with will suffice unless you live in a real hot location. See our recommended accessories below for our recommended 120mm add-on fan should you want to install more in your build for further cooling and LED lighting.
Overall, the Spec02 is easily one of the better overall bang for the buck mid-tower gaming PC cases on a budget, but if you're new to PC building do keep in mind that your selection of case is very flexible and you could pretty much go for any decent mid-tower case. Although, if doing so, do check for compatibility with all your parts using a service like PCPartPicker or by reading the guides on our site and checking for compatibility yourself. For more ideas on good cases to use for a budget/mid-range gaming computer build, see our full guide to choosing the best computer case which includes our current top recommended cases for gamers.
We recommend Windows 10 which you can get in a handy USB/flash-drive version or a disk version if you want to make your own bootable flash drive from that (since this build doesn't have an optical drive as they're totally optional these days). Linux is also an option but we don't recommend it unless you know what you're doing, so if you're a newbie save yourself the headache and stick with Windows.
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 ones. These parts will all come down to personal preference, and of course how much more you have to spend on top of the $600 you're investing.
Optional Add-On LED Fan:Corsair AF120 Case LED Fan (Red, 120mm x 25mm)
Get 1 or 2 of these LED fans if you want better cooling and more red lighting in your build. You don't need extra fans as the stock setup of the Spec 02 is enough for this particular setup, but do consider it, especially if you'll be really pushing your system to its limit (and often) and/or you want further LED effects which do look cool I must say.
That's it for the current best gaming PC build under 500 dollars as of October 2018 (IMHO based on extensive objective research, comparisons and subjective contemplation). Use it as-is or as a base of inspiration and research for a more customized setup to suit your more specific wants and needs.
If you're putting together your first PC, fear not as it's very simple to do these days whether you're putting together a budget gaming system like this one or a more powerful high-end gaming computer, and in 2018 if you can build Lego you can essentially build a custom computer without problems if you simply follow a step by step article or video (see How to Build a Computer for Beginners).
For questions, comments or feedback (good, bad, ugly - we're all ears if you disagree somewhere) on the best $500 budget gaming PC build (or any of our builds) leave a comment on our main Best Gaming Builds page, our Facebook page or email us and we'll help where and when we can. Hopefully this build write-up helps a bit, and best of luck to you my friend.