Last Updated: Dec 6, 2018
Building on our recommended 500 dollar 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 to crank out more frames in 1080p and allow you to run higher graphics settings.
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 as this $600 custom gaming PC build. In fact, we can safely say that it's pretty much impossible to find a new off-the-shelf system that contains a very capable i3 (gaming-wise) and mighty mid-range GTX 1060 card for only 600 bucks along with a solid lineup of quallity supporting components (motherboard, PSU, case, RAM, HDD).
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 December. 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 monies.
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 (December 2018)
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB SC (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||EVGA 450 BT (450 Watts, 80 Plus Bronze, Non Modular)|
|Case||Corsair Spec 02 Mid Tower (mITX/mATX/ATX, 2 Fans Included)
Corsair Spec 04 Mid Tower (mITX/mATX/ATX, 1 Fan Included)
$580 - $610 (US Dollars)
(Orders Parts on Amazon, Our #1 Recommended Store)
Noteworthy Build Features
|Estimated Wattage (Power Draw)||47W - 210W|
|RAM Slots||4 (2 slots free)|
|Max RAM Support||64GB|
|Built-in WiFi?||No (buy internal or external PCI/USB adaptor)|
|Hard Drives Supported||6x SATA Drives, 1x m.2 SSD|
|VR-Ready?||Yes (an entry-level VR PC build though)|
|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 (2 x 5.25" Drive Bays)|
|Case Dimensions (L x W x H)||19.7 x 8.6 x 16.9 inches|
|Total Weight (Once Parts Installed)||~ 19-20 lbs|
|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
(i3-8100, GTX 1060 3GB, 2x4GB DDR4 2400MHz)
|Fortnite||80 - 100 FPS
|PUBG||50 - 65 FPS|
|Overwatch||100 - 120 FPS|
|CSGO||190 - 210 FPS|
|DOTA 2||120 - 140 FPS|
|League of Legends||100 - 120 FPS|
|GTA V||60 - 80 FPS|
|AS Origins||50 - 60 FPS|
|Battlefield 1||75 - 90 FPS|
|Battlefield 5||50 - 60 FPS|
|COD WW2||80 - 95 FPS|
|SW Battlefront 2||80 - 90 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)
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.
Confused About Frame Rates & Game Settings?
Let's begin our breakdown of the current best gaming PC build under $600 with the brains of your system, and as of right now the Intel Core i3-8100 is clearly one of the best budget gaming CPUs around, and when paired with a decent graphics card is all you need for flawless 1080p performance. Pound for pound it's hard to beat in terms of frames per dollar and will not bottleneck a semi-powerful graphics card like the GTX 1060 no matter what anyone says. You could even pair this processor with a fairly mighty GTX 1070 just fine.
Hard to beat a Core i3 in terms of pure gaming bang for the buck when building a budget/mid-range 1080p gaming PC
That's assuming you're playing on a standard 60Hz gaming monitor though, as you'll need a stronger CPU to reach super-high above-normal frame-rate counts for high refresh rate monitors such as 144Hz, but for most gamers who are trying to be cost-effective, an i3 will serve you well.
The suggested motherboard for the $600 mid-range PC 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 board at a decent price that's all you need for a standard value for money 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 graphics card for 1080p gaming in the $180-$220 mark, which is a good amount to spend on your GPU for a build like this to maximize gaming performance, your best bets are either the NVidia GTX 1060 3GB or the AMD RX 570 4GB/8GB. Personally I'd opt for the 1060 3GB over the 570 4GB, as quite a lot of our readers will be building a PC to play the current massive hits Fortnite or PUBG, and NVidia performs better in those titles, especially if you find the 1060 3GB at a good price of around $190-$200.
A GTX 1060 3GB is plenty of firepower to get a flawless 60FPS in 1080p in most games on high/ultra, and will do for a while to come
But in truth it's a really close call because at the time of writing this you can find RX 570 cards for significantly less than the 1060 3GB, which a few months ago was not something you could really do because of the GPU price hike situation. But now that graphics card pricing is back to normality at long last (phew, thank god), the playing field is well and truly open and if you find a good deal on an RX 570 4GB/8GB, I'd lean towards that when building a 600 dollar gaming rig.
In terms of actual performance data between the GTX 1060 3GB and RX 570 4GB, it's neck and neck with some games performing better on the 1060, and vice versa for the 570. Overall though, the 1060 3GB slightly wins overall. Check out this benchmark for which games will run better on each card if you care about small differences in frame rates, which actually can make the difference between playable and annoyingly-unplayable performance.
For example, 35 FPS makes a fairly big difference over say, 25 FPS, which is too low a FPS to play comfortably for most gamers. And 45FPS is quite a fair bit smoother than 35FPS. As an example, generally speaking you'll get better performance in Counter Strike with an AMD Radeon, as explained our guide to building the best CSGO PC, whereas if you'd rather optimize your new setup for better Fortnite or PUBG performance, you're best off sticking with NVidia as previously mentioned.
For a mid-range 1080 gaming PC build, the 3GB 1060 is also arguably the better bang for your buck compared to the 6GB 1060. The 6GB models are typically around 50 dollars more, but that jump in price doesn't justify the slight 5-15% boost in frame rate you'll get. That's assuming you're sticking to 1080p though, as in 1440p it's a slightly different story as the 6GB 1060 will give you slightly bigger FPS gains (around ~ 15-20%) in that resolution compared to the 3GB. But if you have more to spend than $200 and under for a 1060 3GB or 570 4/8GB, and the GTX 1070 is out of your league, then do consider the next tier up in the 1060 6GB or RX 580.
Is 3GB-4GB of VRAM Enough for 2019?
As for video memory (VRAM that is, not to be confused with RAM), is 3GB or 4GB really enough for 2019 and beyond? It's a fair question, as even in standard resolutions like 1080p a handful of demanding games are starting to really eat up these amounts of VRAM, and having 3-4GB will hurt performance a little in those titles. However, in most games 3-4GB of video memory in 2018 and 2019 is still plenty to get great, smoothh performance in 1080p.
Single vs Dual Fan GTX 1060?
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 isn't necessary, but a nice touch to have if you find a suitably-priced dual-fan model like the Asus 1030 3GB mentioned below which also looks awesome with its white theme. But the 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, etc.
If you can find this Asus dual fan white edition of the 1060 3GB for around the same price as a single fan model then I'd buy this instead
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. The model we've included in December 2018's mid-range setup is infact a SC model because it's currently at a better price than the non-overclocked standard model. But the difference in gaming performance between overclocked and standard models is quite minimal and so it's not going to make a huge difference (2-5 frames here or there, 10 if you're lucky). Meaning, there's no need to get a SC/OC edition of a graphics card unless you find it at a good price like we have this at the time of writing.
Good Alternative GPUs:
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.
Enough room for most mid-range gaming rigs, good expansion options, cool design that'll please most, 2 built in fans, & most importantly at a good price
We include the same well-priced, decent EVGA PSU from all our budget builds because even for this $600 parts-list 450 watts is more than enough, 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 planning to do extensive upgrades later on, but for most gamers 450 will serve you well. Many first-time builders overestimate how much power you actually need for a computer build, but as you'll see from the specs cheatsheet above the maximum power draw of this setup won't go too much higher than 200 watts so you have a lot of flexibility with 450 watts.
Now to the case for the $600 mid-range gaming build to house your precious parts for years to come, and the Corsair Spec02 is an excellent value mid-range tower that's hard to fault for the price. It comes with everything you need for a mid-range gaming beast like this, with a standout classic design that is pretty universally attractive without being over the top and red LED lighting. The see-through side panel is a nice touch for a budget case, too, and will show off your awesome new mid-range build in action.
It comes with two pre-installed case fans, the front one of which is red LED, so there's no need to buy any more for optimal cooling and airflow as 2 fans will suffice for this type of build. Only reasons you'd need to get more fans is if you're kitting out more high-end components, if you live in an usually hot climate, if you're doing some extensive overclocking, or for aesthetic purposes should you want to get more LED fans for more lighting effects. If that sounds like you I'd suggest something like the AF120 fans to match the case.
The Corsair Spec04 Mid-Tower case is also worth considering for a $600-ish custom rig if it's current price is very close to the Spec02, as it indeed is at the time of writing this. The two cases are very similar, but some gamers might prefer the 04 design instead. However, the downsides to the Spec04 is there's no optical drive support, which of course isn't an issue if you're not planning to buy one, as well as only coming with 1 pre-installed fan compared to the Spec02's 2 fans. So if you prefer the Spec04, for optimal cooling make sure to get 1 other case fan along with it.
As with all our builds, 64 bit Windows 10 is what we recommend for the $600 gaming PC build unless you have a good reason to get another operating system like Linux or an older Windows. You have a few options with buying and installing Windows 10 for your new setup:
Recommended Optical Drive
Optical drives are totally optional components these days when building a PC, as not everyone has a need to play or burn CDs and DVDs due to everything being done online these days, but if you want to buy an optical drive for your build anyway then go ahead as the Corsair Spec02 case comes with 2 available 5.25" optical drive bays (though keep in mind the Spec04, our recommended alternative case pick, does NOT have room for an optical drive). This is the value for the money drive we'd get:
Recommended Mid-Range 60Hz or 144Hz Monitor
This build is for 1080p gaming, and so if you're buying a new screen you're going to need a 1080p model (1980 x 1080 pixels). As for which refresh rate to get for gaming with this type gaming computer, we recommend a standard 60Hz or 75Hz monitor to most people as it's the cheapest option. Higher refresh rate displays such as 144Hz are not just more expensive screens to buy, but will require more powerful hardware to take advantage of, as getting up and around 144FPS is no easy task even in 1080p resolution.
Although you could indeed get a 144Hz screen for the mid-range PC build if you wanted to, as you don't need to get 144FPS for a more smooth experience - even if you reach 100FPS, you'll still "see" those extra frames and that would mean smoother visuals than say 60FPS which would be the maximum you could see on a 60Hz screen. Plus, you could lower the settings in your games to get higher framer rates up near 100-144FPS if you'd rather have the smoothest experience possible in fast-paced games rather than the highest graphics quality settings.
Furthermore, if you get a 144Hz screen now you can always upgrade your hardware later to take full advantage of those extra Hz in the future. Overall, 60/75Hz vs 144Hz comes down to how much you want to spend on your monitor now, but don't worry if you go for the cheaper option as 60FPS on a decent 60Hz monitor (or 75FPS on 75Hz) is still a very smooth, great experience. Keep in mind the above two monitor recommendations are just 2 good options, but there are tons of good value 1080p monitors on the market (see all our recommended gaming monitors).
Recommended Mid-Range Gaming Peripherals
The following are suggestions for most gamers, but if you have more specific needs and want to pinpoint your peripheral selections more accurately towards your budget and/or needs (eg some mice are better for certain game genres than others) then see our in-depth buying guides on these parts in the main menu of our site.
That's it for the current best gaming PC build under 600 dollars for the December 2018 holiday season based on our usual extensive monthly analysis of the current hardware market from the perspective of a gamer looking for maximum bang for your buck as well as top component reliability, cooling/airflow, and last but not least aesthetics. Feel free to either use this exact parts-list as-is as all parts have been thoroughly checked for compatibility or simply as a base of inspiration and research for your more tailored gaming 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 our gaming PC build guide for first-timers which includes both tutorials). Good luck with your new setup, we hope this helps you to plan and build the best $600 custom gaming PC, and most of all happy gaming.
(Orders Parts on Amazon, Our #1 Recommended Store)
Whilst we're all about building your own system here at BGC, and wholeheartedly recommend it to all PC gamers even if you're a complete hardware beginner who's a little intimidated as it really is easy to do and hard to mess up these days if you simply follow one instruction at a time, some gamers will still just want to get a pre-assembled PC. And that's okay...we're not snobby know-it-alls, and we won't judge ;-)
Maybe you don't have the time or patience to assemble a PC yourself, and you don't mind spending a little more money as pre-builts are almost always going to be more expensive for the same specs. Whatever your reason, there are some decent prebuilt deals out there from reliable manufacturers, and below are our top picks that are as close to the specs of the $600 custom gaming PC build as possible.
Even if you're set on building your own PC, comparing these prebuilts to the custom parts-list can help clarify the advantages of building a computer 'cause you'll see that it's borderline impossible to find a prebuilt with not only the same gaming power but the same high-quality components across the board (including PSU, case, motherboard, etc). Prebuilt desktops often include cheaper, more stock-standard parts and brands.
Note: A third option you have a gamer besides building your own or buying a prebuilt, is getting a made-to-order PC. In other words, getting a PC builder to build you a customized system. We'd do it for you but we're a busy bunch, so see the good guys over at Xidax which is our current number 1 rated PC builder in the USA for decent-priced, reliable customizable gaming desktops. You can pick the parts and features you want and they'll build it and ship it out to you, with a lifetime limited warranty (the best you'll get in the industry). You can see all our recommended custom gaming computer for the USA here.
SkyTech Shadow Gaming Desktop
CPU: Ryzen 1200 3.1GHz Quad-Core
GPU: NVidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
RAM: 8GB DDR4 2400MHz
Other Parts & Features: 500W 80+ PSU, 1TB HDD, 24X DVD Burner, Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Our Thoughts: SkyTech offer decent prices on gaming-focused desktops, at least for a prebuilt that is, and they also tend to use good quality parts for the most part.
This one will have essentially the same performance as our custom build, albet with a tad less FPS due to the marginally slower gaming CPU, but on the plus side it has built-in WiFi and a DVD optical drive included, and Windows 10 pre-installed like all prebuilts.
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR
CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 2.8GHz 6 Core
GPU: NVidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
RAM: 8GB DDR4 2400MHz
Other Parts & Features: 500W 80+ PSU, 120GB SSD, 1TB HDD, Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Our Thoughts: Pros include built-in WiFi, a small SSD, a cool looking case, Win 10 pre-installed, included keyboard and mouse, and a better processor than the i3 included in our $600 custom parts-list. Downside is that for around the same gaming performance you're paying $200 - $250 more. CyberPowerPC offer some fair value prebuilts and at the right price this one is worth considering.
They also include "VR" in the model title, but don't be fooled by the marketing as this will indeed run VR, but if you want to play VR for a few years we highly recommend you get a GTX 1070 minimum (see our VR PC hardware guide).
- GeForce GTX 1060 3GB vs. Radeon RX 570 4GB: 2018 Update
- Intel Core i3-8100 CPU Review
- Corsair Carbide SPEC-04 Review: Fan Placement Testing, Noise, & More
- Intel Core i3-8100 Specifications
- ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 3GB OC Specifications
- EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB Gaming Specifications
- Gigabyte B360M DS3H Specifications
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 2x4GB 2400MHz Specifications
- Western Digital Blue 1TB 7200RPM Desktop Hard Drive Specifications
- EVGA 450 BT 80+ Bronze Power Supply Specifications
- Corsair Spec02 Mid-Tower Specifications
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.
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.