Today, we’re going to show off what we believe is the best gaming PC build.
To be a little bit more specific, we believe this is the best gaming PC build for most gamers, who don’t want to completely break the bank but still want an experience consoles can’t touch. For this reason, we’ve also made this the best PC build under $1,000, since spending more starts to give you diminishing returns.
If you’re scared to build your own gaming computer, don’t worry. We’ve taken care of the part selection for you, and we’ve prioritized an easy building experience for first-timers, as well as flexibility and overclocking capabilities for enthusiasts. Our case and motherboard are both large enough to be easy to work with, and you can always cite a video guide if you need more help.
The level of performance will be well above the capabilities of any console, and this PC will actually be good for more than just gaming, too.
If you’re like us, you probably think of big tech purchases as an investment. This PC build– and each of the gaming PC components in it– is exactly that: an investment that will ensure you have a stellar gaming experience for years to come, complete with the PC platform’s innate flexibility and upgradeability. With the right upgrades, this PC could be your daily driver for up to a decade.
But enough pretense. Let’s get into this PC build guide, shall we?
Table of Contents
PCGuide Recommended Custom PC Build
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600
The Ryzen 5 boasts stellar value and multi-threaded performance
- Cores: 6
- Threads: 12
- Base Clock: 3.4 GHz
- Boost Clock: 3.9 GHz
- Overclockable?: Yes
- Strong single-core performance; excellent multi-core perf.
- Incredible value vs competition (Intel)
- Overclockable with strong stock cooler
- Marginally poorer single-core perf. than Intel rival
One of the most important components in this build is the AMD Ryzen 5 2600, a six-core CPU from AMD. The Ryzen 5 2600 is a second-generation Ryzen processor, and boasts a roughly 8% performance boost over its predecessor. Versus its more expensive Intel rival, the i5 8400, it is marginally slower in single-core, but much faster in multi-core while supporting overclocking.
When making a build like this one, we wanted to make sure it had mass appeal. People who are learning how to build a gaming PC for the first time may not be comfortable with overclocking, and enthusiasts who are may not want to break the bank for it.
Many gamers today also double as streamers and content creators, which makes the Ryzen 5 2600’s multi-core advantage a significant benefit for those who want to advance. Even if this isn’t your plan, options are nice.
While most would normally go Intel for a gaming build, we opted for the Ryzen option here because the single-core performance difference is only marginal compared to the Intel competitor. This gap widens a bit more when comparing the 2600X and the 8600K, but that’s outside of our performance-per-dollar target under $1000 for this gaming computer build.
When it comes to gaming, you shouldn’t have any problem hitting 100+ FPS in modern games, regardless of resolution. (At higher resolutions, your GPU is the bottleneck, not your CPU.)
In addition to the strong performance and value on display here, the Ryzen 5 2600 also comes with a surprisingly competent stock cooler. We’ll discuss that one a bit more below.
Cooler: AMD Wraith Stealth Air Cooler
The included stock cooler is surprisingly effective
- Technology: Air
- Air Cooler Height: 54 mm
- Fan RPM: 1900 RPM
- Low profile
- Strong cooling for its size
- Some overclocking headroom
- OCs run hot and loud under load
Yes, this is the Ryzen 5 2600’s stock cooler, but the Wraith Stealth Air Cooler is a surprisingly strong companion to it. If you don’t plan on overclocking at all, it’s practically flawless: your system will remain fairly quiet and cool in all but the most strenuous scenarios. With the addition of our airflow-centric case (which we’ll discuss later), this air cooler should be nothing short of excellent in most scenarios.
Unlike Intel’s stock coolers, it even has a bit of overclocking headroom! AMD’s stock coolers are fairly strong overall, thanks to much larger heatsinks and faster fans than Intel’s counterparts. While the Wraith Stealth is the smallest (and therefore “worst”) of these coolers, it still has overclocking headroom… at a price.
If you’re going to overclock with the Wraith Stealth, you’ll be exchanging quiet and cool operation to do so. You’ll still be able to get some gains, but if you want maximum possible overclocking headroom without breaking the bank, we recommend opting for something like the Deepcool Gammaxx 400 instead. (Note: this will likely bring you over $1000!)
Note: The coolers are included in the featured CPU, try not to buy an extra one on accident.
GPU: Zotac RTX 2060
For a great 1440p and VR gaming experience, with RTX as a plus
- Architecture: Nvidia Turing
- Clock Speed: 1680 MHz (factory OC)
- VRAM: 6GB GDDR6
- Width: Triple-Slot
- Length: 211 mm
- Ports: 3 DisplayPort, 1 HDMI
- Stellar 1440p and VR performance
- Strong ray-tracing performance at 1080p
- Short length and strong cooling
- So-so value
Next up is our other core component, the Zotac Nvidia RTX 2060.
By itself, the RTX 2060 beats the previous-gen GTX 1070 and comes within spitting range of the 1070 Ti. This is fairly good for a $350 GPU, especially since dwindling stock is raising some GTX 1070s to even higher prices than that. Like the GTX 1070, the RTX 2060 makes for a stellar 1440p and VR GPU.
“Wait,” some of you may be observing, “But the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro can do 4K!”.
Much like most of the best things in life, it’s mostly marketing. These systems achieve 4K via upscaling and checkerboard rendering-- they are not rendering a true 4K image. (Usually- there are a few situations where the Xbox One X is able to support native 4K, but these are in lightweight titles like Rocket League.)
Instead, they are usually rendering an image anywhere from 1440p to 1800p and upscaling it to fit a 4K TV. In terms of graphical capabilities, an Xbox One X ends up being a bit behind the GTX 1060, which has about half of the RTX 2060’s total power.
So, yeah… this GPU is roughly twice as good as even the most powerful console on the market. Not bad, right?
If you aren’t pushing 1440p, VR, or 4K gaming, you may think this card is a little bit overkill. There is some validity to that argument, but if you play games like Metro Exodus or Battlefield 5 with RTX-exclusive features enabled, 1080p at ~60 FPS is what you’re going to be seeing most of the time. In non-RTX games at 1080p, you should be able to push many games to 120+ FPS, which is ideal for high refresh rate displays.
The only real issue we have with this GPU is that it has a somewhat poor value proposition when compared to cheaper cards, but that has always been the problem with buying mid-high or high-end GPUs. You aren’t getting the best performance-per-dollar, but if you want this level of performance and you want to keep it for the foreseeable future, you do need to spend some extra money.
For a modern gaming experience to last at least the next 4-5 years without any major compromises, we wholeheartedly recommend the RTX 2060. The Zotac version in particular is also shorter than most, and has a much thicker heatsink to compensate.
RAM: ADATA XPG GAMMIX 16GB
Stellar capacity and value make this our top RAM pick
- Capacity: 16GB
- Standard: DDR4
- Speed: 2666 MHz
- CAS: 16
- Configuration: 2x8GB
- Great speed and capacity
- Great value
Our RAM selection is the ADATA XPG GAMMIX 16GB kit, which boasts 2 8GB RAM sticks running at 2666 MHz. We’re going to get this out of the way now: contrary to popular belief, RAM speed does not boost gaming performance. Well, it doesn’t influence average or maximum FPS, anyway.
The way RAM speed does benefit you, the gamer, is by raising minimum FPS. In other words, you’ll notice less severe lagspikes and slowdowns when you have faster RAM chugging away in your system, resulting in a smoother overall gaming experience. DDR4 RAM is already great at this, even with basic 2400 MHz clocks, but our 2666 MHz Kit should make just that little bit of a difference that you’re looking for.
In terms of RAM capacity, you’re more than set here. For gaming alone, you don’t really need anymore than 8GB of RAM, even for intense modern titles. For gaming and multitasking, or particularly intensive non-gaming multitasking (LOOKIN’ AT YOU, CHROME), 16GB can make itself useful, though.
While you’re unlikely to fill your 16GB RAM to its full capacity anytime soon, you will have a ton of flex room and less need to rely on paging files. This should result in a faster, smoother overall experience using your computer.
Also, we didn’t leave out cons on accident there-- there really isn’t anything wrong with this kit. We aren’t going to dock points because it isn’t double the capacity or speed, that’d be silly.
SSD: Crucial P1 1TB M.2
A full NVMe M.2 SSD with a whopping 1TB of storage
- Technology: SSD
- Size: M.2
- Estimated Speed: 2GB/1.7GB R/W
- Interface: M.2 NVMe
- Stellar speed
- Strong capacity and value, for an NVMe SSD
- Much more expensive versus matching HDDs
- Some diminishing returns, explained below
The Crucial P1 1TB M.2 drive is an NVMe SSD boasting speeds of up to 2GB per second. Just reference, this is 4x faster than your typical ~500 MB/s SATA SSD. This translates to near-instant boot times, loading times, and application launches. By shopping smart and making the right compromises in this build, we managed to start off with a whopping 1TB of this storage at this speed without sacrificing performance.
While you can always add secondary SSDs or HDDs, it’s always great to start your PC with the fastest storage possible, like an NVMe SSD. Since you’ll install your operating system to this drive, it will result in near-instant boot times when you turn on your PC. Any program or game that you put onto it will have the same near-instant loading times, which translates to a dramatically more responsive PC usage experience.
However, a faster drive will not result in higher FPS for games. Additionally, for streaming other media-- music, movies, etc-- the higher speeds won’t be a benefit either. Regular old SATA hard drives can handle those just fine. Even 4K media doesn’t take up enough bandwidth to bring an HDD to its knees.
For this reason, NVMe SSDs can also be a case of diminishing returns. We recommend that once you start to hit your storage limit on this drive that you either add another or regular old SATA HDDs for your media and SATA SSDs for your games. This will have only a minimal difference, and you can keep your OS/ favorite games/ apps on this drive.
The reason we went for a drive of this size was to target ideal price-per-gigabyte, and ensure that you won’t be in a hurry to upgrade your storage too soon.
PSU: Corsair TXM 550W
Corsair’s TXM PSUs offer stellar value and building experience
- Wattage: 550W
- Efficiency: 80+ Gold-Certified
- Modularity: Semi
- Warranty Period: 7 Years
- Semi modularity makes for an easier building experience
- High efficiency and capacity
- Fairly quiet most of the time
- Gets louder under high load, but not much
The TXM 550W power supply is an excellent semi-modular PSU from Corsair. We believe it’s retailing for a fairly good price right now, and the excellent building experience you’ll get in return for the extra dollars spent is more than worth it.
Let’s talk building experience first, since that’s the main reason to get a Semi-Modular or Full-Modular PSU. Essentially, modularity refers to cables that can’t be removed from the PSU. Non-Modular PSUs don’t have any removable cables, all Semi-Modular PSU cables can be removed except the motherboard power cable, and Full-Modular PSUs can have all of their cables removed.
The only reason to get a Full-Modular PSU is if you’re making a SFF build, where you want to replace all your cables, including the motherboard power cable, with smaller, shorter cables for better cable management.
A Semi-Modular PSU, however, is perfect for a Micro ATX or Full ATX build like this one, since that long motherboard cable is needed and won’t get in the way.
Since Full-Modularity isn’t needed, you can save some extra cash and put it toward the rest of the PC. The 80+ Gold certification, meanwhile, results in a far more efficient power supply. This means less heat exhausted into your case and less power usage. It’ll run quieter, too, thanks to Corsair’s quiet fans.
For those of you who see a lot of higher-wattage PSUs being sold, you may worry that there isn’t enough power for this build. Don’t worry, though-- peak wattage in this build before overclocking or upgrades is around 350W. You have plenty of flex room for upgrades and overclocking, so you don’t need to worry.
MOBO: ASRock Fatal1ty B450 Gaming K4
ASRock Fatal1ty gives us full overclocking capabilities at a great price
- Chipset: AMD B450
- Form Factor: ATX
- Overclocking Support: Yes
- SATA Ports: 6
- M.2 Slots: 2 (1 PCIe x4, 1 PCIe x2)
- RAM Slots: 4 up to 3200 MHz
- PCIe Slots: 2 3.0 x16, 4 2.0 x1
- Full overclocking support at a low price
- Dual M.2 slots and ample SATA ports
- Plenty of PCI Express slots
- Not many extras
The ASRock Fatal1ty B450 Gaming K4 Motherboard may have a somewhat gaudy name, but make no mistake: this is a performance motherboard.
First and foremost, you have the excellent B450 chipset, which allows for faster RAM speeds, out-of-box compatibility with 2nd Gen Ryzen CPUs, full overclocking support, and even extras, like USB-C and USB 3.1 Gen2.
The overclocking capability was the real selling point here. Since this motherboard usually retails for under $100, full overclocking is a real blessing, especially compared to Intel Z-series motherboards.
Secondly, you also have ample expansion options. Two high-speed M.2 slots, plenty of SATA ports, plenty of PCI Express slots… you aren’t going to have trouble upgrading this PC. Additionally, the large size of the motherboard means that you have ample room for cable management and RAM/cooler clearance. This makes for a better building experience.
You also have dedicated headers for RGB lighting, an on-board single-color light around the chipset, and a few other software features. There are, however, no extras like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth present here. You’ll need to add those yourself via PCI Express or USB.
Aside from that ultimately-kind-of-nitpicky complaint, though, we can’t really fault this motherboard. Its features at its price are an excellent deal for savvy gamers who want quality without selling a lung.
Case: Thermaltake Versa J22 RGB Edition
This hulking-but-gorgeous case is perfect for our PC build
- Form Factor: ATX Mid Tower
- Motherboard Compatibility: ATX and smaller
- GPU Clearance: 310mm
- Fans Included?: Yes; 3 RGB
- Liquid Cooling-Ready?: Yes, top and front
- Drive Capacity: 1x 5.25, 2x 3.5, 6x 2.5
- Lighting Features: RGB Fans
- Full RGB lighting at a low price
- Great build quality; tempered glass
- Three fans = superb out-of-box airflow
Last but not least is our case, the Thermaltake Versa J22 RGB Edition. For around ~$70 (thank God not all gaming PC parts need to be expensive), you get a fully-fledged ATX Mid Tower with 3 included RGB fans, an included RGB sync controller, and stellar overall build quality.
A dedicated PSU compartment offers extra room for discreet cable management, you have ample room to mount large liquid cooling radiators, plenty of available drive bays… and even the single 5.25 bay, in case you want a Blu Ray drive or something.
Oh, and the included side panel window is 100% tempered glass. This means increased durability and better visibility inside your PC. All the features here (builder and extra alike), and the general build quality make the Thermaltake Versa J22 RGB the case to beat in this price range.
In addition to aesthetics, the included RGB fans ensure a complete airflow setup without any extra work or money on your part. Moreover, this case is large enough that building your own gaming PC inside of it won’t be unnecessarily cumbersome. In all, it serves as the perfect chassis for this build, whether you’re building a PC for the first time or a passionate PC enthusiast.