How much should you spend on a gaming PC?

In Custom Builds by Branton21 Comments

Exactly how much do you need to spend on a gaming PC to get a build that’s worth your time? Well, it really depends on if you plan to use that PC for anything other than basic stuff & gaming, and roughly how good you want those games to actually look.

Some people might be okay spending $500 on a budget build, but others might have to spend upwards of $1000 to exceed their expectations. It’s all about what you need.

One thing to keep in mind is that I’m not considering the price of an operating system, monitor, keyboard, mouse or audio. If you don’t have any of these things (most people won’t have a copy of Windows laying around), expect to add roughly another $300 to the cost of your desktop. Roughly $100 for your OS, another $100 or so for a decent monitor, $50 for a keyboard / mouse and then another $50 for either a headset or speakers.

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This is probably you

Most of us only need a solid mid-range build capable of playing basically anything on high settings or better. But, what exactly does that mid-range build look like, how much is it going to cost, and what kind of performance will we get?

For starters, everyone’s going to have a different definition of what “mid-range” might be, but as far a gaming PC goes, mid-range is around $600-$900 USD. With that said, the best build will always be the one you customize for your own needs.

thermaltake-versa-n21-casePeople looking at mid-range builds should be getting an Intel i5 CPU (no, you don’t need an i7), 8GB+ of RAM, and a solid 4GB graphics card (GTX 960 / 970 or R9 380x / 390). Plus a solid power supply, motherboard & storage, etc. Check out my $800 gaming PC build if you need an example. A build like this would be great for 1080p gaming (the most common), and depending on the exact setup you choose, you’ll be getting 40-60+ fps in almost any game on high settings or better. Games like CS: GO will perform way better and you’ll be getting closer to, or more than, 100fps.

You could almost consider a good budget-level $500 build “mid-range” with the power you’re able to get for that much these days. I mean, an FX 6300, a GTX 950 and 8GB of RAM on top of 1TB of storage is actually pretty decent! A build like this won’t let you max out The Witcher 3 or GTA: V, but you’ll be able to run them surprisingly well. You’ll be able to run basically anything that’s considered “next-gen” with a mixture of mid-high settings in 1080p while getting at least 30fps – better than your Xbox One or PS4 for sure.

Keep in mind that most builds in this range aren’t really the best for overclocking, and I really wouldn’t recommend it. If overclocking is your ultimate goal you should be planning to spend at least $1000 for adequate parts. You could definitely put together a cheap build for OCing for under $1000, but you’ll have to either buy cheap parts or sacrifice performance somewhere crucial.

High-end

If you’re the kind of person who expects the best performance in all scenarios possible, or you want to overclock the crap out of your PC, then you’re going to have to spend a little more to get a little more.

gtx-980ti-x2Starting at around $1000, you can get top-level 1080p performance and have the ability to run literally anything in 60fps or more (for now), plus have the ability to do some decent overclocking. Looking for even better performance, or to jump into 1440p? Then $1200-$1500 should get you set up.

Or, if you wanted to be really overzealous, for around $2200 you can build a complete behemoth running 2x GTX 980ti in SLI, an i7 6700K and some other overkill parts.

Most people aren’t really going to need a build like this, but it’s always nice to be able to run absolutely anything you want maxed out without dropping frames. Basically, if you’re spending this much it’s probably because you really enjoy the best games on the highest settings and can’t stand anything less, right?

Conclusion

By now I hope that I’ve been able to give you some kind of idea about how much you’re going to have to spend on a gaming PC. You don’t necessarily have to spend insane amounts of money to get great performance, and you can eaasily beat what a console offers for not very much more than the average cost of a PS4. Just stay away from those cheaper prefabricated builds, they usually suck.antec-three-hundred-two-front

  • $500-$900 = pretty much what everyone needs
  • $1000-$1400 = “enthusiast level”
  • $1500+ = You want 1440p, 4k, or bragging rights

What do you think? Let me know below! 

Author

Branton

The first game that I ever played on a PC was Ultima Online in 1999, and since then I have been hooked on PC gaming, and putting together awesome builds. Thanks for stopping by!

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21 Comments on “How much should you spend on a gaming PC?”

  1. Hey is the Sapphire Radeon R9 290 4GB GDDR5 DUAL DVI-D/HDMI/DP TRI-X OC Version PCI-Express Graphics Card 11227-00-40G a ok replacement for the 800 PC

    1. Hey Zane,

      Only if you currently have one, otherwise buying one would probably be a bad decision unless you’re getting it for a reaaaaaaaally good price.

  2. Hey I’m on a really tight budget but I currently have a toshiba laptop so could I salvage parts from it or would I have to start from scratch or could I mod it out? I can barely run games like terra tech and hitman on lowest graphics levels. Thanks

    1. Laptop & desktop components aren’t usually compatible together for the most part, unfortunately. As far as laptops go, you’re generally better off just buying a new one opposed to trying to upgrade it – they’re often built with specific components in mind and there’s not usually a lot of room left to add anything extra like a dedicated graphics card.

      I think your best bet will be to start from scratch.

      Hope that helps!

  3. I need some tips on how or to buy a PC main reason why I’m trying to play cs I need a great system so I don’t get that much of a lag when I’m playing or scrimmage thanks

    1. If you’re mostly just playing CS:GO, you could easily get by with my $500 build which will give you a very enjoyable 150-200fps in 1080p on high settings.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Hey, loved the article!
    I was wondering what price range would work for rust and overwatch as the main reason for the pc, only issue is I would also need it for schoolwork and heavy study loads.
    ( im am absolutely lost as to what i need but a friend will help me build it thank god)

    1. Awesome, glad to hear it 🙂

      You’re going to want to look at builds in the $600 range, something with an i5 6500 and either a 3GB GTX 1060 or a 4GB RX 480, kind of like in my $600 build.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Hey I have $700-$750 AUD to spend on a gaming PC (I already have a monitor, mouse, headset and keyboard) and I’m not to sure what to buy as I’ve played Xbox all my life. I like playing Games like GTA 5.
    Any help would be great thanks!

    1. Hey,

      I would check out my $500 build for starters, I think the conversion on that comes to around $750 AUD and it’ll let you play the games you want on good settings with good performance 🙂

      Hope that helps!

  6. Great article pal, I’m thinking about buying a pc in the very near future. I played competitive console for a bit so I have a monitor and headsets. I’m solely concerned on how much I would have to spend to get good quality with games like h1, cs, and other games along those lines. I really just need a recommendation on whether I should go with the mid, small or high end side of things while satisfying what I want in a computer, if that makes sense. Again, great article and would love your recommendation. Thanks!!!

    1. Hey Blake,

      My $500 build would allow you to play something like CS:GO maxed out with great performance. H1Z1 is a little more demanding and because of that you might want to consider something more along the lines of my $600 or $700 builds.

      Hope that helps!

  7. And would you recommend following your video on the build or just letting someone else do it? Haven’t ever had a pc

    1. You could definitely build it yourself, Blake! I know a lot of people who have jumped into PC gaming the exact same way!

  8. One last thing, I just checked over your $600 build (and again, I don’t know much) could I get the i5 6500 instead or would that require an upgrade of other parts too?

    1. Hey again Blake,

      The i5 6500 would definitely work, I had to downgrade the CPU in that build to an i3 so I could maintain the proper budget level as other components have jumped a lot in price recently.

      Another option would be the brand new “Kaby Lake” i5 7500 like is in my $700 build – still waiting on better “budget” mobos to drop using the new chipset before I upgrade the lower level builds.

      Hope that helps!

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