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.
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.
People 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.
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.
Starting 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?
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.
- $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!