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Recommended parts summary
Detailed recommendations

Choose Your PC Performance (Tier):

About Hardware Revolution’s Gaming PCs

This is one of three comprehensive articles where I, Mathieu Bourgie, a computer hardware enthusiast with over 14 years of experience, recommend to you all the required parts and accessories, to help you build your own Gaming PC.

Is a Budget Gaming PC powerful enough for you?

There are three (3) recommended Budget Gaming PC levels of performance (Tier) in this article.

The recommended parts for each Tiers are indicated by their respective numbers (1, 2 and 3) through the article.

Tier 1 is what I recommend for gaming on a 720p HDTV or a monitor with a 1366 x 768 resolution.
Tier 2 is recommended for gaming at 1600 x 900.
Tier 3 is an entry-level 1080p Gaming PC that will run most mainstream video games at 1920 x 1080 with good details and 60+ FPS.

Do you want to play the latest games with details set at maximum, at 2560 x 1440 or do you need 120+FPS for fast paced games?
Then you’ll need a more capable Gaming PC. Please visit The Best Mid-range / High Performance Gaming PCs article.

Are you going to play on a 4K monitor/TV, on multiple monitors or do you want a Virtual Reality (VR) ready Gaming PC? 
In that case, the highest performance Gaming PCs are what I recommend. They can be found in the Find out how you can build an extremely High-end Gaming PC that you can be proud of! article.

Need help picking the right level of performance for your Gaming PC?

Leave a comment at the end of the article. Give us details about the video game(s) that you want to play, the level of details that you want and the resolution of the monitor or HDTV that you’ll use.

Not interested in a Gaming PC?

Want an inexpensive PC for general use?
All the PCs in this guide have integrated graphic processors (GPUs), with video outputs on the motherboard, meaning that you can connect your monitor or HDTV directly to them, without requiring a dedicated video card. So if you want to a standard inexpensive PC and don’t intend to play video games, just buy everything except for the dedicated video card.

You may also be interested in other articles, such as other Do-It-Yourself Computer Systems, the Best Parts For Your Money and/or The Best Laptops For Your Money.

Recommended Parts Summary:

Things to keep in mind when reading this article:

I’ll use this opportunity to remind you that this article is based on the prices that I saw on January 26th 2015.

  • Prices and availability often change. I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, but I recommend to you great components that you won’t regret buying around that price.
  • This list is based on the best prices for new parts from B&H, NewEgg and Amazon. No used, open box or refurbished parts are included. While you may be able to score a nice discount, those parts come with trade offs, such as limited return policy and a limited warranty.

This is an Worldwide Guide!

Do you live in the USA?

Use Amazon, B&H and Newegg for your purchase.

Do you live outside of the USA?

No problem. All the parts can be purchased from B&H, who ships worldwide.

Tier 1: $337.80

Tier 2: $515.52

Tier 3: $615.84

 

Never built a PC before and need help? No problem.

You don’t have to be a Geek to build a PC!
Building a PC has never been easier. Thousands of our readers, many of whom with no experience, built their own PC with the help of Hardware Revolution. If they can do it, so can you!

Start by reading our “Building Your First PC?” article, which covers everything that you need to know to get started. We also have videos on how to build a PC and on how to install Windows at the end of the article.

Once you’re comfortable with the idea of building your own PC, simply pick a Tier and buy the recommended parts for it. When you get your parts, assemble your PC, install Windows and enjoy. Also, be proud of a job well done!

Recommendations in details:

Motherboard:

Tier 1:

Get the MSI A78M-E35 V2 Micro-ATX FM2+ from Amazon

$59.99 at Newegg
$59.98 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the MSI A78M-E35 V2 Micro-ATX FM2+:
This motherboard offers support for AMD’s FM2+ APUs at a great price, making it a good choice for Tier 1 of the Budget Gaming PCs.

Its low price allows you to invest your budget on the part that matters the most for gaming performance for Tier 1: the APU and the RAM.

Pros:
1. Low price for a reliable motherboard that supports AMD’s FM2+ APUs.
2. Six USB ports on the back
3. VGA, DVI and HDMI video outputs
4. Six SATA ports
5. USB 3.0 onboard header: This means that you can use USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case.

Cons:
1. Only two included SATA cables: You’ll need to buy more if you get more than one hard drive and one optical drive, if you get a SSD, a hard drive and an optical drive for example.
2. Only two RAM slots: Four is preferable if you want to add RAM in the future.
3. Poor placement of the PCI-Express 1x slot: It will be blocked by the video card. If you want to add a dedicated sound card, you’ll need a PCI sound card.

Ports, expansion slots, features, what’s included in the box, etc.

Ports on the back: Two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two PS/2, Gigabit LAN, HDMI, VGA and DVI outputs and 8 Channels audio.

Expansion slots: PCI-Express 3.0 16X, one PCI-Express 1x slot and one PCI slot

Other connectors/features on the motherboard: Three fan connectors (2x four pins, 1x three pins), six SATA 6.0Gb/s, USB 3.0 header and two USB 2.0 headers.

Included in the box: Motherboard, two SATA cables, manual, CD with drivers/utilities and I/O backplate.

Tier 2 and 3:

Gigabyte GA-H110M-A Micro-ATX

$49.99 at Amazon
$49.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$49.99 at Newegg

About the Gigabyte GA-H110M-A motherboard:
This motherboard offers an USB 3.0 header at a good price, making it a great choice for Tier 2 and 3 of the Budget Gaming PCs.

Its low price allows you to invest your budget on the parts that matters the most for gaming performance: the video card and the CPU.

That said, it’s very limited when to comes to features. You get what you pay for in this case. If you want more features, you’ll have to spend more on a more expensive motherboard.

Pros:
1. Low price for a reliable motherboard that supports Intel’s LGA1151 CPUs.
2. USB 3.0 header, Eight USB ports: Six USB ports on the back, two from the header
3. Second PCI-Express 1x slot is far enough from the PCI-Express 16x slot to allow the installation of a large dual-slot video card and another expansion card.

Cons:
1. Only two fan headers
2. Only two included SATA cables: You’ll need to buy more if you get more than one hard drive and one optical drive.
3. Only two RAM slots: Four is preferable if you want to add RAM in the future.
4. Only 4 SATA ports
5. No RAID support.

If any of those cons are a deal breaker for you, simply upgrade to one of the alternatives suggested below.

Ports, expansion slots, features, what’s included in the box, etc.

Ports on the back: Two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two PS/2, Gigabit LAN, HDMI output and 8 Channels audio.

Expansion slots: PCI-Express 3.0 16X and two PCI-Express 1x slot

Other connectors/features on the motherboard: Two fan connectors (2x four pins), four SATA 6.0Gb/s, USB 3.0 header and two USB 2.0 headers.

Included in the box: Motherboard, two SATA cables, manual, CD with drivers/utilities and I/O backplate.

Alternative motherboards for Tier 2 and 3:

Features to look for in alternatives:

Four RAM slots: Even if you only get two RAM sticks right now, having two additional RAM slots can be useful when if you want to add more RAM in the future.
Z170 chipset: If you want to overclock your CPU. Some manufacturers offer overclocking with other chipsets, but you may lose Hyper-Threading support or suffer lower than expected performance.
High-quality power delivery for overclocking a Core i5 or Core i7 K series CPU:
Get an higher motherboard with better power delivery components if you want to overclock a K-series Core i5 or Core i7 CPU. You’ll get more options in the BIOS/UEFI, it will be safer, more reliable and you’ll get better overclocking results anyway.

Motherboard form factors:
To ensure compatibility with your case, you need to know what’s the form factor of your motherboard. There are 3 form factors that I recommend or offer as alternatives in this article:
From the smallest to the largest:

  • Mini-ITX:
    Smallest, 1 expansion slot, compatible with Mini-ITX/Micro-ATX and some ATX cases
    Ideal if you want a small Gaming PC, with a single video card and have no other expansion cards to install. Keep in mind that working inside a Mini-ITX case can be more complicated, especially if you have large hands. Usually more expensive.
  • Micro-ATX:
    Smaller than ATX, larger than Mini-ITX. 2 to 4 expansion slots, compatible with Micro-ATX and pretty much any recent ATX case.

    A nice balance between size, expandability and cooling. Ideal if you want a video card with a PCI/PCI-E sound card or another expansion card or two video cards (with two PCI-Express 3.0 16X slots running at 8x/8x). Relatively easy to assemble a PC in it. Usually the least expensive.
  • ATX:
    Large, 4-8 expansion slots, compatible with ATX cases.
    Allows you to install many expansion cards, ideal for multiple video card setups, plenty of cooling (best for overclocking), easy to assemble a PC in it; you have plenty of space to work in it. Slightly more expensive than Micro-ATX, less than Mini-ITX.

Make sure to choose a form factor (ATX, Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX) that is supported by the case.

Mini-ITX motherboards:

Micro-ATX alternatives:

ATX alternatives:

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CPU:

Tier 1:

AMD A8-7600 APU 2 modules/4 cores 3.1-3.8GHz FM2+ R7 Series Graphics 384 GPU cores 720MHz 65W

– $89.99 at Amazon
$89.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
89.99 at Newegg

The AMD A8-7600 is a 10 ‘compute core’ APU based on AMD’s Kaveri architecture.
It contains the CPU and the GPU (video card) in a single chip.

CPU:
The CPU portion of this APU has two modules / four cores, based on AMD’s Streamroller architecture, running at a normal 3.1GHz frequency, with a Turbo frequency up to 3.8GHz. Those make up for 4 ‘compute cores’.

From a CPU performance point of view, the AMD A8-7600 lags behind the Pentium G3258 in applications that are single-threaded, but will outperform the G3258 in applications that take advantage of multi-threading, even trading blows with the $120+ Core i3-4160 in multi-threaded applications.

The A8-7600, with its powerful integrated video card, offers great performance in applications that take advantage of the GPU to improve performance.

GPU (video card):
The GPU (video card) has six ‘compute cores’, based on AMD’s GCN 1.1 architecture, with 384 GPU cores, running at 720MHz.

This means that you do not need to buy a dedicated video card, as the video card is integrated in this APU.

See the video card section for more details on what you can expect from the GPU

Why not upgrade to an higher-end APU, such as the A8-7650K, A10-7700, A10-7800, A10-7850K or A10-7870K?
The A8-7650K and A10-7700 offer the same integrated video card performance, only slightly higher frequencies for the CPU part, but at an higher cost of course.

The A10-7800 and A10-7850K cost more, but only provide slightly better performance than the A8-7600 in video games, as you can see in this AnandTech’s review.

The A10-7870K cost too much to recommend: When you compare the cost of a Gaming PC with the A10-7870K, it’s too close to the cost of a Gaming PC with a far more powerful dedicated video card to be worth recommending.

Simply put, the A8-7600 offers the best balance of low cost and high performance, or in the other words, it offers the best bang for your buck, why is why I’m recommending it for the entry-level Tier 1 Gaming PC.

Tier 2:

Intel Core i3-6100 3.7GHz Dual-Core + Hyper-Threading Skylake LGA1151:

– $129.00 at Amazon
– $129.99 at Newegg
– $126.98 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

VS the Competition:
AMD’s closest priced CPU is the FX-6300 ($110, Six-Core, 3.5GHz/4.1GHz Turbo).

I picked the Intel Core i3-6100 over the AMD FX-6300 because:

  1. The Intel Core i3-4360 (same frequency, but older and lower performance architecture than the Core i3-6100) outperforms the FX-6300 in most games and applications, thanks to its far higher single thread performance, according to AnandTech.
  2. The Core i3-4130 (300MHz slower,two generations behind) outperforms the FX-6350 (+400MHz/100MHz Base/Turbo frequencies) when it comes to gaming performance, according to Xbit Labs.
  3. The Core i3-4130 has a far lower power consumption: 16W less at idle and 105W less at load! Lower power consumption = Lower utility bill, not requiring a more powerful power supply (saving money), less heat and less noise. The i3-6100 power consumption is similar to the Core i3-4130
  4. The Intel LGA1151 platform offers more recent technology, such as PCI-Express 3.0, M.2 slot, DDR4 support and more.
  5. The Intel LGA1151 platform also offers more interesting upgrade options with the more powerful Core i5 and i7 series of CPU. With the AMD AM3+ platform, you’re limited to slightly more powerful FX-83xx CPUs that are no match for Intel’s Core i5/i7 CPUs.

Note that it can be overclocked with a motherboard equipped with a Z170 chipset. You’ll want an after-market CPU Cooler and a more powerful power supply for best results.

Tier 3:

Intel Core i5-6500 3.2-3.6GHz Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading Skylake LGA1151:

– $204.95 at Amazon
$204.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$204.99 at Newegg

V.S. AMD FX-8350:
Most video games only use two to four cores and prioritize single-threaded performance (a domain where Intel dominates AMD) so when it comes to gaming performance, AMD’s FX-8350 is no match for Intel’s Core i5-6500. On top of that, the Fx-8350 consumes considerably more power at load, making it less power efficient and more noisy.

While its 8 cores might make it seem like an attractive option for heavy multi-threaded programs, even then, the Core i5-6500 competes with it thanks to its far higher IPC and far higher single-thread performance.

In the end, the Core i5-6500 is just a better choice for gaming, hence why I’m recommending it for Tier 3 of the Budget Gaming PCs.

Note that it can be overclocked with a motherboard equipped with a Z170 chipset. You’ll want an after-market CPU Cooler and a more powerful power supply for best results.

More powerful alternatives:

Want to upgrade to a more powerful CPU?

Here’s something you should know first: For gaming performance, you’re better off upgrading your video card first.

Only when you get to mainstream and high-end video cards is it worth it to get a more powerful CPU to avoid limiting the video card performance. Basically, that’s the case when you reach the performance level of Mainstream Gaming PCs.

In the case of a Budget Gaming PC, it is not worth upgrading the CPU solely for the goal of increasing video game performance, as the video card is what matters the most when it comes to gaming performance.

Why should you consider a more powerful CPU?

There are three good reasons:
1. You want higher CPU performance for everyday tasks and want your PC to be more responsive.
2. You use your PC for other demanding tasks, such as audio, photo or video editing. In that case, upgrading to an Intel Core i5 would be a conside wise and a Core i7 is the best.
3. You want to make your Gaming PC more future-proof and plan on upgrading your video card in the future, so that it runs smoothly for many years to come. For gaming performance, stick to the Intel Core i5, the Core i7 won’t give you additional performance there.

Here’s my recommendations for upgrades. Note that they are fully compatible with the rest of Tier 2 and 3 builds, no changes are required, unless you want to overclock your CPU, in which case you’ll want to upgrade to a motherboard equipped with a Z170 chipset, an after-market CPU Cooler and a more powerful power supply.

Intel Core i5-6600K Quad-Core 3.5-3.9GHz Turbo LGA1151 Unlocked: $256.99 at Amazon or $256.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) $259.99 at Newegg
This is a faster variant compared to the Core i5-6500 recommended for Tier 2. It is also unlocked for easy overclocking. Note that it does not include a CPU Cooler, you must buy one.
Intel Core i7-6700 Quad-Core+Hyper-Threading 3.4-4.0GHz Turbo LGA1151:$359.00 at Amazon or $369.99 at B&H$329.99 at Newegg – This is a quad-core + Hyper-Threading 3.4-4.0GHz Intel Skylake CPU. Only worth it if you have absolutely no intention of overclocking, otherwise get the Core i7-6700K.
Intel Core i7-6700K Quad-Core+Hyper-Threading 4.0-4.4GHz Turbo LGA1151 Unlocked: $394.98 at Amazon or $439.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)$413.99 at Newegg – This is the most powerful Intel Skylake CPU, with four cores + Hyper-Threading running at 4.0 – 4.2GHz. Unlocked for easy overclocking. Note that it does not include a CPU Cooler, you must buy one.

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Video Card:

A few important recommendations and notes regarding video cards:

  • Get the latest version of the video card drivers directly from AMD or Nvidia. That way, you’ll be sure to get the latest bug fixes as well as the best performance possible from your video card(s).
  • Most video cards require one or two PCI-Express 6 or 8 pin power connector(s) to be plugged into them to function properly. Make sure that your power supply comes equipped with enough 6 and/or 8 pin connectors for your video cards. Of course, I double-checked that already for the recommendations in this article, I simply mention it if you decide to modify a build to your own taste.

Tier 1:

Integrated in the AMD A8-7600 APU:
Radeon R7 384 GPU cores at 720MHz

Integrated in the AMD A8-7600 APU, the R7 GPU offers 384 shader processors and uses the PC’s RAM as its memory (hence why I recommend higher frequency 2133MHz DDR3 RAM for Tier 1).

The motherboard offers VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs.

Gaming performance wise, you can play most games, with decent graphic settings, at a resolution of 1280 x 800, 1366 x 768 or on a 720p HDTV. Nothing earth shattering, but considering the cost of Tier 1, that’s great value. If you want to play at an higher resolution, want more details and/or more performance, upgrade to an higher end Tier.
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Tier 2:

Geforce GTX 950 2GB

– $159.99 at Amazon
– $139.99 at Newegg
– $156.29 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Launched in August 2015, the GTX 950 is a cut-down version of the Geforce GTX 960, offering most of its performance with a 20% lower price.

AMD offers the R7 270 around the same price point, but it’s no match for the more powerful GTX 950, which also consumes less power than the R7 270.

It’s capable of running older games with high details at 1920 x 1080 and newer games will run smoothly at resolutions up to 1600 x 900 smoothly.

Tier 3:

Geforce GTX 960 2GB

– $189.99 at Amazon
– $189.99 (Newegg)
– $197.40 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

If you want to play most games at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with high/max details, the Geforce GTX 960 is an excellent choice.

AMD used to offer the now discontinued R9 280X around the same price, but its availability is limited, making the prices fluctuate higher than the GTX 960. The GTX 960 cost less, consumes less power, emits less heat and noise and is readily available.

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Monitor recommendations:

– 1366 x 768 monitor (Ideal for Tier 1):
1. ASUS VS197D-P 18.5″ 5ms: $69.00 at Amazon or $86.52 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
Inexpensive and good 5ms response time. VGA only, which makes no difference in quality unless you have a defective cable. Don’t believe the hype that DVI or HDMI results in higher quality, it makes no perceivable difference at that resolution.

– 1600 x 900 monitor (Ideal for Tier 2):
1. ASUS VS207T-P 19.5″ 2ms: $98.99 at Amazon or $98.99 at B&H – (Worldwide Shipping)
Inexpensive and fast 2ms response time, ideal for FPS games. DVI and VGA.

– 1920 x 1080 monitor (Ideal for Tier 3):
1. AOC i2267fw 22″ 5ms IPS Full HD 1080p: $99.99 at Amazon or $99.99 at B&H – (Worldwide Shipping) – IPS panel for great color reproduction and great viewing angles, 5ms response time, thin bezel, VGA and DVI.
2. ASUS VP228H 21.5″ TN Full HD 1080p 1ms: $114.95 at B&H – (Worldwide Shipping) or $109.99 at Newegg – Ultra-low 1ms response time, ideal for FPS games.
3. ASUS VN247H-P 24″ TN Full HD 1080p 1ms: $159.00 at Amazon or $166.47 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) – Same as above, but with a 24″ size.
4. Acer G257HL bmidx 25″ IPS Full HD 1080p 4ms: $155.00 at Amazon or $179.45 at B&H – (Worldwide Shipping) – IPS panel for great color reproduction and great viewing angles, 4ms response time, VGA, DVI and HDMI.
5. HP Pavilion 27xw 27″ 7ms IPS Full HD 1080p: $199.99 at Amazon or $199.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) – IPS panel for great color reproduction and great viewing angles. VGA, DVI and HDMI.

What about higher resolution and/or multiple monitors?

A higher screen resolution is more demanding on the video card. The rest of your PC (mostly the CPU) also has to keep up, to not bottleneck your video card performance.

This is why you’ll need a more powerful Gaming PC for higher resolutions, in which case I recommend that you check out our Mainstream Gaming PCs article. For multiple monitors gaming, check out our High-End Gaming PCs article.

RAM (Memory):

Tier 1:

8GB (2 x 4GB) 1.5v DDR3 2133MHz

– $47.99 at Amazon
$55.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$54.99 at Newegg

Why higher frequency RAM for Tier 1?
The integrated video card in the AMD APU uses the RAM as its memory. In this case, higher frequency RAM will improve performance in video games, hence why I recommend 2133MHz RAM.

Is it worth it to get more than 8GB of RAM?
If you like to run demanding programs (Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, video editing, etc.) multiple programs at once (multitask), leave your PC open for a long time between restarts, want to run the latest games and/or programs and want higher performance or if you intend on keeping this Gaming PC for more than a few years, than you might want to consider upgrading to 16GB of RAM. Just pick the recommended 16GB 2133MHz kit instead, you don’t need to change any other part.

Patriot 16GB (2 x 8GB) 1.5v CL11 DDR3 2133MHz: $89.99 at Amazon or $99.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

That said, if you better performance in video games than you’re better off picking a higher Tier rather than getting more than 8GB of RAM.

Tier 2-3:

Crucial 8GB (2x4GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 2400MHz

– $47.47 at Amazon
$47.47 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$45.99 at Newegg

Why I’m recommending this kit:
Low price, but highly reliable: There are some kits that are a few dollars less expensive. Problem is, they aren’t as reliable. RAM issues can be frustrating, resulting in system crashes/freezes/BSODs, and a difficult to identify at times.

Crucial is one of the best brands for reliability.

Why not recommend higher frequency RAM?
1- More expensive, forcing you to cut somewhere else to fit in your budget.
2- You’ll get at best a 1-3% performance improvement.

Simply put: It can worth it when you get a more powerful Gaming PC, but for a Budget Gaming PC, you’re better off with entry-level RAM, an entry-level motherboard and a more powerful video card and CPU. You’ll get far more performance by spending your money on a better CPU and video card than on slightly better RAM and on a motherboard to support it.

Is it worth it to get more than 8GB of RAM?
If you like to run multiple programs at once (multitask), leave your PC open for a long time between restarts, want to run the latest games and/or programs and want higher performance or if you intend on keeping this Gaming PC for more than a few years, than you might want to consider upgrading to 16GB of RAM. Just pick the recommended 16GB kit instead, you don’t need to change any other part.

Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 2400MHz: $110.50 at Amazon or $108.93 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) – If you want 16GB of RAM to further future-proof your PC or multi-task intensively with demanding programs, this is an affordable and reliable 16GB kit of DDR3 1600MHz RAM.

That said, if you better performance in video games than you’re better off picking a higher Tier rather than getting more than 8GB of RAM.

Maximum amount of RAM:
Double-check your motherboard documentation to see what is the maximum amount of RAM that it supports.

Motherboards in this guide that supports two sticks of RAM can be equipped with up to 32GB (2 x 16GB) of RAM and the motherboards that support four sticks of RAM, can be equipped with up to 64GB (4x16GB) of RAM.

Heatsinks and CPU cooler clearance:
Every kit that I recommend in this guide feature either no heatsinks or small heatsinks that don’t raise too much above the RAM sticks.

Why?

  1. Because RAM heatsinks barely make any difference when it comes to RAM temperatures. Besides, even if you overclock it/raise the voltage (at your own risk), RAM temperatures aren’t a problem as long as you have decent airflow in your case.
  2. Tall RAM heatsinks can get in the way of larger aftermarket CPU Coolers, preventing you from installing your aftermarket CPU Cooler!

Important note:

RAM may require manual configuration within the BIOS to reach its full potential

By default, some RAM kits will boot at lower frequencies than they are rated for. This is perfectly normal, it does not mean that your RAM is defective.

You simply have to go within the BIOS/UEFI (The first thing that you see when your PC starts) and enable the enhanced performance profile (XMP, DOCP, EOCP), for your RAM to function at its rated speed.

You can also adjust the RAM settings manually, such as frequency (In MHz, usually linked to the CPU, look for a CPU:RAM ratio), voltage (e.g. 1.50v) and timings (a series of numbers, such as 9-9-9-24). Refer to your motherboard manual and your RAM specifications for more information.

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Storage:

All Tiers:

WD Blue 1 TB 7,200rpm SATA III

– $54.99 at Amazon
– $54.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The WD Blue 1TB hard drive is affordable, offer good performance seeing as it spins at 7,200rpm and most importantly, it’s reliable.

Do you want more storage capacity?

  1. Toshiba 7,200rpm from 2, 3 or 4TB SATA III:
    $84.95 at Amazon or $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
    – Reliable, decent warranty and affordable.

Do you want an higher performance SSD?

Solid State Drives
SSDs dramatically improve storage performance. SSDs are for you if you want:

  1. Much faster OS boot, Shutdown, Sleep and Hibernation
  2. Much faster program and game loading, meaning that you don’t have to wait as long for your program or your game to load.
  3. A system that feels more responsive.

Ideally, what you want to do is get a SSD to store Windows and your favorite (or most demanding) games, with the rest of your media/games on the hard drive.

Here are my recommendations, in order of price and storage capacity.

  1. Sandisk SSD Plus 2.5″ 120GB SATA III SSD: $44.99 at Amazon or $44.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  2. Sandisk SSD Plus 2.5″ 240GB SATA III SSD: $69.99 at Amazon or $69.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  3. Sandisk Ultra II 2.5″ 480GB SATA III SSD: $133.99 (Amazon) or $144.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  4. Sandisk Ultra II 2.5″ 960GB SATA III SSD: $249.99 (Amazon) or $249.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Why the Sandisk SSD Plus and Ultra II SSD?
Both are inexpensive, yet offers great performance for the price. They are entry-level SSDs, meaning that there are higher-performance SSDs available, but even an entry-level SSD is much faster than a traditional rotating mechanical hard drive.

Do you need to buy additional SATA cables?
Note that you may need an additional SATA cable if you buy a SSD along with a hard drive and an optical drive, as most motherboards only include two SATA cables. I recommend 18″ SATA cables: $3.24 at Amazon or $3.69 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

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Optical Drive:

All Tiers:

ASUS SATA 24X DVD Burner

$20.42 at Amazon
$19.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

‘Wait, an optical drive in 2016?‘ I hear you say.

Sure, why not? Having the ability to listen to audio CDs and watch DVDs, as well as burn CDs and DVDs, is worth $20 in my opinion.

The motherboards for all Tiers includes two SATA cables, of which one will be used for the hard drive and one for this DVD Burner, so you don’t need an additional cable, unless you decide to add a SSD, another hard drive or another optical drive.

If you need additional SATA cables, I recommend 18″ SATA cables: $3.24 at Amazon or $3.69 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Upgrade for Blu-Ray playback and burning:
If you’d like to watch BluRay movies or TV shows AND want the ability to burn Blu-Ray disks as well, then the LG Black 16X SATA Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner: $58.95 at Amazon or $58.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) is what you want.

Required software for Blu-Ray playback:

As far as I know, you still require a specific software to playback Blu-Ray disks on a PC.

Based on various reviews and feedback on various forums, PowerDVD 15 is the software that I recommend to you. You’ll want at least the professional version for Blu-ray playback and the Ultra version for 3D Blu-Ray playback.

It is fully compatible with Windows 7/8/8.1/10 and shouldn’t give you any problems.

Need blank disks and cases?
No problem. Here are my recommendations, that I recommend because they are both affordable and highly reliable.

Need disk sleeves and cases? Here are my recommendations:

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Case:

Double-check your case dimensions to ensure that it will fit where you’ll want it to be!

I recommend or offer as alternatives three types of cases, in order from smallest to largest:
Mini-ITX: Ideal if you want a smaller PC, supports Mini-ITX motherboard and a single expansion card.
Micro-ATX: Half way between Mini-ITX and ATX, supports Micro-ATX and most of the time, Mini-ITX motherboards, with up to 4 expansion slots.
ATX: Note that there are mid-tower and full-size towers. Largest size, double-check dimensions to makes sure that it will fit where you intend to put it. Up to 8-9 expansion slots.

Tier 1-2-3:

SilverStone PS08B Micro-ATX

$41.31 at Amazon
$34.90 at B&H – (Worldwide Shipping)
$34.99 at Newegg

This Micro-ATX case does NOT support alternative motherboards with the larger ATX form-factor. If you want an ATX motherboard, pick a larger ATX case that supports ATX motherboards.

This is one of the most inexpensive Micro-ATX case that offers front USB 3.0 ports through the USB 3.0 header on your motherboard.

It is a basic case that does the job.

Its low price allows you to invest your money on the parts that matter for performance.

  • Cooling wise, this case includes one 120mm front case fan. You can also add an additional 80mm or 92mm case fan (in the back) if you wish to.

Features wise, you get:

  1. 120mm front fan with dust filter
  2. 2x USB 3.0 (internal header), Audio out, MIC in at the front.
  3. The inside of the case is painted in black
  4. An hole on the back panel, to easily install after-market CPU Cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case.

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ATX alternative:

BitFenix Neos, available in ten colors, with or without window

$49.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

The BitFenix Neos is excellent value for your money:
Available in ten different color configurations, with or without a side windows.

Includes two 120mm fans, two front USB 3.0 ports through an USB 3.0 header, all of that for $50!

If you prefer a larger ATX case, this is an excellent choice.

Features wise, you get:

  1. The inside of the case is painted in black
  2. An hole on the back panel, to easily install after-market CPU Cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case.
  3. Various holes and space to route and hide your wires.
  4. 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, Audio out and MIC in the front of the case.

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Recommended alternatives:

If you a want with a different look, more case fans, a smaller form-factor, an handle (LAN parties anyone?) and/or other features, take a look at my list of other recommended cases.

Or you can look yourself for any case that you’d like at Amazon, B&H (Worldwide shipping) or Newegg.

Here’s what to check for compatibility:
1. Video card length clearance
2. Compatible motherboard form factors: ATX, Micro-ATX and/or Mini-ITX.
3. CPU Cooler height clearance (if you get an after-market CPU Cooler).

Leave a comment at the end of the article if you have doubts about whether a case is compatible or not with your build.

ATX cases alternatives:

Compatible with ATX, Micro-ATX and some of them are also compatible with Mini-ITX motherboards:

From Amazon:

From B&H (Worldwide Shipping):

Micro-ATX cases alternatives:

Compatible with Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards

From Amazon:

From B&H (Worldwide Shipping):

Mini-ITX cases

Compatible with Mini-ITX motherboards:

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Power Supply Unit (PSU):

Power Requirements, per Tier:

Based on my experience, my research and the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator (with the settings that I describe below), it is estimated that this system will require at load (peak power), the following amount of Watts from the PSU:

The minimum requirements are in Italic, while my recommendations for a PSU (including overhead) are in Bold.

  • Tier 1: 204W/250W with the AMD A8-7600 and the integrated Radeon R7.
  • Tier 2: 309W/400W with the Intel Core i3-6100 and the Geforce GTX 950.
  • Tier 3: 337W/450W with the Intel Core i5-6500 and the Geforce GTX 960.

Minimum requirements vs my recommendations: Give your power supply plenty of overhead!:
You could match a 500W PSU with a PC that requires 480W and at first it would work just fine, but that would be unwise. Your PSU will run too close to its limit, close to full capacity all the time and that will reduce its lifespan, increase its chance of failure, increase its heat output and its noise output.

Also keep in mind that as years go by, a power supply components age and the PSU loses some of its output capacity every year.

Do not underestimate the importance of a high-quality power supply
The components in your PC run on DC power and your power supply is responsible for converting AC power into DC power. Your PC’s components depend on the power supply to deliver stable, low-noise, reliable power within specific values to run without fault, as well to protect them from power surges, power fluctuations and other electrical dangers.

See our article: Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply.

How to calculate how powerful of a power supply you need:

If you decide to upgrade the CPU or video card to something else than what I recommend for a Tier, I recommend using the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator to help you figure out your needs.

Here are the settings that I use and recommend:

  • CPU Utilization: 90% TDP.
  • Video Card, none if integrated
  • Two sticks of DDR3 4GB
  • One regular SATA hard drive.
  • 1 DVD-RW/DVD+RW Drive
  • 4 USB 3.0
  • 4 x 120mm regular fans
  • Computer Utilization: 16 hours a day

Keep in mind that if you want to upgrade to more powerful and more demanding PC components, it could be wise to pick a more powerful PSU to begin with, so that you don’t have to worry about it when you decide to upgrade your CPU, video card, etc.

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Recommendations:

Tier 1

Antec Basiq BP350 350 Watt:

– $36.79 at Amazon
– $29.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $34.99 at Newegg

Thanks to the highly efficient AMD APU and its integrated video card, Tier 1 of The Budget Gaming PCs doesn’t require a very powerful power supply.

That said, the power supply is one of the most important components when it comes to the stability and reliability of a PC.

This is why I’m not cutting corners here, by making a recommendation for an high-quality Antec Basiq 350W power supply.

Mind you, at $29.99, it is a very affordable power supply considering its quality.

It is capable of delivering up to 350W, but more importantly, 23A on the 12V lines, the most important lines for a power supply in a modern PC.

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Tier 2-3:

Antec VP-450 80 Plus 450 Watts:

– $49.99 at Amazon
– $42.73 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 2 and 3, with their more powerful CPUs and video cards, require more power and this is why I recommend the Antec VP-450 for those Tiers.

It is capable of delivering up to 450W, but more importantly, 36A on the 12V lines, the most important lines for a power supply in a modern PC.

Upgrades:

  1. Corsair Builder Series CX 600 Watt 80 PLUS: $58.99 at Amazon or $64.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) – If you want a PSU capable of handling most higher-end CPU with overclocking and a higher end video card.
  2. Corsair CX 750 Watts Modular 80 PLUS Bronze – $79.00 at Amazon – Capable of handling a high-end CPU and high-end video card that are heavily overclocked. Modular. Also available from B&H (Worldwide Shipping), but in the non-modular version, for $83.14.

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Cooling:

There are four things to worry about when it comes to cooling your PC:
Are you overlocking?
CPU Cooling
Video Card Cooling
Case airflow: The airflow in your case helps dissipate the heat from your entire system.

CPU Cooler: Included with the CPU – Free

Use the CPU Cooler that is included with your CPU.
The CPU cooler that is included with your CPU is perfectly capable of keeping your processor at safe temperatures for many years of ge. Unless you live in an area of the world with particularly warm weather (40C/100F or more), without air conditioning, you don’t need an after-market CPU Cooler.

That said, you may want one an after-market CPU Cooler for many reasons:

3 reasons to upgrade your CPU Cooler:

1. To improve the reliability of your PC and the longevity of your CPU: If your CPU overheats, it will automatically slowdown and eventually shutdown to avoid damage. This: A- Lower performance B- may causes a system shutdown, losing all data that was unsaved. C- Can potentially damage your CPU.
2. Improved overclocking results: Overclocking greatly increases the power consumption of your CPU, even more so if you raise your CPU voltage, and thus the heat that has to be dissipated by the CPU Cooler. A better CPU Cooler will have no problem handling the additional heat and won’t get in the way of your CPU overclock.
3. To lower noise, as the stock cooler can get noisy at times, especially during prolonged work sessions, in a warm room or if you overclock.

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Alternative:

Low-noise/great cooling performance: Cooler Master TX3:

$18.99 at Amazon
$19.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Cooler Master TX3 offers far greater cooling performance and much lower noise compared to the cooler included with the CPU.

You can add a second 92mm fan to improve performance, the cooler comes with the necessary hardware to mount a second fan. Make sure that they push/pull air in the same direction for optimal results. I usually recommend aiming that airflow at an exhaust fan at the back or top of your case, to help exhaust the hot air coming from your CPU.

Need help figuring out how to put the Thermal Compound with the Cooler Master TX3?

Follow this tutorial, where they compare different methods to figure out the best one.

Thermal compound:
All the recommended after-market CPU Coolers include thermal compounds which are pretty good, so no need to spend more money on a tube of thermal compound.

The AMD and Intel CPU Cooler comes with thermal compound that does the job, but it’s far from the best. That said, it’s already on the bottom of the CPU Cooler, so it’s as easy as it gets installation wise. Is it worth it to get better thermal compound for the stockCPU Cooler? Nope. Spend your money on a better CPU Cooler instead, it’s a far better investment when it comes to results.

What matters the most for performance is not so much which thermal compound that you use, but rather that you apply it in its optimal way, recommended by the manufacturer.
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Case Fans:

The differences between Molex, 3-pin and 4-pin with PWM fans:

  • Molex: Connects to your power supply via a Molex power plug. Fan speed monitoring and PWM are not possible with Molex fans. Incompatible with most fan controllers.
  • 3-pin: Connects to the motherboard using a 3-pin plug. Fits on 4-pin connectors too. Fan speed monitoring available, but PWM is not possible. The best choice to use with a fan controller.
  • 4-pin: Connects to the motherboard using a 4-pin plug. Fan speed monitoring and PWM are available. Can fit on 3 pins connectors, but you lose the PWM function.

What is PWM?
PWM stands for Pulse-Width Modulation. This function allows your motherboard to automatically control the speed of the fan, depending on the CPU load. In other words, it spins slowly and is quiet when your PC is idle but spins up and creates more airflow when your PC is working hard. You can usually change the speed settings in the BIOS/UEFI or through a program on Windows.

Do you really need many powerful High-RPM fans?

Do you think a 120mm Delta fan with a 5200 RPM RPM and an Air Flow of 240.96 CFM sound cool? (pun intended) Sounds Powerful?
Here’s what you’re forgetting: The noise level for that fan is 62 dBA. That is very LOUD! You do not want that much noise sitting next to you for many hours, every day.

A Gaming PC does not have to sound like a jet engine. Even if you overclock!
Unless:
A- You’re attempting to overclock your PC to the bleeding edge.
B- Want as much airflow to lower temperatures as much as possible.
C- That additional noise is not a problem for you.

…you don’t want powerful and noisy fans! Most computers don’t need such fans.

The vast majority of computer builds, including the Budget Gaming PCs will do just fine with a single fan.

Even if you’re overclocking to the bleeding edge, that’s no excuse. Just get a fan controller so that you can run the fans at lower speed when your PC is idle, in order to reduce the noise.

If you want more airflow for overclocking, you can get fans that are just a bit faster, without too much noise. In my opinion, 30-40dBA is a reasonable noise range if you don’t mind more noise for higher fan performance.

If you do mind noise, try to stay below 20dBA.

Size: Double-check what fan size(s) your case support!
Most cases nowadays support 80mm or 92mm case fans. 120mm and 140mm are getting more and more common on newer cases. Some, but not all cases support 200mm fans.

You can find which size(s) and how many fans your case supports. Note that all recommended cases include case fans. All this information is available on the product page for your (future) case, under specifications/details.

Here’s what I recommend:

1. A good balance between enough airflow and low-noise (preferably below 20dBA).
As I explained above, you don’t need noisy fans in to provide enough airflow for your PC.

2. Solid bearings so that your fan lasts many years without any problem.
One high-quality $10 to 20 fan that lasts 5 years is less expensive than a cheap $5 fan that breaks every year or two. Especially if you consider the annoyance of replacing the fan and your lost time.

High-quality fans have high quality bearings that are more reliable, will last longer and will make less noise and less vibration to produce the same amount of airflow versus a cheaper fan.

120mm fans:

140mm fans

200mm fans

Fan controller:

Fan controllers allow you to control the speed of your computer fan(s). That way, you can reduce their speed and lower the noise when your PC is idle, while keeping the option of speeding up their speed and increasing airflow for long gaming sessions and/or overclocking.

Note that a few cases already come with a fan controller.

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Sound:

8 channels sound card: Integrated on the motherboard

Integrated with the motherboard, this sound card will handle many different sound setups, including speakers, headphones, a microphone and more.

While integrated audio on a PC used to be absolutely horrible 10-15 years ago, it has gotten much better in the last five years, thanks to improved audio chipsets, higher quality electrical components and better EMI shielding. This is why I have no trouble recommending integrated audio on a Budget Gaming PC.

Dedicated sound cards:

Want better sound quality for your music and video games? Nothing like a dedicated sound card then.

PCI Sound cards:

PCI sound cards tend to cost less than PCI-Express sound cards. However, PCI slots are less and less available on motherboards, being slowly but surely replaced by PCI-Express slots only. When/if you change motherboard in the future (to upgrade your PC), motherboards available then are even less likely to offer a PCI slot. Keep that in mind.

ASUS Xonar DG 5.1 105dB SNR PCI Sound Card:
$29.99 ($10 MIR available – Amazon)
$29.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

ASUS Xonar DS 7.1 107dB SNR PCI Sound Card:

PCI-Express 1x Sound cards:

As long as your motherboard has a PCI-Express 1x slot above the top PCI-Express 16x slot (which you want to use with the video card), or a PCI-Express slot (any speed) lower down on the motherboard, you can install a PCI-Express 1x sound card. Yes, you can install a PCI-Express 1x sound card in a larger slot, such as PCI-Express 4x, 8x or 16x.

ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 105dB SNR PCI-Express 1x Sound Card:
$38.99 (Amazon)

ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 107dB SNR PCI-Express 1x Sound Card:
$55.77 (Amazon)

Sound Blaster Z 7.1 116dB SNR PCI-Express 1x includes a Mic
$84.43 (Amazon)
$109.95 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

USB Sound cards:

For Mini-ITX motherboards, which has no space for a sound card, an USB sound card is your only choice if you want a dedicated sound card.

One of the biggest advantages of USB sound cards is that you can swap them from one computer to another, with plug&play functionality (once the drivers have been installed, of course). This means that you can switch the sound card from your Gaming PC to your laptop, for example.

On the flip side, PCI and PCI-Express sound cards offer clearer sound at similar or lower prices.

ASUS Xonar U3 2.1 100dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– $49.95 ($10 MIR available – Amazon)
$45.95 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

Sound Blaster Omni 5.1 100dB SNR USB Sound Card with Integrated Mic:
– $68.48 (Amazon)
– $79.95 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

ASUS Xonar U7 7.1 114dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– $85.34 (Amazon)
– $85.34 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

Speakers:

While I do not include speakers in the Tiers budgets, seeing as you may already own some or simply do not want any, here are some recommendations for great speakers at various price points:

Note that the power output is in RMS Watts, a more accurate measurement.

2.0 speakers: 2 satellites and no sub-woofer:

2.1 speakers: 2 satellites and a sub-woofer:

5.1 speakers: 5 satellites and a sub-woofer:

Headphones/Earphones

I do not include headphones nor earphones in the Tiers budgets, seeing as you may already own a pair or simply do not want any.

Also keep in mind that sound quality is subjective, so while these are some great recommendations, in my opinion, at their respective price points, those recommendations are based on my own research, not yours. I do recommend that you do your own research, to figure out the best headphones for your needs, based on the type of music that you listen to and the games that you play.

Double-check the cable length, it might be too short for your needs. Consider that you might need an extension cable. You’ll want a female to male 3.5mm audio cable. This is an analog cable, so this is where spending a bit more for a quality cable will make a difference in quality.

Open Design Headphones:
As the name implies, an open hear headphone means that it doesn’t cover or seal off the ear from hearing outside noises.
Pros: Enough airflow to keep your ears cool. On average lighter than closed design headphones. Resonance is significantly reduced providing better audio quality and a better audio experience.
Cons: You hear outside noises, so they can’t be used in noisy environments. They leak out sound, so they provide no privacy and can bother people that are close to you.

Closed Design Headphones:
These are the opposite of open design headphones. These headsets usually have larger ear cups that isolate the user’s ears from his surroundings and its design is typically meant to block out outside sounds.

Pros: 1- Closed ear cups that seal off the ear from the outside world so you can expect sounds not to leak in and out of the headphones.
2- You can enjoy exclusive audio entertainment particularly in a typically noisy environment.

Cons: 1- Due to the closed ear design, airflow is greatly minimized or prevented, producing more resonance and this can negatively affect the quality of sound.
2- Due to how they isolate you from outside noise, it makes you more vulnerable to accidents.

  1. Koss UR-20: $20.94 (Amazon) or $19.00 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
  2. Panasonic RP-HTX7 (In Black, Blue, Red, White, Cream, Pink or Green): $39.99 (Amazon) or $42.13 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
  3. Audio-Technica ATH-M30x: $69.00 (Amazon) or $69.00 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
  4. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x: $95.00 (Amazon) or $99.00 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
  5. Audio Technica ATH-A700: $99.99 (Amazon)
  6. Audio Technica ATH-M50x Black, Brown or White: $159.99 (Amazon) or $169.00 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

In-Ear Headphones:
Simply put, these are headphones that you insert straight into your ear, to create a seal between the headphones and your ears.

Some come with an integrated microphone that is often compatible with smartphones.

Important:
Make sure to take your time to properly test the different size of included tips, to find the ones that best fit your ears. This will make all the difference between a poor sounding pair and a good sounding one.

  1. $7.48Panasonic RPHJE120K Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Silver or Violet
  2. Panasonic RPTCM125K Black, Blue, Pink, Purple or White: $11.15 at Amazon or $11.15 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  3. $25Symphonized NRG Premium with Mic (Wood + White)
  4. $25Symphonized NRG Premium with Mic (Red + Black)
  5. Logitech Ultimate Ears 600vi with Mic
  6. Yamaha EPH-100SL: $78.81 (Amazon) or $149.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  7. Shure SE315-K (Black or White): $198.00 (Amazon) or $199.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  8. Shure SE315-K (Black or White) with Mic & Remote Cable Kit: $242.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  9. Shure SE535-V (Bronze, Clear or Red): $449.99 (Amazon) or $499.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
  10. Shure SE535-V (Bronze) with Mic & Remote Cable Kit: $542.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Microphone:

Personally, I recommend going for a pair of headphone with this dedicated microphone versus going with a headset that has a microphone, for two reasons:
1- The sound quality is on average superior with a dedicated pair of headphones and a dedicated microphone vs a headset at comparable price points.
2- If the microphone on the headset breaks down (and they do more often than not, with years of ge), you’ll be stuck without your headset if you get it replaced, or either getting a new headset ($$) or a separated microphone. If either the headphones or the microphone breaks down, you still have the other part that you don’t have to replace.

If you want a dedicated microphone, to talk to your teammates online or for any other purpose, I recommend the Zalman Zm-Mic1 Microphone: $7.29 (Amazon) / $9.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) which is an excellent low-cost option with perfectly fine audio quality and build quality. Three mini clips on the microphone cable help you latch the cable onto the headphone cable.

Want a high quality USB desktop microphone for broadcasts such as podcasts, or to record music, on a budget? I recommend the Snowball USB Microphone: $59.99 (Amazon) / $42.59 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) which offers excellent sound quality for less than $50.

Headsets:

Headsets are basically headphones with an integrated microphone.

If you go with an headset, make sure to check them all out, since they vary considerably in design.

  1. $20.63 – Yapster TM-YP100A
  2. Koss SB-45: $29.99 (Amazon) or $24.45 (B&H – Worldwide shipping)
  3. Sennheiser PC 151: $42.91 (Amazon) / $42.91 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
  4. SteelSeries Siberia V2 Available in 9 colors: $59.99+ (Amazon) or $79.50+ (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
  5. $78.45 – Logitech 7.1 Surround G35
  6. $69.99 – Logitech Wireless 7.1 Surround G930

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Network:

Ethernet RJ-45 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN: Integrated on the motherboard

Integrated with the motherboard, this network adapter will allow you to access your local network and Internet, by connecting a Cat5-e cable from your modem/router to your PC.

If you need a cable, or a longer cable than what you have, to connect your PC to your modem, measure the distance between the modem/router and your PC. Consider that you may want to move your equipment at some point in the future. Order whichever length you need of CAT-5e cable. Don’t waste your money on a CAT6 cable, it will make no difference in speed.

WiFi: Need a WiFi router and/or adapter?

See our article on The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters.

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Mouse and Keyboard:

Note that the cost of a keyboard and mouse isn’t included in the Tiers total, because you may already have a keyboard and also because it’s next to impossible to recommend a single mouse and keyboard that would please everyone.

There’s simply too many variables that are to quantify, such as comfort, ease of use, personal preferences, etc.

So if you want a keyboard and/or mouse, I recommend that you visit Amazon, Newegg and B&H to compare yourself a variety of different keyboards and mice. Take the time to find the one that fits your preferences.

Recommended Operating System (OS):

The operating system cost, if there’s one, is not included in the total cost. The two reasons for this are:

  1. The budget only considers hardware.
  2. You may be able re-use a previous license, upgrade from a previous version of Windows or go with an open-source OS such as Linux.

Note that you’ll need a 64-bit version OS, as 32-bit systems are limited to 4GB of memory, which is not enough.

For the best gaming performance, I recommend Windows 10.

It includes DirectX 12, it boots and shutdowns faster than Windows 7 and 8 as well as uses less resources.

Visually, it is a big improvement over Windows 8.1

Microsoft has been optimizing Windows 10 to improve performance. If you want the best performance, especially with Intel’s Skylake or future processors from Intel and AMD, Windows 10 is the way to go.

Launched on July 29th 2015, Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest version of the popular Windows operating system.

The Start Menu is back, you get DirectX 12, the search function is improved, it boots faster, using it is a lot simpler than Windows 8.

It basically improved on what Windows 7 offered.

For more details on Windows 10, I recommend that you find a review of it online.

There are two versions that are available:
The DVD version is less expensive:

The USB versions are currently more expensive, but may be more convenient for you:

Note that you can buy the less expensive DVD version of Windows 10 and use its CD key to download Windows 10 from Microsoft to your own USB key.
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Linux

Linux is gaining more and more support as a Gaming OS and while many games still only run on Windows, there are a growing selection of titles that are available for Linux or that can run on Linux with some work.

Wine is an application that allows you to run Windows programs on Linux, including games of course. The Wine Application Database has a list of the games that run smoothly or with minimal/minor issues through Wine.

Crossover: Run the most popular Windows games/programs on Linux

Crossover allows you to play popular games as well as run Windows applications and more on Linux.

Open source games and source ports are also a good way to play games on Linux.

Steam is more Linux friendly than ever, with many games that have been or will be ported to run on Linux.

There are a large variety of distributions (variants) of Linux, each with its pros and cons. Ubuntu is the most popular and arguably the most supported. For more information on other distribution of Linux and their latest version, visit Distrowatch.com,

If you need assistance with Linux, LinuxQuestions.org is a good place to start.

While Linux does not offer the wide compatibility of Windows with video games, gaming on Linux is still possible, through projects such as Wine, . For more on the topic of Linux Gaming, I invite you to read this excellent article from AnandTech: Linux Gaming: Are we there yet?

What about Word processing, Excel and other Windows-based programs that you need? Linux, being an open platform, has many free alternatives for you. For Word/Excel and such, try LibreOffice.
Cost: Free

Conclusion

What do you think of the latest version of the Budget Gaming PCs? Let me know if you have any suggestion to improve this article or your opinion on it by leaving a comment below. Additionally, if a part goes out of stock, let me know.

Don’t agree with my choices? Have a better idea?

Feel free to leave a comment. There’s always place for improvement and after some research I may change the part according to your suggestion.

Building this PC?

If you build this system, I invite you to share your experience on how well it runs: What applications do you use, what type of work do you do, how well does this PC performs, is there anything that slows it down? Your feedback will help other people make an informed decision on what to buy for their own needs.

Do you need a guide on how to build a computer, need help or do you have some questions?

Computer Builds FAQs:
I often get questions such as:
– Who are you to tell me which parts to choose?
– Can you suggest me a step by step guide to build a computer?
– Why should I build a PC instead of buying one in a store?
– And many more…

1. You will find the answers to all of these questions and more in this article: FAQ: How to Build Your Own Computer
2. Is this your first build? Here are 10 Quick Tips for 1st Time Builders to get you started.
3. Newly built computer won’t start? I invite you to read Help me: Why won’t my newly assembled PC start or boot?
4. Visit our forums here, where you can join our helpful community and ask questions

Recommended step-by-step guides to build your PC:

Newegg TV has three great videos on how to build your PC. The first covers choosing your parts, which we help you with in this article, so I chose not to include it. The second one, below, shows you in detail how to assemble your PC. The 3rd one shows you how to install Windows and software.

If you prefer a text version with pictures, here are two great guides by ArsTechnica, the first one covering the assembling and the second one covering Windows and software:

  1. Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Hardware (Building the PC)
  2. Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Software (EFI/BIOS, Windows, etc.)

Free Assistance

If you have any question(s) about the build, simply head over to the forums and our community will be there to assist you.

No worries, there are no stupid questions here on Hardware Revolution. We all started from scratch and learned through our mistakes. We”ll just help you make sure to avoid those mistakes ;)

If you want to have your final build double-checked and get my opinion on it before ordering, or for anything else, don’t be shy, just post a thread on the forums.

Build your Gaming PC today!

Why should you?
For the same price, you’ll get more performance out of your custom PC, or you’ll save money while getting the same performance compared to a retail PC. Not to mention that retail PCs come with tons of bloatware and limited warranties. Why settle for less?

Stop relying on HP, Dell and other companies:
Build your own custom PC today.
It’s easier than you think!

This Build includes all the parts/cables that you need and it was double-checked to ensure compatibility. Simply order your parts, set aside some time, grab a screwdriver and build your own personal PC. No worries, we’ll (the HR community) be there to assist you if you have questions or need help.

Then you’ll be able to say, “See that computer over there? Yeah, I built that.” Talk about being proud of a job well done.

Want or need a more powerful Gaming PC? No problem.

If you’re looking for a Gaming PC that boots and launch games/applications faster thanks to a SSD (Solid State Drive) and that can handle most of the latest video games at a 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution at their maximum graphic settings, head over to our Mainstream Gaming PCs article.

If you’re looking for a Gaming PC that can handle all of the latest video games maxed out at a 1080p (1920 x 1080) on a 120Hz monitor or to play video games on a multiple monitor setup or to play games in 3D, head over to our High-End Gaming PCs article.

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