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– Recommended parts summary
– Detailed recommendations
Choose Your Gaming PC:
About Hardware Revolution’s Gaming PC Builds
This is 1 of 2 articles where I, Mathieu Bourgie, a computer hardware consultant with over 19 years of experience, recommend to you all the required parts, to help you build your Gaming PC.
We also have a guide for the Best Prebuilt Budget Gaming PCs if you don’t want to build a PC.
Is a Budget Gaming PC powerful enough for you?
That depends on the resolution of your monitor/HDTV and the games that you want to play.
There are three (3) recommended Budget Gaming PC levels of performance (Tier) in this article.
The recommended parts for each Tier are indicated by a number: 1 and 2, through the article.
– Tier 0.5 is what I recommend for gaming on a 720p HDTV or a monitor with a 1366 x 768 resolution. Gaming at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD / 1080p) is possible with less demanding games and lower graphic settings. Ideal if you’re on a tight budget.
– Tier 1 for gaming at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD / 1080p). You may have to lower graphic settings for newer, more demanding games.
– Tier 2 for gaming at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD / 1080p) with higher frame rates.
I may also suggest alternatives or upgrades, in Italic, that may interest you. Changing a part to a suggested alternative doesn’t require you to change anything else.
Want a Gaming PC that is more responsive with higher performance storage, more RAM and that can handle modern games at 1080p with 120+FPS, 2560 x 1440 or 4K or multiple monitors?
You’ll need a more powerful Gaming PC. See The Best Mid-range & High Performance Gaming PCs.
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?
Tier 0.5 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 desktop PC and don’t intend to play video games, get Tier 0.5.
Things to keep in mind when reading this article:
Prices for B&H as of April 20th 2020. Click on Amazon links to see prices. Note that I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Prices and availability are subject to change.
- This is a worldwide guide. If you live outside the USA, B&H offers worldwide shipping. In the USA, Amazon and B&H offer the best prices and customer support.
- This list is based on the best prices for new parts from B&H 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 unknown reliability, a limited return policy and a limited warranty. I want your PC to function without issues.
- Prices and availability often change. I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, but I only recommend to you parts that I would buy myself. Reliable and great performance for the price.
This table can be scrolled sideways on mobile.
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!
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Processor: 4 cores/threads 3.6-4.0GHz
with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics: 512 GPU cores 1250MHz
Excellent integrated graphic performance, for a gaming PC on a small budget.
The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G feature the AMD Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics, which offer gaming performance that is far better than Intel integrated graphics.
For less than $90, you get a high performance quad-core CPU, with much better integrated graphic performance than what Intel offers.
On top of that, you can overclock the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, unlike most Intel CPUs.
Note that you want to pair it up with dual-channel (two or four sticks) of DDR4 RAM, frequency up to 2933MHz, for the best performance possible in video games. Avoid using a single stick of RAM: It can halve gaming performance.
Rest assured that the motherboard is compatible with the Ryzen 3 3200G out of the box.
Upgrade to the Ryzen 5 3400G?
The Ryzen 5 3400G does provide better integrated graphic card performance, up to 40-50% more, as you can see in this PCMag’s review.
That said, while a significant improvement, the up to 40-50% more performance is still no where as good as a dedicated graphic card. Instead of spending more on the Ryzen 5 3400G, you should save your money to go for Tier 1, which has a dedicated graphic card for the best gaming performance possible.
Intel Core i3-9100F 3.6-4.2GHz Quad-Core LGA1151:
The Core i3-9100F brings some much welcome change to the Intel Core i3 series. This is the first generation of Core i3 desktops CPUs that supports Turbo Boost, resulting in higher frequencies and thus, higher gaming performance!
In other words, you’re getting the performance of the previous generation Intel Core i5 (Quad-Core, 4 threads), at a much lower price!
You can also choose to upgrade to a more powerful Core i5, Core i7 or Core i9 down the road.
Note that the Core i3-9100F does not feature integrated graphics. Not that we care, Tier 1 features a dedicated graphic card and the Core i3-9100F is for sale at a significantly lower price than the regular Core i3-9100.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6-4.2GHz Six-Core / 12 Threads AM4:
The main competition to the $175 AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is the $150 Intel Core i5-9400F. While the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is slightly more expensive, it outperforms the Core i5-9400F in gaming performance and completely outclasses it in productivity workloads, according to Techspot.
You can also choose to upgrade to a more powerful Ryzen 5, 7 or 9 down the road.
Note that the Ryzen 5 3600 does not feature integrated graphics. Not that we care, Tier 2 features a dedicated graphic card and the Core i5-9100F is for sale at a significantly lower price than the regular Core i3-9100.
More powerful alternatives:
Want to upgrade to a more powerful CPU?
Here’s something that you should know first: For gaming performance, you’re better off upgrading your graphic 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 and High-End 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 graphic 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.
2. You use your PC for other demanding tasks, such as audio, photo or video editing. In that case, upgrading to an AMD Ryzen 7 or 9 would result in better performance thanks to more cores, Hyper-Threading and higher frequencies.
If you want a more powerful CPU, see The Best CPUs, Processors and APUs For Your Money article for my recommendations for upgrades. You’ll want to pick a CPU that uses the AM4 socket for it to be compatible with the rest of Tier 2.
Tier 0.5 and 2:
Get the MSI B450M Pro-M2 MAX Micro-ATX AM4 (AMD CPUs)
About the MSI B450M Pro-M2 MAX Micro-ATX AM4
This motherboard offers support for AMD’s AM4 CPUs, at a reasonable cost, making it a good choice for Tier 0.5 of the Budget Gaming PCs.
Most importantly, it’s compatible with the newer Ryzen 3 3200G and Ryzen 5 3400G out of the box.
Its low price allows you to invest your budget on the parts that matters the most for gaming performance.
Despite its low cost, you still get a fairly decent onboard sound solution. The audio chipset and traces are isolated from the rest of the motherboard to reduce interference. MSI is also using separated layers in the motherboard to ensure equally clear sound quality for both left and right audio channels. Finally you get high quality audio capacitors for a warmer sound.
1. Low price for a reliable motherboard that supports AMD’s AM4 CPUs.
2. Six USB ports on the back: four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0
3. VGA, DVI and HDMI video outputs
4. USB 3.0 onboard header: This means that you can use USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case.
5. Support SATA III and NVMe M.2 SSDs, if you want higher performance storage
6. Fairly decent onboard sound
7. RAID 0/1/10 support
8. Supports overclocking, although don’t expect too much due to the limited power delivery system and lack of VRM cooling.
1. Two included SATA cables: You may need to buy more if you want more than one hard drive and one optical drive, if you get a SATA 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. You can still upgrade to 16GB (2x8GB) or 32GB (2x16GB).
3. Only two fan headers: One for the CPU, the other for the case. You have enough for the recommended case, but not more.
4. No USB Type-C
ASUS Prime B360M-A LGA1151 mATX (Intel CPUs):
About the ASUS Prime B360M-A motherboard:
This motherboard is reliable, affordable and supports the Intel 8/9th generation Core CPUs out of the box, making it a great choice for Tier 1 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.
Despite its low cost, you still get a fairly decent onboard sound solution. The audio chipset and traces are isolated from the rest of the motherboard to reduce interference. ASUS is also using separated layers in the motherboard to ensure equally clear sound quality for both left and right audio channels. Finally you get high quality audio capacitors for a warmer sound.
The layout is great if you want to add both a dedicated PCI Express 1x sound card and a PCI Express 1x WiFi adapter. They will both fit, even with the dual-slot graphic card in place.
1. Low price for a reliable motherboard that supports Intel’s LGA1151 Coffee Lake CPUs out of the box.
2. One USB Type-C port, four other USB ports on the back and two from the header
3. Six SATA III ports
4. Support M.2 PCIe 3.0 4x SSD if you want the higher performance storage possible. SATA III M.2 SSD are also supported and far more affordable.
5. Fairly decent onboard sound.
6. 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 such as a WiFi or sound card if you want to upgrade the sound.
7. USB 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1) onboard header: This means that you can use USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case.
8. Four RAM slots: Four is preferable if you want to easily add RAM in the future, or want up to 64GB of RAM.
9. Three fan headers: One for the CPU, two more for case fans.
1. Only two included SATA cables: Won’t be enough if you decide to get an optical drive and a SATA III SSD.
2. No RAID support.
3. B360 chipset limitation: Overclocking isn’t supported. Mind you, the Core i3-9100F doesn’t support overclocking either, only K-series of Intel CPUs.
A few important recommendations and notes regarding graphic cards:
- Get the latest version of the graphic 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.
Integrated in the Ryzen 3 3200G APU:
Radeon Vega 8 Graphics: 512 GPU cores 1250MHz
Integrated in the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G APU, the Radeon Vega 8 GPU offers 512 shader processors and uses the PC’s RAM as its memory.
The motherboard offers VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs.
Gaming performance wise, you can play most games, with high graphic settings, at a resolution of 1280 x 800, 1366 x 768 or on a 720p HDTV. Gaming at 1080p (1920 x 1080 or Full HD) is possible with most games, although with low graphic settings.
The most demanding games might not be playable at 1920 x 1080, in that case either reduce the resolution in game settings, or get a more powerful Gaming PC Tier.
GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB:
Note that with the increasing price and harder to find stocks of the Radeon RX 570, I no longer recommend it for Tier 1, hence why I now recommend the GeForce GTX 1650 Super for both Tier 1 and 2.
Nvidia launched the GeForce GTX 1650 Super on November 22nd 2019.
Performance wise, it trades blows with the Radeon RX 580, while costing less and consuming way less power, resulting in a more quiet card and a lower electricity bill.
What video games can the GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB run smoothly?
It will run pretty much any games at 1920 x 1080, but you may have to turn down visual quality a bit to have high FPS with smooth rendering, depending on how demanding the game is.
More powerful alternatives:
Want to upgrade to a more powerful graphic card? Anything up to mid-range makes sense and is compatible with the rest of Tier 1 and 2. With higher end cards, you’ll want a better CPU, more RAM and possibly a more powerful power supply, so check out the Build your High End Gaming PCs article instead.
See The Best Graphic Cards For Gaming article for my recommendations for upgrades.
Why do I sometimes recommend different RAM kits at Amazon and B&H?
Prices and available products vary depending on the vendor. I simply recommended reliable kits that offer great performance at a low price. Performance is highly similar for all kits from the different vendors.
Is it worth it to get 16GB of RAM?
For Tier 0.5, the integrated graphics card will be limiting the gaming performance before you’ll need more RAM.
For Tier 1 and 2, it is worth it, seeing as 8GB will be limiting gaming performance, as you can see in this Techspot article. It is also a good future-proofing move. RAM prices are currently low, so it’s a good time to buy more RAM.
Do you want better performance in video games? Then you’re better off picking a higher Tier or a faster CPU and/or video card.
Do you like to run demanding programs (Photo, video or 3D editing, etc.), run more programs at once (multitask), leave your PC open for a long time between restarts and want to be able to run the latest games and/or programs for many years with higher performance? If you said yes, then you definitely want 16GB of RAM, if not 32GB for video editing. Note that you don’t need to change any other part if you choose 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB.
8GB (2x4GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 3200MHz
16GB (2x8GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 3200MHz
Alt: 32GB kit:
If you want 32GB of RAM, for video editing, virtualization and other tasks that require loads of RAM, here’s my recommended 32GB kit:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $159.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
Why DDR4 3200MHz?
Tier 0.5, with the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G CPU and its integrated graphics, benefits from higher frequency RAM. So do Tier 1 and Tier, for gaming performance. 3200MHz is the sweet spot between performance and price, offering higher performance while costing hardly more than 2400MHz or 2666MHz RAM.
Why not recommend higher frequency RAM?
It’s more expensive, forcing you to cut somewhere else to fit in your budget.
You’ll get far more performance by spending the same amount of money on a better CPU and graphic card than on slightly better RAM. Higher frequency RAM only makes sense on high-end Gaming PCs.
Maximum amount of RAM:
Tier 0.5 and 2 motherboard supports up to 32GB (2x16GB).
Tier 1 motherboard supports up to 64GB (4x16GB).
RAM Heatsinks height and aftermarket 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.
- 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.
- Tall RAM heatsinks can get in the way of larger aftermarket CPU Coolers, preventing their installation.
So if you ever decide to upgrade your CPU Cooler, you don’t have to worry about that.
RAM may require manual configuration within the UEFI/BIOS to reach its full potential
By default, some RAM kits will boot at lower frequencies than they are rated for. This is not unusual and 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. 1.35v) and timings (a series of numbers, such as 15-15-15-35). Refer to your motherboard manual and your RAM specifications for more information.
- Quick tip #1: Get the most performance out of your SSD, by selecting AHCI in your BIOS/UEFI options. Unless you use multiple SSD or HDD in RAID that is, in which case you want to select RAID.
- Quick tip #2: Save storage capacity on your SSD by moving your documents default location to your hard drive. The trade off is that access to your documents will be slower of course.
- Quick tip #3: Curious to see what are the best SSDs? Check out our article on The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money.
- Quick tip #4: Not sure what storage capacity you need for your SSD? See our article on How to choose the right SSD storage capacity and pay less for your computer.
Seagate ST2000DM008 2TB 7200rpm Hard Drive
The Seagate 2TB hard drive is affordable, offers 2TB of storage capacity, great performance for a standard 7200rpm hard drive, and most importantly, it’s reliable.
Do you want more storage capacity for your hard drive?
Visit our The Best Hard Drives article and just buy the drive with the amount of storage that you want instead of the model above. You don’t have to change anything else.
I recommend hard drives with great reliability and high performance at the best prices. Because why would you want anything else, right?
Crucial BX500 120GB SSD
Crucial BX500 240GB SSD
The Crucial BX500 is a low-cost, low-performance SSD. Low performance, that is compared to higher-end, more expensive SSD. It still offers far higher performance than a hard drive as a boot drive.
Considering that is a budget gaming PC and that most games will be stored on the hard drive, a low-cost, low-performance SSD makes sense to me.
What matters is that it’s highly reliable.
Solid State Drives
SSDs dramatically improve storage performance. SSDs are for you if you want:
- Much faster OS boot, Shutdown, Sleep and Hibernation
- Much faster program and game loading, meaning that you don’t have to wait as long for your program or your game to load.
- A system that feels more responsive.
Do you want an higher capacity SSD?
For the lowest cost, I recommend higher capacity versions of the Crucial BX500:
– Crucial BX500 SATA III SSD:
480GB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $59.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
1TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $99.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
2TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $199.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
Do you want an higher performance SSD?
The Crucial BX500 SSDs recommended above use the SATA III protocol. The SATA III protocol limit SATA III SSDs to less than 600MB/s transfer rates.
PCI-Express SSDs don’t have that limitation and can reach far higher rates!
In other words, PCI-Express SSDs enable much higher performance than SATA III based SSD.
The Intel 660p recommended below, if you want much higher performance, is a PCIe NVMe SSD, with sequential read speeds of up to 1800MB/s, more than three times higher than the Crucial BX500.
It’s also easier to install. You simply plug it into the M.2 slot on the motherboard and secure it with a tiny screw. No data nor power cables to plug in!
If you don’t mind spending a little more to get significantly higher storage performance and to make your PC assembly easier and faster, I recommend getting the Intel 660p SSD. It is compatible with all Tiers.
– Intel 660p PCIe NVMe SSD:
480GB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
1TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $119.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
2TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $219.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
Otherwise, click here to visit The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money article for our latest SSD recommendations.
Do you need to buy additional SATA cables?
Only if you get an additional hard drive, SATA SSD or SATA optical drive, because the recommended motherboards include two SATA cables, so you’ll use one for the SSD (if you get a SATA SSD) and one for the hard drive. I recommend 18″ SATA cables.
USB DVD or Blu-Ray Burner
I no longer recommend a DVD drive by default.
Games are downloaded online, hardly anyone buys audio CDs anymore, same goes with movies, everything can be streamed or downloaded nowadays.
Windows is installed with a USB drive, making the installation much faster than with a DVD.
The recommended case doesn’t support a 5.25″ drive.
Now, I know that some of you will believe that having the ability to listen to audio CDs and watch DVDs, rip CDs and DVDs (double-check the laws in your country) as well as burn CDs and DVDs, is worth the cost.
If that’s the case, just get an USB DVD or Blu-ray drive.
Double-check your case dimensions to ensure that your computer will fit where you’ll want it to be!
Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L Micro-ATX
Inexpensive, good looking, magnetic dust filter, space behind the motherboard tray for hidden cable management, I/O panel can be adjusted in 6 different locations, what more can you ask for in a low-cost case^
Micro-ATX (form factor, supports Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboards) case, widely available and easy to work with to build a PC.
Its looks will fit pretty much anywhere without bright annoying LEDs.
Its low price allows you to invest your money on the parts that matter for performance.
It’s smaller than larger ATX cases, so it’s easier to fit under a desk or anywhere else.
Note that the stamped steel PCI covers mean that you have to remove them before installing your motherboard. Otherwise you will have a hard time twisting and popping them off after your motherboard is installed and will risk damaging your motherboard.
Do note that since it is a smaller Micro-ATX case, it is not compatible with larger ATX motherboard, so if you decide to choose a different motherboard than the recommended ones and pick an ATX motherboard, make sure to pick a case that supports ATX case, such as one of the alternatives below.
Don’t like it? Just pick another case, see what to check for compatibility below.
- Cooling wise, this case includes one 120mm rear case fan, which is enough to keep your components running at safe temperatures.
Features wise, you get:
- 120mm rear fan
- 2x USB 3.0
- The inside of the case is painted in black
- An hole on the back panel, to easily install an after-market CPU Cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case.
- Plenty of holes and space to route wires for a clean build.
- Hard drive is mounted behind the motherboard, so less wires for a clean build
- A side panel, to see your PC in all its glory!
Here are three other cases that I recommend. They are well priced and easy to work with, I’ve built multiple computers with each of them.
Looking for a different case?
If you want to check for a case with a different look, more case fans, a smaller or bigger form-factor, an handle and/or other features, I suggest that you look for a case that you’d like at Amazon or B&H (Worldwide shipping).
Here’s what to check for compatibility, if you pick a difference case:
1. Video card length clearance, for Tier 1-2
2. Compatible motherboard form factor: Micro-ATX. If you use a different motherboard than the recommended one, make sure the its form factor (ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX) is compatible with the case that you choose.
3. CPU Cooler height clearance (if you want to get an after-market CPU Cooler).
4. At least one case fan.
Leave a comment at the end of the article if you have doubts about whether a case is compatible or not with your build.
Corsair 450W 80+ White: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
EVGA 450W 80+ Bronze:- $59.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
Tier 0.5 has a CPU with an integrated GPU, so it does’t require a very powerful power supply.
Tier 1 and 2 use low-power 65W CPUs and efficient graphic cards, so 450W is plenty enough.
Note that I recommend different power supplies, depending on if you’re shopping at Amazon or B&H. The Amazon model is less expensive, while the B&H model is more expensive, but more efficient and B&H ship worldwide. There aren’t any less expensive power supply from B&H that I’d recommend, hence that recommendation.
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 recommending a Corsair (Amazon) / EVGA (B&H) power supply.
They are very affordable power supplies. They include a 3 years warranty.
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 minimal recommendations for a PSU Watts Output (including overhead) are in Bold.
Included in the calculation: Expert mode, Default settings, CPU and graphic card recommended for Tier, 2x8GB DDR4, 1x SATA 7.2K RPM hard drive, 1x SSD, 1x PCI Express standard sound card, 1x PCI Express WLAN card, 4x USB 3.0 devices, 3x 120mm case fan.
- Tier 0.5: 221W/350W with the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G and the integrated GPU.
- Tier 1: 340W/450W with the Intel Core i3-9100F and the GeForce GTX 1650 Super.
- Tier 2: 340W/450W with the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and the GeForce GTX 1650 Super.
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.
It’s also a good idea to have some overhead, so you can add a sound card, a case fan, LEDs, optical drive or other small upgrades to your system and keep your PSU for a decade without any problem.
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.
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.
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.
Leave a comment if you have any questions.
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 usage. 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: 1. Lower performance 2. May causes a system shutdown, losing all data that was unsaved. 3. 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.
Low-noise/great cooling performance: Deepcool Gammaxx 400 CPU Cooler
The Deepcool Gammaxx 400 CPU Cooler offers far greater cooling performance and is less noisy compared to the cooler included with the CPU.
It’s compatible out of the box with both Tiers and is a fine choice if you want a more quiet cooler or for some overclocking your Tier 1 processor without spending a fortune.
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 stock CPU 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.
Considering the low power consumption of the components, the Budget Gaming PCs will do just fine with a single fan, which is included with the case.
If you find it too noisy, you may want to replace the case fan. Here’s what you need to know.
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.
- 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.
Some, but not all, motherboard can also control fan speed with a 3-pin connector, by adjusting voltage.
Size: Double-check what fan size(s) your case support!
Most cases nowadays support 80mm, 92mm, 120mm and/or 140mm case fans. Find out which size(s) and how many fans your case supports.
All this information is available on the product page of the case, under specifications/details.
Here’s what I recommend:
1. A good balance between enough airflow (measured in CFM) and low-noise (dBA).
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.
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.
- $14.99 – FrozenCPU Deluxe Multi Power Port – 12V / 7V / 5V – This a board with four 12V 3pin fan headers, four 7V 3pin fan headers and four 5V 3pin fan headers. 12V will let your fan(s) run at full speed, 7V at lower speeds and 5V at even lower speeds. Note that not all fans can start with 5V. The underside of this board has a sticky material, allowing you to stick it somewhere in your case. Practical if you don’t have a free 5.25″ drive bay and if you want to see the speed of your fans once and forget about them.
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 15+ years ago, it has gotten far better in the last fifteen 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-Express 1x or USB sound card?
The recommended motherboards are compatible with both PCI-Express 1x or USB sound cards.
A PCI-Express 1x sound card will go inside your PC, connecting to a PCI Express 1x expansion slot. An USB sound card connects to…you’ve guessed it, an USB port!
Simply put, the advantage of the USB sound card is that it’s easy to swap from one PC to another, to plug into a laptop for example.
PCI-Express 1x Sound cards:
USB Sound cards:
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 another PC, or your laptop, for example.
On the flip side, PCI and PCI-Express sound cards offer clearer sound at similar or lower prices.
ASUS Xonar U5 5.1 104dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $69.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
Ethernet RJ-45 Gigabit LAN: Integrated on the motherboard
Integrated on the motherboard, this network adapter will allow you to access your local network and Internet, by connecting a network cable from your modem/router to your PC.
WiFi and Bluetooth
If you are a competitive gamer, where every ms of latency makes a difference, a wired connection is the best.
However, if you don’t mind a few more ms of latency and prefer the convenience of a wireless connection, I recommend two WiFi adapter:
1- ASUS PCE-AC55BT WiFi 5 802.11ac 1200Mbps + Bluetooth 4.2 PCI Express 1x expansion card.
This card offers WiFi 5 / 802.11ac connectivity, with dual-band (2.4 and 5GHz) and up to 866Mbps on the 5Ghz band, or 300Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band.
It also comes with Bluetooth 4.2, allowing you to connect wireless headphones, your smartphone and other Bluetooth devices to your PC.
This is a cost-effective solution and fast enough for the majority of people.
2- Asus AX3000 (Pce-AX58BT) WiFi 5 802.11ax 3000Mbps + Bluetooth 5.0 PCI Express 1x expansion card.
This is the next level solution, offering next generation performance.
This card offers WiFi 6 / 802.11ax connectivity, with dual-band (2.4 and 5GHz) and up to 2402Mbps on the 5Ghz band, or 600Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band.
Bluetooth 5.0 is the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless communication standard. Bluetooth 5.0 brings Bluetooth Low Energy for Wireless Headphones, reducing power usage and allowing for a longer battery life.
Bluetooth 5.0 has four times the range, two times the speed, and eight times the broadcasting message capacity of older versions of Bluetooth.
While your PC is unplugged from power, you simply plug it into a PCI Express 1x slot, connect one end of the USB header into the card and the other end of the USB header cable into a USB 2.0 internal header on the motherboard (usually located on the bottom of the motherboard, rectangular shape).
Windows 10 should automatically recognize it and install the necessary drivers. Otherwise, grab them from ASUS website.
Mouse, Keyboard and Monitor:
Note that the cost of a keyboard, mouse and monitor isn’t included, because you may already have them.
It’s also because it’s next to impossible to recommend a single mouse and keyboard that would please everyone.
There’s simply too many variables, such as comfort, ease of use, personal preferences, etc., to make a single recommendation.
So if you want a keyboard and/or mouse, I recommend that you visit Amazon and B&H to compare yourself a variety of different keyboards and mice. Take the time to find the one that fits your preferences.
Note that you need to install the 64-bit version, as 32-bit systems are limited to 4GB of memory, which is not enough.
I recommend the Full retail version, which allows you to install your Windows 10 on another computer (it can only be used on one computer at a time) or to upgrade your PC as much as you’d like.
I also recommend getting the USB Flash Drive version, seeing as the PC has no DVD drive and anyway, installation is far faster from a USB Flash Drive.
Windows 10 Full retail version, USB Flash Drive 64-Bit
Click here to see the price on Amazon or $139.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
Save money with this alternative:
If you have your own USB key (at least 4GB) and don’t plan on installing that copy of Windows 10 on another PC in the future, you can save money by buying the OEM DVD version of Windows 10 Home, which is the least expensive version.
Then download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft, use it to put the Windows 10 installer on your USB key and then use that USB key to install Windows 10 on your new Gaming PC, using the activation key that comes with the Windows 10 DVD that you bought.
- Get the Windows 10 Home OEM, 64-Bit DVD for $109.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
For the best gaming performance, I recommend Windows 10.
Intel and AMD latest CPUs run best with Windows 10, with updates only available to Windows 10 that optimize the CPU performance.
It also 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.
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.
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?
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 third 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:
- Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Hardware (Building the PC)
- Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Software (EFI/BIOS, Windows, etc.)
If you have any question(s) about the build, simply leave a comment and we 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 leave a comment.
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 it will be easier to upgrade, more reliable and 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.
If you’re looking for a Gaming PC that can handle the latest video games at a 1080p (1920 x 1080) or 1440p, 4K at 120/144Hz resolution at their maximum graphic settings, or for VR, or multiple monitor setup, head over to our Mainstream/High-End Gaming PCs article.
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