Click to skip to the following part of the article:
Recommended parts summary
Detailed recommendations

Back to School 2017 Update: What’s new?

1. New motherboard recommendations
2. New AMD RYZEN CPUs recommendations.
3. New video card for Tier 6
4. New CPU cooler recommendations
5. New power supply recommendations

Choose Your PC Performance (Tier):

About Hardware Revolution’s Gaming PCs recommendations

This is one of three comprehensive articles where I, Mathieu Bourgie, a computer hardware enthusiast with over 16 years of experience, recommend to you all the required parts, to help you build your own Gaming PC.

Is a High-End Performance Gaming PC powerful enough for you?

There are four (4) recommended Gaming PC levels of performance (Tier) in this article.

The recommended parts for each Tiers are indicated by their respective numbers (3, 4, 5 and 6) through the article.

Tier 3 is a Gaming PC that will run most mainstream video games at 1920 x 1080 with high/ultra details and 60+ FPS.
Tier 4 is recommended for gaming at 1920 x 1080 at 144+ FPS with high/ultra details, or 2560 x 1440 at 60+ FPS with good details. Good for Virtual Reality.
Tier 5 can handle 2560 x 1440 with high details at 60+ FPS, 1920 x 1080 at 144+ FPS maxed out in the vast majority of games. Great for VR.
Tier 6 can handle 2560 x 1440 with ultra details at 90+ FPS, 2560 x 1440 at 144+ FPS with good/high details and 4K gaming at 60+ FPS.

Are you on a limited budget?

I recommend more affordable Gaming PCs in the How to easily build your Budget Gaming PC: Worldwide Edition! article.

Are you going to play on multiple monitors or just want the most powerful Gaming PCs?

In that case, the highest performance Gaming PCs are what I recommend. They can be found in the Extreme Gaming PCs article.

Do you 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?

Do you 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:

My recommendations in this article are based on the prices that I saw on August 7th 2017.

  • This is a worldwide guide. If you live outside the USA, B&H offers worldwide shipping. In the USA, Amazon, Newegg and B&H offer the best prices and customer support.
  • 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 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 on a smartphone

Part Tier Name and Amazon link B&H Newegg
CPU 3
4/5
6
Alt
Alt
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
Intel Core i7-7700K
AMD RYZEN 7 1700X
AMD RYZEN 7 1800X
$189
$229
$337
$359
$431
$189
$229
$339
$339
$459
MoBo
3-5
Alt
6

AMD CPUs: ASUS PRIME A320M-K
Alt AMD: MSI B350 Krait Gaming
Intel CPUs: MSI Z270 TOMAHAWK
$62
$115
$135

$59
$115
$149
RAM All
Alt
Corsair 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200MHz
32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 3000MHz
$164
$344
$153
$277
GPU 3
4
5
6
Geforce GTX 1060 6GB
Geforce GTX 1070 8GB
Geforce GTX 1080 8GB
Geforce GTX 1080 Ti
$270
$440
$551
$730
$279
$440

$550
$730
SSD All
Alt
Alt
Crucial 525GB MX300 SATA III SSD
Crucial 1TB MX300 SATA III SSD
Crucial 2TB MX300 SATA III SSD
$159
$289
$549
$159
$289
$549
HDD All Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200rpm 
$89 $89
PSU 3/4
5/6
Alt
Alt
Alt
EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze
EVGA 600W 80+ Bronze
EVGA 700W 80+ Bronze
EVGA 750W 80+ Bronze
EVGA 850W 80+ Bronze
$40
$50
$65
$70
$100
$40
$50
$75
$75
$100
Case All NZXT S340 (10 colors available) $74 $69
Cooling 3
4-6
Alt
Included with CPU
Deepcool Gammaxx 400
NZXT Kraken X52 AIO Liquid 240mm
Free
$24

$150
Free
$24
$150
Sound All
Alt
Alt
ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 PCI-E
ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 PCI-E
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z
$39
$64
$119
$45
$53
$97
Network All
Alt
Integrated Wired Ethernet 1Gbps
See our WiFi article for adapters and routers
Free
Free
OS All
Alt
Windows 10 Home Retail USB Drive
Windows 10 Home Retail Download
$109
$109
$129
$109
Price Tier 3: $1195, T4: $1429, T5: $1550, T6: $1910

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. We have hundreds of readers who had no experience and who built their first PC with the help of Hardware Revolution. If they can do it, so can you!
Start by reading our “Building Your First PC?” and the How to Build Your Own Computer articles, which covers everything that you need to know to get started.

Have any questions? Leave a comment at the end of the article and I’ll get back to you.

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!

Sounds good? Let’s get started!

Recommendations in details:

CPU:

Tier 3:

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X from Amazon

– $189.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $189.99 at Newegg

The Ryzen 5 1500X is an AMD processor based on the newest Summit Ridge (Zen) architecture.

It features four cores and can handle eight threads.

V.S. Intel Core i5-7500:

For gaming performance only:
The Intel Core i5-7500, with its Kaby Lake architecture that offers slightly higher single-threaded performance than the AMD Summit Ridge architecture found in the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, and 4 cores running at 3.4-3.8GHz, currently offers the best gaming performance. But seeing as games start using more than 4 cores, the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, which is capable of handling 8 threads at once, unlike the Core i5-7500 which is limited to 4 threads, will most likely age better than the Core i5-7500.

All around performance:

The AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, being capable of handling 8 threads at once, unlike the Intel Core i5-7500, offers better overall performance, especially in workloads that are well multi-threaded such as photo, video or 3D and for multitasking.

Tier 4/5:

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 1600x from Amazon

$229.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$229.99 at Newegg

The AMD Ryzen 5 1600X is a more powerful CPU compared to the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X recommended above.

You gain two more cores, for a total of 6 and it can handle six more threads, for a total of twelve.

It also runs at higher frequencies: Base frequency is 3.6GHz and Turbo frequency is 4.0GHz, compared to to 3.5-3.7GHz for the Ryzen 5 1500X.

So that’s 100MHz more base frequency and 300MHz more Turbo frequency.

V.S. Intel Core i5-7600:

While the Intel Core i5-7600 might currently offer slightly better performance in some games at 1920 x 1080, the Ryzen 5 1600X isn’t far behind. The Intel Core i5-7600, with its 4 cores and 4 thread setup is slowly but surely becoming a bottleneck with newer games and that CPU isn’t going to age too well. For gaming at 2560 x 1440 or 4K (3840 x 2160) resolutions, the graphic card is all that matters.

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 offers far better performance, especially in workstation type of workload, thanks to its 2 additional cores (6 vs 4) and being capable of handling three times the number of threads at once (12 vs 4). Basically, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 clearly offers better overall performance and value than the Core i5-7600.

This makes it easy for me to recommend the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 over the Intel Core i5-7600.

Tier 6:

Get the Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2-4.5GHz Unlocked from Amazon

$336.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$339.99 at Newegg

High Gaming Performance:
The Core i7-7700K is second in performance only to the Core i7-7740X, which is only a few % faster in gaming, but is available on the X299 platform that easily cost 100$ more the Core i7-7700K and its Z270 platform. Basically the Core i7-7700K and the Z270 offer far better bang for your buck. Also, the Z270 platform has been around for a long time, bugs have been fixed and it’s a mature platform, only the new X299 platform.

It’s the CPU that offers the higher gaming performance than the AMD Ryzen CPUs, thanks to its high-frequencies and highly efficient architecture that offers higher single-threaded performance than AMD’s CPUs.

Most video games only use two to four cores and prioritize single-threaded performance so when it comes to gaming performance

Alternatives with higher overall performance, for a gaming PC that is also used as a Workstation:
With 4 cores, 8 threaded, the best single-threaded performance and high frequencies, The Intel Core i7-7700K and i7-7740X offers the highest performance for gaming, but if you do a lot of photo/video editing, heavy multi-tasking, highly demanding workloads and need all the CPU performance that you can get, or in other words, a CPU that can handle gaming and workstation tasks, I’d recommend the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X or Ryzen 7 1800X. With their 8 cores that can handle 16 threadeds, they are more suited to workstation type of workloads.

The AMD Ryzen 7 1800X simply offers slightly higher frequencies and performance than the Ryzen 7 1700X, but the Ryzen 7 1700X is no slouch and is more affordable.

Note that neither the RYZEN 7 1700X nor the RYZEN 7 1800X include a CPU Cooler. The recommended CPU Cooler for Tier 4-6 is a fine choice. Upgrade to the alternative if you intend on overclocking.

Alternatives:

  1. Get the AMD RYZEN 7 1700X from Amazon, $358.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $329.99 at Newegg
  2. Get the AMD RYZEN 7 1800X from Amazon, $430.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $459.99 at Newegg

Overclocking optional:
All the CPUs recommended in this article, including alternatives, feature unlocked multiplier, so you can easily overclock it (raise its frequency) to raise its performance even more!

However, you need to change up to three parts, to have a PC that can safely handle the additional stress from overclocking, namely a motherboard with overclocking support (B350 or X370 chipset for AMD CPUs, Z270 chipset for Intel CPU) and improved power delivery, a more powerful power supply and improved CPU cooling.

Motherboard:

Tier 3/4/5:

Get the ASUS PRIME A320M-K from Amazon

– $62.00 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $59.99 at Newegg

This is a great entry-level motherboard, equipped with the A320 chipset, for AMD Ryzen CPUs offering support for USB 3.0 with an on board header, 1x M.2 slot with PCI-E 3.0 4x SSD support, good reliability and with a good layout to support the video and sound cards, all at an excellent price for a motherboard!

Why not go with a motherboard equipped with the X370 chipset?
Compared to a B350 chipset, the only difference worth mentionning is multiple graphic card support, which I don’t recommend until you get into Extreme Gaming PCs, with the best graphic cards, at much higher price points. At this level of performance, you’re better off saving your money and get an A320 chipset equipped motherboard or a B350 chipset equipped motherboard if you intend to overclock.

B350 chipset equipped motherboard, if you want to overclock your CPU:
If you want to overclock your CPU, you need a motherboard with a B350 (or X370) chipset, the ASUS Prime A320M-K won’t do the job.

I recommend the MSI B350 Krait Gaming, available at a reasonable price, with a solid power delivery system that won’t limits your overclock unlike some motherboard that aren’t equipped with a power delivery system that is as good.

From Amazon: MSI B350 KRAIT GAMING, $114.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $114.99 at Newegg

Tier 6:

Get the MSI Z270 TOMAHAWK from Amazon

$134.99 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$149.05 at Newegg

This is a great mid-range Z270 motherboard, for Intel LGA1151 CPUs, offering support for USB 3.1 Type-C, high frequency DDR4 RAM, CPU overclocking, reliable high-performance Intel LAN, 2x M.2 slots with PCI-E 3.0 4x SSD support, good reliability and with a good layout to support the video and sound cards, all at an excellent price for a motherboard packed with so many features!

The power delivery is solid enough to handle CPU overclocking without a problem.

Why choose the Z270 chipset?
Motherboards with lower-end Intel chipsets for the LGA1151 platform, such as the B250 and H270 chipsets, only support DDR4 RAM frequency of 2400MHz.

Video game performance is significantly improved by using higher frequency DDR4 RAM (3000-3200MHz) compared to lower frequency DDR4 RAM (2133-2400MHz).

RAM frequencies above 2400MHz is only supported by motherboards with the Z270 chipset, same goes for CPU overclocking (officially), hence why I recommend a Z270 chipset equipped motherboard in order for you to get the best gaming performance possible.

Why not go with a motherboard equipped with the Z170 chipset?
While Z170 motherboards are in theory compatible with the new Intel 7th gen Kaby Lake CPUs, they require a BIOS update to support them. This mean that out of the box, a Z170 motherboard may not work with the 7th gen Core CPUs because it needs an update. However, you can’t update without a supported CPU, so you’d need another, older CPU to update the motherboard to be able to use your new CPU.

This is why I recommend a Z270 chipset equipped motherboard, to make sure that your CPU is compatible with your motherboard out of the box. In other words, I want to keep things simple for you.

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.

Regarding current prices:
Due to high demand from cryptocurrency, the prices of the Geforce GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 are inflated and often fluctuate, with cards going in and out of stock quickly. I recommend checking the current prices, using our included links to Amazon, B&H and Newegg, before making a purchase, in order to find the best deal.

Tier 3:

Get the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB from Amazon

$269.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$279.00 at Newegg

Radeon RX 580 8GB V.S. the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB:
Which one should you pick?

Compared to the RX 580 8GB, the GTX 1060 6GB more often than not has the performance edge. At 1080p and 2560 x 1440, it’s on average about 7% faster than the RX 580 8GB. At similar prices, I’d pick the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB over the Radeon RX 580 8GB. If the Radeon RX 580 8GB is available for less than the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB, then get the Radeon RX 580 8GB instead.

V.S GTX 960/980
Compared to the last generation GTX 960, the GTX 1060 is significantly faster, trading blows with the GTX 980!

Geforce GTX 1060: Not SLI compatible!

Do note that the Geforce GTX 1060 is NOT SLI compatible.

Power consumption:
The Geforce GTX 1060 consumes very little power considering how powerful it is. Under gaming load, it uses 120-135W. This is significantly less than AMD’s Radeon RX 580..

Tier 4:

Get the Geforce GTX 1070 8GB from Amazon

$439.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$439.99 at Newegg

Offering 80% of the performance of the Geforce GTX 1080

Compared to the Geforce GTX 1080, the Geforce GTX 1070 offers roughly 80% of its performance for significantly less money.

Compared to last generation GTX 970, you get 55-60% more performance at 1440p.

For gaming at 1080p or 1440p with very high framerates, the Geforce GTX 1070 is ideal.

Geforce GTX 1070 vs AMD:

AMD have announced the RX Vega 56, to be priced at $400. It will be available on August 14th, with no guarantee of outperforming the Geforce GTX 1070. In the meantime, the Geforce GTX 1070 is here and available for purchase now.

Tier 5:

Get the Geforce GTX 1080 8GB from Amazon

$551.39 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$549.99 at Newegg

70% of GTX 1080 Ti performance

The Geforce GTX 1080 offers on average 70% of the performance that the $700 Geforce GTX 1080 Ti offers, at a lower cost.

Compared to the GTX 980? You get roughly 65% more performance at 1440p and 70% more performance at 4K.
Compared to the GTX 1070? You get a 20% performance boost.

That said, the GTX 1080 offers borderline performance if you want to play at a 4K resolution. It’s doable, but you’ll most likely have to lower graphic settings to get decent FPS.

For 4K gaming, get the Tier 6 Goefrce GTX 1080 Ti instead.

That said, for gaming at 1080p or 1440p, the GTX 1080 has absolutely no problem. Same goes for VR.

Geforce GTX 1080 vs AMD:

AMD have announced the RX Vega 64, to be priced at $500. It will be available on August 14th, with no guarantee of outperforming the Geforce GTX 1080. In the meantime, the Geforce GTX 1080 is here and available for purchase now.

Tier 6:

Get the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB from Amazon

$729.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$729.99 at Newegg

While the GTX 1080 brought decent 4K gaming performance, it still wasn’t powerful enough to run all games at 4K with high/maximum settings at 60+ FPS.

Launched on March 10th 2017 and offering on average 32% higher performance at 4K than the Geforce GTX 1080, 74% higher than the GTX 980 Ti and 154% higher than the GTX 780 Ti (according to AnandTech), the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti is the here to fix that.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details, the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 Ti is the answer to your needs.

Geforce GTX 1080 Ti vs AMD:

AMD have announced the RX Vega 64, to be priced at $500 to compete against the Geforce GTX 1080 (Non-Ti) but haven’t announced anything to compete against the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti. Simply put, AMD have nothing to compete against the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti at the moment.

RAM:

All Tiers:

Get the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz Desktop Memory Kit from Amazon

$164.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$152.99 at Newegg

Is 3200MHz DDR4 RAM necessary?

Gaming performance is highly increased by going from DDR4 2133MHz to DDR4 3200MHz, hence why I’m recommending that.

AMD Ryzen compatibility, my recommendations:
I’ve taken the time to ensure that my recommendations are compatible with the new AMD Ryzen platform. The RAM should be able to run at its rated specifications, but make sure to update your motherboard to its latest BIOS version to maximize support for the 3200MHz frequency. You might have to manually enter the correct settings for the RAM.

Why 16GB of RAM?

Games can require 8GB of RAM or even recommend 16GB of RAM. To ensure good performance right now and in the foreseeable future, going with 16GB of RAM is the logical choice.

Windows 10 uses your unused RAM as a cache, in order to speed up your system, so more RAM allows Windows to cache more things.

If you’re like me and like switching back (Alt-Tab or Alt-Esc) to your desktop to check something while pausing your game and keeping it open, 16GB will even more improve the responsiveness of your PC.

Same goes if you like to have a lot of different applications open at the same time.

Also, if you using other demanding programs (think 3D/photo/video/audio editing), 16GB will help your PC handle it with ease.

Another things to keep in mind is if you intend on keeping this Gaming PC for several years, 16GB is worth it.

This is exactly all Tiers feature 16GB of RAM. That way, you know that you’ll be future-proof for a while and that you can alt-tab out of your games with minimal lag.

32GB kit alternatives:

32GB is overkill for all but the most powerful High-End Gaming PCs. The only reasons to justify upgrading to 32GB in my opinion is if you use your Gaming PCs for highly demanding workloads, tons of multi-tasking with highly demanding applications or to future-proof your Gaming PC.

That said, here’s my recommendation for a 32GB memory kit.
– 32GB (4x8GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 3000MHz from Amazon or B&H ($343.95) or Newegg ($276.99)

Is it worth it to get RAM with higher frequencies?

No. Cost, diminishing returns and compatibility are three reasons.

While synthetic benchmarks show great increases in bandwidth with higher frequency RAM, you’ll have a tough time seeing a perceivable difference in real-life applications.

In my opinion, there is little incentive to move to higher frequency RAM (e.g. 3333MHz+ RAM vs the recommended 3000-3200MHz), as this will only bring a very small performance increase, nothing noticeable, while costing quite a bit more in some cases. While you get performance increases going from 2133 to 3200MHz, after that, you hit diminishing returns and it simply isn’t worth spending more in my opinion.

More importantly, the motherboard, especially in AMD Ryzen systems, might not be capable of handling higher frequencies.

You’re better off investing that extra money on a faster CPU, faster video card, a higher capacity SSD, a different case, etc. Unless you think that spending a lot more money to brag about your “uber” 3333+MHz RAM sticks is worth it. It’s your money after all.

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.

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.
  2. 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.

Important note:

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.

Storage:

  • 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.

SSD FAQ:

If you wondering “Who are SSDs for?”, if you want a quick recap on what a SSD is or want to learn more about the benefits of using a SSD, I invite you to read our SSD FAQ.

SSD for All Tiers:

Get the Crucial 525GB MX300 SATA III SSD from Amazon

$159.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$159.99 at Newegg

The Crucial MX300 offers good performance and outstanding reliability at an excellent price. It has been around for a long time, it has a proven track record when it comes to reliability.

Need a SSD with more storage capacity? I recommend the 1TB and 2TB Crucial MX300 just below.

Why not recommend an higher performance SATA III 2.5″ SSD or a M.2 PCI-Express 3.0 4x SSD, which offers even higher performance?
It’s simple: You’re unlikely to perceive the difference in real life, unless you have a significant workstation type workload. For gaming performance, a faster SSD will make no perceivable difference in how fast the game loads. Once it is loaded, a faster SSD won’t increase the frame rate.

The only thing that will increase is cost: Higher-end SATA III 2.5″ SSDs and PCI-Express 3.0 4x SSDs are significantly more expensive than the MX300 SATA III 2.5″ SSDs.

This is why I recommend the Crucial MX300 SATA III 2.5″ SSDs for Gaming PCs. They offer significantly higher performance than hard drives, while offering decent storage capacity at a great price for SSDs.

If you want more performance, with a higher-end SATA III 2.5″ SSD or a PCI-Express 3.0 4x M.2 SSD, take a look at our The Best SSDs For Your Money article.

Do you want a 1 TB or 2 TB SSD instead?

– 1TB: Get the Crucial 1TB MX300 SATA III SSD from Amazon, $289.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $289.99 at Newegg

– 2TB: Get the Crucial 2TB MX300 SATA III SSD from Amazon, B&H ($549.99) or Newegg ($549.99)

Hard Drive:

All Tiers:

Get the Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200rpm SATA III Hard Drive from Amazon

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

Why get a hard drive when you already have a SSD?
It’s fairly simple: The SSD has a limited capacity, so the idea is that you have two drives:
1. The higher performance but lower capacity SSD for Windows, highly demanding games and programs that will benefit from the higher performance.
2. The lower performance but higher capacity hard drive for pictures, music, video, large files and older games.

I recommend installing Windows on the SSD of course.

The Seagate 3TB offers great performance and great reliability at a reasonable cost.

Smaller and higher capacity alternatives:

Visit The Best Internal Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money article for various alternatives.

Case:

All Tier:

Get the NZXT S340 (10 colors available) from Amazon


$74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$69.99 at Newegg

Why am I recommending this case?
It’s available in 10 colors, it comes with two fans for cooling, plenty of space to route/hide your cables including the power supply, it’s smaller than a large ATX case, it looks good (in my opinion), it’s easy to assemble a system in it and it’s fairly inexpensive.

It’s compatible with Mini-ITX, Micro ATX and ATX motherboards, allowing you to use the vast majority of motherboards available on the market, giving you plenty of options and allowing you to keep that case for many years and upgraded systems.

You get removable dust filters, as well as support for

It’s a case that does the job at a great price, which allows you to invest your money on the components that make a difference when it comes to performance.

Features wise, you get:

  1. Two 2.5″ (SSD), three 3.5″ (Hard Drive) and one 5.25″ (optical) drive bays.
  2. Two USB 3.0 ports that connect to the motherboard via an USB header that’s on the motherboard.
  3. An analog audio 3.5mm output (for speakers or headphones) and analog audio input (for a microphone). This header needs to be plugged into the sound card.
  4. Liquid cooling ready – supports a 120mm radiator (rear) or 240mm radiator (top).
  5. Cable routing holes and tie-downs.
  6. Power supply covers keeps the power supply and the cable away from sight, making your build look cleaner.
  7. 2 x 120mm case fans are included to ventilate the case.

Power Supply:

Power Requirements, per Tier:

Based on my experience, my research and the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator , 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 Watts Output (including overhead) are in Bold.

  1. 328W/430W with the AMD RYZEN 5 1500X and the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB (Tier 3).
  2. 387W/500W with the AMD RYZEN 5 1600X and the Geforce GTX 1070 (Tier 4).
  3. 419W/600W with the AMD RYZEN 5 1600X and the Geforce GTX 1080 (Tier 5).
  4. 489W/600W with the Intel Core i7-7700K and the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti (Tier 6).

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. So giving your power supply enough overhead will help it last many years.

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.

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.

Tier 3-4:

Get the EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze from Amazon

$39.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$39.99 at Newegg

This power supply is capable of delivering up to 500W, not that you should rely on this information only as I often point in posts such as Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply, but more importantly 40A on the 12V line, the most important factor when it comes to choosing a power supply for a gaming computer.

Inexpensive and reliable, unlike some cheaper power supplies that are simply dangerous for your fragile computer parts that are sensitive to current fluctuations, ripples and electrical noise.

Tier 5-6:

Get the EVGA 600W 80+ Bronze from Amazon


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

Value wise, this power supply is pretty much unbeatable. It is rated to deliver up to 600W, is rated for 50A on the 12V line and it is 80 PLUS Bronze certified, all of that at a low cost.

This power supply is capable of delivering up to 600W, not that you should rely on this information only as I often point in posts such as Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply, but more importantly 50A on the 12V line, the most important factor when it comes to choosing a power supply for a gaming computer.

80 PLUS? Bronze? Gold?
80 PLUS refers to a certification from an independent group that a PSU meets their requirements for the specified level of efficiency. Here’s a chart that shows the different required levels of efficiency depending on the specific 80 PLUS certification:

Alternatives:

Do you plan on overclocking your CPU and or graphic card?
– For a mild CPU overclock, without or barely any voltage increase, add 50W to the recommendation for the Tier. Add 100W if you increase voltage and push the CPU to its limits.
– GTX 1060/1070/1080 overclocking: Add 50W
– GTX 1080 Ti overclocking: Add 100W

Here are my alternative recommendations if you need or want a more powerful power supply:

– EVGA 700W 80+ Bronze: From Amazon, $64.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $74.99 at Newegg
– EVGA 750W 80+ Bronze: From Amazon, $69.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $74.99 at Newegg
– EVGA 850W 80+ Bronze: From Amazon, $99.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $99.99 at Newegg

Cooling:

CPU Cooler

Tier 3:

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:

2 reasons to upgrade your CPU Cooler:

1. 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.
2. To handle the additional heat from overclocking your CPU, if you choose to do so.

Tier 4-5-6:

Get the DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400 from Amazon

– $23.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$23.89 at Newegg

Tier 4, 5 and 6 CPUs do NOT include a CPU Cooler, this is a must.

Why am I recommending the DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400?
Simply put, it’s an inexpensive CPU Cooler that will do the job of cooling the Tier 4, 5 and 6 CPUs. It’s compatible with both the Intel LGA1151 and AMD AM4 platforms, out of the box, no additional adapter required, because no one wants to wait days, if not weeks, to build their PC!

Equipped with an hydro-bearing fan, it should last for a longer period of time than most cheaper sleeve bearing fans.

You need to spend quite a bit more to get better cooling performance. It does so while being relatively quiet, with its PWM fan only spinning faster when your CPU gets hotter.

While it can handle mild overclocking, if you’re serious about pushing your CPU to the limits, opt for the alternative below.

Overclocking alternative:

NZXT Kraken X52, with AM4 bracket

Click here to check the price on Amazon
$149.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$149.99 at Newegg

240mm all-in-one liquid CPU Cooler
Offering similar performance with lower noise compared to the Corsair H100i v2, while being compatible with the AMD AM4 RYZEN platform out of the box (you don’t need to order an adapter), the NZXT Kraken X52 is my recommendation if you want to overclock your CPU to the limits.

The RGB lights on top of the pump can be configured to display colors as you wish, or according to temperatures. They can also be turned off, of course.

The NZXT Kraken X52 comes with an industry leading 6 years warranty.

Thermal Interface kit:

Note that the CPU Coolers that I recommend already include thermal compound, so you don’t need to buy any.

Sound:

Sound card:

All Tiers:

Get the ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 PCI-Express Sound Card from Amazon

Installation note:
I suggest installing the sound card in the bottom PCI-Express 1x slot of the motherboard.

$39.60 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
$44.88 at Newegg

While integrated audio has improved a lot over the years, it’s still no match for the sound quality of a dedicated sound card.

Ask yourself:
1. Do you want to hear music as it was intended to be heard?
2. Do you want better location awareness through improved sound positioning in video games?
3. Do you want to fully take advantage of your headphones and/or speakers with higher-quality amplification?

If you said yes to any to these questions, you want a dedicated sound card.

Why am I recommending the ASUS Xonar DGX?

It offers great sound quality at a reasonable price.

Considering that audio is a big part of your PC experience, I believe that more or less $40, or a small % of your total budget, is entirely worth it to improve your PC audio quality, whether it’s for gaming, music or other entertainment purposes.

Want a better sound card?
Now, if you appreciate higher-quality sound, there are better sound cards that are available. See the alternatives below.

Alternatives:

  1. Get the ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 PCI-Express from Amazon, $64.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $53.99 at Newegg – If you want a 7.1 sound card, with higher sound quality than the Xonar DGX.
  2. Get the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z from Amazon, $79.20 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping), $119.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $96.959 at Newegg

Network:

All Tiers:
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.

Wireless Networking:
Need a WiFi adapter, router or Bluetooth adapter?

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

Recommended Operating System (OS):

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 $109.98 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $129 at Newegg

Alternative:

If you have your own USB key (at least 4GB), you can also download your copy of Windows with your activation key.

  1. Get the Windows 10 Home Retail Download from Amazon, $109.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $109.99 at Newegg

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 the latest Intel and AMD CPUs, 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

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 did you think of this article? 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?

Leave a comment!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article, feel free to leave a comment below to discuss the computer that you’re planning to build and ask any question.

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 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.

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