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Recommended parts summary
Detailed recommendations

Choose Your PC Performance (Tier):

About Hardware Revolution’s Gaming PCs recommendations

This is one of two comprehensive articles where I, Mathieu Bourgie, a computer hardware enthusiast with over 19 years of experience, recommend to you all the required parts, to help you build your own Gaming PC.

We also have a guide for the Best Prebuilt High-End Gaming PCs if you don’t want to build a PC.

5 High-End Performance Gaming PCs:

There are five (5) 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, 6 and 7) 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.
Tier 7 is our most powerful Tier, ideal for gaming on multiple monitors, 4K gaming or simply having the most powerful gaming PC!

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.

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.

Recommended Parts Summary:

Things to keep in mind when reading this article:

Prices for B&H as of December 6th 2019. 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 on a smartphone
Click on a part (e.g. CPU) to skip to that section.

Part Tier Name and Amazon link B&H
CPU 3
4
5-6
Alt
Alt
7
Alt
Alt
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

Intel Core i7-9700KF
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
Intel Core i9-9900KF
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
$189
$244

$359
$329
$399
$499
$499
$749
MoBo
3-4
5-7

Alt

Alt
AMD CPUs: MSI MPG X570 GAMING PLUS
Intel CPUs: MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus
Intel OC+WiFi: MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC
AMD OC+WiFi: MSI MPG X570 GAMING EDGE
$169
$143
$178
$199
RAM 3-6
7
16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200MHz
32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 3200MHz
$73
$139
GPU 3
4
5
6
7
GeForce GTX 1660 Super 4GB
Radeon RX 5700 8GB
Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB
GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
$229
$329
$389
$719
1099
SSD All
Alt
Alt
Intel 660p 512GB PCIe SSD
Intel 660p 1TB PCIe SSD
Intel 660p 2TB PCIe SSD
$62
$94
$199
HDD All
Alt
Alt
Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200rpm
Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB 7200rpm
Seagate IronWolf 6TB 7200rpm

$49
$139
$164
PSU 3-5
6-7
Alt
be quiet! U9 600W 80+ Bronze
EVGA 700BR 700W 80+ Bronze
Overclocking: EVGA SuperNOVA 850W G+ 80+ Gold
$59
$67
$134
Case 3-4
5-7
COUGAR MX330
Cooler Master MasterCase H500
$48
$113
Cooling 3-4
5-7
Alt
Included with CPU
Deepcool Gammaxx 400
Corsair Hydro H100i Pro AIO Liquid 240mm
Free
$22

$124
Sound All
Alt
Alt
ASUS Xonar SE 5.1 PCI-E
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z
See the Sound section for USB alternatives
$40
$76
Network All
Alt
Integrated Wired Ethernet 1Gbps
ASUS PCE-AC55BT B1 802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth PCIe
Free
$34
OS All
Alt
Windows 10 Home Retail USB Flash Drive
Windows 10 Home, OEM, DVD 64-bit
$139
$109
Price T3: $1027/T4: $1182/T5: $1392/T6: $1730/T7: $2316

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 3600 from Amazon

– $189.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 4:

Get the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X from Amazon

$244.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X are AMD processors based on the Zen 2 architecture.

They feature six cores and can handle 12 threads simultaneously.

The Ryzen 5 3600 runs at running at 3.6 to 4.2GHz, while the Ryzen 5 3600X runs at running at 3.8 to 4.4GHz.
Gaming performance is sensitive to frequencies, so opt for the higher-end 3600X if you can.

Note that neither include integrated graphics. This doesn’t matter to you, as you’ll be using a dedicated graphic card.

V.S. Intel:

For gaming performance:

With more and more games supporting 8 cores CPUs, the Intel Core i5-9400F or i5-9600K, with support for only 6 threads, are slowly but surely becoming a limiting factor for gaming performance. Basically both CPUs run at 100% CPU usage, resulting in lower minimal FPS and more latency spikes.

The Ryzen 5 3600/3600X can handle 12 threads and doesn’t have that issue.

In the long run, for gaming and overall performance, the Ryzen 5 3600/3600X are a wiser choice.

Tier 5-6:

Get the Intel Core i7-9700KF from Amazon

 

– $359.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

High Gaming Performance:
In Intel’s line-up of CPUs, the Core i7-9700KF is third in performance only to the Core i9-9900K and i9-9900KS, both of which are only a few % faster in gaming due to higher frequencies.

The Core i9-9900K and KS offers offers Hyper-Threading support.

Basically the Core i7-9700KF offers nearly as much performance at a significantly lower price, hence why I recommend it: It’s a better bang for your buck.

Note that this is the i7-9700KF, the F meaning that it does not support integrated graphics. We don’t care, you have a powerful dedicated graphic card and it’s less expensive than the regular i7-9700K.

AMD V.S. Intel: Tier 5 to 7

AMD 3000 series Ryzen (2nd generation of Zen architecture) have greatly improved AMD’s CPU performance overall, including in gaming. When it comes strictly to gaming performance, Intel does maintain a slight edge, of roughly 5%. In some games, the AMD CPUs can be just a hair faster, sometimes they are on par, sometimes Intel leads by 10%, but overall, Intel CPUs still offer higher minimum and average frame rates.

This is why they are my default recommendations if you use your Gaming PC solely for Gaming.

Now, if your Gaming PC doubles as a Workstation, if you simply want better overall performance, if you plan plan on streaming your video game sessions or want significantly higher multi-threaded performance, say for photo, audio or video editing, 3D rendering and the like, then go with the recommended AMD alternative instead, as you’ll have much better overall performance and hardly lower gaming performance. The only other part that needs to be changed is the motherboard.

What would I pick? I’d with AMD CPUs for the best overall performance, seeing as I use my PC for work, photo editing and I crave more CPU performance.

AMD Alternatives:

Both the Ryzen 7 3700X and 3800X offer support for 16 threads, making them much more attractive for overall performance for Workstation type workloads. Both are 8 cores / 16 threads CPUs, the difference is that the Ryzen 7 3800X offers higher frequencies, making it ideal for the best gaming performance between both, but the 3700X is no slouch either and offers better value, offering nearly as much performance for $70 less!

Get the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X from Amazon

– $329.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Get the AMD Ryzen 7 3800X from Amazon

$399.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 7:

Get the Intel Core i9-9900KF from Amazon

$499.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Intel Core i9-9900K (or KF) is the CPU that offers the best gaming performance, thanks to its very high frequencies, with a maximum Turbo frequency of 5.0GHz.

Note that the F in i9-9900KF means that it doesn’t include integrated graphics. This doesn’t matter to you, as you’ll be using a dedicated graphic card and the i9-9900KF is less expensive than the i9-9900K.

Alternatives with higher overall performance, for a gaming PC that is also used as a Workstation:
The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X offers far far better multi-threaded performance, thanks to having 12 cores and 24 threads support, compared to 8 cores/16 threads for the Intel Core i9-9900K(F), without being much slower in gaming performance.

Next step up is the 16 cores/32 threads Ryzen 9 3950X.

So if you 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 9 3900X or 3950X.

Get the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X from Amazon

$499.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Get the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X from Amazon

$749.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Overclocking optional:
All Intel K or KF CPUs and all the AMD series 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 two parts, to have a PC that can safely handle the additional stress from overclocking, namely a more powerful power supply and for best results, improved CPU cooling.

Motherboard:

Tiers 3-4:

AMD CPUs: Get the MSI MPG X570 Gaming Plus from Amazon

– $169.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This is a great AMD X570 motherboard offering support for USB 3.0 with an on board header, two M.2 slot (one  with PCI-E 4.0 4x and the other with PCI-E 3.0 4x SSD support), a reliable Realtek LAN chip, USB Type-C port, good reliability and with a good layout to support the graphic and sound cards, all at an excellent price for a Z390 motherboard!

Tiers 5-7:

Intel CPUs: Get the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus from Amazon

– $143.99 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This is pretty much the same motherboard, with the Intel Z390 chipset for Intel CPUs.

This is a great Intel Z390 motherboard offering support for USB 3.0 with an on board header, 2x M.2 slot with PCI-E 3.0 4x SSD support, a reliable Intel LAN chip, USB Type-C port, good reliability and with a good layout to support the graphic and sound cards, all at an excellent price for a Z390 motherboard!

Do you plan on overclocking your CPU?
Do you want integrated WiFi and Bluetooth?

If you want to overclock your CPU and or want onboard WiFi and Bluetooth, or want RGB lights, I recommend the MSI MPG GAMING EDGE, with the Z390 chipset for Intel CPUs and the X570 chipset for AMD CPUs.

They feature a solid power delivery system, integrated WiFi/Bluetooth and RGB lights if you’re into that.

Intel CPUS: Get the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC from Amazon
$179.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

AMD CPUS: Get the MSI MPG X570 Gaming Edge AC from Amazon
$199.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Graphic Card:

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 graphic card(s).
  • Most graphic 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 graphic 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 3:

Get the GeForce GTX 1660 Super from Amazon

$229.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Don’t be fooled by the name:
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super is based on the same Turing architecture as the GeForce RTX 2060, 2070, 2080 and 2080 Ti.
– It’s replacing the GeForce GTX 1660
– Performance wise, it offers nearly as much performance as the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, usually just a few FPS lower, nothing noticeable, while costing $50 less!

Then why is it called GTX 1660 Super and not say, RTX 1660 Ti, or RTX 2050 Ti?
Because to reduce die size and thus costs, Nvidia removed the dedicated ray tracing hardware cores.

V.S. AMD?
AMD doesn’t currently have much to compete at this price/performance point. The Radeon RX 590 is completely outmatched by the GTX 1660 Super, while the RX 5700 is significantly much expensive, over $100 more.

Basically, the GTX 1660 Super is the lower-end mid-range graphic card to get at the moment.

What video games can the GeForce GTX 1660 Super 4GB run smoothly?

It is capable of running games smoothly at a resolution up to 1920 x 1080 smoothly with high/max details with high frame rates.

Gaming at 2560 x 1440 is also possible. However, you might have to turn down visual quality down a notch or two in more demanding games to get acceptable frame rates.

Tier 4:

Get the Radeon RX 5700 8GB from Amazon

$329.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 V.S. AMD Radeon RX 5700

Launched in July 2019, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 on based on AMD new 7nm RDNA architecture.

The RX 5700 outperforms the RTX 2060 by 11-12% on average. With both at the same price and with similar power consumption, the Radeon RX 5700 is easy to recommend here.

Not to mention, the Radeon RX 5700 has 8GB of VRAM, as opposed to 6GB for the GeForce RTX 2060.

It even trade blows with the $400+ GeForce GTX 2060 Super. Even though it is slower overall, this is competitive performance from a $350 card compared to a $400+ card.

Tier 5:

Get the Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB from Amazon

$389.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Launched in July 2019, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT on based on AMD new 7nm RDNA architecture.

Nvidia replied with the GeForce 2060 Super, which is replacing the GeForce 2070 (which is being discontinued).

The RX 5700 XT outperforms the RTX 2060 Super by 10-11% on average.

The Radeon RX 5700 XT even competitive with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Super, being 5% slower on average, while costing 20% ($100) less!

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details with decent frame rates, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT  is a good choice. If you want even more performance, look into the GeForce RTX 2080 Super or the RTX 2080 Ti recommended for Tier 6 and 7 respectively.

Tier 6:

Get the Geforce RTX 2080 Super 8GB from Amazon

$719.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super was launched on July 23rd 2019.

It replaces the GeForce RTX 2080. Performance wise, it slots between the RTX 2070 Super and the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

At 4K, it offers:
– 8% more performance than the RTX 2080 (Non Super)
– 13% more performance than the RTX 2070 Super
– 24% more performance than the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
– 15% less performance than the vastly more expensive GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.

It’s the uncontested leader at this price point.

Tier 7:

Get the Geforce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB from Amazon

$1,099.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

While the GTX 1080 Ti brought good 4K gaming performance, it still wasn’t offering very high frame rates at 4K.

Offering on average 32-37% higher performance at 4K than the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti, according to AnandTech, the Geforce RTX 2080 Ti takes performance to the next level.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details, with higher frame rates, the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Ti is the fastest single-GPU graphic card currently available.

Which cooling system works best?
With a case that has a decent amount of cooling, the open air cooler will be more quiet.

RAM:

Tier 3-6:

Get a 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz Desktop Memory Kit from Amazon

$77.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

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 the same for all kits from the different vendors.

Is 3200MHz DDR4 RAM necessary?

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

Is it worth it to get RAM with higher frequencies?

Hardly. 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 games.

In my opinion, there is little incentive to move to higher frequency RAM (e.g. 3333MHz+ RAM vs the recommended 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.

You’re better off investing that extra money on a faster CPU, faster graphic 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.

Tier 7:

Get a 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz Desktop Memory Kit from Amazon

$139.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Why 32GB of RAM?

Games now recommend 16GB of RAM. Tier 7 features a graphic card with 11GB of onboard VRAM, so you want as much RAM to match your graphic card and some more for Windows, background programs, etc.
To ensure good performance right now and in the foreseeable future, going with 32GB of RAM for Tier 7 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, 32GB 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), 32GB will help your PC handle it with ease.

Another things to keep in mind is that as the years go by, 32GB will help performance stay good.

This is exactly why Tier 7 features 32GB 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.

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.
  • 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.

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 Intel 660p 512GB PCIe SSD from Amazon

$562.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Intel 660p offers great performance and reliability at an excellent price. Intel has a proven track record when it comes to reliability.

M.2 SSDs are easy to install too, no need to mess with cables.

Need a SSD with more storage capacity? I recommend the 1TB and 2TB Intel 660p just below.

Why not recommend an higher performance SSD?
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 hardly make any 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.

That said, if you don’t mind paying more for more performance, 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 Intel 660p 1TB from Amazon or $94.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

– 2TB: Get the Intel 660p 2TB from Amazon or B&H ($199.99)

Hard Drive:

All Tiers:

Get the Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200rpm SATA III Hard Drive from Amazon

$49.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

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 2TB offers good performance and great reliability at a reasonable cost.

Higher capacity alternatives:

The Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB is the next step up that I recommend.
Get the Seagate IronWolf 6TB 7200rpm from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping) – $139.99.

Mind you, the 6TB model isn’t much more expensive for 50%, or 2TB, more storage than the 4TB model:
Get the Seagate IronWolf 6TB 7200rpm from Amazon or from B&H (Worldwide Shipping) – $164.99.

Unfortunately, regular inexpensive 7200rpm 3TB and 4TB hard drives are getting harder and harder to find at a low price, hence the price jump from 2TB to 4TB. Be careful when buying an internal hard drive. I’m seeing Seagate replacing older 7200rpm Barracuda drives by newer but slower 5,400rpm drives. I saw this with their 3 and 4TB models, this could apply to other models too.

Basically avoid 5400rpm hard drives, they are significantly slower and don’t offer any valuable advantage.

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

Case:

Tier 3-4:

Get the Cougar MX330 from Amazon

$48.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Do you want a different case?

It’s quite difficult to please everyone when it comes to cases. The good news is that the vast majority of modern towers that support ATX motherboards should be compatible, so you can pick pretty much any case that you want. So if you want to check for a case with a different look, 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. Compatible motherboard form factor: ATX
2. CPU Cooler height clearance, Tier 4-7: The CPU Cooler Height is 6.1″ / 154.94 mm
3. If you go with the alternative CPU water-cooling kit, support for a 240mm radiator.
4. At least one case fan for Tier 3-4, two for Tier 5-7

Why am I recommending this case for Tier 3-4?
It’s a simple design with a transparent side window panel, at a great price, which allows you to invest your money on the components that make a difference when it comes to performance. It comes with four front USB ports, 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0.

It comes with one 120mm rear case fan. You can put up to 3 120mm front fans, one in the rear and two on top. It supports a 240mm radiator on top or in front (I recommend the top, so that the hot air goes out the case). The single case fan is sufficient for Tier 3 and 4. However, if you overclock your CPU on air cooling or overclocking your graphic card, I’d add some case fans.

There’s also a shroud for the power supply, so your build will look cleaner.

Tier 5-7:

Get the Cooler Master MasterCase H500 from Amazon

$113.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Why am I recommending this case for Tier 5-7?
Tier 5, 6 and especially 7 have more powerful components, that emit more heat, so you need a case that can dissipate that heat to avoid thermal throttling, ensure stability and avoid overheating.

This does not mean that you need noisy fans or an overly expensive case.

The case comes with both a transparent acrylic front panel, for looks, and a mesh front panel, for maximum airflow.

With two 200mm front fans and a rear 120mm, your build will get plenty of airflow. You can put a 240mm radiator on top or a 360mm radiator in front.

The front fans are RGB fans and the case comes with a RGB controller, allowing you to customize the look as you wish, or turn off the lights if you prefer.

There’s also a shroud for the power supply, so your build will look cleaner and it comes with an handle on top in the front, to help you carry the case.

It’s a case that does the job, at a reasonable price. Don’t like it? Good news is that you can pick pretty much any modern case that support ATX motherboard, see my note above, in the Tier 3-4 case section, for details of what to look for when it comes to compatibility.

Power Supply:

Tier 3-5:

Get the be quiet! U9 600W 80+ Bronze from Amazon

 

– $59.08 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

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 48A on the 12V line, the most important factor when it comes to choosing a power supply for a gaming computer.

A quality power supply at a great price.

This is an especially quiet power supply, which is always a nice touch.

Yes, Tier 3 and 4 could get by with a lower wattage power supply, but you wouldn’t save much if any money, so might as well have more headroom and a quality power supply at a good price.

Tier 6-7:

Get the EVGA 700 BR, 80+ Bronze 700W from Amazon

$74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Value wise, this power supply is pretty much unbeatable. It is rated to deliver up to 700W, is rated for 58.3A 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 700W, 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 58.3A 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:

Overclocking Alternative:

Here’s my alternative recommendation if you need or want a more powerful power supply:

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.
– Graphic Card overclocking: Add 100-150W

Get the EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G+ 80+ Gold from Amazon

$134.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This is one of the best power supplies available on the market. You get a 10 years warranty and that alone says something about the quality that you’re getting here.

When it comes to overclocking, you want both a lot of wattage, as well as high-quality power delivery, with a lack of current fluctuations, ripples and electrical noise, for the best overclocking results possible. This power supply delivers that.

The fan has Fluid Dynamic Bearings, which last much longer than cheaper sleeve bearings. It functions in three operational stages: Fanless Mode, Silent Mode, and Cooling Mode, according to the load and temperature of the 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 estimated loads are in Italic, while my recommendations for a PSU Watts Output (including overhead) are in Bold.

  1. 369W/500W with the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and the Geforce GTX 1660 Super (Tier 3).
  2. 458W/550W with the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X and the Radeon RX 5700 (Tier 4).
  3. 504W/600W with the Intel Core i7-9700KF and the Radeon RX 5700 XT (Tier 5).
  4. 529W/650W with the Intel Core i7-9700KF and the Geforce RTX 2080 Super (Tier 6).
  5. 529W/650W with the Intel Core i9-9900KF and the Geforce RTX 2080 Ti (Tier 7)

Estimated loads vs my recommendations: Give your power supply plenty of overhead!
You could match a 500W PSU with a PC that uses 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 graphic 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, graphic card, etc.

Regular or modular power supply?
Modular meaning that all cables are removable, so that you only install the ones that you need, resulting in less of a cable mess. Semi-modular have fixed motherboard (20+4 pins) and CPU (4-8pin) cables, which are necessary, the rest of the cables are modular.

Note that both recommended cases have PSU shrouds, so you won’t see the cables anyway.

Cooling:

CPU Cooler

Tier 3-4:

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 5-7:

Get the DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400 from Amazon

– $22.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 7 CPU does 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 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:

Corsair Hydro H100i Pro

– Click here to check the price on Amazon
$124.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

240mm all-in-one liquid CPU Cooler
Offering great performance, fan and pump speed that can be customized, so that you can find the right balance between cooling and noise.

This 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.

Make sure to plug the USB header and install Corsair iCUE software to be capable of adjusting fan and pump speed.

Comes with a 5 years warranty. Compatible with both Intel and AMD CPUs.

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 SE 5.1 PCI-Express Sound Card from Amazon
$40.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

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.

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

Why am I recommending the ASUS Xonar SE?

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.

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!

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, PCIe sound card offer an higher SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) compared to USB sound card at a similar price.

PCI-Express 1x Sound cards:

ASUS Xonar SE 5.1 116dB SNR PCI-Express 1x
Click here to see the price on Amazon
–  $41.21 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

Sound Blaster Z 7.1 116dB SNR PCI-Express 1x
Click here to see the price on Amazon
$89.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

USB Sound cards:

Creative Labs Sound Blaster PLAY! 3 94dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $24.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

ASUS Xonar U3 2.1 100dB SNR USB Sound Card:
Click here to see the price on Amazon
$47.06 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

ASUS Xonar U7 MKII 7.1 114dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $89.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

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:
Do you want WiFi and or Bluetooth?

I recommended simply upgrading to the alternative motherboard, which features WiFi and Bluetooth, for a simple solution.

Wireless Connectivity:
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 the ASUS PCE-AC55BT B1 PCI Express 1x expansion card.

This card offers 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.

Get the ASUS PCE-AC55BT B1 from:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon, $34.99 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

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.

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 $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.

  1. Get the Windows 10 Home OEM, 64-Bit DVD from Amazon or $109.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

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?

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:

  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 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.

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