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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 three comprehensive articles where I, Mathieu Bourgie, a computer hardware enthusiast with over 18 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.

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 April 12th 2019.

  • 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.

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 Intel Core i5-9400F from Amazon

– $176.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $159.99 at Newegg

The Core i5-9400F is an Intel processor based on the latest Coffee Lake architecture.

It features six cores running at 2.9 to 4.1GHz.

Note that the F in i5-9400F means that it doesn’t include integrated graphics. This doesn’t matter to you, as you’ll be using a dedicated graphic card.

V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 2600:

For gaming performance:
The Intel Core i5-9400F, with its Coffee Lake architecture that offers higher single-threaded performance than the AMD Zen architecture found in the AMD Ryzen 5 2600, offers the best gaming performance. Considering its higher performance and lower price, this is an easy recommendation.

Tier 4:

Get the Intel Core i5-9600K from Amazon

$278.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$264.99 at Newegg

The Intel Core i5-9600K is a more powerful CPU compared to the Intel Core i5-9400F recommended above.

They both feature 6 cores but the Core i5-9600K runs at much higher frequencies: Base frequency is 3.7GHz and Turbo frequency is 4.6GHz, compared to to 2.9-4.1GHz for the Core i5-9400F.

So that’s 800MHz more base frequency and 500MHz more Turbo frequency!

Also keep in mind that this is a K series Intel CPU, so its multiplier is unlocked for overclocking.

V.S. AMD Ryzen 5 2600/2600X:

The Intel Core i5-9600K, with its higher frequencies, offers the best gaming performance, except for the even higher frequency and more expensive Intel Core i7-9700K or i9-9900K. The Core i5-9600K outperforms the AMD Ryzen 5 2600/2600X when it comes to gaming performance.

This makes it easy for me to recommend the Intel Core i5-9600K over the AMD counterparts.

Tier 5-6:

Get the Intel Core i7-9700K from Amazon

$424.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$409.99 at Newegg

High Gaming Performance:
The Core i7-9700K is second in performance only to the Core i9-9900K, which is only a few % faster in gaming due to higher frequencies. The Core i9-9900K offers Hyper-Threading support, which is meaningless for gaming performance. Basically the Core i7-9700K offers far better bang for your buck. A

Short of the i9-9900K, it’s the CPU that offers the highest gaming performance, more so than the AMD Ryzen CPUs, thanks to its higher frequencies and highly efficient architecture that offers higher single-threaded performance than AMD’s CPUs.

Alternatives with higher overall performance, for a gaming PC that is also used as a Workstation:
The Intel Core i9-9900K offers the best of both worlds: The best gaming performance and higher multi-threaded performance. 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 Intel Core i9-9900K. With its 8 cores that can handle 16 threads, it is more suited to workstation type of workloads.

Intel Core i9-9900K
– Click here to see the price on Amazon

– $529.89 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $529.99 at Newegg

The competition, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X offers lower frequencies and lower single-threaded performance, so it is no match for the performance of the Intel Core i9-9900K.

Overclocking optional:
All the Intel K 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 improved CPU cooling.

Motherboard:

All Tiers:

Get the MSI Z390-A PRO from Amazon

– $129.99 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $129.99 at Newegg

This is a great entry-level Intel Z390 motherboard offering support for USB 3.0 with an on board header, 1x M.2 slot with PCI-E 3.0 4x SSD support, 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, you’ll want to upgrade to the MSI MPG Z390 GAMING EDGE.

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

Get the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC from Amazon
$189.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$189.99 at Newegg

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 Ti from Amazon

$279.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$279.99 at Newegg

Don’t be fooled by the name:
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is based on the same Turing architecture as the GeForce RTX 2060, 2070, 2080 and 2080 Ti.
– It’s the successor to the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, which are becoming increasingly rare.
– Performance wise, it offers on average 36% more performance than the GeForce GTX 1060 GB, according to AnandTech.

Then why is it called GTX 1660 Ti and not say, RTX 1660 Ti, or RTX 2050 Ti?
Because to reduce die size and thus costs, Nvidia removed the ray tracing functionality, which mind you, is only currently found in a few games. So if you only care about graphic game performance and want high performance at a lower price, in other words, great value, the GTX 1660 Ti is what you want.

GeForce GTX 1660 Ti V.S. Vega 56 V.S. RX 590 V.S. GTX 1060 6GB:
Which one should you pick?
The Radeon RX 590 sells for about the same price as the GTX 1660 Ti.
The GTX 1660 Ti cleanly beats it in performance and power efficiency, delivering 25% better performance for a bit over half the power consumption, according to AnandTech.

As for the GTX 1060, it also sells around the same price and it offers lower performance than the RX 590 and GTX 1660.

Then there’s the RX Vega 56. On average, it’s about 5% faster than the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti. The problem? It’s usually quite more expensive, difficult to find in stock and it consumes much more power. There’s supposedly a sale (not a price drop) on them, but looking on Amazon, B&H and Newegg, there’s isn’t any interesting offer that I can find.

Basically, the GTX 1660 Ti is the mainstream mid-range graphic card to get at the moment.

What video games can the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB 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 Geforce RTX 2060 6GB from Amazon

$349.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$349.99 at Newegg

Offering 80% of the performance of the Geforce GTX 1080

The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060, GTX 1070, 1070 Ti and AMD RX Vega 56/64 all trade blows when it comes to performance.

The RTX 2060 (6GB) is
– 59% faster than a GTX 1060 6GB
– 14-15% faster than the GTX 1070
– 2-3% faster than the GTX 1070 Ti
– 8-11% faster than the RX Vega 56
– 5% slower than the $450+ RX Vega 64

Considering performance, current prices and availability, the GeForce RTX 2060 makes sense.

Tier 5:

Get the Geforce RTX 2070 8GB from Amazon

$499.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$499.99 at Newegg

While the GTX 1070/Ti/RTX 2060 bring great 1080p/1440p gaming performance, they aren’t powerful enough to run all games at 4K with high/maximum settings at 60+ FPS.

Launched in October 2018 and offering on average 36% higher performance at a 4K resolution than the Geforce GTX 1070. Ultimately, its performance lands between the old GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti (according to AnandTech). You get this performance at a lower price, making the Geforce RTX 2070 a fairly good value.

Compared to the RTX 2080, it offers about 82% of the performance at roughly 72% of the price.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details with decent frame rates, the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 is a good choice. If you want even more performance, look into the RTX 2080 below.

Tier 6:

Get the Geforce RTX 2080 8GB from Amazon

$699.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$699.99 at Newegg

The second highest performance graphic card of the new RTX 20xx series from Nvidia, the Geforce RTX 2080 8GB offers on average 8-9% better performance than the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti or 18% more than the RTX 2070.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details, the Nvidia Geforce GTX 2080 is a good choice. Need the best? See the RTX 2080 Ti in the upcoming update to the Extreme Gaming PCs article.

RAM:

All Tiers:

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

$96.29 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$96.29 at Newegg

Why do I (sometimes) recommend different RAM kits at Amazon, B&H and Newegg?
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.

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 that as the years go by, 16GB will help performance stay good.

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 (2x16GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 3200MHz from Amazon or B&H ($192.59) or Newegg ($192.59)

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 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 might not be capable of handling higher frequencies.

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.

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 Intel 660p 512GB PCIe SSD from Amazon

$79.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$69.99 at Newegg

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, $114.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $109.99 at Newegg

– 2TB: Get the Intel 660p 2TB from Amazon, B&H ($219.99) or Newegg ($214.99)

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 H500 (4 colors available) from Amazon

$73.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$76.99 at Newegg

Why am I recommending this case?
It’s available in 4 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 water cooling

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

Of course, you can pick any case, just make sure that it supports ATX sized motherboards.

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. 364W/450W with the Intel Core i5-9400F and the Geforce GTX 1660 Ti (Tier 3).
  2. 433W/500W with the Intel Core i5-9600K and the Geforce RTX 2060 (Tier 4).
  3. 448W/550W with the Intel Core i7-9700K and the Geforce RTX 2070 (Tier 5).
  4. 489W/600W with the Intel Core i7-9700K and the Geforce RTX 2080 (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 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.

Tier 3-4:

Get the EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze from Amazon

$49.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$54.99 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 41.7A 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


$52.77 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$69.99 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.
– Graphic Card overclocking: Add 50W

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

– EVGA 750W 80+ Bronze: From Amazon, $74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $84.99 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

– $24.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$24.99 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:

Corsair Hydro H100i Pro

– Click here to check the price on Amazon
$119.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
$109.99 at Newegg

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.

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
$41.21 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
N/A 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.

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!

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:

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
$76.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

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.

Creative Labs Sound Blaster PLAY! 3 94dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $26.99 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) or $34.99 from Newegg.

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.

You can also check out our article on The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters, for more options.

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 $126.70 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $139.99 at Newegg

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, $99.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or $99.99 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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