Looking to build a $700 to $800 budget PC before heading into 2017? Here’s a look at the parts we recommend. It’s a build that combines quality parts and an i5 processor along with a massive $250 graphics card.
Finding the right balance between performance and functionality can be tricky when you’re building your first gaming computer.
Experienced builders tell you to spend more on the main components so that when you go to upgrade or rebuild in the future you’ll be able to reuse those parts but the allure of better performance now is often too tempting.
For our $700 to $800 Gaming PC we’ll keep it functional while comparing it to a more bare bones performance-related build. In this post, we’ll go over which hardware we think gives you the best value for the money at the $700 to $800 gaming PC build price point. Want to spend less or more on your rig? See our list of the top gaming PC builds right now for 10 more options.
$700 To $800 Gaming PC Build For 2017 – Haswell vs Skylake
Contents at a Glance
- 1 $700 To $800 Gaming PC Build For 2017 – Haswell vs Skylake
- 2 A Good Power Supply That Will Last a Long Time
Here’s a table comparing 4 builds from Haswell and Skylake. The builds with the “k” processors go along with the Hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler. If you don’t plan on overclocking, we recommend you save money, use the stock cooler, and go with the i5-6500. Heading into 2017, you should consider any similar Kaby Lake processors like the i5-7600k. Especially, if they ask a similar price. Clock for clock they’ll be an improvement.
The Haswell builds, if purchased new, aren’t that appealing. That being said, if you already have some of the parts to use for that platform, you’ll be able to save quite a bit of money without much of a performance hit.
To Skylake or Not to Skylake, That is the Question
If you’re building a PC at this price point should you go with a 6th generation Skylake-based processor or 4th generation Haswell? Performance-wise Skylake is better clock for clock. However, benchmarks have shown it won’t have a large effect on your in-game FPS.
What’s more is that if you can save additional money by going with an older processor, you might be able to put more of your overall budget towards your graphics card which would be a true performance booster.
Ultimately, the choice may come down to whether you’re willing to build a new PC based on an older CPU or whether rather go with a newer generation.
What about DDR4 Vs. DDR3?
DDR4 is required for X99 motherboards as well as for some Skylake 1151 motherboards. In terms of price, they’re fairly similar. For performance, DDR4 has little benefit Vs. DDR3 at this point in time. That being said as timings continue to tighten this could change.
Of course, DDR4 has other advantages. Lower power consumption, up to 40%, and faster performance multi-core systems are a couple. Like DDR3, faster DDR4 also seems to be rather advantageous for lower-end CPUs that potentially bottleneck the video card with the jump from 2133MHz to 2400MHz being the most advantageous.
If you’re going with Kaby Lake or Skylake, faster memory is only compatible with Z170 chipset motherboards. Chipsets, like the H170, only support speeds up to 2133MHz.
Overall, DDR4 is not a must in today’s market but is something you might as well go for if you’re building a new rig.
Processors for Gaming Around $200
With a base clock speed of 3.2GHz / 3.4GHz (Turbo), the Haswell i5-4460 is a formidable quad-core processor for any game rig but slower than the 3.2GHz / 3.6GHz (Turbo) i5-6500 Skylake processor clock for clock. While the overall performance difference between these CPUs is as much as 10% in favor of Skylake, the in-game FPS difference between these two CPUs should be minimal.
Those who want to overclock can combine the i5-6600k or i5-4690k along with an inexpensive CPU cooler, like the Hyper 212 Evo. This should give you a substantial performance boost. Keep in mind that this upgrade will cost you between $50 and $80. However, if it comes between the overclocked CPU and a better graphics card, I’d lean towards the graphics card.
As I mentioned above you should also be on the lookout for AMD’s Zen processors as well as Intel 7th generation Kaby Lake processors in 2017. These should give you a slight boost in performance. That being said we may still be a ways away from this.
Graphics Cards Under $250
If you’re looking for a good graphics card in the $200 to $250 price range, you’ll be looking at the RX 480 8GB and the GTX 1060 6GB. I’d give a substantial advantage to the GTX 1060 6GB in DirectX 11 games. While the RX 480 narrows the gap or even beats the GTX 1060 6GB in many DirectX 12 titles, it’s simply not a big enough deal right now.
Still, either one of these cards should give you the ability to play AAA games in ultra settings at 1080p and even many games in 1440p. That kind of performance from a $250 card is something AMD and NVIDIA fans should be excited about.
Stepping up from here you’re looking at a substantial budget increase. The GTX 1070 has hovered around $400 for several months now. Downgrading I’d recommend the 4GB RX 470. It performs nearly as well as the RX 480 4GB and can be found for as low as $170. The performance drop between this and the $250 RX 480 8GB is not that big of a deal, either.
The motherboard is always a tricky pick in this range because you want something reliable but not too expensive. I really like MSI’s Z97 PC Mate series in this price range for the Haswell build. It’s inexpensive and should allow you a decent overclock.
For Skylake or Kaby Lake, you could certainly go with an H170 board if you’re not planning to overclock. However, you’d then be stuck with 2133MHz memory. Instead, we’re going with the Gigabyte GA-Z170M-D3H for both builds. we’re using the Z170A version with support for up to 64GB of 3466MHz (OC) Dual Channel DDR4 memory.
If you’d prefer another option, here are some other cheap and good Skylake motherboards to consider.
If you don’t plan on overclocking the CPU or memory, there are clearly cheaper H97 and H170A chipset options. Personalize your build where possible.
For our Skylake Build, I’m going with 2x4GB of Corsair LPX. It’s relatively inexpensive (around $50) and has good speeds for its price. You’ll pay nearly as much for the 2400MHz ram as the 3000MHz LPX, so I’d go with the higher option where possible.
For our Haswell build, I’m trying to go with Ram that I think is relatively similar with 8GB of Kingston HyperX Fury Black 1866MHz DDR3. There are several other similar options out there. So, go with an inexpensive option you can trust.
It’s true that you could bag the solid state drive here and put more towards your graphics card. That being said, I think most people who actually use their gaming PC beyond simply gaming would regret that decision. The speed differential from the time you turn on your computer to when you turn it off is monumental.
As a Battlefield 1 player, I’ve even noticed that map loading is quicker. That means I often have a better chance of getting a vehicle at the start of a match.
We’re also going with a hard drive in this build in the 1TB Caviar Blue from Western Digital. Those who’d prefer a higher capacity option should go with the Hitachi Deskstar 2TB option. Either option is fast and gives you alot of capacity for what you spend. The exra space will, of course, be invaluable for storing all of your games and programs.
Budget CPU Coolers Around $25 (For Overclocking)
Cooler master owns this part of the market, almost literally. This is mainly because of the Hyper 212 Evo. So, if you’re planning to overclock and need a cheap CPU cooling option, its the way to go. I use these in a lot of my PCs and never have an issue getting a solid overclock.
If you want to go beyond this price range, I’d recommend the Corsair Hydro H100i or similar liquid coolers. As these are often above $100, you might want to consider putting this extra money towards a GTX 1070 instead.
A Good Power Supply That Will Last a Long Time
We’re not focusing on the short-term with this next component. The EVGA SuperNova NEX 650W is a good tier 1 power supply. I’d use it in builds two or three times the price of this one. If you wanted to go with something cheaper, you could use something like EVGA’s 500 Watt W1 PSU. It’s not as reliable but it is 80 PLUS certified and thus fairly energy efficient. This would save you around $40 that you could allocate towards other components.
Overall, both of these PCs make a lot of sense to me. Still, I’d love to hear what you think about them. The extra $40 to $60 for a solid state drive here seems necessary. Still, an argument could be made here that you could save money on a cheaper case, go with a non “k” CPU, purchase a 240GB SSD rather than 120GB, bag the HDD altogether, go with a cheaper PSU, and have nearly enough money for a GTX 1070. You’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it or not to push it that hard.
Obviously, I recommend you do what we mentioned above. The better quality parts will serve you in the long-run and when you go to upgrade in two or three years you’ll still be confident in the components you purchased. Thoughts?