Now that Ryzen is finally here and we’ve done our testing, it’s time to update our PC building list for all budgets from $150 to $2,500. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this list, it features 10 builds that are not only updated regularly, but that also come with reviews. So, whether you’re looking for a cheap gaming PC or a high-end gaming monster, you can find it here.
15 Amazing Gaming Computer Builds from $150 to $2500
Contents at a Glance
- 1 15 Amazing Gaming Computer Builds from $150 to $2500
- 2 Custom PC Builder’s Guide for 2017
- 3 Intel Vs. AMD Processors 2017 CPU Comparison
- 4 NVIDIA Vs. AMD in 2017
- 5 How to Allocate Your Budget
- 6 How Much Power Does Your PC Need?
- 7 What DDR4 Memory Should You Buy?
Building your own gaming PC isn’t difficult if you’ve got the right parts. So, we’ve put together a list of builds for all budgets from as low as $150 to as high as $2,500. So, whether you’re trying to play in 720p or 4k, you’ll find what we recommend. Are these builds right for everyone? No. That being said, they are a good starting point. Need help with your PC? There’s a guide Be sure to ask me any questions you might have below.
Need help with your PC or want to catch up on the hardware market? There’s a guide below this list that can help. Also, you can ask any additional questions you might have below.
*To view all PC builds, please scroll or slide the following table.
Custom PC Builder’s Guide for 2017
You can get a lot more performance out of your gaming computer if you’re willing to build it yourself. So, here’s a guide on some of the basics you need to know about each part before you begin. If you’re on a budget, also take a look at our guide to cheap PC building.
Intel Vs. AMD Processors 2017 CPU Comparison
Want to know what processor you should get for your build? Here are our thoughts.
Ryzen is Relevant
AMD’s Ryzen lineup has really changed the face of the landscape in the CPU market. While Intel processors will give you a few more frames at the same price points, the Ryzen processors will give you more cores. Those same cores translate into some good performance in work-related tasks.
Whose Processors are Better Intel or AMD?
While this time last year, I would have said that it made no sense to use an AMD CPU at all, this year it’s starting to. The Ryzen processors are fantastic options for those of us who use our gaming rig as our daily work computer. If you’re curious, you can take a look at our Ryzen 7 1700 vs i7 benchmarks here as well as our Ryzen 5 1600 vs the i5 here.
No, the Ryzen IPC has not caught up to Intel’s Kaby Lake. However, compared to Broadwell-e Ryzen is very good. This makes it very easy to build a cheap photo editing PC.
So, the answer to the question of whether AMD or Intel is better in 2017, is it depends. It depends on what you’re using for. If you’re using this PC strictly as a gaming, rig, then it’s likely Intel is your solution.
Ryzen’s Future Performance In Games
There are some that will argue that in the future, the AMD Ryzen processors will perform better as manufacturers utilize more cores. That being said, by the time this really happens there will be other options in the market. So, instead of going on what could happen, I recommend you go with the results we’re seeing right now. For now, Ryzen is a great workhorse CPU but lacks the performance in games that Kaby Lake does.
NVIDIA Vs. AMD in 2017
Who has the best graphics card for the money?
I recently wrote my thoughts down on graphics cards for the $200 and $100 categories. AMD’s RX series has certainly done a good job with keeping with Intel in those categories. I’d consider the GTX 1050 and RX 460 race to be fairly even and the GTX 1060 vs RX 580 race to also be a good one.
One of the better deals you’ll find in the category is the RX 470. If you can find it for around $150 you’ve got a solid 1080p ultra settings for cheap.
Above those categories Intel seems to have the advantage right now; however, I’m excited to see what will come out shortly from AMD in the high-end space. While the GTX 580 and 570 were recently released, these were more of a rebrand or replacement for the 400 series rather than a substantial upgrade.
For those looking on the high end, we like the GTX 1080Ti which has shown substantial performance value vs the GTX 1080. Here’s a look at our 1080ti vs 1080 ultrawide benchmarks to give you an indication of the gains you can expect.
Graphics Card Budget Allocation
The graphics card, along with your processor, will be the biggest boost to your overall FPS or frames per second. For that reason, we try to allocate as much of our budget as possible to the graphics card. As long as you have a processor that won’t bottleneck, the graphics card will be the biggest overall performance indicator for your gaming PC in games.
That being said it’s important to have a functional PC first. This is especially true if you have enough graphical power for your needs. For example, if you’re playing in 1080p, you probably don’t need to go beyond the GTX 1060 6GB or RX 480 8GB at this point in time. Any additional money might be put towards other useful components for your custom build.
In our $150 build we use an APU which combines a budget processor with slightly enhanced integrated graphics. These graphics give us enough to play basic games.
At each price point, we improve both the processor and the CPU in equal fashion until we hit the i7 sweet spot. In previous years, we’d have said this was the i5. However, having seen the i5 bottleneck in certain games, we now feel it’s a good idea to go with something more substantial for higher-end PC builds.
How to Allocate Your Budget
Above I’ve included PC builds for budgets from as low as $150 to as high as $2500. While these are the builds that many will like, I know that others will need to allocate their money towards various other costs instead.
That being said I do recommend purchasing the CPU you plan on having for the life of your motherboard. This tends to be something we stick with until the next PC build comes around. Other parts like the graphics card and additional RAM are much more likely to be upgraded during the life of your PC. In other words, you’ll want to spend a little more on your CPU to get the kind of processing power you’re willing to stick with for several years. Sacrificing in-game FPS performance from your GPU may be difficult at first but should extend the life of your PC.
A perfect example of this would be with Intel’s Sandy Bridge release. If you purchased an i3 at that time, it may have had a bottleneck in games like Battlefield 4. At that point in time, you’d be forced to either upgrade to another LGA 1155 processor or build a new PC altogether. Building a new PC would be pricey but enticing to avoid purchasing an older version of the processor. On the other hand, if you’d purchased an i5 up front, most likely you’d just be looking to upgrade just your graphics card.
Why Rebates Are Important:
If you’re willing to take the time to fill out the rebate and send it in, you can save a lot of money on your overall PC. If you’re willing to find the parts for your PC over a few months, then most likely you can save up to 25% on your PC. These savings are compounded when you find a product that’s already on sale and rebate. Power supplies are a big part of this and can often be found at a 50% discount.
Are Combos Deals Worth It?
For the most part, I’d say no. Combo deals often show a large savings number that doesn’t really add up when you find the individual components you’re looking for. Often times prices for particular components will go off sale just at the exact time combo deals come up. In addition, not being able to choose the exact parts you want for your PC comes with the cost of getting hardware that is poorly rated.
How Much Power Does Your PC Need?
If you’re looking for a good power supply and want to know how much power your PC needs, I recommend our post on power supplies for the money. In the post, I discuss not only how much power you need, but also show power supplies in tiers.
Speaking of tiers, whether or not you want to go with a high-end CPU depends on your budget. We recommend lower tier PSUs for budget builds and more long-term solutions for high-end builds.
Heading into 2017 it’s likely that the power supply needs for even higher-end builds will continue to decrease. With more efficient CPUs and GPUs it’s easy to get away with a low capacity tier 1 PSU and expect to use it for its lifespan.
What DDR4 Memory Should You Buy?
DDR4 is standard across most modern platforms in 2017. If you’re building an AMD Ryzen PC and want to hit that magic 3200MHz number, I suggest you take a look at our post on the best DDR4 memory for Ryzen. For Intel builds, find something inexpensive and fast. Of course, if you don’t have a Z270 or Z170 motherboard, you’ll likely be limited to 2133MHz. So, keep that in mind before spending extra.
How Much Do You Need?
While there are some games that go beyond 8GB of Ram in their needs, the performance impact is still minimal. So, unless you have a build that’s over $1,000, I’d stick with a 4x2GB configuration. APU builds should use multi-channel kits as they tend to improve performance overall.
How Fast Does Your Ram Need to Be?
I feel like the Ram sweet spot for DDR3 is 1866MHz while for DDR4 it depends on whether you’re using an Intel or AMD Ryzen CPU. Moderate improvements in FPS can be achieved by getting up to 2666MHz. However, it’s still not as big of a deal.
Do I Need a CPU Cooler?
If you’re not trying to overclock, then no. Believe it or not most PC builders and even enthusiasts do not overclock on a regular basis. So, quite a bit of money can be saved by eliminating the extra CPU cooler and get a processor that isn’t unlocked. Take an i5 as an example.
For $190 you can get an i5-7500 that does a fantastic job in gaming. If I were to go with the i5-7600k, I’d pay another $40 for the CPU and anywhere from $30 to $100 for the CPU cooler. If, instead, you put that money towards a graphics card, it’s likely you’d get more performance in games anyway.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether you truly plan on overclocking or not. If you do, you’ll definitely want a CPU cooler. For those overclocking a Ryzen processor, I suggest you try out the included Wraith CPU cooler to see how well it does before you go out and spend additional money.
Overall the best idea is to spend a little bit more on components that influence your PC’s FPS and your computer’s overall longevity. Focus heavily on your processor and graphics card, and upgrade other components as they are needed.
Before you go be sure to take a look at our PC builds by budget above.