I have several friends that have been holding on to their Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge gaming PCs waiting for a good time to upgrade. Now that AMD’s Ryzen has been released and Kaby Lake is out, there are good reasons for going with either. As a result, we’ll be giving you 4 good builds from $1,250 to $1,500 and telling you the pros and cons of each.
When I compare these builds to what I was suggesting last year, in 2017 we’re placing a bigger priority on the CPU. This comes as a result of testing various games where the 4 core i5 simply wasn’t enough. That being said, whether or not you need an i7 or an R7 processor might have to do with the games you’re trying to play this year. In the long-run, I feel that putting a little extra towards your CPU will allow these computers to have additional longevity.
4 Top AMD and Intel Gaming PC Builds from $1,250 to $1,500 2017
Contents at a Glance
- 1 4 Top AMD and Intel Gaming PC Builds from $1,250 to $1,500 2017
Before I get into why we chose certain parts for certain builds, here’s a table with a summary of the parts we’ve used. Rest assured, there is a reason for each pick. So, if you’d like to know more, see our more detailed explanation below. If all you want to see is our current PC builds, you can take a look at all of our top builds by budget here.
|$1,250 Ryzen 7 1700 Build||$1,250 Intel i7 Build||$1,500 Ryzen 7 1700 Build||$1,500 Intel i7 Build|
|Ryzen 7 1700||Intel i7-7700k||Ryzen 7 1700||Intel i7-7700k
|CM Hyper 212 Evo||CM Hyper 212 Evo||Noctua NH-D15||Noctua NH-D15
|Asus Prime X370-PRO||Asus Prime Z270-A||Asus Prime X370-PRO||Asus Prime Z270-A
|G. Skill Trident Z 2x8GB||Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000||G. Skill Trident Z 2x8GB||Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000|
|Sandisk SSD PLUS 240GB||Sandisk SSD PLUS 240GB||Samsung 960 EVO 250GB M.2 SSD||Samsung 960 EVO 250GB M.2 SSD|
|WD 1 TB Caviar Blue||WD 1 TB Caviar Blue||Hitachi Deskstar 2TB||Hitachi Deskstar 2TB|
|NVIDIA GTX 1070||NVIDIA GTX 1070||NVIDIA GTX 1080||NVIDIA GTX 1080|
|Corsair 200R||Corsair 200R||Corsair 200R||Corsair 200R|
|EVA SuperNova NEX 650W||EVA SuperNova NEX 650W||EVA SuperNova NEX 650W||EVA SuperNova NEX 650W|
AMD Ryzen 7 1700 vs Intel i7-7700k
As you see in the table above, we’re recommending either the Ryzen 7 1700 or the Intel i7-7700k at this price point.
First of all, if all you’re looking for is gaming performance, the Intel i7-7700k wins here hands down. You can take a look at our AMD R7 1700 vs Intel i7-7700k benchmarks here for more information. That being said, there’s a lot to like about an 8 core and 16 thread processor in the AMD Ryzen 7 1700. It’s fast, really fast. Is it’s IPC on par with the i7-770ok? No, and that’s one of the reasons it loses in gaming benchmarks. However, during many other tasks, the Ryzen wins hands down.
So, the big question on whether or not the Ryzen 7 1700 or the i7-7700k is the better CPU is not so straightforward. If you’re using your PC simply as a gaming rig, then we’d recommend sticking with the i7. If you’re using it as a workstation, then you’ll want to check out the type of tasks you do to make sure that all those threads and cores are something that will be more beneficial than the i7.
Is the Ryzen 7 1700 more futureproof than the i7?
There’s also the issue of longevity. While I prefer to look at current benchmarks, there’s something to be said about how these two processors will compare to each other in a couple of years. Of course, this depends on developers ability to utilize more cores in games. However, for the most part, looking ahead hasn’t really worked for me in the past. In other words, by the time that all the most important games utilize 16 threads, it’ll likely be time for another PC upgrade.
Graphics Cards for 1440p and 4k
If you want a more bare bones version of each of these PC builds, money can be saved by going with 8GB of memory, a smaller solid state drive, a less efficient power supply, and a motherboard with fewer features. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with that. So, if you’re trying to fit a GTX 1080 into the $1,250 build and a GTX 1080 Ti into the $1,500 we totally get it. However, we feel that these builds are a better fit for the mainstream consumer who prefers to upgrade their GPU every few years.
GTX 1070 vs 1080
For our $1,250 build we’ve recommended the GTX 1070 and for the $1,500 build, the GTX 1080. Clearly, the 1080Ti is the king right now. So, if your aim is 30% more performance in 4k, it’s probably a good idea to go that route. There isn’t an AMD option we’d recommend for either one of these builds right now. Down the road when VEGA is released, that’s a possibility. For now, we recommend you stay with team green at this price point.
In terms of benchmarks, we’ve got a few for you to look at. Here are few we’ve done for the 1080Ti and the 1080 in ultrawide. For a good comparison of the GTX 1080 and the 1070, we’ve done some benchmarks as well. If you’re looking for a benchmark for a particular game, that’s a good place to start. That being said, the $500 price of the GTX 1080 is very appealing for those of you looking to game in 1440p on ultra settings. Those of you who are willing to go with high settings or simply want to game in 1080p, should save some money and stick with the GTX 1070 for now.
CPU Coolers and Overclocking – Most Gamers Don’t Do It
Very few gamers ever end up actually overclocking their CPUs. I’m sure a lot of people, as they’re building their CPUs, think, “hey I’m going to overclock this CPU to 5GHZ”. In reality, this rarely happens. So, if you’re not planning on overclocking, there’s a couple things to know. First of all, a CPU like the i7-7700 can save you some money. Also, the Ryzen 7 1700 isn’t nearly as good of a performer without being overclocked and isn’t nearly as good of a deal if you keep it at stock settings. For this reason, the i7 is likely the solution for the majority of people right now. Second, not overclocking here can save you $30 on your CPU and another $30 to $70 on the Cooler. This could be enough to go from the 1070 to the 1080. This will give you better performance in games.
If you do plan on overclocking, the Noctua NH-D15 is one of the better air CPU coolers out there. It should allow you to get a solid 3.9 to 4GHz overclock on your Ryzen CPU and 5GHz without a problem on the i7-7700k. Of course, if you just want to do a light overclock, you can save some money and go with the Hyper 212 EVO. If you do go with the Hyper 212 EVO, there’s a free Ryzen compatible mounting bracket on the Cooler master website.
For those who are wondering, the Ryzen 7 1700 does come with the wraith CPU cooler. It should, depending on your CPU, allow you to do a decent overclock as well without spending any extra on a CPU cooler.
Mid-Range X370 and Z270 Motherboards Around $150
For motherboard, we’re going with a mid-range option here for both builds in the X370-PRO and Asus Z270 Prime. These should have plenty of features for most users. Of course, the B350 Ryzen chipset does allow overclocking. So if you just need some more basic features, you might be able to save some money here by going with a good AM4 B350 motherboard. The same can be said about the Prime here. Going with a budget Z270 option around $100 will save you around $50.
Solid State Drive Options
Our $1,500 build is using a good nVME SSD drive to speed up boot times and loading screens. Of course, you could use the Sandisk drive we’re using in our $1,250 build here to save some money. Loading times will still be pretty fast. However, for the price of these nVME drives it’s hard not to pull the trigger. It keeps your build current and fast and that’s something we all want.
Good Memory for Ryzen
Ryzen loves fast memory. However, there are certain kits that simply work better on it. We’ve written about that in our post on the best Ram for Ryzen. So, if you’re wondering why we’re recommending two different kits for the Ryzen and Intel builds, that’s the reason.
On the Intel side, you typically get at least what a manufacturer lists as the speed. So, something like the inexpensive Corsair Vengeance LPX memory here is ideal.
The Corsair 200R is one of the most popular cases right now. It’s a no frills option that looks good in just about any setting. You can order it with or without the window and the inside features a tool-free design with plenty of cooling options. If it’s not robust enough for you, feel free to go with one of these good case options.
Overall, these are the computers I’d build at this price range as of right now. While the options may change for some, in my opinion, this build gives you the best overall value for your money. Questions, comments and feedback are appreciated here as well as on our facebook page. You can see more builds like this one here as well as on YouTube.