Best PC Builds for Gaming: From Sub $500 Budgets to $3500+

PC Builds
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If you want a computer that's as unique as you are, you need to put it together yourself. When you build a gaming PC, you get total control of the parts list, choosing the exact make and model of motherboard, a chassis with the look you like and even the layout of RGB (or non-RGB fans).  You'll save time by purchasing one of the best pre-built gaming PCs, but you'll give up control and spend more.

By constructing your own PC from components, you will likely save hundreds dollars over the cost of buying a prebuilt system. For example, right now, getting a desktop with similar specs to our best $1,000 PC build will cost you $1,439 or more at Best Buy.

To help you assemble the best PC build for gaming or productivity that you can get, we've created recommended parts lists for every budget: from a super-cheap sub-$500 system to an affordable sub-$1000 build to a $3,500+ dream machine for those with deep pockets.  

Picking and Pricing the Best PC Builds

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Note that our best PC build recommendations are based on our component expertise, market research and testing we've done of the key components in each build, namely the CPU, GPU and SSD. However, because we are trying to hit price points and frequently changing these lists (as prices change), we have not tested all of the parts in each build together and some of the less performance-centric parts such as the case, motherboard and PSU may be ones that we have not reviewed.

We are also going to recommend GPUs rather than specific makes and models of graphics cards. For example, we'd recommend an RTX 4070 Ti and link to a list of available cards rather than, for example, the Zotac RTX 4070 Ti. Given frequent price and stock changes in the space, you should get whichever third or first-party card is available with the GPU you want for the best price at the time you read this.

Also note that we don't include the cost of an operating system, because you can get Windows for Free or Cheap. Nor do we include the price of peripherals such as the best gaming monitors, best gaming keyboards or best gaming mouse. And if you've never made a computer before, see our article on how to build a PC

Best $500 PC Build for Gaming

Thermaltake Versa H18

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Component TypeModelPrice (at Pub Time in USD)
CPUIntel Core i3-13100F$120
MotherboardMSI PRO B760M-P$99
GPUIntel Arc A380$119
RAMSilicon Power Value Gaming DDR4 RAM 16GB (8GBx2) 3200MHz$29
StorageWD SN580 (1TB)$49
CaseThermaltake Versa H18$54
PSUThermaltake Smart Series 500W$39
CoolerN/A, comes with CPURow 7 - Cell 2
TotalRow 8 - Cell 1 $509

For around $500, you can build a PC that has a discrete graphics card. You won't get the fastest GPU around, but you will be able to play games at 1080p with modest settings. That's a big improvement over relying on integrated graphics.

For the graphics card in this system, we're going with Intel's Arc A380. We didn't love the card at launch, but it's now readily available at Newegg and has been for a few months. Besides that, it's faster than AMD's competing RX 6400, comes with more VRAM, and most importantly it has full video encoding/decoding acceleration — including AV1 support for the future. 

The card averaged 54.7 fps in our benchmarks at 1080p medium, though updated drivers may have improved things another 5–10 percent. If you want something a little faster and can expand your budget by just a few dollars, your best bet is this RX 6500 XT card, which goes for around $149 and can take you up to 65.8 fps in 1080p medium.

For our CPU, we're going with Intel's Core i3-13100F which is just over $100 but delivers plenty of pep for the price. This CPU has four cores, all of them performance cores, and a solid boost clock of 4.5 GHz. It comes with a cooler in the box so there's no need for a third-party one. We found that the 13100F was about on par with AMD's Ryzen 5 5600, which costs about $30 more.

To work with our 13100F, we need an Intel 700 series motherboard and the best price we've seen on one is $99 for the MSI PRO B760M-P The microATX board uses DDR4 RAM (cheaper than DDR5) and provides support for M.2 PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 SSDs. It even as a USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) port.

Our SSD is the WD Blue SN580 in 1TB capacity. When we reviewed a 2TB version of the SN580, we noted that its performance was middle-of-the-pack, coming in ahead of its predecessor, the SN570, but behind industry leaders like the WD Black SN850X. However, considering that we're spending around $50 for 1TB, the SN580 is a really good, boasting a PCIe 4.0 interface and rated read and write speeds of 4,150 MBps. 

We got 16GB of DDR4 PC-3200 RAM in a 2 x 8GB configuration. The Silicon Power Value RAM we chose isn't the flashiest, but it's inexpensive and from a reputable brand. Whatever you do, don't build or buy a gaming PC with less than 16GB of RAM.

Our case is the Thermaltake Versa H18, which comes with tempered glass side panel, something we don't always see in a sub-$50 chassis. It also has plenty of room for extra cooling, with space for two 120 or 140mm fans (a 280mm radiator) on the front, along with a rear 120mm fan and a top 120 or 140mm fan. Our power supply is the Thermaltake Smart Series 500W, because this is the least expensive PSU from a reputable brand that we could find.

Best $800 PC Build for Gaming

DeepCool Macube

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CPUIntel Core i5-13400F206
MotherboardASRock B760M-HDV$89
GPUNvidia RTX 4060$299
RAMCrucial RAM 32GB Kit (2x16GB) DDR4 3200$51
StorageWD Blue SN580 (1TB)$49
CaseDeepCool Macube 110$52
PSUThermaltake Smart 700W$49
CoolerN/A, comes with CPURow 6 - Cell 2
Total:Row 7 - Cell 1 $795

If you can stretch your budget up from $500 to $800, you can enter a whole new world of gaming performance and productivity that will be good enough for some serious 1080p gaming (without ray tracing). Here we're stepping up from a 12th Gen Core i3 to the Core i5-13400F, which has 6 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores and 16 total threads, along with a boost clock of 4.6 GHz. 

With a price just over $200 and performance that allowed it to provide 152 fps on our 1080p test suite, this is our current pick for best gaming CPU, based on its value alone. In fact, the Core i5-13400F is such a good mainstream value that we recommend it for three of our builds. It also comes with a capable cooler in the box.

Core i5-13400 vs the competition

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

To go with this Intel processor, we're using an ASRock B760M-HDV motherboard because it supports 13th Gen CPUs without a BIOS update. It's a DDR4 board so we can save money by using DDR4 memory. It also features two M.2 slots for SSDs, with one of them supporting PCIe 4.0 drives.

Our graphics card at this price point is the Nvidia RTX 4060, which comes in just under $300 with dual fans (or even cheaper with a single fan). The 4060 has strong performance at 1080p, ultra settings, having averaged 84.9 fps on our suite of tests. It ranks just above the RTX 2080 and below the Raden RX 6700 on our GPU benchmarks hierarchy.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The card can also do some ray tracing as it averaged 41.7 fps on 1080p ultra with ray tracing enabled. Forget about playing in 2K with ray tracing as that only gave us 25.8 fps. 

For our storage, we're sticking with the 1TB WD Blue SN580 NVMe SSD, which was just $49 at press time. If you want a 1TB, PCIe 4.0 SSD from one of the most respected brands for less than $50, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal right now.

We're going with 32GB of Crucial DDR4-3200 RAM and we're stepping up to a 700W version of the Thermaltake Smart  power supply so we can support our higher wattage CPU and GPU.

Our case is the DeepCool Macube in white. This microATX chassis has a sleek, understated look with a magnetic tempered glass panel on the side and room for two 120 / 140 mm fans on the top and on the front. The front panel has dual USB 3.0 ports that make it convenient to connect a USB Flash drive (see best USB flash drives) or external SSD. 

Best $1,000 PC Build for Gaming

Phanteks Eclipse P300A

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Component TypeModelPrice (at Pub Time in USD)
CPUIntel Core i5-13400F$206
MotherboardASRock B760M-HDV$89
GPURTX 4060 Ti$381
RAMCrucial RAM 32GB Kit (2x16GB) DDR4 3200$51
StorageWD Black SN850X (2TB)$118
CasePhanteks Eclipse P300A$59
PSUCorsair CX750M$89
CoolerN/A, comes with CPURow 7 - Cell 2
Total:Row 8 - Cell 1 $993

If you can stretch your budget up to around $1,000, you can build a PC with the ability to play games really well at 1080p and competently at 1440p. The best GPU option in this price range right now is the Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti, which goes for as little as $381. While the Radeon RX 6750 XT, which has 12GB of VRAM to the 4060 Ti's 8GB, is in the same price range, Nvidia's GPU is much better for ray tracing.

In our 8-game rasterization test suite at 1080p ultra settings, the RTX 4060 Ti offered an impressive frame rate of 101.7 fps while delivering a still-strong 75.5 fps at 1440p with ultra settings. At this price point, don't expect to do much ray tracing, however. The card managed a very-playable 52.8 fps at 1080p and a usable 33.5 fps at 1440p. 

Our recommended CPU for this build is the same Core i5-13400F that we are using on the $800 and $1,500 builds. Why spend hundreds more on a faster CPU when we want to put the money into a better GPU at these price points? Similarly, we're sticking with the ASRock B760M-HDV motherboard we used on the cheaper build. 

We're sticking with 32GB of DDR4-PC3200 RAM here. There's no real need to go faster or increase the capacity at this price point. Using DDR4 saves us money over DDR5.

For storage, we're stepping up to a faster, higher-capacity SSD: the 2TB version of WD's Black SN850X. One of the best SSDs you can buy, the SN850X promises sequential read and write speeds of 7,300 and 6,600 MBps. On the PCMark 10 Storage test, the SN850X was near the top of the heap besting touch competitors like the Samsung 980 Pro and Crucial P5 Plus. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We're going with the Phanteks Eclipse P300A as our chassis of choice.  When we reviewed the P300A, we lauded its great air flow, ease of building and attractive looks. The case has room for up to two 140mm front fans, a single 140mm top fan and a single 120mm rear fan, which is more than enough case cooling for this budget. 

Finally, we've stepped up to a 750-watt power supply and we're going with Corsair CX750M, which is 80+ Bronze certified and semi-modular. You can get a modular PSU or one that's 80+ Gold certified for a bit more, but that's money you don't need to spend at this price point.

Best $1,500 PC Build for Gaming

Lian Li Lancool 216

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Component TypeModelPrice (at Pub Time in USD)
CPUIntel Core i5-13600KF$285
MotherboardGigabyte Z790 UD AX$179
GPUNvidia RTX 4070$589
RAMCrucial Pro RAM 32GB (2x16GB) DDR5 $79
StorageWD Black SN850X (2TB)$118
CaseLian Li Lancool 216 $99
PSUCorsair CX750M$89
CoolerID-Cooling FrostFlow 280mm$59
Total:Row 8 - Cell 1 $1,497

As we step up to a build that should be brilliant at 1080p gaming, really strong for 1440p gaming and capable of running ray tracing games well, we're looking at around a $1,500 budget, depending on the current prices on graphics cards. We recommend going with an RTX 4070 at this price point.

At press time, RTX 4070 cards selling for as little as $599.  In our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, the 4070 beats the RTX 3080 (10GB) and comes in just a step behind the 3080 (12GB) at non-ray tracing 1080p gaming.   On our suite of 8 games, at 1080p ultra settings, the 4070 managed 123.6 fps. At 1440p resolution, it offered a smooth 98.6 fps and, even at 4K, it provided a very-playable 67.2 fps. 

With ray tracing enabled, the RTX 4070 delivers 69.4 fps at 1080 ultra and a playable 45.2 fps at 1440p. In some titles, the numbers are much higher. For example, in Spider-Man: Miles Morales at 1440p, the card returned an average frame rate of 69 fps. 

RTX 4070 Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ray Tracing results

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We're also upgrading the CPU to Intel's Core i5-13600KF, an overclockable processor that has 6 performance cores, 8 efficiency cores, 20 threads and a boost clock of 5.1 GHz. That's before you attempt to overclock it.  

We're going with the Gigabyte Z790 UD AX motherboard, which allows overclocking with a 16+1+1 hybrid phases digital power design. It also comes with three M.2 PCIe slots, built-in Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5 Gbe Ethernet. 

Though Intel 13th Gen CPUs can use DDR4 or DDR5 RAM, this motherboard utilizes DDR5 RAM. So we're going with an affordable 32GB kit from Crucial with a top speed of 5600 MT/s. 

For our SSD, we're sticking with the WD Black SN850X, because it's pretty darn close to the performance of the Samsung 990 Pro, the fastest PCIe 4.0 drive on the market. However, the 990 Pro costs $18 more for a very minimal gain. 

SK hynix Platinum P41 results

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Our case for this build is the $120 Lian Li Lancool 216. When we reviewed the Lancool 216, we praised its included dual RGB 160mm front and single 140mm exhaust fans, excellent cable management and attractive looks. There's also plenty of room for a top-mounted radiator that's up to 360mm. 

Our power supply is a 750-watt Thermaltake Toughpower 750W. This 80 Plus Gold certified PSU packs enough power to support our GPU with plenty of juice to spare. However, it's not fully modular, with some of the wires being built-in.

Best $2000 PC Build for Gaming

Hyte Y40

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Component TypeModelPrice (at Pub Time in USD)
CPUAMD Ryzen 7 7800X3d$399
MotherboardGigabyte B650M Aorus Elite AX$179
GPURadeon 7900 XT$779
RAMG.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5 6000$102
StorageSamsung 990 Pro (2TB)$134
CaseHyte Y40$149
PSUCorsair RM750e$99
CoolerARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 360mm AIO$159
Total:Row 8 - Cell 1 $2,000

At a current price of $2,000, our high-end gaming PC build should provide enough performance to play games at 1440p ultra settings with strong frame rates, and 4K ultra with playable frame rates. The system gets its GPU muscle from a Radeon 7900 XT which is currently available for $769. The card is backed by AMD's Ryzen 7 7800X3D, which is the best CPU for gaming if you're able to pay its $439 asking price.

In our tests, the 7900 XT delivered a really-smooth 141.2 fps on our test suite of games at 1080p ultra settings. It even managed to offer 79.6 fps at 4K ultra. On Borderlands 3 at 4K, it provided a really-strong 89.5 fps.

7900 XT Borderlands at 4K

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When we turned on ray tracing, we got 70.5 fps at 1080p ultra and 46 fps at 4K. That's stronger than Nvidia's RTX 4070's marks of 69.4 and 45.2 fps.

The AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D offers a superior experience thanks to its 104MB of 3D cache, along with its 8 cores, 16 threads and 5-GHz boost clock. Yes, AMD makes the Ryzen 9 7950X3D which is even faster overall, but it costs a lot more money and either ties or comes in behind the 7800X3D on many gaming tests.

On our suite of Windows 11 tests, running at 1080p with an RTX 4090 card, the 7800X3D averaged 224 fps, putting it slightly ahead of the Ryzen 9 7950X3D (222 fps) and way ahead of Intel's top-ranked Core i9-13900K (200 fps).

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

To cool the CPU, we're using an Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360mm AIO. When we tested the Liquid Freezer II, we noted its quiet performance and ability to cool up to 290W of heat, a lot more than this CPU would require.

Our motherboard is Gigabyte B650M Aorus Elite AX which is one of the more affordable AM5 motherboards  you can buy but it still packs in Wi-Fi 6E radio. AMD Zen 7000 chips require DDR5 RAM so we're going with 32GB of G.Skill Trident Z5. The Trident Z5 kit tops our list of best RAM, thanks to its tight-timings, fast performance and overclocking potential. In our tests, the Z5 also had the lowest memory latency of its competitors.

Memory Latency

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We're going with the best PCIe 4.0 SSD you can buy, Samsung's 990 Pro at 2TB. In our tests, it almost always tops other speedy competitors such as the SK hynix Platinum P41 and WD Black SN850X.

SK hynix Platinum P41 benchmark

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Our case is Hyte Y40, which is a great showcase for our components. It has beautiful wraparound glass that extends from the front to the left side. The case is available in three colors but we really like it in red. 

To power all these high-end components, we're using a Corsair RM750e PSU which is 80+ Gold certified and fully modular. 

Best $3500+ PC Build for Gaming

Phanteks NV7

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Component TypeModelPrice (at Pub Time in USD)
CPUAMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D$659
MotherboardAsus ROG Strix X670E-E$479
GPUNvidia RTX 4090$1,629
RAMG.Skill Trident Z5 RGB DDR5 (2 x 16GB) DDR5 6400109 (x2)
StorageWD Black SN850X (4TB)$299
CasePhanteks NV7$219
PSUCorsair RM1000e$160
CoolerLian-Li Galahad II Trinity 360mm AIO$163
Case FansPhanteks PH-F120D30 Case Fans (3x)2x $89
Total:Row 9 - Cell 1 $4,004

For our super-high-end build, we've got a system that's capable of playing high-end games in 4K at ultra settings and delivering smooth ray tracing. This is made possible thanks to the Nvidia RTX 4090 card, which is by far the fastest card on the market — and also the most expensive, by an equally large margin.

This is our dream machine build, so price is a lesser consideration on parts like the 4090, but the good news is prices are starting to come down. Not long ago, 4090 cards cost over $2,000, even though the Founder's Edition RTX 4090 card carries a $1,599 MSRP. Right now, there's a Gigabyte card for $1689.

On our tests, the RTX 4090 averaged 112  fps playing a suite of games at 4K. That's a huge improvement over the next-best card, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX, which only hit 90 fps. In ray tracing, the gap widens a lot more, with the 4090 averaging 58 fps, the 4080 sits at 41 fps, and the fastest card from AMD, the 7900 XTX, gets just 30 fps.

RTX 4090 Performance

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Our CPU is AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D, which offers faster gaming than any Intel CPU on the market, including the Core i9-13900K. It has a whopping 140MB of cache, thanks to AMDs innovative 3D V-Cache and it boasts 16 full-power cores and 32 threads, which is more regular cores than the 13900K's set of 8 (to go with 16 E-Cores). 

On our tests, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D beat Intel's flagship, the 13900K by a full 15 fps on our 1440p suite of gaming tests. The cheaper, Ryzen 7 7800X3D is also really good at gaming, but does have as many cores for productivity.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We're using an Asus ROG Strix X670E-E motherboard, which comes with built-in Wi-Fi 6E, four M.2  slots for storage and 18+2 power stages. To cool the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, we're using a 360mm Lian-Li Galahad II Trinity 360mm AIO. When we reviewed the Galahad II, we found that it had the absolute best performance of any all-in-one cooler we've ever tested.

Because we're fattening our budget for this build, we're going with some speedy DRAM in the form of G.Skill's Trident Z5 RGB DDR5 , which operates at up to 6,400 MHz. In our review of the G.Skill Trident Z5, we lauded the kit's strong performance and excellent overclockability. In our table, we are linking to a 32GB kit (2 x 16GB DIMMs as that is the highest capacity it is sold in. However, we recommend buying two of these kits so you can have 64GB of RAM.

Instead of chasing minor performance gains from the slightly-faster Samsung 990 Pro, which tops out at 2TB, we're going with a 4TB capacity of the WD Black SN850X, which goes for a very reasonable $283 right now.  As you can see, the 2TB capacity of this drive is only slightly behind the 990 Pro, but having a 4TB drive is a huge luxury, particularly if you plan to install a lot of games.

Samsung 990 Pro 3DMark

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Our chassis choice is the Phanteks NV7, a stunning case with glass that extends from the front around to the left side so you can get a clear view of your internals. The case doesn't come with fans, but it has room for 3x 120mm fans on the top, 2x 120mm on the back, 4x 120mm on the side and 3x 120mm on the bottom. We recommend buying two, 3-fan sets of Phanteks PH-F120D30 120mm fans. These attractive RGB fans snap together magnetically for a seamless look and better cable management.

With these high-end components, we don't want to skimp on the power supply, and having something that's fit for a future graphics card upgrade makes sense. We're going with a full 1000-watts of power and the Corsair HX1000. This power supply is 80+ Platinum certified and fully modular.

Finding Discounts on the Best PC Components

To find savings on components of all types, check out our lists of the best PC hardware deals, along with the latest Newegg promo codes, Corsair coupon codes and Best Buy promo codes.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.
  • tb75252
    Would it be possible to see the detailed BOMs for every build?
  • mdd1963
    At even the lowest budget end, I'd never recommend the 9100F, as a 4c/4t CPUs frame rates often struggle for maintaining minimum FPS..; the R3/3300X is a $120 budget beast, with it's 4c/8t CPU often nearly matching the R5-3600 in many games...
  • kep55
    Where were the builds for productivity? I only saw gaming builds.
  • vinaysb14
    The z490-Pro has this in the specifications - Supports 1R 2133/2666/2933 MHz - And you seem to be recommending a 3200 Mhz DDR4?
  • danlw
    Wow, the $500 and $2000 PCs don't even need a power supply! Are those both using Intel's new Zero Point Energy chipset, the ZPE000?
  • aberchonbie
    vinaysb14 said:
    The z490-Pro has this in the specifications - Supports 1R 2133/2666/2933 MHz - And you seem to be recommending a 3200 Mhz DDR4?

    Those are "officially" supported speeds. They're basically guaranteed speeds the motherboard will run, but you can easily run higher speed RAM (especially on Intel-based platforms) with overclocking profiles that are embedded within RAM kits you buy (aka XMP profiles).
  • murpes
    This is a horrible article. Every build inconsistently lists components, sometimes giving specifics, sometimes being general, and other times skipping over components altogether. The $1500 build says "We’ve stuck with the same RAM ... from our $1000 build" yet the $1,000 build doesn't list any RAM. A 500 GB SSD drive is listed as 1 TB.
  • JfromNucleon
    kep55 said:
    Where were the builds for productivity? I only saw gaming builds.
    Exactly, that's probably the only reason I'm probably gonna build a pc in the coming year........... probably
  • svliegen
    Tom's Hardware seems to be focusing more and more on gaming. That is bad. There is a myriad of gaming oriented websites already. I'm a business user, focused on productivity. I couldn't care less about gaming.
  • jbo5112
    What's the point of suggestions with imaginary GPU prices that don't exist? None of the builds even meet their price points anymore (if they ever did), even with their fictitiously low GPU prices. The only exception is the $500 machine. It at least fits with its fictional pricing.

    Came for the productivity builds. Stayed for the disaster show.

    P.S. Why does the article say it's from "2 days ago", with comments from 5 months ago?