Best PC Builds: From $500-$5000

You submitted, we voted, and now its time to reveal the Spring 2019 Best PC Builds. Each season we put our community to test, showing off their PC building skills in a friendly competition designed to distillate their vast knowledge in a variety of budget categories. Our members have a natural talent for finding the best prices on the best quality components, and this time around is no exception. The competition was fierce to say the least, and it was an extraordinary challenge to narrow down your submissions into a top five. Almost all of your submissions would make for a great PC, but there can be only one Best PC. Thanks to all of the readers and forum members who participated! We always welcome a good discussion or hot take. Let us know what you think with this years picks in the comments below. Better yet, submit your own ideas next time around.

Best Custom PC Builds For Gaming

While spring may not historically be the best time of year to buy PC parts, this year may be the exception that proves the rule. Recent developments in the PC Market have made it a great time to build. Graphics cards are actually affordable (sorry crypto miners), SSDs are an amazing bargain, and CPUs are extraordinarily fast no matter your budget (thank you Ryzen). Even RAM prices have made a return to normalcy. Its now possible to get two 8 GB sticks of DDR4 RAM for less than a $100.

While the latest GPUs from AMD and Nvidia may have left the community wanting, they have also had the effect of pushing prices of the previous generation down. Affordable GPU prices have made smooth 1080p, and low-level 1440p gaming within reach of even the most budget-strapped builders. These price drops are readily apparent in this set of Best PC Builds. The new minimum is an RX 580 8GB. Looking back in November a GTX 1050 2GB cost almost as much. It's a rare and great win for the consumer. If you were putting off that upgrade due to inflated prices, we would argue that now is the time to pull the trigger.

The text accompanying each build below is provided by the forum member who designed it, giving you more insight into their system building process.

Best $500/£550 PC Build

"CYTOTOXIN" Built By: The Dark Lord of Tech

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My CPU of choice to power this console killer is the very capable quad-core Intel Core i3-8100. I paired the CPU with the budget-friendly Gigabyte H310M-A motherboard and 8GB of G.Skill Aegis DDR4 2666 memory. The money saved on the budget motherboard allowed me to choose the PowerColor RX580 8GB for some excellent graphical horsepower at a no-brainer price of $169.99. For the storage, I chose a 480GB Inland SATA III SSD to allow for a smooth gaming experience at a bargain price. For reliable power deliver, I went with the value series Seasonic S12III 450W Bronze power supply. All of the components for CYTOTOXIN are mounted in the DIYPC MA01-G MicroATX Mini Tower Case which was chosen because it is viable at a very low cost.

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Best $1,000/£1,200 Main Stream Gaming PC Build

"Under-Arm ITX" - Built By: LutfiJ

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In our previous runs for this contest, it was tough to make an ITX based parts list viable at the $1,000 category. With the prices for a lot of components down to their record lowest, I thought, why not go all out? In my submission for this category, I tried to get at least an 80+ Gold rated PSU, an upgradeable ITX chassis, dual channel DDR4-3200MHz RAM kit, and the latest and greatest Ray Tracing technology with an entry level RTX card. In short, this build has all the elements of a mainstream gaming system. Arguably 650 watts is more than the system will need, however the best upgrade path is to have the PSU with some headroom for beefier upgrades, and overclocking down the road.

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Best $1,500/£1,650 Streaming and Gaming PC Build

"Le Petite Gaming Streamer" - Built By: LutfiJ

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For this build, I took my $1,000 submission as the backbone, and built up from there. I swapped the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 for a Ryzen 7 2700 then set my sights on getting an Nvidia RTX 2080 card as Streaming while Gaming has both CPU and GPU demands. There is still plenty of headroom with the PSU, and the chassis has options for more storage in the 2.5-inch form factor.

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Best$2,000/£2,500 High End Content Creation and Gaming Rig

“Je Suis Monsieur Blender” - Built By: LutfiJ

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MORE: How To Build A $2,000 Gaming PC

I’m a fan of small-form-factor builds and tend to build SFF systems where possible. Content creation demands a step above previous category requirements and likewise, due to prices and the performance, I felt AMD’s TR4 platform was the ideal choice. I swapped the 80+ Gold-rated PSU for an 80+ Platinum rated unit, went with an NVMe drive for the OS and for use as a scratch disk, and also included 4TB of mechanical storage for long-term use. All of this is wrapped inside a Fractal Design Define Mini C TG, so it not only do you get a smaller footprint, it’s sleek enough to be put in an office environment. Since this is a Threadripper build, aftermarket cooling is mandatory and the only possible candidate was courtesy of Noctua due to the compact case size.

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Best $5,000/£5,500 Ultimate Everything RGB Build

"Duke Puke'em" - Built By: LutfiJ

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Custom Liquid Cooling Components

Quantity
Product
Price
Buy
4
EK-HD PETG​​ Tube 12/​1​6mm 500m​m ​(2pcs)
$14.99 ($59.96)
$14.99Amazon
4
EK-Vardar ​​EVO 120ER​ ​RGB
$24.99 ($99.96)
$24.99Newegg
1
EKWB EK-RE​S X3 250 R​eservoir, ​Black
$65.99
$65.99Amazon
1
EK-UNI Pum​p Bracket ​(120mm Fan)
$14.59
$14.59Amazon
1
EKWB EK-XR​ES 140 Rev​o D5 RGB P​WM
$179.99
$179.99Newegg
1
EKWB-Supre​macy sTR4 ​- Nickel
$89.99
$89.99Newegg
1
EK-RGB 4-W​ay Splitte​r Cable
$9.99
$9.99Newegg
1
EKWB EK-Co​olStream P​E 120
$49.99
$49.99Newegg
1
EKWB EK-Co​olStream X​E 360
$123.99
$123.99Amazon
1
Cooler Mas​ter RGB Co​ntroller/H​ub
$32.96
$32.96Newegg
1
Cooler Mas​ter 1-to-3​ RGB Split​ter Cable
$6.99
$6.99Newegg
2
EK-HDC Fit​ting 16mm ​- Nickel (​6-pack)
$48.99 ($97.98)
$48.99Newegg

Total
$832.38

People often go for multi-GPU setups and crazy RGB fountains but I thought to myself, "Why not try and get functionality out of this budget?" I tried assembling a system with both function and aesthetics in mind. For the PSU I used an 80+ Titanium rated Snow Silent unit and the chassis of choice was the white Meshify S2 from Fractal-Design for a color neutral setup all the while allowing for the light to bounce off of the interior. Do note that a vertical GPU mounting bracket (and extension cable) was added on and the GPU has a full-cover waterblock. If you look through the specs, it’s actually worthy of the Content Creators system pedigree and doubles as a showcase PC, worthy of your table top. This version of the build would have me rely upon EKWB for the watercooling solution, primarily due to their comprehensive parts list.

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21 comments
    Your comment
  • abryant
  • WildCard999
    Congratz to the winners, all solid builds!

    I was especially impressed with the dual computer build by LogainOfHades, nice job!
  • Lutfij
    I personally think LogainOfHaides's build was spectacular ;) Not many people you see consolidate two builds, in a family that use the same space for their day to day tasks, on one case. Most people think to go for a (basement)server rack and then have long wires running along the crib.

    Regardless, thank you to the community for voting for my build in the $1,500 category. I'm very humbled! I also want to congratulate Barty, Techy, Arthur and Logain for winning their respective categories. Ofc, the votes from the community and our reader base had a hand in that ;)

    + We need more of this competition.
  • WildCard999
    291971 said:
    + We need more of this competition.


    Agreed, maybe like best ITX/MATX/ATX/EATX within a certain budget.
  • mlee 2500
    Nice work by Barty1884....under $500 for a new machine that can handle 99% of what most non-gamers use a PC for.

    Using a 3GB GTX 1060 instead of the 1050 would have pushed the cost up another $70, but given it more mainstream gaming capabilities. I've used it to play Total War games at 2K with decent results.
  • mlee 2500
    Yeah, that Phantek's case design blew my mind.
  • TechyInAZ
    I have to agree aswell, Logain's build is AMAZING!
  • Corporate_goon
    I found your SSD choices a bit baffling - given the amount SSDs have dropped recently, I'd assume every PC above the $1000 mark would have a 1TB drive - with a gaming PC, you want your games loading off the SSD, and it only takes a couple of games the size of Witcher III, GTA V, or Monster Hunter: World to fill up a 500GB drive.
  • logainofhades
    Somehow, the 1tb 660p, that the system originally had for games storage, on the mini-itx side, was accidentally removed.
  • vrekman64
    pardon me but, why pair a 2700x with a ASRock B450M PRO4 While a 2600 with Asus Prime X470-Pro?
    shouldn't be the other way around? thanks
  • mlee 2500
    134970 said:
    I found your SSD choices a bit baffling - given the amount SSDs have dropped recently, I'd assume every PC above the $1000 mark would have a 1TB drive - with a gaming PC, you want your games loading off the SSD, and it only takes a couple of games the size of Witcher III, GTA V, or Monster Hunter: World to fill up a 500GB drive.


    You're absolutely right. I thought I was future proofing myself by dedicating a 1TB EVO 960 M.2 as a STEAM-only drive on my new build, but really 500GB is the minimum you want these days, and that's assuming it's not also being used for OS or anything else. And I say that as someone who usually only has a dozen or so games installed at any given time.

    Nothing dampens your enthusiasm and slows your New Game Roll like having to figure out what previous games to delete first.
  • Krazie_Ivan
    1791309 said:
    134970 said:
    I found your SSD choices a bit baffling - given the amount SSDs have dropped recently, I'd assume every PC above the $1000 mark would have a 1TB drive - with a gaming PC, you want your games loading off the SSD, and it only takes a couple of games the size of Witcher III, GTA V, or Monster Hunter: World to fill up a 500GB drive.
    You're absolutely right. I thought I was future proofing myself by dedicating a 1TB EVO 960 M.2 as a STEAM-only drive on my new build, but really 500GB is the minimum you want these days, and that's assuming it's not also being used for OS or anything else. And I say that as someone who usually only has a dozen or so games installed at any given time. Nothing dampens your enthusiasm and slows your New Game Roll like having to figure out what previous games to delete first.


    AMD's StoreMI; loading times of an SSD, w/o consuming all your storage. each build i did with an AMD cpu had this tech in-mind. made sure to use M.2 (if i could afford it) to further the effect. SSDs are much cheaper lately, fo sho - but still not as cheap as the combo (& every penny mattered).

    but my builds didn't win anything here, so take advice from me with a grain -lol
  • Krazie_Ivan
    1951562 said:
    pardon me but, why pair a 2700x with a ASRock B450M PRO4 While a 2600 with Asus Prime X470-Pro? shouldn't be the other way around? thanks


    i can't speak for the winners, can only say why i'd personally do it... i'd normally prefer to let auto-boost do it's thing with an "X" chip, which will be the same on either mobo. but if i'm building with a non-X cpu, then i'm manually OC'g & want the added VRM stability. course, pricing constraints in the competition rarely let me do what i prefer.
  • Krazie_Ivan
    really enjoyed this! thx Tom's, & everyone who entered/read-along/voted!

    i found it odd that the "Mainstream Gaming" system wasn't full of i5 entries/votes, and the "Content Creation & Gaming" winner wasn't a threaded workload monster with massive SSDs. when i saw the $5k dual build, i knew it was over for the rest of us, lol (GJ mate).

    (@moderator - shouldn't $500 segment read "Console Killer"? "We are looking for the best performing gaming PC under $500")
  • robin2rl
    Wouldn't look here for build advice. This page isn't updated frequently enough, prices are way off compared to online, and recommendations are more expensive than pre-builds even.
  • Krazie_Ivan
    588528 said:
    Wouldn't look here for build advice. This page isn't updated frequently enough, prices are way off compared to online, and recommendations are more expensive than pre-builds even.


    i can agree with points made on updates to this site's suggestions, & price fluctuation is hourly on components (so differing models with same specs will change the advice) ...but a custom-built PC costs more than pre-builts due to the quality of components.

    mainstream OEM systems tend to be a hot tin box filled with the absolute lowest tier junk that actively prevent upgrades so you'll buy another whole PC instead. even many of the the boutique pre-builts (which are normally more expensive for the same hardware) tend to cut corners that i wouldn't, or be configured in ways that diminish value.

    people don't build their own unless they are really into the idea, so those who could care less are not the reader a contest like this will attract anyway.
  • andy2112
    Careful: The link for the case on the $2000 gaming that's supposed to be the Cooler Master Silencio 652S goes to the 352 which is for a mini-ATX (and won't hold the ASROCK H370 ATX board...)
    Also shows the price for the 352: the 652S on Amazon from a 3rd party seller (NewEgg doesn't even have it) is about double the price too.
    Might want to change to a more available ATX case while you're at it.
  • jelle.sebrechts
    help me whats the best to buy for making music because i had apple but want to change to .........
  • feelinfroggy777
    MERGED QUESTION
    Question from alinelopesfuruya : "Building a new dream pc"

    2879509 said:
    So hey guys! I’m building a dream pc and I’m new on this... you know the best configuration for a 2080ti and i9 9900k? I'll actually buy in the middle of the year but I need to know what I need to buy to raise money haha It’s a dream pc so you can give me answers with “high” price or low whatever xD


    If you are not gonna build till the middle of the year then wait. A lot can happen in 6 months in the tech industry. Rumors suggest that AMD's 7nm Ryzen CPUs are going to be impressive.
  • abcfeltsstanaway
    What ASRock Fatal1ty motherboard is it the Z170 gaming k6
  • shrapnel_indie
    Kudos to the winners...

    The competition was tough and close. Unfortunately, I got a distinct feeling with the voting, hopefully completely incorrect. I think... one way to alleviate such a feeling, and it's possible others may have felt it too... is this:

    1) Submit the builds blind to the competition. This will keep who's build is what quiet. This will also keep someone from just taking a build and changing a couple of things and submitting it as theirs. (Admittedly, this last one can be a problem too if john doe and Mr Smith come up with the same name and/or build on their own. Both would need to be informed so either one or both can change it.)

    2) When it comes to open voting, only disclose the name of the build and the build itself, not the builders. If anyone feels that a vote is based on popularity of the builder, this will be squashed in this manner, and still let the chosen and vetted builds be reviewed.

    Just something to ponder. I really do like the competition and would like to see it more often.