Skip to main content

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

MORE: How To Build A $500 Gaming PC

MORE: AMD vs. Intel: Which PC Build is Better for Under $500?

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.


MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

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

"Under-Arm ITX" - Built By: LutfiJ

MORE: How To Build A $1,000 Gaming PC

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.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

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

"Le Petite Gaming Streamer" - Built By: LutfiJ

MORE: How To Build A $1,500 Gaming PC

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.

MORE: Best Motherboards

MORE: How To Choose A Motherboard

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

“Je Suis Monsieur Blender” - Built By: LutfiJ

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.

MORE: Best Gaming Monitors

MORE: How To Choose A Monitor

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

"Duke Puke'em" - Built By: LutfiJ

Custom Liquid Cooling Components

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

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.

MORE: How To Build A PC

MORE: PC Building Tips for Beginners

MORE: All PC Builds Content

  • abryant
    Archived comments are found here:
  • 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
    21472654 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