Let’s find out what’s required to for a gaming pc build under 1000 dollars. This is the best and most cost-effective gaming rig in 2021. Building a Gaming RIG on a tight budget doesn’t have to mean tolerating rubbish frame rates, but you do need to make careful component choices.
Our expert will take you through what you need, and how to build a bargain PC that rips through 1080p gaming.
While it’s great to have competition, the battle between Intel and AMD has thrown up a few hurdles when it comes to processor and motherboard choices. For example, AMD’s new B550 chipset hasn’t turned out to be particularly affordable when it comes to motherboards, at least compared with B450 models. If you were hoping to pair the excellent Ryzen 3 3300X with a cheaper PCI-E 4-compatible motherboard, you’re in for disappointment.
However, with AMD recently announcing that 4th-gen Ryzen processors will be supported on B450 and X470 boards, plus the fact that PCI-E 4 is still of limited use, B450 still offers great value and makes absolute sense for a budget-focused gaming rig.
We’ve delved into the current hardware world to see what hardware you should consider if you have a budget of around $1000. As long as you prioritise the right bits, this budget can buy you a seriously powerful gaming PC, getting you an overclockable quad-core CPU with eight threads, half a terabyte of speedy NVMe storage and a Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card.
If you have a smaller or a larger budget than our specific PC build, we’ve also listed some recommendations for upgrades to get more grunt, or ways to save some cash. This means you can follow our list to the letter, or make a few changes to suit your requirements. Also, don’t forget to check our Elite list on p60 for more recommendations for a wide range of hardware at various budgets.
Best Gaming PC Under $1000 Build
We built this Best gaming pc for under $1000. Here’s what’s inside to build a 4K Gaming beast with cheap budget.
These are the essential components of building a gaming pc under 1000.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X
- Motherboard: Asus TUF B450M-Plus Gaming
- Memory: 16GB (2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX Pro 3200MHz
- Graphic Card: PowerColor Radeon RX 5600 XT
- Case: Thermaltake Versa H18
- Cooling: ARCTIC Freezer 7 X
- PSU: Corsair CV450
- SSD: WD Blue SN550 500GB
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X
Until recently, AMD hasn’t made any new CPUs priced below $240 for a while, except for its APUs, but these always run a generation behind AMD’s CPUs in terms of microarchitecture. As such, APUs aren’t really worth considering for gaming unless you’re on an extremely tight budget. However, AMD has now seen fit to finally introduce two quad-core CPUs based on its Zen 2 microarchitecture.
The best of these two chips is the Ryzen 3 3300X, which has a peak boost frequency of 4.3CHz and all its cores on a single core complex (CCX). The cheaper Ryzen 3 3100’s cores are spread across two CCXs, giving it higher latency, and ultimately it’s a poorer performer than the 3300X, even at identical clock speeds.
We managed to overclock our Ryzen 3 3300X sample to a massive frequency of 4.6GHz, which matches the Ryzen 9 3900X, making it one of the best-performing Zen 2 CPUs in lightly threaded tasks. Even better, you don’t need a motherboard with a new BIOS to support it. As long as the motherboard supported 3rd-gen Ryzen CPUs out of the box, it should support either of AMD’s new Ryzen 3 CPUs.
There’s clearly a huge amount of choice in this market segment, both within AMD’s ranks and venturing over to Intel’s product stack too, so this is worthy of some extra discussion. The Ryzen 5 3600 is worth considering if you want some more multi-threaded grunt, perhaps for content creation tasks, as it has two more cores and four more threads.
However, for gaming, the Ryzen 3 3300X proved to be a match, even for more powerful AMD CPUs at 1080p when overclocked. You may even find older Ryzen CPUs with six and eight cores lurking out there for very reasonable prices too,but they’re often much slower in games, even if they’re more powerful for multi-threaded content creation.
Meanwhile, Intel’s offerings in this price league now benefit from the cheaper B460 chipset, and motherboards such as the MSI MAC B460M Mortar can be bought for under $100. However, AMD is still a slightly better bet here, with the Ryzen 3 3300X’sperformance often matching or out stripping Intel’s similarly priced 10th-gen CPUs. The First new Intel CPU that’s really worth a punt is the much more expensive Core i5-10600K.
Motherboard: Asus TUF B450M-Plus Gaming
Initially we were planning to use a B550 motherboard in our sub-$100 PC, but two factors ultimately prevented us from taking this route. Firstly, AMD announced recently that it was backtracking on its initial decision to limit 4th-gen Ryzen compatibility to just X570 and B550 motherboards, and B450 and X470 models will be able to accept AMD’s next-gen CPUs as well. These new CPUs aren’t expected until the end of 2020, but that still means that opting for a B450 chipset is no longer a dead end in terms of upgrade options.
Sadly, B550 motherboards are more expensive than their B450 predecessors as well, meaning we’d be sacrificing gaming performance for very little gain, as the only significant feature they offer compared with B450 is PCI-E 4 support, which makes little difference to CPU performance, despite what you might expect, as current GPUs don’t push the limits of the 16x PCI-E 3 interface.
As a result, B450 has suddenly become much more attractive, especially for budget- focused systems. It’s worth checking BIOS compatibility first, since B450 motherboards were released a year ago, and our chosen CPU only landed recently. However, we’ve been assured by motherboard manufacturers that most, if not all, B450 boards will support AMD’s new Ryzen 3 CPUs with their current retail BIOS, since they’re still 3rd-gen Ryzen models.
As a result, we’ve picked the Asus TUF B450M-Plus Gaming, a micro-ATX motherboard that worked fine with our chosen CPU out of the box. It offers enough PCI-E ports for a graphics card and a second expansion card, along with a PCI-E 3 M.2 port and six SATA 6Cbps ports, all for under $150.
If you fancy a little more poke and upgrade room, MSI’s MAC B450 Tomahawk Max is a superb motherboard, especially if you plan on overclocking AMD CPUs with eight,12 or 16 cores in future.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to use a PCI-E 4 M.2 SSD, and also gain more features such as 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.1 Type-C support, as well as getting beefier power circuitry and cooling (while sticking with the micro-ATX form factor), the MSI MAG B550M Mortar or Asus TUFB550M-Plus Gaming WiFi get our votes, but they do cost a lot more money.
If you want to keep the price of your PC below $1000 then opting for memory without RGB Lighting can save a noticeable amount of cash at the moment. We’ve found Corsair’s Vengeance LPX dual-channel 16GB kits to offer the best value here, with a 16GB dual- channel 3200MHz kit available for under $100.
We feel that it’s not worth dipping down to 8GB now, even for a sub-$1000 system, as even having a few browser tabs and applications open can now see memory usage sit higher than 8GB, let alone games so it’s definitely worth spending the small amount of extra money needed for a 16GB kit.
Our chosen memory has reasonably tight timings for the cash too, and bear in mind that most memory kits can usually be overclocked by at least 200MHz as well. Higher speeds are important for AMD Ryzen systems, as the CPU’s Infinity Fabric is tied to the memory speed, so they respond better than Intel CPUs to faster memory.
Normally, we recommend 3466MHz or 3600MHz kits for Ryzen systems, but they’re quite pricey at the moment. You can easily get away with a cheaper 3200MHz kit and simply apply a small overclock.
Our favorite memory ranges with RGB lighting are ADATA’s XPG Spectrix and Corsair’s Vengeance Pro RGB. Both look fantastic and are available in a range of high speeds, with Corsair’s kits currently enjoying some very low pricing. You can pick up a 16GBdual-channel Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB kit with similar specifications to our LPX kit for under $100.
Graphic Card: PowerColor Radeon RX 5600 XT
If you’re spending upwards of $350 on a graphics card, you want excellent 1080p performance and solid 2,560 x 1,440 frame rates. This is exactly what AMD’s Navi-based Radeon RX 5600 XT provides. Plus, thanks to some excellent power efficiency courtesy of AMD’s 7nm manufacturing process, most of the dual-fan cooler models from third parties are very quiet too.
We’ve opted for PowerColor’s offering, which has 6GB of GDDR6 memory and a large, dual-fan cooler. Prices for all hardware is in a state of flux at the moment, due to supply chains being stretched, but the Radeon RX 5600 XT seems to be weathering the storm well. It costs significantly less money than Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 (and generally outperforms it) making it a better buy for a 1080p-focused gaming rig. The only downer is that the Radeon RX 5600 XT doesn’t support real-time ray tracing, but you can’t have everything on a tight budget, and it’s a very fast CPU for the money.
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX2060 offers similar performance, but with the added benefit of ray-tracing support,which is being offered in an increasing number of titles. You may want to consider spending a bit more, then, if you want the very best graphics in these games at 1080p.Ray tracing makes a significant difference to visuals, with realistic reflections and shadows.
While the Radeon RX 5600 XT offers good frame rates at 2,560 x 1,440, if you want to run the latest games at this resolution with top settings, then Nvidia’s GeForce RTX2060Super not only offers ray-tracing support but is noticeably quicker both at2,560 x1,440 and 1080p. That’s just as well, though,because you’ll need to spend over $130 more at the moment to get one.
Case: Thermaltake Versa H18
While we, naturally, love cases that are packed full of the latest features, this area should be well down your list of priorities if you’re on a tight budget, in order to make sure you get the best performance possible from your core hardware. With this in mind, frame rates are more important than fan hubs, water-cooling support and RGB lighting. If you strip out those features and just go for the bare essentials, you end up with a case such as Thermaltake’s Versa H18.
You still get all the essentials though. The Versa H18 offers support for all-in-one liquid coolers should you need an upgrade in future, it includes a single fan as standard and it even comes with a side window and PSU cover, all for $45 inc VAT. It’s also micro-ATX (as is our chosen motherboard), so it’s extremely compact, but not as awkward for building as some mini-ITX cases. It has plenty of fan mounts for expanding its cooling too, making it a great base for housing future upgrades.
It’s only minor shortcoming is a CPU cooler height of 155mm, but that’s more than enough for our chosen cooler, and the case has plenty of scope for using liquid coolers if you need more performance.
If you want an equally compact case, but with more features and fans included,Fractal Design’s Focus G Mini gets our vote,as it comes with an extra fan and lighting,as well as more space for CPU coolers. The Company’s Define Mini C is even better, with plenty of premium features, but it will set you back around $105. If you want to step up to an ATX case, we recommend Phanteks’ Eclipse P300 if you’re on a tight budget, while the be quiet! Pure Base 500DX is a fantastic buy for around $130.
Cooling: ARCTIC Freezer 7 X
The Ryzen 3 3300X includes AMD’s Wraith Stealth cooler in the box, but this cooler can be a tad loud and it has limited headroom for overclocking. This is where ARCTIC’S Freezer 7 X helps out. In terms of price, it’s designed to sit between a typical $50 air cooler and your CPU’s stock cooler, offering lower noise and much better performance than the latter, while costing half the price of the former.
The original Freezer 7 Pro did this very well in its heyday, and the new Freezer 7 X manages the same feat, massively outperforming AMD’s stock coolers, offering lower noise levels and giving you more overclocking headroom for just an extra $20. It’s also ideal for our chosen case, which has a 155mm cooler height limit, as it stands at just 133mm tall. It’s incredibly easy to install as well.
Our case’s CPU cooler height limit means that most 120 mm air coolers won’t fit into it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade your cooling. ARCTIC’S Freezer II240 is an excellent, powerful liquid cooler for CPUs, and it costs Just $80, while the 120 mm model will set you back around $75.
PSU: Corsair CV450
Even when overclocked, our Ryzen 3 3300X system drew less than 200W from the mains, so there’s little point opting for much more than 450W when it comes to the PSU, even when accounting for future upgrades. However, you do want to opt for a known brand, and look for at least an 80 Plus or preferably an 80 Plus Bronze certification.
Modular cables are a superfluous luxury when you’re building a budget PC, especially as our case has a PSU cover – it’s a simple job to tuck the cables out of the way. We’ve chosen Corsair’s CV450, which has 450W of power and 80 Plus Bronze certification, while costing just $60.
SSD: WD Blue SN550 500GB
We consider 500GB to be the bare minimum for primary storage these days, as many games consume 50-100GB on their own, and you need plenty of space for Windows 10’s demands too. It’s definitely worth spending a bit more to go from 250GB to half a terabyte. WD’s Blue SN550 offers read and write speeds of 2,400MB and 1,950MB respectively, so it’s significantly speedier than a SATA drive, even if it can’t match the latest PCI-E 4 drives. The fact that it all fits on an M.2 card that slots straight into our motherboard means it cuts cable clutter too.
WD’s 1TB version of this SSD will set you back around $150, but is definitely worth the upgrade if you have a large collection of regularly played games. If you need storage space for photos and videos, then a hard disk offers better value as a secondary drive (you’ll still want the WD Blue SN550as a boot drive for Windows). Seagate 2TB Barra Cuda will set you back an additional $65.
We’ve added an additional fan in the front of our case, in order to boost airflow and add a bit of pizzazz to the front panel. Here, we’ve used an Antec Spark-series RGB fan, which costs $17 from amazon.com. Rather than ditch the Thermaltake’s perfectly acceptable rear fan, we’ve instead added one of Phanteks Halos RGB LED frames in this location, which sits over the front of the fan and adds lighting. It costs $15 from Overclockers. As the Antec fan and the Halos frame both use the same 4-pin RGB connection, and the frame has a splitter cable, you can control both these additions from our chosen motherboard’s single fan header.
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