Today, we’re going to show off the best gaming PC build under $1000, built for the best gaming experience in 2020. Our main build will maximize gaming performance with an Intel CPU, while we’ll also be offering a secondary Ryzen gaming PC build and even a prebuilt PC pick with comparable performance.
Let’s hop into it.
Introducing The Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000
Speaking of this PC in general, you can expect gaming performance well beyond the capabilities of modern consoles. Even consoles like the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro can’t reach true 4K- instead, they have to fall back on 1440p or 1800p and upscale to 4K, which isn’t the same as playing in true 4K resolution.
With this PC build, you’ll be able to play games at 1080p and 1440p at super-high framerates, meeting the capabilities of 144 Hz monitors. If graphics are your priority, you won’t have a problem pushing games to 1440p and 1800p at settings beyond console quality. Even true, native 4K with the right settings adjustments will be possible.
Additionally, you’ll also enjoy an excellent hybrid storage setup. With an SSD and an HDD, you’re getting the best of both worlds but enough of the pretense.
Let’s dive into the components that make this the best gaming PC build under $1000.
The PC Parts
Fractal Design Focus G
A solid case with a focus on strong out-of-box cooling.
Intel Core i5-8400 6-Core Processor
A stellar CPU for gaming, maximizing performance per dollar.
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo
A cheap but strong air cooler, an enthusiast’s favorite.
XPG Gammix D10 2400 MHz
A 16GB RAM kit at a stellar value.
ASRock H370 Pro4
A feature-complete Intel motherboard, balanced perfectly for this build.
ASUS RTX 2060
A midrange GPU with 1440p, VR, and even 4K gaming capabilities…with some tweaks.
Inland Professional 480GB SSD
An SSD with ridiculous value-per-dollar.
Seagate Constellation ES 2TB HDD
A massive HDD to serve as a storage drive.
Corsair CX550 Semi-Modular Power Supply
A builder-friendly PSU with more than enough juice for this system.
The PC Parts Details
Case: Fractal Design Focus G
First up is our case, the Fractal Design Focus G. This is an ATX Mid Tower, outfitted out of the box with two white LED fans, which serve as powerful intake fans. Behind a windowed side panel, you’ll find a fairly open design inside the case, allowing plenty of room for cable management, GPU mounting, and drives. The building experience and cable management should be a breeze inside this chassis.
The only real downside worth noting here is that there are only two fans included…or that they’re both intake fans. An ideal airflow scenario will have at least 1 exhaust fan and at least 1 intake fan, and this case has curiously shipped with dual intake fans and no exhaust fans to speak of. While this will ensure that cool air is regularly pulled into the case, the lack of an exhaust fan means that heated air will take longer to push out.
We recommend either looking at our fan in the upgrade section to add as an exhaust, or simply moving the bottom intake fan to the back of the case while assembling.
CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 6-Core Processor
The i5-8400 is a 6-core processor that offers stellar single-core performance, which is the most important CPU metric for gauging gaming performance. This is one of the best CPU for gaming released. Higher-end i5s offer only marginal performance boosts in this area, so you, fortunately, aren’t sacrificing performance by going for a non-K i5 processor. In fact, the 8400 has a very generous out-of-box turbo mode…though you’ll want to replace the stock cooler in order to have the CPU in turbo more frequently. (We’ll cover that next.)
As far as this build goes, the i5 should be more than enough for pushing games at 60+ FPS, regardless of resolution. (Resolution will be the job of our graphics card, which we’ll also cover later.) Tasks like streaming and video rendering should be fairly viable, too, though the Ryzen build will be better for you if you plan on doing those things frequently.
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo
We’ve included a dedicated air cooler in this build for two reasons:
- To make sure that the i5-8400 will be running at its top speed as frequently as possible.
- To make sure that our Ryzen alternative build (discussed far below) will have overclocking headroom.
When it comes to air coolers, you really can’t go wrong with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo. This has become a favorite in the enthusiast community for a good few reasons, but the most prominent of those reasons is one simple fact: it works. The high-quality fan and massive heatsink ensure that the processor’s heat is always being spread and cooled. This cooler will offer all the cooling capacity we need, even for overclocking the Ryzen alternative build.
RAM: XPG Gammix D10 16GB 2400 MHz
The XPG Gammix D10 is a 16GB RAM kit comprised of dual 8GB DDR4 RAM sticks running at 2400 MHz. While no RAM speed records are being broken here, what matters is that you’re getting a full, whopping 16GB of quality RAM for a fair price. (Usually around ~$80.) This is in line with other PC builds in this price range, and twice the RAM you can generally expect from prebuilt gaming PCs in this price range.
While 2400 MHz isn’t the fastest RAM on the market, it’s still going to be pretty great in most scenarios- certainly better than any last-gen DDR3 RAM. The main benefits of a higher RAM speed are found in higher minimum FPS in games (meaning less severe lag spikes), and even DDR4’s starting spec will ensure a more responsive experience than any DDR3-based PC.
In terms of capacity, 16GB of RAM will be more than enough for gaming and multitasking alike. Outside of truly extreme situations seen in professional industries, users and gamers aren’t coming anywhere near maxing out a 16GB RAM capacity.
Motherboard: ASRock H370 Pro4
The ASRock H370 Pro4 is an excellent motherboard at an excellent price, but unfortunately there is a key downside we have to mention here:
When planning the best gaming PC build under $1000, we were hoping to slap an overclocking-capable CPU and motherboard into it. Unfortunately, Intel’s K-series i5s and Z-series motherboards are simply too expensive to allow for a balanced gaming experience in this price range, so only the Ryzen alternative build has overclocking capabilities.
Despite the lack of overclocking, however, you’ll find there are plenty of other things to enjoy about this motherboard. Dedicated, high-speed M.2 slots, plenty of heat shields, and stellar build quality make this a worthwhile purchase.
GPU: ASUS Nvidia RTX 2060
The star of the best gaming PC build under $1000 is the Nvidia RTX 2060- specifically, ASUS’ rendition of the card. This version of the card boasts a beefy dual-fan cooler with a large heatsink, ensuring low temperatures during gameplay and fairly respectable overclocking headroom. Heck, this GPU even starts with a factory overclock!
If you’re interested in learning in more detail about how this GPU will perform, scroll on down to the performance section below.
If you want a brief version, though, the RTX 2060 should be able to play:
- 1080p games at max settings and 120+ FPS
- 1440p games at max settings and 80+ FPS
- 4K games at mixed settings and 40-60+ FPS
- VR games via HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
SSD: Inland Professional 480GB SSD
Our primary storage drive is the Inland Professional 480GB SSD. You’ll be using this to store your operating system, as well as your main applications and favorite games. While this drive is much smaller than your typical HDD, it’s also much faster- anything installed on this drive will have much faster loading times.
Using an SSD as a “boot drive” (meaning installing your OS on it) will ensure fast boot-up times. We’re talking a matter of seconds, which you likely aren’t used to, since most PCs are HDD-based. While your SSD will also decrease loading times in games, you’re typically advised to keep multiplayer titles and frequently-played games on the SSD, and media/everything else on the HDD.
HDD: Seagate Constellation ES 2TB HDD
As far as the HDD goes, this is a fairly simple 2TB HDD that you can use for storing your game backlog, assorted media, and etc. HDDs are much cheaper per-gigabyte than SSDs are, but the speed loss makes them less ideal for boot drives and multiplayer games. (Since faster loading = first pick of your favorite hero or class in most games.)
PSU: Corsair CX550 Semi-Modular Power Supply
Last but not least is the Corsair CX550, which is an 80+ Bronze-Certified 550W Power Supply. This will provide more than enough power for the components in this PC build, even after a few upgrades of your choice.
More important than raw wattage or certification, though, is modularity. This is a Semi-Modular Power Supply, which means that only the motherboard power cable is non-detachable. This will make installation and routing of power cables inside your PC much easier than it would be otherwise, which is a dramatic improvement to the building experience versus a Non-Modular Power Supply.
(Full Modular PSUs are good, too, but only if you plan on replacing your PSU cables with shorter ones. These are ideal for SFF PC builds, but not one like this, which is full ATX.)
What The Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000 Plays
In Apex Legends, this build should achieve 40+ FPS at low settings and 4K. In 1440p and low settings, it runs well over 70 FPS, even during dropdown, and runs closer to 110 FPS during proper gameplay. With Apex’s resolution scaling features taken into account, this means you can push a high-fidelity experience at any resolution of your choice, but if you want to push graphics as well you’ll need to compromise to 1440p to maintain 60+ FPS at max settings.
Maxing out games like Fortnite and PUBG, the same trends hold true. While native 4K at high settings and 60 FPS isn’t quite achievable yet, 1440p and 4K with scaling/lower settings is absolutely achievable with the RTX 2060 and i5 8400.
Even intensive single-player experiences like Resident Evil 2 Remake, The Witcher 3, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey all maintain 60+ FPS, at maximum settings, in 1440p. If you’re willing to compromise to 1080p, you’ll even be able to push many of these games to match a 144 Hz refresh rate, providing the smoothest possible gaming experience.
Our Selection Process
The bulk of our selection process relies on our own skill and expertise. We know PC hardware, we know what components to target at each price range, and it’s our goal to make sure that you get the best gaming PC build under $1000.
As part of this process, we’ll admit: we do look at competitors. How are competitors tackling this competitive range, and how can we do better?
The RTX 2060 is a standard in $1000 gaming PC builds, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to come up with any compromises to make an RTX 2070 fit in this budget (at least, not with a system powerful enough to keep up with it). The main places we saw room for improvement were in storage capacity and cooling, so that’s what we targeted.
Additionally, we were sure not to skimp on components like the PSU, case, and motherboard. Since these components don’t directly impact gaming performance, many PC builds will severely skimp out on them- which is not recommended, since poor versions of these components can cause high temperatures, system instability, and worse.
In terms of upgrades, we’re already pretty comfortable with what we’ve pulled together here. But if you want to improve this build and you have a little extra money, there are our recommendations.
Note: these will raise the total price of the build!
M.2 SSD: Crucial P1 500GB
You can use this to either replace the SSD we have in this build, or commit to spending extra. This M.2 SSD will be even faster than the SATA SSD we’re using, and if you use it as your boot drive, you’ll experience unthinkably fast boot and loading times. If you add this to your build, it should definitely be used for your operating system and your most favorite games/applications, as Tier 1 Priority storage.
Think of M.2 NVMe SSDs like this one as Tier 1, SATA SSDs as Tier 2, and HDDs as Tier 3. Tier 1 and 2 are for your OS installation, web browser, and most-played games. Tier 3 is for your bulk storage, especially music and video, which don’t benefit from the faster loading times enjoyed by SSDs. With the addition of this M.2 SSD, you’ll have an incredible storage solution to power your build with.
FAN: Phanteks PH-F120XP
While the best gaming PC build under $1000 is already housed by a case with excellent cooling but there is something missing. There isn’t an exhaust fan!
While you can move one of the intake fans to the back to serve as an exhaust fan, or simply go without, we know some of you won’t be content with that. If you want a cost-effective exhaust fan to add to your build, this Phanteks fan will more than do the job, ensuring your system has a perfect airflow setup for your needs.
Here is a descriptive review on PC Fans to Help you Keep your Cool to those who want to a little bit of homework.
AMD Ryzen Best $1000 Gaming Build
Fractal Design Focus G
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Six-Core Processor
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo
XPG Gammix D10 16GB 2400 MHz
ASRock B450 Pro4
ASUS RTX 2060
Inland Professional 480GB SSD
Seagate Constellation ES 2TB HDD
Corsair CX550 Semi-Modular Power Supply
The AMD Ryzen version of this build is fairly similar to the main build, but with a few key differences. The only two components that have been replaced are the processor and motherboard, but those two changes alone have made a great impact on the build as a whole.
First and foremost, let’s talk the processor. The Ryzen 5 2600 is cheaper than the i5 in the main Intel build, has on-par single core performance, far better multi-core performance, and is overclockable. That’s some pretty strong points in favor of the Ryzen build in this price range, especially if you plan on streaming or making video content regularly- however, the Intel build will always edge slightly ahead in pure gaming performance.
Second, let’s talk about the motherboard. The motherboard here is actually available for roughly the same price and shifted around for compatibility with AMD’s Ryzen processor but it also has overclocking support, which we can’t achieve in the Intel version of the build.
Having an overclockable Intel CPU and a motherboard unlocking OCing would have required too many severe compromises to the Intel build, but here you get full overclocking support and virtually the same performance for a lower price. Not a bad look at all for AMD, huh?
Peripherals For The Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000
No peripherals? No problem!
We’ll include some recommendations for peripherals, sound, and displays below. If you aren’t an enthusiast, this should be a great help to get you started. If you are you’ll probably want to pick out your own stuff, anyways.
Basic Mouse and Keyboard Set
If you need just a basic mouse and keyboard with no frills to get you started, this is it. The Logitech MK120 set is a favorite in school and office environments for its general quality and durability. While it won’t have any extra gaming-centric features, it should serve you just fine for your basic PC gaming needs.
AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard
If you’re a little more…discerning, but don’t want to break the bank, we recommend starting here. AUKEY’s budget mechanical keyboard offers all the benefits of mechanical keyboards without the extra software and price that comes with high-end solutions from Corsair and Razer.
And if you are ready to step up your keyboard game then here is a review of Best Mechanical Keyboard for Gaming.
Logitech’s G403, meanwhile, is a fully-fledged gaming mouse with one of the best sensors on the market…not really a compromise, to be honest.
But if are one of those who spent hours in front of the screen and also care about your health, an ergonomic mouse is one of the best ways to go.
Budget Headset: AUKEY GH-S4 Scepter
If you don’t have headphones or a headset, then AUKEY’s GH-S4 Scepter serves as a great starting point. Featuring basic lighting features, virtual surround sound, and strong overall sound quality…we’re comfortable with recommending this, especially for its price point. If you want something better, HyperX and Corsair headsets are the way to go.
Or if you can go with Audiophile Headphones for the best listening experience.
Budget Speakers: Logitech Z313
Let’s say you want good speakers but don’t want to invest in a full, insane surround-sound setup. The Logitech Z313, then, may well be the right pick for you. These usually retail for under $30, but offer a full 2.1 speaker setup, complete with an extra plug for your headphones and a subwoofer for some hearty bass.
With our display options, we’re aiming at two different types of gamer.
The 144 HZ display is for competitive gamers who are willing to lower their settings to achieve higher framerates. With a 144 Hz display, you’ll be able to actually see framerates above 60, providing a competitive advantage and smoother overall experience.
The IPS display, meanwhile, is for gamers who prefer visual fidelity and immersion. This applies especially to single-player gamers. IPS panels offer far superior color reproduction and viewing angles when compared to the TN panels used for most 144 Hz displays, and is ideal for most gaming and content consumption.
144 Hz Gaming Monitor: ViewSonic XG2401
This 144 Hz gaming monitor is a budget option from ViewSonic, powered by a TN panel. While you won’t get the superb color that you would from an IPS, you will get best-in-class smoothness and responsiveness, which is key if you plan on playing eSports titles.
4K IPS Graphics Monitor: LG 27UD58-B
Our 4K IPS graphics monitor, meanwhile, is all about visual fidelity. While you won’t generally be able to run modern games at 4K and max settings, resolutions like 1440p and 1800p should work just fine with an RTX 2060. Common desktop usage will see an improvement, too, thanks to the superb pixel density being output by this 4K display.
Getting Your Operating System
If you don’t have an operating system- heck, even if you don’t have money for one- don’t worry, we have you covered.
We’ve linked to Windows 10 above, but we’re going to let you in on a little secret: you don’t have to pay for Windows 10.
We’re not suggesting piracy here- rather, we’re saying that you can install Windows 10 and simply use it without a license until you can afford to activate it. This will have no negative impact on performance or common usage- it’ll just mean that you can’t change your desktop themes or background, which is a fairly minor downside, all things considered.
If you want “free” but don’t mind “complicated”, Ubuntu Linus is also an option. Linux gaming support is better than ever nowadays, especially with things like Steam’s Proton and WINE. While we recommend Ubuntu over most other Linux distributions for its relative ease of use, however, setting up and using any Linux distribution will be much more difficult than Windows. Unless you’re tech-savvy and don’t mind looking stuff up, you should stick with Windows on this one.
How To Build
The hard reality of assembling the best gaming PC build under $1000 is that it won’t be quick or easy, especially if you’re new to this whole PC building thing. You may want to have it taken to a shop, or have a friend’s help to assemble it. If you’re intent on doing it yourself and don’t know where to start, however, we’ve embedded an excellent video tutorial below that will guide you through every step of the process.
Be sure to keep your own manuals on hand while you follow this guide, though. Your specific case will be different, for instance.
Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $1000
CyberPower PC GXiVR8480A
If you want an excellent PC gaming experience, but aren’t ready to assemble the best gaming PC build under $1000, we understand. PC building isn’t for everyone, and sometimes you just want a convenient experience.
Unfortunately, you aren’t going to find PCs that are even comparable to our main build for under $1000. If you’re willing to just a little bit over, though, you can go with the CyberPower PC GXiVR8480A that we’ve selected.
The CPU and GPU in this prebuilt are essentially identical to our build, which means you should experience just about the same gaming performance. However, storage is greatly reduced, and RAM is greatly compromised.
In contrast to the SSD and large HDD, you’ve been reduced to just a single HDD with this prebuilt.
Additionally, since the 8GB of RAM in this prebuilt is only a single stick, it’ll be running at half the speed of a dual-channel setup, with half the total RAM capacity.
Those, along with the higher price, are some pretty major compromises. However, you’ll need to accept them if you want a comparable experience to the one laid out in this article without building it.
And that’s it!
We hope you enjoyed our best gaming PC build under $1000! With two complete part lists and even a prebuilt option, we feel like we’ve provided an option for every kind of PC gamer.
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After that, comment below and tell us: did we succeed? Is there anything missing? Would you have picked a different component? We can’t wait to hear from you!