Building the best gaming PC isn’t too difficult these days – just think of it as Lego for adults. If you put together a rig yourself, you get complete control over which parts you want and how they all fit together, crafting a personalised system you’re proud to display on the best gaming desk. You also get that feeling of satisfaction when you finally hit the power switch, lay back in the best gaming chair, and see your creation come to life.
Although building your own is often cheaper than buying prebuilt, pricing is very much a personal thing depending on what games you want to play. Some people might not raise a sculpted eyebrow at spending four grand on a gaming PC to crank up Assassin’s Creed Valhalla PC Settings to 4K, while most of us would still struggle to scrape together $1,000 for a build that can run the latest Call of Duty at 1080p.
But all are welcome in the world of PC gaming, and there are brilliant gaming rigs you can create no matter whether you’re an oligarch or ruthlessly raiding every piggy bank you’ve ever owned (and some you don’t) to be able to afford a new machine. If the selections below are still out of your budget, check out best cheap gaming PC build guide.
We’ve split our builds up into two tiers – the best gaming PC build, and the best high-end gaming PC build – to give you an idea of what’s possible, and we’ve also added our pick of the best gaming monitor and peripherals around right now.
When graphics card stock is sorted, the best gaming PC is this Ryzen 5 3600 / RTX 3060 Ti build, coming in at around $1,300 / £1,100.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 3600
|CPU cooler||AMD stock cooler||$0||£0|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Strix B450-F Gaming||$135||£97|
|Memory||32GB Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro (2x 16GB)||$214||£171|
|Storage||addlink S70 1TB SSD NVMe||$165||£159|
|Graphics card||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti||$399||£369|
|PSU||EVGA 600 BQ||$71||£64|
|Chassis||Corsair Carbide 100R||$55||£41|
The RTX 3060 is the best graphics card for 1080p and 1440p gaming, if you can get your hands on one – which at the time of writing is pretty difficult, especially when GPU stock is expected to be tight until 2022. For this theoretically possible build, we’ve paired it with AMD’s 12-threaded Ryzen 5 3600 – a generation old, but still more than enough for running all the best PC games. We’re using the included stock cooler here to keep the price of the build down, as AMD’s stock coolers are much improved from their woeful coolers that sounded like a jet taking off from yesteryear. Still, you could always splash out a little more on one of the best CPU coolers if you wanted to overclock your CPU.
Asus often makes the best gaming motherboard out there, and the ROG Strix B450-F Gaming is unsurprisingly a reliable choice with some fancy built-in RGB lighting of its own. There’s no trace of slow storage in this build either, with the Addlink S70 1TB NVMe SSD packing sequential read speeds of up to 3400MB/s. Of course, if you have an enormous games library, you could always chuck in a cheaper SATA hard drive or SATA SSD from our best SSD for gaming guide for extra storage without breaking the bank.
Power comes from a bronze-rated 600W EVGA PSU, which, being semi-modular, is handy for helping you manage cables in your build. This is all put together inside a Corsair Carbide 100R case, a solid-feeling unit with great cable management options.
When in stock, the best high-end PC for 4K gaming is this Ryzen 9 5900X / RTX 3080 build at around $2,600 / £2,200. This is around a $700 saving on our previous $3000-plus RTX 2080 build, despite offering better performance.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
|CPU cooler||Corsair iCUE H100i ELITE CAPELLIX AIO||$149||£122|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming||$178||£165|
|Memory||32GB Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro (2x 16GB)||$214||£171|
|Storage||Sabrent 2TB Rocket Nvme PCIe 4.0||$399||£300|
|Graphics card||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080||$699||£649|
|PSU||750W NZXT C750||$119||£121|
|Chassis||NZXT H510 Elite||$170||£150|
Stock issues continue to plague both Nvidia’s RTX 30 series and AMD’s RX 6000 cards, meaning this build might be pretty difficult to source right now without resorting to scalpers. If you’re planning to build a PC in a few months time or happen to stumble upon an Ampere card today, however, this is about the best rig you can craft with all the most up-to-date components included.
AMD’s 24-thread powerhouse Ryzen 9 5900X is the best gaming CPU out there in terms of power right now, with a maximum single core boost of 4.8GHz, which will smash through not only gaming but heavy productivity tasks like video editing. We recommend pairing it with the best AIO cooler to keep it chilled and quiet, while also giveing you great overclocking potential. Oh, and there are those essential RGB lights on the cooler.
The graphics card is one of Nvidia’s latest and greatest; the RTX 3080. This is the ideal choice for 4K gaming or 1440p gaming at high refresh rates without any hitches. We’ve chucked in two 8GB sticks of the best gaming RAM Corsair has to offer at 3,200MHz frequency, which matches perfectly with the Ryzen 9 5900X.
For storage, we’re taking full advantage of AMD’s PCIe 4.0 support on tap with a monster 2TB NVMe Gen4 SSD from Sabrent, with sequential read speeds of up to 5000MB/s for near-instantaneous boot up and game loading. If you’re on a Z490 motherboard and want to save some money, you might be able to unlock PCIe 4.0 support by performing a BIOS update. NZXT’s C750 power supply has plenty to fuel the components, with a Gold efficiency rating and a zero RPM fan mode when under low-load, to keep the PC nice and quiet.
Put all that together inside NZXT’s mid tower H510 Elite case, with more RGB goodness, and you’ve built one of the best gaming PCs available. Better yet, it should last you for many years to come.
Can’t get your hands on a next generation Nvidia or AMD graphics card? There’s a way around this by buying a prebuilt PC, which are readily available and come with the latest GPUs. This is also a good option if you just don’t want to deal with learning how to build a gaming PC from scratch.
A good option for US customers is the Skytech Chronos at $1,749, with a 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU, and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 – the perfect graphics card for running games maxed out in 1440p, and a contender for 4K gaming in older titles too. This comes with a more than adequate 16GB of RAM and a 1TB NVMe for super fast loading times
Over in the UK you can pick up the CyberpowerPC Centurion for £1,494 – other than the different processor it’s pretty much the same specifications, but coming with Intel’s eight-thread i7-9700KF processor instead of an AMD chip. It’s got the same RTX 3070 graphics card, however, along with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB NVMe. It also has liquid CPU cooling, so you have the option to overclock the chip to get even more performance out of it.
How much RAM do I need?
We’d recommend going for no less than 8GB of RAM, the minimum needed for many of the latest PC games. 16GB is the smartest choice, ensuring you run into no hiccups when multitasking. While 32GB of RAM is still overkill for gaming, it’s definitely a good idea if you’ll be carrying out resource-intensive tasks such as video editing.
When should I upgrade my gaming PC?
There’s no hard rule on when to upgrade, as rigs with older GPUs are still more than capable of running new titles if you’re willing to turn down the graphical options a little. It all depends on how happy you are with performance, and whether you’re taking full advantage of the refresh rate on your current monitor.