Building a Custom Gaming Rig/System 2012 - 2013 - Best PC Build

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Our choice for best mid-level Video Card for Gaming.  The EVGA GeForce GTX470 Graphics Card.  If you stick with this or the Sapphire Radeon HD 6950, then you are set.For mid-level Video Cards for Gaming  choose either the Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 or the EVGA GeForce GTX470If you do a lot video editing or are a professional gamer, then the GeForce GTX 580 Gaming Graphics Card is a solid choice.  For Casual Gamers I don't recommend spending more than $200-$300.
Our choice for best mid-level Video Card for Gaming.  The EVGA GeForce GTX470 Graphics Card.  If you stick with this or the Sapphire Radeon HD 6950, then you are set.
Our choice for best mid-level Video Card for Gaming. The EVGA GeForce GTX470 Graphics Card. If you stick with this or the Sapphire Radeon HD 6950, then you are set.
For mid-level Video Cards for Gaming  choose either the Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 or the EVGA GeForce GTX470
For mid-level Video Cards for Gaming choose either the Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 or the EVGA GeForce GTX470
If you do a lot video editing or are a professional gamer, then the GeForce GTX 580 Gaming Graphics Card is a solid choice.  For Casual Gamers I don't recommend spending more than $200-$300.
If you do a lot video editing or are a professional gamer, then the GeForce GTX 580 Gaming Graphics Card is a solid choice. For Casual Gamers I don't recommend spending more than $200-$300.

PC performance and speed is a crucial consideration when building a custom computer. Professional gamer's know that if their systems malfunction, or are slow compared to their competitors, they could lose in the field of battle. That fraction of a second is the difference between life and death.

Recently, a computer buddy of mine, who we used to say was only an average gamer, upgraded his PC system to reflect all of the new technology that came out for last year. He went from a middle-of-the-road kind of guy to scoring in the top 5 every round on Battlefield Bad Company 2. When we asked him what had changed, he said he hadn't played any different, but now when he shot an opponent first what he was seeing on his screen was finally accurate.

Since I'm a hardware geek, I constantly get asked what the best custom gaming computer is. My answer is Always the same, "one you build yourself". While there are some great custom gaming PCs that you can spend a lot of money getting online, it's important to know exactly what you are getting for your money. The only way you can do that is to piece it together and build your own custom gaming system rig. I generally lend my help to friends that need a hand. If you've never built your own computer before, then consider asking a computer-savvy friend to help. If he's experienced you can get it up and running within a couple of hours, get exactly what you want, and spend a whole lot less money.

Another question I get from friends and neighbors is where they should put the bulk of their money in to a gaming rig. While a gaming computer's standard of quality on the whole should be higher than a basic pc, a good portion of your money should go to your video card and PC. These are the most crucial to gaming performance and stability.

Video Cards for Gamers:

First start with your video card. You can have the beefiest machine in the world but if you have a video card that is below par, your system is not going to run the way you want it to. If you have a budget, then I recommend 20-30% of it go to a nice video card.

Video Card Brand Loyalty:

So many gamers have brand loyalty to the hardware that they buy. Since hardware manufacturers don't have any loyalty to you, you shouldn't have any to them! That being said I've made a list of video cards in order of what I'd purchase in terms of price point. There are more expensive and "better" video cards than I've listed, but since video cards come and go so quickly. Because of this I don't recommend you spend any more than $300 or any less than $130. Gamer's will find that in general video cards between $200-$300 will cover their needs for at least a year to two.

Budget tips for Your Custom Gaming PC

When you are on a budget the trick with video cards, and some other hardware, is to find the model that isn't the newest and greatest, but just below that. Many times you'll see the difference between the 2G and 3G models is only or 3G and 4G models is only $5-10. That's what I like to call the "sweet spot" for budget buying.

Best Mid-Range Video Card

My choice for best mid-range video card of the year is two-fold. The Radeon HD 6950 and the GeForce GTX470.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 Graphics Card

Card Details from the Manufacturer:

  • PCI-Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
  • 256-bit DDR5 memory interface
  • Microsoft DirectX 11 Support
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Support
  • ATI Eyefinity Technology, support up to 3 displays


EVGA GeForce GTX470 Graphics Card

Card Details from the Manufacturer:

  • GeForce GTX 470 Superclocked with 625 MHz core clock
  • PCI Express 2.0
  • 1280 MB 320-bit 2.5ns GDDR5 memory
  • 3402 MHz memory clock and 1250 MHz shader clock
  • Windows XP, Vista and Windows7 support

Gaming CPU

I've written in detail about the 2G of Intel processors in my articles on the best i3, i5, i7 processors for 2013, and the best AMD Phenom II CPU for 2013, so if you want more reading on these specific processors you can visit those hubs.

Our choice for best CPU of 2012 is the 2nd generation of processors from the Intel series nicknamed Sandy Bridge. Even though Intel had to pull these for a slight manufacturing flaw, they will be re-releasing them into the market soon, and we have no doubt that the 2500k and 2600k will become the top rated and bestselling processors of the year. Where AMD really shines is in the 100-$300 Range. We especially like their AMD Phenom II X6 1090T as the best value buy under $200. If you need to save a little money, then why wouldn't you go for six cores of processing heaven?

Here's are list in order of price of what we'd get (we've left the Sandy Bridge Processors at the bottom until Intel can get them straightened out).

Bestselling CPU Processor of 2012 - 2013

The core i7-950 is still the year's bestselling and top rated CPU.

Technical Details:

  • Specs: Quad-core 3.4GHz, 8M Cache, Intel HD Graphics 3000, 95 watt TDP, Dual-channel DDR3 memory support, socket LGA1155
  • Quad-core processor with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel HT) delivers eight-way
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology is an advanced means of enabling very high performance while also delivery power-conservation.
  • 8 MB Intel Smart Cache is dynamically shared to each processor core, based on workload
  • All Core i7 processors have Intel Turbo Boost Technology


Motherboards and Cases for Gaming 2012 - 2013

Because this hub is getting a little long, I'll defer you to my hubs on the best 1155, 1156, and 1366 socket motherboards for 2013, and the Best AMD CPU Motherboard Combo for 2013. I've also written on the best gaming cases which should be a good place to start.

If you'd rather not go to those more in-depth hubs, I've listed my favorite 1156, 1155, 1366, AM3, motherboards here as well as my top gaming case of the year.

*Tip for Gamers on a Budget:

If you want to build a budget gaming PC then consider going with the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T CPU and the ASUS M4A89GTD or the Core i7-970 with the Asus P7P55D-E Pro.

I couldn't possibly cover every part that I'd like to in the scope of this hub on gaming computer builds; however, below I'll list many more computer building related hubs that I've written so that you can take a look at more parts. Again, the best gaming computer that you can ever own will be the one that you can build. If you've never done it before, then I suggest you take the leap and jump in as I did the first time I ever built a gaming rig.

I hope you enjoyed this hub on building a gaming rig/system. Whether you enjoyed this hub or think I missed something please contribute to this hub below. Reader interaction allows me to improve my hubs through feedback and changes I make on a regular basis.

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