Building a Gaming PC 2013 - Best & Top Rated Computer Build for $1,000
Best $1,000 Budget Gaming PC Build for 2013
Building a great gaming PC is not that hard if you know the right place to put your money. That being said the shortcuts that a lot of gamers take are the wrong ones. In this post I'll take you through my favorite new hardware for the year and show you how much, in my opinion, you should allocate to each component of your rig.
Where Should you Put your Money?
When building a gaming PC the last thing you want is to have a bottleneck with either your CPU or graphics card. For this reason I try to spend just about the same amount of money on each which on build $1000 and more is around 50% of my overall build.
$1,000 Gaming PC Build Allocation:
Hard Drive: 8-13%
DVD Drive: 2%
Blu-ray Drive: Optional
Total: 85% to 109% of budget or 850 - $1090
I've added a little leeway in this initial pricing in case you'd like to add an optional blu-ray, solid state drive, or want to include software in your budget. Below I'll list 5 of my favorite options for each of these components so you can easily pick and choose what you'd like to use in your custom build. In addition I'll add AMD and Intel options throughout.
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Best Gaming CPU Under or Around $200 2013
In this price range there are very few options that I really like. On the AMD side, you'll be going with the AMD Phenom II 1090T or 1100 T, if you can still find them, or the AMD FX-8120. While these are great processors the benchmarks don't lie, and for right now you get more bang for your buck with Intel in this price range.
I suggest you stick with at least an i5 processor, the most obvious choice being the Ivy Bridge i5-3570k or Sandy Bridge 2500k. If you're willing to pay a little bit more you can also consider upgrading to the i7-3770k or i7-2600k, but benchmarks show that the added performance is hardly worth the extra cash. If you're using your rig outside of gaming, then the hyperthreading on the i7 models may well be worth the additional 30% you pay for it. Another solid option if you don't plan on overclocking is the i5-2400 which comes in at around $30 cheaper than the i5-2500k.
If you're budget doesn't cut it for any of these CPU, then try the i3-2100 from Intel or the AMD Phenom II X4 960T. I also recommend that you take a look at a site like CPU benchmark for a good overall cost/speed comparison.
Best Gaming Graphics Cards Under $300 2013
It doesn't matter how beefy your machine is. Without a solid dedicated graphics card you are severely limited on the type of games you can play and at the frame rate that you can play them. Whether you prefer nVidia or AMD cards there are a lot of really great options in the price range that we're using, between $220-260. You could consider CrossFire X for two HD 6850s, SLI two GTX 550s, or simply purchase a single card. For single GPU builds I recommend the GTX 560 TI or the Radeon HD6950 in this price range.
Best Gaming Ram 2013 - Budget Under $100
Most new games today require at least 8GB of ram and if you want to future proof your machine, then you should go with 12-16GB. As ram have fallen per/GB over the last few years this is a very viable option in our $1,000 price range. Be sure to purchase your ram in multi-channel kits as this increases the transfer speed of data between the DRAM and the memory controller by adding more channels of communication between them.
Best PC Gaming Motherboard 2013
Socket AM3 + motherboards are used with both AMD's Phenom II and Bulldozer / Zambezi CPU. If you're going that route I really like the GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 as a solid but inexpensive option.
For Intel builders you have a lot of options here. The latest GEN3 Z68 motherboards are forward compatible with both standard consumer Ivy Bridge processors and PCIe 3.0 as long as you're using an Ivy Bridge CPU. New X79 chipset motherboards, released in November 2011, are compatible with Intel's all new Sandy Bridge-e processors including the i7-3930k which, although not affordable in the $1,000 price range, is a solid new option for enthusiast builders. It's also interesting to note that the X79 chipset motherboards are forward compatible with Intel's future release of Ivy Bridge-e CPU. Like the GEN3 Z68 motherboards X79 chipset motherboards are also compatible with PCIe 3.0 and with their quad channel architecture allow for up to 128GB ram (with 16GB DIMM sticks).
Best Gaming Hard Drive Under for $100 - 150
The size of your hard drive is a little bit of a personal choice. If you're planning on storing video, then the sky is the limit on how much you could need. However, if you just plan on keeping a few games on your PC, then you could go with something as small as 500GB without a problem.
If your goal is speed, then I recommend you get something at 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s (third generation SATA - not quite as important), and of course 64MB Cache for seamless data streams.
I've listed the two models I'd choose between for speed as well as some budget options . I've seen some other Hitachi and Samsung models that I've heard good things about, but both Western Digital and Seagate have always been steady and reliable for me in the past.
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Top Rated Gaming PC Build Under $1,000
Budget DVD Drives
There's really no reason to spend the wad on a DVD drive. This is because if you're setting aside more than $20-30 for it you might as well just jump to a Blu-ray Drive. I usually go with whatever is reliable and still the least expensive. Here's a few that I'd recommend:
Best New PC Gaming Cases 2013
Some gamers care about how their case looks and some really only care about functionality. For this build I'm assuming that you'll want a mid-sized case as my guess is you won't use more than two video cards. For ease-of-use Cooler Master and Antec are hard to beat.
When choosing a case be sure to take a look at the components you have and make sure they will fit. The cases below should do the trick most of the time, but if you're wanting to install a solid state drive, then be sure to look for 2.5" slot functionality or purchase an adapter. If all else fails use duct tape...
Best Gaming PSU / Power Supply Unit 2013
I've left one of the most essential components in your build for last. The stability and long-term effectiveness of your components depends on a reliable power supply. Since you've spent nearly a $1,000 on all that hardware the last thing you want is a cheap PSU. I recommend you look for one that is 80 PLUS certified.
How do you calculate how much power your build needs?
There are some great tools around the net for calculating your power needs. I recommend Thermaltake's PSU Calculator. NewEgg also has a PSU calculator that is less exhaustive. With this particular build you're probably good with an 80 PLUS Certified PSU with 650+ watts.
I really like the power supplies I've listed below and have no problem recommending them to you. Find a good rebate to save a significant amount of money. If you do this you'll find 650 watt 80 Plus certified power supplies for $50-60 without a problem.
Best Blu-ray Drives 2013
I download a lot of the games I play and those that I don't I usually find the DVD for. This strategy has worked great for me so for; however, if it wears out its effectiveness then I know that I always have the option to add a Blu-ray Drive later. My guess is by the time that happens they'll have fallen in price even further.
That being said if you have the extra cash and want to take advantage of games and movies with Blu-ray Discs, then there are some really great models out there for a reasonable price. Here's a few of 2012's best rated Blu-ray drives:
Best New Solid State Drives 2013
I use solid state drives both at work and at home. They've given me an extra boost in my read and write times for sure and I can't recommend them enough. That being said, they can get pretty expensive - especially if you use them as an alternative to a hard drive. If you're planning on using a new motherboard, then make sure that your SSD is SATA III. Unlike HDD this is very important as read/write speeds for SATA III SSD can be up to twice as fast as SATA II.
Here's three options you might want to consider for budgeting a SSD into your build:
If you're building an Intel gaming PC and have a z68 chipset motherboard, then you can take advantage of Intel Smart Response Technology which allows you to dedicate up to a 64GB SSD to SSD Caching. The good thing about this is that it speeds up your entire hard drive. I recently purchased a 64GB Crucial model and did just that. The best way to describe it is "smooth". The downside to this is that like a RAID drive it's completely dedicated to this and cannot be used beyond that. The good part is that if you have a reasonably sized hard drive, then another 64GB probably won't make a big difference.
Option 2 is to avoid a hard drive altogether and just purchase a SSD. A lot of laptop manufacturers and owners have opted to do just that and it's trending towards PCs as well. If you purchase one that's 240-256GB, then you should expect to be in it at $300-350.
Option 3 is to purchase a small SSD like for the caching option but simply use it for your OS and other important files. I've seen several computers like this that were able to boot in under 9 seconds. You could also consider installing the latest game you are playing, Office, or even your web browsers.
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© 2013 Bob Miller