Build an Under $1,500 Best Custom Gaming PC 2014
Updated: September 19, 2014
So you want to build a gaming computer, but you are on a budget. Where should you spend your money for maximum bang for your buck performance without leaving out any crucial details?
In this article we're going to assume that you are going to build your gaming computer for under $1000, we've listed several options for each category you'll come across. This way you can pick and choose where you'd like to spend your money. Depending on the options listed below you can build a gaming computer for between $688-$1423.
*Building Tip - Building your own gaming computer for the first time can be intimidating. If you know someone that has done it a few times, then I would recommend you ask if they can help you out for a few hours. If not, then don't be afraid to try it out yourself. We've listed some great compatible options that should make for a great gaming pc. Once you've put one together, the next one should be much easier for you to grasp. Each part that you order will give you instructions on where to put it. If you pay attention to your motherboard's instructions, then it won't be long before you are up and running.
Best Gaming Computers Under 1000 2013 Custom PC Builds
Where should your money go first?
Best Video Cards for Gaming
You can have a beefy machine, but if your video card isn't up to par, then it doesn't really matter. It's not going to run what you want it to run. A nice video card should be a good percentage of your overall budget. I would recommend between 15-25% of your money go towards this. You'll see that I also recommend you spend around the same amount on your CPU. This way you can avoid the bottleneck that can sometimes occur if you spend too much on one or the other.
Top Rated Cards Under $300
Updated 3/29/2013: When it comes to the best gaming video cards around $300, I recommend going with one of two GPU; the GTX 660TI, or the Radeon HD 7950 for good quality, durability, and bang for your buck. If you're going to overclock, then the HD 7950, with the new driver updates should have the edge here.
What about SLI / Crossfire?
If you want to use SLI / Crossifre in this price range, then consider dual HD 7850s which will probably put you more on par with something like the GTX 670. That being said if you want to Crossfire, then be prepared to use more energy, deal with more heat, and driver issues.
Radeon vs. GeForce
In 2013 I'm excited about how the competition is going between these two giants. Both manufacturers are competitive at each price point. This should mean good things to come this year as well as many years to come. While I don't prefer one vs. the other I do recommend you check out benchmarks comparing Graphics cards in each price range. Usually a site like Tom's Hardware is good for this.
I recently updated my gaming rig with the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 TI Superclocked. You can see pictures from my PC to the right.
What's the Best Graphics Card for Gaming in 2013?
My Favorite Graphics Card for the Money in August 2013
Best CPU for Gaming 2013 Custom PC Builds Under $1000
Intel Vs. AMD
While the competition may have waned in 2011 I am cautiously optimistic about where AMD and Intel were in 2012 and where they're going in 2013. While the two competitors were far apart in 2011 with Intel's Sandy Bridge release and AMD's Bulldozer release, Piledriver has made up some of that ground.
i7-4770k vs. i5-4670k?
To the right I've listed the CPUs I'd consider for gaming as of right now. If you don't use a lot of applications or do video editing, then I recommend the Ivy Bridge i5-4670k. This is because the i7-4770k simply won't give you $100 worth of additional in-game performance. Those of you who don't overclock should go with the considerably cheaper Ivy Bridge i5-3470. You could also consider the AMD FX-8350 for a workstation / gaming PC build.
In Depth Reading: Best Gaming CPUs for 2013.
Want to see benchmark data for all of the CPU we have listed below? Check out CPUbenchmark.net.
Best Gaming Ram Under 100
Building a Gaming PC - Best Gaming Ram 2013
Less important than your video card and processor, but still crucial is your ram. Right now if you want to game, then I recommend a minimum of 4 Gigs and 8GB for high level gaming. Remember, more ram is always a good thing.
Having the right speed of ram can also reduce load times and keep all of your applications running smooth. Since you are going to need more than 4 GB eventually, it's very tempting to go with the 8GB right out of the gate on this one. If you simply don't have the money, then try to stick with the same ram down the line.
Tip for Purchasing Ram/Memory
If you're looking to purchase ram, then make sure you do it all at once so that you get the benefits of dual or multi-channel compatibility.
Prices are constantly changing. When looking for Ram/Memory I recommend you look at capacity, timing, speed, and price, and then go with the Corsair XMS3, Corsair Vengeance, Kingston Hyper X, or the featured G. Skill Ripjaw ram.
Best Motherboard for Gaming - 2013 PC Builds
For motherboards just make sure that whatever you purchase matches and the sockets fit. For example Ivy or Sandy go with an 1155 compatible motherboard, for Haswell an 1150 motherboard, for standard AMD processors go with the newer technology in an AM3+ board. AMD APU require a socket FM1 or FM2 motherboard.
*Tip - Make sure that your chipset is Z77 for the LGA 1155 socket motherboards.
The Z77 chipset is the latest and most functional chipset in the line of motherboards built for Ivy Bridge. It gives you Intel Smart Response technology, USB 3.0 Native functionality, PCIe 3.0 compatibility, and most importantly allows you to overclock your CPU, graphics card, and memory.
I've listed a wide array of my favorite motherboards to the right which may work for you depending on your particular needs and build-style. A motherboard like the Z77 Extreme 3 is perfect for the user who doesn't plan on doing performance overclocking and can save you a lot of money that you can put towards your processor and graphics card. The same can be said about the Gigabyte GA-970A-D3 AM3+ Motherboard.
For overclockers I highly recommend the Sabertooth AM3+ for AMD Builders or the ASRock Extreme 6 Z77 which was recently recommended in a Tom's Hardware article which featured six motherboards from $160-220. Now that it's come down in price even more it's an even better deal.
For more information on motherboards be sure to check out my post dedicated to the best motherboards of 2013.
Probably my favorite 1150 motherboard in terms of price, functionality, and ability to overclock.
Best Gaming Hard Drive 2013
I highly recommend you upgrade to a solid state drive in 2013. It's one of the biggest upgrades I've had on my computer in recent years and I'll never go back. No, it won't give you additional FPS, but yes, you'll notice a huge difference with anything else. For more information you can check out this post as well on the best solid state drives for 2013.
Also, I've listed some great gaming pc towers below, but I have a hub entirely dedicated to pc gaming cases. If you want some in depth reading for picking out your gaming case, then you'll find what you're looking for there.
Best 80 Plus Power Supplies Under $100 2013
Going with a slightly more expensive power supply like the Rosewill Fortress will save you quite a bit of money over time. In addition it comes with a 7 year parts and labor warranty.
Building a Gaming PC 2013 Best Gaming Computer Builds
I hope you've enjoyed my hub on building a custom gaming computer under $1,000. If you have, then please leave a comment below.
If you would like me to feature another item on this hub, then leave a comment below and I'll try to feature it.