Best Gaming PC Build Under $1500 2015
Building a Gaming Computer for Performance and Features
Believe it or not at the $1500 gaming PC price point there are still a lot of decisions and tradeoffs to make in terms of performance and features. That being said, it's my opinion that once you get to a certain level of performance you'll be satisfied with features that speed up your everyday work.
One of these must-have features is a solid state drive. Ever since I switched to a solid state drive-based OS five years ago I haven't looked back. It saves me time with not only turning on and off the computer but also a ton of time while browsing or opening any program. What's more is that while playing games like Battlefield 4 I'm always the first one in the map which is more important to me than say 95 FPS vs. 85 FPS. I recommend you go the same route.
Best CPU / Processors for Gaming $200 - 300
With about $200 to $300 to spend there's really only two options that I'd go for in 2015. The i5 and i7 Haswell refresh-based CPUs. Once Broadwell is released you could consider going that route; however, don't expect a big increase in performance from that CPU alone as it will mainly be more power efficient.
Specifically, a CPU like the i5-4690k should give you all the performance you need in today's latest games. Anything more will be used for optional multitasking or perhaps be a performance boost for streaming, rendering, or CPU-intensive programs.
If you do opt for a higher-end CPU I recommend the i7-4790k for most users or the slightly more expensive i7-5820k for those looking to build an enthusiast setup.
Best Gaming Graphics Card / GPU for Under $300 to $400 in 2015
Right now I'm opting for NVIDIA's GTX 970 and 980 on the higher-end. They run as fast as AMD's flagship options, cooler, and smoother at this point in time. It should be expected in this price point to go for a GTX 970.
The GTX 970 will play anything you throw at it at 1080p and does a really good job at 1440p. For most people 1440p, not 4k, is the next stuff as driving 4k is simply too much of a nuisance in the near-distant future. Compared to the R9 290X anandtech shows that the GTX 970 runs only 1% slower in 1440p. Considering all the perks NVIDIA is throwing in with its GPUs right now like shadowplay and g-sync compatibility and considering the GTX 970 can be found for a slightly cheaper price it makes a lot of sense here.
Best DDR3 Ram / Memory Under $100 for Gaming 2014
Ram is often a hot topic of debate. A couple of years ago everyone thought that 4GB of ram would be enough to play all games on the highest settings. Today, the consensus is 8GB. I personally believe if you want your system to last a few years you should go ahead and purchase 16GB, especially at this price level. Purchasing all of the ram you plan on using in your system is a good idea so you can take advantage of multi-channel memory architecture which according to Wikipedia "increases the transfer speed of data between the DRAM and the memory controller by adding more channels of communication between them".
What about CAS latency?
For gaming, you should be fine with anything 9 or better. While many overclockers may disagree with me, articles like bit-tech's best memory for sandy bridge support this case. Those who need to heavily multitask outside of gaming, may opt for better at a premium price.
I've trusted G.Skill ram for a number of years and its rarely let me down.
Best PC Gaming Motherboard for $150 - 250 2015
In 2015 the socket 1150 motherboard I still like is the Asus Maximus VI Hero. While you could opt for the more recent VII Hero, the VI is about $60 right now and provides nearly the same value.
At around $160 after rebate you get a motherboard that will allow you to heavily overclock the i5-4690k or i7-4790k, is reliable, and has all the features you'll need for the next several years.
Best Hard Drives / HDD for Gaming 2014
Budget of $100-150
Do you need a fast hard drive for gaming?
I get this question a lot from gamers who want to blame issues like rubber banding and choppy gaming on their hard drive. While a fast hard drive is important it won't necessarily help you with those issues. Where will it help? Load times.
Overall it's still important to look for a fast hard drive and I recommend you purchase one with 7200 RPM and the capacity you need and then worry about the cache. The Western Digital Caviar Black series of HDD, for example, is ideal for speed because it's 7200 RPM and has 64 MB Cache.
Beyond that you can try partitioning your drive by short stroking it; however, I've found that if you buy a fast hard drive to begin with, then this simply isn't necessary. In addition, smaller SSD are cheap enough today, that this seems to be a more viable solution for those obsessed with read and write times.
Overall because I generally purchase a solid state drive with my PC I recommend the Caviar Blue series of hard drives for its speed and value.
Best Gaming Solid State Drive / SSD 2015 - $100 - 200
Sticking with our $1500 budget we only have around $150 allocated for a solid state drive so you have a couple of decisions you can make.
I personally like Samsung's Evo series of solid state drives. These were up for an incredible deal last December, so try to see if you can get a 250GB capacity one for around $120.
Best Blu-Ray Drive for $1500 Gaming Rig
Most games these days are installed to your hard drive and accessed online with platforms like Steam or Origin. If you'd rather not do a digital download, then it's still nice to have a Blu-Ray Drive or DVDRW, but in my opinion, I'd just go with something reliable and cheap.
I don't personally need or want to use a Blu-ray to write discs, so something like the LG model below is perfect for me and for most people in this price range.
Best Gaming Power Supply Under $100 2013 - 2014
How Much Power do you Need?
If you're going with a single GPU or even two low power graphics card, then 650W-700W is more than enough. If you are unsure about just how much power you need, then I highly recommend Thermaltake's PSU calculator which takes the guessing out of it.
Power supplies can get expensive, but I recommend you purchase a good one. By good I simply mean to purchase it from a reputable brand that has 80 PLUS certification. Be sure to get one with a rebate because, on power supplies especially, you can save 30-50% of the overall price. Below I've listed a few of my favorites under $100 this month.
Best Gaming Case / Tower 2013 - 2014 Budget - $60 to Under $150
There are a lot of really great gaming cases out there that make installation a breeze. Many of these models have been around for years and get updated with the latest technology in order to maintain their relevancy. If USB 3.0 matters to you, then look for one with a front I/O USB 3.0 port.
For me, the Corsair Carbide 300R makes the most sense right now.
I'm proud to say that I've personally used the parts listed above. While I believe that these are the best parts available for gaming rigs in this price range right now, I'm sure there are many of you who disagree with me. Leave a comment below with what you'd change and also be sure to check out more posts like this one in my profile or in the list below.
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