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Best Gaming PC Build Under $1500 2015

Updated on January 14, 2015
This build features the feature-heavy Corsair Carbide 300R, GTX 970, and your choice of processor. For questions use the open commentary section below.
This build features the feature-heavy Corsair Carbide 300R, GTX 970, and your choice of processor. For questions use the open commentary section below.

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.

The GTX 970 is my choice of GPU in the under $300 to $400 range.
The GTX 970 is my choice of GPU in the under $300 to $400 range.

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.

Best PC Gaming Motherboard for $150 - 250 2015

Socket 1150

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.

Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black HDD
Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black HDD

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

Budget $20-80

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.

Open Discussion Area and Commentary for PC Builds

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi,

      I am looking for a gaming build that can handle some of Warcrafts major 40 man raids, I have never built a cp but am looking to spend around 1500. I need something that will keep the cp cool as I've had several back surgeries and spend a lot of time on my cp almost 24/7. I play other major games so need something that won't lag down in the middle of a battle. Please if anyone can show me a build that has a major cooling system I would apppreciate it. I've been researching it a lot but everything changes and I'm just not sure with compatiblity of some of the parts.

      Please help me out

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am about to buy a gaming pc with a buget from 1500.- euro any tips/suggestions?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Check out this config For a High Performance Moderate PC. Comments are welcomed lol :p

      CPU_i5 2500K

      MOTHER BOARD_Asus LGA 1155-Z68-V PRO/GEN 3

      GPU_Nvidea GTX 670

      RAM_Kingston HyperX 16GB Quad Channel

      SSD_OCZ 90GB Agility3 Series SATA 6Gb/s (dedicated for operating system installation and for regularly accessing/frequent files like office files)

      HDD_WD 1TB Black (For all my Gaming Needs) & 3TB WD Green (For my Entertainment Purposes like storing A whole lot of movies for watching with my friends oooh la la).

      PSU_Corsair Enthusiast Series 750W ATX 80 Plus Broonze

      CPU Cooler_Antech Kuhler H2O 620 Water Cooling.(i think here i need some editing ??).

      CASE_Cooler Master HAF X Full Tower

      Blue Ray Drive_ Not yet Selected (any sugessions?)

      Monitor is also not selected (here also i need some help)

      hmmmm oh hey and finally the OS is Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was wondering if this was a good build for playing WoW on ultra settings, I don't know that much about computers and building them so I am just wanting your opinions on this build:

      Case:Cooler Master Storm Enforcer Gaming Mid Tower Computer Case with USB 3.0 Ports (SGC-1000-KWN1)

      Power Supply:OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W Modular High Performance Power Supply compatible with Intel Sandy Bridge Core i3 i5 i7 and AMD Phenom

      CD Drive:Lite-On LightScribe 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive IHAS424-98 - Retail (Black)

      Hard Drive:Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB SATA III 7200 RPM 64 MB Cache Internal Desktop Hard Drive Bulk/OEM - WD1002FAEX

      Mobo:ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

      Processor:Intel Core i5-2500K Quad-Core Processor 3.3 GHz 6 MB Cache LGA 1155 - BX80623I52500K

      GraphicsCard:Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB DDR5 HDMI/DVI-I/Dual Mini DP PCI-Express Graphics Card 11197-01-40G

      RAM:Corsair Vengeance Blue 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM Dual Channel Memory Kit CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Any takes on Thermal take? i was considering getting the chassis for looks and going from there

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: You dont need liquid cooling, unless you overclock above 4.5Ghz...

      The cooler should save you $70.. Get the Cm 212 evo

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Cm 212 evo all the way!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      any thoughts on cooling for this type of build? i'm also new to PC gaming and researching a rig.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm looking to build my own PC for gaming and streaming. Here is my current list of parts I want after my bits of research. This is my first time building.

      Case: Cooler Master Haf X

      CPU: Intel i5 3570k

      Mobo: Asus P8Z77-V Pro LGA 1155

      GPU: Zotac GTX 670

      SSD: Samsung 830 128GB

      RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x4GB or 2x8GB

      PSU: Idk how much I need, but I do plan on overclocking the CPU and maybe the GPU, but I expect 700-850w

      DVD Drive: Asus

      Liquid Cooling System: Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme.

      What do you think? Would you change anything, if so what? How should I connect everything? It has 2 PCIe 3.0, what should I connect those to?

      I plan to have the radiator inside the case/under the 200mm fans included with the case and have the top left corner (back and up) for exhaust (since heat rises) and bottom and right for intake. Email me your thoughts and opinions at elijahsearle@gmail.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for posting this. It's been invaluable as I research the components for my first gaming rig.

    • gamingpchardware profile image
      Author

      gamingpchardware 5 years ago

      Manny - Thanks for your comment. I try to keep my posts up-to-date but occasionally find one lagging behind. I just updated the post above with the latest GPU and CPU.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love this guide, It's been very helpful since I plan to build a gaming pc this fall. But it feels a bit outdated because of ivy bridge and the new nvidia cards.

      I'd love to see this and other buying guides updated.