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Building a Gaming PC 2015 - Best Custom Build

Updated on January 19, 2015

A Good Under $1,000 Gaming PC Build for Battlefield 4 2015

Each year I build a new gaming PC and sell off my old hardware. It may seem like a waste of time to some, but in my opinion my custom PC is just this geek's version of a muscle car. I'm constantly tweaking it to see how much performance I can get out of it and in general I like to have the best without paying too much for it. While building computers isn't a full-time job of mine it's something I do on the side for myself as well as for friends and relatives. This allows me to not only earn a little money doing something I love, but also keep up-to-date on what really works.

As you can see in the picture above I did a build similar to the one on this post just a couple of weeks ago. This build will not be exactly like that one simply because the best value parts in the computer hardware market are constantly changing based upon what rebates and discounts are available. For this reason I'll be updating this post quarterly throughout 2015 with new recommendations.

Current Graphics Card - GTX 660 TI
Current Graphics Card - GTX 660 TI

Choosing the Right Computer Hardware for Any Budget

While this post has all the information you need-to-know for a custom build in the $1,000 price range I'm also writing a series of posts in 2014 based on any budget. Here's a few more builds from $500-900. You can also find more posts like this one as well as hardware-specific topics on my profile page.

$1,000 Gaming Computer Component Breakdown:

In each of my builds I include a component breakdown section. This is a budget that I start with which allows me to prioritize what parts and hardware should be the most important. Since this particular build is for gaming I'm placing the most emphasis on the graphics card and processor. Here's the current breakdown:

Graphics Card: $250-300

Processor: $180-220

Motherboard: $95-135

Power Supply: $60

Computer Case: $80

Ram: $50-100

CPU Cooler: $30

Hard Drive: $75

Optical Drive: $20

As you can see above, this particular build will range from around $840 up to $1020 depending on what components you ultimately choose.

CM Storm Encorcer Computer Case
CM Storm Encorcer Computer Case

Computer Cases

What to Look For:

There's a lot of really great cases in the $80 range that look great, give you good airflow, design, and are extremely easy-to-use. For me ease-of-use is a top priority as well because I like to change things in and out so much. While most cases in 2014 come with some kind of USB port in the front I/O I also wanted USB 3.0 compatibility for my external hard drives.

*Tip: I've noticed that most companies have updated their cases within the last year or so in order to incorporate the new USB 3.0 standard. If you have a favorite type of case that doesn't currently have USB 3.0, then most likely you're looking at the older version, or it will get updated soon.

Case Material - Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel:

I'm going to tell you right upfront that I'm not an aluminum case fan. While they are lighter they don't make the inside of your case any cooler and tend to get scuffed up easier. What's worse is they're more expensive than steel cases. In my opinion, plastic mesh, a window for showing off, and steel is the way to go.

Pictured: CM Storm Enforcer

To the right is the case I've been using lately because of it's look and mid-range cost, airflow, design, and ease-of-use. I like how all the drives just snap in and out and it comes with a 2.5" enclosure as well as a 2.5" slot in the middle of the bottom which makes it super easy to install your solid state drive.

Top Rated Computer Cases for Gaming Under $100 2014 - Choose Between...

My Recent $700 to $800 Gaming PC Build

Best PC Gaming Graphics Cards Under $300 2015

As a gamer I've learned to really appreciate competition between business as it forces competitors to do research and put out better products each year. For graphics cards the discussion is always NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon cards. At about a 60/40 market share, which goes slightly in favor of NVIDIA, both brands are constantly improving in order to bring the best value to their customers.

Which should you choose under $300?

In the under $300 space there are really only 2 cards I'd consider right now. Going more with the newer GTX 970 will give you a lot of flexibility in the years to come. Going with the R9 280X will cost you less overall and give you better bang for your buck.

Each gives you good value at their respective price points. If you like to overclock, then you can probably get quite a bit of value out of the HD 7870 or the 7850 whereas I really like what standard benchmarks look like for the GTX 660 TI or a GTX 660 that comes with a standard overclock. I currently have the EVGA GeForce GTX 660Ti Superclocked+ version. The reason for this is how well it does vs. the pricier GTX 670 and Radeon HD 7950 in benchmarks for overclocking on 1920 x 1080p 4X MSAA.

Interactive Reader Poll

Which of these Graphics Cards Would you Choose for this Build?

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Best PC Gaming CPU/Processors Under or Around $200

Intel Vs. AMD

2013 Was Closer Than 2012

If you would have asked me before October of 2012 which processor you should go for it would have been an Intel CPU 90% of the time. After AMD released its next generation FX series Piledriver processors gamers once again have a couple of decent options.

For the most part Intel processors will give you better in-game performance for the money. People that want to argue about this are probably unaware or blind to the thousands of benchmarks which prove this to be true. That being said I don't mind a processor like the Piledriver FX-8350 which will still give you great in-game performance and superb performance on highly threaded applications. If you choose this CPU, then you'll also find that AM3+ motherboards are generally a bit cheaper than LGA 1155 motherboards. This is especially the case for chipsets designed for Ivy Bridge.

In this price range choose between the i5-3570k (for overclocking), i5-3470, and the FX-8350.

Best PC Gaming Motherboards Under $150 2014

A lot of people tend to go overboard on a motherboard that is pricier than what they need. If you don't plan on overclocking, then go with something like the AS Rock Z77 PRO3 or Gigabyte Z77 GA-Z77-DS3H for your Intel processor or the Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3 AM3+ motherboard for your AMD processor. Save yourself the money to put towards your graphics card or processor.

Those of you looking to overclock check out the AS Rock Z77 Extreme 6, ASUS Sabertooth Z77, or Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H for Intel or the ASUS Sabertooth 990FX for AMD.

Best PSU / Power Supply for Gaming 2015

In a recent power supply poll I held, where over 11,000 people voted, 21% of people chose to use a power supply between 600 and 650 watts, 22.7% 700-750 watts, 17.6% 800-850 watts, and 18.1% chose a PSU over 1000 watts for their PC build. If you need help calculating just how much wattage you need, then I highly recommend you go to that article for additional information.

Unless you plan on extreme overclocking, then a 600-650 watt power supply is more than enough for this build. Since we have around $60 to spend I recommend you look at three models that I use regularly, the Corsair Builder Series CX 600, Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650, and the OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W if you want a modular power supply (removable cords).

Fan Coolers Vs. Liquid Coolers:

Believe it or not fan coolers often beat liquid coolers in the $100 price range. The Hyper 212 EVO is inexpensive and should keep your CPU cool if you do a moderate overclock.

WD Blue 1TB SATA 6 Gb/s 7200 RPM 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch Desktop Hard Drive (WD10EZEX)
WD Blue 1TB SATA 6 Gb/s 7200 RPM 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch Desktop Hard Drive (WD10EZEX)

If you don't need a lot of room, then consider replacing your hard drive altogether with a solid state drive. I personally don't build a computer without one. The Samsung 840 series gives you some of the best bang for your buck.

 

Here's a look at one of my most recent $800 Builds.

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2015 PC Building Commentary and Discussion - Comments are Appreciated!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm looking at building a new pc to play final fantasy xiv. Any suggestions? Looking to spend about $1200

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Totally love this guide. I'm getting ready to build a pc to play final fantasy xiv. Any suggestions on a good setup? Looking at spending around $1200

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Awesome! Thank you so much this article is really helpful!

    • CustomBuilds profile image
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      CustomBuilds 4 years ago

      @anonymous: For minecraft you should be more than fine. With my GTX 660 TI and i7-3770k I have no problems maintaining high FPS in BF3 - so certainly you'll be fine with the GTX 660 SC in minecraft.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @CustomBuilds: Well, the most important thing to me as I am new to building a computer is that is that all the parts are compatible which is awesome! I want to keep the build under $1200 but I was wondering for someone who plans to record videos and still maintain high fps (minecraft) would this build go above and beyond or is it lacking? if that makes sense?

    • CustomBuilds profile image
      Author

      CustomBuilds 4 years ago

      MC Gamer. The build looks really good. Is there a specific type of feedback that you want? It all looks compatible so is it more of performance advice?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello, This is my first build and I was wondering if I could receive some feedback: Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SUPERCLOCKED 2048MB GDDR5 DVI HDMI DP Graphics Card 02G-P4-2662-KR

      Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K Quad-Core Processor 3.4 GHz 4 Core LGA 1155 - BX80637I53570K

      Motherboard: AS Rock LGA1155 DDR3 SATA3 USB3.0 Quad CrossFireX and Quad SLI A GbE ATX Motherboard Z77 EXTREME4

      Power Supply: Corsair Builder Series CX 600 Watt ATX/EPS 80 PLUS (CX600)

      RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600 MHz (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory (CMZ16GX3M2A1600C10)

      CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO - CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan (RR-212E-20PK-R2)

      Case: CM Storm Enforcer - Gaming Mid Tower Computer Case with USB 3.0 and Windowed Side Panel

      Hard Drive: WD Blue 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64 MB Cache - WD10EZEX

      Optical Drive: Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive - Bulk - IHAS124-04 (Black)

      Keyboard: Steelseries Apex (RAW)

      OS: Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit (OEM)

      Mouse: Logitech g400 (if needed)

      Monitor: asus vs247h-p

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Really good post! Appreciate the insight. Keep them coming

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      hey this is my first gaming pc build and i don't know too much about this stuff so i have a couple questions. here is a what i chose for my pc:

      NZXT Phantom 410 Mid Tower USB 3.0 Gaming Case

      Intel Core i5-3570K Quad-Core Processor 3.4 GHz 4 Core LGA 1155

      Corsair Enthusiast Series 650-Watt 80 Plus Bronze Certified Power Supply

      WD Blue 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64 MB Cache

      EVGA GeForce GTX 660Ti SUPERCLOCKED+ 3072MB GDDR5 DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, DP, SLI Graphics Card

      ASUS P8Z77-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

      Asus Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-Ray Drive

      Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600 MHz (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory

      my first question is are all these components compatible with each other. and will they be able to play any game out there?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Im looking to build a rig for 2-4 monitors for flight simulator program - what are the best suggestions here staying in the 1k -1200 range?

    • CustomBuilds profile image
      Author

      CustomBuilds 4 years ago

      @anonymous: These two are compatible as that board uses the AM3+ socket required for AMD's FX series processors.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was going to go with the amd fx-8350 and gigabyte ga-970a-ds3 pair but I can't seem to find if there compatible together.

    • CustomBuilds profile image
      Author

      CustomBuilds 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Stuart - If you want to add a solid state drive, then go with a graphics card like the GTX 660 or HD 7850 and use the additional money towards it. Right now I'd recommend the Crucial M4 256 GB or the Samsung 840 250 GB to give you the best value / speed / capacity for the money,

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Can you also add a ssd to this build. Have both hard drive and ssd.

    • MusicMadness LM profile image

      MusicMadness LM 4 years ago

      I like your comparison to Muscle Cars and building PCs. I as never good at messing with cars, but really liked tinkering with computers. Haven't build one from scratch yet though.

    • CustomBuilds profile image
      Author

      CustomBuilds 4 years ago

      @anonymous: What's your Budget? In the $200 range I'd recommend several different Asus monitors that have 2ms response times and sub 1 frame input lag. The ASUS VH236H EVO monitor is always a good option, but personally I'd go with their newer LED models. I have the ASUS VE248H which is now one of my favorites.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What are your suggestions for a monitor for the $1000 build?