Building a Gaming PC 2015 - Best Custom Build
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.
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
Power Supply: $60
Computer Case: $80
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.
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?
Graphics Cards Under $300 - I Recommend...
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.
Top Rated 600 Watt Power Supplies 2014
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).
The Rest of the Build
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.
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.
Related Posts and Information
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A good gaming case not only gives your PC an identity, it also houses your expensive components. As someone who has used quite a few cases in the past I thought I'd put together a list of a few of my favorites. Below you'll find my guide to gaming...
- Best Budget PC Gaming Mouse 2014 Review
Not everyone is a professional gamer or has a sponsor when they get started. Whether you're looking to play games casually or eventually for money you can get a great budget gaming mouse that gives you nearly everything that the high-end gaming mice.
- Best AMD AM3+ Motherboard for Gaming 2015
A review of 2015's best AMD AM3+ Motherboard according to value and bang for your buck. Also a learning guide for building an AMD AM3+ gaming PC.