Best Custom Gaming Computer Build Under $1,000 [December 2012]


corsair 200r 1

High End Gaming Performance Under $1,000

Every month I try to put together a new recommended/best computer build for you guys and generally speaking, the build I see that’s requested most often is the $1,000 gaming PC build that can be expected to last a couple years. Since it’s already Thanksgiving time (for those of you in the USA) and Christmas is around the corner (and I know a lot of you guys are really looking to put something together for the holidays), I felt that a strong $1,000 build would be the most help for you guys for this month and into December.

For those looking for something a bit more budget, be sure to check out our $800 Budget AMD Gaming Build and for those with a bit more, be sure to check out our $2,000 Gaming PC Build as well.


Gaming Computer Build Component Summary – Budget: $1000

CPU Intel Core i5 3570k $220
Motherboard Gigabyte Z77X-D3H $115
Memory 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz DDR3 Low Profile 1.5v $40
GPU MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Edition $290
Case Corsair Carbide Series 200R $70
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM $78
Optical Drive OEM DVD Drive or OEM Blu Ray Drive $23
PSU Corsair TX650 $75
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus $25
OS Windows 8 64 bit $80
Total  Pricing via Amazon, so no tax and free shipping for most USA Residents $1016

Core Component Details

CPU – Intel Core i5 3570k

intel core i5 3570kAfter our move to an AMD chip for last month’s budget build, we’re once again back to our usual Intel Core i5 3570K. For those who regularly follow our monthly builds here at Custom PC Review, you’ll know that it’s just about the best processor you can get for the money today. With plenty of performance, top notch overclocking capability and enough horsepower to run any game you throw at it, the choice is a no brainer.

Those thinking about purchasing a processor with a bit more horsepower for video editing or other multi-threaded applications, be sure to take a look at the Intel Core i7 3770K. With its hyper-threading technology, it boasts up to a 30% boost in performance against the i5 3570K in multi-threaded applications.


Motherboard – Gigabyte Z77X-D3Hgigabyte z77x d3h motherboard

Ever since Intel’s introduction of the Z77 chipset, motherboard giant Gigabyte has made huge leaps in in improvements on their motherboards all the way from the budget end to the extreme high end and the Z77X-D3H is a perfect example of what kind of top quality products can be achieved.

With support for PCIe 3.0, SATA 3 6Gb/s, 8 channel integrated audio, Gigabyte’s fully digital power delivery system, and ultra durable 4 features, it’s got a lot going for it.

That said, once you realize that Gigabyte only wants a mere $114.99 for it with an additional $15 rebate bringing it down to only $99.99, this makes the Z77X-D3H one of the best priced, fully featured Z77 motherboards on the market today!


Memory – 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz DDR3 Low Profile 1.5v

We’re back to our usual memory configuration, and we’re sticking to it! Thanks to another round of recent price reductions, the 8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600MHz kit is now only a mere $39.99! With excellent reliability, great performance, a low profile and an amazing price, there really isn’t a better option on the market.


Case – Corsair Carbide Series 200R

corsair 200r 2You’ll notice throughout the build that we’re using a lot of Corsair components, and it’s for good reason too. It was only a year ago that Corsair cases were among the most high end in terms of both quality, features and price, but lately it seems like Corsair is taking a huge step in providing more affordable solutions without sacrificing a ton of quality and features.

The Corsair Carbide Series 200R is one of those new budget oriented cases that comes in at a mere $69, but includes a ton of features to make it suitable for anyone looking to build a new PC, but is limited to a budget.

With support for up to 8 fans, dust filters for the PSU and intake, tool free design, and a clearance of up to 320mm for those extra long graphics cards, it’s a beast of a case that doesn’t carry a beast of a pricetag.


GPU – MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Editionmsi gtx 660ti power edition

We’re building a gaming PC today, so that means we’re going to splurge a little on graphics and what better graphics card than the MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Edition?

Based off Nvidia’s new Kepler design, the GTX 660 Ti provides top notch performance with extremely high efficiency, so you’re guaranteed to be getting a ton of performance without a lot of energy or creating a lot of heat either. With MSI’s Power Edition GTX 660 Ti, you’re also getting MSI’s legendary Twin Frozr IV cooler, which will provide  excellent cooling along with MSI’s triple overvoltage design that allows you to do a little overclocking to improve performance if you’re feeling adventurous.

Oh, and did I mention there’s also a $20 rebate bringing it down to only $269.99? Now I did.


Storage – Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM

seagate barracuda 7200rpm 1tbWell, we had a budget of only $1,000 and you know some sacrifices had to be made in order to fit the budget. This is one of those sacrifices. For our build today, we’ll be going with a Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM hard drive, which if you asked me one or two years ago would’ve probably been my ideal choice when building a new gaming computer.

Nowadays, I think every PC should include an SSD period. They’re waaaaaaaaay faster and they draw less energy, but unfortunately they do cost a significant amount more than a traditional hard drive.

Those who have some extra budget laying around, I’d definitely suggest going with a 128GB Samsung 840 Pro or 256GB Samsung 840 Pro in combination with a 1TB Seagate Barracuda. This will allow for plenty of hard drive space for storage while OS and application files may be placed on the SSD for that extra top notch performance.


Final Pricing

Current pricing on Amazon for the build is $1,015.53 with an additional $35 in rebates bringing the system to about $980.53 after rebates. This is an excellent price for an extremely good gaming build that will play pretty much everything you throw at it at high to ultra settings.


Optional Components

Some people have interest in monitors, speakers, mice and keyboards, so we’re also including some recommendations for these items as well. I won’t be explaining the choices as peripherals are quite very much dependent on the person using the PC (For example, someone serious about audio may end up with $400 Audioengine 5+ speakers and an ASUS Xonar Essence STX), but here are some suggestions that are a good fit for this build.

Monitor ASUS VS247H-P 24″ Full HD Monitor $160
Sound Card Creative Sound Blaster Z $120
Speakers Logitech Z313 Speakers  $40
Gaming Headset Plantronics GameCom 780 $57
Mouse Razer Taipan $72
Keyboard Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard $150


Remember, if you have any questions, need some help, or need to fit the build into your budget feel free to visit the forums! Myself, or the community here will be more than happy to help you out with your own custom build or answer any computer questions you may have. If this build doesn’t fit your needs, be sure to drop by our Computer Builds section to find more computer builds.

Also, be sure to join us on FacebookTwitterGoogle Plus, or YouTube. Be updated on the latest news, reviews, tutorials, custom computer builds, and more!


    • Hey Jacob, yes you could definitely go with the Radeon HD 7950 if you’d like. Both cards are pretty much toe to toe, with some games better optimized for the GTX 660 Ti and some games better optimized for the Radeon HD 7950 so it’ll depend on the games you play. I’d recommend looking up some benchmarks on the specific games you play, but overall either way is a good choice and either way you should be able to play all of today’s games at high/ultra settings at 1080p.

  1. I plan to build my own computer for the first time and I just want to be sure that if I use W7 instead of W8 on this build there won’t be any problem, right?

  2. Love what you do with these builds! Just came here to say thanks. I am building something similar on What are your feelings on ibuypower and similar sites? I don’t really have the time to build it myself but also don’t want to pay alienware prices.

    • I think botique shops like cyberpowerpc and ibuypower are good. They generally have pretty good pricing and give a lot of options in terms of customization. That said, I’d definitely recommend building your own system. It’s a lot more fun, you learn a whole lot and if you know what you’re doing, it literally takes 15 minutes to put it together. Just add software after that and you’re done.

      • Sam,

        Thanks for this article and for your comments. I’m not adverse to the idea of building my own computer but I’ve just never done anything like it (at all). Would you recco building for someone with zero experience/familiarity handling hardware and components, or suggest you pay the extra $50 ($100? $150?) to have a shop like cyberpowerpc or ibuypower basically do the work for you?

        Your thoughts are most appreciated and thanks again!

  3. I like the build, I think what you’re doing is great but…I don’t like the case, I prefer a case with design or something, have any recommendations???

  4. Could you use a gigabyte ga-z77-d3h motherboard instead of the z77x-d3h motherboard and the parts still work and I’ve heard that the cmx range of corsair vengeance memory is a lot more reliable than cml range which you use? Is that true?

    • Yeah, you can but the Z77 D3H doesn’t have all 90 degree SATA ports, so you may have trouble fitting longer graphics cards in if you have a lot of drives you’re planning to connect. At least at the bottom PCIe x16 slot anyway.

      Not sure about the reliability of CMX or CML memory, but I’ve bought a lot of CML memory and it’s been great so far. Not much overclocking headroom though, but there isn’t much performance to be gained by using ultra high speed memory anyway. Either way, they’ve got a lifetime warranty so if anything goes wrong, just ship it back.

    • It would now cost $1094.38 for the same components that costed $1016 3 months ago. What happened to computer components getting cheaper with time? That’s a 7.7% price increase.

  5. Would it be okay to have 2 gtx 660 ti’s on this 650 watt psu? Or do you recommend bumping it up to a 750 watt? Or what about 2 regular Msi Twin Frozr gtx 660’s on a 650 watt psu? Because that was my original plan.

    • 650w should work, but I’d bump it up to 750w to give the PSU some breathing space and to account for capacitor degradation.

      Rather than go with 2 GTX 660 Ti’s, I’d rather you go with a single GTX 670 or GTX 680 instead. Unless you have a 120Hz monitor, you’re running a huge monitor with greater than 1920×1200 resolution, or you’re rocking a multi-monitor setup, there really isn’t any game on the market that’ll require more than a single GTX 670 or GTX 680.

      With a single graphics card then you can save power, reduce heat, and more importantly you have room to upgrade down the road if you feel like you need more graphics performance.

      Also just FYI, the Twin Frozr probably isn’t the best graphics card to go SLI with since there isn’t much space to draw cold air when the cards are stacked and you’ll just be blowing hot air from one card to the next. Instead, you should go with something with a blower style cooler so hot air goes out the back such as the GTX 670 FTW.

      • Thank you for the help!
        One more thing though. I was doing some research and I saw that if you overclock the Msi gtx 660ti to it’s full potential, it can come very close to the same performance of a gtx 670. Would that make the 660ti a more adequate single gpu card? Because this is my first build and I don’t feel comfortable in spending $400 for a video card right out the gate.

  6. Could I replace the gpu here with an evga GeForce ctx 670 ftw? I just want to know if it would all fit together. It’s my first time building.

    • it should fit in the case, and the mobo has support for PCIe 3.0, so sure. psu will also handle a SINGLE 670 just fine, if u want sli you might need a bit more power

  7. Would this build be able to play:
    – Minecraft w/ Mods
    – Skyrim
    – Happy Wheels
    – Team Fortress
    – Crysis
    – LoL
    On their highest settings with atleast 40fps-50fps

    • minecraft= most definantly probably, unless maybe you use optifine at extreme distance with a 264×264 (something close to that, pretty much highest res you will find) texture pack

      Skyrim= it should, idk if its same with pc but on consoles skyrim can only render at 720p for some reason, so that drops the requirements a bit

      Happy wheels= my current pc (which is 4 years old and cost $200 back then) can run it just fine, your ok

      Team fortress= Most likely, not a big fan so not sure

      Crysis=this one not completely sure. Crysis 2 had very high min requirements, but if you mean the first one than probably since its older

      LoL=again, not big fan so not sure, but most likely yes, i checked requirements, this surpasses recommended, so you should be more than ok

  8. Hey Sam, Just wanted to get your input on a build I plan on doing. Here’s the gear.. Intel Core i5 3570k, Gigabyte z77x-d3h, 2x 8gb corsair Vengeance 1600mhz DDR3,

    EVGA SuperClocked GeForce GTX 650 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3, Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB 7200rpm, LG Black 14X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 12X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-ray Burner, Corsair TXX650, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus, Rosewill N900 Pce wireless N Dualband. I really appreciate any advice.

  9. This is probably a dumb question, but after purchasing all of these components, will I need any kind of cables, aside from the cables that you use to hook components up to the constructed pc? IE internal power cables, HD cables, etc?


  10. This is probably a dumb question, but if I’ve purchased all of these components, will I need any internal connectors? IE power cables, or HD connection cables? It’s been a while since I’ve built one of these, but back in the day, you needed IDE cables, and other cables.


  11. Hey Sam. This will be my first time building my own computer. I want to run x-plane 10 on this computer so as a result, I would want to upgrade the CPU to a i7, and which motherboard do you recommend if I want built in wi-fi. Thanks!

  12. this is the first time im going to build a computer so i want relatively good one but i want to know if there is something on here that i could cut back on. in other terms is there something here i could downgrade without harming the overall performance. because price may become an issue for me on my budget. i was thinking of cutting back on storage but I’m not sure what would be a good replacement and what is compatible i was thinking about 750 gb instead but not sure where I’m going from there.

    • cutting back on storage will save you couple of buck, nothing noticeable. Your biggest expense is GPU, motherboards and CPU, but if you cut down on those, performance will obviously be affected.

  13. Sam, really great work. The way you seem truely interested in the needs and questions of your readers is uncommon.

    I want to build box for online sim racing. The machine will only be used for that purpose. Will your “under $1000” build work for that? I want to eventually have three monitors. Initially I will be playing rFactor2 and several SimBin titles. Any advice?

  14. Hey Sam, great work. I somehow found this site and i’m glad I did, learned so much. Maybe you can help me out. I’m buying a new PC and more than once I have heard about the Dell 2312HM as the best money-performance 23” monitor today. (noticed the LED version as well, but I don’t know what is the difference between the two). Do you agree that this monitor is the best? also, which graphic card is the best fit? (using your under 1,000$ build here, and lest say I can invest a bit more) Thanks.

  15. I’ve decided to go with the above build except changing the GPU, case and PSU to Gigabyte Radeon 7850 2GB Overclocked, Antec One and Antec Earthwatts EA-650 Green respectively for budgeting reasons(taking alot from the $<800 build article). Would they be okay? Thanks.

  16. i want to increase the RAM to 16GB from your specs, should i add another 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz DDR3 Low Profile 1.5v (4 x 4GB) or another model?

    it’s that okay, or 16GB ram will make it redundant?

  17. I don’t know how to compare requirements with these parts, so does anybody know if I am going to have trouble playing Crysis 3 with this computer? It doesn’t need to be on the highest graphical options possible, but I don’t want to play it at 360p with 20fps. So, can this computer handle Crysis 3 or should I save up some more money?

  18. Thanks for the article! Most likely a silly question, but does this motherboard include sound output without a sound card? As in, it has a audio jack input on it?

  19. 3 Months after this article, I checked these components expecting them to be cheaper than they were on November 22nd. To my surprise, a couple of items are the same price, but most items are even higher than they were in November, with most of them being $10-$20 higher. I didn’t total it up, but I believe this computer would be $80-$100 higher to build today than it would have 3 months ago.

    • It would now cost $1094.38 for the same components that costed $1016 3 months ago. What happened to computer components getting cheaper with time? That’s a 7.7% price increase, which seems crazy.

      • Yeah, well.. imagine my disappointment, when I realized that the prices in Europe for these same components would total about $1400.. :/

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