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The Best Gaming PC Builds of 2018
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The Best Gaming PC Builds of 2018

Sam ChenAugust 31, 2018

Welcome to Custom PC Review’s Best Gaming PC Builds! If you’re looking to build a new computer to play all the latest games, but you’re unsure of what parts to buy to create the optimal build at a certain price-point, we’re here to help.

Below you’ll find four builds sorted by budget of what we think will help create the best and most powerful gaming PCs for the price. Each piece of hardware in each build is hand-picked by our staff through consideration of a multitude of criteria such as price, performance, reliability, and cost. Furthermore, hardware recommend for our builds all have either been reviewed by us or is well known and highly regarded by the hardware community to ensure that our recommendations will give you the best gaming PC out there for the price. We’ve also designed our builds to be extremely balanced as well, favoring not only in-game FPS (frames per second) but not sacrificing cooling performance or aesthetics. For those with budgets somewhere between the builds specified, we’ll also offer some information about component alternatives below each build that can simply replace the recommended components. These are generally recommendations for different graphics cards or storage devices that can offer significantly improved performance.

As usual, this article is meant to serve as a guide for reference purposes only. Hardware prices and availability is constantly fluctuating, so if any piece of hardware listed below is out of stock, or is priced improperly, please help by letting us know in our community forums.

Best Cheap Entry Level Gaming PC Build (Budget $500 – $800)

The purpose of our entry level gaming PC is simple – we want to give casual gamers a relatively cheap, budget computer build that would allow them to play older, less graphically demanding games at medium to high settings as well as newer games at lower detail/resolution settings.

CPU Intel Core i3-8100
Motherboard ASUS PRIME B360M-A LGA1151
Memory 8GB (2x4GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000MHz Memory Kit
GPU MSI GTX 1050 2GT OC
Case Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-01
HDD Seagate Barracuda 500GB
PSU Antec VP-450
Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Purchase Link Buy This Build

Upgrade Suggestions

GPU – The quickest and easiest upgrade for the cheap gaming PC build is the GPU. While the GTX 1050 is an excellent GPU that will power most older games at 1080p without issues, the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti, Geforce GTX 1060, Radeon RX 570, or Radeon RX 580 will provide better gaming performance for 1080p or 1440p gaming in modern games.

Boot Drive – For fast game load times, nothing beats an SSD and with prices as low as they are now, an SSD is an excellent upgrade opportunity, especially for modern games with larger levels and textures. Currently, the most highly recommended mainstream SSD is the Samsung 850 EVO which can be found in the mid-$0.30/GB range. Another excellent option is the Crucial MX300 which isn’t as quick as the Samsung 850 EVO however, offers better value with prices in the upper-$0.20/GB range to low-$0.30/GB range.

Best Mid-Range Gaming PC Build (Budget $800 – $1,500)

The concept of the mid range gaming PC is pretty much going to be a machine that gives gamers the best “bang for the buck”. Each piece of hardware here is maximized in price to performance, but we also try to build the machine so that the price range is where performance is considered “good enough”. With this gaming PC, most games will be running at medium to high settings if played with a 1080P or 1440P monitor. This build will also provide entry to mid-level performance for VR games.

CPU Intel Core i5-8600K AMD Ryzen 5 2600
Motherboard MSI Z270 Tomahawk LGA1151 ASUS PRIME B450 Plus
Memory 16GB(2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2400MHz Memory Kit 16GB(2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2400MHz Memory Kit
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 EVGA GeForce GTX 1060
Case Corsair Carbide Series 300R Corsair Carbide Series 300R
SSD Samsung 850 EVO 250GB Samsung 850 EVO 250GB
PSU EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 650W EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 650W
Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-bit Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Purchase Link Buy This Build Buy This Build

Upgrade Suggestions

GPU – The GTX 1060 is a very capable graphics card that will play the latest games at 1080p, but those who want to play games at 1440p or play games at 1080p or 1440p with high refresh rate monitors such as 144Hz or beyond, the GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 is far better suited for this task.

Boot Drive – Another easy upgrade is the SSD. For ultrafast load times, a PCIe SSD such as the Samsung 960 EVO is an excellent candidate that provides significantly better performance compared to the Samsung 850 EVO.

Best High End Gaming PC Build (Budget $1,500 – $2,000)

The high end gaming PC is going to be something that can run everything at 1080P or 1440P at high to ultra settings. This machine will burn through any game on the market, and will have plenty of room for expansion as well. Those interested in playing VR games or games at 4K resolutions will find that this build will be more than powerful enough do the job although performance in might not be quite as good as our extreme gaming PC build.

CPU Intel Core i7-7740X AMD Ryzen 5 2600
Motherboard MSI X299 Raider ASUS PRIME B450 Plus
Memory 16GB(2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2400MHz Memory Kit 16GB(2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2400MHz Memory Kit
GPU EVGA GTX 1080 FTW Gaming ACX 3.0 8GB EVGA GTX 1080 FTW Gaming ACX 3.0 8GB
Case Phanteks Enthoo Evolv Tempered Glass Edition Phanteks Enthoo Evolv Tempered Glass Edition
SSD Samsung 860 EVO 500GB Samsung 860 EVO 500GB
HDD WD Blue 1TB WD Blue 1TB
PSU EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 650W EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G2 650W
Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-bit Windows 10 Home 64-bit
Purchase Link Buy This Build Buy This Build

Upgrade Suggestions

GPU – The GeForce GTX 1080 is a powerhouse in itself, but for gamers who want the ultimate VR or 4K gaming experience, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti or the GeForce GTX Titan Xp is without a doubt the graphics card to have.

Boot Drive – While the Samsung 850 EVO is an excellent SSD for the SATA interface, those who want the ultimate performance will want a NVMe PCIe SSD. Whereas SATA is limited to 6Gb/s, PCIe is only limited by the version of PCIe and the amount of PCIe lanes available. As a result, a PCIe Gen 3 x4 slot is capable of nearly 4GB/s while a PCIe Gen 3 x8 slot is capable of nearly 8GB/s. While most PCIe SSDs won’t provide performance anywhere near the theoretical limits of the PCIe interface, the Samsung 960 PRO comes close with performance rated at up to 3.5GB/s sequential reads and 2.1GB/s sequential writes.

Best Extreme Gaming PC Build (Budget $2,000+)

Finally, we’ve also got the extreme gaming PC. This is the coveted gaming PC that will run most games on the market today at 4K with all the highest graphics settings enabled. Additionally, this kind of system is optimized for VR (Virtual Reality) and multi-display setups as well for that ultra level of immersion.

CPU Intel Core i7-7900X
Motherboard ASUS ROG STRIX X299
Memory 64GB Corsair Vengeance LED Memory Kit
GPU Nvidia GeForce Titan Xp (Pascal)
Case Phanteks Enthoo Primo
SSD Samsung 970 EVO 2TB
HDD Seagate 10TB Barracuda Pro
Sound Card Creative Sound Blaster ZxR
PSU EVGA SuperNOVA 850 P2 850W
CPU Cooler Corsair H100i v2
Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Purchase Link Buy This Build

Upgrade Suggestions

As the Extreme Gaming PC Build has almost all upgrades already included, with the exception of purchasing two Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan Xp graphics cards, there is nothing else that should need to be upgraded.

Gaming PC Hardware State of the Union

August 2018 Updates

CPU/Motherboard

The PC gaming hardware landscape continues to evolve as AMD has begun rolling out their 2nd Generation Ryzen CPUs and its companion platform. The latest processors continue to improve on AMD’s 1st generation core processors, offering increased IPC performance than its predecessor at a similar cost. Intel continues to roll out their 8th Generation Core processors with the 9th Generation Core Processors expected towards the end of the year.

GPU

This year’s biggest announcement on the GPU side is the release of Nvidia’s newest Turing architecture GPUs. The new GPUs, marketed under the RTX 20xx naming scheme, offer substantially improved performance and innovative features such as real-time ray tracing, when compared to the GTX 10 series GPUs. Unfortunately, the Nvidia RTX 20 series cards will be initially available only for the high end graphics card market, so those building more entry level systems will have to still go with a GTX 10 series GPU at this time. AMD continues to offer their VEGA architecture graphics cards however, nothing new is available at this time.

Other Components

The RAM market is finally stabilizing in terms of supply and demand, but prices continue to be high. Prices are expected to stay that way until the end of the year. SSD pricing on the other hand is finally seeing a bit of a drop thanks to improved supply and NAND density improvements.

December 2017 Updates

CPU/Motherboard

Since our last major gaming PC build update in July, Intel has announced and subsequently launched their 8th Generation Core i3, i5, and i7 processor lineups. The new processor lineups offer relatively small changes in per core performance (IPC), but each of the CPU lineups get two additional cores compared to the previous generation giving the Core i3 processor lineup 4-cores/4-threads, the Core i5 6-cores/6-threads, and the Core i7 6-cores/12-threads. Along with the new generation of processors is also the Intel 300 series Z370 chipset which is a fairly minor update in terms of features when compared to the Z270 chipset however, the 300 series chipset is needed for those who intend on purchasing an 8th Generation Core processor. Those currently intending on purchasing an Intel system will be fine either purchasing a discounted 7th Generation Core processor based system or waiting for the 8th Generation Core processors to become more available.

For those looking for an AMD Ryzen platform based system, things have largely remained the same since our last update. Since then, AMD has rolled out significant updates to their platform which continues to improve gaming performance. AMD has also rolled out their Ryzen Threadripper based systems as well, but gamers will find that the Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 will be the sweet spot with the Ryzen Threadripper processors better suited for highly multi-threaded applications such as video editing, 3d modeling, etc.

GPU

The biggest update for GPUs is Nvidia’s introduction of the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. The GTX 1070 Ti is based on Nvidia’s Pascal architecture and features 2432 CUDA cores which puts its performance somewhere between the GeForce GTX 1070 and the GeForce GTX 1080.

As for supply, while earlier this year graphics card supply was highly contained due to cryptocurrency miners purchasing most of the stock, availability has returned for most graphics card. However, prices are still hovering closer to MSRP as cryptocurrency miners are still purchasing most of the stock. Currently, there’s no expectation that this will slow down anytime soon.

Other Components

As you may have noticed, RAM is still extremely expensive due to shortages caused by massive demand and lack of supply. The RAM shortage isn’t expected to end until at least mid-2018, so prices are expected to continue to remain high. The NAND shortage on the other hand is expected to come to an end this quarter or early 2018, so pricing and availability should become fairly good in the next few months if it isn’t already.

 

July 2017 Updates

CPU/Motherboard

The biggest new development in recent months is the release of Intel’s new HEDT platform codename Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X. These new processors are based on Intel’s new X299 chipset and at the very high end scale up to a whopping 18-cores/36-threads in the Intel Core i9-7980XE CPU although this isn’t expected to actually be available on retail shelves at least for another few months.

On the AMD side, AMD’s Ryzen has received numerous updates, with a majority of the updates targeted towards gamers, content creators, and the enthusiast community. As a result, we’ve been very impressed with the direction AMD Ryzen is headed and have included options for AMD Ryzen builds alongside Intel builds as well. At this point, we have no reservations about purchasing an AMD Ryzen build as many of the major initial bugs have been eradicated at this point. Of course, if you purchase an AMD Ryzen build, be on the lookout for updates as it seems like AMD is very regularly releasing driver and CPU microcode updates.

Down the road, budget gamers should watch out for AMD’s Ryzen 3 processors which should roll out shortly. These are expected to be priced very aggressively compared to Intel’s Core i3 yet offer significantly better performance. Additionally, in the next month or so, AMD is expected to release their Ryzen Threadripper CPUs which scale up to 16-cores and 32-threads. These are expected to come in at a very aggressive pricepoint compared to Intel’s HEDT Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X. We’ll keep an eye out on availability and the initial reviews and update the build guide accordingly.

GPU

On the GPU side, not much new has changed. High end Nvidia Pascal architecture based graphics cards (GeForce GTX Titan Xp, GTX 1080 Ti, GTX 1080, GTX 1070) still reign supreme in terms of top tier performance, and both Nvidia GeForce (GTX 1060, GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1050) and AMD Radeon (RX 580, RX 570, RX 560) remains competitive in the mid-range. but little of that matters since cryptocurrency miners have made GPU availability extremely scarce, especially AMD Radeon graphics cards which provide the best GPU mining capability for the price. If you can find a GPU at its MSRP and you need one, I’d highly recommending purchasing immediately as GPU makers are having a very difficult time keeping up with demand.

During SIGGRAPH 2017, AMD is expected to launch their AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics card which is the first high end graphics card they’ve released for a very long time. According to the latest leaked information, the RX Vega is expected to have performance on-par with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080.

Other Components

There’s still a major DRAM and NAND shortage which is inflating prices of RAM and NAND. Whereas previously this was expected to end in Q2 of this year, the supply shortage has been extended until next year due to demand for the components by mobile devices. If you’re looking to buy a new RAM kit or a new SSD and there’s a good deal, we’d recommend purchasing it before supply shrinks even more for the holidays.

As for other hardware, there’s little new development at this time.

20180830
*Updated all builds
*Intel 8th Generation Core processors added
*AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation Core processors added

 

20171220
*Updated all builds to account for out of stock components
*Maintained Intel 7th Generation processors as the recommended processors for Intel builds as 8th Generation Core i3, i5, i7 processors currently still low on availability.

20170724
*Added AMD Ryzen builds
*Added Intel X299 CPU/Motherboards
*Updated out of stock hardware

Question about why we chose X and not Y? Ask our community! We’d be happy to make recommendations on alternatives, provide you tips on putting the entire system together, or even suggest you a 100% custom build better fit for your needs. All you have to do is visit our forums, register, and post in the appropriate section!

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About The Author
Sam Chen
Hardware and Technology Enthusiast. SSD Evangelist. Editor-in-Chief.