Best $1200 Gaming PC Build To Dominate 1440p

When it comes to gaming there are more options than ever when it comes to performance and resolution. 1440p gaming, in particular, has come a long way and is now a real sweet spot in the market between the high frame rates possible at 1080p and the crisp graphical fidelity of 4K gaming.

But of course, running at 1440p will require a PC that’s a little more powerful than budget setups, to get the most out of the increased resolution while also maintaining solid frame rates.

Best $1200 Gaming PC Build To Dominate 1440p

There are a host of potential options to get you the performance you need, and in this article, I’m going to show you my recommended parts list, pre-built options and even walk you through the basic steps of building your PC if you’re interested in the savings that come with building a rig yourself.

The most important component for achieving excellent performance at 1440p is the graphics card, and the RTX 2070 super is more than enough to achieve stable and consistent frame rates at this resolution.

For the CPU the AMD R5 3600 is the most popular choice for gamers at the moment and has found a real sweet spot, perfectly blending value, performance, and features.

Finally, 16GB of RAM is ample for most games today, and this can be easily expanded down the line as games become more demanding.

If you’re interested in prebuilt options there are a few great options at this price point, however, the Skytech Archangel has one of the best parts lists, that makes a great starting point for gamers who want to taste 1440p gaming.

However, as is often the case with prebuilt options, you can often find better value by sourcing parts yourself and assembling them, cutting down on costs, and finding the best value for your needs.

1440p Performance Gaming PC

From here we’re going to be looking at some of the best components available to provide you with a superb 1440p experience and will include all of the most integral components you’ll need to build a PC for this resolution.

Zalman S2 ATX Mid Tower Case

The Zalman S2 is a great value choice that has excellent airflow, superb cable management, and a mature, sleek design that allows it to fit in anywhere. 

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6 GHz 6-Core Processor

In terms of processing performance, there are few better options for gaming than the Ryzen 5 3600, with its 6 core 12 thread design and included cooler that provides respectable airflow for a stock standard option. This CPU is absolutely the sweet spot and a favorite among gamers at all levels.

MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

This motherboard is one of the best performers and has all the features you need to get your rig up and running, without packing in unnecessary features that will drive up the cost and not provide value.

This board is one of the best B450 options with excellent features and enough futureproofing to keep you performing as the industry moves forward.

Crucial Ballistix 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL15 Memory

A solid performer, 16GB of Crucial Ballistix DDR4-3200Mhz RAM isn’t flashy, but it does the job and does it well, keeping your applications running smoothly even under high load.

Samsung 860 Evo 500 GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive

Samsung is one of the leading manufacturers of SSD’s and the EVO range has some of the best performance on the market.

The 860 EVO isn’t as new as some of the more recent offerings, but it provides outstanding performance with ample storage space. 

First choice: Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC

Now we get to the meat and potatoes of all gaming builds, the graphics card. Ideally an RTX 2070 Super is the card of choice for high-quality 1440p gaming and this option from gigabyte has some of the best cooling and clock speed available.

Unfortunately, graphics cards are in such high demand that these can be difficult to find, so we’ve added some alternative options.

Alternatives

GeForce RTX 2060 – Another great offering that’s a little less beefy than the 2070 but still provides great performance at 1440p

AMD Radeon 5700 / 5700 XTAn AMD card that lacks some of the features of the GeForce cards but still provides solid performance at 1440p

AMD RX 580An older 1440p focussed card that may suit users who need a cheaper option

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 SUPERA card that will be able to handle most games at 1440p but may struggle at higher fidelity due to its 1080p focus

EVGA BR 700 W 80+ Bronze Certified – In terms of power supplies, EVGA has one of the best reputations and this 700W 80+ rated option provides all the power you need and an 80+ bronze rating for peace of mind and efficiency. 

Building Equipment

When it comes to actually building a PC there are a few important things you need, in order to make the job as safe for you and your new components as possible.

The first thing you should seriously consider is getting an antistatic wristband. This little accessory isn’t compulsory by any means, but it will help reduce the risk of any static electricity that builds up on you potentially damaging your expensive new components.

These wristbands are relatively cheap but can save a lot of hassle and worry.

Next, you’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver in order to help fit the various screws on the case and elsewhere.

Finally, you’ll need to find a large flat surface to work on. This is very important as building a PC can get hectic sometimes and having space to keep track of all your parts and equipment really makes the whole process much more manageable. 

Ideally, you should be using a workbench or elevated table to make things easier and more maneuverable.

One thing you definitely don’t want to do is build your PC directly on the floor or carpet, as this is one of the biggest creators of static electricity in the home and also harbors a lot of dust and debris that you really don’t want to find its way into your delicate componentry. 

Simple Build Guide/Checklist

Following these general guidelines will help you to keep track of how far you are into the process and give you a rough idea of the sort of structure you want to use when building a PC to avoid confusion or mistakes.

  1. Install the power supply into the case using the correct screws and ensuring the fans are positioned correctly.
  2. Install the CPU into the motherboard. (Take care to ensure you check the alignment before actually placing the processor into the slot)
  3. Place the RAM into the motherboard and ensure to check you are benefitting from dual channeling by using the correct slots.
  4. Mount the cooling fan on the CPU. If you’re using a fan that doesn’t have thermal paste pre-applied then don’t forget to apply your own thermal paste to the CPU before placing the fan down.
    (An amount a little bigger than a pea is usually sufficient but some users prefer to use less or more depending on their taste. Don’t use too much however as you’ll make a mess and potentially damage your components.)
  5. Insert the rear I/O place into the rear of your case.
  6. Set the motherboard into the case using the standoffs and I/O ports to make sure you are correctly aligned.
  7. Insert your graphics card into the motherboard and secure it to prevent stressing the board.
  8. Connect your storage drives, positioning them for easy cable management.
  9. Insert all required cables into their respective ports, including the data cables for your storage drives and optical drives if you are using them.
  10. Plug in a display to a compatible visual port, as well as a keyboard and mouse to allow you to navigate through the first boot if required.
  11. Perform first boot.
  12. Install your OS (Ideally from a flash drive or disc if you’ve also installed an optical drive in your system.
  13. Install and update the drivers for your various components.
  14. Give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve just finished building your own gaming PC!

In-depth Building/Walkthroughs

The above checklist is a great way to help you keep track of what stage you’re at in the building process and will help you understand what the process involves, however, there are also many detailed and high-quality walkthroughs on youtube that show exactly how to build a PC, including how to prepare problems to look out for and cable management tips. 

I recommend taking a look at several of these walkthroughs in order to make sure you know what you’re looking at, how things fit together, and to get an idea of how long this process can take.

Some well-regarded channels are LinusTechTips, Hardware Unboxed, and also JayTwoCents, however, there are plenty of other great walkthroughs and channels to give you the confidence you need.

Additional Components and Recommendations

While the components we’ve listed above will help you to build a functioning PC, there are some additional accessories that you may need to account for to make sure you’re getting the best out of your new rig.

Operating system

The reason that this wasn’t included in the budget is that it is possible that you may already own an OS and indeed many people do have access to Windows or other operating systems from previous setups. 

If you don’t then you’ll need to decide which OS to go for and how you want to install it. Windows 10 is the most popular operating system and can be installed easily using a flash drive or optical drive using a disc.

There are other options for operating systems, such as Linux, however, these aren’t as simple to use and may not work very well with a lot of video games, so for a gaming rig, we highly recommend using Windows.

Liquid Cooling

If you plan on overclocking your system to extract its maximum performance, you may want to consider swapping out your fans for a liquid cooling system which will help keep your temps low even when cranking up the voltage.

NVMe SSD

NVMe Drives are the latest in SSD technology and offer serious performance upgrades over the more basic m.2 of SATA SSDs that are more traditional.

These may be something you want to consider upgrading to or adding down the line to support your existing storage, however always make sure there are compatible slots on your motherboard of choice.

Optical Drives

Optical drives are very seldom used nowadays and have gone out of fashion among most gamers and enthusiasts who prefer to use flash drives for their speed, size, and reliability.

However there are some out there who value the ability to use their PC as a home entertainment system, and an optical drive will open the door to this as well as allowing you to install Windows quite easily. 

There are many optical drives of various quality, and there are even some that are dual Blu-Ray/DVD drives which may suit people with extensive collections of both media types.

It’s also possible to use external optical drives too, and these have become very popular as they save space and power inside the body of the PC itself.

Parts List Breakdown

In this section, we’re going to look at some of the components in a little more detail and elaborate on their features as well as how their performance will enable you to enjoy 1440p gaming.

Case

The Zalman S2 is one of the better cases at this price point with a host of truly excellent features for a great value.

The first thing you’ll notice is the large acrylic side panel that will show off the beating heart of your PC while being tough enough to keep your components well protected.

There are multiple positions for fan installation and the case has superb airflow capabilities with a large front panel capable of mounting 3 fans, as well as fan mounts on the top and rear for optimal airflow management. 

The cable management is second to none, with ample space, while the lower power supply has a cover that will keep dust out and hide any unused cables if you’re using a non-modular power supply.

CPU

The Ryzen 3600 is a 6 core 12 thread CPU capable of running at a boost clock speed of 4.2 GHz. This means you’ll be able to run your games at very high quality and have the power to run multiple tasks simultaneously.

When supported by a quality graphics card this CPU will deliver superb gaming performance at 1440p and is a real sweet spot clearly aimed at gaming enthusiasts.

Motherboard

The MSI B450 TOMAHAWK MAX II is an efficient choice that has all the features you need to get the most out of your components without including redundant or unnecessary features that most users won’t make use of.

The inclusion of USB 3.2 gen2 and multiple heat sinks shows this is a motherboard that can handle the latest tech well without trying to steal the show.

RAM

When it comes to RAM, simplicity, and performance are best. Two 8GB sticks of Crucial Ballistix DDR4 clocked at 3200MHz are quick enough to dominate any task, helping you keep a smooth frame rate even while using multiple demanding applications.

Storage

Samsung’s 860 EVO isn’t the absolute latest in SSD technology, however, this device has lightning-fast speeds and is extremely reliable, with enough storage to give you plenty of room for several games and applications.

As we mentioned above, NVMe drives are clearly the future, however, you can look at upgrading to these down the line once they are more readily available.

Graphics Card

This is the beating heart of any gaming PC, providing most of the brawn you’ll need to get outstanding performance at your chosen resolution.

For 1440p there are a few great options that we’ve listed above, however, the best is the RTX 2070, which is capable of handling 1440p very comfortably, ensuring you get high and consistent frame rates while also benefiting from the latest NVidia technologies including their superb ray tracing tech.

Be warned, many graphics cards are totally sold out or unavailable currently, and can be extremely hard to find at their normal retail price. This is due to a widespread chip shortage, and this may affect your budget and capabilities so make sure to keep an eye on this and adjust accordingly.

Power Supply

Last but not least we have the humble power supply, often overlooked but integral to the stable performance of any computer.

The EVGA 700BR is an 80+ bronze-certified unit that provides ample power for this system and also allows a little room for added accessories.

While a modular power supply unit will make your cable management a little tidier, this non-modular unit functions well and it’s easy enough to manage the cables with the cases extensive cable management options. 

OS

While it is possible to set your system up with an alternative free operating system such as Ubuntu, the best choice for gamers is always going to be Windows.

This is because most games are built to run on Windows systems, and trying to run games on Linux-based systems can cause a lot of problems or simply not work at all.

Windows will also allow you to use GamePass and benefit from the many services and offers which Windows provides to its customers.

Peripherals

Monitors

There are many great options available and to go into too much detail and depth would really be a topic requiring a whole separate article. 

That being said, the LG27GL83A is a great 27” option for 1440p gaming, with superb colors, an IPS panel, and very low response times.

It is also capable of 144Hz and is G Sync and FreeSync compatible, making it very feature-dense for an excellent price. Beware of potential backlight bleed issues that may affect your movies and darker games, however.

Keyboards

It really depends on your preference and how much space you have available, however, there really is a near unlimited amount of choice depending on your specific needs.

Mechanical keyboards provide satisfying feedback and keystroke texture, while older membrane designs are quiet and suit beginners who need something simple. There are also various sizes to fit almost any desk, so make sure to check what you can fit before ordering.

Mouse

Gaming mice are as numerous as the keyboards they’re paired with, and there are many available. A great choice is the Razer Deathadder as it’s one of the most popular available.

Headset

Most gamers will use a headset for the excellent sound quality and microphone they provide, which keep things simple and easy to manage. The Logitech G533 Wireless is a great choice however there are many available to suit various preferences.

Networking

When it comes to networking, gaming always benefits from using a wired connection if possible. Most quality motherboards offer this as standard allowing you to plug and play while benefiting from the excellent speeds and stability wired connections offer.

However, If you need a wifi adapter there are several available that can be used in your motherboard or even plugged into your USB ports for a simple backup option. 

Conclusion

Purchasing a gaming PC at this price point is a great way to benefit from the latest technology and have amazing performance in all your favorite games while being able to enjoy whatever games the future brings us without worrying about poor performance.

It’s also easy to customize and update things as you need to, making this one of the most versatile and high-performance platforms available.