Planning on building a gaming PC? What if we told you that you could build one right now that maxes out the latest games at 1440p and all you have to spend is $1,200?
Granted, trying to find any of the high-end graphics cards at reasonable pricing may be a challenge right now, so we’ve done our best to research the best possible alternatives without compromising quality, power, and performance.
The gaming PC build that you’re about to see might be the best gaming PC you’ll ever see, at least for the $1,200 price range. And with all these great games coming from the gaming industry, there’s no better time to build than now.
Without further ado, let’s get on with the build.
CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme – The Best Gaming PC (Prebuilt)
If you’re not up to DIY building a powerful gaming PC, you might as well go the prebuilt route. For this one, we’re going to show you one of the best prebuilt gaming PCs.
Introducing the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme, the best prebuilt gaming PC that you can find for the $1,200 price range. Here’s a look at the specs, which is more or less similar to the builds that we’re about to list down:
- CPU: Intel Core i5-11600KF
- GPU: RTX 3060 12GB
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM
- Storage: 500GB SSD + 1TB HDD
The CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme comes with Windows 11 64-bit installed, along with 1-year parts and labor warranty and lifetime tech support. Of course, there are other prebuilt gaming PCs out there that are within the same price range as the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme.
First $1,200 Gaming PC Build
The core concept of the first gaming PC build is to ensure that all possible future upgrades are to be done within the next 3 to 5 years. We’ve done research on how to best futureproof your new PC.
For these specs, you can always upgrade some of the other components when you see fit. Maybe you want more RAM, higher SSD storage capacity, or you want to add large storage drives for storing video content.
A Breakdown Of The Gaming PC Build
This $1200 gaming PC build is a good combination of the AMD Ryzen R5 processor along with a Zotac RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC. This DIY build is more than capable of giving you 1440p gaming experiences, or even at 4K resolution without breaking a sweat.
Take note that the price of the DIY build is only for the CPU only. You’ll still need to purchase an operating system, a monitor, and gaming peripherals if you don’t have them yet.
Case – NZXT H510i
First off, we have the NZXT H510i, a decent mid-tower ATX case and considered a decent upgrade from the S340 casing. The NZXT H510i comes with everything you need, from the mounting hardware and the inclusion of 2 pieces of 120mm fans. The case itself can support both AIO and custom liquid cooling systems, accommodating radiators up to 280mm.
This is also a personal recommendation as I own a H510i Elite myself. The tempered glass has always been a favorite of mine because I can see the RGB insides of my unit.
CPU – AMD R5 3600
We’re not cutting corners with the build, so you’re getting the AMD R5 3600 processor, which is a 6-core and 12-thread monster with a boost clock speed of up to 4.2GHz across all cores. This is also an unlocked CPU, meaning you can overclock this beast without issue.
We’re only going to utilize the AMD R5 3600’s stock cooler because it’s decent enough for what you want to achieve here and that’s for intense gaming. But if you want to overclock, you’ll need to set up a liquid cooling system or AIO liquid cooling system maximize its processing power without blowing it up.
Motherboard – MSI B450 Tomahawk Max
The MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX is our motherboard of choice for this build. This is an ATX sized, B450 Chipset, and AM4 Socket motherboard. It has all the slots you need for the other components in this build, as well as more room for potential upgrades.
You have multiple USB 3.1 ports, M.2 NVMe slot in case you want to add SSD storage, 6x SATA ports, and 4 RAM slots. You also have on-board RGB with Crossfire GPU support and integrated 7.1 audio. Unfortunately, there’s no integrated WiFi in this motherboard, so you’ll need an adapter.
Graphics Card –Zotac RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC
For the graphics card, we’re getting the 12GB RTX 3060, which is a powerhouse for 1440p and 4K gaming experiences. The Zotac RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC provides solid performance for the price you’re paying and with solid stock cooling.
However, you’ll be hard-pressed to know that the Zotac RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC is one of the more difficult graphics cards to find in stock right now. A decent graphics card alternative would be an RTX 2080 (Non-Super edition) that can give you the same 1440p and 4K experience as the Zotac RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC.
For this PC, you’ll only need 16GB of RAM and we’re giving you the Corsair Vengeance LPX, which is 2x8GB sticks of 3000MHz RAM. With the motherboard, you’ll have room for future upgrades for RAM if you want to expand the RAM capacity further. If your purpose for this PC is to do more than just play your favorite games and you want to take advantage of the multi-threading powers of the Ryzen processor, consider adding another pair of Corsair Vengeance LPX for a total of 32GB of RAM.
But not everyone will probably add another pair of RAM because 16GB is decent enough for 4k and 1440p gaming.
Power Supply – EVGA 650 B5 80+ Bronze
The EVGA 650 B5 80+ Bronze is a modular power supply that’s reliable enough to power the RTX 3060 and its bigger brothers. Because it’s a modular PSU, you don’t have to worry about unused cables. Just plug everything that you’re using into the EVGA 650 B5 80+ Bronze and you’re good to go.
Storage – Samsung 860 EVO 500GB
Much like having a 16GB RAM is more than enough for a great gaming experience, you only ever need 500GB of SSD storage to skip out on those long load times. You can also opt to add more, especially with the NVMe slot that this build’s motherboard has. All you need to do is buy the drives and plug them in yourself.
Second $1200 Gaming PC Build
The second gaming PC build is for the Intel fan boys as it utilizes a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor and still allows you to play your favorite games at 1440p and 4k resolution easily.
We also consider this as the best $1200 gaming PC for its futureproof qualities, processing power and overall aesthetics.
A Breakdown Of The Gaming PC Build
Case – Phantex Eclipse P400A
If you want a spacious and stylish case, the Phantex Eclipse P400A is a solid choice. The case dons a classic all-black color with tempered glass panel and a stylized front panel. It doesn’t have those fancy RGB fans attached to it that you usually find in a prebuilt PC, but it’s a non-issue. You can easily customize the fans if you want to by buying RGB ones instead, or add in RGB led strips.
The Phantex Eclipse P400A comes with 2 pre-installed fans, which help with the overall airflow and heat dissipation. After all, you’re going to be running an RTX 3070 on this build and your processor doesn’t have a stock CPU cooler. But regardless, you shouldn’t have any heating issues here (unless you overclock).
There’s also enough room on the Phantex Eclipse P400A to accommodate an EATX motherboard and for the other bigger GPUs in the market. The panel contains all the Power Button, Reset Button, 2x 3.0 USB ports, and a controller for the fan speed.
CPU – Intel Core i5-10600KF
Don’t underestimate the Intel Core i5-10600F just because it’s a Core i5 processor. It’s still a powerful processor with six cores and 12-threads. The base and max frequency is at 4.1GHz for base and 4.8Ghz boosted. It’s also an unlocked processor so you can overclock it much like the AMD processor listed above.
For multi-core performance, you probably still want the AMD Ryzen processor but as far as gaming experience is concerned, the Intel Core i5-10600F is a beast in itself that can’t be beat at the $200 price tag.
This processor has everything you need to play most games (the latest AAA games and possibly future releases) at the highest settings possible, enjoy VR immersion, or multi-task various programs. The only downside here is that there’s no stock cooler that comes with the Intel Core i5-10600F, so you’ll have to adjust your budget to get an aftermarket cooler.
Motherboard – MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus
The MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus is one of the best motherboards within the $200 price range. This motherboard does not support overclocking features and there aren’t any Thunderbolt ports included, but it’s not a bad motherboard all in all. There are other choices out there within the same $200 price range if you want to do some overclocking.
But for the build we have, the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus is decent enough to provide you with everything you need to house these components. The MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus has a 6-layer PCB and stable power system that should run your processor as smooth as possible. The BIOS itself can be navigated with ease and you’ll be able to unlock your RAM’s full potential without any difficulty.
Other notable features include Twin Turbo M.2. slots, pump fan support, 2.5G LAN, and reinforced graphics card slot. Sadly, there’s no integrated WiFi. If you want integrated WiFi, we suggest the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Edge, but it might cost you extra.
If you can’t find stocks of the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus, there are more options such as the MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk and the Gigabyte Z490 Aorus Elite. Note that they’re about $20 higher than the MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus, but it’s completely negligible at this point.
This motherboard does not PCI 4.0 but it should be capable of handling 11th generation Intel processors, so you could upgrade this build from a 10th generation Core i5 to an 11th generation Core i5 (or i7).
The MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus is a solid choice for a motherboard for this build and it should fit your budget without forcing you to spend more money on unnecessary components.
CPU Cooler – Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition
We mentioned that the CPU for this build does not have a stock CPU cooler, so you’re going to want to purchase one.
We recommend Cooler Master Hyper 212 comes with RGB lighting. If you’re into the whole RGB backlighting thing, this is a great choice of an aftermarket cooler. It’s considered by enthusiasts as one of the rare but slightly more affordable and effective coolers out there. It’s not the best one but it’s enough to cool the Intel Core i5-10600KF processor.
The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition with RGB lighting is smaller and installation is easy. Its aesthetics is a good mix of a solid black with some RGB backlighting, so it’s one of the right components for those who’re particular about minimalist aesthetics too.
Their cooling performance is no laughing matter as the Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB provides an excellent cooling solution to the CPU, so your frame rate is more or less stable at all times. However, the noise can become too overwhelming especially when you’re carrying out heavy tasks (e.g. video rendering or 3D editing).
Graphics Card – EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 XC3 BLACK GAMING
For the GPU, we’re going to have to recommend the EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 XC3 Black Gaming. This GPU is considered by many as “stronger than the RTX 2080Ti” at half the price. The EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 proves itself to be the best value graphics card in the market.
It may not be as powerful as the new RTX 3090, the EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 is still a powerful GPU and could play most games at the highest settings possible at either 4K or 1440p.
You could argue that you could just settle for the RTX 3080 because the futureproofing is a lot better than the EVGA GeForce RTX 3070, but we’re talking about best value graphics card here and is perfect for those who have to follow a strict budget for their new PC build.
The EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 has 8GB of VRAM with a boost clock of 1.73GHz, so it can definitely play most games at the ultra or highest settings, including Crysis.
Similar to the first PC, we’re satisfied with our choice of RAM and that’s the Corsair Vengeance LPX. Corsair is a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer and has proven itself to be one of the best manufacturers for the right components for building a new PC.
Again, you don’t really need anything more than 16GB unless you really need more RAM speed for purposes other than gaming. If you have to upgrade, go for a pair of 8GB RAM as opposed to getting just one stick of 16GB of memory. The former is what builders would consider a fail-safe option. In case one stick fails, you still have 8GB for back up as opposed to losing the entire stick of RAM.
Power Supply – Thermaltake Toughpower GX1 600QW 80+ Gold
To power all of the components on here, you’ll need the Thermaltake Toughpower GX1. It has enough wattage for this build, while providing you more room for upgrades in the future. The Thermaltake Toughpower GX1 has an 80+ gold certificate, which is to assure people that this is not going to give up anytime soon.
The quality of life features are also impressive. One worth mentioning is the fluid dynamic bearing fun that provides lower noise levels than the other PSU brands out there for the same price. It also has short circuit and over voltage protection, so you don’t have to worry about your other components getting fried when the next power surge hits.
However, the Thermaltake Toughpower GX1 is a non-modular PSU, so you’ll have to put in some work for managing the excess cables.
The first build only had 500GB of storage, but for this one, we’re going all out with 1TB of SSD storage. This is a must-have for gamers who just want all of their games to have little to no loading times.
NVMe SSD’s are still faster than the SATA III SSDs, so if you need a quick boost of load time speed for many games, the Western Digital Blue SN550 should suffice. But note that not all SSDs, or NVMe SSDs, are made equal. Some brands are faster than the others, but Western Digital still comes close to performing as good as Samsung and Kingston brands. But if you really want the top of the line SSDs, go for the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.
Can These Builds Handle 4K Gaming?
There’s no doubt here that any of the builds we listed, or the prebuilt PC that we mentioned, can handle 4k gaming without any problem. The gaming performance of both these builds is excellent and they’re both capable of handling 60FPS for games, albeit you’d have to decrease the graphics settings a little if you’re going for 4K.
Even at ultra settings and 4k resolution, you should be hitting about 50FPS on average for many games, and you shouldn’t even experience a huge dip in FPS for most AAA games.
For what it’s worth, the two builds we listed here are more than capable of playing many games, demanding or not, at 4K resolution or at 1440p even and hitting close to 60FPS or higher for older game titles.
What About VR and Streaming?
These PC builds can definitely handle VR and Streaming, maybe even 4k streaming without any difficulty. As for VR, you only need the bare minimum specs of a PC to run VR games, but the builds we have on here are far from bare minimum.
Should Prebuilt Gaming PCs be Considered For This Budget?
If stocks for certain components are not available within your immediate vicinity, or anywhere online, then a prebuilt gaming RIG might be a decent alternative.
The upside to purchasing prebuilt gaming rigs is that you only need to do a one-time purchase to get everything. Some of the prebuilt PCs within the $1,200 share more or less the same specs as the two builds in this article. You might even land a decent case with a tempered glass side panel and other goodies. The operating system also comes with purchasing any prebuilt unit too.
The downside here is that the parts inside a prebuilt PC might be overblown by markup, and that you might end up paying more for something that’s less powerful than the PCs we’ve built. But then again, majority of prebuilt units already come equipped with 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and Nvidia RTX 3000-series graphics cards (or AMD Radeon 6000-series). t
For $1,200, you’re getting an extremely powerful PC that gives you the best gaming experiences possible. If you want to secure your rig today, you better start shopping because these components are popular choices for a lot of builders.
If you want the best gaming PC, you can always search around the Internet and see better and more powerful alternatives for the computer parts we’ve listed on here.