Best Gaming PC Under $1,000 for 2021: MAX Out Any Game

When it comes to building a new gaming PC, there has always been a relatively consistent price point that is considered the absolute sweet spot in terms of price to performance, and this has been around $1000 for a long time.

At this price point, you will be able to get some of the best components available for gaming, while not entering the realm of diminishing returns where better performance starts to cost exponentially more for only a slightly better gaming experience.

For 1000 dollars you will be able to build a PC capable of maxing out any game at the best possible settings while at a resolution of 1080p, and may be able to get strong performance at even 1440p with some slight graphical tweaks.

The beauty of this sweet spot is that you’re able to invest the money into the key components a gaming PC needs, such as a top quality graphics card and CPU, while trimming back in some key areas to get a system that packs an incredible amount of punch but that doesn’t break the bank.

The other benefit of building a parts list this way is that you can find very special deals and offers that can lead to even more immense savings, and there are always flash deals and specials on various computer parts that can add immense value to your build and lead to you getting even more performance for a better price, or getting insanely good prices on decent performance.

In this guide, we’re going to run down our recommended parts list for a solid 1000 dollar gaming PC, including all of the key components to look for and why we think they’re so great.

We’re also going to provide some alternative options should you find your budget changing a little for the better or worse, to give you some other options if you’re desperate to start gaming!

DISCLAIMER: PC parts and components are subject to significant price changes, particularly in the current market due to shortages in materials and components.

This may lead to steep increases in the price of some components, well above their recommended retail price, so take care to plan for this accordingly.

Graphics cards, in particular, have seen huge surges in price due to these unfavorable conditions, so if you find yourself priced out at the moment try looking at the second-hand market or at pre-built systems as alternatives.

Build Overview

If you’re sick of being stuck on a console or tired of a slow, unreliable laptop, you’re probably about ready to find yourself a powerful and excellent value desktop gaming PC.

Graduating to this type of system will open up many doors to amazing new experiences, whether they be playing the latest games at max settings, or trying out VR for the first time. The options and flexibility you have with this kind of system is unparalleled.

In terms of specs, we’ve put together some amazing components to create a solid mid to high end performance gaming PC, and included some excellent performance as well as some shrewd savings.

For the CPU, we’ve decided to go for the latest Intel Core i5 Processor, the 11th generation 11400F, the Nvidia RTX 2060, 16GB of RAM, a 500GB SSD with a 2TB HDD, as well as a gold rated 750W power supply by Gigabyte and the excellent NZXT 510 Mid Tower Case which has plenty of space for all these components and good airflow and cable management features.

Parts List

  • CPU – Intel Core i5 11400F
  • CPU FAN – Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
  • MOBO – Asus PRIME B560-PLUS ATX LGA1200
  • GPU – ASUS GeForce RTX 2060
  • RAM – 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200Mhz
  • SSD – 500GB SAMSUNG 980 NVMe SSD
  • Storage – 2TB SEAGATE Compute
  • Case – NZXT 510 ATX Mid Tower
  • PSU – Gigabyte P GM 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
  • ODD – Install using USB
  • OS – Windows 10 (Not included in budget)

Breakdown

This parts list is one of the best performing we could come up with and for the money, there are few better options out there.

That being said there are alternatives to the choices we’ve made, and depending on price fluctuations there may be slightly better value to performance at different times, however, this will be one of the best builds around for the foreseeable future, and only a few small changes would need to be made to keep this system running well into the future.

CPU – AMD or Intel?

AMD has really closed the gap on Intel in the last few years, and their Ryzen series of CPUs, particularly the 3600X, is one of the best performers when it comes to gaming, and the market share AMD holds over this is a strong indication of how well Ryzen has performed recently.

However, Intel has begun the fightback with their 11th generation of i5 processors, with the 11400F being on par with or superior to the 3600X and even the 5600X, despite the fact that both of these processors are quite a bit more expensive than the latest offering from Intel.

The 11400F is also 100% geared towards gamers as the processor’s ‘F’ designation indicates that there are no included onboard graphics – so this card is fully designed to be paired with a powerful aftermarket graphics card and the savings this cutback has created is one of the reasons why this processor is so well priced despite its excellent performance.

It also has a lower power consumption compared to the AMD offerings, so you will likely find this processor cooler and give you more wattage to either use a more powerful GPU or upgrade without needing to buy a newer, more powerful power supply if your power ceiling is a concern.

If you do get the chance to purchase an AMD processor such as the 3600X or 5600X at a similar price to the 11400F, it’s really a toss up in terms of performance, value, and preferences, however, be aware that the AMD processors will require a different motherboard with a compatible AM4 socket.

Graphics Card – GeForce or Radeon?

The graphics card market is one of the most challenging for builders and gamers at the moment, and a whole host of issues has caused price inconsistencies and a massive unbalancing of supply vs demand has caused even low quality or outdated cards to be selling for far more than their recommended purchase price.

That being said, prices will eventually stabilize, and it is possible to sometimes find cards at their proper retail price.

One of the best options at the moment is the ASUS GeForce 2060, which provides extremely solid mid to high tier graphics card performance, and will certainly crush any game at 1080p with relative ease.

While the 30 series cards have technically launched and a 3060 would be nice to have, they are so scarce that it seems unreasonable and unrealistic to suggest trying to use one of these cards at the present time, however when the supply of these newer cards increases feel free to move up to a 3060 or even 3070 if your budget allows for this, as they have the latest technology and will provide a significant performance boost over the 20 series cards.

There are also some competitive options from Radeon and AMD, such as the RX 5600 XT and RX 5700 XT, as well as GeForce’s 2060 Super or 2070 Super if you can find one at a good price.

All of these cards are VR ready and will provide astonishing performance at 1080p and even 1440p, allowing you to enjoy all the most demanding games of the day in the highest possible quality.

In terms of raw gaming performance, this is the most important component in a gaming PC, so cutting back in a few less important areas to ensure you can get a quality GPU is the best way to get awesome bang for your buck.

RAM – Do you need 8GB or 16GB?

This is an interesting question, as it has most definitely become the normal standard to see gaming PC’s use 16GB of RAM and many games do suggest 16GB for their recommended settings.

That being said, 8GB of RAM is still functional and will deliver pretty solid gaming performance if you have a quality CPU and GPU, providing you don’t plan to multitask while you game.

If you’re someone who likes to watch youtube or listen to a podcast, play music and game at the same time, or want to use your desktop for workstation tasks such as editing and production, 8GB of RAM will make your system feel a little slow and unresponsive at times, so 16GB definitely has its advantages.

Always make sure of course that you’re using DDR4 RAM in dual channel format when you install it into your motherboard and go for a good 3200Mhz speed to get the best performance at the best price.

Storage – SSD or HDD

While the humble HDD was once a mainstay of all gaming PCs, times have changed and the SSD now dominates the storage market in terms of performance, and the price for a good SSD has dropped significantly as a result of this.

While some builders now rely only on SSD’s for their storage needs, a good sized SSD paired with an HDD can offer excellent performance and capacity at a superb price.

Hard drives may be much slower than SSDs, but they can store media such as videos and pictures where loading times are so critical, while your SSD can be used for your favorite games, operating systems, and important applications like Photoshop or video editing software.

An alternative to this would be to take the money used on a large HDD and spend it instead on additional SSD storage, such as a single 1TB SSD drive, like the 1TB Samsung 970 or 980.

This one will depend on how essential boot speeds and application launching is to you. While it’s true that SSDs do have better performance, an HDD is more reliable and will likely last longer than an SSD, so think carefully about how you want to structure your storage.

Case Options

Cases are one of the most competitive parts of PC building, and there are a truly staggering amount of excellent cases out there that provide sleek aesthetics with the latest USB connectors as well as good cable management, airflow and quality finishing.

We’ve chosen the NZXT 510, however there are many great mid towers at a similar price point, so you can look around and pick one that you feel suits your budget or aesthetic needs.

HOWEVER, make sure that whatever case you choose has the dimensions to accommodate your graphics card as well as your chosen case fan, or you may find yourself having to return parts which can be a huge waste of time and money.

Power Supply

If the CPU is the brain of the gaming PC, and the GPU is the brawn, then the power supply is the heart of the system and is what will be delivering power to all these different components.

We’ve chosen the excellent Gigabyte P GM 750W 80+ Gold Certified power supply as it has a range of excellent features and ample wattage for this build and any future upgrades or additions you may decide to add.

The 80+ gold rating makes this pc highly efficient and delivers clean stable power to your sensitive parts very effectively, and it is also fully modular which is an excellent feature that helps make cable management far easier and reduces dust build-up inside the case of the PC.

Operating System/Optical Drives

We’ve not included an OS in the budget as there are many ways to get access to an OS. Some already own a copy of Windows, while others may want to use Linux or get it free from their school.

Windows 10 is the preferred option for a gaming PC though, and there are various ways to get it at a reasonable price.

Optical drives are no longer needed unless you have a CD copy of Windows, but most people use flash drives to install their OS these days.

Stephen Deane

Stephen is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.