Top Gaming Computers

For gamers who have a good-sized budget, this guide is going to take you through everything you need to know in order to build a top gaming computer. Throughout the sections in this guide, you’ll literally get a look at all of the components that are necessary for your top gaming PC. 

High-End Gaming ComputersWith modern PC games advancing at such a rapid rate, there is no surprise that there are multiple games on the market that most standard cookie-cutter computers can barely handle.

And, as PC gamers we like to have and experience the best… We like to play our games on the highest settings possible, with the highest framerate possible.

Fortunately, top gaming computers have never been more affordable…

Especially when you take it upon yourself to build your own gaming computer, which will ultimately save you a ton of money on the markup prices that you would’ve paid for a pre-built computer.

The good news is that building a computer is a very doable thing for just about anyone. Seriously… if you can operate a screwdriver and read, then I’m pretty confident that you can build your own gaming computer.

In this guide I’ll be going over all of the different options you have for each component if you’re building a high-end system. In the end, you’ll have a plan of action, as well as a number of different components to choose between, and you’ll be well on your way to building a top gaming computer that is capable of delivering excellent levels of performance.


Pre-Made Part Lists

For those of you who just want to get right into building your system, I’ve put together five different pre-made part lists so that you can bypass the component selection process and get right into playing on your new self-built gaming computer.

These part lists are updated with the top components at the best prices on a regular basis. So, if you’re looking at these builds you can bet they’ll give you maximum performance for the budget you’ve set.

*It should be noted that these builds do not include a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or operating system. However, I have made some peripheral recommendations for each build. You will definitely need an operating system to get your computer up and running. Also, if you’re building a high-end system, make sure you pick up a high resolution monitor so that you get the most out of your gaming experience.

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A $1,000 GAMING PC THAT CAN MAX OUT ANY GAME

For $1,000 you can expect to put together a system that can max out any game on 1920×1080 resolution. And, you can even expect a $1,000 gaming computer to play most of today’s games on even higher resolution (like 2560×1440) with good results.

The $1,000 mark is the sweet spot for building your own computer, as $1,000 in components is enough to provide optimal in-game performance while still maintaining a reasonable budget.

The following are the parts I currently recommend for a $1,000 DIY gaming computer:

  • CPU - Intel Core i5-4690K 3.4 GHz (View)
  • Motherboard - MSI Z97 PC MATE (View)
  • CPU Fan - Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO (View)
  • Video Card - VisionTek Radeon R9 290 (View)
  • RAM - Kingston HyperX Blue 8GB (View)
  • HDD - Western Digital Blue 1TB  (View)
  • Case - NZXT Source 220 (View)
  • Power Supply - XFX Core Edition PRO 550W (View)
  • Optical Drive - Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $980-$1,020
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: BenQ GW2450 24″ 1920×1080 (View)
  • Keyboard: SteelSeries Merc Stealth Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Anker 8200 DPI Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset (View)

With the Radeon R9 290 you can expect to max any game out. Also, if you’re planning on playing on resolutions higher than 1920×1080, the R9 290 should get your feet in the door.

The build is also overclockable for those who are looking to squeeze as much performance out of their system as possible. So, if you plan on system tuning, this build is perfect for you.


A $1,250 MONSTER TO MAKE YOUR FRIENDS JEALOUS

With a budget of $1,000 or more, you can expect to get a truly awesome gaming computer.

At this price range, you will be able to put together a machine that will be able to play any game on the highest settings at resolutions beyond 1920×1080.

However, playing on the highest settings is just one of the many benefits you will receive when you drop $1,250 on parts for a gaming computer.

You can also expect your computer to stay relevant for a long time and you can be sure that you have high-quality components all throughout your build.

That means along with a great processor and excellent video card, you will also get a high-end motherboard and a well-built power supply.

The build listed below is based off of my extensive research. I have spent many hours evaluating parts and looking at prices and have come up with these parts for a $1,250 gaming computer:

  • CPU - Intel Core i5-4690K 3.4 GHz (View)
  • Motherboard - ASUS Z97-A (View)
  • CPU Fan - Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO (View)
  • Video Card - Gigabyte R9 290X (View)
  • RAM - Kingston HyperX Blue 8GB (View)
  • SSD –  Crucial MX100 128GB (View)
  • HDD - Western Digital Blue 1TB  (View)
  • Case - Cooler Master HAF 912 (View)
  • Power Supply - XFX Core Edition PRO 550W (View)
  • Optical Drive - Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $1,220-$1,280
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: BenQ GW2450 24″ 1920×1080 (View) or ASUS PB278Q 27″ 2560×1440 (View)
  • Keyboard: Razer DeathStalker Expert Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Razer DeathAdder Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Corsair Vengeance 2100 Gaming Headset (View)

For $1,250 you’re looking at a really powerful build. In fact, if you were to buy a similar build pre-built from the manufacturer, you could expect to pay at least $2,000. So, building your own system does pay huge dividends…

This build comes with power all the way across the board. With an i5-4690k processor and a z97 motherboard you will be able to overclock your processor and reach crazy levels of performance. And, with an R9 290X, there’s really not a game on the market that you won’t be able to play on the highest settings.

So, if you’re looking for a solid build that will perform at a high level for a long time, then you need to get this build…


Top Gaming Computer for $1,500

For $1,500 you’re pretty much getting the same computer build as our $1,250 computer. The only difference? A GTX 780 Ti, the fastest single GPU video card on the market

That’s right, for $1,500 you won’t be limited to a weaker video card… You’ll be running the most powerful monster in the world!

Ultimately, this build is capable of maxing out anything on a 2560×1440 monitor and will even serve as an entry-point to 4K gaming.

$1,500 will get you the following components:

  • CPU - Intel Core i5-4690K 3.4 GHz (View)
  • Motherboard - ASUS Z97 PRO (View)
  • CPU Fan - Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO (View)
  • Video Card - ASUS GeForce GTX 780 Ti (View)
  • RAM - Kingston HyperX Blue 8GB (View)
  • SSD –  Crucial MX100 128GB (View)
  • HDD - Western Digital Blue 1TB  (View)
  • Case - Cooler Master HAF 912 (View)
  • Power Supply - SeaSonic M12II 620W (View)
  • Optical Drive - Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $1,470-$1,530
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: BenQ GW2450 24″ 1920×1080 (View) or ASUS PB278Q 27″ 2560×1440 (View)
  • Keyboard: Razer DeathStalker Expert Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Razer DeathAdder Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Corsair Vengeance 2100 Gaming Headset (View)

With one of the highest performing processors on the market you can expect big things out of this computer. And with the incredible graphics processing power that the GTX 780 Ti brings to the table, there’s really no reason why this build won’t stay relevant for gaming for years to come…

This setup not only has a ton of power, but it’s also designed to maximize its upgrade potential (with a large high-quality power supply, a feature-heavy motherboard, and a roomy case). It’s a great build for anyone who wants to upgrade it frequently over the coming years.


A $1,750 BEAST FOR HIGH-RESOLUTION GAMING

For $1,750 the sky is the limit in terms of performance. Seriously, there aren’t any games that you won’t be able to handle on max settings at 2560×1440 resolution and even 4K gaming is a real possibility.

$1,750 will also give you plenty of other options as well. For instance, if you’re planning on doing some system tuning, this kind of budget will allow you to hit some decent overclocks.

You will also get an SSD and 16GB of RAM. While 16GB of memory can’t be fully used by today’s games, you can use the extra memory to setup a RAM disc for even more performance out of your system.

  • CPU - Intel Core i5-4690K 3.4 GHz (View)
  • Motherboard - ASUS Z97 PRO (View)
  • CPU Fan - Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO (View)
  • Video Card (CrossFire) - VisionTek Radeon R9 290 (View)
  • Video Card (CrossFire) - VisionTek Radeon R9 290 (View)
  • RAM - Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (View)
  • SSD –  Crucial MX100 128GB (View)
  • HDD - Western Digital Blue 1TB  (View)
  • Case - Cooler Master HAF XB EVO (View)
  • Power Supply - SeaSonic M12II-850 (View)
  • Optical Drive - Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $1,720-$1,780
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: BenQ GW2450 24″ 1920×1080 (View) or ASUS PB278Q 27″ 2560×1440 (View)
  • Keyboard: Razer DeathStalker Expert Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Razer DeathAdder Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Corsair Vengeance 2100 Gaming Headset (View)

With dual R9 290s, you’ll have a ton of power behind your system. You can expect to play pretty much any game on 2560×1440 resolution with good FPS.

Also, with an unlocked i5-4670K and the ASUS Z97 PRO, you will not be short of system tuning options. So, if you’re looking to get even more performance, you’ll have the hardware to overclock to higher levels.


A $2,000 SETUP? NOW YOU’RE JUST SHOWING OFF…

So you’ve decided to go all out… You’re not spending a dime under $2,000 on computer parts for your new ridiculously awesome computer build. Alright… that’s cool…

I guess some people just have to have the best!

Fortunately, for $2,000 you can really max out your build. You can run a monster video card. You can utilize an i7 processor and its advanced hyperthreading technology (which will really help you with stuff like video rendering and image editing.) And, you can leave yourself with a ton of options for upgrading in the future.

Through some serious research, I believe these parts will treat you well at $2,000:

  • CPU - Intel Core i7-4790K (View)
  • Motherboard - ASUS Z97 Pro (View)
  • CPU Fan - Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO (View)
  • Video Card - Gigabyte R9 290X (View)
  • Video Card - Gigabyte R9 290X (View)
  • RAM - Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (View)
  • SSD -  Samsung 840 EVO 250GB (View)
  • HDD - Western Digital Blue 1TB  (View)
  • Case - CM Storm Stryker – Full Tower (View)
  • Power Supply - Seasonic M12II-850 (View)
  • Optical Drive - Samsung 24x SATA DVD RW (View)

Grand Total: $1,970-$2,030
(Prices fluctuate on a daily basis, click here for current pricing)

Recommended Peripherals

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (View) – You’ll need an OS if you don’t have one.
  • Monitor: BenQ GW2450 24″ 1920×1080 (View) or ASUS PB278Q 27″ 2560×1440 (View)
  • Keyboard: Razer DeathStalker Expert Gaming Keyboard (View)
  • Mouse: Razer DeathAdder Gaming Mouse (View)
  • Headset: Corsair Vengeance 2100 Gaming Headset (View)

If $2,000 isn’t enough, you could always tack on something extra like a cool fan controller, or if you don’t have a monitor yet, you could get a nice high resolution 24″ LCD screen (or three)! You can also go with a nice custom water cooling configuration if you’re planning on doing some heavy overclocks. The bottom line is that the sky is the limits with a $2,000 budget, and this setup is definitely one to consider.

With an i7-4790k and an ASUS Z97 Pro motherboard you’re really going to be getting some attention… but adding dual R9 290Xs to the mix is just downright ridiculous!

Let me guess… you’re the person who has a full dance routine planed out for when they score a touchdown… or the one who has to send an insulting message to the other players after you’re victorious in your favorite game.

Well, if that’s the case, then this build is perfect for your over-the-top nature…


How To Use This MONSTROUS Guide

This guide is going to cover many of the components that enthusiasts use in their gaming computers. With so many components on the market, there are a ton of options you have. Therefore, this guide is ridiculously long.

In order to make this guide more readable I have included a Table of Contents (which can be found below) and each component has its own navigational guide. You can skip jump to the component section you’re most eager to read about, or you can skim through the entire guide using the scroll function on your mouse/keyboard.

At the end of the guide, I have put together five different high-end builds, ranging from $1,000 on the low-end to $2,000 on the high-end. These builds can be used as is, or they can be customized to your liking.

First Things First: Knowing Your Budget

The amount of money that you are planning on spending on your top gaming computer is going to determine the kind of performance you get out of it. Obviously, the more you spend, the more games you’ll be able to play on higher settings and the higher the framerates you’ll get.

Setting your budget will give you a price to work with when selecting your components and it will make it easier to make decisions on each part. So, set a budget that you are comfortable with and use that as a guideline for which components you can choose. For this guide, we’ll be looking at systems that come in over $1,000.

How Much Do I Need to Spend on Components to Max Out My Favorite Games?

By building yourself a top gaming computer, you’ll have a machine capable of playing all today’s top games on the highest settings. However, it’s important to note that if you’re looking for the most performance for the least cost, there is such a thing as spending too much on your system.

If you’re looking for a top gaming computer that can max out most of today’s games, you can easily achieve that with around $1,000.

*Although, that price point will change depending on the type of resolution you want to play on (1920×1080, 2560×1440, etc.) The higher the resolution you want to play on, the more you’ll have to spend.

So, while it may be fun to tack on money to your budget by setting up fully customized liquid cooling loops, running 4-way SLI/CrossFire setups, spending $500+ on your case, or adding any other expensive items/features, if it’s ideal in-game performance that you’re looking for, you don’t need to spend money on all of the extras. In my opinion, staying between $1,000-$2,000 on your build is a good idea if you’re main concern is maxing out today’s top games.

However, (and as previously mentioned) if you want to run your games on higher resolutions or run multiple monitor setups, you should expect to spend a littler more.

Ultimately, though, there is nothing wrong with going all out and building the baddest gaming computer around. If you do choose to build a ridiculously high-end gaming computer, just know that the difference in conceivable performance between a $2,000 gaming computer and a $4,000 gaming computer is not nearly as noticeable as the difference in conceivable performance between a $500 gaming computer and a $1,500 gaming computer.

Let’s Get Started Choosing Components

In the rest of this guide, we’ll take an individual look at each component category and go over the different options you have if you’re building a top gaming PC. Each component is going to be broken down into a separate section.

First up, we’ll look at the best high-end gaming processors and then we’ll proceed to look at all of the other components you’ll need.


The Top Gaming Processors

In this part of our Top Gaming Computers guide, we’re going to take a look at all of the different CPU options you have for your top-of-the-line gaming PC.

The processor you choose for your gaming computer is going to play a big role in how well your system performs.

It’s true that the video card is going to have the biggest impact on your in-game experience.

However, if you don’t choose a good enough processor, it won’t matter how awesome your video card is, because a low-quality processor will actually hold your entire system back.

The good news is that there are plenty of high-end processor options you have if you’re building a top-notch gaming computer. Typically, for a top gaming computer, you’ll want to spend at least $200 on your processor.

In this guide I will take a look at all of the CPU options you have for your top gaming PC.

Any of the processors listed in this article will give you ideal in-game performance and will not bottleneck your video card.

Top Gaming CPUs for AMD’s AM3+ Socket

While AMD’s AM3+ socket has been the subject of much scrutiny over the past couple of years, it does support one capable high-end gaming processor: the FX-8350.

While there are definitely other capable processors in the AM3+ socket (FX-4130, FX-6300, FX-8320), those processors are better suited for budget gaming computers.

So, if you do want to go with a top gaming computer based off of AMD’s AM3+ socket, then the FX-8350 is your best bet. And, while I’d definitely recommend the Intel alternatives for new system-builders, the FX-8350 does bring some unique performance to the table.

AMD FX-8350AMD FX-8350 4.0 GHz Processor (~$200)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500
SOCKET: AM3+

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It’s true that in single-core performance, AMD’s  FX-8350 eight-core CPU isn’t the best gaming processor on the market. However, with its eight cores, the FX-8350 has some serious multithreading performance.

And, while most games don’t take full advantage of multithreading just yet, you can bet that in the future they will start to. So, if you’re looking to the future and you’re counting on games becoming more and conducive of multithreading, then the FX-8350 makes sense.

Another great thing about the FX-8350 is its overclocking potential. With a high clock rate right out of the box, you can take the FX-8350 to some pretty high levels. Ultimately, the FX-8350 is a great option for a top gaming computer.

However, in my opinion, as of right now the Intel options in the ~$200 range are the better choice.

Features

  • Eight-Core CPU
  • Socket AM3+
  • 4.0GHz Base Clock Rate
  • Unlocked and Overclockable
  • Good Enough for High-End Gaming PCs

RECOMMENDATION: For AMD diehards, the FX-8350 is your best bet for a high-end processor option. However, for everyone else, I’d recommend going with the Intel alternative (the i5-3570K or i5-4670K.)

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Top Gaming Processors for Intel’s LGA 1150 Socket

Intel’s latest CPU micro architecture, Haswell, has completely changed sockets. Whereas the previous lines of processors used the LGA 1155 socket, Intel has now moved to the LGA 1150 socket.

While Haswell processors were ridiculed when they were first released for not offering as much overclocking potential as Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge, their ~10% performance increase still makes them the better option for anyone putting together a new system.

There are four different LGA 1150 processors that I recommend looking at if you are building a top gaming computer. They are listed below.

Intel Core i5-4670Intel Core i5-4670 3.4GHz Processor (~$220)
(
Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500
SOCKET: LGA 1150

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For those of you who are looking to build a gaming computer that is capable of maxing out any game, but who don’t want to get involved with any kind of system tuning, you won’t need an unlocked processor, and the Intel Core i5-4670 is your best bet.

The i5-4670 is plenty fast enough at stock speeds to run any game at ideal settings. And, while you won’t save a ton of money by choosing the i5-4670 over the unlocked version (the i5-4670K), you will save a little bit and you won’t need as expensive of a motherboard as well.

So, the bottom line is, if you’re working with a decent budget $1,000-$1,500 and you don’t need to overclock, then this processor is right for you.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Plenty of Processing Power for Gaming
  • Very Efficient CPU
  • Will Be Relevant for A Long Time

RECOMMENDATION: Use the Intel Core i5-4670 if you don’t plan on overclocking. If you’re using your computer for other things like video editing/graphics design work, then the hyperthreaded Intel Core i7-4770 would be the better choice.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Intel Core i5-4670Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Processor (~$235)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500
SOCKET: LGA 1150

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The only real difference between the Intel Core i5-4670K and the Intel Core i5-4670 is that the “K” version is unlocked and can be overclocked.

The Intel Core i5-4670K is generally regarded as the best gaming processor on the market. This is due to many reasons, but mainly because it can be overclocked, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and it is plenty powerful enough for any game on the market.

There are alternatives like the i7-4770K that offer hyperthreading technology. However, hyperthreading isn’t well-used in most games, which makes it somewhat of an obsolete feature for gamers.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with the i5-4670K, as it has everything a gamer and enthusiast could want.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Will Run Any Game
  • Very Efficient CPU
  • Can Be Overclocked for Even More Performance

RECOMMENDATION: The Intel Core i5-4670K is the best gaming processor on the market. So, if you want to have the option to overclock, then the i5-4670K is the CPU you want.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Intel Core i7-4770 ProcessorIntel Core i7-4770 3.4GHz Processor (~$295)
(Prices fluctuate–click here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,000-$2,000
SOCKET: LGA 1150

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One thing that the Intel Core i7 processors bring to the table that the i5 processors don’t, is hyperthreading technology. Basically, hyperthreading allows your processor to operate more efficiently, thus giving it a small overall performance increase.

However, in order for hyperthreading to work properly, the programs you’re using have to utilize it. And, unfortunately, as of right now, most games do not take advantage of hyperthreading.

That doesn’t mean that the Intel Core i7-4770 is not for you, though. If, aside from gaming, you will be using your computer to carry out CPU intensive tasks (like video editing/graphics design work) the hyperthreading will give you a very noticeable boost. And, if that’s the case, then you’ll definitely want to consider the Intel Core i7-4770.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Plenty of Processing Power for Gaming
  • Very Efficient CPU
  • Comes With Hyperthreading Technology
  • Will Be Relevant for A Long Time

RECOMMENDATION: Go with the Intel Core i7-4770 if you aren’t going to overclock and you plan on using your computer for other CPU-intensive tasks.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Intel Core i7-4770K ProcessorIntel Core i7-4770K 3.4GHz Processor (~$340)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,250-$2,000
SOCKET: LGA 1150

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The Intel Core i7-4770K offers the very best of all worlds for the LGA 1155 platform. It is the perfect processor for those who are looking to build a system with absolutely no limitations.

The i7-4770K is good enough to run any games on max settings, can be overclocked to achieve higher levels of performance, and features hyperthreading technology for improved multithreaded performance.

So, if you’ve got the money to spend and you’re going to use your computer for other CPU-intensive tasks, then the i7-4770K is the best LGA 1155 processor for you.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Plenty of Processing Power for Gaming
  • Very Efficient CPU
  • Hyperthreading Technology
  • Will Be Relevant for A Long Time
  • Can Be Overclocked for Even More Performance

RECOMMENDATION: Choose the Intel Core i7-4770K if you have a larger budget, you want to overclock, and you can make use of Intel’s hyperthreading technology.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Top Gaming Processors for Intel’s LGA 1155 Socket

Despite the fact that Intel has come out with the newer Haswell architecture and the LGA 1150 socket, Ivy Bridge processors on the LGA 1155 socket are still very viable options for gamers looking to build a top gaming computer.

While Haswell CPUs tend to operate, on average, at a rate of about 10% higher than Ivy Bridge CPUs, the Ivy Bridge processors are known for having more overclocking headroom due to the fact that they operate at lower temperatures (and so they can close a little bit of that 10% performance gap), they are priced lower, and they are still plenty capable of running any game at max settings.

So, if you’re not interested in squeezing out every ounce of performance and you want to redirect a little bit of money to other parts of your build, then these four LGA 1155 processors will definitely do the trick.

Intel Core i5-3570Intel Core i5-3570 3.4GHz Processor (~$210)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500
SOCKET: LGA 1155

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The Intel Core i5-3570 is a great CPU option for any gamer who isn’t looking to overclock.

Despite the fact that it will perform at a rate of about 10% less than the Intel Core i5-4670 will, the i5-3570 is about $10 cheaper and it is still powerful enough to run any game on max settings.

So, if you’re not looking to overclock, you want to save some money, and you still want to get a capable processor for gaming, then the i5-3570 is your best bet.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Will Provide Ideal Gaming Performance
  • Can Easily Be Upgraded to an LGA 1155 Intel Core i7 In the Future
  • Despite Not Being the Newest Architecture, It Will Still Be Relevant for a Long Time

RECOMMENDATION: Choose the Intel Core i5-3570 if you don’t want to overclock and you want to used the little bit of money you’ll save on other components.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Intel Core i5-3570Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Processor (~$215)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500
SOCKET: LGA 1155

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You can actually save around $20 by choosing the Intel Core i5-3570K over the newer Intel Core i5-4670K. Not to mention, Z77 motherboards are less expensive than Z87 motherboards so you’ll save a little bit there as well.

This means that by choosing the i5-3570K you’ll have more money to put towards other components (like a video card) and you still won’t see a significant in-game performance drop.

In my opinion, it’s a toss-up between the i5-3570K and the i5-4670K as the optimal choice for gaming processor. The i5-3570K has the price/performance going for it, while the i5-4670K has pure performance on its side. Either way you choose, you won’t go wrong.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Will Provide Ideal Gaming Performance
  • Can Easily Be Upgraded to an LGA 1155 Intel Core i7 In the Future
  • Can Be Overclocked for Even More Performance
  • Despite Not Being the Newest Architecture, It Will Still Be Relevant for a Long Time

RECOMMENDATION: The Intel Core i5-3570K is the right gaming processor for those of you who want ideal gaming performance, who are going to overclock, and who want to save some money to put towards your other components.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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i7-3770 ReviewIntel Core i7-3770 3.4GHz Processor (~$290)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,000-$2,000
SOCKET: LGA 1155

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Even though the Intel Core i7-3770 is only $5 cheaper than the Intel Core i7-4770, you will still be able to save some money with your motherboard selection.

However, without the ability to overclock, the 10% performance advantage the i7-4770 has over the i7-3770 is even more significant.

Ultimately, though, and as previously mentioned, Ivy Bridge CPUs are still more than capable of handling any game on max settings. So, if you want to save some money on your motherboard and if you want the hyperthreading, the i7-3770 is still a very viable option.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Will Provide Ideal Gaming Performance
  • Very Efficient CPU
  • Hyperthreading Technology
  • Despite Not Being the Newest Architecture, It Will Still Be Relevant for a Long Time

RECOMMENDATION: Grab the Intel Core i7-3770 if you want to save some money on your motherboard and you want to utilize Intel’s hyperthreading technology.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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Intel Core i5-3570Intel Core i7-3770K 3.4GHz Processor (~$315)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,250-$2,000
SOCKET: LGA 1155

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While the Intel Core i7-4770K outperforms the Intel Core i7-3770K, you can save quite a bit of money by choosing the i7-3770K over the i7-4770K.

Not only is the i7-3770K $25 cheaper, but there are a lot more affordable Z77 motherboards than there are Z87 motherboards. And, that will allow you to save even more money (and put it into other components, like your video card).

If it’s all about getting the most performance, then the i7-4770K is your best option. If you want to spread your budget out and put your money where it will best be utilized, go with the i7-3770K and put the saved money into your video card.

Features

  • Quad-Core CPU
  • Will Provide Ideal Gaming Performance
  • Can Easily Be Upgraded to an LGA 1155 Intel Core i7 In the Future
  • Hyperthreading Technology
  • Can Be Overclocked for Even More Performance
  • Despite Not Being the Newest Architecture, It Will Still Be Relevant for a Long Time

RECOMMENDATION: Go with the i7-3770K if you need the hyperthreading technology non-gaming related tasks and if you’re looking to maximize every dime of your budget.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CPU ON AMAZON ]

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The Top Gaming Motherboards

In this section of the Top Gaming Computers guide I’m going to list all of the viable motherboard options you have if you’re going to be building an awesome gaming computer. These motherboards are top quality and they have all the bells and whistles.

The motherboard you choose for your gaming computer will have a big impact on the overall quality of your system.

Your motherboard basically sets the table for your whole system.

It determines what parts you can and cannot choose and it dictates what kind of performance you can get out of your components.

So, if you’re looking to build a top gaming computer, you need to make sure that you get a motherboard that is capable of supporting the features and performance you want.

The good news is that there are a ton of different motherboard options you have if you’re looking to build a high-end system.

This section has been broken down to give you the best motherboards for the following sockets: AM3+, LGA 1150, and LGA 1155.

Top Gaming MOBOs for AMD’s AM3+ Socket

While the AM3+ socket may not be the first choice among gamers, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go with an AM3+ build and not get ideal in-game results.

Despite the fact that Intel’s LGA 1150 and LGA 1155 sockets get all the love, an AM3+ build with an FX-8350 (and a high-end video card) is definitely good enough to max out any game on the market.

And, while I ultimately recommend an Intel-based build if you have a large budget, there’s definitely nothing wrong with going AMD.

Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 Motherboard (~$135)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

SOCKET: AM3+

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If you want to overclock your FX-8350 you’re going to need an AM3+ motherboard with the 990FX chipset.

The 990FX chipset is AMD’s prime overclocking chipset for the AM3+ platform. Fortunately, AMD has some very affordable high-end motherboards. The Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 is one such board.

With all the features and support of a high-end board and a decent price, the GA-990FXA-UD3 is the perfect option for gamers who have a decent budget, but who do not need all extra fancy bells and whistles that come with the expensive AM3+ boards.

Features

  • Great Overclocking Board
  • Advanced 8+2 Phase CPU VRM Design
  • Four USB 3.0 Ports
  • 2-Way CrossFire/SLI Compatible
  • 8-Channel HD Audio

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend getting the Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 if in-game performance is your main aim. While there are more expensive boards on the market, this one has everything you need and you don’t have to pay a premium.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ASUS 990FX SabertoothASUS Sabertooth 990FX (~$185)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,000-$2,000

SOCKET: AM3+

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Sometimes you just gotta have more. And, with the ASUS Sabertooth 990FX you get more… a lot more.

While the Sabertooth motherboard has all of the standard features you should expect from a high-end motherboard, it also has some other cool features as well.

One thing that really makes this board stand out is its superior cooling capabilities. Not only does it give you incredible control with 10 different hardware sensors, but it also has incredible heat dissipation.

On top of all that, the Sabertooth has one of the best build qualities on the markets. ASUS made no exceptions with this board and their 5-year warranty shows that they have full faith in this board working for a long time.

Features

  • Excellent Overclocking Board
  • TUF Thermal Radar
  • Military Standard TUF Capacitors
  • Excellent Board Quality Makes This Board Very Durable
  • Backed By A 5-Year Warranty

RECOMMENDATION: The ASUS Sabertooth 990FX may not be the best option for gamers who want to ensure that their system has the most in-game performance possible. However, if money is no problem and you want an extremely well-built motherboard, then get the Sabertooth.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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asus-crosshair-v-formula-zASUS Crosshair V Formula (~$215)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,250-$2,000

SOCKET: AM3+

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The ASUS Crosshair V Formula is another high-end motherboard that brings a ton of really cool–but perhaps not very necessary–features to the table.

With excellent support for overclocking, enthusiasts who want to take their gaming computer to the next level will love the array of system tuning features this board has.

And, despite the premium that you will have to pay to get the Crosshair V Formula, the board is of the highest build quality.

So, if you have the money and you want top-notch quality, the ASUS Crosshair V Formula motherboard is right up your alley.

Features

  • Excellent Overclocking Motherboard
  • Kaspersky Anti-Virus Built-In
  • Extreme Engine Digi+
  • SupremeFX X-Fi 2 Surround Sound
  • Has 6 x USB 3.0 Connections
  • SLI and CrossFire Support

RECOMMENDATION: The ASUS Crosshair Formula isn’t for everyone and it does come at a premium. However, if you can afford this motherboard, you won’t be disappointed.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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Top Gaming MOBOs for Intel’s LGA 1150 Socket

If you’re looking for the most performance as humanly (or computerly) possible out of your high-end gaming computer, without going into the realm of ridiculous prices, then Intel’s LGA 1150 socket is what you should be looking at.

As the newest microarchitecture from Intel, Haswell currently offers the most processing performance for gamers (outside of the extreme CPUs on the market). However, there are two downsides to Haswell CPUs.

First, due to running a little hotter than Ivy Bridge processors, they don’t have as much overclocking headroom. And, secondly, they do cost more than Ivy Bridge processors (which is to be expected).

Haswell does bring a ~10% performance advantage over Ivy Bridge, but since that advantage is not drastic in terms of the in-game experience, it doesn’t make the new architecture a must-have. With that being said, I’d still recommend Haswell for any new setups, with Ivy Bridge being a close second. It really all depends on if you want to spend a few extra bucks for the new architecture and small performance gain.

MSI H87-G43 MotherboardMSI H87-G43 Motherboard (~$95)
(Prices fluctuate-check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

SOCKET: LGA 1150

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The MSI H87-G43 LGA 1150 motherboard is a solid option for gamers who are going with the Intel Core i5-4670 or the Intel Core i7-4770.

By choosing either of those locked processors, you probably won’t be looking to overclock (and if you are, you need to change your CPU, because those two CPUs won’t let you!) And, if that’s the case, then you can save some money and go with this H87 motherboard from MSI.

In the end, the MSI H87-G43 has everything you need to build a top gaming computer.

Features

  • Military Class Quality and Stability
  • Will Support 2-Way CrossFire
  • Comes With Two USB 3.0 Ports
  • BIOS Allows for Easy System-Tuning

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend going with the MSI H87-G43 if you’re choosing either the Intel Core i5-4670K, or the Intel Core i7-4770K.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ga-Z87-d3hpGigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP Motherboard (~$125)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

SOCKET: LGA 1150

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One of the most affordable and well-built Z87 motherboards on the market is the Gigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP.

In fact, I like this motherboard so much (especially for the price) that I use it in every build from the $850 build to the $1,500 build in our featured gaming computer builds section.

The bottom line is that this motherboard has everything you need in order to support a top gaming computer and it doesn’t cost as much as some other standard Z87 motherboards.

So, if you’re looking for a good affordable Z87 motherboard, the GA-Z87-D3HP is your best bet.

Features

  • Good Overclocking Board
  • IR Digital CPU Power Design
  • SLI and CrossFire Compatible
  • Gold Plated CPU Socket for Added Durability
  • Ten USB 3.0 Ports

RECOMMENDATION: The Gigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP is the perfect motherboard for gamers who want to balance performance and affordability. This board is capable of hitting good overclocks and will work well in any high-end machine.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ASUS Z87 PROASUS Z87 PRO Motherboard (~$185)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,250-$2,000

SOCKET: LGA 1150

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If you’re looking for a few more features than what the standard Z87 motherboards offer, you could always pay a little extra and get the ASUS Z87 PRO LGA 1150 motherboard.

While the extra money you spend on the Z87 PRO won’t get you any extra FPS while gaming, it does have quite a few helpful features for enthusiasts and system tuners.

The BIOS is very easy to use and is made to make system tuning incredible simple. The board also offers a ton of different fan controls so that you can customize the way your system is cooled.

Ultimately, this is one of the most feature-rich Z87 motherboards under $200. And, that’s why I include it in my $1,750 build.

Features

  • Excellent Overclocking Board
  • Easy-To-Use BIOS Makes System Tuning A Piece of Cake
  • SLI and CrossFire Support
  • Six USB 3.0 Ports
  • Memory Can Be Overclocked to As High As 3000MHz

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend going with the ASUS Z87 PRO motherboard if you plan on doing some heavy system tuning. This motherboard will pair well with either the Intel Core i5-4670K or the Intel Core i7-4770K.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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asus maximus vi extremeASUS MAXIMUS VI EXTREME (~$380)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,750-$2,000

SOCKET: LGA 1150

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If you’ve got some money to spend and you want to do some serious system tuning, then you might want to take a look at the ASUS MAXIMUS VI EXTREME LGA 1150 motherboard.

While this board does come in at a steep premium, it definitely does have enough features to make it worth it for those certain individuals who like to push their system to the absolutely max.

The ASUS MAXIMUS VI EXTREME is not for everyone. However, it is the perfect board for anyone looking to build an over-the-top LGA 1150 overclocking rig.

Features

  • Top-Of-The-Line Overclocking Motherboard
  • Will Support 4-Way SLI/CrossFire Setups
  • Six USB 3.0 Ports
  • Memory Can Be Overclocked Up to 3000MHz
  • BIOS Has A Ton of System Tuning Options

RECOMMENDATION: Get the ASUS MAXIMUS VI EXTREME if you have an enormous budget and you want to do some serious system tuning. Otherwise, save your money and get the ASUS Sabertooth, ASUS Z87 Pro, or the Gigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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Top Gaming MOBOs for Intel’s LGA 1155 Socket

Despite the arrival of Intel’s new Haswell architecture, Intel’s older Ivy Bridge line of CPUs are still very relevant gaming processors. And, due to heat issues with Haswell chips, Ivy Bridge CPUs can bridge some of the performance gap (but not all) that exists between the two architectures.

The main reason why you’d want to choose an LGA 1155 CPU over a similar LGA 1150 CPU is price. A few of the high-end Ivy Bridge CPUs can be had for $20 less than their Haswell equivalents.  And, with LGA 1155 motherboards being cheaper, on average, than LGA 1150 motherboards, you can save a good chunk of change by sticking with an Ivy-Bridge-based build.

Either way you choose, though, you can’t go wrong, as both architectures have processors capable of giving optimal in-game performance.

msi h77ma-g43MSI  H77MA-G43 Motherboard (~$85)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

SOCKET: LGA 1155

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A good H77 motherboard that you can use to go with your locked LGA 1155 processor (Intel Core i5-3570 or Intel Core i5-3770) is the MSI H77MA-G43 LGA 1155 motherboard.

This board is ideal for gamers who want all of the features necessary to support their top gaming computer, but who aren’t planning on overclocking.

The H77MA-G43 is also a micro-ATX motherboard… so it will fit in a smaller case if you want to build a more compact gaming computer. Overall it’s a great board for anyone who wants the features and who wants to put more money into their video card.

Features

  • Micro-ATX Form Factors Means It Will Fit in Compact Case
  • Supports Up to 32GB of DDR3 Memory
  • Four USB 3.0 Ports
  • Supports CrossFire/SLI Configuration

RECOMMENDATION: The MSI H77MA-G43 is a good motherboard option for anyone choosing the Intel Core i5-3570 or Intel Core i7-3770.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ASRock Z77 PRO4 MotherboardASRock PRO4 Z77 (~$100)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

SOCKET: LGA 1155

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ASRock always has affordable motherboards with a good amount of features. This is just as true for the ASRock PRO4 Z77 LGA 1155 motherboard.

The ASRock PRO4 is the perfect board for gamers who want to do a little overclocking and possible run a 2-way SLI/CrossFire setup in the future, but don’t want to pay a premium.

The bottom line is that it’s a solid, affordable motherboard that will do its job in a top gaming computer.

Features

  • Good Overclocking Board
  • 8 Channel HD Audio
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports
  • Memory Can Be Overclocked to As High As 2800MHz
  • Will Support CrossFire/SLI Configuration

RECOMMENDATION: The ASRock PRO4 Z77 is the perfect motherboard for gamers who want to do a little overclocking without having to spend a ton of money. This board will suit any top gaming computer and will allow you to put more money into your CPU and video card.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ASRock Z77 EXTREME4ASRock EXTREME4 Z77 (~$135)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,000-$1,500

SOCKET: LGA 1155

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Another good ASRock motherboard for overclockers is the EXTREME4. It’s affordable and it has the features to support some serious system tuning.

With six USB 3.0 ports, support for SLI/CrossFire configuration, an 8+4 phase power delivery, and an easy-to-use BIOS, the EXTREME4 is a great choice for anyone building a top gaming computer based off of the LGA 1155 socket.

So, if you’re looking for good balance between price and features, the EXTREME 4 is definitely a good board to consider.

Features

  • Good Overclocking Board
  • 8+4 Phase Power Delivery
  • Six USB 3.0 Ports
  • Memory Can Be Overclocked to As High As 2800MHz
  • Will Support CrossFire/SLI Configuration

RECOMMENDATION: The ASRock EXTREME4 Z77 motherboard is a solid and affordable option for gamers who want to do some overclocking. It has all of the features necessary to support a top gaming PC.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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ASUS P8Z77-V MotherboardASUS P8Z77-V Motherboard (~$165)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,250-$2,000

SOCKET: LGA 1155

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The ASUS P8Z77-V is an all-around excellent LGA 1155 motherboard with a ton of features.

It is priced a little more than some of the other Z77 motherboards, but it definitely makes up for that price with good build quality and a ton of system tuning options.

This motherboard has six total USB 3.0 ports, an 8+4 phase power delivery, and will support CrossFire and SLI setups.

Overall, the ASUS P8Z77-V has a ton of features and will keep you happy for a long time.

Features

  • Good Overclocking Board
  • 8 Channel HD Audio
  • Six USB 3.0 Ports
  • Very Easy-To-Use BIOS for System Tuning
  • Memory Can Be Overclocked to As High As 2600MHz
  • Will Support CrossFire/SLI Configuration

RECOMMENDATION: The ASRock PRO4 Z77 is the perfect motherboard for gamers who want to do a little overclocking without having to spend a ton of money. This board will suit any top gaming computer and will allow you to put more money into your CPU and video card.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOARD ON AMAZON ]

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The Top Video Cards

Next up in the Top Gaming Computers guide is video cards. In today’s article I’m going to take a look at all of the budget video card options that you have for your budget gaming PC.

There is no component that dictates your overall in-game performance like your video card does.

The video card you choose is incredibly important and it’s essential that you take your time to ensure that you get the best one possible for your budget.

Fortunately, there are a ton of different video card options you have. And, each one brings its own benefits.

One question that most first-time builders will ask is whether they should go with an AMD or NVIDIA. For a detailed answer on that question, check out this post.

Ultimately, though, for cards over $200, the two manufacturers are so close on performance that it doesn’t make sense to say that one company is better than the other.

Top Video Cards Between $200-$300

Gigabyte R9 270XGigabyte Radeon R9 270x (~$200)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $800-$1,000

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At the $200 price point, no video card can compare to AMD’s R9 270X. For the price you’ll pay for it and the performance you’ll get there really is no competition.

The R9 270X is capable of playing pretty much any game on max settings at 1920×1080 resolution and will even allow you to play some games on 2560×1440 resolution. That’s pretty good considering its $200 price tag.

Overall, the R9 270X is at the bottom of the totem poll when it comes to high-end video cards. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s good enough for any 1920×1080 setup.

Features

  • Will Max Out Any Game on Max Settings At 1920×1080
  • Capable of Some 2560×1440 Gaming
  • Gigabyte’s R9 270X Comes With Their Windforce Cooling
  • AMD Eyefinity Ready

RECOMMENDATION: The R9 270X may not be the best-performing card in the $200-$300 range, but it definitely has the best price/performance ratio and it is extremely affordable. So, if you’re just looking to play on 1920×1080 and you want to save as much money as possible, then the R9 270X is your best bet.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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evga geforce gtx 760EVGA GeForce GTX 760 (~$250)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
NVIDIA Video Card

Budget Range: $800-$1,000

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Right in the middle of the $200-$300 range for video cards is the GeForce GTX 760. As far as performance goes, the GTX 760 is  ahead of the R9 270x and a little behind the R9 280X and HD 7970.

With features like Shadowplay and PhysX, there are definitely good reasons to choose the GTX 760 if you’re looking for a video card in the $200-$300 price range.

Also, when choosing a video card for your build, it’s a good idea to take your favorite games into consideration. Often, games are specifically designed to work with either AMD or NVIDIA graphics cards. And, so, if you mainly play a game that has better support for NVIDIA cards, the GTX 760 would be your best bet.

Features

  • Will Max Out Any Game on 1920×1080 Resolution
  • Can Handle Many Games on 2560×1440 Resolution
  • EVGA Version Comes With Their ACX Cooler
  • Features NVIDIAs PhysX
  • NVIDIA Surround Ready

RECOMMENDATION: The GTX 760 is a great choice if you’re looking to spend between $200-$300 on your video card. While there definitely are better performing cards in this price range, depending on the games you play and whether or not you want to utilize Shadowplay and PhysX, the GTX 760 is definitely worth your consideration.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Sapphire HD 7970Sapphire HD 7970 OC Boost (~$260)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $800-$1,000

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As a card that originally hit the market at $460, it’s hard not to like the $260 HD 7970… especially considering that it still delivers high-end performance.

While the R9 280X does give a little more performance than the HD 7970, it also costs nearly $40 more. And, the difference between the two is slim enough to where nobody would knock you (nobody sensible, anyways) for choosing the HD 7970 over the R9 280x.

The other good thing going for the HD 7970 is that it isn’t the newest line from AMD. That means that in order to clear stock, you may see prices drop even lower than they already are.

Features

  • Will Max Out Any Game on 1920×1080 Resolution
  • Can Handle Many Games on 2560×1440 Resolution
  • Sapphire Version is the Factory Overclocked Boost Edition
  • AMD Eyefinity Ready

RECOMMENDATION: The HD 7970 is a hard video card to pass over in this price range when it’s priced right around the $250 mark. If you’re looking for high-end performance at a great price, the HD 7970 is currently the card to get.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Top Video Cards Between $300-$400

XFX Radeon Double D R9 280XXFX Radeon Double D R9 280X (~$300)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $900-$1,250

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The first card in the $300-$400 price range is the Radeon R9 280X. Coming in right at $300, the R9 280X may be the best video card on the market in terms of what it brings to the table compared to what it costs.

With the R9 280X you have the ability to play even the most demanding games on 2560×1440 resolution. And, of course it will easily max anything out on 1920×1080 resolution. That’s excellent for a card that comes in right at $300.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for the most affordable 2560×1440 capable video card on the market, then the R9 280X is definitely the one you want.

Features

  • Easily Maxes Out Games on 1920×1080 Resolution
  • Good 2560×1440 Video Card Choice
  • XFX Enhanced Double Dissipation Cooling
  • AMD Eyefinity Ready

RECOMMENDATION: Get the R9 280X if you’re looking for optimal performance and the possibility to play pretty much any game on max settings at 2560×1440 resolution.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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EVGA GeForce GTX 770EVGA GeForce GTX 770 (~$335)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
NVIDIA Video Card

Budget Range: $1,000-$1,500

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Performance-wise the GTX 770 and the R9 280X trade blows. So, why would anyone pay the extra $35 for the GTX 770?

Well, for starters (and as previously mentioned), most games are developed to work better with either AMD or NVIDIA. So, depending on your favorite game, it may make more sense to choose NVIDIA over AMD, or vice versa.

Another thing NVIDIA has going for them is their PhysX technology. And, in games that utilize PhysX, the difference is definitely clear.

So, ultimately, I would definitely recommend choosing the GTX 770 over the R9 280X if you play an NVIDIA based game that uses PhysX. Otherwise, go with the R9 280X.

Features

  • Easily Maxes Out Games on 1920×1080 Resolution
  • Will Run Most Games on Max Settings with Decent FPS on 2560×1440 Resolution
  • Comes With NVIDIA’s PhysX Technology
  • Comes With EVGA’s ACX Cooling System
  • NVIDIA Surround Ready

RECOMMENDATION: In the $300-$400 price range, the GTX 770 is the card to get if your favorite games are NVIDIA based and utilize PhysX. Otherwise, for the price, the R9 280X is just as good.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Top Video Cards Over $400

XFX Radeon R9 290XFX Radeon R9 290 (~$400)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $1,250-$1,600

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AMD has been on fire with the pricing of their new series of video cards. Just as the R9 280X was priced incredibly well, so, too, is the R9 290.

In fact, at ~$400 there is no real competitor of the Radeon R9 290. And, with the performance it delivers, it’s not crazy to think of the R9 290 as the best price/performance video card on the market.

How good is the R9 290? Well, it trades blows with the GTX 780 in most games and since the 780 is priced at $100 more, we think that’s a pretty good deal.

Ultimately, if you have a big budget, but not so big that you can afford anything and everything, you’ll probably want to look into getting one of the R9 290s.

Features

  • The R9 290 Has No Real Competition in Its Price Range
  • Best Price/Performance Ratio Among 2560×1440 Video Cards
  • Comes With 4GB of Dedicated Video RAM to Handel Higher Resolutions/Multiple Monitors
  • AMD Eyefinity Ready

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re looking for the best performing video card at 2560×1440 resolution for the cost, then the R9 290 is the hands-down winner.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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Sapphire R9 290XSapphire Radeon R9 290X (~$550)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $1,500-$2,000

Read More

While AMD’s R9 290X had some initial problems with their retail cards, there is no doubt that their price positioning relative to their performance is phenomenal.

Initial benchmarks shows that the R9 290X actually performs on par with NVIDIA’s GTX Titan… the only difference? AMD’s R9 290X costs well over $400 less.

While it’s true that NVIDIA’s GTX 780 Ti is the fastest single GPU on the market, the R9 290X’s price still makes it just as good, if not better, value.

If you’re looking for the fastest card there is without regards to price, the 780 Ti is the best choice. However, if you are even slightly concerned about price, the R9 290X performs only slightly lower than the 780 Ti and is about $150 less.

Features

  • Price-Wise The R9 290X Wins Hands Down Against its Competition the GTX 780
  • Excellent High Resolution Performance
  • Performs On Par With NVIDIAs GTX Titan
  • 4GB of Dedicated Video RAM Make This Card Excellent At High Resolutions or With Multiple Monitors
  • AMD Eyefinity Ready

RECOMMENDATION: The Radeon R9 290X isn’t the fastest single GPU on the market. However, it is pretty darn close. And, when you bring price into the equation the R9 290X may be the better deal compared to the GTX 780 Ti.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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EVGA GeForce GTX 780 TiEVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti (~$700)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
NVIDIA Video Card

Budget Range: $2,000+

Read More

As far as performance goes, there is no single GPU video card faster than the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. And, while in the past you could expect to pay ~$1,000 for the best video card on the market, NVIDIA has released the 780 Ti at $700, probably in an attempt to stay competitive with AMD’s new cards.

This is good news for enthusiasts, as owning the most ridiculous video card on the market has never been more affordable.

Ultimately, though, the GTX 780 Ti is the card to have. And, even though the R9 290X may be the better overall option considering its price and the relatively small margin in performance between the two cards, the 780 Ti is still the card for anyone who wants ultimate speed.

Features

  • Excellent Performance at High Resolutions
  • Fastest Single GPU Video Card on the Market
  • NVIDIA PhysX Technology
  • Outperforms the Higher Priced GTX Titan
  • NVIDIA Surround Ready

RECOMMENDATION: If you have to have the best of the best, then the GTX 780 Ti is the card for you.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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HIS Radeon HD 7990HIS Radeon HD 7990 (~$850)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
AMD Video Card

Budget Range: $2,000+

Read More

While the GTX 780 Ti is the fastest single GPU video card on the market, the Radeon HD 7990 is still the fastest video card overall. However, the HD 7990 is not without its problems…

With dual GPUs on board, the HD 7990 performs like two HD 7970s in CrossFire… both performance-wise, and problem-wise. With micro-stuttering and in-game support, dual video cards aren’t always the best solution. So, while on paper the HD 7990 out-benchmarks all other video cards, it is not without its problems.

However, the HD 7990 does have serious potential. And, if AMD gets their CrossFire drivers working better, the HD 7990 might be a viable option.

The importance of the HD 7990, though, should not go unnoticed. It’s pretty reasonable to think that multi-GPU video cards are the future, and if that’s the case, then that makes the Radeon HD 7990 a pioneer.

Features

  • Dual GPU Video Card
  • With Better Support, It Could Be the Best High-End Card on the Market
  • On Paper, Outperforms Every Other Video Card
  • AMD Eyefinity Ready

RECOMMENDATION: The GTX 780 Ti and the Radeon R9 290X are better options than the HD 7990. However, if AMD’s CrossFire support improves, the HD 7990 may become an interesting choice… But for now, I’d stick with the 780 Ti or the R9 290X.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS GPU ON AMAZON ]

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The Top Memory

Now we’ll take a look at the RAM options you have if you’re building a top gaming computer. The memory options in this section are all capable of doing their part to help you secure an ideal in-game experience.

kingston hyperx bluOne thing that gamers who are building a top gaming computer often ask, is whether or not faster memory has any effect on in-game performance. The answer to that question is pretty simple: no, it does not.

There are plenty of benchmarks all over the world wide web that point to the fact that, in gaming, faster memory just doesn’t offer any significant performance advantage.

Now, of course, there is an exception to that. And, that exception has to do with systems that are using integrated graphics. In systems that utilize integrated graphics (especially AMD’s APUs), faster memory does actually have an effect.

However, since you’re building a top gaming computer, you will be using a discrete video card and therefore will not gain any real advantage by choosing faster memory.

So, how then should you choose your memory?

Well, that’s actually pretty easy… choose the most affordable memory from a reputable brand that offers a good warranty and has a color scheme you like. You’ll also want to choose enough RAM to suit all your needs.

In the past, I would usually avoid recommending more than 8GB of RAM unless you were doing some video editing or carrying out other intensive operations. There just aren’t any games out there that are going to use more than 8GB of RAM. However, with the growing popularity of RAM discs and the cool benefits they offer, it may be time to ditch the popular notion that 8GB is all you need for gaming…

With that being said, I recommend at least 8GB of RAM and if you are planning on doing any video editing, or you want to setup a RAM disc, then I recommend going with either 16GB or 32GB. Below you’ll see all of the brands of memory I recommend buying.

*On a side note, some kits of memory have tall heat spreaders on them and, as such, can get in the way of your CPU cooler. So, make sure to take that into consideration when choosing your RAM. (For the most part I’ve only chosen memory kits without tall heat spreaders.)

Top Memory Options

kingston hyperx bluKingston HyperX Memory
DDR3 1600MHz
Budget Range: $800+

Read More

Kingston has been around and producing memory since 1987. And, they are definitely one of the top names in memory among gamers and system builders.

Their HyperX Blu line of memory is the perfect balance between speed and affordability and it will definitely do its part to bring you an ideal in-game experience without bottlenecking your other components.

As far as comparing it to the other brands listed in this article, the HyperX Blu has the most affordable set of 8GB of memory at around ~$55. And, since the speeds are similar, there’s no reason not to go with it.

And, with a lifetime warranty and superb customer support, you can have peace of mind in knowing that you will be covered in the rare occasion that something goes wrong.

In the end, the HyperX Blu is a solid option for gaming memory and you won’t be disappointed by choosing it.

Features

  • 1600MHz
  • Lifetime Warranty and Customer Support
  • HyperX module gives it faster latency timing

How Much RAM Do You Want?

adata gaming seriesADATA Gaming Series
DDR3 1600MHZ
Budget Range: $800+

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ADATA is a relatively new face in the industry (founded in 2001), but they have quickly made a name for themselves as a leading memory manufacturer.

ADATA’s DDR3 1600MHz XPG Gaming Series memory is cost effective and will perform at an ideal level.

In fact, in most games and scenarios, going over 1600MHz really provides no significant performance increase.

So, this set of memory (as well as the other 1600MHz sets listed in this article) are plenty fast enough to play any game out there.

So, if you’re looking for a solid and affordable set of gaming memory, then ADATA’s XPG Gaming Series is definitely a worthy choice.

Features

  • 1600MHz
  • 9-9-9-24 Timing
  • Highest Standard for Stability and Efficiency

How Much RAM Do You Want?

corsair vengeanceCorsair Vengeance Memory
DDR3 1600MHz
Budget Range: $800+

Read More

Of the four memory modules listed in this article, none are more recognized than Corsair’s Vengeance line of memory.

Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the Corsair Vengeance line is their tall heat spreaders (which not everyone is crazy about). However, performance is not a question with Corsairs most established memory modules (which we have included in out article on the best gaming memory.)

While you will have to pay a premium for the brand, you do get a little tighter timings and that will lead to a small performance increase.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with a set of Corsair Vengeance. They offer everything you could ever want out of a kit of memory. And, since they make their modules in Low Profile (as seen in the image above) you can easily fit this set in a system with a bigger heatsink.

Features

  • 1600MHz
  • 9-9-9-24 Timing
  • Good Overclocking Modules

How Much RAM Do You Want?

crucial ballistix sportCrucial Ballistix Sport
DDR3 1600MHz
Budget Range: $800+

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One of the main benefits of the Crucial Ballistix Sport XT DDR3 1866MHz memory over the others listed in this article, is that for AMD APU builds, the higher frequency actually comes into play.

In non-APU builds, going with faster memory doesn’t yield a significant increase in performance and it’s not really necessary.

However, going with faster memory in an AMD APU-based build does provide a decent performance boost and it’s actually recommended.

So, if you’re planning on going with an AMD APU for your budget gaming computer, it’s definitely a good idea to get faster memory to get the most out of your system. And, the Crucial Ballistix Sport XT DDR3 1866MHz will definitely allow you to do so.

Features

  • 1600MHz
  • Will give a boost to AMD APU-based builds
  • 10-10-10-30 Timing

How Much RAM Do You Want?


The Top Hard Drives

Next we’ll take a look at some hard drives. Hard drives aren’t the most difficult components to choose as there are really only two main decisions you have to make: what brand you want and how much storage space you need.

western digitalThere are really only two hard drive manufacturers that you should consider… Western Digital and Seagate.

After that, you just need to decide whether you want 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, or more of storage space. And, with the rise of SSDs, choosing a faster hard drive (like the Velociraptors) is kind of pointless.

Ultimately, your best bet is to get enough storage to hold all of your files and then get an SSD to store all of your important programs/games. Below is a look at the two hard drive manufacturers you have to choose from…

Gaming Hard Drive Options

seagate barracudaSeagate Barracuda
1TB-3TB 7200 RPM
Budget Range: $800+

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Seagate has been making hard drives since 1979. That’s a long history of producing PC storage devices.

And, with that history comes dependability.

The bottom line, though, when choosing between Seagate and Western Digital is price.

You really can’t go wrong with either manufacturer.

So, the best way to make your decision on your hard drive is just to choose which one is cheaper at the time of purchase.

I personally use Seagate hard drives because they have never failed me. However, there are just as many people who say the same thing about Western Digital.

If you have a preference between the two manufacturers, then stick with it. If not, choose the one that is more cost effective.

Features

  • 7200 RPM
  • 16MB Cache
  • SATA 6 GB/s Interface

How Much HDD Space Do You Want?

western digitalWestern Digital Caviar Blue
1TB-3TB 7200 RPM
Budget Range: $800+

Read More

Western Digital has been around even longer than Seagate. However, despite the fact that they were founded in 1970, they didn’t start making storage devices until 1980.

Still, though, that’s a long time in the game.

Basically, you’re going to get the same performance out of a Western Digital drive as you will out of a Seagate drive.

So, as mentioned above, the real determining factor is going to be price and possibly your previous experience with either of the companies.

If you’re just looking for a hard drive to get the job done, then go with the cheaper option between the two. Although, if you prefer Western Digital over Seagate, there’s definitely nothing wrong with choosing the WD drive.

Anyway you choose you will be fine.

Features

  • 7200 RPM
  • 16MB Cache
  • SATA 6 GB/s Interface

How Much HDD Space Do You Want?


The Top Cases

Not only is the case you choose the first thing anyone will see of your system, it’s also critical in the cooling process, and it dictates the size and the amount of components you can use. Therefore, it’s important that you take time in order to ensure that you choose a case that meets the demands of the system that you want.

The good thing about having a large budget when building a gaming computer is that you will likely have enough to spend on a nice-looking high-end case.

Cases serve multiple purposes…

A case’s size will dictate what kind of components you can have and how portable it will be.

Cases also play a huge role in the cooling process and the better they are designed to promote airflow and the more options they give you for a cooling system, the cooler and better off your system will be.

Cases are also what makes your gaming computer stand out. So, if you want to show off how awesome your gaming computer is, there is no better way to do so than to put your system into a badass looking case.

In this section, I’m going to take a look at all of the high-end case options you have. Some of these cases are monstrous, while others are portable, making them perfect for LAN gamers. No matter what kind of style you like, there is definitely a case here for you.

I’ll go by each high-end case from the different reputable and well-known case manufacturers. I’ll feature two cases from each manufacturer and link to all of the other viable case choices each manufacturer presents.

Antec Cases

antec three hundred twoAntec Three Hundred Two (~$65)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $800-$1,250

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The Antec Three Hundred Two is a great sub-$100 mid tower case. It has a ton of storage bays and plenty of room for the biggest and baddest components (including liquid cooling setups).

With a simple straight-forward design, this case is perfect for those gamers who don’t want all the flashy lights, but still want all the high-end features.

And, with great airflow and plenty of fan options, this case will not only look good and give you a bunch of room, but it will also help you keep your components cool.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable solid mid tower case that can hold your high-end components, the Antec Three Hundred Two is definitely a good option.

Features

  • Mid Tower Case
  • Comes With Two Fans: 1 x 80mm/1 x 120mm
  • 3 x 5.25″ External Bays/6 x 3.5″ Internal Bays/2 x 2.5″ Internal Bays
  • Eight Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Antec Three Hundred Two is a well-built mid tower case with a sleek, but not overpowering design. It’s perfect for gamers who want an affordable nice  looking case that can hold all of their high-end components.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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antec twelve hundredAntec Twelve Hundred V3 (~$165)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Full Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $1,250-$2,000

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If you’re looking for a full tower case, Antec’s Twelve Hundred V3 is a good one to consider.

With a side window and a number of blue LED lights, the Twelve Hundred V3 does not try to be subtle. So, if you’re looking for a simpler design, you should look elsewhere.

However, if you’re looking for a more flashy design and you want all the features of a high-end full tower case, the Twelve Hundred V3 has all of that and then some.

With 13 drive bays and a ton of room for all of your components, there’s really nothing lacking with this case.

Features

  • Full Tower Case
  • Comes With 3 x USB 3.0 Ports on the Front Panel
  • Will Hold Up to Eight Fans
  • 12 x 5.25″ External Bays/9 x 3.5″ Internal Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Antec Twelve Hundred V3 is a formidable full tower case. I recommend choosing it if you need a full tower chassis and you like the design/color scheme.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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More Antec Cases

Antec Sonata Proto Black ATX Mid Tower (~$70)

Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower (~$90)

Antec P280 Black ATX Mid Tower (~$100)

Antec Eleven Hundred Black Super Mid Tower (~$110)

Antec Sonata III 500 Quiet Super Mid Tower (~$120)

Antec Sonata Series SOLO II Black ATX Mid Tower (~$130)

Antec Performance One Series P183 V3 Black ATX Mid Tower (~$130)

Cooler Master Cases

Cooler Master HAF XB EVO Test Bench and LAN BOXCooler Master HAF XB EVO (~$100)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
LAN/Test Bench Computer Case
Budget Range: $800-$2,000

Read More

The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO is a pretty unique computer case. It abandons the traditional long rectangular tower-shape for a more cube/box shape, which gives it a different feel to it.

With two handles and a removable top, the HAF XB is great for LAN gamers or for enthusiasts looking for a test bench computer case.

Aside from its unique design, the HAF XB offers all of the features of a high-end case. It will fit a standard ATX motherboard, it’s capable of supporting multiple video card setups, and it has plenty of storage space.

Features

  • Cube Style LAN/Test Bench Case
  • Will House Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, & Standard ATX Motherboards
  • Comes With Two 120mm Front Fans
  • 2 x 5.25″ External Bays/4 x 3.5″ External Bays/ 4 x 3.5″ Internal Bays
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Cooler Master HAF XB EVO is a great option for LAN gamers or for enthusiasts who want to use it as a test bench. However, even traditional desktop gamers can use this case, as it has everything you could ever want and need.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Cooler Master Cosmos IICooler Master Cosmos II (~$275)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Full Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $2,000+

Read More

Cooler Master just knows how to separate their cases from the pack. The same is true for their Cosmos II Ultra Full Tower computer case.

With a race car inspired design, the Cosmos II definitely stands out from the crowd. However, the eye-catching design is just one of many features to like about the Cosmos II.

For starters, the case is gigantic. It can support even the most complex water cooling setups, as well as quad-GPU configurations, and it will hold an XL-ATX motherboard.

Ultimately, the Cosmos II is a must-have case for enthusiasts as it can hold the most extreme setups imaginable.

Features

  • Ultra Full Tower Case
  • Can Hold XL-ATX Motherboards
  • Can Accommodate Ten Total Fans for Maximum Air Flow
  • 3 x 5.25″ External Bays/13 x 3.5″ Internal Bays / 11 x 2.5″ Internal Bays
  • Eleven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The Cooler Master Cosmos II is a case designed for extreme enthusiasts who want the best of the best. If you need to build the biggest and baddest gaming computer around, the Cosmos II is definitely a good place to start.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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More Cooler Master Cases

Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid Tower (~$60)

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915R (~$70)

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 915F (~$70)

Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935 Full Mod-Tower (~$170)

CM Storm Enforcer Mid Tower (~$90)

CM Storm Scout 2 Advanced Mid Tower (~$95)

Cooler Master HAF XM Mid Tower (~$110)

Cooler Master HAF X Full Tower (~$160)

CM Storm Stryker Full Tower (~$170)

Corsair Cases

Corsair Carbide 400RCorsair Carbide 400R (~$85)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

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Corsair’s Carbide series of cases have a lot to offer gamers and enthusiasts alike. The Carbide 400R case sits right in the middle of the Carbide series and offers affordability, functionality, plenty of features, and a nice sleek design.

With room for 240mm dual radiators and support for up to ten fans, the Corsair Carbide 400R offers the ability to reach superior air flow and cooling. This case also has plenty of storage space.

Overall, the Corsair Carbide 400R Mid Tower case is a solid all-around case that is worthy of any top gaming computer.

Features

  • Mid Tower Case
  • 2 x USB 3.0 Ports on the Front Panel
  • Will House Micro-ATX and ATX Motherboards
  • Can Accommodate Ten Total Fans for Maximum Air Flow
  • 4x 5.25″ External Drives / 6 x 3.5″ Internal Bays
  • Eight Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: Get the Corsair Carbide 400R if you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a case, but you want all the features and the high build quality of a top-of-the-line case.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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corsair obsidian 900dCorsair Obsidian 900D (~$300)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Super Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $2,000+

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For those of you seeking a monstrous case, the Corsair Obsidian 900D Super Tower computer case will fit the bill perfectly.

The Corsair Obsidian 900D was designed for extreme enthusiasts who want an enormous case to house their dream gaming computer.

With excellent air flow, room for up to 9 hard drives/SSDs (15 if you add additional drive cages), and an exception build quality, the Corsair Obsidian 900D is the perfect case for gamers who want to go all out.

Features

  • Super Tower Case
  • 2 x USB 3.0 Ports on the Front Panel
  • Will House Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, and Standard ATX Motherboards
  • Can Accommodate Up to Five Radiators and Fifteen Fans
  • Ten Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: Choose the Corsair Obsidian 900D if you have a huge budget and you want one of the biggest, most feature-rich cases on the market.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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More Corsair Cases

Corsair Carbide Series 200R Compact ATX Case (~$60)

Corsair Carbide Series 300R Mid Tower (~$70)

Corsair Graphite Series 230T Compact Mid Tower (~$80)

Corsair Obsidian Series 350D Performance Micro-ATX (~$90)

Corsair Vengeance Series C70 Black Mid Tower (~$120)

Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Mid Tower (~$120)

Corsair Carbide Series 500R Mid Tower (~$130)

Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 Cube Case (~$140)

Corsair Graphite Series 600T Mid Tower (~$160)

Corsair Obsidian Series 650D Mid Tower (~$180)

Fractal Cases

Fractal Design Define R4Fractal Design Define R4 Black Pearl (~$95)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

Read More

If you’re a minimalist looking for a solid mid tower computer case, then you might want to check out Fractal Design’s Define R4 case.

The Define R4 offers a “minimalistic” Scandinavian design and it was also made to significantly reduce sound, as well as to provide ultimate functionality.

Fractal Design has made waves with their simple-looking, yet well-designed cases, and if you’re someone who doesn’t need a flashy case, but rather something that is just functional, the Define R4 is for you.

Features

  • Mid Tower Case
  • Will House Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, and Standard ATX Motherboards
  • Made From High Density Sound-Reducing Material
  • Can Accommodate up to Seven Total Fans for Good Air Flow
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: If you prefer more a more simplistic designed case that has a ton of features and good functionality, then the Fractal Design Define R4 is a case you should consider.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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fractal design arc xlFractal Design Arc XL (~$135)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Full Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $1,000-$2,000

Read More

Another gem from Fractal Design is their Arc XL full tower case. For starters, this Fractal Design case is just like all of the others… it’s extremely well-built.

Aside from that, it has a sharp-looking design that isn’t over-the-top and, therefore, would suit most minimalists perfectly. And, just like other Fractal Design cases, it’s main upside is its functionality…

The case has simple-clean dust filters, a built-in fan controller, flexible hard drive mounting, and a windowed side-panel to show off your components.

Overall, the Arc XL is an exception case that should appeal to many gamers.

Features

  • Full Tower Case
  • Will House Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX, and XL-ATX Motherboards
  • Two USB 3.0 Port on Front Panel
  • Can Accommodate up to Seven Total Fans for Good Air Flow
  • Nine Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: If you like the Fractal Design Define R4 but you’d prefer something a little bigger, then the Arc XL might be the better choice. The Arc XL is a well-built case that will suit any gamers needs.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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More Fractal Design Cases

Fractal Design Core 3000 (~$70)

Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Hybrid (~$90)

Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 (~$110)

Fractal Design Define XL R2 (~$130)

Lian Li Cases

lian li pc-9nbLian Li PC-9N Black Aluminum Mid Tower (~$95)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

Read More

There aren’t too many fully aluminum cases on the market coming in at under $100. However, Lian Li’s PC-9N case does just that.

Aside from the all-aluminum construction, there isn’t anything that makes this case jump out. However, that’s not a bad thing, as this case does exactly what its designed to do.

It has plenty of room for any kind of setup and it also has very good air flow. So, if you’re looking for a sturdy case with ample room and plenty of features, then you might want to consider Lian Li’s PC-9N aluminum mid tower case.

Features

  • Mid Tower Case
  • Full Aluminum Design
  • Will House Micro-ATX and Standard ATX Motherboards
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Can Accommodate up to Five Total Fans for Great Air Flow
  • Eight Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: You don’t see too many fully aluminum cases for under $100. Therefore, if you want an affordable aluminum case that has plenty of space and good airflow, then the Lian Li PC-9N is a good option.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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Lian Li PC-7FNWXLian Li PC-7FNWX Black Aluminum Mid Tower (~$165)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Mid Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $1,250-$2,000

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Lian Li doesn’t mess around when it comes to build quality. And, that build quality is represented by the price of their cases. Take the PC-7FNWX, for example. It’s a mid tower that doesn’t appear to have any special qualities to it, yet it’s priced more like a full tower case.

So, yes, you do have to pay a premium to get one of Lian Li’s aluminum cases. Is it worth it? That’s probably an answer that varies from person to person.

However, if you do want to go with one of Lian Li’s high-quality aluminum cases, the PC-7FNWX is a nice-looking case with a large side-window. And, of course, it features Lian Li’s excellent aluminum design.

Aside from that, the PC-7FNWX has plenty of room for a high-end system, good cooling options, a 100% tool-less design, air filters, and plenty of storage space.

Features

  • Mid Tower Case
  • Fully Aluminum Design
  • Will House Micro-ATX and Standard ATX Motherboards
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Can Accommodate a Water Cooling System and the Largest Video Cards on the Market
  • Plenty of Storage Space
  • Eight Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: If you don’t mind paying a premium for top-notch quality, then Lian Li’s PC-7FNWX is a good case to check out. With it’s aluminum body and excellent build quality, this case definitely stands out.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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More Lian Li Cases

Lian Li PC-K59 Mid Tower (~$70)

Lian Li PC-K57 Black ATX Mid Tower (~$75)

Lian Li PC-A05FNB Black Mid Tower (~$105)

Lian Li PC_TU100B Black Mini-ITX Tower (~$105)

Lian Li PC-V351B Black Mini Tower (~$110)

Lian Li PC-9F ATX Mid Tower (~$110)

Lian Li PC-100 Black ATX Mid Tower (~$150)

Lian Li PC-A76X Black EATX Full Tower (~$215)

NZXT Cases

NZXT Source 530 Full Tower CaseNZXT Source 530 Full Tower (~$90)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Full Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $800-$1,500

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NZXT has become quite the popular case manufacturer over the past few years. And, one of the big reasons for that was because of their affordable Phantom full tower case.

However, they’re now making owning a full tower case even more affordable with their Source 530 case.

Coming in at around $90, the NZXT Source 530 is a steal for the price. While not as big as other full tower cases, it is big enough to hold any setup and it doesn’t lack for features.

It can hold up to 9 fans, as well as a full liquid cooling setup, and it has plenty of storage options (including the ability to remove hard drive cages for more room). Overall it’s a great case and there aren’t many other options in its price range that can compete.

Features

  • Full Tower Case
  • Will House Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, Standard ATX, and EATX Motherboards
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Comes With Three Fans Pre-Installed (1 x 120mm Front Fan, 1 x 120mm Rear Fan, 1 x 140mm Top Fan)
  • Can Accommodate up to Nine Total Fans for Great Air Flow
  • Eight Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re looking for an affordable, well-designed, and feature-rich full tower case, the NZXT 530 is the best option. Especially when you consider that it has no real competition in its price range…

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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NZXT Phantom 820 Full TowerNZXT Phantom 820 Ultra Tower (~$220)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Ultra Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $2,000+

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It might just be me, but I think the black NZXT Phantom 820 is one of the best-looking cases on the market. Looks aside, though, the Phantom 820 is one monster of a case and it definitely doesn’t lack for any features…

Aside from it’s spectacular design, the Phantom 820 is designed for high air flow (option to add up to nine fans) and optimal cooling (can support a full liquid cooling setup), as well as for providing ample space for a high-end system.

Overall, the Phantom 820 is an excellent full tower option with more features than most gamers will be able to make use of.

Features

  • Ultra Tower Case
  • Will House Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, Standard ATX, XL-ATX, and E-ATX Motherboards
  • Ten Total Drive Bays
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Can Accommodate up to Nine Total Fans for Great Air Flow
  • Nine Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The NZXT Phantom 820 Ultra Tower case is a real beast. If you’re looking for a high-end full tower case, the Phantom 820 is definitely a solid option.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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More NZXT Cases

NZXT Guardian 921 RB ATX Mid Tower (~$60)

NZXT Phantom 410 Mid Tower (~$85)

NZXT H2 Classic Silent Mid Tower (~$100)

NZXT Phantom ATX Full Tower (~$100)

NZXT SWITCH 810 Full Tower (~$145)

NZXT Tempest 410 Steel Mid Tower (~$60)

NZXT Phantom 530 Full Tower (~$130)

NZXT Phantom 630 Full Tower (~$175)

SilverStone Cases

silverstone grandia gd08SilverStone Grandia GD08 HTPC Case (~$145)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
HTPC/Gaming Case
Budget Range: $1,000+

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Who says you can’t use an HTPC case for your gaming computer? While you may not get as ideal cooling in an HTPC case, that doesn’t mean it won’t work. And, if you do like the small compact size of an HTPC case, there are measures you can take to keep your system cool…

However, it should be noted that the Grandia GD08 HTPC case from SilverStone is not your ordinary HTPC case. This thing has a ton of room in it…

It can fit a standard ATX power supply and all the way up to an extended-ATX motherboard. Not to mention, it has plenty of room for even the biggest video cards on the market.

So, if you like the compact nature of an HTPC case, or if you want to build an awesome HTPC/gaming PC hybrid for your living room, the Grandia GD08 is definitely a good choice.

Features

  • HTPC Case
  • Will House Micro-ATX, Standard ATX, and E-ATX Motherboards
  • Up to Eight 3.25″ Drive Bays
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Can Accommodate up to Four Total Fans for Good Air Flow
  • Seven Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: The SilverStone Grandia is an excellent case for anyone who wants the compact size of an HTPC case, or who wants to build a high-end HTPC/gaming PC hybrid.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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silverstone tj11-bwSilverStone Temjin TJ11-BW  (~$580)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Full Tower Computer Case
Budget Range: $2,000+

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The Grand Daddy of all cases, the SilverStone Temjin TJ11-BW stands alone in both price and features.

With the ability to install two different power supplies and a ridiculous amount of room, I’m sure you could mod two computers inside of this beast. Why would you want to put two systems into this case? I have no idea… But it just sounds cool.

The TJ11-BW is an extreme enthusiast and modders dream. It has plenty of customization options that make it ideal for anyone who is looking to build a ridiculously powerful gaming computer.

Features

  • Full Tower Case
  • Will House Micro-ATX, Standard ATX, and XL-ATX Motherboards
  • 90 Degree Motherboard Mounting
  • Fifteen Total Drive Bays
  • Two USB 3.0 Ports on Front Panel
  • Very Flexible for Liquid Cooling Setups
  • Nine Expansion Slots

RECOMMENDATION: If you have to have the absolute best in every area of your life, then you probably won’t mind spend truck loads of money to get the Temjin TJ11-BW full tower case.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS CASE ON AMAZON ]

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More SilverStone Cases

SilverStone Tek Redline Series ATX Mid Tower (~$60)

Silverstone Tek SG09B Mini Tower (~$80)

SilverStone Temjin Series SST-TJ04B-E Mid Tower (~$150)

Silverstone Temjin TJ04-EW Mid Tower (~$160)

Silverstone Tek RV02B ATX Full Tower (~$180)

SilverStone FT01B-W Mid Tower (~$185)

Silverstone Tek RV01B-W-USB3.0 Full Tower (~$205)


The Top Power Supplies

In this section we will cover the different high-end power supply options you have if you’re building a top gaming computer. I’ve broken down the power supplies by price range. For each price range you’ll see two features power supplies and a list of others below it.

If you’re building a top gaming computer, you’re going to need a lot of power to ensure that it runs at its full capacity.

Unfortunately, power supplies are the least understood and most wrongly picked components.

A lot of gamers end up picking cheap power supplies that have high wattage ratings thinking they got a steal of a deal…

This couldn’t be further from the truth…

More often than not, the no-named manufacturers of cheap power supplies put much higher wattage ratings on their units than the unit actually deserves. They do this, of course, to sell more of their product.

However, for anyone expecting to power a top gaming computer with a cheap power supply, you run the risk of seriously damaging your system.

If you’re going to build a top gaming computer, you need to use a high-quality power supply to power it.

And, while better quality power supplies do cost more upfront, they are much more efficient, and fail far less often than cheaper units. So, in the long run you save money by buying a better power supply now.

Listed below are a number of power supplies I recommend if you are building a top gaming PC.

Top Power Supplies Under $100

XFX Core Edition PRO 550WXFX Core Edition PRO 550W (~$60)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,000
Tier 2A PSU

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If affordability and reliability are what you want out of your power supply, perhaps no unit can offer that better than the XFX Core Edition PRO 550W.

While the wattage may seem a little low for a top gaming computer, with 44A on the +12V rail, this power supply has plenty of power to accommodate most single video card setups.

Overall the PRO 550W PSU from XFX is a great unit that doesn’t cost a ton of money. So, if you aren’t planning on running dual video cards, running an HD 7990, GTX 780 Ti, or overclocking to extreme levels, this unit should do the trick.

Features

  • 550W PSU
  • 44A On Single +12V Rail
  • Can Handle Most Video Cards on the Market

RECOMMENDATION: I recommend getting the XFX Core Edition PRO 550W power supply if you’re not building an over-the-top system and you want to save a little money.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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seasonic m12ii-620Seasonic M1211 620W Bronze (~$85)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for more pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$1,000
Tier 2A PSU

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Sea Sonic is one of the premier manufacturers of computer power supplies. In fact, many of the high-end Antec, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, and XFX units on the market are actually built by Sea Sonic.

So, it’s no surprise that their M12II-620W Bronze unit would make this list. Not only is this unit more than capable of powering just about any high-end setup, it also comes in at well under $100.

With dual 24A +12V rails, the SeaSonic M12II-620 can handle just about any video card on the market and it gives enough headroom to make serious overclocking a reality as well. Overall the unit is well-built and backed by one of the most reputable PSU manufacturers around. You can’t go wrong with this unit.

Features

  • 620W
  • Dual 24A +12V Rails
  • Semi-Modular
  • Will Easily Handle Any Single Video Card Setup

RECOMMENDATION: The SeaSonic M12II-620 Bronze power supply is a good option if you want a high-quality unit that you can count on lasting for a long time. It will power just about any single card high-end setup.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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More Top Power Supplies Under $100

Antec NEO ECO 520W (~$65)

OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W (~$70)

OCZ ZT Series 650W (~$75)

Antec NEO ECO 620W (~$80)

Corsair TX650 Enthusiast Series (~$80)

OCZ ZT Series 750W (~$80)

Antec High Current Gamer 620W (~$90)

OCZ Fatal1ty 750W (~$90)

PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk III Series 600W (~$90)

Top Power Supplies Between $100-$150

xfx xxx 750wXFX Black Edition PRO 750W (~$125)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $800-$2,000
Tier 1 PSU

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The XFX Black Edition 750W power supply is another steal of a deal. It’s not often that you find a Tier 1 power supply priced so close to $100. But that’s what you get from this unit…

With SeaSonic as the OEM of this power supply, you can rest assured that you’re choosing a high-quality unit. And, with 750W and 62A on the +12V rail, this unit has enough power to hold most 2-way SLI/CrossFire setups.

So, if you’re looking for SeaSonic quality for your high-end build and you don’t want to pay a premium, then this unit fits the bill perfectly.

Features

  • 750W
  • 80 PLUS Gold
  • 62A Single +12V Rail
  • Fully Modular
  • Can Handle SLI/CrossFire Setups
  • 5-Year Warranty

RECOMMENDATION: Choose the XFX Black Edition PRO 750W if you’re looking for a high-end power supply that will allow you to setup dual video cards in the future.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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pc power & cooling silencer mkiii 750wPC Power & Cooling Silencer MK III 750W (~$150)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,000-$2,000
Tier 1 PSU

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The XFX Black Edition 750W unit and this PC Power & Cooling Silencer MK III 750W unit are pretty similar in specs. What the Silencer MK III unit brings to the table is a 7-year warranty as opposed to the 5-year warranty that the XFX unit has.

Is that enough to sway you to this PC Power & Cooling unit? That all depends…

Do you prefer the comfort of having two extra years of protection? Or would you prefer to have a similarly performing unit that’s fully modular for less money? If it were up to me I’d go with the XFX Black 750W unit… but that doesn’t mean the Silencer MK III 750W isn’t worthy.

Features

  • 750W
  • 80 PLUS Gold
  • 62A Single +12V Rail
  • Semi-Modular
  • Can Handle SLI/CrossFire Setups
  • 7-Year Warranty

RECOMMENDATION: I’d go with the XFX Black Edition 750W unit over this one. However, the Silencer MK III from PC Power & Cooling is still a solid power supply. And, if you can find it on sale or for a lower price than the XFX unit, jump on it.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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More Top Power Supplies Between $100-$150

XFX XXX Edition 750 Watt (~$110)

Corsair Enthusiast Series 850-Watt (~$120)

Corsair RM Series 750 Watt (~$130)

Antec High Current Gamer 900 Watt (~$130)

SeaSonic X650 650 Watt (~$130)

XFX XXX Edition 850 Watt (~$135)

Top Power Supplies Between $150-$200

seasonic x series 850wSeaSonic X Series 850W (~$175)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,500-$2,000
Tier 1 PSU

Read More

The X Series 850W power supply is another stellar unit from SeaSonic. With 850W of power and 70A on the +12V rail, the X-850 is a real monster.

And, with 80 PLUS Gold efficiency this unit is primed to deliver optimal power to your top gaming computer.

This unit is also fully modular and is backed by a 7-year warranty. Overall, it’s a very powerful power supply capable of handling even the most extreme setups.

Features

  • 850W
  • 80 PLUS Gold
  • 70A Single +12V Rail
  • Fully Modular
  • Can Handle SLI/CrossFire Setups
  • 7-Year Warranty

RECOMMENDATION: Go with the SeaSonic X Series 850W power supply if you want the option to run multiple video cards and/or turn your gaming computer into an extreme enthusiast rig.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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Corsair AX860Corsair Professional Series AX860 (~$185)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $1,500-$2,000
Tier 1 PSU

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Corsair is no stranger to the power supply world… With their Professional Series AX 860W unit, they deliver a fully modular power supply with an 80 PLUS Platinum rating. And, for just under $200 that’s a pretty good deal.

Ultimately, the Corsair AX860 will live up to meet your demands just as long as you aren’t planning on running quad GTX 780 Ti’s and overclocking your system to insane levels.

So, if you’re in the market for a high-end power supply for your top gaming computer, you may not find a better option below $200.

Features

  • 850W
  • 80 PLUS Platinum
  • 71.6A Single +12V Rail
  • Fully Modular
  • Can Handle SLI/CrossFire Setups
  • 7-Year Warranty

RECOMMENDATION: Get the Corsair AX860 if you need a ton of power and maximum efficiency and you want to stay under $200.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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More Top Power Supplies Between $150-$200

Corsair RM Series 850 Watt (~$155)

Corsair Professional Series  HX 750 Watt (~$160)

Corsair Professional Series 760 Watt (~$160)

PC Power & Cooling 850 Watt Silencer MK III Series (~$170)

Corsair Professional Series  HX 850 Watt (~$175)

Corsair RM Series 1000 Watt (~$195)

Top Power Supplies Over $200

silverstone st1500SilverStone Strider ST 1500W (~$300)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $2,000+
Tier 1 PSU

Read More

If you want to talk about a behemoth, let’s talk about the SilverStone ST 1500. With eight 25A +12V rails, there are not too many power supplies around that can match the output of the ST 1500.

What it all comes down to is how crazy do you want your system to get? Do you want to run Quad SLI/CrossFire and overclock your system to extraordinary levels? This power supply will handle it… no problem.

The only thing you really need to worry about with this monster is your power bill.

Features

  • 1500W
  • 80 PLUS Silver
  • Unheard of Eight 25A +12V Rails
  • Fully Modular
  • Can Handle Quad SLI/CrossFire Setups
  • 3-Year Warranty

RECOMMENDATION: Choose the SilverStone ST 1500W power supply if you are building an overkill gaming computer.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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lepa g 1600LEPA G Series 1600W (~$300)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)
Budget Range: $2,000+
Tier 1 PSU

Read More

Oh I’m sorry, 1500W isn’t enough for you? Fine… Here’s a 1600W monster to shut you up.

The only way I’d recommend getting this unit is if you want to run Quad SLI/CrossFire setups… or if you want to power a small military compound…

No, but seriously, this power supply is ridiculous. It’s literally the most powerful power supply on the market.

*Warning - Before you setup a gaming computer that will require this power supply, check with an electrician to make sure the wiring in your house can even output enough to run your system… This isn’t a joke.

Features

  • 1600W
  • 80 PLUS Gold
  • Six +12V Rails
  • Fully Modular
  • Can Handle Quad SLI/CrossFire Setups
  • 3-Year Warranty

RECOMMENDATION: Choose the SilverStone ST 1500W power supply if you are building an overkill gaming computer.

[ CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS PSU ON AMAZON ]

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More Top Power Supplies Over $200

Seasonic X-Series 1250 Watt (~$290)

Antec HCP-1000W PLATINUM (~$290)

Enermax MaxRevo 1350 Watt (~$305)

Enermax MaxRevo 1500 Watt (~$335)

Corsair Professional Series AX 1200 Watt (~$345)


Optical Drives

For gamers with a higher budget, optical drives are just more of throw-in components due to their convenience. In all reality, optical drives are slowly dying. With games and software moving to a digital download format, the optical drive isn’t nearly as important as it once was.

However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t need an optical drive for your system. If you have older games in disc format that you’ll want to put on your new system, or if you want to use your PC as a home theater where you can play Blurays/DVDs from Red Box, or from your home collection, then you’ll need an optical drive.

And, while it’s not 100% necessary, having an optical drive makes installing your operating system a little easier. If you don’t choose an optical drive for your build, you’ll have to install your operating system from a USB drive. This actually isn’t that difficult of a process and you can read a guide on how to do it here.

The bottom line, though, is that if you have a larger budget, throwing in a $15-$20 optical drive isn’t going to hurt you any. So, you might as well include one.

Here are a few options:

DVD/RW

Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive

LG Electronics 24X SATA Super-Multi DVD Internal Rewriter