Q: How much is needed for a serious gaming PC?

#1 Posted by SneakyJB (44 posts) -

I've been digging through old forum post on this site and others, guides, and current prices for PC components. It's been a long time since I've built a gaming PC but I am currently saving up as I am ready to dive back into PC gaming.

My question is as the title suggests, how much is needed to build a serious gaming PC that will run the newest titles on high settings for a couple of years? I've seen a wide variety of budgets and nice builds but I wanted a general feel for how much you would spend if you were building a PC with no parts besides a monitor/keyboard/mouse. I'm thinking $1,000.

#2 Edited by Humanity (9216 posts) -

IF I want it top of the line for a few years? Probably closer to $2,000.

#3 Posted by Andorski (5309 posts) -

Right now for $1500 you can easily build a rig with a 780Ti/290x; the bext single GPU cards out right now. If you have a rig with those cards right now, you will definitely be hitting Ultra settings at 1080p 60fps. Two years down the line though I'm guessing that your average graphics settings will have to drop to High with some graphical settings hogs (e.g. PhysX, TXAA, TressFX) completely turned off in order to stay at 1080p 60fps.

#4 Posted by SneakyJB (44 posts) -

@humanity said:

IF I want it top of the line for a few years? Probably closer to $2,000.

I've been reading in some posts and guides that said aiming for around $2,000 will pretty much guarantee a great rig.

@andorski said:

Right now for $1500 you can easily build a rig with a 780Ti/290x; the bext single GPU cards out right now. If you have a rig with those cards right now, you will definitely be hitting Ultra settings at 1080p 60fps. Two years down the line though I'm guessing that your average graphics settings will have to drop to High with some graphical settings hogs (e.g. PhysX, TXAA, TressFX) completely turned off in order to stay at 1080p 60fps.

Thanks for the response. I think I may aim for $1500 as you said. I liked the idea of having a single GPU instead of going for multiple cheaper ones. I need to start actually piecing my build together but parts change so fast I'll probably wait closer till I am ready to actually start purchasing pieces.

#5 Posted by Andorski (5309 posts) -

@godzillasmash: No problem. When speccing out your rig, just make sure that your prioritize the GPU first and foremost. Also - if this is your first time building a PC - use PCPartPicker to create your build. I'd start off by putting in a 780Ti/290x, i5-4670k, and 8GB RAM onto your list and build off from there.

#6 Edited by Sanity (1906 posts) -

Its worth noting that neweeg is offering 8 gigs of ram free with a 290x atm, not a bad deal depending how soon your going to build. Also dont skimp on the power supply, get a good one now and it will last you a long time to come rather then having to upgrade that later. Plus junk power supply's and 500 dollar cards dont mix well in terms of peace of mind.

Also get a case with lots of room if you have the space and aren't going to be moving it a lot, i'v had a antec 1200 since 2008 and just keep reusing that for all my builds and upgrades, plus the filters are nice for keeping the dust out. Theres lots of other great cases that cost less then that though, just get as big of a case as you can as it provides better airflow, and less hassle when working on it.

#7 Edited by ZNine (12 posts) -

I've recently built a PC in March with a GTX 770, an Intel i5 4670, and an SSD, for just under $1000. I am running every current game at max settings at 1080p. In my opinion, the card won't run everything at max for years, but in 2/3 years, you take the extra money and get another video card. I've done this with my last two PCs, and they each lasted 6 years running everything at high settings or above.

#8 Posted by Humanity (9216 posts) -

@godzillasmash: Just remember that if you want peak performance for a while then you can't skimp too much anywhere. You need a solid motherboard that supports the newest PCI-e and ram clock speed, top of the lin CPU and if we're talking long term might as well put 16gb of ram in there instead of 8gb. You'll probably want to get two Nvidia cards and SLI them, which means you'll need quality cooling that doesn't make your PC sound like a turbine. In turn you will need a good case with a lot of room to house two video cards and powerful, yet quiet, fans. To power all this make sure to get a very good power supply because skimping on the PSU can often lead to problems down the road which can be difficult to diagnose. To top all this off you'll obviously want to get an SSD in order to make sure your brand new powerful system is running as fast as possible. Alternatively you could go for one of those hybrid drives that are half SSD but if you're already dumping this much money into the project then might as well go all the way and get one of those Samsung EVO's.

#9 Edited by Zeik (2425 posts) -

I'm always debating getting a new PC that would actually let me properly experience PC gaming for change, but then I see topics like this and see how stupidly expensive it is and get completely turned off from the idea.

#10 Posted by wemibelec90 (1660 posts) -

@zeik said:

I'm always debating getting a new PC that would actually let me properly experience PC gaming for change, but then I see topics like this and see how stupidly expensive it is and get completely turned off from the idea.

This is true at first, but it (can) becomes progressively cheaper as you stick with the platform. With your first rig you have to add in costs for things like a monitor, case, peripherals, and the OS; subsequent rigs can reuse much of these original purposes. Hard drives can stick around for a good long while, and processors have began to stagnate too, meaning those last a great deal of time as well. Memory doesn't ever change and 8 GB of it (which is fairly cheap) will be perfect for the next several years. At a point, you're really just buying new graphics cards, which can be expensive. However, being patient and finding good deals (and being willing to take a slightly weaker card) can make that part of the process manageable too. I'm not saying it's something everyone can afford, but it isn't as much money as most people may think.

#11 Posted by Zeik (2425 posts) -

@wemibelec90: That initial investment is the real problem though. At this point I would basically have to build from scratch, and if I'm spending over $1000 on anything (but especially a gaming rig) that thing should last me many years without having to worry about it. It's really hard to get into the idea of spending that kind of money when it's so quickly and easily outdated.

#12 Posted by Humanity (9216 posts) -

@zeik said:

@wemibelec90: That initial investment is the real problem though. At this point I would basically have to build from scratch, and if I'm spending over $1000 on anything (but especially a gaming rig) that thing should last me many years without having to worry about it. It's really hard to get into the idea of spending that kind of money when it's so quickly and easily outdated.

PC has issues even beyond that which have always been a problem. Look at Watch Dogs - a game that is so poorly optimized that people with SLI'd workhorses are having a hard time getting it to run properly on the higher graphic settings. After you spend thousands of dollars on top of the line gear and having poor optimization render your PC powerless is incredibly frustrating.

I've been gaming on my PC a lot more this past year and I'm slowly starting to remember why I walked away from it in the first place. I mean at times it's great, but when you hit those lows of performance issues/hardware incompatibility it's downright infuriating.

#13 Edited by Ezekiel (447 posts) -
@sanity said:

Also dont skimp on the power supply, get a good one now and it will last you a long time to come rather then having to upgrade that later. Plus junk power supply's and 500 dollar cards dont mix well in terms of peace of mind.

I'm planning to get an ASUS GTX780 and will probably slightly overclock my i5-4670k, but I only have a 500 watt 80 plus bronze EVGA. I've read that all that's likely to happen if the PSU is underpowered is a system shut down. I'll see if my PSU can handle it before I buy a 650 watt EVGA, unless I discover it's risky for some reason.

#14 Posted by hollitz (1519 posts) -

My first rig was around the 1500 dollar range. Every single component (except the CPU) died and had to be replaced within 2 years. I could have spent like 800 less and had the same experiences. Now I tend not to spend more than 150 bucks on any component.

Personally, I wouldn't dump a huge sum of money on a new PC just yet, even if you want to down the line. I'd wait to see what's going to happen with PC versions this console gen. Watch Dogs was pretty terribly optimized, but then again, Ubisoft is pretty notorious for putting out broken PC versions.

#16 Posted by MB (12384 posts) -

@hollitz said:

My first rig was around the 1500 dollar range. Every single component (except the CPU) died and had to be replaced within 2 years. I could have spent like 800 less and had the same experiences.

What the...I've never heard of an experience so bad. I've built countless PC's and never had so much as a single component need to be RMA'd that wasn't due to my own mistakes. Sounds like you had some extremely bad luck!

@ezekiel said:

I'm planning to get an ASUS GTX780 and will probably slightly overclock my i5-4670k, but I only have a 500 watt 80 plus bronze EVGA. I've read that all that's likely to happen if the PSU is underpowered is a system shut down. I'll see if my PSU can handle it before I buy a 650 watt EVGA, unless I discover it's risky for some reason.

I have the Asus GTX 780, it's a great card! Pretty quiet and I easily overclocked it past stock Titan levels without issue. What a beast. It does sound like a good time to upgrade your PSU, though! I'm using a modular Corsair HX650 80+ Bronze and it even previously handled a pair of 6950's with no problem.

Moderator
#17 Edited by Kidavenger (3546 posts) -

I think $1000 is the sweet spot, then upgrade your videocard every 2-4 years depending on your needs.

I really think everyone will need to upgrade their videocard in the next 1-2 years no matter what you have/buy now once developers learn to push the current consoles to their limit.

#18 Edited by EXTomar (4722 posts) -

Keep in mind that spending $2000 on a PC should last for a several years where parts like the hard drive and video card should fail or need to be upgraded before the whole system is deprecated. It is a lot of money but it should be treated more like a durable good at that price level.

#19 Posted by GaspoweR (3022 posts) -

$1000 is a pretty good price for a budget. My suggestion is probably to wait a bit and get a higher tier card when its price goes down when new cards come out and can still fit close to your budget and still be able to play "system-hog" games at high or max (but if a game is not properly optimized, it'll probably still look like crap on a great rig). If you are just playing on a single monitor set-up or if that single monitor is a 22" more or less (maybe even a 30" monitor) then that is pretty solid.

Otherwise the other duders on here have some pretty sound suggestions. :D

#20 Edited by MB (12384 posts) -

I can't imagine how you guys are coming in under $1000 for a "serious gaming PC" if you include everything that is required. To me around $1500 is the minimum budget I need to configure something serious if I include Windows, a case, an SSD, and something like a GTX 780. I'm not saying it can't be done, but maybe my definition of serious is a bit different. I couldn't even come in close to $1000 without including any input devices or a monitor!

To me minimum specs for a new build would be something like:

i5 3570k on an ASRock Z77 motherboard, 8gb of G.Skill Ripjaws or equivalent, GTX 780, 256gb SSD, decent case and PSU, and a copy of Windows. Right there you're looking at $1200-$1400 and haven't spent a dime on a mouse, keyboard, speakers, or a monitor. Speaking of monitors, if I was building a machine from scratch today, a 1440p 120hz+ monitor would be part of the build for sure. No way you're coming in under $1000 with a good monitor.

Moderator
#21 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4351 posts) -

@mb said:

I can't imagine how you guys are coming in under $1000 for a "serious gaming PC" if you include everything that is required. To me around $1500 is the minimum budget I need to configure something serious if I include Windows, a case, an SSD, and something like a GTX 780. I'm not saying it can't be done, but maybe my definition of serious is a bit different. I couldn't even come in close to $1000 without including any input devices or a monitor!

$1500 is the sweet spot for a serious machine for sure. Close to $1600 was the final price tag for me which includes a 128 gig SSD, 2 TB HDD, i7 4770k, GTX 770, 16 gigs of RAM, and a bluray player (which few people really need), there's more of course but those are the big components.

If I got a 780 instead of a 770 then the price tag might be closer to $1700. I don't consider my PC done yet because I plan to sell my 770 and get an 880 whenever they become a thing because I've been having to rely on SLI 770's (using friend's 770 in my PC) to play most games maxed at 1440p while staying close to 60fps

@humanity said:

@godzillasmash: Just remember that if you want peak performance for a while then you can't skimp too much anywhere. You need a solid motherboard that supports the newest PCI-e and ram clock speed, top of the lin CPU and if we're talking long term might as well put 16gb of ram in there instead of 8gb. You'll probably want to get two Nvidia cards and SLI them, which means you'll need quality cooling that doesn't make your PC sound like a turbine. In turn you will need a good case with a lot of room to house two video cards and powerful, yet quiet, fans. To power all this make sure to get a very good power supply because skimping on the PSU can often lead to problems down the road which can be difficult to diagnose. To top all this off you'll obviously want to get an SSD in order to make sure your brand new powerful system is running as fast as possible. Alternatively you could go for one of those hybrid drives that are half SSD but if you're already dumping this much money into the project then might as well go all the way and get one of those Samsung EVO's.

I seriously advise against going SLI, as someone who's been using SLI for over a month now the main difference I see other than a marginal increase in horsepower is the unreliable nature of SLI in general because you're dependent on Nvidia to put out SLI profiles for games and hope that the profiles are optimized in the first place. I'll always prefer single card setups because SLI never ends up being worth the money.

#22 Edited by Kidavenger (3546 posts) -

@mb:

This is what I would build for myself if I was going to put something together today and had nothing to work with.

Prices will vary by region, but this is pretty much what I'm playing with now and I'm not having any issues on high/ultra 1080p on anything I'm playing.

I do have a SSD, but I wouldn't bother getting another one, it's been full since I bought it and I just play games off my 1tb hdd now anyway, I'd rather deal with loading time which is rare than constantly managing/moving/deleting game installs.

#23 Posted by EXTomar (4722 posts) -

Oh for sure I wouldn't recommend buying a $2000 PC because that is more than likely overkill for PC one just plans to use for gaming.

As for SLI, I would only do that for a certain class of hardware but not for the (mythical) $2000 PC. Buying a single $500~ for a brand new system should last for several years. I would only do SLI if there is a specific sale or "bargain" to buying matched set of cards which is not a replacement for a high performance card.

#24 Edited by MB (12384 posts) -

@kidavenger: Well to be fair, thats not "nothing" to work with...you didn't account for keyboard, mouse, or a monitor. I think those three things and a copy of Windows (which you have) are things that a lot of people take for granted that those just getting into their first gaming PC may not have. It's a nitpick I have with many sites that do these "Sub $X build" features but they often don't include several hundred dollars worth of required hardware.

Moderator
#25 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4351 posts) -

@mb: A monitor isn't a huge omission nowadays when a lot of people have perfectly capable HDTV's that could be used. It's not ideal of course but it's a good enough substitute to get the ball rolling till it makes sense to put down more money on a monitor.

#26 Posted by MB (12384 posts) -

@colourful_hippie: That's a good point. I myself have my PC hooked up to a 55" TV right now, but I admit I've been wanting to invest in a higher resolution monitor. 1080 just doesn't seem like enough p's anymore!

Moderator
#27 Posted by Humanity (9216 posts) -

@colourful_hippie: Thats true but if you're going all out you might as well go all out. Worst case scenario you just detach one card and sell the other one.

#28 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4351 posts) -
@humanity said:

@colourful_hippie: Thats true but if you're going all out you might as well go all out. Worst case scenario you just detach one card and sell the other one.

If you want to go all out there are smarter ways of doing it like having a Titan or waiting for new video cards and getting the top single card of the new line. Unless someone is planning on hitting the ground running with 4k gaming there isn't much reason for excess for the sake of excess...especially when the 800 series is looking to be a decent jump to the point of making some SLI setups look pretty stupid.

#29 Edited by CorruptedEvil (3238 posts) -

I would say for your first PC somewhere around $1000+Accesories and Windows. That should be able to run every game on max settings at 1080p for 2 or 3 years, then you just have to overclock the CPU and buy a new graphics card and that should last you another 2 years.

Go Nvidia and Intel though, the extra price is worth it for better optimization in 99% of games. SLI is only worth it if you are doing multiple monitor setups or doing professional editing/rendering.

#30 Posted by Humanity (9216 posts) -

@colourful_hippie: I simply wouldn't dismiss an SLI setup as being completely negligible to performance.

#31 Posted by Kidavenger (3546 posts) -

@humanity said:

@colourful_hippie: I simply wouldn't dismiss an SLI setup as being completely negligible to performance.

Recommending a SLI system to someone that comes to this forum looking for build advice and probably knows very little about PC building/gaming is straight up bad advice.

#32 Posted by CrazyBagMan (842 posts) -

I spent something like $600 a few years ago building a decent rig and have only recently thrown some beefier stuff into it and it's still keeping up just fine. There's plenty you can do on a fairly tight budget.

#33 Posted by Rowr (5627 posts) -

@humanity said:

@colourful_hippie: Thats true but if you're going all out you might as well go all out. Worst case scenario you just detach one card and sell the other one.

If you want to go all out there are smarter ways of doing it like having a Titan or waiting for new video cards and getting the top single card of the new line. Unless someone is planning on hitting the ground running with 4k gaming there isn't much reason for excess for the sake of excess...especially when the 800 series is looking to be a decent jump to the point of making some SLI setups look pretty stupid.

I would have to agree, it's unnecessary to go for a sli build right off the bat. Performance difference is generally negligible for what you are paying and your potentially getting enough support issues with it to make it more of a headache. For a responsible first build where you are already feeling it pretty hard in the pocket from starting from scratch, you are far better going with a single 780 or some such which is going to perform fantastically right now on it's own.

I mean if a year later you find you want a bit more grunt, there is nothing stopping you from going out and getting a second one then at a much cheaper price.

Let's be honest, it's nice having everything maxed out at 60 fps. But it's not the freaking end of the world if you have everything looking pretty freaking hot running at 30 - 40 fps and are still likely out performing consoles.

#34 Posted by Luca717 (106 posts) -

i built my pc a few years ago, when sandy bridge just came out for the CPU and i have been running everything at either max, to high settings at minimum with no problem. i spent about 2500 on my system, and over the past two years bought some additional stuff.

in my opinion think long term, even if your initial build is set on a budget, youll regret it later. get a decent video card that if you so desire can crossfire or SLI within the year or so, when new ones come out and you can score a good price, and get a good cpu even if you wait to get the cooler on the next paycheck or something. just try not to skimp on parts if you dont have to.

just my opinion, either way youll be happy with having a pc for gaming, even in the 1500-2000 price range

#35 Posted by Humanity (9216 posts) -

@humanity said:

@colourful_hippie: I simply wouldn't dismiss an SLI setup as being completely negligible to performance.

Recommending a SLI system to someone that comes to this forum looking for build advice and probably knows very little about PC building/gaming is straight up bad advice.

Sure for a newcomer building a PC period is quite an ordeal. As I mentioned if you want to get a seriously overkill machine that will last a while then I'd personally go with an SLI. Not everyone should I suppose, it's what I would do if I had money to burn. As Captain Planet might say though, the power is yours.

#36 Edited by Ezekiel (447 posts) -

After looking at Kidavenger's picture, I realized that I should have bought 2133 or 2400 MHz RAM instead of 1600. The sticks cost me 86 dollars. Should I return them to Newegg for 13 dollars and whatever the UPS cost is or is the difference in performance negligible? If I overclock my CPU, will the sticks be affected?

Argh, and 1.65V RAM is apparently worse for Haswells. It's gonna cost me 22 dollars and it's not even here yet.

#37 Edited by Sanity (1906 posts) -

@ezekiel said:

After looking at Kidavenger's picture, I realized that I should have bought 2133 or 2400 MHz RAM instead of 1600. The sticks cost me 86 dollars. Should I return them to Newegg for 13 dollars and whatever the UPS cost is or is the difference in performance negligible? If I overclock my CPU, will the sticks be affected?

Argh, and 1.65V RAM is apparently worse for Haswells. It's gonna cost me 22 dollars and it's not even here yet.

Thing is the higher the frequency of the ram the greater the latency, you dont really see much of a performace gain with high speed ram (atleast for gaiming with a dedicated GPU), but as you said it can help make your overclock more stable. Hard to say though if it would affect anything, do what yea thinks best.

#38 Posted by SneakyJB (44 posts) -

@zeik said:

@wemibelec90: That initial investment is the real problem though. At this point I would basically have to build from scratch, and if I'm spending over $1000 on anything (but especially a gaming rig) that thing should last me many years without having to worry about it. It's really hard to get into the idea of spending that kind of money when it's so quickly and easily outdated.

@humanity said:

@colourful_hippie: I simply wouldn't dismiss an SLI setup as being completely negligible to performance.

Recommending a SLI system to someone that comes to this forum looking for build advice and probably knows very little about PC building/gaming is straight up bad advice.

I apologize for my delayed response. I've been reading all the responses but haven't had time to sit down and reply. I agree that the initial investment is the real hurdle. In regards to the SLI system I am actually a computer information systems student and have quite a bit of experience building PCs. However, you are right that I am always intimidated when it comes to purchasing individual components and piecing them together. When I'm at work I have no problem working on PCs all day, but the thought of building my own from scratch at home intimidates me.

I've almost taken the plunge into PC gaming several times and although I have a small collection of Mac OS games on Steam, I'd like to get something more powerful than a simple Macbook. Thank you are for the suggestions. I'm going to start budgeting according and I think I will shoot for the $1,500 range and try to scrap a few parts from some of my older PCs.

#39 Edited by gamingtothetop5 (1 posts) -
#40 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2769 posts) -
@znine said:

I've recently built a PC in March with a GTX 770, an Intel i5 4670, and an SSD, for just under $1000. I am running every current game at max settings at 1080p. In my opinion, the card won't run everything at max for years, but in 2/3 years, you take the extra money and get another video card. I've done this with my last two PCs, and they each lasted 6 years running everything at high settings or above.

Yeah, you could have built that in March..right now add $500 to that price. http://pcpartpicker.com/user/MonkeyKing1969/saved/XbHRsY

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