How Much Should I Spend on a PC?

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#1 Posted by n00bs7ay3r (317 posts) -

So I am thinking of finally getting into the PC game. I was wondering how much I should spend. In the past I was thinking about jumping in with a fairly good VR ready PC but that seems a bit out of my price range at the moment. So I am wondering what is the least amount I can spend while still getting a fairly competent PC (let's say running most games on average settings with a solid framerate).

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#2 Posted by myketuna (1956 posts) -

Hmm. Kind of a tough question to answer so generally, but a good place to start is setting a budget. A number you feel comfortable spending that you'll either set as a hard limit or something that's a bit flexible.

Then I think it'll be easier for you and everyone helping to give you some recommendations.

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#3 Edited by n00bs7ay3r (317 posts) -

@myketuna: Fair enough. Previously I was thinking of spending around $1500. I don't really think that is in my budget anymore so I am looking to reduce the cost. I am thinking $1000 dollars at the most. My question is really more is it worth it to build on this budget or should I just wait until I can afford a better PC.

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#4 Posted by Falconer (2124 posts) -

Too much, yet somehow, not enough.

Serious answer, if you need everything, including monitor, keyboard, OS, etc., you're definitely looking at north of $1000. At this point, I would wait until AMD's Ryzen 5 CPUs come out (this month or next) and see how they fair before spec'ing out a PC build.

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#5 Edited by WynnDuffy (1289 posts) -

@n00bs7ay3r said:

@myketuna: Fair enough. Previously I was thinking of spending around $1500. I don't really think that is in my budget anymore so I am looking to reduce the cost. I am thinking $1000 dollars at the most. My question is really more is it worth it to build on this budget or should I just wait until I can afford a better PC.

For $1000 you can get a PC that will absolutely outperform any console

If money is tight, I recommend focusing:

  • GPU - blow your wad on a GPU...for 1080P get at least a GTX 1060 but stretching to a GTX 1070 would be smart
  • CPU - go for a very fast dual core or get at least a quad core (i5 or check out Ryzen's offerings), dual cores are still pretty good unless you want maximum framerate for 144hz+ displays
  • RAM - 8GB would be enough but 16GB is fairly cheap, buy lower speed RAM to save money for almost no gaming loss
  • PSU - don't skimp on the brand but skimp on the wattage, you don't need more than 400-450W even if you're running a GTX 1080
  • Don't bother buying an SSD with the intention of gaming on it, you won't be able to afford one that's big enough to hold Windows + a few games unless you sacrifice spending on the GPU which would be a very bad idea
  • NZXT have some good quality yet cheap cases, or go even cheaper as at this budget it's better to spend on performance first, bells and whistles later

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#6 Posted by OpusOfTheMagnum (647 posts) -

$1000 will easily get you a system. I might recommend a pre-built from someone first (just avoid Alienware).

Don't spend any more than $99.99 on a case if you build, don't bother with an i7 processor but get a good quad core i5 or Ryzen CPU, don't bother with more than 8GB of RAM, and don't worry about the PSU too much. Get a decent one on sale rated for about 500-600W, which will allow you to upgrade things like your CPU, add extra drives, etc. Someone above said 400-450 but that's pushing it if you want the system to last and spending a few bucks now will save you big down the line. You can certainly get by but you leave very little room for growth.

It might be worth it to get the cheapest smallest SSD you can find to use as your OS drive for Windows, Steam, browser of choice and then use a 1TB mechanical drive from Seagate for your Steam library/Windows libraries (My Documents, Pictures, Downloads, etc) that you'll be using. This makes system maintenance SO much easier. When I need to reset W10 it takes like 15 minutes and I'm up and running. All of my games and big programs like Substance Designer/Painter and Adobe Suite all live off the drive so all I have to do is link a few things up after reinstalling. Awesome for quirks or just to clean things up after a year of use. And really handy for a first time gaming PC. While W10's reset function is pretty decent, if you want a clean reset of the OS, you lose everything.

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#7 Edited by Justin258 (15583 posts) -

@wynnduffy: I do want to note that a handful of games won't run on dual core processors, at least not without fiddling around a bit. Far Cry 4 is one of these games. So is Advanced Warfare. Not exactly the most compelling or original of games, but they are mainstream, AAA titles.

An i3 7350K is a dual core processor with hyperthreading, though, and those 4 threads will run Far Cry 4. Linus Tech Tips says that the i3 7350k, when overclocked, outperforms the similarly priced i5 7400 (that has 4 physical cores, no threads) in most things except gaming and video encoding, but I'd still go for the i5 7400 if I were looking for an Intel-based budget low/mid-range gaming build, partly because the gaming difference isn't remarkable and partly because you'd also have to go for a higher end motherboard and a third party cooling solution with the 7350k.

Anyway...

@OP, PCPartPicker is a place you should probably visit. I'll work on coming up with a decent build for less than a $1000 - keep in mind that I'm not including the cost of a keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers or headphones, etc., though you probably have those on hand somewhere.

Here's something I threw together, though I bet someone else could do better. For gaming, the graphics card is the most important part in the whole machine - everything else will be relevant for some time to come. However, I personally think that for a budget build, you're better off maybe getting something on the lower end of mid-tier now (~ $200) and replacing it next year or the next with a 1070 or 1170 or whatever Nvidia's $400 card is around that time. You'll wind up with a pretty high end machine then.

For whatever you build, though, I would suggest at least

  • A 1050 ti or an RX480 at least. Whatever you get, make sure the video card has more than 4GB of video RAM.
  • A quad core processor - I have never really kept up with AMD's processors, especially since this year is the first time they've really done anything noteworthy in a long time, so Intel's i5 line is what I would personally look into. A processor with a k on the end (i5-7700k) just means that you can overclock it.
  • Motherboards and processors have to match. If you're going to get an Intel Kaby Lake processor (that's an Intel i3, i5, or i7 7xxx), then you're going to need either an H270 (for non-overclockable processors) or Z270 (for overclocking) motherboard. Or a 170, but you have to update some of those motherboards.
  • 8GB of RAM - 16 if you can get it, but 8 will do. I wouldn't worry about RAM speed all that much right now, but make sure the processor supports the type of RAM you're picking. You'll almost definitely be buying DDR4 RAM.
  • A 7200RPM 1TB HDD - don't go super cheap on this. If this breaks, everything's gone. People will recommend SSD's and throw around hyperbole along the lines of "I'll never go back" and "I can't imagine gaming without one", but you can put money spent on an SSD towards better stuff. If you find yourself with extra room in the budget after everything else is picked out, it probably is worth seeking out a 128 or 256GB SSD for the OS and programs, but that's one of those bells and whistles that you look for after everything else is accounted for.
  • A power supply that has at least 500 watts and has some kind of 80+ certification on it, Bronze or higher. Preferably Gold or higher. This is the most boring and yet the most important part of the whole damn machine - do not cheap out. Many a computer has been screwed up because someone got the cheapest power supply they thought they could get away with. EVGA and Corsair are good brands to look at.

You can definitely put together a bunch of builds that fit these guidelines for less than a thousand dollars, some with room left to spare. You don't need a disc drive. If you do, buy a cheap external one. My immediate family has been passing around a single external disc drive for years and most of the time it stays in a drawer somewhere, collecting dust. You'll also almost definitely be playing games at a resolution of 1080p, which frankly is still a fine resolution to play games at.

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#8 Posted by hippie_genocide (2417 posts) -

Set yourself a reasonable budget. Don't spend more than $60 on a case. 8GB of ram. A core i5 or Ryzen cpu. A small SSD and 1TB HDD. A 450W power supply. See what's left and blow it on the best GPU you can afford.

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#9 Posted by Ezekiel (2257 posts) -

Don't set a budget. Just try to go as low as you can on the individual parts. But don't be cheap either. You get what you pay for.

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#10 Posted by Rigas (790 posts) -

how much can you afford to spend? If you want a powerful machine that will last spend as much as you can afford to. Or you will be spending it all again in a year or two to upgrade.

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#11 Posted by sfw44 (273 posts) -

$1000 can get you a pretty decent PC that will easily do 1080p 60fps.

Other people already have solid advice on here. At least a 1060 or RX480 paired with an i5 or one of those new Ryzen CPU's will be perfect at that budget.

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#12 Posted by Zevvion (5965 posts) -

Wanting to dip into medium settings from the start leads me to question whether a PC is the best choice. Yeah, we all know PC games look better, but it might be a bit exaggerated by how much. If you're going for medium, you're essentially spending more money to get PS4-equivalent games. Which is fine, but I'm wondering if that's what you want.

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#13 Posted by Fezrock (715 posts) -

Also, if you don't have a monitor, and getting one would blow your budget; that's not necessarily a problem either. I don't have a monitor, I keep my PC permanently connected to my TV and have a wireless mouse+keyboard and a wireless controller and play everything from my couch.

The tiny amount of lag there would probably be an issue at the highest level of competitive shooters, but its completely fine for regular gameplay. I certainly don't notice it.

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