How Much Does it Cost to Build a Gaming PC in 2021 (Each PC Part Explained)

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How Much Does it Cost to Build a Gaming PC

We live in a fascinating time where computer technology is evolving at a rapid pace. This innovation in PC hardware has allowed for true generational leaps in terms of performance.

PC components like the graphics card are getting more and more capable with each generation. This has made PC gaming accessible for a wider audience and perhaps this reason alone contributes the most towards the ever-growing PC gaming community.

Gone are the times where you had to spend a fortune to get a decent gaming PC. These days decent PC gaming can be had for the price of a console. The problem however lies in the fact that PC allows you the flexibility to spend as much money as you can.

Since there is no fixed price point the question of how much is right to spend on a PC haunts many new PC gamers. The best way I believe for deciphering this question is to gain knowledge about the different components of a PC.

In this way, you can make a more informed decision and better optimize your spending on a gaming PC.  Not going to lie this can be a tedious task but do not worry as I am here to make things easy for you.

Through this article I will arm you with all the necessary information you need before buying your first gaming PC so what are we waiting for let’s begin from scratch shall we?

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Gaming PC?

In a nutshell, a gaming PC can cost anywhere from $300 to $2000, meanwhile, most PC builds occupy a happy medium of $500-700. The huge deviation we see in price is due to the different needs and budgets of gamers.

The flexibility of PC cost makes this platform for anyone even if you are a baller looking to flaunt his multiple RGB builds or an average joe looking to build a mid-range PC.

Just like any other consumer electric, a gaming PC has diverse consumers. While the end goal of every gamer is the same that being to have a PC that provides a good experience, but the way different gamers perceive or go about their goal is entirely different.

Coupled with the fact that there is so much variety in terms of games that are available to play. PC gaming is filled with an endless library of games and not everyone plays the same game. Therefore, the needs of one person will be entirely different from another.

Let’s take an example here, shall we? I am a gamer who likes to play competitive games like CSGO and Valorant. Since these games are not demanding I can get away with a PC that costs $500 and spend the rest of the money on buying better gear. Gaming monitor, gaming mouse, gaming chair, gaming headphones you name it, the leftover cash makes buying all these possible.

While on the other hand if you (the reader) are someone who likes to play more single-player story-oriented games then most likely you are in it for the experience. That also means that you are a completionist and hence hop from one game to the other. 

Therefore, in your case, you may require a more demanding system something like the $1500 one featured in the upcoming segment to ensure that regardless of the game you play you get good graphics and a smooth gaming experience.

Prebuilt PC or a Custom Build?

The first question which you probably have in store is whether to buy a prebuilt PC or build a custom one yourself. While the PC pundits might enforce on you that building a PC yourself is the only way to go, I do not entirely agree.

Prebuilt PC also has its benefits given the right situation and today we are at a point where the prebuilt PC industry is quite competitive in terms of pricing.

So, now this begs the question which one should you choose, well the answer to this is quite simple.

Why Should you Build a PC Yourself?

Building a PC yourself can be fun and rewarding, there is no doubt about that. The satisfaction you get when you hit the power button only to see the PC turn on is sublime.

 With building a PC yourself, one can fully get to know his build and also save a handful amount of cash in the process. If the thought of building a PC intrigues you then, by all means, go for a custom build.

Why Should you Buy a Prebuilt PC?

The harsh reality of today’s world is that time has become a luxury. Therefore, not everyone wants to spend time building a gaming PC and that is fine.

The other reason I see people going for a prebuilt PC is if they are unwilling to build a PC themselves because of fear of messing things up. This is is natural and hence in this case buying a prebuilt PC is a viable option. But at the end of the day do bear in mind that you have to a premium to get your PC pre-assembled.

We have written extensive guides on multiple different prebuilt PCs spanning a wide array of budgets:

Bottom Line

If you ask me, I will say, go for a custom build. Yes, I won’t lie building a PC yourself for the first time can be frantic and stressful but that is where the fun all lies.

The satisfaction you will feel after completing a PC build is unparallel and in the process, you will also be saving a lot of money.

Also, the stress is only with the first build. After your first build when you get a hang of it you will find PC building very easy and intuitive.

It is exactly like they say everything becomes easy after you try it. Hence, I believe building your first PC yourself I worth a shot at least.

The Parts Needed to Build a Gaming PC

If you have selected the PC building route then this section of the article is especially important and you want to go through this write with extreme thoroughness if you lack information about PCs in general.  

For the folks who are looking for a prebuilt gaming PC, it is also a wise idea to stock up on the information about the components that are present inside a gaming PC.

By understanding the components, you will better gain an understanding of how much money you should spend on these parts.

In this section, I will be addressing individual components in regard to the overall pricing of the complete build. 

Processor (CPU)

processor or CPU

Let’s start with the brain of a computer. The processor or CPU is the most crucial part of any computer. It controls all the activities of the computer that you interact with.

When buying a PC, you are given two options i.e to either go with an Intel processor or an AMD Ryzen one.

I would advise against Intel and suggest you go with an AMD processor. Not only the AMD processors are cheaper when compared to their counterpart but also provide better performance.

As for the exact configuration, a quadcore processor which stands for a 4 core processor is the least you should be aiming for. However, it is recommended to get a 6 core 12 thread for the most optimal gaming performance.

CPU Cooler

CPU Cooler

As the name would suggest a CPU cooler is a piece of hardware that serves by removing excess temperature. We have written a thorough guide on what is a CPU cooler which contains all the ins and outs of PC cooling.

CPU coolers are of two types i.e either Air coolers or Liquid Coolers. Fundamentally these both have the same function, but they differ in their operation.

An air cooler works like a traditional exhaust in the way that it blows hot air away from the processor by using the air push-pull method. The liquid cooler however uses a liquid coolant to regulate the temperature of the processor. Here’s a guide to help you understand how liquid cooling works.

If you are buying or building your first PC, then you do not need to stress too much on the CPU cooler as most processors come bundled with a CPU Cooler. While they do not offer the best cooling but can get the job.

I only recommend buying a beefier CPU Cooler than otherwise provided with the CPU if you want to overclock your processor or are buying an AMD Ryzen 7 or an Intel I9 processor. Otherwise buying a separate CPU Cooler is somewhat redundant and the money saved can be invested in other crucial components like the graphics card.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

Random Access Memory (RAM)

In simple words, RAM is the temporary storage place where all the open applications of a computer are stored.

Hence every gaming PC should have optimal RAM to effortlessly run all the necessary background applications like Discord, Chrome, TeamSpeak, etc.

Apart from the background applications the games themselves are becoming more demanding hence taking a lot of resources of the RAM.

For gaming in 2021, irrespective of the budget I would advise you to go with 16GB which should cost anywhere in the $60-90 window depending on the brand. We have written a complete guide on is 8GB RAM enough for gaming which will provide you with an inside on why I am recommending 16GB here.

Another aspect that I almost forget to mention is to always go with dual channel ram i.e two sticks of 8GB. Dual-channel configuration is much more efficient than a single channel one and therefore provides better performance.

Motherboard

The Motherboard

The motherboard is the most vital part of any gaming PC. It acts as the foundation upon which all other components are laid out. Unfortunately, many novice PC gamers get this crucial part wrong, you don’t want to be that do you?

For the motherboard always pick the one that corresponds to your processor’s manufacturer. The socket for the motherboard and processor should be the same.

The vendor of the motherboard however can be any. Asus, Asrock, Gigabyte, MSI all offer good products. In terms of deciding which motherboard to pick the priority deciding factor should be the VRM.

The VRM is the power phase of the motherboard and is responsible for converting the voltage supplied by the power supply into usage voltage that can power the components of a PC.

Storage (NVME M2, SSD, and HDD)

Storage (NVME M2, SSD, and HDD)

For a PC in 2021, there are multiple storage options to choose from, but I don’t want you to make a wrong choice here.

Simply get an SSD as the storage of choice for your PC. If you cannot get a high-capacity SSD then stick with a 120GB SSD at least and get the 1TB HDD to accompany your SSD.

I recommend SSD as the choice of drive because it occupies a fine middle ground between the M2 Drive and the Hard Disk drive. An SSD offers a better speed to performance ratio of the three.

Graphics Card (GPU)

Graphics Card (GPU)

While all the other components are the building block on any good PC, the graphic card stands as its backbone. This piece of hardware is responsible for the graphical power needed for gaming.

Hence this is the part that will consume most of your budget. On average we are looking at the price of a graphics card owing to 1/3 of the total budget or even more if you are building a high-end PC.

The golden rule is to have at least 40% budget allotted to the graphics card. However, this can slightly vary depending on the individual budget of the person.

Power Supply

Power Supply

When it comes to the power supply the first and foremost thing you have to keep in mind is to get the best quality power supply within your budget.

This is a very crucial component that you absolutely cannot skimp on. It is responsible for supplying the whole PC with the voltage it needs to run. Therefore, a good power supply is essential for the proper functioning of the PC.

A faulty power supply can cause damage to components which is something you should avoid at all costs.

As for the Watt rating, you should at least go with a 400-450W power supply for a budget build or 650-750W for medium-high gaming PCs.

PC Case

PC Case

A PC case is an enclosure that will house all your components. Depending on your desire for features and aesthetics this is the area where you can cut costs.

At the end of the day, a PC case is all about the looks and the airflow. Your primary objective should be to get a case with good airflow. Good airflow inside the case will ensure that the components stay cool under full load.

Then it comes to the features and where might is right. The more you pay the more features you are going to get and the fancier your PC will look. You have to determine if you want things like RGB lighting, flashy interiors, multiple glass panels, etc.

I would advise you to not fork more than $60 for a case if your budget for the entire build is below $1000. If your budget is flexible and above $1000 then you can look with the quirky and fancy cases.

Of course, at the end of the day aesthetics and features are entirely subjective, and different individuals have their take on this matter.

Some Frequently Used Terminologies

AirFlow

While I touched on this briefly in the case section let’s expand now on this concept. A positive air flow gradient is important for the dissipation of heat.

PC components generate heat and excessive buildup of heat can cause damage to the components in the long run. Thus, it is vital to keep these components cool.

Air cooling is the cheapest and the most accessible method by which a PC is cooled. Multiple case fans are installed either by the individual separately or by the case manufacturer which directs the hot air inside the case outward by sucking in the cool air from the surrounding.

One issue which many new PC builders face is the orientation in which the air is exhausted by the fan. For the correct orientation refer to the included image. What we are looking for is a positive airflow gradient. It is recommended to have the same number of fans acting as intake and exhaust so that the flow of air is not disturbed.

pc-fan-AirFlow

For a case with wide air openings, you can get away with more intake than exhausts. Of course, to establish a good airflow you first need to have a case that encourages airflow in the first place. Hence in the case department, I iterated that the priority should be to go with a case that has airflow principles in check.

RGB lighting

RGB is the hot trending topic these days. The RGB lighting stands for led lighting that can be customized with 16.8 million colors i.e., the whole color spectrum.

Today you will almost find RGB lighting in most PC hardware and accessories that includes graphic cards, coolers, fans, SSD, Power Supply, keyboard, mouse, headset, etc.

No doubt looks are subjective but the common perception in the gaming industry is that RGB lighting makes the PC look fancy. We are at a point where RGB lighting has become synonymous with gaming.

ATX, M-ATX, and M-ITX

If you have researched for a motherboard, chances are you would have across these three technologies. ATX and MATX terms are often used for a PC case as well.

Do not get carried away by these terms as they basically refer to the form-factor of the motherboard.

  • ATX means standard 12-inch x 9.6-inch motherboard. Since these are full-sized motherboards, they have all the bells and whistles.
  • M-ATX refers to Micro-ATX motherboards. These are smaller than their full-size counterpart in length. The length here is shaved off by deleting the bottom two PCI-E slots so while the ATX boards contain 4 PCI-E slots these contain only 2. You might get shortchanged on some other aspects as well.
  • M-ITX or in other words Mini-ITX. This is the smallest form factor motherboard you can get and hence it is reserved for compact builds. These come in at just 6.7 inches x 6.7 inches. Given the size, you can expect to make a lot of compromises here so the M-ITX form factor is not for your everyday PC builds.

Now that we are familiar with most of the essential components and terminologies let’s get to building gaming PCs and determine how much they cost.

APU vs CPU

Another common point of confusion is the debate between an APU and a CPU. Most new gamers do not have a proper understanding of the matter hence they cannot grasp the concept of these terms.

If that is the case with you as well then do not worry as this is quite common. For a better understanding let me explain the terms to you.

A CPU is a processor that does not have any integrated graphics. What this entails for you is that if you buy a CPU only then you cannot get display without the graphics card.

Most Ryzen processors are CPU while most Intel processors come in APU configuration unless they contain the F letter in their name e.g i3 10100F.

Given the current situation of the market with the graphics cards selling at a premium the demand for APUs has increased. This is just the gist of it when it comes to CPUs and APUs.

Best Gaming PC Build Under $500 (Entry Level Gaming PC)

CPU

Intel Core i3-10100F

Motherboard

Gigabyte B460M D3SH

RAM

G.Skill Ripjaws V 8GB

Graphics Card

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 4GB

Storage

Silicon Power 256GB SSD

Power Supply

Thermaltake Smart 430W

Case

Deepcool Matrexx 30

The first budget I want to tackle is $500. There is a common misconception in the gaming community that you cannot get a good PC with just $500. Many recommend buying a console instead at this budget instead.

But what people do not realize is that these days you can build yourself a decent rig in this budget that can play most games at 1080p on medium-high settings.

The entry-level gaming PC is the most difficult to work with because with a budget of $500 you have limited liberty of spending money on novelty.

The build I came up with is simple, purposeful, and gets the job done at the end of the day. While this setup is not the fanciest when it comes to Aesthetics but the gaming performance you will be getting here is quite lucrative.

The Intel i3 processor and the Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics card can play most games at 1080p resolution on 60fps. Granted there are some outliers and games like Microsoft Flight Simulator will only average around 30-40FPS but that is still impressive given the $500 budget we are working with.

This storage space can be somewhat limit what you store on your PC so you have to be selective here. Later down the line, I will recommend adding a 1TB SSD to the machine and while we are at it another 8GB RAM stick for a total of 16GB won’t hurt either.

Besides these compromises, this build is pretty much good to go in terms of 1080p gaming for a year or two before you will need to make a major upgrade.

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Best Gaming PC Build Under $1000 (Midrange Gaming PC)

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Motherboard

MSI B450 TOMAHAWK MAX II

RAM

G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16GB

Graphics Card

EVGA GeForce RTX 3060

Storage

TeamGroup GX2 512GB

Power Supply

Segotep 650W

Case

Phanteks Eclipse P360A

The $1000 budget is always an interesting starting point for any first PC build. It provides good flexibility in terms of what you should emphasize and grants you some leverage to invest a little more on the Aesthetics front.

Keeping all this in mind find I have put together a build that not only performs well but also looks quite pleasing to the eye. I have chosen the AMD platform for this build and the processor here is the Ryzen 3600.

The Ryzen 3600 is the top-selling 6 core processor on Amazon and for a good reason. To put it simply this processor provides the best price to performance ratio hence selected for this build.

I have paired this processor with the Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card. This mid-range offering from Nvidia blew everyone away with its performance when it was first released, and it still reigns supreme as the best card for high refresh rate 1080p gaming.

The RAM of choice here is the G.Skill Trident Z RGB. It comes in a 2x 8GB configuration and is clocked at 3200MHz. For the storage, the included drive is a 512GB TeamGroup GX2 SSD. Rounding up the technical department is a 650W power supply which will not only be enough for our components but also provide some upgrade room in the future as well.

All the components are packed inside the Phanteks P360A case. This is a sleek and modern-looking case that incorporates a solid airflow design making the whole PC not only aesthetically pleasing but also well cooled. 

Best Gaming PC Build Under $1500 (High-end Gaming PC)

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 5600x

CPU Cooler

ID-Cooling Auraflow X 240 Snow

Motherboard

ASUS ROG Strix B550-A Gaming

RAM

Silicon Power Zenith 16GB

Graphics Card

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3070 Ti

Storage

TeamGroup EX2 1TB SSD

Power Supply

Segotep 650W

Case

Corsair 4000D Airflow

$1500 build is considered a high-end and with that budget, you unlock many possibilities hence you can experiment with a slew of different components here.

I happen to go with the aforementioned components for this build because I am a firm believer that a build should be balanced both aesthetically and performance-wise.

What we have here is the culmination of all the best hardware you can get for 1080p and 1440p high refresh gaming. With the Ryzen 5600x and the Nvidia RTX 3070ti, you will be sailing past 100 FPS in most games on 1080p and even hitting 60+ FPS on 1440p resolution

This combo is so unbelievably powerful that I would suggest investing in a 1440p 165Hz monitor. This is so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds. In a single-player graphically focused game, you can bump up the resolution to 1440p and treat yourself with the eye candy that presents itself with the increase in the pixel count.

While in esports titles you can take bump the resolution down to 1080p and take advantage of the high 165Hz refresh rate. Some games will even run at 144hz at 1440p resolution. Case in point games like CSGO, Valorant, Siege, Apex Legends.

On the Aesthetics front, we have a case that features a modern design and plenty of RGB lighting via the ID-Cooling AIO CPU cooler. The white color of the case will make the RGB lighting pop hence adding a layer of Aesthetical sophistication to the build.  

To ensure a smooth operation we have two 8GB RAM sticks of Silicon Power Zenith RAM and the storage duties are fulfilled by a fast 1TB SSD. For the $1500 budget, you cannot go wrong with these components.

Conclusion

At the end of the day what it all boils down to is what you want from your gaming PC. This fact dictates how much you should spend on a gaming PC to get the fullest experience possible.

I know nobody likes half-baked answers, but the fact of the matter is this question cannot be answered directly since there is no limit on the expenditure, one can spend $500 or go all the way up to $5000.

Let’s take an example here, shall we? I am a gamer who likes to play competitive games like CSGO and Valorant. Since these games are not demanding I can get away with a PC that costs $500 and spend the rest of the money on a good gaming monitor and a gaming mouse.

While on the other hand if you (the reader) are someone who likes to play more single-player story-oriented games then most likely you are in it for the experience. That also means that you are a completionist and hence hop from one game to the other.

Therefore, in your case, you may require a more demanding system something like the $1500 one featured above to ensure that regardless of the game you play you get good graphics and a smooth gaming experience.

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