Best Gaming PC Builds 2023

Save money by building your own rig

by headtr1p, November 17 2022 (Last updated: October 14 2023)

Affordable gaming PCs are back. With mining profitability dwindling to all-time lows, we saw a declining demand for GPUs—even scalpers weren't interested. It took some time, but AMD and Nvidia graphics cards are finally selling at MSRP again (some for even less). On top of that, we've seen falling prices on SSDs and RAM driven by excess inventory and low demand. Now is as good a time as ever to build your own rig.

Super-Budget PC: $462

CPU: Intel Core i3 12100F (bundled cooler) $95 Amazon
Motherboard: MSI PRO H610M-G DDR4 $80 Amazon
GPU: PNY GeForce GTX 1650 4GB $135 Amazon
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 X 8GB) DDR4 3200 C16 $45 Amazon
Storage: Crucial P3 Plus 500GB PCIe 4.0 $27 Amazon
Chassis: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L Micro-ATX Tower $40 Amazon
PSU:Thermaltake Smart Series 500W 80 Plus Certified $40 Newegg

The i3 12100F is arguably the best bang for buck CPU out there, and at $95 it’s an absolute steal. This chip has immense gaming performance and its productivity is on par with the Ryzen 5 5600, a chip that goes for almost $50 more. The newer 13100F only offers a minor boost in base/boost speed without the architectural improvements of Raptor Lake, so unless you can find a good deal, stick with the 12100F. The Ryzen 5 5500 is a decent alternative for this build, but doesn't come close to matching the 12100F’s performance and value.

The GTX 1650 is a very popular GPU and for good reason: it offers medium to high 1080p gaming at an affordable price, and can push over 200FPS in eSports titles like Counter Strike 2 and Valorant. The Radeon RX 6500 XT is also an option for this build, and it has a slight edge over the GTX 1650 but is generally more expensive. Our H610M motherboard does support PCIe 4.0, so we shouldn’t experience any issues with its PCIe x4 bandwidth limitation. One reason I’m leaning towards the GTX 1650 is hardware encoding.

We make use of the H610M’s single PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot by going for the Crucial P3 Plus, very attractively priced at $27. Remember to enable XMP in BIOS so our Corsair Vengeance RAM runs at 3200MHz. Apart from gaming, our machine is capable of basic creator workloads and should be able to cope with 1080p 30FPS streaming. It’s not going to win any benchmark awards, but it’ll definitely keep the casual gamer appeased.

Recommended monitor: MSI 24.0 75 Hz VA FHD Monitor 5 ms

Budget PC: $689

CPU: Intel Core i5 12400F (bundled cooler) $150 Amazon
Motherboard: ASRock B660M Micro ATX $95 Amazon
GPU: PowerColor Fighter AMD Radeon RX 7600 8GB $250 Amazon
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200MHz C18 $39 Amazon
Storage: Crucial P3 Plus 1TB PCIe 4.0 $45 Amazon
Chassis: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L Micro-ATX Tower $40 Amazon
PSU: MSI MAG A650BN 80 Plus Bronze 650W $70 Amazon

Like the 12100F, the 12400F is a standout value offering in Alder Lake. We’re upping the core count from 4 to 6, giving us a good balance between gaming and productivity. The new 13400F is quite tempting as it comes with an additional four E-cores, but it’s a whopping $60 more than the 12400F, which is a bit too much for only 15% better multithreaded performance. The i5 12600K and Ryzen 5 7600 are also strong contenders here, but these chips are going for well over $200 and don’t make sense on a tight budget.

The new Radeon RX 7600 is a great value pick for this build, and it's going to give us high frame rates at 1080p. The previous-gen Radeon RX 6650 XT is a more than decent alternative at $240, and it comes very close to our first choice.

We’re sticking with DDR4 as the increase in price for DDR5 doesn’t justify the minor performance boost, and 16GB should be plenty. The Crucial P3 Plus gives us blazingly fast PCIe 4.0 storage with up to 5000MB/s sequential reads. This build just screams value!

Recommended monitor: MSI Optix G24C 24″ 144Hz

Mid-Range PC: $1402

CPU: Intel Core i5 13600K $285 Amazon
Cooler: DeepCool AK620 High-Performance CPU Cooler $65 Newegg
Motherboard: Gigabyte B760M DS3H Micro ATX $140 Amazon
GPU: Sapphire Pulse AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT 16GB $520 Amazon
RAM: G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo RGB DDR5 32GB 6000MHz C30 $115 Amazon
Storage: Samsung 980 Pro SSD 1TB PCIe 4.0 $85 Amazon
Chassis: Corsair 4000D Airflow $95 Amazon
PSU: Thermaltake Toughpower GF A3 750W 80+ Gold $97 Amazon

With an increased budget, we’re embracing new tech in the form of Raptor Lake and DDR5. The 6P + 8E i5 13600K is going to crush any productivity task we throw at it, and at $285 it's fantastic value. AMD is slightly off the pace here, as the closest Zen 4 rival is the Ryzen 7 7700X at $297, and that chip is actually slower than the 13600K.

The RX 7800 XT is excellent value at $520, and it will give us a high refresh rate 1440p experience and over 70FPS in 4K. The biggest Nvidia competitor is the RTX 4070 at $549, which has about the same rasterisation with better ray tracing and upscaling.

Unless you’re going to run Cinebench all day, a dual tower air cooler should keep our 13600K in check. The AK620 is the obvious choice as it offers excellent performance and quality. The rest of the build is fairly standard stuff, with 32GB of DDR5 running at 6000MHz. We have high-speed storage in the Samsung 980 Pro, one of the best PCIe 4.0 hard drives you’ll find. This build is going to be an absolute powerhouse when it comes to gaming and productivity workloads.

Recommended monitor: GIGABYTE G27Q 27″ 144Hz 1440p or LG UltraGear 27GN95B-B 27″ 144Hz 4K

High-End PC: $3547

CPU: Ryzen 9 7950X $580 Amazon
Cooler: ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240 RGB $123 Newegg
Motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix X670E-A Gaming $377 Amazon
GPU: GIGABYTE Gaming GeForce RTX 4090 24GB $1699 Newegg
RAM: G.SkillL Trident Z5 Neo Series 64GB DDR5 6000MHz C30 $195 Amazon
Storage: WD_BLACK 4TB SN850X NVMe PCIe 4.0 $285 Amazon
Chassis: Lian Li Lancool III RGB $153 Newegg
PSU: Corsair RM850x 850W Modular PSU $135 Amazon

We’re throwing caution to the wind with our high-end build, as we’re more focused on performance than budget. I’m really liking the Ryzen 9 7950X, reason being the AM5 platform will be supported until 2025. This machine is futureproof and there is potential for drop-in upgrades. The RTX 4090 is an absolute behemoth and will give us over 140FPS in 4K gaming. Even with ray tracing enabled we’ll still be pushing 80FPS in most titles. If spending $1,700 on a GPU makes you nauseous, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX is a viable alternative at $889.

We’ve taken no half measures on storage and RAM: the WD_BLACK SN850X is crazy fast at up to 7300 MB/s sequential read speed, and we’re running the Trident Z5 Neo at C30 and 6000MHz. While the 7950X is designed to run at the thermal limit of 95 degrees, a beefy cooler is still recommended to tame the beast. The Arctic Liquid Freezer II is a reliable AIO and the Lian Li Lancool III case allows us to do a top mount.

Recommended monitor: GIGABYTE 32″ 144Hz 4K Curved Gaming Monitor

Also read: 5 Steps to Improve Gaming Experience on a Laptop