A laptop’s mobility is one thing, but if you want to get into PC gaming, I guarantee you’ll want your own gaming PC.
Though gaming PC costs have recently risen sharply, building a gaming PC is still possible, even if you’re on a budget!
Before I can answer, “How much does it cost to build a gaming PC?” I suggest making a shortlist of the games you’ll be playing. Let’s start!
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Gaming PC?
Gaming PC cost is a big burden on PC enthusiasts’ minds, and for a good reason. The price of a good gaming PC has quickly risen recently, making PC gaming harder for newcomers to get into.
Depending on the games you want to play and your gaming desktop’s power, expect to spend anywhere from $400-$2000+ on your perfect gaming PC.
Here are a few sample gaming PC builds, their parts, and how much they’ll cost.
Budget Gaming PC
I say “budget,” but this setup will perform better than your basic computer. However, note that this is definitely a budget build.
Note that the motherboard doesn’t have built-in wi-fi capabilities, so this is an ethernet-cable-only gaming PC.
I recommend adding a wi-fi card to this build to give it wireless capabilities.
Expected Cost to Build: $394.84-$561.31
- Motherboard – Gigabyte B550M K Micro-ATX ($99.99)
- CPU – AMD Ryzen 5 5600G ($259)
- GPU – N/A (Included with the CPU)
- RAM – T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4 2x8GB Kit 3600MHz ($53.99)
- SSD – Silicon Power 512GB SSD ($28.99)
- Case – Thermaltake Versa H17 M-ATX Case ($49.99)
- PSU – Thermaltake Smart BM2 550W 80+ Bronze ($54.99)
Decent Gaming PC
This mid-range build is for gamers who want to run most games at medium-high settings. You won’t be playing in 4K, but this gaming PC will hit 1080p across various games.
Unless you’re cranking the graphics settings to max, most games should run on this setup.
Expected Cost to Build: $999.66-$1097.2
- Motherboard – MSI PRO B660M-P ($139.79)
- CPU – Intel i5 12400 ($237.5)
- GPU – ASROCK Radeon RX 6700XT ($399.99)
- RAM – Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2x8GB Kit 3200MHz ($65.99)
- SSD – Western Digital Green SN350 960GB ($52.95)
- Case – Phanteks Eclipse G360A Case ($110.99)
- PSU – EVGA 550 B5 550W 80+ Bronze ($89.99)
High-End Gaming PC
Now for the main event, the high-end gaming PC! This beauty has more power and can play even more games than the previous options.
However, it’s also definitely more expensive.
Expected Cost to Build: $1745.21-$2075.88
- Motherboard – ASROCK Z690 PG Riptide ($159.99)
- CPU – Intel i5 12600KF ($225.94)
- GPU – PowerColor Hellhound AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT ($899.99)
- RAM – Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4 2x16GB 3600 MHz ($144.99)
- SSD – Samsung 980 PRO 2TB SSD ($379.99)
- Case – Corsair 4000D ($104.99)
- PSU – Cooler Master V850 850W 80+ Gold ($159.99)
Prebuilt Gaming PC
Sometimes you don’t have the time to research PC hardware and just want to pick up a powerful gaming PC. This is where prebuilt PCs come in!
With this prebuilt, you don’t have to worry about gathering all the components separately since they come in a complete package.
I advise outfitting this gaming PC with extra fans for consistent airflow and to maintain cool temperatures.
Expected Cost to Build: $1649.49
- Motherboard – Asus B550
- CPU – Ryzen 7 5800X
- GPU – NVidia RTX 3070 8GB
- RAM – 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
- SSD – 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD
What Are the Parts You Need to Complete a Gaming PC Build?
Here are some essential PC components that no gaming PC is complete without. Note that these will complete your case, but you’ll need a keyboard, mouse, and monitor for input and visuals!
All the other components in a good gaming PC rely on the motherboard, so I recommend starting here.
Ensure your motherboard’s CPU socket is compatible with your CPU. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a replacement.
Motherboards also have 2-4 RAM slots, but higher-end models can have 8 or more. They’ll also support different speeds and interfaces like DDR4 or DDR5.
If you get stuck while building your PC, consult your motherboard manual for more information.
Motherboard Cost: A motherboard can run you anything from $50-$200+, but be careful when choosing your motherboard! A powerful gaming PC doesn’t necessarily need a beefy motherboard, especially since expensive motherboards typically have more features. You’ll likely find these extra features unnecessary unless you’re a cutting-edge PC gaming enthusiast.
Short for “Central Processing Unit,” the CPU is a vital part of any custom PC and greatly increases the cost of building a desktop.
Only 2 major players in the gaming CPU world are Intel and AMD. AMD has recently lit a fire under Intel, helping propel competition.
I strongly recommend getting a quad-core processor at minimum for your gaming PC. Anything else won’t cut it for newer games.
Balance your CPU with your graphics card to avoid bottlenecking your gaming rig.
A slight bottleneck like 60% CPU and 70% GPU usage is fine, but ensure you don’t leave performance on the table by choosing a grossly mismatched CPU and GPU.
CPU Cost: CPUs range from $70-$500+. Unless you’re playing CPU-bound games like Satisfactory or Kerbal Space Program, you can get by with a mid-range CPU instead. Chip shortages can greatly affect the price and availability of CPUs, so it may not be easy to find an affordable mid-range CPU.
Whether you’re building a high-end gaming PC or a budget setup, your graphics card will be the priciest part. This is an unfortunate trend in the gaming industry, but it’s the price of good graphics.
The main GPU makers are NVidia and AMD. You can also get an Intel ARC GPU, but they can’t beat NVidia or AMD.
Unfortunately, NVidia RTX and AMD Radeon cards are typically scalped and resold at outrageous prices, so I recommend patience.
I advise getting an integrated GPU for your own PC as a backup option for lighter tasks like web browsing and emergencies like if your main graphics card fails.
Integrated graphics can’t come close to the power of a dedicated graphics card, and you aren’t building a powerful gaming PC to use the integrated GPU!
GPU Cost: Discrete GPUs can range from $130-$2000+, a very wide spectrum! Exorbitant prices are sadly common nowadays, so prepare your wallet and budget properly. Scalpers have struggled recently as GPU prices have slowly returned to normal, but remember to double-check your card’s price against its MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price.)
The OS bears mentioning when building a gaming PC because it’s the platform for your programs and will let you control the computer.
A gaming PC typically uses Windows 10 or 11 as its operating system, so you’ll need a USB stick. Ensure your USB has at least 5GB of free space and no important filet!
Unfortunately, for Mac users, you can’t buy a macOS license for non-Apple devices, so you’re locked into either Windows or Linux. I’ll focus on Windows for ease.
OS Cost: Windows 11 Home edition costs $139, while 11 Pro is $199. The Windows tax is a hefty chunk of change!
Random Access Memory (RAM)
You can’t run any games without memory! Many games recommend 8GB as a minimum to run them, but that’s quickly become an outdated standard.
For example, the Dead Space (2023) remake recommends 16GB of RAM. I’d splurge for 32GB if possible.
Ensure that your RAM type is compatible with your motherboard. A top-of-the-line gaming motherboard will typically work best with DDR4 or DDR5 memory.
RAM Cost: 2x8GB sticks of RAM can cost $40-$110+ depending on its speed, brand, and capacity.
HDDs are good backup drives, but an SSD has both speed and longevity. They’re also pricier because of their reliability.
If you’re on a budget, I’d suggest getting a high-capacity SSD with 120GB or more storage. 512GB is a good middle-ground, but I’d recommend 1TB if possible.
Make your SSD your primary boot drive to ensure your gaming PC starts up quicker.
I’d also go further and get an HDD as a backup drive. Video games are only getting larger, so your storage needs should increase to match.
SSD Cost: SSDs typically cost between $26-$350+ depending on the capacity, form factor, and brand.
Power Supply (PSU)
The PSU, or Power Supply Unit, is another vital part of the perfect gaming PC. Unlike laptops, desktops don’t have an internal battery, so you’ll need a power supply!
The power supply is extremely important for a gaming PC because powerful parts will draw more energy. Use a power supply calculator to determine how much juice your system needs.
Your components won’t draw energy in fixed amounts, but I strongly recommend getting a PSU that surpasses your system’s power needs for safety purposes.
PSU Cost: A PSU can cost from $30-$150+. A higher wattage and efficiency rating means a higher price tag.
Static Protection: You’ll often see lots of fuss about protecting your own PC from electric shocks. Though this is unlikely, it’s best to be safe. Pick up an anti-static mat to keep your parts safe, and avoid building a gaming PC in carpeted areas.
CPU Cooling System
Gaming computers will typically run much hotter than other desktops, and this heat can damage or even kill your setup. Fortunately, this is easily avoidable with the right parts!
CPU coolers are another important component that’ll keep your CPU’s temperatures low and your gaming PC running at top shape.
This is just one component of your gaming PC’s cooling system, so supplement it with case fans to keep your temperatures low.
CPU Cooler Cost: Some CPU cooling systems are bundled with the CPU, but stock coolers are typically insufficient for a gaming PC. An aftermarket cooler will cost anywhere from $30-$130+.
You’ll need a handy computer case to complete your gaming PC build unless you plan to incorporate your entire PC within your desk.
I recommend getting a case that makes cable management easier to keep your setup cleaner. Remember also to get something that looks good!
After all, the case will keep your components safe for a long time, so ensure you won’t mind staring at it.
PC Case Cost: A budget PC case can cost $40+, while a high-end gaming PC may be clad in a $140$ case.
What Other Components Do I Need?
All the components I’ve discussed will get you the PC tower, but you’ll still need a few extra parts to build a gaming PC fully.
I recommend getting these extra parts to complete your gaming setup.
- Gaming Monitor: A gaming computer can do it all, but without a decent monitor, you won’t be able to appreciate the frames your PC can output! You’ll need to look at the size, refresh rate, and resolution to choose a good gaming monitor. I recommend getting a 24-34 inch screen with a refresh rate of 75 to 144Hz. Resolution is more dependent on your GPU. 4K is pretty, but it doesn’t hold up past certain refresh rates. Conversely, the latest games will typically look incredible even with a QHD monitor. Prepare for stronger graphics cards to maximize your monitor since a higher-quality monitor will need the grunt.
- Gaming Desk: These desks are typically larger than normal to fit all your peripherals, plus your PC case. They’re also built to handle heavier loads. Apart from the increased space, gaming desks are typically more ergonomic and comfortable than office desks. Whether you get a gaming or standard desk, ensure it has trays to hold your cables and keep your setup neat. Gaming PCs have tons of wires, and it can be difficult to wrangle them all.
- Other Peripherals: A gaming computer isn’t complete without these add-ons! If you’re graduating from a gaming laptop, you likely already have these, but I’ve written this section for complete newcomers.
- Mechanical Keyboard – Unless you have a wired console controller, most gamers will favor their keyboards for low-latency input and satisfying tactile feedback.
- Gaming Mouse – A good mouse is essential for frantic games like CoD: Warzone or Valorant.
- Headphones/Earphones – Nothing beats the immersion a good pair of headphones can bring, whether watching videos or racking up kills.
Should You Build Your Own PC?
Building your own computer gives you a special feeling that buying a prebuilt PC can’t match. Not everyone wants to build a gaming PC, especially if you’re a first-timer.
I’d say it depends on how savvy of a shopper you are. You can build a gaming PC for the same price as a pre-built one, but only if you’re good at finding deals.
If you’re a gaming enthusiast with a generous budget, I recommend buying a prebuilt one since they’re usually pricier. The higher upfront cost comes from the added warranty.
However, you can save money on a beefy prebuilt by waiting for steep discounts and sales like Black Friday or other holidays.
Custom Gaming PC vs. Prebuilt Gaming PC: What’s Better?
I’ll be pitting custom gaming PCs against prebuilt rigs here in all the ways that matter!
- Cost: Prebuilt PCs are typically more expensive than custom PCs because you’re paying for the warranty and after-sales support. As you’d expect, building a custom PC means more research and effort. But you can potentially save money by picking your own parts. However, you’ll have to assemble everything yourself, from the graphics card to the power supply. In addition, if your components are in high demand but stock is low, your total cost may be similar to a prebuilt one.
- Customizability: As the name implies, a custom gaming PC will always beat a prebuilt one regarding mix-and-match capabilities. Building a gaming PC yourself will let you handpick every component. Do your research, and you won’t have to worry about your CPU cooler messing up the cables within your case, for example. But if you only want to pick the CPU and GPU, then a prebuilt PC is for you.
- Build Speed: The choice is clear for those who want to build a gaming PC: a custom rig. You’ll take charge of choosing parts, construction, and customization. I recommend blocking off an entire day for building your gaming PC to account for potential mishaps. It may take longer when working with custom parts. However, you may not have enough time to build your rig. Gamers who want a plug-and-play experience should look for a prebuilt PC.
- Troubleshooting: Even a high-end gaming PC can have issues, so what happens when you run into PC problems? Prebuilt PCs have a safety net: their warranty! You’re assured of assistance if something goes wrong in the future, and you may even be able to return or replace your beefy or mid-range desktop if the worst happens. It’s the opposite for fully custom gaming PCs. You won’t have support for the whole rig, but each component may have a warranty.
- Looks: A prebuilt PC will typically look very sedate and standard. If you like matte black boxes with glass panels, then by all means, get prebuilt! You can use your desktop wallpaper to express your creativity instead. There’s the custom build for everyone else: Since you’re deciding everything about it, that includes its looks. If you’re experienced with painting, you can sand off and replace your computer case’s original paint job or get a unique computer case.
- Completeness: Some prebuilt are bundled with monitors and keyboards to help you save time and cash. However, this isn’t a given, so check your prebuilt’s listing closely. On the other hand, the builds I’ve mentioned are exclusively for the tower. Anything like a keyboard or mouse has to be purchased extra for the best gaming experience. If you don’t want to shop for even more parts, then a prebuilt is for you. Conversely, if you truly want to customize your high-end gaming PC, I recommend getting the right mouse, desk mat, and monitor for your beastly rig.
Build Your Own PC If:
- You want total control over what goes into your own gaming PC
- You have prior building experience or are willing to learn
- You want to be more familiar with every component in your rig
Buy a Prebuilt If:
- You want to jump in and play games without worrying about the parts
- You have a general idea of the parts you want
- You’re not the kind of person to ask, “How much does it cost to build a gaming PC?“
Conclusion – How Much Does It Cost to Build a Gaming PC?
Building a gaming PC is exciting but can be intimidating for beginners. You can still play most modern games perfectly well on a prebuilt gaming PC.
Remember, the best gaming PC is the one that fits your needs (and, more importantly, is upgradable in the future!)
Balance your budget and expected graphics settings when building your own gaming PC, and take care of it so it’ll last.