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If you’re looking to build a gaming PC in 2020, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve set a $1000 budget for this mid-tier build, and it’s built to deliver when you need it to. Alternatively, if you’ve got your heart set on something with a bit more overpowered-oomph, our high-end gaming PC build guide may be more up your street.
To help keep the price down on this gaming PC build, we’ve swapped from Nvidia to AMD. The compatibility with AMD’s 3rd generation Ryzen processors and a modular PSU will allow room for future upgrades. The CPU that we’ve gone with for this build is overclockable too, ensuring you’re able to get every last bit of performance out of your set-up if you’re unsure of the distinctions between the big processor manufacturers, this AMD vs. Intel guide should make things a bit clearer.
If you’re familiar with our other build guides, you probably don’t need to be told that the $1000 budget doesn’t include any extras, such as a Windows license or peripherals—essentially, the $1000 covers everything you’ll find inside the case. Of course, if you’re upgrading, you should have most of those things already, and you can migrate Windows across to your new machine. But if you have your sights set on one of the best gaming monitors or you need to pick up other accessories, you should set aside a bit of extra cash.
If you’re not in a massive rush with your gaming PC build, it’s well worth looking around for deals. But if you’re in a bit more of a hurry and want to save a bit of cash, you can always go with less RAM or a smaller SSD. Neither of these should overly impact performance, and you can easily upgrade further down the line when you have the money to spare.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
Cores: 6 | Threads: 12 | Base Clock: 3.6GHz | Turbo Clock: 4.2GHz | Overclocking: Yes, 4.2GHz typical | L3 Cache: 32MB | TDP: 65W | PCIe 4.0 lanes: 16
Low price for 6 core/12 thread CPU
Very secure and reliable
Good pairing with AMD GPU
The Ryzen 5 3600 is an excellent candidate for mid-range gaming. It outclasses our previous pick for this build, the Intel Core i5 8400, and offers superior performance, overclocking and a slick-looking stock cooler all around the same price point.
Alternatively, you could go with the previous generation Ryzen 5 2600 for a small drop in price, and while it may not be quite as fast as the 3600, it still has all the same features and matches the i5 8400 almost pound for pound. If you’re looking for a little more juice, though, the Ryzen 5 3600X can give it to you for about $40 more.
Ultimately we went with the 3600 because it gave us the best bang for our buck and some additional room to expand into more powerful 3rd gen AMD CPUs down the line.
If you’re looking for a little extra power in your next build, check out our guide to the best CPU for gaming in 2020.
MSI B450 Gaming Plus
A good all rounder with Ryzen 3rd gen compatibility
Chipset: B450 | Memory: (4) DIMM, 64GB, DDR4-3466 | PCIe slots: (1) x16, (1) x16 (x4), (4) x1 | USB ports: (6) rear IO, (6) internal | Storage: (1) M.2, (6) SATA | Network: Ethernet | Lighting: Full RGB
Good performance and features
The MSI Performance B450 Gaming Plus is a reliable motherboard that will deliver everything needed to run the Ryzen 5 3600. It may not necessarily be pretty or pack in a ton of extras, but it gets the job done—you won’t really see it under your components, anyways.
The B450 Gaming Plus supports memory speeds up to DDR4-3466 and includes an M.2 slot for fast SSDs. This motherboard can potentially handle SLI or Crossfire dual-card configurations as well.
Motherboard compatibility for Ryzen’s 3rd gen processors is pretty prolific, but make sure to check the compatibility on the manufacturer’s site if you’re committing to something with more options. But if you’re after something better than this MSI board, you’re probably also looking at a higher-end build, and perhaps one of the best gaming motherboards would be a better fit.
An excellent red team alternative to an Nvidia Super
GPU Cores: 2,560 | Base Clock: 1,605MHz | Boost Clock: 1,905MHz | GFLOPS: 9,754 | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 14 GT/s | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s
Outperforms the 2060 Super for the same price
It may look like a piece of modern art, but the 5700 XT was a relatively easy pick for this level of build and a solid replacement for the Nvidia 2060 Super. Our build is mostly looking to push 60fps at 1080p, which is where this particular GPU excels, and at a lower price point than the 2060 Super, the choice was clear.
The 5700 XT does lack dedicated hardware for ray tracing and DLSS, but in terms of actual in-game performance, it just edges out the 2060 Super. Additionally, these extra features only tend to matter once you start reaching the edge of the performance envelope. For that, I recommend you check out our extreme gaming PC build guide.
For our mid-range build, the 5700 XT hit that sweet spot of cost versus performance and is suitable so long as you aren’t trying to push 4K resolutions (and don’t mind its funky looking dent).
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3200
The best value RAM you can get
Capacity: 2x 8GB | Speed: 3200MT/s | Timings: 15-17-17-35 | Voltage: 1.35V
High frequencies on a budget
Memory is pretty straightforward these days, though if the price isn’t much higher you can improve performance slightly with faster RAM. DDR4 prices are have thankfully galvanized somewhat, with typical costs for 16GB often falling below $100. There are many options to choose from: Adata, Ballistix, Corsair, Crucial, G.Skill, GeIL, Gigabyte, Hynix, HyperX, Micron, Mushkin, Patriot, PNY, Samsung, Team, and XPG are all good brands as far as we’re concerned.
Our main goal for gaming memory is DDR4-3000 or higher, with as low a CAS latency as possible, but at a good price. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy extreme memory for a mainstream build, but with DDR4-3200 only costing $10 more than basic DDR4 kits, it’s worth paying a little extra for AMD builds.
For more information, check out our guide to the best gaming DDR4 RAM options in 2020.
Addlink S70 512GB NVMe SSD
Fast, reliable, and affordable storage
Capacity: 512GB | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 | Sequential IO: 3,400/2,000MB/s read/write | Random IO: 510K/500K IOPS read/write
Great for OS and applications
An NVMe M.2 SSD offers swift access to your data, and the Addlink S70 delivers that snappy response at an exceptionally agreeable price. Fitted with 512GB worth of NAND flash, there’s enough space for your operating system, applications, and a handful of games, too.
A single M.2 SSD offers flexibility when it comes to future upgrades, such as a SATA drive, second NVMe SSD, or high-capacity HDD—that’s why we recommend picking up a capable one from the get-go and planning ahead to your next storage upgrade for a little more freedom with upcoming game installs.
If you’re looking for other SSD options, then be sure to check out our guide on the best SSD for gaming.
WD Black 1TB (Optional)
The quickest regular HDD, offering storage on a budget
Capacity: 1TB | HDD speed: 7200RPM | Cache: 32GB | Connectivity: SATA 6Gb/s | Warranty: 5 years
A cheaper storage option
Great reliability for a HDD
High capacity for files less often accessed
Given the install sizes of most modern PC games, it’s probably a good idea to get yourself a new drive for your gaming PC. While SATA SSDs are almost cheap enough to recommend as secondary storage (what a world we’re living in), you’ll probably look to a regular HDD to keep the cost down when you hit multiple terabyte demands.
We recommend the WD Black drive because it’s a 7200RPM drive with a respectable 32GB cache, which offers 1TB of storage for about $70 or less. While you could quickly get a WD Blue or Seagate Barracuda for less, the WD Black offers speed and reliability over capacity. Realistically, you’ll appreciate that speed if you’re planning to keep your HDD inside a gaming PC for more than a couple of years, as we already see load times creep up for the biggest games of 2020.
Corsair TX650M 650W
Highly reliable and efficient power without going overkill
Output: 650W | Efficiency: 80 Plus Gold | Connectors: (1) 24-Pin ATX, (1) 8-Pin (4+4) EPS12V, (4) 8-Pin (6+2) PCIe, (6) SATA, (4) Molex, (1) Floppy | Modular: Partial
Good efficiency and price
Sane output rating
All Japanese capacitors
Power supplies are not the most exciting part of a gaming PC build. After all, it can be hard to tell them apart in terms of features. Even so, you don’t want to skimp on your PSU. Corsair has an excellent and well-deserved reputation for its power supplies, and the TX650M comes at a reasonable price and delivers 80 Plus Gold efficiency.
Most power supplies from the bigger names are generally good, but we wouldn’t recommend that you put your money in anything with a warranty of fewer than five years or an efficiency rating below 80 Plus Gold (maybe Bronze in a pinch). The $10 or $20 saved often isn’t worth the risk.
We also tend to go with modular PSUs where possible. It means less cable mess inside the case since you don’t have to stash unused cables somewhere. Instead, the remaining wires have to find a home in your closet.
Here’s our guide to the best power supplies for PC gaming.
Clean design and great cable management
Type: ATX mid-tower | Motherboard Compatibility: ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Drive Bays: (Up to 7) 3.5/2.5-inch internal (2 included), (2) 2.5-inch SSD | Front Ports: (1) USB-C (1) USB 3.0, Headphone, Mic | Fan Options: Front: (2) 120mm or (2) 140mm, Top: (1) 120mm (included) or (1) 140mm, Rear: (1) 120mm (included) | Max GPU Length: 381mm | Dimensions: 460x210x428mm (HxWxD) | Weight: 6.6 kgs.
Nice tempered glass side panel
Plenty of expansion options
USB-C front panel connector
Cases can be as stylish or boring as you want. We’re going to go for the former rather than the latter, with the NZXT H510, a slick, tempered glass case available in white or black. The NZXT H510 is also reasonably priced, which is always a bonus.
If you want other options, check our guide to the best mid-tower cases. The clean look goes well on any desk and doesn’t obnoxiously stand out like many so-called ‘gaming cases.’ There’s also the pricier H510i that integrates some smart features if you like the look of the H510 but want a few more bells and whistles.
Picking a case can be an entirely personal choice, so for more options, here are the best PC cases you can buy right now.