You can build an amazing gaming PC for under $1,000. Or spend all your money on the best thing ever. I’m not your mom.

It is so tempting to just buy a gaming computer from Best Buy or Circuit City (remember when that was a thing?), plug in a couple cables, and call it a day. Sure, it costs more, but it’s probably worth it to not have to deal with building it yourself.

That’s what I did for years, anyways. I’m lazy, guys, and I know software way more than I know hardware. If you ask Adam, though, WordPress is the bane of my existence. Maybe my software knowledge is also garbage.

Get away from the disappointment of pre-built PCs

I dealt with pre-built PCs for years because I was so worried about messing something up and ending up with a potato (or a firestorm) for a computer. They seemed to work well enough for a while, so I dealt with it.

Earlier this year, I decided to finally build a PC. Mine was four years old and cranky and purchased at a time where I couldn’t afford a computer that would do everything I wanted it to – this thing cried when I loaded up Diablo III, guys. I couldn’t even get to level 5 before dying.

Listen, I’m not a photographer.

I finally reached out and talked to a friend who helped me find everything I needed to build a PC. I couldn’t just buy replacement parts, either – most pre-built PCs have cases that won’t fit other major parts, forcing you to buy a new PC every time. This kid needed a new motherboard. 

I’m gonna say it again: I’m not a hardware person. I learned the above lesson the hard way. (Read: my initial case ended up being out of stock and I thought the motherboard might fit in the old shell and could just not shop for another one. Two. Inches. Too. Short.)

It’s really easy to build!

If you’ve never built a PC before, “easy to build” might still sound too difficult. I understand from the entirety of my soul. But I swear it’s easy. Everything is plug-and-play. The only other thing you need is a screwdriver.

Your best bet for an amazing build with no guessing needed is PCPartPicker. They have pre-created build guides or you can customize everything for your PC from the ground up – even the case. I’ll use PCPartPicker for future purchases for two reasons: you can sift through parts you’re looking for based on what parts you’ve already chosen. That means no fear about purchasing parts that won’t fit. The other reason is that they give me options on where to purchase from and show me the lowest price so I don’t have to go hunting for it.

I’m going to show you two examples of easy-to-build gaming PCs – the one I built for under $900 and another around $3,000. Consider it “practical and satisfying” versus “I’d never leave my desk if I had this build.”

I’m not including add-ons like a monitor or keyboard – you wouldn’t get those with a standard PC anyways. If you want a cheap, glowing gaming keyboard that every gamer seems to have, I have the Redragon S101 and I love it.

Cheap Option: Gaming PC Build Under $900

Full setup for under $1,000

This is the computer I currently have, and I truly believe you’d be happy with this build. I won’t be upset if you change some things, though.  My most played game right now is Diablo III. When I’m working, I have far more tabs and memory hogging programs open than anyone I’ve met. Why? Because I can.

This is the fastest PC I’ve ever owned. The only time there are any actual hiccups are when I’m trying to save an Excel document with over 1,000 macro commands on it. That document would have set my previous computer on fire ((probably) not an exaggeration). Now it takes about 15-20 seconds to save.

What else do I need?

In addition to the list, I have two computer monitors set up, a wired keyboard and mouse, a microphone, webcam, and cheap ol’ speakers that play well enough that I haven’t bothered to spend more than $20 on them.

Here’s your grocery list:

Zim = computer
Hamster = extra hard drive

I was able to steal my hard drive from my old PC and attach it to the new model to make it stronger. My Tallest knew what they were doing. So my computer has an additional 1TB of storage on top of this list. Once you’re learning how to put together a computer, it’s much less daunting to take apart your old one and sift like a raccoon for the good stuff. Bonus – I didn’t have to transfer all of my files over.

Total cost: $890.21. Same specs on Amazon: $1,000 $1,200.

You can probably live with 8GB of memory. Probably. I can tell you I tested 16GB on a heavily modded Minecraft server and there wasn’t even a hint that I would run into any lag. All graphics set to the highest and furthest distances, too. Staying with Corsair, cutting 8GB of memory out will only save you $28 so it’s well worth it to just get both sticks. Corsair doesn’t sell two 4GB, anyhow – dual memory is best memory.

Expensive Option: Building a Gaming PC for Around $3,000

You’re looking for style. This is your Mustang, but way cooler (sorry car lovers, but this thing is hot). This PC is over 3 times the cost of the other, and for good reason.

The most important (and priciest) difference? Your video card. This baby is top of the line, top of its class. It’s estimated it won’t falter at all on any game that comes out for over three years as of this post. If you ask me, that’s pretty damn good.

Just look at this beast

Ready to pull out your wallet?

Total cost to build: $2,991. Same specs on Amazon: $3,700

Custom build is best build

I am notorious for breaking electronics just by existing near them. If I can build a PC in an hour, so can you. In my experience, the parts come pretty quickly, too – the money you’re saving is worth the wait. And I’m not just talking about with this initial build. When it’s time to swap out parts or add more memory, you’ll be able to do it much cheaper.

You can thank me later.

About the author

Connie Reynolds

Connie Reynolds

Connie is a geek first, writer second. She lives in Florida with her two cats, who demand attention only when she's gaming or writing. They blame it on conflicting schedules--she knows they're just jealous of her thumbs. Passionate about all things geeky, with a soft spot for indie creators.