PC Builds

Despite accusing online retailers of being a bit overzealous with their "Black November" approach to what was once a one-weekend sale, there are numerous legitimately good deals out on the web for gaming hardware that should be taken advantage of. Black Friday prices on SSDs, video cards, RAM, even CPUs can easily knock off hundreds of bucks on higher-priced gaming rigs.

In the spirit of spending money—because we needed an excuse to do more of that—we've assembled this "hardcore" DIY gaming PC using only Black Friday deals, which prices it out to a very reasonable $1083.


We also have an Enthusiast / Workstation build and Cheap Bastard / Budget build going online this weekend, so keep an eye out for those if you're looking to spend more or less, respectively.

Building modern gaming machines on a tight budget makes for a fun challenge: With so much hardware out there, tiered chipset options (read about chipset differences here), and all of this year's impressive current-gen CPUs and GPUs, it's easy to build something completely custom that performs to specific user requirements.


This $565 DIY gaming PC build takes all of the newest components into consideration and focuses on getting you the best cheap gaming PC build. It's a targeted list that's intended to be used almost exclusively for gaming, so if you're using professional applications regularly for work purposes, it may be better to look at a Z77/i5 bundle. Post in the comments below or on our hardware forums if you'd like more tuned support.

Time for the list!

Building an affordable gaming PC is always a good investment: Not only is it useful for every day tasks, it can also be utilized for professional applications (like video editing) and, of course, gaming. With the GTX 650 and GTX 660 being so readily available at a budget, there's no reason a $500-$600 gaming PC build couldn't play most modern games at respectable graphics settings. The GTX 650 alone, for instance, runs Battlefield 3 quite successfully at medium settings in 1920x1080 resolution at around 40FPS (see benchmark chart below); that's a lot of power for a $120 card.


On top of this, Gearbox's recent Borderlands 2 has blown us away with its PhysX demonstrations and pretty graphics direction, and luckily, it can be played on just about anything. Building a DIY gaming PC for Borderlands 2 on a budget (around $500) is actually quite easy; you'll find our build below with the rationale explained for each choice.

This hardcore gaming build was a lot of fun to put together! It's a bit different from our budget gaming PC builds - as is the nature of having a larger budget (we targeted $900 for this system) - and as such, is fully-equipped and ready for battle.


I tasked myself with the mission of putting together a build with the newest generation of Intel's gaming-grade CPUs -- the 3rd Generation, or Ivy Bridge, chips -- added a Z77 motherboard and 660Ti GPU for around $900. The 660 Ti is still a brand new GPU and has a lot of life ahead of it -- you can read more about the 660 Ti here. Beyond pure components, we opted to focus on an orange/black theme to help you game style. The component design and color schemes match up excellently, making for a killer build that has a flowing aesthetic.

Let's look at that list!

Finally, another edition of our Cheap Bastard's gaming PC builds! The "Cheap Bastard" gaming PCs are always targeted at around $500 and are intended to be built by gamers on a super tight budget; for anyone with an extra $50-$100, we recommend our "Budget Build" options, found here. With school and work crunch-time around the corner, we decided to configure another Cheap Bastard's gaming build together.


This less-than-$550 cheap gaming build is intended for gaming on high/mid-high settings and accomplishing most work tasks, though for professional applications (e.g. video encoding), we'd recommend looking at spending a bit more.

Let's look at that build list!

In another thematic PC build, this Guild Wars 2 budget gaming rig will get you playing the upcoming MMORPG for around $600. The system we've pieced together below won't have any trouble playing the vast majority of modern games on high graphics settings (including the likes of Skyrim, StarCraft 2, and even Battlefield 3 - which should run on medium/high quite admirably). Guild Wars 2 falls within that realm and, equally so, should run on respectably high settings with the below configuration.


The goal here is to create an affordable gaming computer DIY build list with the ability to run Guild Wars 2 smoothly, aiming for the below $700 mark. We hit that cleanly, figuring out a list for a nice $650 gaming build -- not bad at all, considering the power it packs. Before defining the parts within the build, let's throw up the minimum requirements to alleviate any fears (the official recommended requirements have not yet been released - but with a 6870 and strong CPU, there's nothing to fear).

If you're looking for a gaming PC for around $500 to play Guild Wars 2, take a look at our previous setup.

Building a quiet, simple, and tiny gaming PC is no longer a challenge left to the most talented of modders -- with mini-ITX motherboards, IGP and APU processors that have strong integrated graphics chips, and the low-power consumption of SSDs, we can throw together a system capable of gaming, media playback, and can fit in any space for dirt cheap.


This system was built against our $800 Intel variant (which offers a dedicated video card - something this one doesn't have), but if you're looking for a more traditional gaming desktop, give our $558 budget build a look over.

Miniaturized gaming PCs feel like something out of the Small World ride -- AMD's Trinity, Llano, and APU lines and Intel's IGPs make for perfect HTPC processors that double as lite-gaming options (see our $475 AMD miniature build here). IGPs still don't come close to the level of detail that a gaming-grade dedicated GPU can output, but they're still nothing to scoff at: Intel's HD 4000 integration in the latest line of Ivy Bridge CPUs (which we compared here) is capable of playing many popular games -- Skyrim, SC2, and BF3 (albeit on low graphics) included -- on medium settings at reasonable resolutions.


This ultra small gaming and media [HT]PC (the theater part is optional) is for all those who have small spaces for PCs or are only gaming lightly, with more of a focus on entertainment media. If you're looking for a cheaper gaming-dedicated PC, check out our $558 budget system list.

Demonic, unsightly evil lurks just around the corner; our dungeons are soaked in vile, red and black blood -- splattered from wall-to-wall and dripping down from levels above -- and emit the stench of slaughtered minions and, as a bonus, overheating components. If Diablo can't kill you, he'll settle for the system.

Those Tyrael sympathizers over in the $2000 Enthusiast Arch Angel Build should know their place; they will succumb to Diablo's might, if we have anything to say about it. There can only be one survivor in this PC build duel!


Look at them over there -- those treacherous beasts reading the $558 Diablo 3 'evil' build are staring at us. They're plotting. Scheming. They're sizing us up; scoping out our territory. I say let them -- when they see what we have over here, backed by Tyrael the Arch Angel, they'll wish Diablo stayed dead to begin with.


Tyrael's Arch Angel PC build we've assembled is an Enthusiast-grade gaming system, capable of outright annihilating any games thrown at it. The build's meant for two types of people: The type with a lot of money and a desire to future-proof, and enthusiasts that like tweaking and playing with high-end components.

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