If you’re looking to build your first rig on a budget, but don’t know where to start, or if you don’t know which parts do what, and you’ve been scrolling through Reddit trying to find answers, look no further, because I’m going to help you build your first PC for $1,300 or less. $1,300 isn’t going to build a beast that will let you run Cyberbunk 2077 on ultra, but you will be able to run most modern titles with an awesome framerate at medium to high graphics settings. If you like this build, let me know below in the comments. If you think you can do better for the budget, definitely let us know in the comments as well! Without further ado, I’m going to take you into the nitty gritty of my decision making process when I built my very first gaming PC.
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 – $229.99(Affiliate link)
Personally, I love this processor, because it gives me just enough power to game with great speeds, without stretching my budget too thin. The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is a fantastic 6-core processor running at 3.6GHz speeds. With processing power like this, you’ll be getting great frames no matter how much action there is, close or far away. Another fantastic benefit of this processor is that it comes with a Wraith Stealth Cooler, which will do a nice job at keeping your temps cool. However, if your budget allows it and you don’t want to use the included Wraith Stealth Cooler, you can pick up a Noctua NH-U12S (Affiliate link) cooler for around $60. If you’re like me, and you’re frugal, you won’t have to worry about replacing the cooler until you upgrade later. For this build, the Wraith Stealth Cooler does an awesome job in my book.
Motherboard: MSI PRO B550-A PRO – $139.99(Affiliate link)
With super-fast transmission of information to the other components of your PC, this motherboard will keep everything running smoothly and on-time. On top of great speeds, this motherboard has an all-metal heatsink, which will work to dissipate heat in your processor, keeping systems cool and further negating the possibility of overheating. With a simple layout, I found the installation of this motherboard to be especially easy. Most everything is labeled, so you will know where to install your RAM, graphics card, and all the other fancy parts that come along with building your first PC.
Memory: G. SKILL Ripjaws V Series 16GB – $81.99(Affiliate link)
For me, these 8GB sticks of RAM were a no-brainer. Paired together, you have 16GB of RAM, which allows you to quickly switch between task and access any short-term memory your PC will be using. This is especially important for gaming, because in essence, a video game is just a bunch of processes running at once. Your RAM dictates how quickly your machine is able to navigate through these processes, and obviously, faster is better. 16GB of RAM is perfectly fine, especially for a first build. But, if you want to get some extra bang for your buck, you might want to go with the G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB set (Affiliate link). Double the RAM for about $60 more.
Storage: Western Digital Blue SN550 1TB Solid State Drive – $109.99(Affiliate link)
There isn’t a ton to say about this solid state drive, beyond that it’s what stores all of your games. The SN550 has 1TB of storage, which is plenty of room for games, as well as videos, images, or whatever else you might be saving onto your rig. In case you’re wondering why I opted for a solid state drive over a hard disk drive, it’s for a really simple reason. On top of being much faster than a hard disk drive, it fits right onto your motherboard, and is covered with a small metal plate, which will dissipate heat. It’s not as bulky as a hard disk drive, so you have more room for other components which further optimize your machine, such as extra after-market fans to keep your graphics card cool. Of course, if you need extra memory later down the road, you can pick up a hard disk drive or external hard drive, depending on your personal preferences. Rest assured, though, the SN550 will provide a ton of room for whatever is in your Steam library.
Graphics Card: Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660 SUPER – $239.99(Affiliate link)
In my build, I used the MSI GTX 1660 SUPER VENTUS XS (Affiliate link), which is out of stock at the moment of this posting. Nonetheless, the one linked above is exactly the same in terms of performance, it just wasn’t manufactured by MSI. I chose this graphics card because it’s capable, and it’s cheap. Make no mistake; even though it’s easy on the wallet, I still have had no issues running games on medium to high graphics settings. On some games, you can even get great frames running on ultra. With 6GB of dedicated video memory, this graphics card offers a nice middle-ground between performance and price. This is a great graphics card to go with if you want to get in the game right now with great frames, and then upgrade later. Personally, I’ve had no issues running graphically intensive games such as Call of Duty: Warzone. Paired with a great mid-level processor, you’ll be running flawlessly, no matter how huge the world, or how intense the action.
Case: Corsair Spec-05 ATX Mid Tower Case – $52.99(Affiliate link)
In terms of the case, you have a ton of freedom. I chose the Corsair Spec-05 because it came with a red LED fan pre-installed, so I saved a few bucks on extra fans. I went with the sleek black version pictured above, but you can choose just about anything that suits your style, (like this awesome Corsair Spec-Delta with sick RGB and tempered glass (Affiliate link)) as most cases are generally the same internally, meaning almost any setup will be compatible with whatever case you pick. Personally, though, I recommend a Corsair case, because they look cool, and are reasonably cheap.
Power Supply: EVGA B5 650 W – $89.99(Affiliate link)
In short, I chose this power supply because it’s compatible with all of the other parts I used. It’s important to make sure that your power supply is running at about the same level as all of the other components of your build, and this power supply does just that. It comes with all of the wiring you will need to power your machine, and the included instructions manual will make wiring your build really easy. Plus, it comes with zipties so you can organize your wires however you like.
I’m not going to dive super deep into this, because not only do these components speak for themselves, it is also more about personal preference. For instance, you might want a larger monitor than the one I chose, or a cooler keyboard. However, I’ll still show you what I picked, and give you a short, simple explanation for why.
Operating System: Windows 10 – $109.99 (Affiliate link)
Without an OS, your computer is essentially just a hunk of useless components. You’ll need to install Windows 10 onto your machine with a thumb drive, since it won’t be pre-installed. Simply use your own, or a friend’s computer, to download windows 10 onto the drive you’re using, and plug it into your new build. Make sure to save the key code, as you’ll need that in order to verify your copy of Windows 10.
Monitor: BenQ 24′ Full HD IPS Monitor – $119.99 (Affiliate link)
Honestly, I would have liked to go bigger with the monitor, but my desk-space is limited, so I went with this 24-inch 1080P monitor. Despite being initially disappointed with the size, I have grown to really like this monitor. The sharp detail gives me an edge when I’m playing competitive games. With quality like this, you’ll see your opponents a mile away.
Keyboard: MSI VIGOR GK20 – $29.99(Affiliate link)
I went with this keyboard because it looks cool, and it’s water repellant, just in case I spill my drink. Not much else to say about that!
Mouse: Logitech M510 Wireless Mouse – $20.49(Affiliate link)
I picked this mouse up at Walmart with low expectations, but for a non-gaming mouse, it holds up really well. It has 2 extra buttons which you can freely configure, and retains its battery-life well. It does its job, and my trigger finger does the rest.
Just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean your computer has to suck. For a budget build that comes out at $1,225.39 plus shipping and handling, you can balance smooth frames and beautiful graphics without breaking the bank. For the price, I love this build. My girlfriend and I have both had fantastic times gaming on this machine, be it in a shoot-em-up like Borderlands 3, or in a business management simulator like Planet Zoo.