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Would you like to assemble your next gaming PC yourself, but are overwhelmed by the huge selection of components? Which processor fits which mainboard? Which graphics card is required for which resolution? etc.

If those worries look familiar, then you are in the right place. Our Editors will present several configurations and point out what you need to pay attention to if you decide to build your own gaming pc in 2021.

Affiliate Disclosure: We’ll like to let you know that we are affiliated with the products and services we recommend on this page. Hence, we’ll earn a small commission for every successful purchase made through our links (at no extra cost to you).

Major hardware manufacturers release new processors, graphics cards, and more almost every year. So far, Intel has been considered the pioneer in terms of processors, however, AMD has developed into a serious competition – that primarily benefits consumers.

For you not to search for the optimal hardware yourself, we present a total of four configurations here.

From the absolute price-performance PC for less than $700 to the high-end monster for just under $3000. As a bonus, we are also introducing a mini gaming PC that, despite its small size, does not compromise on performance.

In addition, we will go into more detail about the individual components and explain to you why it is worth assembling your own gaming PC.

The price-performance PC: who needs a console?

Ryzen 3 3100
The Ryzen 3 3100 is ideal for budget-oriented gaming PCs. A CPU cooler is also included, which saves even more costs.
Componentsproduct
Processor (CPU)AMD Ryzen 3 3100 (4x 3.60 GHz)
coolerAir cooler included with the processor
MainboardGigabyte B450 Gaming X (ATX)
Random Access Memory (RAM16 GB G.Skill Aegis (DDR4-3200)
Graphics card (GPU)Gigabyte GTX 1660 Super Gaming OC (6 GB GDDR6)
StorageCrucial BX500 240 GB (SATA 6 GB/s)
Seagate Barracuda 1 TB (7.200 U / min)
power adapterbe quiet! System Power 9 500 Watt (80+ Bronze, Non-Modular)
casingCorsair Carbide 270R
cost estimate$700
Pric

Advantages:

  • Top price-performance ratio
  • Can be upgraded as needed
  • Ideal for gaming in full HD

Disadvantage:

  • Hardly any overclocking potential
  • No built-in WiFi module

The motto of this configuration is very clear: maximum performance for as little money as possible. This is where comes in Ryzen 3 3100 because for about $100 you get a powerful CPU and cooler.

The next important component is the graphics card, which is unrivaled in this price range – namely the Gigabyte GTX 1660 Super Gaming OC. You have to do without both ray tracing and DLSS, but that is absolutely bearable in this price range.

Overall, you get a really solid gaming computer that can easily be upgraded in the future. Depending on how expensive the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft actually are, this PC could well be an alternative. Especially if you don’t just want to play games, but also use the PC for other purposes such as school, university, work, etc.

For beginners: Full HD enjoyment for little money

Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT
The heart of the entry-level PC is the Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse Aktiv. More performance for so little money is hardly possible. (Image: Saphhire)
Componentsproduct
Processor (CPU)AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6x 3.60 GHz)
coolerAir cooler included with the processor
MainboardMSI B450-A Pro Max (ATX)
Random Access Memory (RAM)16 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX (DDR4-3200)
Graphics card (GPU)Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse Aktiv (6 GB GDDR6)
StorageWD Green 120 GB M.2 (SATA 6 GB/s)
Seagate Barracuda 1 TB (7.200 U / min)
power adapterCorsair TX550M 550 watts (80+ gold, partly modular)
casingFractal Design Meshify C (schallgedämmt)
cost estimate$850

Advantages:

  • Perfect for beginners
  • Suitable for gaming in Full HD with the best graphics
  • Soundproof housing

Disadvantage:

  • Hardly any overclocking potential
  • BIOS flash required from mainboard
  • No built-in WiFi module

According to the manufacturer, the Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse Aktiv is primarily designed for gaming in Full HD, but it also delivers respectable frame numbers in WQHD.

Graphically demanding games should run problem-free with 60 FPS and more with this configuration on maximum settings.

Depending on how tight your budget is, the Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT Gaming OC 8G would be another alternative. The card costs around $120 more but is also significantly more performant and offers 8 GB of VRAM.

The mainboard requires a BIOS flash because Ryzen 3000 processors are not natively supported. It is advisable to take a look at the manual beforehand.

The included cooler for the CPU is more than sufficient if you don’t want to overclock your processor.

For advanced players: Play every game with the best graphics

Fractal Design
The case of the all-rounder build has a darkened viewing window made of hardened glass and is generally kept rather simple. The mesh front panel also ensures optimal airflow. (Image: Fractal Design)
Componentsproduct
Processor (CPU)AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (8x 3.60 GHz)
coolerThermalright Le GRand Macho RT
MainboardAsus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming (WiFi, ATX)
Random Access Memory (RAM)16 GB G.Skill Trident Z Neo (DDR4-3600)
Graphics card (GPU)Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC X3 (8 GB GDDR6)
StorageSamsung 970 Evo M.2 500 GB
Seagate Baracuda 1 TB (7,200 rpm)
power adapterEVGA SuperNOVA G5 650 Watt (80+ Gold, Modular)
casingFractal Design Meshify C (Dark TG)
cost estimate$1,500

Advantages:

  • Ideal for WQHD gaming or Full HD with 144 Hz or more
  • Overclocking of the CPU possible
  • Mainboard with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth

Disadvantage:

  • Unsuitable for smooth 4K gaming

This configuration is a true all-rounder. The gaming PC is powered by the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. It is an eight-core CPU that shines with its outstanding multi-core performance. There is also a Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC X3 8G in the all-rounder PC.

So you have more than enough power available to enjoy all games in WQHD resolution with at least 60 FPS. If necessary, you can also overclock the CPU to really get the absolute maximum out of your PC.

For enthusiasts: 4K gaming, VR, streaming and more

Phanteks
The RGB lighting doesn’t make your PC faster, but it looks extremely chic. (Image: Phanteks)
Componentsproduct
Processor (CPU)AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (12x 3.80 GHz)
coolerNZXT Kraken X63 (AIO water cooling, 280 mm)
MainboardAsus ROG Strix X570-E Gaming (WiFi, ATX)
Random Access Memory (RAM)32 GB G.SKill Trident Z Neo (DDR4-3600)
Graphics card (GPU)Asus RTX 2080 Ti ROG Strix Gaming OC (11 GB GDDR6)
StorageSabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 M.2 1 TB
Samsung 970 Evo M.2 1 TB
power adapterEVGA SuperNOVA G5 750 Watt (80+ Gold, Modular)
casingPhanteks Enthoo Evolv X (TG, RGB-Beleuchtung)
estimated cost$3000

Advantages:

  • Future proof
  • High overclocking potential thanks to water cooling
  • Ideal for 4K gaming, VR, streaming, video editing and more
  • Mainboard with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth

Disadvantage:

  • High price

Do you want the crème de la crème when it comes to gaming hardware? Then you can’t ignore the Asus RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC. Incidentally, this makes up almost half of the total price of our high-end monster. There is currently no other graphics card with this much power – with the exception of the Titan RTX. That alone would make up almost the entire budget of this configuration.

The computer is supplemented by the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X with a total of 12 cores and 24 threads. Such a large number of cores are particularly advantageous in multithreading-optimized applications – for example, video editing, 3D modeling, or streaming.

Finally, there are 32 GB of RAM and a total of 2 TB of NVMe storage in the high-end configuration. One of the two data carriers also has the PCIe 4.0 standard and is, therefore, a little faster than its predecessor with a 3rd generation PCIe interface.

Conventional hard drives were not used, as SSDs deliver much higher read / write rates, work silently, and require less space.

Mini-format gaming: small, but powerful!

NZXT
The aesthetics of the NZXT H1 are very reminiscent of a certain console from Microsoft. Sometimes less is more. (Image: NZXT)
Componentsproduct
Processor (CPU)AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6x 3.60 GHz)
coolerAIO water cooler included with the housing
MainboardAsus ROG Strix B450-I Gaming (WiFi, ITX)
Random Access Memory (RAM)16 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX (DDR4-3200)
Graphics card (GPU)Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC X3 8G (8 GB GDDR6)
StorageSamsung 970 Evo M.2 1 TB
power adapterPower pack with 650 W (80+ gold, modular) included in the case
casingNZXT H1 (13.6 L Volume)
estimated cost$1,400

Advantages:

  • Simple look
  • A lot of power in a small space
  • Beginner-friendly assembly
  • Easily transportable
  • Mainboard with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth

Disadvantage:

  • Relatively high price
  • Restrictions on the choice of components
  • Volume and temperatures not ideal

The heart of this minimalist-looking computer is clearly the case.

For comparison: the interior of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv X of the previous configuration is a whopping 65 liters! The rest of the hardware is also perfectly coordinated, as every millimeter really counts with such a compact gaming PC.

Thanks to the built-in Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC X3 8G and the AMD Ryzen 5 3600, this machine offers more than enough performance despite its small size to be able to play all current games with the best graphics. This mini PC is therefore ideal for purists or those of you who would like to take their computer with them on trips or the next LAN party.

This is how the components were chosen

If you put together a gaming PC, there are almost infinite possible combinations in terms of hardware. First and foremost, this is a great advantage. On the other hand, such a diverse selection can also be totally overwhelming, especially since all components have to be precisely coordinated with one another.

For this reason, in each of the systems presented here, care was taken to ensure that all components such as the processor, the mainboard, or the graphics card fit together optimally.

Of course, none of the configurations are set in stone and individual components can be replaced with others if necessary. We are mainly referring to our own experience and have placed particular emphasis on high-quality hardware selection that is also as future-proof as possible.

Configuring the gaming computer: things to note

The price

If you put together your own gaming PC, the price depends entirely on you, of course. You should always ask yourself the following question: What requirements do I have for my gaming PC?

Do you only want to play games with it or should it be used in addition to streaming or other computationally intensive software? Then you should set your budget and about a third of it for the graphics card.

Another tip would be that you shouldn’t save on the wrong components, especially when it comes to components such as the mainboard or the power supply. You don’t want to risk your entire hardware being sizzled by a short circuit in the power supply, for example.

Finally, you have to decide where to buy your hardware. In our case, we tried to limit ourselves to one dealer as much as possible. This may not always be the cheapest option, but it makes a lot more sense in terms of warranty and support.

pricing a gaming pc configuration
Bild: Getty Images, Chainarong Prasertthai.

The components

Processor: Intel vs. AMD

For a long time, Intel was the undisputed number one when it came to CPUs. Things are looking different now. The introduction of the AMD has made Ryzen processors, a huge leap in performance and has become the favorite of numerous hardware fans.

Nevertheless, both processors still have their raison d’etre.

When it comes to the latter, AMD is clearly one step ahead at the moment. Coupled with the long-term compatibility between your mainboards and CPUs as well as the excellent multi-core performance, they are an excellent choice. Especially if you use your computer for other purposes apart from gaming, such as video editing.

In contrast, the Intel processors have unbeatable core single-performance. Since the majority of current games benefit precisely from this, Intel also tops many of the benchmark lists in this area. However, the manufacturer can be remunerated for this bonus accordingly.

Graphics card: Nvidia vs. AMD

When choosing a suitable graphics card, you are again spoiled by the variety to choose from. The selection is then made even more difficult by monitor variable refresh rate (VRR) you want to benefit from. With FreeSync from AMD and G-Sync from Nvidia.

This should ensure the most smooth gaming experience possible without tearing or other artifacts. In the meantime, even Nvidia GPUs can benefit from Freesync monitors, which could make a purchase decision easier under certain circumstances.

Ultimately, it depends on how much power you actually need. AMD usually offers better value for money, especially in the lower price segment up to the middle class. However, if you want the absolute maximum in performance, then you can not ignore Nvidia at the moment.

In addition, features such as ray tracing or DLSS have so far only been reserved for Nvidia cards. All of these points should be considered before purchasing.

RAM: Which memory size and frequency?

Ideally, your gaming PC has at least 16 GB of  RAM so that you are prepared for the next few years. If you use other compute-intensive applications in addition to gaming, you can of course also opt for 32 GB or even 64 GB of RAM.

In addition to the memory size, RAM also differs in the clock frequency (e.g. 3,600 MHz) and the timing (e.g. CL14 or CL16).

Roughly speaking, these determine how efficiently the RAM works in your PC at the end of the day. In principle, Ryzen CPUs benefit significantly more from an increased clock frequency than Intel processors do.

Much more important, however, is which frequencies your mainboard actually supports. In most cases, it is also much wiser to put your money in a more powerful processor or a more powerful graphics card rather than investing in overpriced RAM.

Hard drives: the main differences explained

NVMe SSDs
Another advantage of NVMe SSDs is the wireless mounting. Your gaming PC will look tidier right away.

When it comes to hard drives, you basically have the choice between a conventional hard drive disk (HDD) or a solid-state disk (SSD). The former is still the cheaper option and is therefore ideal as a medium for mass storage.

The big disadvantage, however, is their low read and write rates. SSDs work much faster and should therefore not be missing in any modern PC. In return, this memory costs significantly more and, due to its construction, also has a shorter service life.

So far, SSDs in 2.5-inch format has been considered the standard, but the space-saving variant in gradually becoming established M.2 format is gaining some reputation.

However, it should be noted that Pattern 2 hard drives both the SATA connector and via the PCIe interface  (NVMe) may be attached. The latter is definitely recommended, as the data transfer rates are much faster and long loading times in games are a thing of the past.

For comparison, the maximum read / write rates of various hard drives:

  • 7200 RPM HDD: about 100 MB / s
  • SATA SSD: around 500 MB / s
  • NVMe SSD: up to 3,500 MB / s

Mainboard, case and co.

As far as the rest of the hardware is concerned, the dimensions of the individual components must be taken into account. Do the CPU cooler and graphics card fit into the case? Is the RAM low enough to fit under or next to the CPU cooler? For this purpose, the dimensions of the respective components should simply be compared with one another.

On the manufacturer’s pages, you can usually find detailed dimensions that make this work easier for you.

Is the mainboard compatible with the processor? First of all, it depends on whether you are using an AMD processor or a processor from Intel. Both use different standards or bases.

In the case of AMD, this would currently be the AM4 socket. Intel, on the other hand, uses the current core processors 1151 socket. In addition, there are socket different series, which in turn match the respective processor generations.

Intel CPUs 8th and 9th generation use the 300 series, for example, Z390. The counterpart for Ryzen 3000 CPUs from AMD would be the 500 series, i.e. an X570 motherboard. In many cases, however, older mainboards with the latest CPUs will also work if the BIOS has been updated beforehand.

pc case
If you value the appearance of your PC, you should avoid cables in the so-called ketchup mustard look if possible. Higher-priced power supplies therefore often have completely black cables.

Finally, your PSU should be able to supply your PC with enough power. At least as important is the efficiency of the power supply unit, which is specified in bronze, silver, gold, platinum, or even titanium.

As a rule, an 80+ Gold certified power supply between 550 and 750 watts is more than sufficient. All of these factors and more were of course taken into account in our configurations so that no nasty surprises await you afterward.

Why should I assemble my gaming PC myself?

When choosing the right components for your gaming PC, you can usually not avoid research. PCPartPicker can be of great help here. This is a website on which you can put together your computer virtually and which also draws your attention to incompatibilities of your selected hardware. You can also compare prices there

Also, give yourself enough time to research, especially since PC hardware tends to get cheaper over time anyway.

Advantages:

  • Numerous upgrade options
  • Investment for the future
  • Maintenance and repair possible without any problems
  • Better value for money than an off-the-shelf system

Disadvantage:

  • Research requires a lot of time and patience
  • Doing it yourself can be daunting
  • Targeted troubleshooting is difficult, especially for beginners

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