Best Gaming PC 2018: The ultimate components guide for rigs from £600 to £2000

With so many different parts available, and picking the wrong bits being such a costly mistake, building a gaming PC can be an intimidating task.

But fear not, we’re here to help. We’ve tested every part we could find and scoured stores to find the best deals for builds to suit five main budgets: £600, £800, £1000, £1500 and £2000.

We rigorously benchmarked all the parts on our test bench to ensure you’re getting the best build for everything from casual gaming to hardcore 4K fragging.

Related: Best motherboards

What’s new?

AMD’s finally launched its latest Raven Ridge desktop APUs. Raven Ridge pairs the company’s stellar APUs with Vega graphics.

As we noted in our in-depth AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and 2200G review, the new APUs are a fantastic choice for people looking to build an affordable small-form-factor PC capable of running casual games. In fact, such good value are they that they actually displace some of the previous Ryzen processors in our cheapest systems.

We’ve also seen steady price drops across the CPU market in the last few months such that quite a few of our builds have chopped and changed in accordance with what’s the best value right now.

Also just round the corner are AMD’s latest Ryzen 2 processors which should see faster clock speeds than the first generation chips. Time will tell if they reclaim a space for AMD in some of our system builds.

Related: Best CPU Coolers

The 1080p eSports Gaming PC – Best Gaming PC under £600 ($700)

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU AMD Ryzen 3 2200G £90 Overclockers.co.uk $100 Amazon.com
Motherboard ASRock AB350M £57 Overclockers.co.uk $92 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £95 Amazon.co.uk $100 Newegg.com
Graphics card GeForce GTX 1050 2GB £100 Overclockers.co.uk $150 Newegg.com
SSD Kingston UV400 120GB £47 Overclockers.co.uk $45 Amazon.com
HDD N/A £0 $0
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £32 Amazon.co.uk $47 Amazon.com
Case Aerocool 300 £32 Overclockers.co.uk $41 Amazon.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £573 $695

The AMD Ryzen 3 2200G is something of a surprise entry into our cheapest build, as we’d expect a processor that doesn’t include graphics to offer more bang for your buck once you add a separate graphics card in. However, the 2200G runs at a higher clock speed yet is the same price as the AMD Ryzen 3 1200, so it’s the clear choice.

What’s more, going with the 2200G means you could potentially put off buying a separate graphics card, if you really are on a tight budget. It will be a significantly slower machine until you do upgrade the graphics, but it’ll still get you 60fps+ in several eSports titles.

The rest of this build is about as basic as it gets but there are two crucial additions. Instead of a hard drive it uses an SSD so your PC will boot and load games faster. This makes storage space limited but, if you have any, you can always reuse older hard drives for storing bulk data.

Meanwhile, when it comes to that separate graphics card, the GTX 1050 is a really powerful card for the price, and it positively sips power. With it, you can game comfortably at up to 1080p resolutions at Low-Medium settings on AAA games, and higher on eSports titles.

Potential swaps: The most obvious potential swap is dropping the SSD and opting for a hard drive instead. This will get you much more space to store all your files, but your PC will be slower at booting up, loading apps and copying files. Crucially, games won’t be any slower – slower to load, but not slower to run.

Otherwise, there’s very little you can do to this build to save more money, apart from buying second-hand gear or compromising more on graphics power. Allow yourself an extra £100 to spend and you can get both a slightly larger SSD and a hard drive.

Video: Intel Core i models explained

VR-ready PC – Best Gaming PC for £800 ($900)

Oculus provides an optimum spec for a PC that will provide a great VR experience, but it’s long since been superseded, so this is our recommended build instead:

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU AMD Ryzen 3 2200G £90 Overclockers.co.uk $100 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI B350M Gaming Pro £82 Overclockers.co.uk $99 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £95 Amazon.co.uk $100 Newegg.com
Graphics card GeForce GTX 1060 3GB £230 Overclockers.co.uk $260 Amazon.com
SSD Crucial MX500 250GB £70 Scan.co.uk $80 Amazon.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £38 Amazon.co.uk $47 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £32 Amazon.co.uk $47 Amazon.com
Case Aerocool 300 £32 Overclockers.co.uk $41 Amazon.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £789 $894

AMD Ryzen 3 is again the CPU of choice for our £800, VR-ready build, with the 2200G again being our choice. Elsewhere, the motherboard is a slightly more feature-rich option than the cheapest build and we’ve now got budget for a hard drive as well as a larger, faster SSD.

We also thought it about time to leave behind the RX 570 graphics card that we’ve been recommending. It was the direct upgrade to the RX 470 that Oculus recommends but it’s so expensive for the performance it provides. The GTX 1060 3GB is significanty faster and a bit cheaper too.

All told, this is a capable gaming PC both for VR and gaming at Full HD resolutions on a conventional monitor.

Oculus Rift

Potential swaps: This build is ripe for upgrades with the case, CPU cooler, SSD and hard drive all being about as low as you can go, so spending an extra £30-£50 on any of those would be worthwhile – see our pricier builds for what to go for.

Otherwise, if you want to save a nice chunk of money you could go for the GTX 1050, but that would mean quite a large compromise on graphics performance, and of course you’ll no longer be up to spec for VR gaming. Alternatively you can go the other way and get an even faster graphics card such as the RX 580 (£350) or GTX 1070 (£460).

The Quad HD Gaming PC – Best Gaming PC for £1000 ($1100)

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU Intel Core i5-8400 £159 Overclockers.co.uk $180 Amazon.com
Motherboard ASRock Z370 Pro4 £99 Overclockers.co.uk $130 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £183 Amazon.co.uk $203 Amazon.com
Graphics card GeForce GTX 1060 6GB £340 Overclockers.co.uk $350 Amazon.com
SSD Crucial MX500 Evo 500GB £111 Scan.co.uk $130 Amazon.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £38 Amazon.co.uk $47 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CX650 £69 Overclockers.co.uk $65 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £66 Amazon.co.uk $70 Newegg.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,185 $1,295

While AMD dominates of choice of CPUs for budget builds, as we move up in price, the sheer per-core performance of Intel’s latest chips is what counts. Plus, recent price drops have made Intel’s 8000-series processors even more tempting.

The Core i5-8400 is a six-core processor that runs at up to 4GHz, yet costs just £220, making it the clear choice for the sort of price of build.

Eslwehere, the system has a quality entry-level compatible motherboard and an ample 16GB of RAM. We’re also jumped up to a sizable 500GB SSD and a snazzier case – it’s an all-round upgrade from our £800 build.

This is also true when it comes to the graphics card. While it’s still a GTX 1060, we’ve opted for the 6GB version. It doesn’t have a tonne more performance but is better suited to higher resolutions and detail settings.

It would be tempting to jump up to the GTX 1070, but it’s just too big a leap in price right now.

This spec of machine is ideal for gaming comfortably at 1440p at 60Hz or getting 120fps+ in 1080p games.

Watch: Nvidia GTX 1070 review

Potential swaps: There’s very little here that’s obviously lacking. Aside from spending an extra £150 on a GTX 1070, it’s a very well balanced system. A bigger hard drive certainly wouldn’t go amiss, though.

Otherwise, this system is well primed for an even faster CPU and graphics card upgrade whenever you need.

The 4K Gaming PC – Best Gaming PC for £1500 ($1600)

 

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU Intel Core i5-8600K £219 Overclockers.co.uk $235 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI Z370 Gaming Pro £180 Overclockers.co.uk $157 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £183 Amazon.co.uk $203 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1070 £489 Overclockers.co.uk $550 Newegg.com
SSD Samsung 960 Evo 500GB £195 Amazon.co.uk $240 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £65 Amazon.co.uk $80 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CS650M 80 Plus Gold £76 Amazon.co.uk $95 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £66 Amazon.co.uk $70 Newegg.com
Cooler Noctua NH-D14 £67 Amazon.co.uk $75 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,660 $1,825

Intel remains our choice of CPU for this sort of budget. AMD may offer more cores for the money and a better upgrade path but for sheer raw speed the 8600K is an ideal choice, especially thanks to a recent drop in price. A six-core chip, with overclocking and that runs at 3.6-4.3GHz, it should be all the CPU most users ever need.

The rest of the build is much the same as our £1000 build except other than a motherboard upgrade and the leap to the GTX 1070 graphics card. Yes, until recently we were listing the GTX 1080 for this build but as graphics card prices continue to rise, we’ve had to drop down to the GTX 1070. It won’t always deliver quite the smoothness of perforamnce at 4K as the GTX 1080 but will be close enough most of the time.

A fast Samsung 960 Evo SSD will keep boot-up, app startup and file transfer times to a minimum, while you’ve plenty of budget for a big 3TB hard drive for all your bulk data.

Watch: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 review



Potential swaps: The obvious upgrade here is to jump back up to the GTX 1080 but it’s worth bearing in mind what monitor you’ll be using. If you’re only really gaming at 1080p, a GTX 1080 is unnecessary – there’s a reason we call this the 4K build.

Meanwhile, if multi-thread performance is particularly important to you, then you could swap the Intel CPU and motherboard for the Ryzen 7 1700 and an AMD motherboard such as the Asus Prime X370-Pro.

If you want a tidier-looking build then you could replace the large Noctua CPU cooler for a more compact all-in-one liquid cooler such as the Corsair H110i. It’s louder and slightly more expensive, but it will keep the CPU even cooler as well as freeing up space inside your case.

Asus Maximus VIII Hero

AMD Ryzen PC – Best Workstation/High-end Gaming PC

 

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 1800X £290 Amazon.co.uk $329 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon £132 Amazon.co.uk $164 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £183 Amazon.co.uk $203 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1080 Ti £820 Overclockers.co.uk $960 Newegg.com
SSD Samsung 960 Evo 500GB £195 Amazon.co.uk $240 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £65 Amazon.co.uk $80 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CS650M 80 Plus Gold £76 Amazon.co.uk $95 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £66 Amazon.co.uk $70 Newegg.com
Cooler Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 £55 Overclockers.co.uk $58 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £2,002 $2,319

Our £1,750-£2,000 AMD Ryzen/Workstation build is all about the huge multi-core power of the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU. Its 8-core/16-thread configuration provides masses of processing for a great proce.

We’ve paired it with the feature-packed Asus Crosshair VI Hero motherboard but this month have dropped the amount of RAM from 32GB to 16GB. This is because RAM prices also continue to rise, making 32GB ridiculously expensive.

Meanwhile, if you were wondering about both AMD and Intel‘s new ultra-high-end Threadripper and Skylake X CPUs they’re both overkill for most users. The only reason most will want to consider them is if your building a PC with multiple graphics cards, and that’s mega-bucks territory.

The rest of this system is based on our £1500 gaming PC build with a fast main SSD and a secondary hard drive for bulk data, plus a quality power supply and case. We’ve swapped out the CPU cooler for one that’s compatible with AMD’s AM4 socket.

We’ve chosen the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics so as to deliver the utmost in gaming performance available right now.

Potential swaps: If you’re after even more of a workstation-type build then you may want to swap back to the 32GB of RAM and get a slower graphics card but otherwise the main consideration here is whether to swap to an Intel CPU.  The Intel Core i7-8700K is the ultimate gaming CPU right now but with this build we wanted something of a balance between gaming and multi-core workstation workloads.

The other alternative is to drop things down a gear by opting for the AMD Ryzen 7 1700. This chip still gets you eight-core performance but for just £250. Similarly, drop the motherboard to a £120 MSI X370 SLI Plus and go for a GTX 1070 and you’ll have a multi-core workstation build for around £1500 that’s still mighty good for gaming – especiallly if you do a bit of overclocking.