Best Gaming PC 2017: The ultimate PC gamer components from £600 to £2000

Building the best gaming PC for your budget isn’t as hard as you might imagine, but with so many components to choose from, where do you start? Right here: we’ve picked out the best items to buy, whatever your budget. 

Each month, we scour online shops to find the best deals for the best combination of components to suit five main budgets: £600, £800, £1000, £1500 and £2000.

At all five price categories, the components are carefully balanced to ensure you’re getting the absolute best gaming performance possible for your money, but also without compromising too much in key areas such as day-to-day performance, power consumption and future-proofing.

What’s new?

This month has seen very little change in the PC components market, other than a few price changes here and there. With no significant new product launches our choice of components hasn’t budged one bit from our last update. Nvidia did launch its GTX 1070 Ti graphics card, but it did little to shake up the market.

As such the overarching picture is still the same. If you’re on a budget then a system based on an AMD AM4 motherboard and Ryzen 3 processor is the way to go, while those with a little more money to spend will want to opt for an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU. Meanwhile, at the top-end of the market, Intel’s new Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8600K processors are the ones to go for if pure gaming performance is what matters, while AMD Ryzen 7 chips get the nod for multi-core processing power.

Related: Best Intel Z370 motherboards 

As for the graphics card side of things, Nvidia dominates proceedings with four of our five builds using Nvidia cards. However, there are still competitive AMD products at various price points. In particular, if you’re also in the market for a new monitor, it’s worth bearing in mind the extra cost of G-Sync over Freesync. Buy a cheaper Freesync monitor and you’ll have at least £100 extra to spend on a graphics card.

Note: Prices correct as of  November 2 2017

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 1200 £92 Amazon.co.uk $108 Amazon.com
Motherboard ASRock AB350M £71 Amazon.co.uk $110 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £95 Amazon.co.uk $105 Amazon.com
Graphics card EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 £114 Amazon.co.uk $114 Amazon.com
SSD Kingston UV400 120GB £52 Amazon.co.uk $58 Amazon.com
HDD N/A £0 $0
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £35 Amazon.co.uk $55 Amazon.com
Case Aerocool 300 £29 Amazon.co.uk $55 Amazon.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £97 Amazon.co.uk $120 Amazon.com
Total: £615 $722

Available for under £90, the AMD Ryzen 3 1200 is a shoe-in for our cheapest PC build. Combined with a modest B350 motherboard it still provides quad-core performance, overclockability and AMD has said its future CPUs will also work in these motherboards.

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.

The other crucial addition is the very capable GTX 1050 graphics card. This is a powerful enough card to ensure you can game comfortably at up to 1080p resolutions at 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 1200X £113 Amazon.co.uk $130 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI B350M Gaming Pro £99 Amazon.co.uk $99 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £104 Amazon.co.uk $114 Amazon.com
Graphics card Sapphire RX 570 4GB ITX £208 Amazon.co.uk $269 Amazon.com
SSD Kingston UV400 120GB £50 Amazon.co.uk $58 Amazon.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £40 Amazon.co.uk $50 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £35 Amazon.co.uk $55 Amazon.com
Case Aerocool 300 £29 Amazon.co.uk $50 Amazon.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £120 Amazon.co.uk $120 Amazon.com
Total: £822 $927

AMD Ryzen 3 is again the CPU of choice for our £800, VR-ready build. This time we’ve gone for the 1300X as it adds simultaneous multithreading (i.e. even better multi-core performance) and runs at a higher clock speed, making it that little bit more suited to the demands of VR gaming.

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 an SSD.

The graphics card choice is a direct upgrade to the minimum card specificed by Oculus making it a capable option for VR gaming.

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 (£270) or GTX 1070 (£330).

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

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU AMD Ryzen 3 1200X £113 Amazon.co.uk $130 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI B350M Gaming Pro £99 Amazon.co.uk $99 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £180 Amazon.co.uk $194 Amazon.com
Graphics card EVGA GTX 1060 £213 Amazon.co.uk $315 Amazon.com
SSD Samsung 850 Evo 250GB £87 Amazon.co.uk $90 Amazon.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £40 Amazon.co.uk $50 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CX650 £69 Amazon.co.uk $70 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £66 Amazon.co.uk $70 Amazon.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £97 Amazon.co.uk $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,021 $1,107

It’s a hat-trick for Ryzen 3 with it also reamaining our CPU of choice for those with a £1000 budget. It’s a perfectly capable processor as is and makes for a great starting point for future upgrades, if you feel the need.

Otherwise, this build sees upgrades across the board. The GTX 1060 is our graphics card of choice while the SSD has been upgraded to the faster and more capacious Samsung 850 Evo.

A better power supply, faster RAM and a nicer case also ensure your new PC has a nice balance of upgrades.

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: One area that’s a compromise in this system is the size of the SSD. Its 250GB is only really large enough to fit two or three of today’s AAA games. Swapping it out for a 500GB drive would offer some peace of mind about installing and uninstalling games all the time. You’ll have to double your outlay, but you could always drop the hard disk and then add one back in when you begin to run out of space – and if you’re upgrading your system you can keep your old hard drives.

Another obvious swap is to spend the extra £100 and get a GTX 1070. It’s around 40% faster that the GTX 1060 so makes for a good-value upgrade if you can afford it.

Finally there’s the CPU. The Ryzen 3 is perfectly capable but if you’re after a slightly more multi-tasking CPU-heavy build then a Ryzen 5 is an easy upgrade.

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 £299 Amazon.co.uk $280 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI Z370 Gaming Pro £190 Amazon.co.uk $190 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £150 Amazon.co.uk $194 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1080 £540 Amazon.co.uk $539 Amazon.com
SSD Samsung 960 Evo 250GB £123 Amazon.co.uk $118 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £70 Amazon.co.uk $82 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CS650M 80 Plus Gold £72 Amazon.co.uk $91 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £66 Amazon.co.uk $70 Amazon.com
Cooler Noctua NH-D14 £67 Amazon.co.uk $75 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £120 Amazon.co.uk $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,681 $1,759

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 new 8600K is an ideal choice. 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 for the Intel motherboard and the leap to the GTX 1080 graphics card. This little lot will power through just about anything, delivering 100fps+ at 1440p and smooth performance at 4K resolutions too.

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 most obvious consideration here is whether you’re really gaming at high enough resolutions to justify a GTX 1080. If you only have a 1080p monitor you could save £150-£200 and get a GTX 1070 instead or consider a GTX 1070 Ti as well for around £80 less.

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 £377 Amazon.co.uk $399 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon £140 Amazon.co.uk $147 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB 3000MHz £320 Amazon.co.uk $389 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1080 £540 Amazon.co.uk $499 Amazon.com
SSD Samsung 960 Evo 250GB £123 Amazon.co.uk $118 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £70 Amazon.co.uk $82 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CS650M 80 Plus Gold £72 Amazon.co.uk $69 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £66 Amazon.co.uk $70 Amazon.com
Cooler Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 £55 Amazon.co.uk $58 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £97 Amazon.co.uk $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,943 $2,045

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 and 32GB of RAM. In many ways it’s overkill for gaming but is ideal for multi-tasking, video rendering, game streaming and other processor-heavy duties.

Intel’s new 8000-series processors are a tempting option but the greater upgrade potential of AMD’s platform makes it the more sensible option.

Incidentally, 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 graphics card rather than the GTX 1080 Ti as this not only keeps the build price inside £2000 but it reflects the fact that this sort of system isn’t necessarily all about the best gaming performance; it’s aimed more at those who need a powerful system for business as well as pleasure.

Potential swaps: If you really do want the ultimate in gaming performance then the GTX 1080 Ti is the obvious upgrade. You can also run SLI/CrossFire on this system, although it’s here where you may want to consider those ultra high-end CPUs from AMD and Intel, as both platforms have more PCIe lanes, making them better for multiple graphics cards.

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 £270. Similarly, drop the motherboard to a £120 MSI X370 SLI Plus and the RAM to 16GB and you’ll still have a very powerful system that costs closer to £1500.

Finally, if you have this sort of budget but are simply after the ultimate in gaming performance then the Intel Core i7-8700K is the CPU to go for. Match that with the other components in our £1500 build, plus a GTX 1080 Ti, and it’ll provide the best all-round gaming performance right now, but it’ll cost you an extra £300-£400.