Best Gaming PC July 2017: The ultimate PC specs from £500 to £2000

Building the best gaming PC for your budget isn’t as hard as you might imagine, but with so many components from which to choose, where do you start? Right here: we’ve picked out the best items to buy, whatever your budget. So whether you’ve scrabbled together £500, or have £1500 burning a hole in your pocket, read on to find out how you can build the best gaming PC for your money.

Each month, we scour online shops to find the best deals for the best combination of components to suit five main budgets: £500, £800, £1000, £1500 and £2000. The £800 build is also our VR-centric build with it aimed at meeting or surpassing Oculus VR’s recommended specs for its Oculus Rift.

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?

The big news this month has been the arrival of Intel’s new high-end CPUs and motherboards. The Skylake X and Kaby Lake X processors and X299 motherboards are in some ways designed to take on AMD’s Ryzen processors, though in actuality they’re an altogether more powerful prospect.

Like Intel’s previous high-end platform, these aren’t just fast processors but the whole motherboard setup is more capable. The key is the number of PCIe lanes. Whereas X370 Ryzen motherboards have a maximum of 16 PCIe lanes, X299 boards have 24. This makes them better suited for multi-graphics cards systems, and those that use multiple PCIe SSDs.

Crucially, though, the entire platform is too expensive and too high-end to be of any real consequence to our gaming PCs. It will only be our most expensive workstation build where you may want to swap from our AMD setup to an Intel one. Incidentally, this will also be the case when AMD’s competing Threadripper processors arrive too.

Related: Best CPU Coolers

The other news is the continued shortage of some graphics cards due to them all being bought up by cryptocurrency miners. This has also lead to some price rises, particularly in the USA where some cards are up to $100 more than a couple of months ago.

Nonetheless, for the most part our builds this month are all but identical to last month, with just a few tweaks to the exact choice of graphics card and motherboard.

Look out next month for the arrival of AMD’s budget Ryzen 3 processors, which are set to really shake things up for our builds.

Finally, we’ve also published our definitive list of the best motherboards you can buy, which features both the best of the AMD and Intel camps.

Note: Prices correct as of 13 July 2017. Delivery not included.

The 1080p eSports Gaming PC – Best Gaming PC under £500 ($600)

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU Intel Celeron G4600 £60 Scan.co.uk $86 Amazon.com
Motherboard Asrock B250 Pro4 £84 Ebuyer.com $75 Newegg.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £66 Amazon.co.uk $77 Amazon.com
Graphics card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 £108 Amazon.co.uk $120 Amazon.com
SSD Kingston UV400 120GB £54 Overclockers.co.uk $60 Newegg.com
HDD N/A £0 $0
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £34 Amazon.co.uk $47 Amazon.com
Case Aerocool 300 £29 Overclockers.co.uk $41 Amazon.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £75 Amazon.co.uk $110 Amazon.com
Total: £510 $616

We’ve tweaked a few things this month in our most budget build but largely the picture is the same as before. The system is based on the budget combo of a B250 motherboard and Intel G4600 processor.

These are both right on the lower limit of what you can get away with for a gaming PC, particularly as regards the CPU, but provide a solid enough foundation.

Elsewhere this is one build where the price of the graphics card hasn’t changed much so we’ve been able to stick with the excellent GTX 1050 – a card that’s ample for 1080p gaming.

The rest of the system is as minimalist as you can get with a spacious and well-ventilated but basic case, a small SSD and a basic power supply.

Nontheless, this little lot will get you solid performance in eSports games.

Potential swaps: This is a budget build so in nearly all areas there’s plenty of room for improvement. Perhaps the most obvious 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, maybe, but not slower to run).

Otherwise, if you can stretch to spending another £100 – £150 then and you can get both an SSD and a hard drive and upgrade your CPU to something like the Intel Core i3-7100.

Also consider upgrading the motherboard to one based on the Z270 chipset as this will provide more features and overclocking, making it a better long-term investment. And you could swap to the AMD RX 560 graphics card instead of the GTX 1050, if you want to get a monitor with adaptive sync but don’t want to pay the extra for G-Sync.


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 5 1500X £170 Overclockers.co.uk $190 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI B350M Gaming Pro £99 Overclockers.co.uk $80 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £66 Amazon.co.uk $77 Amazon.com
Graphics card Sapphire RX 570 4GB ITX £240 Scan.co.uk $323 Amazon.com
SSD Kingston UV400 120GB £54 Overclockers.co.uk $60 Newegg.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £43 Amazon.co.uk $50 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £34 Amazon.co.uk $47 Amazon.com
Case Aerocool 300 £29 Overclockers.co.uk $41 Amazon.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £75 Amazon.co.uk $110 Amazon.com
Total: £810 $978

Our VR build is essentially our cheapest build but with a quad-core CPU, a slightly upgraded graphics card and the addition of a hard drive. Combined they make for a system that’s better able to cope with the demands that VR places on a PC.

As with last month, though, this is one build where the price of our choice of graphics card has massively increased. You were able to get RX 570 cards for £180 two months ago but now you’re paying £240. Rather than change the rest of our build, though, we’ve kept it mostly the same, pushing us a little higher than the £750-£800 we normally aim for.

Crucially, the CPU and motherboard here are great combination. The 1500X is both quad-core and has multi-threading, giving it masses of multi-core processing power. Meanwhile, unlike some cheap Intel motherboards, the board we’ve chosen here allows for overclocking too so you can squeeze every last drop of performance for the 1500X.

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.

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 £1,000 ($1100)

 

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU Intel Core i3-7350K £140 Overclockers.co.uk $140 Amazon.com
Motherboard Asus Prime Z270-A £115 Scan.co.uk $120 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £127 Amazon.co.uk $135 Amazon.com
Graphics card EVGA GTX 1060 £270 Scan.co.uk $380 Amazon.com
SSD Samsung 850 Evo 250GB £99 Overclockers.co.uk $100 Amazon.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £43 Amazon.co.uk $50 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CX650 £69 Overclockers.co.uk $70 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £70 Overclockers.co.uk $75 Newegg.com
Cooler CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo £29 Overclockers.co.uk $30 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £75 Amazon.co.uk $110 Amazon.com
Total: £1,037 $1,210

Thanks to AMD’s Ryzen processors finally bringing some competition back to the CPU market, we’ve finally started to see some CPU price drops and our £1000 build is one area where we’ve seen this benefit. The Intel Core i3-7350K has dropped by £20 since last month, which, along with slight drops for our choice of graphics card and SSD means we’re £50 better off than last month. Result.

Otherwise, the core of this system is still that processor, an Intel Z270 motherboard and the ecellent GTX 1060 graphics card. That trio gets you excellent performance in the majority of games and you have plenty of CPU overclocking potential too.

Elsewhere we’ve moved to a nicer-looking case than our cheaper builds, gone for a better power supply and opted for a faster and larger SSD. Oh, and we’ve added an after-market CPU cooler, too.

Altogether these tweaks make for a faster, better looking, quieter, cooler system, and one that’ll deliver consistent gaming performance at 1440p resolutions.

Watch: Nvidia GTX 1070 review

Potential swaps: The major potential swap here is opting for the AMD Ryzen 1500X of our £800 build. The processor doesn’t run at as high a clock speed but it has double the number of cores so it far better for multi-tasking and other CPU-intensive work such as video editing/encoding. You’d also need to swap in a different motherboard, of course.

Alternatively you could opt for the £180 Intel Core i5-6400. This is also a quad-core chip, though it lacks hyperthreading and isn’t multiplier unlocked for easy overclocking.

Another area where you might want to tweak things is the size of the SSD. Our 250GB choice 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 then you can keep your old hard drives.

Otherwise, you’re looking at just spending more by opting for an even faster graphics card such as the GTX 1070. It’s £100 more but is around 40% faster that the GTX 1060 so makes for a good-value upgrade if you can afford it.

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

 

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU Intel Core i5-7600K £224 Amazon.co.uk $215 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI Z270 Gaming Pro £126 Overclockers.co.uk $145 Newegg.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £127 Amazon.co.uk $135 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1080 £500 Overclockers.co.uk $510 Amazon.com
SSD Samsung 960 Evo 250GB £119 Amazon.co.uk $147 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £72 Amazon.co.uk $81 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CS650M 80 Plus Gold £78 Amazon.co.uk $80 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £70 Overclockers.co.uk $75 Newegg.com
Cooler Noctua NH-D14 £67 Overclockers.co.uk $70 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £75 Amazon.co.uk $110 Amazon.com
Total: £1,458 $1,568

This month our build has come in well under budget thanks largely to our choice of graphics card being £50 cheaper than last month. Not that the exact card dropped in price, but we found an alternative for even less.

It’s this Nvidia GTX 1080 combined with the Intel Core i5-7600K that makes this a monster of a gaming PC. In most games it’ll deliver 100fps+ at 1440p and smooth performance at 4K resolutions too.

Ably assisting that fast CPU and GPU is a fantastic mid-range motherboard that has loads of features and overclocking potential, plus we move to a fast Samsung 960 Evo SSD that will keep boot-up, app startup and file transfer times to a minimum. You also get a spacious 3TB hard drive for all your bulk data and a fantastic-quality CPU cooler.

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.

Meanwhile, if multi-thread performance is particularly important to you, then you could swap the Intel CPU and motherboard for the Ryzen 5 1600X 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 £400 Amazon.co.uk $420 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon £145 Amazon.co.uk $166 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB 3000MHz £270 Amazon.co.uk $275 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1080 £500 Overclockers.co.uk $510 Amazon.com
SSD Samsung 960 Evo 250GB £119 Amazon.co.uk $147 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £72 Amazon.co.uk $81 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair CS650M 80 Plus Gold £78 Amazon.co.uk $80 Amazon.com
Case NZXT S340 £70 Overclockers.co.uk $75 Newegg.com
Cooler Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 £54 Overclockers.co.uk $58 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £75 Amazon.co.uk $110 Amazon.com
Total: £1,782 $1,922

Our AMD Ryzen/Workstation build centres around the huge multi-core power of the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X, which we’ve paired with the feature-packed MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon 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.

The rest of the 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 the AMD’s AM4 socket.

Interestingly, though, by switching to a slightly cheaper motherboard this month, and with the 1800X dropping by £50, we’ve come in well under budget. This means we could’ve chosen to upgrade to the GTX 1080 Ti but we decided to stick with the GTX 1080 as 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 less capable than Intel’s rival LGA2011 platform when it comes to 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 £330. Similarly, drop the motherboard to a £150 X370 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 after the ultimate in gaming performance then the Intel Core i7-7700K is the CPU to go for. Match that with the other components in our £1500 build and it’ll provide the best all-round gaming performance right now.

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