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 the best gaming PC in 2018 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 gaming PC build for everything from casual gaming to hardcore 4K fragging.

Related: Best motherboards

Best Gaming PC 2018: What’s new?

The first wave of Nvidia’s RTX 20 Series graphics cards are finally here, with the RTX 2080 now available to buy. That doesn’t mean you should rush to the store and grab one just yet though, as we’re still awaiting the release of the RTX 2070 and 2080 Ti, which could potentially better suit your needs.

While the new generation of graphics cards reportedly offer a sizeable boost to 4K visuals, it’s the real-time ray tracing tech that is seemingly the most exciting update, which Nvidia claims will dramatically improve light effects in supported video ames. While we’ll have to wait a few months for software support and the list of compatible games to grow, it’s still a very exciting feature to keep in mind when building your rig. Plus, the launch of the new graphics cards will likely trigger a price cut for the current range of GPUs.

As well as new graphics cards, Intel’s 9th Gen CPUs are also expected to be arriving shortly. Rumours suggest that the Core i9-9900K will offer a noticeably slicker performance compared to last year’s equivalent, as YouTuber Lau Kin Lam posted a video that claimed the new high-end processor scored a benchmark rating of 2166 in Cinebench.

And of course, a new generation of CPUs will inevitably be followed by a wave of Intel 9th Gen-compatible motherboards too. We did warn you that it’s not a great time buy PC components. If you want the best gaming PC rig possible, we suggest you wait a few weeks and look to Trusted once we’ve reviewed all the new GPUs, CPUs motherboards and more. Can’t wait that long? Then look below for everything you need to build the best gaming PC within your budget.

Related: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080

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 $99 Amazon.com
Motherboard Gigabyte B450M-DS3H £70 Overclockers.co.uk $79 Newegg.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £80 Overclockers.co.uk $90 Newegg.com
Graphics card GeForce GTX 1050 2GB £125 Overclockers.co.uk $140 Newegg.com
SSD Kingston UV500 120GB £35 Overclockers.co.uk $37 Newegg.com
HDD N/A £0 $0
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £35 Scan.co.uk $35 Newegg.com
Case BitFenix Neos £35 Overclockers.co.uk $41 Newegg.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £590 $641

The AMD Ryzen 3 2200G remains, for now, our top choice of CPU for the best gaming PC experience within a reasonable budget. It runs at a decent clock speed, boasts four cores and its overclockable so there’s room to eek out more performance. It also comes with a cooler included.

What’s more, going with the 2200G means you can potentially put off buying a separate graphics card, if you really are on a tight budget, thanks to its onboard graphics. 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 $99 Amazon.com
Motherboard Gigabyte B450M-DS3H £70 Overclockers.co.uk $79 Newegg.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance 8GB 2666MHz, 2 x 4GB £80 Overclockers.co.uk $90 Newegg.com
Graphics card GeForce GTX 1060 3GB £210 Overclockers.co.uk $280 Amazon.com
SSD Crucial MX500 250GB £55 Scan.co.uk $59 Amazon.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £38 Amazon.co.uk $44 Newegg.com
Power Supply Corsair VS450 £35 Scan.co.uk $35 Newegg.com
Case BitFenix Neos £35 Overclockers.co.uk $41 Newegg.com
Cooler Included with CPU £0 $0
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £733 $847

AMD Ryzen 3 is the CPU of choice for our £800, VR-ready build, with the 2200G again being our choice. Elsewhere, we’ve also stuck with the same motherboard as our cheaper build but there’s now 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.

In our opinion, this is the best gaming PC you can build for the money, both for VR and gaming at Full HD resolutions on a conventional monitor.

Bear in mind, though, if you’ve got an HTC Vive Pro, you’ll want a GPU that’s equivalent to or better than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070, while your motherboard will need a DisplayPort.

Best Gaming PC - 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 (£390).

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 £200 Overclockers.co.uk $210 Newegg.com
Motherboard ASRock Z370 Pro4 £90 Overclockers.co.uk $108 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £159 Overclockers.co.uk $150 Amazon.com
Graphics card GeForce GTX 1060 6GB £249 Overclockers.co.uk $280 Amazon.com
SSD Crucial MX 500GB £83 Scan.co.uk $90 Amazon.com
HDD WD Blue 1TB HDD £38 Amazon.co.uk $44 Newegg.com
Power Supply Corsair CX-M 650W £84 Overclockers.co.uk $70 Newegg.com
Case NZXT S340 £69 Amazon.co.uk $73 Newegg.com
Cooler Raijintek Themis £25 Overclockers.co.uk $28 Newegg.com
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,117 $1,173

While AMD dominates our 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 £200, making it the clear choice for the sort of price of this build.

Elsewhere, the system has a quality entry-level compatible motherboard and ample 16GB of RAM. We’ve 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 £249 Overclockers.co.uk $249 Amazon.com
Motherboard MSI Z370 Gaming Pro £170 Overclockers.co.uk $165 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £159 Overclockers.co.uk $150 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1070 £399 Overclockers.co.uk $399 Newegg.com
SSD Samsung 970 Evo 500GB £170 Overclockers.co.uk $148 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £69 Amazon.co.uk $77 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair TX650M 80 Plus Gold £99 Overclockers.co.uk $105 Newegg.com
Case NZXT S340 £69 Amazon.co.uk $73 Newegg.com
Cooler Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3 £67 Overclockers.co.uk $73 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,571 $1,559

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 other than a motherboard upgrade and the leap to the GTX 1070 graphics card. Not that long ago we were listing the GTX 1080 for this build but with graphics card prices still high, we’ve had to drop down to the GTX 1070. It won’t always deliver quite the smoothness of performance at 4K as the GTX 1080 but will be close enough most of the time.

A fast Samsung 970 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 2700 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.

Best Gaming PC - Asus Maximus VIII Hero

The Workstation – Best gaming PC for £2000 ($2100)

Component Name UK Price UK Supplier US Price US Supplier
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 2700X £286 Amazon.co.uk $320 Amazon.com
Motherboard Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming £135 Overclockers.co.uk $160 Amazon.com
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz £159 Overclockers.co.uk $150 Amazon.com
Graphics card MSI GTX 1080 Ti £690 Overclockers.co.uk $710 Newegg.com
SSD Samsung 970 Evo 500GB £170 Overclockers.co.uk $148 Amazon.com
HDD Toshiba 3TB HDD £69 Amazon.co.uk $77 Amazon.com
Power Supply Corsair TX650M 80 Plus Gold £99 Overclockers.co.uk $105 Newegg.com
Case NZXT S340 £69 Amazon.co.uk $73 Newegg.com
Cooler Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 £71 Overclockers.co.uk $75 Amazon.com
Software Windows 10 £120 Microsoft.com $120 Amazon.com
Total: £1,868 $1,938

Our £1,750-£2,000 AMD Ryzen/Workstation build is all about the huge multi-core power of the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X CPU. Its 8-core/16-thread configuration provides masses of processing for a fantastic proce.

We’ve paired it with the feature-packed Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming motherboard and 16GB or RAM. It would be tempting to get 32GB but RAM prices are just too high at the moment to justify 32GB for most users.

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 you’re 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 a tad beefier to cope with the 2700X’s extra heat output.

We’ve chosen the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti graphics so as to deliver one of the best gaming performance available right now. Only Nvidia’s 20 Series GPUs can beat it, but we’re yet to give them a thorough testing, so we not yet able to determine whether the RTX 2080 represents a better buy.

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 – until Intel releases its 9th Gen CPUs – 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 2700. 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.

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