Maybe you just bought a new game, and it’s not running as well as you’d like.
Unfortunately, you’re on a budget, and can’t afford to drop thousands of dollars on a killer gaming rig.
You don’t have to wait another year.
Despite common myths, not every budget PC has to be a potato. We’ve built a sweet gaming PC for $700, and we’re going to show you how!
The Best $700 Gaming PC Build For 2019
Updated: August 18, 2019
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Before we go over all the parts in detail, let’s look at some of the basic features of our $700 PC. Here’s what we built it to do, as well as some of its limitations.
Runs All Current Games
If you’re building a PC for just one kind of game, you can sometimes skimp on one feature or another. For example, fans of strategy games like Europa Universalis 4 or Civilization VI will want a PC with a fast processor and won’t be as concerned about a fast GPU. On the other hand, if you play first-person shooters, you may not need as fast of a processor, but a slow GPU will make your game unplayable.
Our top priority was to build a system that can run any game on the market. This meant we needed to have a well-rounded system that didn’t cut corners on any key performance metrics. In short, we wanted a system with at least 8 GB of RAM, at least a 4 GB graphics card, and at least a 3.5 GHz quad-core processor.
Our $700 gaming PC has a 3.6 GHz hexa-core processor, 16 GB of RAM and an 8 GB graphics card, so we’ve certainly exceeded our minimum requirements. That said, this computer is what it is. We didn’t get a fancy heatsink or liquid cooling because we don’t plan on overclocking anything.
There are two reasons gamers tend to prefer desktop PCs over laptops. The first reason, obviously, is the price. You can get a lot more bang for your buck with even a prebuilt gaming tower, as opposed to a laptop.
The second is upgradability. Yes, you can upgrade a laptop, but it’s a pain. Nobody wants to do it, which is why landfills are full of old laptops.
Honestly, we were surprised that we were able to squeeze as much power into this computer as we were. What made us even happier was being able to use a top-notch motherboard. We’ll be going deep into the AMD X470’s feature’s in a minute, but suffice it to say this motherboard is rather future-proof.
Specialized For Gaming
To keep our PC under $700, we had to cut corners somewhere. This computer doesn’t have a WiFi card, so it will have to be plugged into your router. We’ve also suggested an inexpensive WiFi card you can add onto it.
Another thing we skipped was any kind of DVD or Blu-ray support. Most gamers these days use Steam or other online services to install their games, so we felt like not everyone would benefit from having a disc drive. That said, we included a review for a Blu-ray drive that will work nicely with this tower.
Finally, we didn’t spring for a gigantic hard drive. Instead, we opted for a 500 GB SSD, which gives much faster load times than a traditional drive and still has enough space to store several games. If you have lots of games or a large video library, you might want a larger disc drive, so we included a review of an external hard drive that’s inexpensive and reliable.
The PC Build
Now that we’ve taken an overall look at our system, let’s look at each of the parts. It’s time to take a deep dive into our new gaming PC.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
The new Ryzen 5 3600 may be all the rage right now, but the old Ryzen 5 2600X is still a magnificent CPU. In fact, we’d argue it’s even more appealing for budget builders since it’s been on a 40% discount following the release of the 3rd-gen Ryzen CPUs. So for just $150 you’re getting one of the best midrange CPUs around.
The Ryzen 5 2600X has a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, meaning that it should be able to run most modern games at normal settings without any issues. And the maximum boost will take it all the way up to 4.2GHz, putting it comfortably above the 4.0GHz threshold that puts a smile a gamers’ faces everywhere.
Unfortunately, you won’t get the new Zen 2 architecture that everyone’s raving about (for good reasons), but you’re still getting a better deal than you normally would with this budget.
This CPU is also VR-ready and has plenty of cores to support this technology. You’ll still want a beefier CPU in order to get the most out of VR, but the 6 core/12 thread Ryzen 5 2600X still exceeds the minimum VR requirements.
So all in all, you won’t find a more powerful midrange CPU for this money. The only downside is that we don’t know how well-stocked retailers still are with this last-gen CPU.
So get it while it lasts!
Cooler: Wraith Spire
Another thing that we love about the Ryzen 5 2600X is the fact that it comes with the Wraith Spire cooler. This stock cooler is a significant improvement over the Wraith Stealth that both the Ryzen 5 2600 and even the new Ryzen 5 3600 come with, and it only shoots this CPU up in value.
It can even handle some light overclocking, although we recommend getting an aftermarket cooler for anything more serious. However, the Wraith Spire is more than capable of keeping the CPU cool at stock settings. It does carry the drawback of getting somewhat noisy when under heavy load, but even then it performs admirably, just not inaudibly.
So considering that you want to get as much performance out of your $700, it’s best to just stick with the Wraith Spire and invest the money you would’ve otherwise needed for an aftermarket cooler elsewhere.
GPU: Gigabyte Radeon RX 590
Now we wanted to include the most powerful GPU we could fit into the budget to truly enable this build to dominate the 1080p resolution. So naturally, we had to go with the Radeon RX 590. This GPU simply obliterates the competition around the $200 price point.
Even the new and slightly more expensive GTX 1660 takes a beating from it in certain titles, although not all. Still, the GTX 1660 is more expensive by about $30, sometimes more, depending on the model, which didn’t provide enough incentive for us to include it, given that it usually nets you just about 5 extra frames per second.
And the Gigabyte Radeon RX 590 that we’ve picked out for this build does have the benefit of having 8GB of VRAM, which might end up mattering even more as we transition into the new console generation next year. With two Windforce fans, some slick RGB lighting and grin-inducing clock speeds, this is without a doubt the graphics card that will take your gaming to next level on a $700 budget.
So how well does it perform?
Well, we love using Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey when talking about the framerates you can expect in games, just because it’s such a poorly optimized game that everything else will run even better. An average of about 100FPS on the ultra preset in Forza Horizon 4 sounds nice and all, but you know most of your games won’t be reaching this insane framerate.
But when we say that this PC can get AC: Odyssey to hover between 50 and 55 FPS on the very high preset – now that sounds promising! With just a little effort on your part tinkering with the graphics options you can run this behemoth of a game at a stable 60FPS. And it’s not as if this graphics card caps out at 1080p either. At 1440p, AC: Odyssey will still not dip below 40 FPS with the graphics cranked up to high (as opposed to very high in 1080p) with just the antialiasing turned down to low. From there, you can either maximize the eye-candy and shoot for a stable 30FPS or you can try to sack the graphics a bit try to raise the FPS as high as it will go. In any case, this graphics card can accomplish a lot.
To give a few more examples, Shadow of the Tomb Raider behaves similarly to AC: Odyssey, if slightly more favorably, while other popular games like GTX V and Overwatch, for example, can both go up to 100FPS on the highest graphics in 1080p.
So the only potential downside to using the Radeon RX 590 is the power consumption. Basically, AMD pushed the Polaris architecture well beyond what it was intended for when making the RX 590, so the power consumption is much higher than that of the competition. To put things into perspective, the RX 590 requires about as much power to run as an RTX 2080, so we’re going to need a beefy PSU to get the system going.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking to maximize performance, there’s no beating the RX 590 at this price.
RAM: Patriot Viper Elite Series DDR4 16GB
This is another controversial choice. There are a number of people who criticize the Patriot Viper Elite Series for being too slow. This is indeed the case, if you have the wrong hardware.
Out of the box, the Elite Series clocks at only 2,400 MHz. Unless you change the BIOS settings or have a gaming motherboard, there it will remain, being slow. Thankfully, we chose a gaming motherboard that will automatically overclock the Elite Series to match your processor’s cycle speed, in our case 2,933 MHz.
This is fortunate for us, because the Elite Series is one of the most inexpensive 8 GB DDR sticks on the market, making this two-pack a perfect choice for our $700 gaming PC.
If you’re looking to save a few dollars, you can always look at a single, 16 GB stick like the Timetec Hynix IC. This is a little bit cheaper than buying two of the Elite Series sticks, but this comes at the expense of speed. It’s limited to 2,133 MHz.
For about $50 more than the Elite Series, you could get the Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro. This is another 2-pack of 8 GB DDR4 sticks, but it has an impressive clock speed of 3200 MHz. If you’re one of those strategy gamers who went for a discount graphics card, this might be a good place to beef up your rig for processing those 12-way wars on Godzilla-sized maps.
Motherboard: MSI Performance Gaming AMD X470
The motherboard is where the rubber meets the road. If your motherboard isn’t up to the latest standards, you’re not going to be able to upgrade your rig, which means you’ll end up having to start over from scratch. Nobody wants to do that.
That’s why we went with a specialized gaming motherboard from MSI. It’s specifically made for current generation AMD processors. And the other thing you may find lacking is the PCIe 4.0 support. This, however, shouldn’t be an issue for the foreseeable future, since there are as of yet no graphics cards that make use of this interface.
In terms of RAM capacity, this motherboard is a beast. It’s upgradeable to an insane 64 GB of RAM if you use four 16 GB DDR4 sticks, which means you’ll have plenty of RAM when you’re playing VR games on one of Elon Musk’s Mars colonies. Oh, yes, the AMD X470 is also VR ready.
It also has a dual power supply, specifically to provide extra juice to your processor. We’ve already lectured you about overclocking, but the option is there.
If you’re going to go that route, you’ll need extra cooling. In these circumstances, MSI’s Smart Fan optimizations let you control all your system’s fans from one central location. You can boost your main case fan, your GPU fan and your CPU cooler fan from one central location.
There are 4 USB 3.0 ports on this motherboard, as well as 2 USB 2.0 ports. The Gaming Lan Ethernet port is specially wired into the motherboard for priority processing, meaning this motherboard will deliver minimal latency for your multiplayer games. On the downside, there’s no native WiFi support, so you’ll need to use Ethernet unless you buy a WiFi card.
If you want to save money on the motherboard while still getting the most out of the other parts on this PC, you can save about $30 by investing in an MSI Gaming AMD Ryzen B350. This motherboard only has 2 USB ports, and only supports CPUs with an AMD4 mount, which means you’ll have few options when it comes time to upgrade. It also has no VR support.
SSD: Silicon Power A55 512GB SSD
A few years ago, we probably would have gone with an HDD drive for a $700 gaming rig. But times have changed. SSD drives with reasonable capacity no longer require a second mortgage. And SSDs load far faster than HDDs, making them an easy choice for gamers.
The A55 has 512 GB of capacity, and has a 3-year warranty, which makes us less worried about its long-term performance than we would be about some SSDs. It’s also very reasonably priced, comparable to some name-brand drives with far less capacity.
We like the 512 GB size because it’s enough to store about two dozen games, even after installing Windows. This is plenty of space for even the most avid gamer. If you need more than that, it may be time to consider just temporarily deleting something you haven’t played in awhile.
These days, people with the most concerns about hard drive space are people with large video libraries. That’s about the only thing that can push you beyond the capacity of a normal drive these days. If you’re one of those people, we recommend just getting an external hard drive for portability, and we’ve actually included a review of a reliable one.
If you need more storage but don’t want to sacrifice load time, you’re in for some expense. The Samsung 860 Evo holds 2 TB of data, which is enough space to store every season of Doctor Who and still leave room for all eight seasons of Star Trek: TNG. Be prepared to pay, though; it costs about five times as much as the A55.
If load times are less of a concern, you can do really well for very little cost. The Hitachi Ultrastar A7K2000 costs about $20 less than the A55, and also holds 2 TB of data. It has a 32 MB buffer, and runs at 7,200 RPM, which makes it as fast as some top of the line HDDs. That said, it’s still far slower than a SSD.
Power Supply: Thermaltake Smart 700W PSU
Now we’ve mentioned that we’ll need a pretty juicy power supply because of the RX 590 graphics card, but this isn’t necessarily a detriment with the Thermaltake Smart 700W.
This build needs slightly over 400W to operate, however, you always want to leave some wiggle-room here, and not just for potential future upgrades, although that is a big plus. Power-supplies don’t like giving it their 100% – they like to put in about the same percentage of effort and enthusiasm into their work as a DMV counter clerk. Okay, maybe not that little, but PSUs generally work best when they’re operating between 50 and 80% of their maximum capacity, hence a 700W PSU.
What’s more, the Thermaltake Smart 700W is 80+ certified. It does have the lowest 80+ rank, but even this is much preferable to no rank at all. Besides, it has a 5-year warranty. That should be a good indicator of how much faith the company has in this product.
So all in all, the Thermaltake Smart 700W PSU is a reasonably-priced and efficient power-supply that has enough juice to accommodate many future upgrades.
Case: Phanteks Elipse P300
And in case you’re wondering which case will get to house all these amazing pieces of hardware, the honor goes to the Phanteks Eclipse P300.
It’s amazing how many highly sought after features this case manages to cram in for just $60. You’re getting a full metal exterior for the sturdy support, magnetic filters for any and all openings, and even a small RGB stripe that adds a bit of character to the already stylish exterior.
As for the interior, there’s plenty of building space here despite this case having one of the smaller footprints for a mid-tower. There’s enough room behind the motherboard to rout all cables, giving the case a clean and distinguished look – which you’ll undoubtedly appreciate because of the tempered glass side panel.
And the situation is pretty breezy as far airflow is concerned. You’ll still want to install a single front-mounted fan for optimal airflow, but even the single included exhaust fan gets a fair bit accomplished on its own.
So if you want to combine build quality, style, and efficacy at a reasonable the Phanteks Eclipse P300 is the way to go.
We’ve already gone over everything you need to build a great gaming PC tower. If you’re upgrading an old PC, you may be happy with your current peripherals. But if this is your first rig, you’re going to need a mouse, keyboard and monitor to go with it.
Even if this is an upgrade, you might want to think about a gaming mouse or keyboard to improve your experience. If a new tower is worth $700 to you, remember that a mouse or a keyboard costs only a fraction of that, and can often provide major benefits.
Finally, you’re going to need an operating system. We’ll start with that, since it’s the easiest choice of the bunch.
Operating System: Windows
If you’re gaming, there’s really no better operating system than Windows. Apple is easy and convenient to use, but Apple computers are extremely difficult to build, and there just aren’t that many games for them.
Windows is the leading operating system in the world for a reason: it works, and everybody uses it. Whether you’re buying your games on Steam, GoG, or on disc, you won’t find an Apple port for most modern games.
If you have a lot of friends who are into PCs, someone may have suggested that you install Linux as your operating system. Linux can run most Windows games, but there’s a catch; because it needs to run them in an emulator, Linux can require up to twice as many system resources as Windows to run the same game. This is particularly true for games like shooters that use a lot of GPU resources.
Linux is great for programmers and some business users. For gamers, Linux means spending thousands of dollars on a computer that runs games at normal settings. If you’re on a budget, just get Windows.
That said, there’s no reason to spring for Windows Professional unless you plan on doing office work on your gaming PC. Windows Home is all you need for gaming. We do recommend the 64-bit version as opposed to the 32-bit version, though, to get the most out of your PC.
We linked the USB version since it comes on a thumb drive and has a plug-and-play install. There’s a downloadable version if you have another PC to download to, and a DVD version if you decide to install a disc drive, but the USB version will work with our PC’s base hardware.
Monitor: HP 23.8-inch FHD IPS
The HP 23.8-inch FHD IPS has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, just enough to qualify as true HD. This is the lowest you’ll pay for a full 1080p monitor from an established manufacturer. As a bonus, this monitor also has integrated speakers, which is one less gaming accessory you’ll need to buy if you’re on a shoestring budget.
The refresh rate on this monitor is “only” 60 Hz, but let’s be honest: with the rig we’ve built this will be the desired resolution and refresh rate, especially moving forward into the next console generation of AAA titles. The LED backlight makes this monitor easy on the eyes in low light, and the 5ms response time is good enough for anyone without too much latency in their internet connection.
The Acer SB220Q is a slightly cheaper monitor that’s also full HD, but it doesn’t have integrated speakers. If you’re planning on buying speakers anyway, this can save you a few bucks. On the other hand, if you’re looking to get a complete rig for the lowest possible price, stick with the HP.
If you’re looking for a true gaming monitor, the Acer XFA240 is the best deal out there. Its resolution is 1920 x 1080, and it has a refresh rate of 75 Hz, comparable to some of the better monitors out there. The big improvement here is the response time – only 1ms, fast enough for even the most competitive Call of Duty matches.
Mouse: PICTEK T7 Gaming Mouse
We chose the PICTEK T7 because it’s the most inexpensive mouse on the market that’s reliable and has some gaming features. It’s not the best gaming mouse out there by a long shot, but it’s the best one you’ll get at this price.
This is a wired mouse, which we like, but it may irritate some people. The main mouse buttons are rated for 30 million clicks, which is more than most mice on the market.
It has 4 extra buttons, two by the wheel and two by your thumb. These are preset for basic shortcut keys, but can be customized using the PICTEK software that’s included with the mouse. It can be set for various levels of sensitivity, from 1,200 DPI up to 7,200 DPI.
Gamers who want a mouse with a little more sensitivity and more buttons may prefer something like the Logitech G502 Hero. This is another wired mouse, but it’s much more sensitive than the TV – up to 16,000 DPI – with a special sniper button that will instantly drop your sensitivity to 200 DPI. That said, it’s expensive, more than three times as much as the T7.
If you’re looking for a budget mouse, the VicTsing Wired Mouse is a durable, basic option that has a standard, 3 button design. That said, it’s not very sensitive, only 1,200 DPI, so it’s not great for first-person shooters or high-resolution displays.
Finally, the VicTsing 2.4G Wireless Mouse is a good choice for gamers who really need a wireless mouse. It’s inexpensive, but the resolution only goes up to 2,400 DPI, so it’s not as sensitive as most gaming mice.
Keyboard: VicTsing Gaming Keyboard
The VicTsing Gaming Keyboard is a reasonably-priced USB gaming keyboard. Yes, it has gorgeous LED lights, but that’s not why we picked it.
For one thing, it’s a USB keyboard and not a battery-powered one. We understand why people prefer battery-operated mice, but a keyboard? That’s one battery too many for our taste.
Second is the quality of the construction. The keyboard panel itself is made of high-quality metal, and the keys are well spaced and have a light touch. There’s also a function for hot-swapping between WASD controls and the directional pad, which is great if you’re playing a game with multiple control sets.
The VicTsing is also designed so that the 19 most common keys are non-conflicting. No more having your grenade button fail because you hit “E” while you were also holding “W”. Because of this and the light keystroke, this keyboard isn’t ideal if you do a lot of typing.
For a more general-purpose keyboard that works also works well for gaming, consider an ergonomic keyboard, like the Microsoft Natural Egronomic Keyboard. These cost about the same as a basic gaming keyboard, and while they don’t have special gaming features, they’re extremely comfortable for those long dungeon raids.
If your budget is already stretched to the limit, the VicTsing Wired Keyboard is an inexpensive, no-frills keyboard that does the basics well.
If you only wanted the basics, you can stop here. That’s enough to get you up and running. If you’re looking for more storage, better sound quality, or a WiFi card, we’ve listed a few compatible peripherals here that will get you pointed in the right direction.
If you only wanted the basics, you can stop here. That’s enough to get you up and running. If you’re looking for more storage, better sound quality, or a WiFi card, we’ve listed a few compatible peripherals here that will get you pointed in the right direction.
Speakers: Logitech Z200 Speakers
Logitech’s Z200 speakers put out a lot of punch for their size. There are two, 2.5” heads on each speaker, one active, one passive. The speakers run at a peak power of 10 watts, which is enough to fill a medium-sized room.
These speakers are very reasonably priced, and don’t take up much space on your desk. They connect to your PC’s 3.5mm audio jack.
Since they’re so powerful, the Logitech Z200 speakers plug into a wall outlet, not into your USB drive. This can be a plus, since it’s one less device taking up a USB port. On the other hand, it means you’ll need to make more room on your surge protector instead.
Headphones: Mpow EG3 Gaming Headset
This is an inexpensive, comfortable that has all the features you’ll need. The 7-foot cable is enough to avoid accidental tugs, and the padding around the earphones is nice and thick. There’s a protective leather strap under the aluminum frame, for a perfect balance between durability and comfort.
It connects via USB, and both the headphones and the microphone are plug and play on Windows, as well as on your PlayStation 4. Speaking of the microphone, it has noise filtering, so your party members won’t have to hear your dishwasher running in the background.
The Mpow EG3 was made specifically first-person shooter players. The speakers simulate 7.1 surround sound, so you can hear exactly where that shot came from.
External HDD: Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive
We debated whether to go with an internal HDD here or an external one. In the end, it came down to convenience.
Back in the bad old days of USB 1.0, external hard drives were significantly slower than internal ones. They gained a reputation among gamers for long load times and open-world games hanging between map regions.
Nowadays, USB 3.0 can keep up with even the fastest external hard drives. They still load slower than SSDs, but only because HDDs are slower than SSDs in general. If you’re going to use an HDD for bulk storage, you may as well use an external one and get some portability out of the deal.
This HDD holds 2 TB of data, and comes pre-formatted for Windows, so it’s as easy to use as a thumb drive.
WiFi Card: Ubit 450M Dual Band WiFi Network Card
This little guy will plug right into one of the PCI-E ports on the AMD X470 motherboard. It’s dual-band, operating at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, which means it will work with older and newer devices alike. It works out of the box with Windows 10 64-bit.
The speed maxes out at 450 Mbps, which isn’t going to get the most out of a gigabit connection but will be far faster than most people’s high-speed connections. There are three optional antennas you can attach to boost your signal. You won’t need these if your computer is right next to your router, but then again, if your computer is next to your router, a wired connection will be faster anyway.
Wrist Rest: GoldenClaw WR1
Moving the last recommended peripheral, we got a wrist rest. Not just any wrist rest, but the comfortable and popular GoldenClaw WR1 Wrist Rest.
These wrist rest pads for both your wrists will protect you against carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain syndrome, so they are highly recommended if you spend extended periods of time in front of your computer.
As you can see, even with a barebones system, there are a ton of accessories which can improve your experience as much as a faster processor or more RAM. There are a ton of ways to upgrade your gaming PC, from speakers to a gaming mouse to a bigger monitor.
Whether you end up tricking out your new rig with a bunch of accessories, or whether you just want a barebones system that will run the current AAA titles, we hope this build has at least pointed you in the right direction. If nothing else, we hope you’ve learned that it’s possible to build a sweet PC for $700.
Samuel is GamingScan’s editor-in-chief. He describes himself as a hardcore gamer & programmer and he enjoys getting more people into gaming and answering people’s questions. He closely follows the latest trends in the gaming industry in order to keep you all up-to-date with the latest news.