The new generation of gaming GPUs has brought with it a real gem – the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super. Yes, we know that RTX cards are all the rage now. However, not only are they pretty damn expensive, but there are also too few games that take advantage of this new technology.
Not the GTX 1660 Super, though.
It may not be able to compare on a technical level, but with its introduction gamers are finally able to get the most out of 1080p gaming at a much lower price. So with that in mind, we’ll now present to you the best gaming PC under $800, with enough power to topple last year’s $1000 solutions with ease.
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The Best Gaming PC Under $800 For 2020
Updated: January 16, 2020
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So, what exactly can this PC do? Why, we’re glad you asked because there are two points in which this PC excels: 1080p gaming, and overclocking.
Much like its predecessor – the hugely popular GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM – the GTX 1660 Super is a graphics card that will let you max out almost any game. In fact, it’s much closer in performance to the GTX 1070.
And we only say ‘almost any game’ because of some poorly optimized hardware-eaters out there like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. But even in such games, the framerate should never drop below 50 FPS, and keep in mind that this is with every single graphics setting turned on and cranked up the max! Tinkering with the graphics options just a bit should easily get you a stable 60 FPS even in games like Odyssey and Metro Exodus.
As for most other AAA titles, they inch closer to 90 FPS than 60 FPS.
And of course, then there’s overclocking. Now don’t let the light adjective throw you off! This PC is stacked, and the only way we could’ve made it more overclocking-friendly would be by sacking the butchering the base performance. Still, there is some potential.
The Ryzen 5 3600x comes with a very decent cooler that can handle some overclocking. If you’re looking to take it to the next level, you’ll, of course, have to invest in an aftermarket solution (as well as a better motherboard), but even without it, you’re free to inject that little extra bit of productivity into your gaming rig at any time.
The same goes for the GPU. This build may not use a triple-fan monster of a card (nor do we recommend triple-fan GTX 1660 Ti cards as they’re dangerously close to the reference RTX 2060 in price, in which case the value goes in the favor of the RTX), but they can still handle the extra nudge in the right direction.
The PC Build
But enough of that! We know why you’re here – to see whether the hardware we’ve selected elicits a concurring nod or a dissatisfied shake of the head. So without any further ado, we present the parts that will dominate the $800 price range in 2020.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600x
We said it before and we’ll say it again – the AMD Ryzen 5 3600x is the most cost-efficient mid-range CPU out there. It even beats out Intel i5-9600K in terms of single-core performance, all the while coming in at a lower price point with a stock cooler that actually presents some decent value.
Related: Best Ryzen CPU For Gaming
And besides, it’s no slouch either, what with a 3.8 GHz base clock speed and a Boost frequency of up to 4.4 GHz that takes it comfortably above the widely-coveted 4.0 GHz mark. And that’s without the overclocking, which we’ve already discussed.
To put the performance in perspective: in certain games, you’ll be getting a higher FPS with the Ryzen 5 3600x than you would with the Intel i5-9600K, which costs more and requires an aftermarket cooler!
Now the amount of FPS will depend on the game – in fact, Intel still has the edge in certain titles. But we must emphasize that large discrepancies only really start kicking in way past the 60 FPS mark. Still, in many games, the Ryzen 5 3600x will get you that one step closer towards a stable 60 FPS with maxed out graphics.
All in all, there simply is no better CPU for this build if we’re looking to meet the $800 budget.
Related: Best CPU’s For Gaming
Cooler: Wraith Spire
One of the best things about the Ryzen 5 3600x is the fact that it comes with a decent stock cooler – the Wraith Spire, which a significant step up from the Wraith Stealth that comes with the Ryzen 5 3600.
It doesn’t have any extra features, like the LED lighting that the Wraith Prism has, but we certainly don’t mind this functionality over form approach.
Most importantly, it’s capable enough to get the most out of this build (which not many stock coolers are) without you needing to go invest into any aftermarket solution.
This is, of course, based on the premise that you won’t be doing any serious overclocking.
Related: Best CPU Cooler
GPU: Asus Evo Edition GTX 1660S 6GB
And here it is, the bread and butter of this build, the thing that makes it all work, the amazing GPU from Nvidia with a price-to-performance ratio that will leave any gamer satisfied– the GTX 1660 Super. More specifically, the Asus Evo Edition GTX 1660 Super!
Related: Best GTX 1660 Ti Graphics Card
Let’s chat a bit about this new launch from Nvidia. To say that the card baffled users when it first came out is an understatement. It fell somewhere between the GTX 1660 and GTX 1660 Ti price range, but the only noticeable difference was the transition from 6GB of GDDR5 type memory to 6GB of GDDR6.
This made users wonder: why would anyone buy this GPU?
Well, because upon closer examination it becomes clear that its placement between the 1660 and the 1660 Ti is completely justified.
First of all, what most would describe as ‘just a memory upgrade’ actually makes a huge difference as it allows the speed to jump from 192GB/s to 336GB/s which is on par with the RTX 2060! Surprised? We were too.
But that’s not the only improvement. The card also comes with some software updates like the ultra-low latency (or Anti-Lag for AMD connoisseurs out there) which is now compatible with G-SYNC, so both can be active at the same time.
And finally, the 1660 Super has image sharpening support now built into the control panel. So if that’s something that interests you, you’ll be happy to know that with the 1660 Super, tweaking your games will be easier than ever.
Now, after reading all of this you might still wonder if this card is really THAT much better than the GTX 1660. The answer is yes, and no.
If you already own a GTX 1660, cashing out over $200 for a few minor upgrades would be plain silly.
However, this article is designed for those looking to build a PC from scratch, so if you’re already buying all new hardware, there is no reason not to go with the Super.
Because it does also offer a slight FPS increase compared to the GTX 1660 which is especially noticeable around and below the 60 FPS mark. This improvement is enough to allow you to maximize your 1080p gaming experience and even dabble in some 1440p gaming.
Moreover, the difference between the 1660 and the 1660 Super is only about $20, so when people as us why we are inclined to respond with: why not?
Related: Best Graphics Card For Gaming
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
As for RAM Memory, we’ve decided to go the extra mile and stack this gaming rig with 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX running at 3200MHz.
You could technically get by on only 8 GB, but if the idea is to max out the settings in every game, you will certainly appreciate the extra mileage that you’ll get out of 16GB. What’s even better that you won’t have to worry about closing all unnecessary background processes every time you want to game.
We’ve also chosen to inject that extra bit of performance by opting for dual-channel memory with two 8GB sticks. This will not only have a positive effect on performance, but it’s also a better option than having a single 16GB stick since, should one of them fail on you, you’ll still be able to run on the remaining 8GB until you find a replacement.
Related: Best RAM For Gaming
Motherboard: MSI B450M PRO-VDH MAX
The MSI B450M PRO-VDH MAX is a budget motherboard through and through, and as such there aren’t really any special features to speak of. We admit that this isn’t ideal, but we had to make certain compromises to meet the budget.
However, this doesn’t mean that this motherboard is bad, far from it. What it means is only that it doesn’t have fancy additional features such as a built-in Wi-Fi card or RGB.
The PRO-VHD MAX uses the AM4 chip, it is compatible with the new 3rd-gen Ryzen chips out of the box, and it caps out at 64 GB of RAM, which is much more than you’ll need for the foreseeable future.
The few extra features that it does have are the PCI-E Steel Armor for your VGA cards and Turbo M.2 for maximized NVMe SSD performance. The PRO-VDH MAX also has Audio Boost and DDR4 Boost which overall amounts to better RAM performance and increased stability, to speak nothing of the numerous connectivity options.
Overall, for a PC of this budget, the PRO-VDH MAX should work perfectly fine so long as you don’t intend on doing any serious overclocking.
Related: Best Gaming Motherboards
SSD: Samsung 970 Evo Plus 250 GB
Now while the type of storage you use doesn’t have any direct bearing on performance in terms of FPS, going with an SSD will still improve your gaming experience by significantly reducing the time you’ll be stuck looking at loading screens.
But don’t go thinking that we’d choose just any SSD either. What we have here is 250GB of the Samsung 970 Evo Plus.
While you might think that 250GB is not enough for gaming and while, admittedly, we would be inclined to agree, the reason we decided on this NVMe SSD was that, as always, we sought quality over quantity, and at its current price the 970 Evo Plus was simply too good to pass up.
However, this does mean that you will likely have to get additional storage in the future, and here you have three options:
- Keep the storage you already own from an old PC provided that it’s functional
- Get a new HDD with plenty of storage
- Get a regular 2.5” SSD
The first option is the most budget-friendly, and what most of you on a tight budget will probably choose to go with.
The second and third options are for those who don’t own an old storage device, or for some reason don’t want to use it in their new PC. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and since the price difference is negligible, whether you’ll go with one or the other will entirely depend on your personal needs and preferences.
HDDs are slower, but sturdier, offer more storage, and have a longer life-span. If this is what you want to go with we suggest the Western Digital Blue‘s 1TB option. It’s hardly gamer-grade, at only 5400 RPM, but this really is plenty given that all of your games should be on your SSD along with the operating system.
SSDs offer less memory for the same price and have shorter life-spans, but they are much, much faster. If you plan on buying one of these we highly suggest the Samsung 860 Evo. It is the best SSD storage you can get for gaming. It’s one of the fastest gaming-grade SSDs that use the SATA III interface, but more importantly, it’s one of the most durable and most reliable SSDs in this price range as well, and it even comes with a 5-year warranty to keep your mind at ease.
Keep in mind, however, that buying new storage will make you exceed the $800 budget. If that’s not something you are ready to do, another option is to go for one of the non-NVMe storage suggested above for your base build. This will make your PC slower, but you won’t have to worry about getting additional storage anytime soon.
Related: Best SSD For Gaming
Power Supply: Thermaltake SMART 650W 80+ Bronze
And to keep this hardware running without any hiccups whatsoever we present the Thermaltake SMART 650W.
Not only does this PSU provide enough power for this build, but it also offers sufficient room for many future upgrades.
Moreover, the Thermaltake SMART is 80 PLUS Bronze certified. This means that the PSU is more efficient than non-certified models. Ideally, this means that you should save up on some cash in the long run, but this is hardly the reason we opted for a Bronze certified model. What drew us to it the most is the added reassurance of quality that’s also reflected in the 5-year warranty.
Ideally, we would have liked to have included at least a semi-modular version of this PSU, but unfortunately, due to budget constraints we weren’t able to do that, so this PSU is non-modular.
Functionally, it will serve you just the same. You’ll just have to deal with an added bit of cable clutter, but thankfully this shouldn’t be much of an issue because the case that will be housing all of these components is none other than the Cooler Master MasterBox NR600.
Related: How To Choose A Power Supply
Case: Cooler Master MasterBox NR600
The Cooler Master MasterBox NR600 is hardly the most visually stunning computer case out there, but if you’re looking for the most cost-effective case that places functionality and quality as its top priorities, then no case in this price range can match it!
Related: How To Choose A PC Case
First and foremost the case has excellent airflow, 2 USB 3.0 ports, simplified cable management, and has some of the most easily manageable SSD/HDD racks you can get at this price.
It also comes with two preinstalled case-mounted fans on the back and front, with support for two more on the top and two in the front of the case. Additional fans would certainly further improve the airflow, but they are far from necessary.
Furthermore, the case has a sleek, minimalist exterior that fits into any environment, and a beautiful tempered glass side panel that will show off all the amazing hardware we’ve intended for it.
Related: Best Gaming PC Cases
But you need more than just hardware in order to game (although the hardware is the only thing that we took into consideration for the budget!) – you also need peripherals. And not just any peripherals will do. So to enhance the functionality of this PC we’ve handpicked some essential peripherals.
These are by no means irreplaceable, and if you’re happy with the equipment you’ve already got, by all means, feel free to just migrate it to this new gaming rig. But if you want cost-effective peripherals with the performance to match this PC then read on.
Operating System: Windows
Now like we’ve said, this PC is stacked, and while Linux has been making strides to offer better and better gaming experiences (with Vine and Steam even allowing you to play some Windows-only titles on Linux), Windows still remains the best option if you want to get the best performance out of your hard-earned hardware.
Related: What Is The Best OS For Gaming?
Monitor: Acer G257HU
Now here is where things get tricky. Like we’ve said, this $800 PC easily meets and even exceeds the best $1000 PCs of last year in terms of performance. In terms of value, this is excellent; it’s all any gamer could want!
But when deciding on peripherals to feature in these guides, we also have to make sure their price is proportional to the budget. And seeing how a monitor that could get the most out of a $1000 PC last year still costs pretty much exactly the same… well, you see where we’re going with this.
So with that in mind, we’ve decided to showcase more humble monitors without many extra features like G-Sync (which would be compatible with this PC). We also have to take performance into account, and this PC can cater to two distinct profiles of gamers.
It can handle 2K gaming at 60FPS (with some clever management of the graphics settings) for maximum eye-candy, so that will be one model, but there will also be a solution for those you are more interested in higher refresh rates than higher resolutions.
As for your 2K 60FPS needs, we figured the best monitor to cover them at a reasonable price would be the Acer G257HU. It’s not the largest 2K monitor, but at 25-inches it’s not like you’ll be missing out on a lot (27 inches is the largest a monitor should be for comfortable up-close viewing), and the pixel density will be amazing.
What’s more, 25 inches isn’t too large for 1080p gaming, so if ever a game comes that your PC won’t be able to run in 2K at a satisfactory quality preset, you’ll be sure to appreciate this monitor size. Couple this with the IPS panel and you’ve got a monitor that will wow you with its stunning image.
However, if you’re into competitive multiplayer, you’ll care more about performance than image quality. If this is the case, then you’ll want a 1080p monitor with a TN panel that can handle a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time without breaking the bank. And one of the best monitors that can meet these requirements has got to be the AOC G2460PF.
Related: Best Gaming Monitors
Mouse: SteelSeries Rival 110
But not everyone likes a heavy mouse. In fact, FPS games are all but sure to hate them. So if you want a faster, more high-octane gaming experience that’s perfect for shooters but also good for other genres, then you’ll love the SteelSeries Rival 110.
It may not look impressive at first glance, but it doesn’t look too shabby either, what with the simple but elegant LED-lit logo and textured grips.
Still, for a sub-$30 mouse, it definitely offers more than most, with a universal grip, high click durability, and best of all: some genuine customizability through the Engine 3 software that lets you fine-tune the acceleration, deceleration, and angle-snapping to your liking.
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Keyboard: HyperX Alloy FPS
But it’s not just the monitor that has to keep up with the high standard set by the hardware – other peripherals have to keep up the pace too. But you needn’t worry about that with the HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard, as two of its most prominent features are maximum effort anti-ghosting and full N key rollover (which basically means that if you pressed the entire keyboard with your forearm, all the keypresses would be registered).
Overall, it’s a rather compact mechanical keyboard with the Cherry MX Red keys that wouldn’t look too impressive if not for the red backlit keys (with dynamic lighting effects), but it still packs many hidden conveniences that you’ll be sure to love.
For example, it features a solid steel frame for extra durability, textured keycaps for added tactility, and a detachable cable for convenient portability. Plus, if you’re looking to save some extra bucks, you can get the tenkeyless version for $10 less.
And in case this is too pricey for you or you’re just not all that big on mechanical keyboards, we have an excellent alternative for you that’s only slightly cheaper but features both a keyboard and mouse – the ASUS Cerberus Combo.
The quiet membrane keyboard has a large ergonomic frame with an internal metal plate and drain holes to complement the splash-proof design (it’s also got all the essentials, like a switchable red/blue backlight, macro keys, and media keys). And the optical mouse is also very respectable as far as bundled mice go, with rubber side grips and some nice weight to it.
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Gamepad: Xbox One Controller
We went out of our way to try and find the most cost-effective peripherals so far – ones that won’t leave your wallet in a state of decay but will still offer phenomenal performance for their price, but with the gamepad, this isn’t as easy.
Yes, there are many decent gamepads out there, and going with any of them is fine if you need the pad for just a game or two (and these games aren’t platformers or fighting games – in this case, the GameSir G3w still remains the most cost-effective solution if you can get over the flamboyant exterior), but if you intend to make thorough everyday use of the gamepad then you’ll be grateful for going with the Xbox One controller, trust us.
The DualShock 4 is just as good an option, but even with the Steam support, it can act a bit wonky at times, so we recommend the Xbox One controller to most users for the added convenience. Aside from the superior comfort, these controllers have the durability to match even the most demanding gaming habits.
And if you’re curious whether you personally might favor the DualShock 4 over the Xbox One controller, check out this video where we compare these two controllers.
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Headset: Sound BlasterX H6
And if you also need a headset to take your gaming to the next level, we highly recommend the SoundBlasterX H6. This new headset comes with plenty of cool features for gamines, most notably the virtual 7.1 surround sound and the new scout mode that will give you a borderline unfair advantage over your opponents in online shooters.
However, unlike the bulk of the competition, it doesn’t attain this excellence for gaming at the expense of everything else! If you need a headset that will be as good in games as it will be for watching movies or listening to music, then the H6 is like no other.
Not to mention the fact that it’s easily one of the most comfortable headsets in its price range, and with a great microphone to boot!
Related: Best Gaming Headset
Wi-Fi Card: TP-Link Archer T6E
We would have preferred it if the motherboard in this build had a built-in Wi-Fi card, but unfortunately, we had to sacrifice this feature in favor of a better GPU.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Wi-Fi card. There are some pretty amazing internal Wi-Fi cards that use a PCIe slot to connect directly to your motherboard, and you can get them for less than $40. One such card is the TP-Link Archer T6E.
The TP-Link Archer T6E can give you speeds up to 1.3 GB/s, it has a large heatsink, and is built for high-performance computing such as online gaming a video streaming.
But internal Wi-Fi cards are not the only option. Albeit slower, external Wi-Fi adapters are also a great solution. They look exactly like USB devices, so you can put them in your pocket and carry them with you. In case this is something you’d be interested in investing we suggest taking a look at NETGEAR AC600 Dual Band Wi-Fi mini adapter.
Related: Best VR Headset
Wrist Rest: GoldenClaw WR1
One other thing you might enjoy – especially given that the HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard has no regard for ergonomics – is a wrist rest.
Now seeing how the keyboard on its own is already scratching the top of the price range proportional to the PC, we went ahead and choose one of the most affordable wrist rests to feature: the GoldenClaw WR1 Wrist Rest.
It’s the best and most affordable wrist rest around right now.
Related: Best Wrist Rest
And that’s about it for this guide. Now all that’s left is to put the pieces together.
In summation, there’s nothing else we can say but this: It’s a good time to be a gamer and the best time to build a PC that can max out 1080p for just $800! So seize the day and accept no compromises: gaming glory awaits!