A $1,000 budget for building a gaming PC is a sweet spot at which you don’t have to cut any corners. At least that was the case before graphics card prices reached for the moon and beyond. Still, we’ve managed to create a $1000 build that has everything you need except the GPU. As is the case with every other gaming PC build we made, instead of listing a specific graphics card we left you with the GPU budget, which is money left after accounting for other components.
This build should be ready for 1440p gaming if you manage to find a decent GPU. It’s based on the Core i5-10400F, which is a potent gaming CPU capable of maxing out almost every GPU out there and the best CPU deal you can find right now. Other components include a decent enough motherboard that can run the 10400F without issues with power limits turned off, 16GB of fast memory, an excellent budget airflow case, and 1TB of fast storage. Let’s begin, as always, with the CPU.
|CPU||Core i5 10400F|
|Motherboard||MSI B560M PRO VDH|
|Memory||Patriot Viper Blackout DDR4 16GB 3200MHz|
|Storage||Samsung 980 1TB NVMe SSD|
|PSU||EVGA SuperNova G5 650W|
|Case||MSI MAG Forge 100R|
Core i5 10400F
|Base Frequency||2.9 GHz|
|Max Turbo Frequency||4.3 GHz|
The Core i5-10400F is the best gaming CPU deal at the moment. With fast memory and a decent B560 motherboard, this CPU can reach 10600K(F)-like performance for noticeably less money. Another advantage over the more expensive Core i5 K SKU is that you don’t need to buy a CPU cooler, saving you money for other components (cough, GPU, cough). The performance is good enough to guarantee a fast refresh rate gaming experience if you have a graphics card that can keep up with the CPU.
Its successor, the 11400F, is even better. But, at the moment, its price is more than ridiculous. So, if the 11400F’s price comes down to the 10400F level by the time you read this list, get the 11th gen CPU over the 10th gen. But right now, the 11400F is an awful deal. When it comes to other gaming CPUs, we wouldn’t recommend alternatives at this budget. Older Ryzen CPUs aren’t worth getting for gaming and the 5600G is too slow and has the old Vega iGPU so we don’t recommend it over the 10400F.
On the other hand, the 10600K is faster, especially when overclocked and combined with memory faster than DDR4 3200. But if you get it, you’ll have to pay extra for the CPU itself, and then shell out money for the cooler and faster memory. Also, overclocking means getting a pricier Z490 board. At the end of the day, you’ll spend a considerable amount of cash for a less than 10 percent average performance upgrade in games. So yeah, if you have around $1000 to burn on a new gaming PC, the 10400F is your best and only bet.
MSI B560M PRO VDH
|Memory||4 × DIMM, DDR4, max. 128 GB|
|Storage||2 × M.2, 6 × SATAIII|
|Expansion Slots||1 × PCIe ×16
2 × PCIe ×1
The MSI B560M Pro-VDH is one of the cheapest B560m boards around but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s excellent for the price since its VRM section can handle any CPU sans the 11900K with power limits turned off. In other words, this is a great deal for anyone looking for a board for the 10400F or 11400F (once the price of the 11gen part comes down to the same level).
The board doesn’t look like much since it doesn’t have huge heatsinks and RGB LEDs. Other than that, we like the design. Heatsinks are all black and are a perfect match with the DIMM slots. The PCB is almost all-black, which fits wonderfully with silver elements like the PCIe x16 slot. As for the specs, you have support for fast DDR4 memory (DDR4 4000 when two DIMM slots are filled), along with two M.2 slots and six SATA III ports.
Do note that if you opt for an 11th gen CPU you’ll get PCIe 4.0 support, but only on the PCIe x16 slot and the primary M.2 slot. The secondary M.2 slot stays PCIe 3.0 either way. The board also features two PCIe x1 slots for expansion cards. On the back, you can find six USB-A ports in total (two 2.0, two 3.2Gen1, and two 3.2gen2), and a 2.5Gb LAN port. There are also one HDMI and one DisplayPort video outs, but these don’t interest us since we have a CPU without integrated graphics.
The only major downside of the MSI B560M PRO-VDH is a pretty basic audio section based on the Realtek AL897 Codec. If you want Wi-Fi coverage, get the Wi-Fi version of this board (Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1). And if you want a VRM that could keep up with a fully unleashed 11900K (not that you need it) along with more USB ports and a better audio section, we recommend the ASUS TUF Gaming B560M-PLUS WiFi. This board is about 20 percent pricier than the Pro-VDH while offering the aforementioned upgrades along with stuff like one USB-C port on the rear I/O, debug LEDs, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1.
Patriot Viper Blackout DDR4 16GB 3200MHz
|Capacity||16GB (2 × 8GB)|
|Format||NON-ECC Unbuffered DIMM|
In general, you don’t need anything faster than DDR4 3200 with decent primary timings to get (almost) the most out of your 10400F-based gaming rig. Getting, for instance, DDR4 3600 with the same timings as this 3200 kit (16-18-18-36) will net you a very small framerate bump. In other words, the upgrade isn’t worth the price, especially when operating on a limited budget in a time when GPU prices are high enough to use oxygen-breathing bottles. Especially if you’re planning to game on 1440p resolution.
Next, 16GB of memory is the sweet spot for gaming. If you end up needing more memory just get the same kit and you’ll double the amount while being able to run the memory in dual-channel mode. If you want something flashier there’s the T-Force Delta RGB DDR4 16GB kit from Teamgroup that has pretty cool RGB. If you want something flashier but without RGB, check the T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4 16GB kit. Finally, if you’re dead set on getting a 3600MHz kit, get the Crucial Ballistix DDr4 3600 16GB CL16 (16-18-18-38) kit.
Samsung 980 1TB NVMe SSD
|Sequential Read Speed||Up to 3500 MB/s|
|Sequential Write Speed||Up to 3000 MB/s|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.4|
The Samsung 980 NVMe SSD is probably the best budget NVMe SSD at the moment. It has excellent read and write speeds as long as there’s room in its SLC cache. The 980 also has a very hefty SLC cache (about 180GB) meaning that you shouldn’t notice the lack of DRAM cache, even if you regularly work with large files. Overall, a great SSD with a very attractive price.
We planned on recommending the WD SN550 over the 980 but recent headlines showed that WD downgraded the NAND flash in newer SN550 batches. This results in much worse write speeds after the small (about 10GB) SLC cache runs out. You can get the SN550 but it’s a gamble on which NAND flash you’ll get.
Alternatively, you can get something like the WD Blue 1TB SATA SSD, which is about 25 percent cheaper than the Samsung 980. While you won’t notice much difference in regular work or in-game loading times, the 980 is much, much faster while costing just a bit more. Finally, it looks like the WD Black SN750 1TB received a permanent price decrease, selling for almost the same price as the Samsung 980. If you find this SSD for the same price the 980 sells, get it over the Samsung part. It has a smaller SLC cache but it also has much faster sequential write speeds once the SLC cache fills up.
EVGA SuperNova G5 650W
|Efficiency||80 Plus Gold|
The EVGA SuperNova G5 650W is a pretty solid PSU but only if you find it for less than $80, which is the current price it sells at. Looking at PC Part Picker it looks like the G5 goes regularly on sale, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long before it falls to a sub $80 price again in case you missed the most recent sale. The PSU is pretty good, it’s just a bit on the louder side. But if take the sub $80 price into account, the G5 is a great deal.
Alternatively, you can get the Corsair CX650M, which is an 80Plus Bronze PSU that punches way above its weight. It’s a semi-modular unit and one of the best budget power supplies you can get at the moment. But, again, only if you find it for less than $80. If you’re willing to spend about $100 then we can wholeheartedly recommend the Corsair RM650, an excellent 80Plus Gold PSU from Corsair, and one of the most popular power supplies on the market. Finally, if you want more alternatives, check out our list of the best 600W and 650W power supplies.
MSI MAG Forge 100R
|Dimensions||210 × 496 × 433 mm|
|Drive Bays||2 × 3.5″
3 × 2.5″
|GPU Clearance||330 mm|
|Total Fan Mounts||3|
|Front I/O Ports||2 × USB 3.2 , 1 × HD Audio & Mic|
The MSI Mag Forge 100R is one of the best budget airflow cases you can buy. It’s very cheap, comes with three PWM 120mm fans (two of which are ARGB), and a control board that can be used to control up to six fans. The case can also house two additional 120mm or 140mm fans on the top. The front panel is full mesh with just one plastic line on the middle while the topside is also full mesh for increased airflow.
You also get a tempered glass side panel and plenty of space for almost any GPU (330mm clearance) along with tall CPU heatsinks (160mm clearance). Storage support is satisfactory for a budget case. The Forge 100R has two SSDs tray mounts along with a storage bay that can take two 3.5” or 2.5” storage devices. All in all, enough room for up to four storage devices is good to see on a cheap case like this one.
As for the liquid cooling support, it’s average at best. You can install a 240mm radiator either on the front or topside. The backside has room for a small, 120mm radiator. The case is roomy enough to make working inside it a low frustration experience and cable management is decent. There’s room for Velcro straps but you don’t get any with the case. The budget PC case market has lots of quality housings that don’t cost too much. For instance, you can get the Montech X3 that comes with six preinstalled fans and great airflow. On the flip side, this chassis is on a louder side.
The Phanteks P300A is a great budget airflow case that looks better than the MSI but it only has one pre-installed fan. The P360A is an upgraded version of the P300A that comes with three preinstalled ARGB fans. On the flip side, the P360A is noticeably expensive than both the P300A and the Forge 100R. Finally, there’s the NZXT H510 for those who want the best-looking budget case. The H510 has a bit worse thermals but it’s far from being an oven.
GPU Budget – About $390
Finally, we’ve come to the last piece of the puzzle, the GPU budget. Your budget, depending on what you got, should be between $360 and $400. For that price, a year ago you could’ve got something like the RX 5700 XT, which would be a jackpot for a sub $1000 gaming PC build. These days, though, your best bet is trying to find the RX 6600 XT at MSRP. This isn’t an impossible quest if you’re in the US and are ready to wait a while before you spot one of the base models (such as the PowerColor Fighter or Gigabyte Eagle).
If the RX 6600 XT receives a price bump or two (which will most certainly happen sooner or later), you should check out eBay and see what you can get on the used GPU market. This includes models such as the GTX 1070, GTX 1060 6GB, or RX 580 8GB. We’ve also managed to find a couple of GTX 1070 Tis as well as GTX 1080s; even a couple of RTX 2070s. We recommend focusing on the latter three models, especially the RTX 2070 because this is by far the best GPU you can get for around $400 in this market.