A $2,000 PC budget is enough to get you a fast gaming CPU and a four-figure GPU budget coupled with a capable motherboard and lots of fast storage. In case you need a beefier CPU for work, you’re left with a GPU budget of about $700. Again, instead of recommending specific graphics cards, we’re using the GPU budget, found at the end of the list. Due to the chip shortage and inflated GPU prices including specific GPU models doesn’t work in the current GPU market.
We managed to build two $2,000 gaming builds. The first is based on the Ryzen 5 5600X, one of the best gaming CPUs you can get right now. A perfect choice for gamers who want to save as much money as possible for the GPU. The second build, revolving around the Ryzen 9 5900X, is aimed towards users who want to game and stream, or use their PC for CPU-heavy work. If $2000 goes over your budget, check the rest of our builds that include $500, $750, $1000, and $1500 gaming PCs.
Let’s start with the CPU. The purely gaming build is based on the Ryzen 5 5600X, one of the fastest gaming processors at the moment. If all you do is game and use your PC for simple workloads (media consumption, Office suite, occasional photo or video editing task), the 5600X is a perfect choice. It’s fast enough to keep up with any GPU on the market and its competitive price in combination with high power efficiency allows you to save lots of cash that can go towards a faster graphics card.
And yes, the 5600X should stay a great CPU for a considerable future. Six CPU cores and lots of L3 cache look like a winning combination for modern games. If GPU prices are especially high in your region, you could save extra money by getting the 10600KF, pairing it with a budget cooler and board, and leaving it at stock (with Multi-Core Enhancement kept on). You could even get the 10400F or 11400F – both are very capable gaming CPUs – if the price of the latter has come close to its MSRP by the time you read this article.
The 5600X comes with a serviceable box cooler. The downside is that the Wraith Stealth cooler is, despite its name, loud as hell. Further, it just can’t keep up even with budget CPU coolers when it comes to thermals. Instead of going with the Stealth, get an affordable tower cooler such as the Deepcool Gammaxx 400, be quiet! Pure Rock Slim 2, or ID-Cooling SE-224-XT.
They’re all much quieter than the Wraith Stealth while also having considerably better thermal performance. And if you want (almost) complete silence, think about splurging a bit more cash for the Scythe Mugen Rev.B, Scythe Mugen 5 Black Edition, or Scythe Fuma 2. As long as you don’t activate PBO, these coolers will stay dead silent while gaming.
The Ryzen 5 5600X uses just around 65W at stock settings, meaning you can pair it with any B550 or X570 board. Now, we don’t recommend getting the cheapest one available since those come with rudimentary features, can skimp on PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot bandwidth (x2 instead of x4), and don’t have features such as the BIOS flash button. The B550 Pro-P from Gigabyte is an affordable board that skimps on nothing sans RGB.
It supports fast memory (up to DDR4 4400), it comes with two M.2 slots (one is PCIe 4.0 the other is PCIe 3.0), and it has four SATA III ports. The main PCIe x16 slot is 4.0 and is winged by one x16 slot working in x4 mode and one X1 slot. The audio section is based on the Realtek ALC1200 coded (a step above the ALC ALC892/ALC897 used on most other budget boards). On the rear I/O, you can find a 2.5Gb LAN port, Flash BIOS button, and ten USB ports (1xGen2 3.2, 1xgen2 3.2 USB-C, 4xGen2 3.1, and 2×2.0), which is excellent for a board this affordable. You won’t need anything better than this for a gaming rig.
If you want RGB, get either 16GB or 32GB G.Skill Trident Z Neo DDr4 3600 CL16 kit. It has a tad bit tighter timings (16-19-19-39 vs. 17-19-19-39 on Viper 4) and it looks stunning. If you’re looking for a DDR 3600 CL16 kit without RGB, get either 16GB or 32GB of Crucial Ballistix memory. Finally, if you plan on getting a large CPU heatsink that may have issues with memory clearance (NH-D15 for instance), get the Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3600 CL18 kit. This is a low-profile memory kit with a height of only 31mm after installation. While the Vengeance is technically slower than the Viper 4, the performance difference between the two is negligible.
The SN 750, on the other hand, comes both with SLC and DRAM cache, allowing it to keep a sequential speed of about 1.6GB/s after its SLC cache fills. Do note that the SN 750 is worth it only if its price is close to the 980. If you don’t find it for about $120-130 wait for the price to drop because, according to PCpartpicker, the SN 750 goes on sale quite often.
When it comes to performance differences in video game loading times between the two drives, they should be more or less the same. If all you need is fast loading times and snappy boot times, either of these two SSDs will do the job. And if you’re left with some cash after you get the GPU, you could get a 1TB SATA SDD for storing games, or maybe a cheap HDD with an even larger capacity. The choice is yours.
The Corsair RM series of power supplies offer a great price to performance ratio. The 650W unit should be enough for a 5600X combined with any GPU on the market except the RTX 3090 and RX 6900 XT. Even the RTX 3080 won’t be an issue. The RMx series, which has a higher quality fan and better capacitors while being somewhat pricier, is also an excellent choice if you’re ready to spend more cash. If you manage to snag the RTX 3090 or RX 6900 XT, think about getting a 750W unit.
The Phanteks Eclipse P400A is a great airflow case and, for most users, it offers all they need in a case. Excellent thermals, lots of room inside, two preinstalled fans, solid AIO support, and slick looks. The case supports up to six 120mm or four 140mm case fans, can house up to a 360mm radiator, has pretty good cable management, and it supports up to four storage devices by default. The GPU clearance is 420mm and the max CPU cooler height is 160mm. The only downside is that the case doesn’t support chunkier CPU towers such as the NH-D15. The NH-D15S and smaller towers should fit the P400A.
GPU budget – $1200
The 5600X-based build is all about gaming performance and saving as much cash as possible for the GPU. If you followed our component list your GPU budget should be about $1200. In the current market, dominated by scalpers and inflated retail prices, that’s enough money to buy a brand new RTX 3070/RTX 3070 Ti. You could also scour eBay and other online marketplaces and snag an RTX 3080 if you’re patient enough. Or, you could camp in front of your nearest Best Buy for a day or two and score an RTX 3080 FE if you hear about the date of the next GPU shipment on time.
Alternatively, you could get an AMD RX 6700 XT or RX 6800. They’re both capable GPUs and the latter is a perfect match for 1440p high refresh gaming. The RX 6800 XT, excellent both for 1440p and 4k resolutions, is also in the mix but you’ll have to be very patient to find this card selling for $1200 or less. Overall, a $1200 GPU budget should be high enough to get you almost any graphics card on the market, if you wait for the right time to pull the trigger and have a bit of luck to find the card at the right price.
Ryzen 9 5900X (Gaming and streaming or work build)
Users with a $2000 budget who plan to game and stream or use the PC for lots of video editing or rendering, should get the Ryzen 9 5900X. This is a beast of a CPU that excels both in gaming and core-heavy tasks. At the same time, 12 fast Zen 3 cores are highly efficient and don’t need a beefy AIO to keep them under control. The 5950X is faster but also much more expensive.
On the other hand, you could get something cheaper if you don’t need a flagship CPU but still want a capable CPU for streaming. The 10700KF is, at the moment, a pretty solid choice as a budget CPU for kickstarting your Twitch career. It’s also a capable gaming CPU, on par with the 5600X. Pair it with a budget Z490/Z590 board, get a mid-range air cooler – and forget about OCing since you’ll barely get any performance gain – and you’ll save hundreds of dollars that you can invest towards a faster GPU.
If you opted for the 5900X, the Noctua NH-D15S is an excellent choice. This cooler will keep the 5900X under check while being exceptionally quiet. Other coolers that work well with the 5900X include the NH-D15, Dark Rock Pro 4, and the Assassin III from Deepcool. If you want even better thermals, a 240mm or 280mm AIO is more than enough. Our recommendation is the Liquid Freezer II from Arctic. A 360mm AIO could be an option, but only if you want to use PBO and you place quiet operation in front of everything else. Again, our recommendation is the 360mm version of the Arctic Liquid Freezer II.
3. ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus WiFi: Best motherboard
The 5900X uses more power but if the specs of the Gigabyte B550 Pro-P suit you, feel free to use it. It has a good enough VRM unit to handle the 5900X. if you want something better, there are plenty of quality B550 and X570 boards to choose from. Our pick is an X570 board since the X570 chipset comes with extra PCIe 4.0 lanes, allowing you to have more than one M.2 PCIe 4.0 port. The board in question comes with two PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots.
It also features Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 and comes with eight SATA III ports. The TUF Gaming X570-Plus includes three PCIe slots: one PCIe 4.0 x16, one x16 working at x4, and two PCIe x1 slots. The audio section is pretty good, based on the Realtek ALC S1200A codec. On the rear I/O you can find a gigabit LAN port, seven USB ports (1xUSB 3.2 Gen2 USB-C, 2xUSB 3.2 Gen2, 4xUSB 3.2 Gen1), and a Wi-Fi antenna connector.
If you don’t need multiple PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots, a quality B550 board is an excellent alternative. Something like the TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS (Wi-Fi), also from ASUS. The board is also available in ATX form factor. Compared to the TUF Gaming X570, the TUF Gaming B550 comes with faster Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 5), higher bandwidth LAN (2.5Gb vs. 1Gb), a BIOS Flash button on the rear I/O, and debug LEDs. On the flip side, the VRM is not as capable (but still more than capable to drive the 5900X).
If you’re looking for an affordable and powerful memory kit, the Patriot Viper 4 Blackout is a great choice. It has decent specs while also being aesthetically pleasing with its black color scheme. If budget isn’t too much of a problem, I would recommend getting CL17 RAM instead so that you get slightly tighter timings than what CL16 offers since there will only be such small performance gains between them. However, if the price is more important than timing then go ahead and buy this one! With capacities up to 64GB available in single sticks or two packs, it’s very versatile as well which makes it even better value for money.
For this build again we recommend Samsung 980 or WD_BLACK SN750. If you need to transfer large amounts of data over time, the WD_BLACK SN750 is a better choice. Samsung 980 is faster for shorter distances but once its SLC cache fills it slows down drastically. The Sn 750 has both an SLC and DRAM Cache allowing longer writing speeds after filling up their caches.
The 5900X build should also be fine with a 650W PSU, especially if you decide to undervolt the GPU in case you go with the RTX 3080. If you want peace of mind and don’t want to tweak the GPU, get the RM750 or the RM750x. The RTX 3090 and RX 6900 XT should be paired with at least an 850W PSU. If you cannot find RM or RMx PSUs, don’t worry. There are other quality power supplies out there, such as the Seasonic FOCUS GX series, NZXT C series, EVGA SuperNova G2, GT, GS, or be quiet! Straight Power 11, which are all excellent alternatives to the RM/RMx PSUs.
The 5900X build features a beefier CPU, cooler, motherboard, as well as more memory, making the GPU budget much lower at around $700. The only way to score an RTX 3080 is the aforementioned Best Buy camping adventure. We also recommend camping if you want to snag the RTX 3070/3070 Ti FE. But if using a bot for restock alerts and then moving to the Best Buy parking lot for a couple of days isn’t your thing, you’ll have to settle for a slower GPU.
At the moment, you can get an RX 6600 XT for less than $700. Newegg sells GPU+motherboard combos that include the TUF Gaming B550-Plus board we recommended, which is an excellent deal. Alternatively, you could try getting the RTX 3060, if you can find one at or below $700. eBay should have those, as well as a decent choice of used graphics cards. If you’re fine with a used GPU you can find RTX 2080 Tis for $700 or less on eBay, if you wait long enough for the right listing to show up.