The Phoenix ($700)

January 30, 2018 by Headshot Jacob Tuwiner

This is by far the best gaming PC under 700 dollars for your money in 2018. Believe me when I say it wasn’t easy to select parts for a 700 dollar gaming PC build with GPU prices on the rise, but I made it happen.

NOTE: GPU & RAM prices are soaring sky high, and some of the components below may be overpriced because of this. Prebuilt gaming PCs are still cheap and they're a great way to save money if you're looking to get into the PC gaming community. Check out our guide on prebuilt gaming PCs! Otherwise, you're going to overspend on parts that you could get for a lower price.
Component Name Price Image
CPU Ryzen 3 1200 $110
MOBO ASRock - AB350M $65
RAM Ballistix Sport LT 8GB DDR4-2400 MHz $84
SSD SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD $75
GPU EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB GAMING, ACX 2.0 $270
PSU Corsair CXM 550 Watt 80+ Bronze Semi-Modular PSU $55
CASE Bitfenix - Comrade $51
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Prices fluctuate daily. All budgets are within a $50 threshold

The Phoenix

This build is named the Phoenix for a reason. If you know anything about a phoenix, then you know they’re awesome, as is this gaming PC. It’s the best gaming PC under $700.

A $500 gaming PC isn’t what it used to be. You’ll have to spend $700 or more in 2018 to achieve the same performance that $500 would’ve gotten you a year ago thanks to cryptocurrency miners buying out GPUs and driving the prices through the roof.

It’s sporting a Ryzen 3 1200 which is a quad-core CPU with extreme overclocking potential.

This means you’ll be able to harness even more power out of your CPU, even with AMD’s stock cooling solution.

It also has a GTX 1060 3GB, great for gaming in 1080p and beyond. You’ll see 60+ FPS with high-ultra settings in nearly all titles.

You can expect to see 100+ FPS in competitive eSports titles like CS:GO and LOL. We know every frame counts, as it can be the difference between a win and a loss.

I decided to link the GPU to eBay, as I figured you’d probably be able to find a better deal. GPU prices are crazy high right now, so it might not be a bad idea to buy a used GPU in order to save money. If you do buy used, make sure the card wasn’t used for mining as that can really take a toll on the lifespan of the card.

If you’d rather buy new, that’s fine too!

Bitfenix Comrade

The main purpose of this PC is gaming, and the parts were picked accordingly. I’d like to address two things.

First of all, I chose 8GB of RAM for this build. I know some newer games are recommending 12GB and even 16GB of ram. I also know that right now, RAM prices are through the roof. When push comes to shove, the GPU is far more important than RAM.

Furthermore, 8GB of RAM is still plenty for a gaming PC under $700. You won’t suffer a notable loss of performance in-game. Most importantly of all, with the money you save on RAM you’ll be able to spend on the GPU. From a gaming standpoint, it’s the best move.

Second of all, I decided to skip the HDD altogether and instead go for a 240GB SSD.

The SSD doesn’t really have any impact on performance in-game, but they’re pretty sweet otherwise. They transform a 2-3 minute boot time into a 30 second boot time.

Do you ever feel like you have to wait for your PC or laptop to ‘warm up’? That’s probably because you have a mechanical hard drive. SSDs work immediately. As soon as you turn on your PC it’ll be ready to go. It also greatly increases your games’ loading speeds. You’ll be the first one loaded into every match!

The only downfall of an SSD is the price per GB of storage. It’s a bit more than four times that of a mechanical drive. Instead of having 1TB of mass storage you’re only going to have 240GB of space, so you’ll have to watch your space.

I’d highly recommend adding a 500GB or ideally a 1TB mass storage mechanical drive to the build if you have the money for the addition. They can be found for less than $50 on Amazon. You can store your movies, music and other programs on this drive.

Custom vs. Prebuilt Gaming PCs

Most prebuilt gaming PCs come with a powerful CPU, like an Intel i7. They have lots of RAM and a huge hard drive. Unfortunately, the manufacturers don’t tell you the truth.

What truth?

Those things don’t matter. They put crappy components in a nice case and market it as a “gaming PC”.

Well, we have news for you. These overpriced and underpowered prebuilt “gaming PCs” don’t deserve the title. Video games aren’t really processed by the CPU. In fact, they’re processed by the GPU. The GPU is responsible for just about all of the 3D rendering and graphical processing. Hence the name “Graphics Processing Unit”.

As long as your CPU is fast enough to keep up with the GPU, you’re in good shape. This means you can save some money and buy a cheaper CPU. With the money you saved, spend it on a more powerful GPU. Your powerful GPU will handle all of the 3D rendering in game, resulting in great FPS.

However, this doesn’t mean you can buy the cheapest CPU on the market. If your CPU is too underpowered, it’ll hold back the GPU. This is called bottlenecking.

Anyway, back to the parts of a prebuilt gaming PC. Remember how I told you the GPU does all of the heavy lifting? Well, if you bought a prebuilt desktop with an Intel i7 and a GTX 750, you’re out of luck.

Fortunately in 2018 there are some viable prebuilt options. You have to know what you’re looking for, but if you buy the right PC you can actually make your money go a long way.

Crytpocurrency miners want GPUs, not gaming PCs. This is why prebuilt PCs have maintained relatively the same (low) price.

A Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $700

Though most prebuilt gaming PCs are a ripoff, there are some viable prebuilt options. In this section, we’re going to be taking a look at the best prebuilt gaming PC for $700. Note that prices fluctuate daily.

We think the Cyberpower Gamer Xtreme VR is the best prebuilt gaming PC for the money.

Let’s take a look at the specs:

  • Intel Core i5-7400 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB HDD
  • AMD Radeon RX 580 4GB
  • Windows 10

For $700, you’re getting a PC with a 7th generation i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and an RX 580 4GB, not to mention a full version of Windows 10.

This is a great deal, considering you’re also getting the PC prebuilt and shipped to your door. It comes in an awesome case too!

You can expect to see 60+ FPS in most new titles with this PC, running at high-ultra settings.

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Build Guide

The Case

Bitfenix - Comrade

Some spend lots of money on their case. A good case NEEDS to have these aspects:

  • Good cable management
  • Good airflow
  • USB 3.0 Support
  • Plenty of Space
  • Hard Drive Bays
  • Fans

That being said, many desire a good looking case as well. However, it is not necessary.

The case chosen for this build, the Bitfenix - Comrade has all of the important aspects.

Specs:

  • Type: ATX Mid Tower
  • Color: White
  • Includes Power Supply: No
  • External 5.25” Bays: 3
  • Internal 2.5” Bays: 3
  • Internal 3.5” Bays: 3
  • Motherboard Compatibility: ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX

Believe it or not, this case is as good as it looks.

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The Processor

Ryzen 3 1200

A gaming processor does not need to be the fastest processor on the market, as gaming relies on the GPU. However, an adequate CPU is important.

The processor must be fast enough to keep up with the GPU; moreover, it is important to use a processor that can hold its own in CPU intensive titles, as well as some workstation tasks.

The Ryzen 3 1200 is a great budget gaming CPU. It is able to hold its own in just about every game, especially when paired with a GTX 1060.

This CPU also boasts incredible overclocking potential even with AMD’s stock cooling solution. I was able to overclock my Ryzen 3 1200 from 3.2 GHz all the way up to 3.9 GHz without any trouble, and I was using the stock cooler.

  • Data Width: 64-bit
  • Socket Type: AM4
  • Operating Frequency: 3.2 GHz
  • Max Turbo Frequency: 3.4 GHz
  • Cores: 4
  • TDP: 65 Watts
  • Multithreading: Yes (8 Threads)

Ideally at this pricepoint I’d be able to include a Ryzen 5 1400 in the build. The rising prices of GPUs didn’t allow me to do so which is pretty unfortunate.

On the bright side, you’re still getting a capable CPU and it leaves money to spare for a better GPU which is important for gaming.

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The Motherboard

ASRock AB350M

Deciding which motherboard is right for you can be a daunting task.

With many things to consider such as chipset, socket type, ram slots, PCI-E slots, fan connnectors, etc. it can be a lot to tackle all at once.

Fortunately, we’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you.

For this build, the ASRock - AB350M micro ATX AM4 motherboard{.big-button target=”_blank”} was chosen. It supports 2400 MHz ram, it has onboard USB 3.0 headers, and much more.

This motherboard pretty much has everything you need in a micro ATX form factor.

Specs:

  • CPU Socket Type: AM4
  • Chipset: AMD B350
  • Memory Slots: 2 x 288-pin DIMM
  • Memory Type: DDR4-2133/2400/2666/2933/3000
  • Maximum Supported Memory: 32GB
  • Crossfire/SLI Support: No
  • Raid Support: Yes
  • Sata 6 GB/s: 4
  • Onboard Ethernet: 1 x 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • Onboard USB 3.0 Headers: Yes

ASRock is well known for making great motherboards. Get yours today.

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The Ram

Ram

Ram is an important part of every gaming PC. Moreover, higher frequency ram has the potential to increase the performance of the CPU.

This build utilizes 2x4GB 2400 MHz G.Skill Ripjaws V Series Ram for a total of 8GB.

Specs:

  • Type: 288-pin DIMM
  • Speed: DDR4-2400
  • Size: 8GB (2 x 4GB)
  • Color: Black/Red
  • Heat Spreader: Yes

Though some games recommend 16GB of ram, 8GB is plenty for gaming, and the difference in performance between 8GB and 16GB is virtually zero.

Due to the motherboard’s B350 chipset, 2400 MHz ram is supported. This will help our Ryzen CPU under heavy load.

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The Solid State Drive

The SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD was chosen as the storage solution for this build.

Although you’re not getting nearly the same amount of storage as a traditional mechanical hard drive, you’ll love the performance that this drive delivers.

You’ll experience much faster boot speeds, loading times, and a better overall experience.

If you’ve ever felt like you needed to let your computer warm-up before you can really use it, it’s probably because you have a mechanical hard drive. An SSD is ready to go immediately; although it doesn’t really impact your in-game performance, it is definitely worth it.

Check out these ten reasons why you should buy an SSD!

At the same time, having 1TB of storage can’t hurt. If you can afford the additional $50, I recommend adding one to this build for your music, movies, and other programs.

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The Graphics Card

The GPU is easily the most important part of any gaming rig. Any well optimized PC game will primarily harness the power of your GPU, followed by your CPU and your ram, respectfully.

For this $700 build, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB GAMING, ACX 2.0 was chosen.

This GPU boasts 3GB of DDR5 memory, dominating in 1080p resolution. This card easily plays new titles in 1080p resolution with max settings, achieving 60fps.

At a budget like this, the GTX 1070 is preferred, but due to ethereum mining, the price of this GPU has gone through the roof.

Specs:

  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • Chipset: GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Core Clock: 1.50 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 1.70 GHz
  • TDP: 120 Watts
  • Length: 6.81”
  • DVI-D Dual-Link: 1
  • Displayport: 3
  • HDMI: 1

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The Power Supply

Corsair CX550M

This build is pretty power efficient, but I decided to choose a powerful, efficient and future-proof PSU to power the components.

The Corsair CX550M was selected. It’s an efficient 80+ Bronze Certified power supply, and it’s semi modular. This will help with cable management.

Having good cable management not only improves the looks of your build, but with airflow as well. This is important as you’ll ideally be overclocking your CPU and RAM to achieve maximum performance. If you’d like you could even overclock your GPU.

Since GPU prices are high, we had to save on other components. Overclocking the Ryzen 3 1200 is a great way to get the most out of the CPU, especially considering its insane overclocking potential.

Ryzen’s performance heavily depends on RAM speed which is why I’d recommend you overclock your RAM as well. This PSU has more than enough power to get the job done, and it’s efficient too!

Specs:

  • Type: ATX
  • Wattage: 550 Watts
  • Fans: 1
  • Modular: Semi
  • Efficiency: 80+ Bronze
  • PCI-Express 6+2-Pin Connectors: 2

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Intel i3 vs. Ryzen 3

Up until recently, it was obvious that AMD’s Ryzen 3 line held the title of “The King of Budget Gaming CPUs”. Before Ryzen 3 was released, your only real options were the skylake i3 CPUs, or the Pentium G4560. Both choices didn’t sport four cores; only dual cores with hyperthreading.

At the time they were great, as the four threads did a great job. Of course, once AMD launched a quad core CPU for a lower price, it was game over. AMD’s Ryzen line outperformed Intel’s closest offerings in just about every category except for single-threaded performance.

As we all expected, Intel fought back. They released their Coffe Lake CPUs, the 8th generation of the Intel i3 line. They’re priced similarly to the Ryzen 3 line, and they have four true cores as well. In fact, they show similar if not better performance in most categories.

Unfortunately, the lowest-priced motherboards available for this chip at this time are all over $100. This makes it hard to consider them a “budget gaming CPU”.

Until cheaper motherboards are released for the new line of Intel CPUs, Ryzen 3 will remain our budget CPU of choice.

How to Build a Dirt Cheap Gaming PC in 3 Easy Steps

If you’re on an extremely low budget, there are still options for you if you’re interested in building a gaming PC.

eBay is an excellent tool if you know how to use it. If you follow this step by step guide, you can own a great gaming machine without breaking the bank.

Keep reading to find out how to build a 1080p gaming PC for $250!

Step 1: Find an old desktop for sale on eBay

The first step to building a dirt cheap gaming PC is finding an old desktop on eBay.

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You’re going to have to filter through lots of desktops. This may take some time.

I’d recommend using eBay filters. Often you can find a listing that is advertised as “for parts or repair”.

Filters eBay

Many think that just because their PC won’t power on, it’s garbage. Little do they know, there are many parts inside the PC that can be salvaged. This will help you to save lots of money.

Finding an old used desktop is also a good path to take.

Desktop eBay

After 10 minutes or so of browsing eBay listings, I found this PC for sale.

The PC is listed for $150 which is a pretty good price, but we’ll get this PC for even less.

Make sure the PC doesn’t have anything wrong with it, and check out the specs of the PC.

This Dell Optiplex 990 MT PC has:

  • Intel Core i7-2600 3.4 GHz CPU
  • 8GB of DDR3 Ram
  • 500GB Hard Drive
  • DVD-Rom

Furthermore, you’re getting the case, power supply, and motherboard all for the low price of $150. Now it’s time for the next step.

Step 2: Negotiate a Price

The price of this PC is already low, but we want it even lower.

Most listings allow you to make a “Best Offer”. It’s always a good idea to negotiate for a lower price.

Best Offer

Once a price is agreed upon, make the purchase. Now we move on to our third and final step.

Step 3: Buy a GPU

The GPU is the most important part of any gaming PC. You really don’t need the best processor to game. You don’t even need a ton of ram. The GPU does all of the hard work.

This is why we purchased an older desktop PC and salvaged the parts. The older components are still more than capable of gaming. As long as the CPU won’t bottleneck, you’re good to go.

That being said, finding the right GPU is important.

Return to eBay, and search for your GPU of choice. For this example, we’ll use the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. This GPU is powerful, cheap, and great for a low end budget.

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Don’t be afraid to buy a used GPU. I’ve bought many used GPUs on eBay with no problem at all. Just read the reviews of the seller and make sure they’re trusted.

Once you find your GPU for sale on eBay, repeat the last step and await your parts to arrive!

There you have it, a cheap gaming PC!