How Much Do You Need to Spend on a Gaming PC?

How much you should spend on a gaming PC isn’t always an easily answerable question.

As I’m sure you can tell, there are many different options in terms of components relating to whatever tasks you may want your computer to tackle, this means that budgets will always vary.

While on the one hand, a student or someone who’s a bit strapped for cash may have a very low budget of around $300USD to $500USD.

On the other hand, someone who may have been saving up specifically for a high-end gaming PC with dreams of becoming a famous streamer might drop $1,000USD to $2,500USD for their ultimate gaming setup.

In the following article, we will cover for you the minimum and optimal budget requirements for each and every popular resolution for video games. Here we go!

How Much Should You Spend to Game in 720p?

720p vs 1080p gaming comparison chart

Starting down here on the low end, building a PC that will run the most popular games at 720p is a piece of cake.

Given a budget of anywhere as low as $300USD can get you a fully functioning gaming PC ready to run your favorite games as anywhere from 30fps to 60fps in some cases, all thanks to AMD’s Vega integrated graphics chips.

Using AMD’s 2018 Athlon GE chips (200GE, 220GE, or 240GE) you can get easy 720p performance and a hyperthreaded CPU all in one $60 package.

Pairing this with relatively cheap memory, storage, a power supply, and a case will yield prime 720p gaming performance.

how much should you spend to game in 720p

You can even grab a small SSD while staying in budget and overclock the CPU with a cheap B450 motherboard, though you may want to opt for an aftermarket cooler instead of the provided stock cooler.

If you want to up that budget just a tad, you can even throw in some cheap peripherals.

You can go right ahead and get a 1920x1080 monitor (future-proofing), a mechanical keyboard, and a pretty nice mouse all for under $500USD total.

That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

How Much Should You Spend to Game in 1080p?

how much should you spend to game in 1080p on a pc

1080p, the king of gaming resolutions and the most commonly used for gaming.

However, being that it’s such a common resolution, the number of possible configurations for a great 1080p experience is staggering.

So what we’ll do is give you the minimum recommended config for a playable 1080p experience and a recommended 1080p 60fps experience.

Keep in mind the prices may change as the market does, and as new games come out hardware gets dated.

awesome gaming setup

Now, it really isn’t too hard to build a gaming PC that will be playable at 1080p.

You can honestly build a computer for under $500USD easily, and this build could even hit 60fps in a couple of triple-A titles!

Running either AMD or Intel could net you this amazing bang for your buck on the processor side, you even have the choice between Nvidia or AMD on the graphics card side the possibilities are damn near endless. The current PC market is just amazing for budget 1080p gaming.

On the high end, expect to pay upwards of $1,000USD for your amazing gaming build. A build such as this should run around 60fps in every title, triple-A or not.

If you want to add on peripherals, let’s try that.

For a complete 1080p playable build you can vision a bill of around $700USD if not a little more, but if you want that sick 60fps gaming with all RGB peripherals then you best expect that price to skyrocket.

How Much Should You Spend to Game in 1440p?

1440p gaming rig

The next two resolutions are where we will see our highest numbers yet. Don’t expect to have a traditional “budget” build if you want to play your new games anywhere this luxuriously.

Building for 1440p gaming will always exceed $1,000USD, and there’s no doubt about it. When you’re playing at this high of a resolution you want 60fps, and 1440p ain’t no pushover when it comes to minimum specs.

For 60fps 1440p gaming you want a minimum of a GTX 1070 Ti or RTX 2060-Super graphics card in your system, and even then you may not get 60fps in all titles.

Each of these cards will run you between $380USD and $420USD, so definitely expect it to take up a large portion of your budget.

gaming in 1440p with curved monitor

Ideally, you’ll want something along the lines of an RTX 2070, GTX 1080 Ti, or higher for guaranteed 1440p 60fps performance in all possible titles.

At this price point, you are definitely going to want to throw in a good power supply and case for all of your expensive new parts, your peripherals shouldn’t be an exception.

Why would you shell out over $1,000 just to equip your rig with El Cheapo peripherals? C’mon man.

For sure, you’re going to want complete and total RGB, keyboard, mouse, maybe even some headphones. Not to mention that a 1440p monitor is gonna run you quite a fortune, you’re gonna be looking at a total reaching upwards of $1,800USD! Have fun with that bill bro.

How Much Should You Spend to Game in 4K?

4k gaming setup

Gaming in 4K is like cocaine; I wouldn’t know what either feels like, but I’m sure if I tried it, I’d be hooked.

For real though, 4K gaming is an amazing experience reserved for only the wealthiest of the wealthy, that is if you want a truly seamless experience.

Sure, you could go on and try to run The Witcher 3 at 4K Ultra on your dear old GTX 970 4GB, but boy are you gonna have the most unplayable experience of your life.

To be honest with you, though, we’re not entirely sold on the whole idea of 4K gaming in the first place, but since you seem so hell-bent on draining your bank account for every last penny we’ll humor your outlandish desires.

Assuming you’re putting your dollars out to reach for the sky and tackle 4K 60fps gaming, you’re going to be blowing some serious holes in your pockets my friend.

Go ahead and expect to spend upwards of $2,000USD or more for the computer alone.

4k gaming setup with keyboard

A majority of your budget is going to be sunk into your graphics card for sure.

When you want to play games in a manner such as this, the lowest end graphics card we suggest would be an RTX 2080 Super.

The regular RTX 2080 may be able to hit a regular 60fps at 4K on near high or near high settings with third party cards, while the RTX 2080 Super should hit a guaranteed 60fps on high settings or even above.

However, if you would like to run 4K 60fps at maximum possible settings, your only real option is an RTX 2080 Ti (or two).

The RTX 2080 Ti has proved itself in the 4K gaming space as the top end competitor with no close challengers, unless you consider the Titan RTX.

Sure, you could definitely go for a Titan RTX, if you’re willing to pay more than a grand extra for a 10% performance increase…

On the low end, you could also go for an RTX 2060, 2070, or the ‘Super’ variants of either, as well as an RX 5700 XT on AMD’s side.

None of these cards will get you near high settings (or even medium) at 60fps, but that 4K playable resolution is still technically attainable at their $400USD to $500USD price points.

How to Save Money When Building a Gaming PC

When building a PC it is always a great idea to search around for deals and save money wherever you can, especially when you’re on a tight budget. Lucky for you, here we’ve got a set of tips and tricks to help you save a buck on your next PC build.

Sales

pc parts on sale

We cannot stress enough how important it is to always look out for sales when building a PC.

All of your components are relatively expensive and getting even the slightest percentage deal will make all the difference.

Some common sales to look for are:

  • Amazon Prime Day which is usually July 16th but started on the 15th this year
  • Newegg Flash Sales
  • Holiday Sales (Labor Day, Christmas, Black Friday, etc.)

Plan your build around yearly sales to ensure that you get a great deal on parts.

Open box returns can yield very good results in most cases.

Considering that most open box returns are fully functional and were returned for various reasons not pertaining to the integrity of the product, buying open box or refurbished hardware can usually net you some tasty savings.

Refurbished goods can offer a decent discount just like open box returns, with the bonus of assuring that each part has been tested thoroughly for functionality.

Refurbished parts don’t always cost that much less than brand new versions, but they are always a safe bet if you would like to save a couple dollars.

Subscription discounts aren’t going to apply for all online or physical retailers, but most retailers have a subscription or frequent shopper programs that open the door for more savings.

For example, Amazon Prime allows for free two day shipping on any PC components you would buy and Newegg Premier also gives the benefits of free expedited shipping along with no restocking fees for returns, plus you can add up to four people to the same Premiere subscription.

The Used Market

buying used parts

For someone brand new to PC building or someone looking for quality assurance, we do not suggest shopping the used market for your next build.

However, for those of you out there ready to take the added risk, the used market is the best way to get PC parts for amazing prices.

Online sites like eBay, Reddit, and Chippit can offer amazing savings on used parts around the world.

Local buying sites and apps like Craigslist, OfferUp, and Letgo can also provide great deals in your area, subverting the shipping process.

Each option, though, has its drawbacks.

Online you can’t always tell if the component you’re buying is authentic and obviously you can’t test it before buying, luckily most online trading sites (bar Reddit) have systems in place for easy returns in the case of a misadvertised item or broken product.

When buying locally you can usually test parts on location before buying, but in some cases, you may deal with some shady people so we always suggest meeting publicly.

As each side has its own issues, they also share a prominent problem.

You can really go by the seller’s word as to how long the component has been used and what internal condition it might be in.

There’s no telling if maybe in a year, a month, or even a week down the line the part will cease functioning. From personal experience, I’ve had a used motherboard’s VRM burn out on me a year down the line, frying the motherboard and a brand new CPU in the process.

Barebones Systems

barebones pc

Another, less popular (and viable) option for saving a bit of cash on a build is buying a barebones system.

Most of the time, buying a barebones system is for the purpose of putting in less effort when building since all of the main components are usually pre-installed and you just have to buy secondary components like storage and graphics.

Barebones systems aren’t usually worth it for desktop systems, however.

Where they do shine is in gaming laptops. There are online retailers that are based around selling barebones laptops, and they give some pretty good savings as opposed to buying a brand new thousand dollar gaming laptop.

Sometimes you can get amazing deals on barebones systems though.

This would allow you to have an almost completed system on the spot, you’ve just got to buy a couple more parts to finish up your build.

If you would like to check out our recommended (2019) spec sheets for each individual resolution, feel free to check them out below.