Your 2012 Gaming PC – Under $1000

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Need a couple suggestions to get started PC brainstorming-on-a-budget? Check out our recommendations for building a serious gaming machine without making your checkbook match your current frame rate.

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V LK LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA

Price: $130 (after rebate)

Competition is fierce at this price-range for 1155-socket motherboards, but (with a little help from the rebate) the P8Z77-V is our choice. This is one mobo that expects, nay, demands, that you overclock your CPU; auto-overclocking features are built directly into the eye-pleasing UEFI BIOS and are easy to use. With ports and expansion in no shortage and featuring a built-in Wifi card with antennae, there are other fine buys for other boards at this price range (feel free to do some research on your own if you’re curious), but the P8Z77-V gets our nod due to its OC-friendly setup and wide array of extras.

Processor: Intel Core i52500K 3.3GHz LGA 1155 Quad-Core Processor

Price: $175

The Intel i5-series 3.3Ghz quad-core is the up-to-date gamer’s best friend. Packing all the power and overclockability (expect an OC of at least 3.8Ghz without touching the voltage) of the i7-series without the pricetag: you really can’t get much more computing power on a budget.

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin SDRAM DDR3 1600

Price: $46.99

Getting the best value from a proven company is the name of the game with RAM. Prices are low and tend to fluctuate (so double check before you buy), but don’t get tricked into thinking you need to spend at least $100 on memory. If you’ve got performance/gaming quality sticks of RAM from a reputable manufacturer, you should be fine with 8Gb. If not, it’s a cheap upgrade to 16Gb.

Power Supply: CORSAIR TX650 V2 650W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS

            Price: $80 (after rebate)

It’s tempting to scrimp on a power supply, but don’t risk it: a cheap video card may burn itself out, but a bad power supply can scrap your entire PC. This 650W CORSAIR is an excellent deal at under $100 (after rebate) and should have more than enough power for your future add-ons/upgrades.

Hard Drive: Seagate Momentus XT ST95005620AS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache 2.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s with NCQ Solid State Hybrid Drive -Bare Drive

            Price: $100

Hard drive pricing for a budget gaming machine can be tricky: you want fast load-speeds, but you need that hard drive space for your games/programs/files. Solid state drives (SSD) are the future due to their lower power draw, longer operational life (no moving parts to degrade) and faster data access rates, but they’re also much more expensive per Gb of storage than traditional hard disk drives (HDD). The Seagate Momentus we’ve chosen splits the difference; this hybrid hard drive (HHD) finds an equitable between cost, storage and speed.

Video Card: Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

            Price: $150

Here’s the most important bit (no pun intended) for any gaming PC: where all the sweet, sweet graphics come from. With 8Gb of memory and an overclocked i5 at its back, you’ll be playing Skyrim in High detail (1280×1024) at over 60fps and even a respectable 45-50fps on Ultra detail. Not bad, eh?  (Seriously, though: if you need more graphical ‘oomph’, it’s available, but it’s probably going to put you over-budget. Caveat decoctor.)

Case: Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower

Price: $49.99

 LEDs? Check. 1 front-mounted, 1 side-mounted and 1 rear-mounted fans standard? Check. Built in cable-management? Check. Lots of expansion space? Double check. Low price? Game, Check and Match.

DVDR: Any

Price: <$25

Buy a DVD burner for around $20 and you’ll be fine. Seriously, don’t sweat this one. (No bargain shopping, either: do you really want a ‘deal’ on a part that only costs $20?)

Total Cost: $732 (Excluding: monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, operating system, peripherals)

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