Building a Good $700 to $800 Gaming PC Build in 2018

Updated on August 20, 2018
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I've been gaming for over 25 years. Now I play and write about it full-time. Have a question? Feel free to ask it in the comment section.

Whether you’re looking to build a $700 to $800 AMD Ryzen 5 or Intel i5 build, we’ve got you covered. Here are the parts we’d recommend using.
Whether you’re looking to build a $700 to $800 AMD Ryzen 5 or Intel i5 build, we’ve got you covered. Here are the parts we’d recommend using.

Looking to build a $700 to $800 budget PC that can handle the latest games heading into 2018? Here are the parts we’d recommend for an AMD Ryzen 3 build or an Intel i3 Coffee Lake PC. Both builds allow for a budget of $250 for a graphics card that should give you fantastic performance on ultra settings in 1080p, or medium to high in 1440p.

Finding the right balance between performance and functionality can be tricky when you’re building your first gaming computer. However, experienced builders will tell you to spend more on the main components so that when you go to upgrade or rebuild in the future you’ll be able to reuse those parts. There is a fine line for this, though. Components get outdated and sometimes PC builders just feel like getting something new.

$700 to $800 Intel i3 vs. AMD Ryzen 3 Build

Recently, I did some performance benchmarks comparing Ryzen to Intel. As there are certainly benefits to going with AMD or Intel, we thought we’d go ahead and give you options for both.

For the Ryzen build, you get the new Ryzen 3 2200G with outstanding built-in graphics. The Intel build features the 4 core Coffee Lake Intel i3-8100.

That being said, it is important to understand that, as of right now, gaming performance is slightly better on the Intel processor. Moving forward, as game developers make games with more cores and threads, this could lean more favorably to the AMD side.

Also, the AMD builds certainly do win in benchmarks, which take rendering and other tasks into consideration. However, the Intel build gives you more performance in games, even when compared to an overclocked Ryzen 5 1600.

Which build is your favorite?

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Ryzen 3 2200G vs. Intel Coffee Lake i3-8100 Processor

So, the big choice for most of you here is whether or not you should go with Intel or AMD.

The Ryzen line of processors is the best that AMD has put out in years. It’s fast and has more cores in some cases, but the IPC is still lower than on Intel processors. This leads to an in-game FPS advantage for Intel. Plus, with the i3 Coffee Lake processor giving 4 cores (the same as the Ryzen 3 2200G), it’s probably the right choice for most builds at this price range.

One scenario it wouldn’t be right for is if you plan on using integrated graphics. As the Ryzen 3 2200G has fantastic integrated graphics, it’s the ideal processor for someone who either doesn’t want a graphics card or plans to purchase one in the future.

However, as I mentioned above, and as you can see in many benchmarks, Ryzen excels in tasks where additional cores and threads can be used. Both of these give performance in games, but may be unnecessary based on the games you play.

Overall, the Ryzen 3 processor is around twenty bucks cheaper, and is somewhat competitive with the i3-8100 when overclocked. That being said, unless you plan on purchasing a graphics card at a later date here, we’d recommend Intel for most situations.

After 60FPS, Then What?

That brings me to another point. How much FPS do you actually need? I think for the most part gamers would say that 60FPS is adequate. Clearly, there are exceptions to this rule, such as those trying to hit 90 or even 120 for their high refresh rate monitors.

Other than that, as long as you’re reaching 60, there is some appeal, in my opinion at least, in having a CPU that has more cores and threads. This is especially true if your gaming PC doubles as a work PC as mine does. With a combination of the R5 1600 or the i5 and the GTX 1060, reaching your standard 60 FPS in modern games should be simple.

DDR4 Memory Kits for AMD Ryzen vs. Intel

In general, we’d say that getting faster memory for AMD Ryzen as well as Intel’s new Coffee Lake is a relatively big deal. And it’s not much more expensive to get something in the 3000Mhz range. Still, spending too much on RAM here should be avoided to leave more for your most crucial components.

Right now, RAM is expensive and doesn’t seem to be going everywhere. For that reason, we can’t exactly go for 16GB here, as $200 would literally kill our budget. So, the Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz 2x4GB kit is a good balance. For the most part, having 8GB won’t affect performance anyway and you can always upgrade later if you feel its necessary.

Graphics Cards Under $250: Intel and AMD

If you’re looking for a good graphics card in the $250 price range, you’ll be looking at the RX 580 and the GTX 1060 3GB version. I’d give a substantial advantage to the GTX 1060 3GB in DirectX 11 games. For those who are wondering, the RX 580 narrows the gap or even beats the GTX 1060 6GB in many DirectX 12 titles. Unfortunately, it’s simply not a big enough deal right now.

Another issue is that RX 580s are coming in at around $350 while the 1060 3GB can be had for around $250. Until the cryptocurrency boom levels out a bit, it just doesn’t make sense to go with the RX 580 here.

Still, either one of these cards should give you the ability to play AAA games in ultra settings at 1080p, and even many games in 1440p. That kind of performance from a $250 card is something AMD and NVIDIA fans should be excited about.

Even though I still prefer the GTX 1060, the RX 580 isn’t really an option with all of the availability issues right now.

Stepping up from here you’re looking at a substantial budget increase. The GTX 1070 has hovered around $400 for several months now. Downgrading, the 570 is good if you can find it for a decent price, or even the 1050Ti if you’re not much of a AAA title gamer. The 570 performs nearly as well as the RX 580 4GB and can be found for as low as $170.

Budget Motherboards Around $100

If you go with the Ryzen build you’ll need a B350, X470, or X370 motherboard. For the most part, 300 series BIOS will be compatible with the Ryzen 3 2200G. However, if you don’t want to take a change you can either go with the previous generation Ryzen 3 1200, or an X470 motherboard.

Intel builders will need an X370 motherboard, as previous generation motherboards are not compatible with Coffee Lake.

For Ryzen, we’re recommending the B350 Tomahawk. It’s a solid option for cheap, and should allow you to even overclock the Ryzen 5 1600.

Unfortunately, the Intel build will cost a bit more as there are no budget motherboards available for Coffee Lake at this point in time. We’re expecting this early in 2018, though, so playing the waiting game might be worth it if you don’t feel like you need a motherboard in the $100 to $120 range.

What About Coffee Lake?

Another option would be to step down your graphics card and go with the i5-8400. The two additional cores may give you some additional longevity. We’re going with the MSI Z370 Gaming PLUS which gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

If you’d prefer another option, here are some other good Z370 options to consider.

Ryzen B350 Motherboard

You can save a bit of money by going with a B350, rather than X370 motherboard. As we’re planning on a single GPU configuration and the B350 motherboards allow overclocking, it’s definitely the way to go. We’ve gone over what we think are the best budget b350 motherboards for Ryzen. Out of that group, we like the MSI B350 Tomahawk here. It has the right amount of features, allows you to overclock the R5 1600 and stays within our budget.

Storage Options

It’s true that you could bag the solid state drive here and put more towards your graphics card. That being said, I think most people who actually use their gaming PC beyond simply gaming would regret that decision. The speed differential from the time you turn on your computer to when you turn it off is monumental.

As a Battlefield 1 player, I’ve even noticed that map loading is quicker. That means I often have a better chance of getting a vehicle at the start of a match.

Before you leave me hate mail, I’ve decided to get rid of the standard hard drive here. It doesn’t fit our budget, and many of our readers have hard drives from previous builds. So, if you need additional storage, I’d recommend that route.

Those wanting even faster boots could consider going with a good nVME SSD drive.

Budget CPU Coolers Around $25 (for Overclocking)

I’ve written extensively about a few good and cheap air CPU coolers. So, if you’re planning to overclock and need a cheap CPU cooling option, this is the way to go.

I use inexpensive options in a lot of my PCs and never have an issue getting a solid overclock. We’re using this option for our Ryzen build; however, it’s perfectly acceptable to use the included wraith cooler to see what type of overclocking you can get out of the gate. Even a modest overclock will give you big performance boosts on the R5 6400.

If you want to go beyond this price range, I’d recommend the Corsair Hydro H100i or similar liquid coolers. As these are often above $100, you might want to consider putting this extra money towards a GTX 1070 instead.

An 80 Plus Certified PSU For Cheap or a T1 PSU

You could definitely go with a cheaper PSU here. However, I like the idea of just spending a decent amount of money on the power supply and having it last a long time. We’re going with EVGA’s bestselling G3 SuperNOVA series. The 550W version should be more than enough.

Parts
Coffee Lake i3 Build
Ryzen 3 2200G Build
CPU
Intel i3-8100
Ryzen 3 2200G
Motherboard
MSI Z370 GAMING PLUS
MSI B350 Tomahawk
RAM
Patriot Viper 2x4GB
Patriot 2x4GB
Case
Corsair SPEC 01
Corsair SPEC 01
PSU
EVGA SuperNova G3 550W
EVGA SuperNova G3 550W
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB
NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB
Solid State Drive
Mushkin Source 250GB
Mushkin Source 250GB
Hard Drive
WD Caviar Blue 1TB
WD Caviar Blue 1TB

Summary

Overall, both of these PCs make a lot of sense for gaming. Still, I’d love to hear what you think about them.

Sticking with a solid state drive here seems necessary. Spending a further $60 will get you an M.2 drive as well. That same $60 could potentially get you close to a GTX 1070 or 1070Ti as well, once the market stabilizes. Thus, trade offs are a consideration here.

What are your thoughts on the build? Don’t forget to leave any questions or comments you have in the comments section below.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Brandon Hart

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