No more Mr. Nice Gamer. It’s time to finally get a gaming computer that can run all of today’s top games on a 1080P monitor on higher-to-maximum settings. It won’t matter what game you throw at it, you’re going to get a computer that will deliver 60+ FPS with no problems.
That’s because in this guide I’m going to show you how you can get a gaming PC for under $600 that will run any game at higher settings on a 1080P monitor with no problems.
You will have to build this $600 gaming computer yourself, though. By building it yourself, you’ll cut down on the high markup costs that often come attached to pre-built PCs and you’ll be able to use that extra money to get an even more powerful system. So, if you’re up for building a computer, keep reading to find out what components you’ll need in order to build a powerful $600 gaming PC. (And, if you absolutely don’t want to build your own system, we’ve also linked to a similarly-priced pre-built gaming computer for $600, too—it won’t perform quite as well, but it will still be a decent option in the grand scheme of things.)
Also, if you want to look at more budget-friendly part lists, check out more options on our Cheap Gaming PC Build guide.
While everybody would love to spend thousands of dollars on a new gaming computer that has liquid cooling, an insane graphics card and CPU combo, a ton of RGB lights, and an awesome-looking case, the reality is that you don’t have to have all of those things in order to play your favorite games on higher settings.
So, if your main goal is to simply have the ability to play today’s best PC games on high settings on a 1080P monitor, you can actually achieve that with a budget of just $600 (and, in reality, you could probably do it with $500, too—check out our $500 gaming PC build here).
That’s what the build listed below will give you. No, it doesn’t have an AIO cooler in it and it doesn’t come with a fancy RGB-laden case. But it will allow you to experience your favorite games at graphics-levels you never thought possible. And, that’s a pretty good deal for $600.
*NOTE: If you’re not up for building your own computer, click the “Shop Pre-Builts” button to see a similarly priced pre-built gaming computer.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-8100|
|GPU||MSI RX 580 8GB|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance 8GB|
|HDD||Seagate 1 TB|
|CASE||Thermaltake Versa H15|
|PSU||Corsair CX 550M|
|ODD||Install O.S. from USB drive|
Grand Total: $570-$630
*Component prices fluctuate daily. Click here for current pricing.
**Price includes the components that make up the tower only. Windows 10 is included in the list, but will cost extra—and you will definitely need an operating system one way or another.
One of the coolest parts about choosing components to build a new computer is that, while there definitely are right and wrong components to get, there are different ways you can go about it. We believe the components that we listed above will give you great performance for the price you pay. However, there are other routes you can go with this build. So, in the section below we will discuss some of the other options you have.
The other great thing about building a computer is that you will always have the potential to upgrade it in the future. So, we’ll also go over the different upgrade paths that are available for this build, too.
But, before we dive into the different component options out there and the available upgrade paths, let’s first cover what kind of performance you can expect out of this $600 gaming PC.
Again, for just under $600, this PC can handle just about any game on max settings on a budget-friendly 1080P monitor. But, to give you a more specific idea of the kind of in-game performance you can expect, check the bullet-point list below:
- This $600 PC can run less-demanding games like Rocket League, League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, etc. on max settings at ~100+ frames per second
- It will run more-demanding titles like PUBG, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, GTA V, The Witcher 3, etc. on higher settings at ~50-60+ frames per second
So, whether you’re building this system to play competitive eSports titles that aren’t very demanding (like Rocket League, LoL, Fortnite, etc.) or you’re building it so that you can play some of the more demanding and graphically-detailed games (like Shadow of War, The Witcher 3, etc.), this build will be able to handle both types of games fairly easily on higher settings.
In my opinion, there are three processor options that make sense for this build. The Intel Core i3-8100 that we have chosen, the AMD Ryzen 3 1200, and the AMD Ryzen 5 1400. Other options like the Ryzen 5 1600 and 2600 are a bit out of reach in my opinion, as they would require you to sacrifice too much GPU power in order to fit in a $600 budget. However, there are always sales going on on the various online retailers and so it would probably be a good idea to shop around before you finalize your purchase to see if you can grab anything at a discount—which may end up allowing you to go with an upgraded processor.
But, for the most part, the three previously mentioned processors are going to be the options that make the most sense in this build. So, let’s break down each option and why they are (and are not) good fits for a $600 PC build.
The Case for the Intel Core i3-8100 and Where the Ryzen 3 1200 and Ryzen 5 1400 Make Sense
In my opinion, the majority of users are going to benefit the most by using the Intel Core i3-8100 in this build. The i3-8100 offers better single core performance over the Ryzen 3 1200 and 5 1400 and as it is a quad-core processor, it has enough cores for most games.
It’s also quite a bit less expensive than the Ryzen 5 1400 platform. The Ryzen 5 1400 costs about ~$20-$30 more for the processor, but when you include a motherboard into the equation, the price difference gets even bigger, because you can get a cheap H310 chipset motherboard for the i3-8100 at anywhere from $5-$15 cheaper than the cheapest AM4 motherboard (for the Ryzen 5 1400.)
And, while the Ryzen 3 1200 is about ~$20 cheaper than the Intel Core i3-8100, the two get closer in price when you again consider the price difference in motherboards.
The reality is that all three of these CPUs are good enough to handle games at 1080P on higher settings when they are paired with a solid mid-range graphics card. So, then, outside of a few other specific use-case scenarios, this really comes down to a matter of price-to-performance.
The i3-8100 offers better all-around performance than the Ryzen 5 1400 while costing quite a bit less when you bring the price of motherboards into the equation, too. And, that extra cost that the Ryzen 5 1400 comes with will likely force you to downgrade the graphics card, which will hurt your in-game performance.
The i3-8100 also outperforms the Ryzen 3 1200 in most scenarios, and while it does cost more, when you bring the cost of a motherboard into the equation, the difference lessens. And, ultimately, slightly higher cost of the 8100 isn’t so significant that you’d be forced to downgrade your GPU because of it. And, it also isn’t so great that if you were to go with the Ryzen 3 1200 over the 8100, that you’d have enough to jump up and get an upgraded graphics card with the extra money.
So, overall, we felt like the i3-8100 offered the best price-to-performance at this price range. It isn’t without its flaws, though.
Where the Ryzen 5 1400 and Ryzen 3 1200 Make Sense
If you’re someone who wants to overclock your processor, the i3-8100 is a locked processor that cannot be overclocked. However, both the Ryzen 3 1200 and Ryzen 5 1400 can be overclocked. And, because they come with decent stock coolers and budget-friendly AM4 chipsets allow for overclocking, you can get mild overclocks with them right out of the box.
Another scenario where you’d want to consider an alternative to the i3-8100 is if you are also going to be creating content, doing graphics design work, or any other kind of tasks that can utilize more cores/threads. If that’s the case for you, then spending a little extra on the Ryzen 5 1400 to get those four extra threads might make more sense for you. In fact, if you can stretch it a little bit further, the 6-core/12-thread Ryzen 5 2600 would be an even better option.
This isn’t to say that the i3-8100 is incapable of handling the kinds of tasks that benefit from having as many cores and threads as possible. However, having those extra cores and threads will help in those kinds of applications.
Ultimately, the i3-8100 serves as kind of the balanced option between gaming performance, workstation-type performance, and overall price, whereas the Ryzen 5 1400 is a great option if you will require more workstation-level performance and the Ryzen 3 1200 is best-suited for those who need to save every penny possible.
While the three processor options listed above are viable options depending on the scenario, the debate on which graphics card to go with between an NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB and an AMD RX 580 8GB is probably even more difficult.
Most benchmarks show that the RX 580 8GB and GTX 1060 6GB trade blows in most games with a slight advantage going to the GTX 1060 6GB.
So, then why go with the RX 580 8GB instead? Well, the reason is simple. The performance difference between the two is insignificant and with the RX 580 8GB graphics card you can pair this system with a budget-friendly 144Hz FreeSync monitor, whereas with a GTX 1060 6GB graphics card you would have to spend a lot more to get a G-Sync monitor.
The RX 580 8GB is also quite a bit less expensive at the moment, too.
Either way, both cards will deliver a very similar in-game experience and so we went with the cheaper option that would allow us to get a less expensive variable refresh rate technology monitor as well.
While you will definitely need an operating system in order to get your computer to actually run, we have left out including an operating system in the price of this build. Windows is the best-suited operating system for gaming. Unfortunately, though, a brand new copy of Windows will set you back ~$100.
However, there are alternatives to paying $100 for a copy of Windows. And, so while you will need some kind of operating system, we have left it out of the total cost of your system because of these alternatives that are available.
Here are a few ways to avoid the $100 cost of Windows 10:
First, you could install a free Linux-based operating system. You won’t be able to play certain games that aren’t compatible with Linux, but you will save $100.
Second, you could buy a Windows 10 key from a third party marketplace for ~$30. I’ve had good success purchasing Windows keys from Kinguin.net in the past, but there is definitely some risk involved in purchasing a Windows license from a third party source.
Finally, you could just install Windows 10 for free and not activate it. In my opinion, this is probably the best route to go. Essentially, Microsoft allows anyone to install Windows onto their computer without forcing them to activate it. And, for the most part, you can still use Windows normally even when it’s not activated. The only thing you will lose out on is some customization options like setting a custom background for your desktop. But, I think in order to save $100, that is not a bad trade-off cost. And, at the very least, you could run the non-activated version of Windows for the time being until you can afford to purchase an activation key for it.
This $600 gaming computer is pretty good as-is. Again, it is powerful enough to run pretty much any game at higher settings on a 1080P monitor.
However, there are some upgrades that you can make to it in order to get more performance out of it:
The first upgrade that I would make to this build is to add a solid state drive.
The 1TB hard drive that this build comes with will give you plenty of storage for your system. However, as it is a traditional mechanical hard drive, it isn’t the fastest storage option out there. By adding a 250GB (or more) SSD to this build, you can move your operating system and some of your most-used games and applications onto the SSD to see improved load times.
The second upgrade that I would make would be to add another 8GB of memory.
After adding an SSD to this build, the second upgrade that I would make would be to add a second stick of 8GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX. This build will make it really easy to bump up to 16GB of RAM as there will be an open DIMM slot available on the motherboard. So, upgrading to 16GB of RAM will be as simple as adding in a second stick of the same memory that this build comes with.
The third upgrade that I would make would be to upgrade the processor
For this build, since it already has a graphics card in it that is capable of maxing games out on a 1080P monitor, upgrading the graphics card to a higher-end option probably doesn’t make sense unless you’re also upgrading your monitor.
So, for my fourth upgrade, I’d probably look to jump up to an Intel Core i7-8700 before I’d jump up to a higher-end graphics card. By jumping up to an Intel Core i7-8700, this would be a really solid system overall. After that, if you want to make the jump to a higher-resolution monitor, you’ll need to also upgrade your graphics card (and, likely the power supply as well) in order to push games at higher resolutions.
If you don’t already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to go along with your new system, you will definitely need to get one of each. In this section, we’ll give you a few budget-friendly recommendations that will pair well with this build.
If this build proves anything, it’s that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a computer that is powerful enough to run today’s top games at higher settings. No, it’s not a high-end gaming computer that can handle 4K gaming, or push a 1440P 144Hz monitor.
However, if you’re someone that currently has a laptop or older desktop that is struggling to run games on a 1080P monitor at a playable framerate and you don’t have a huge budget to upgrade to a high-end system, then this $600 gaming PC will offer you a fairly affordable solution to your problem.
Overall, this build will provide you with the performance necessary to run the best games out there on the higher settings and it will also give you plenty of room to make upgrades in the future, too.