Are you considering building your own computer? Do you need a breakdown of how much it will cost to build a PC? In this guide, we cover the various costs associated with building your own PC to help give you an idea of how much you need to spend.
So, you’ve decided to build your own computer. Whether this is your very first time building a PC, or one of many, there’s a set of questions you should ask yourself before you get started, to help you determine how much money you will want to spend. Those questions are:
- What are you going to use the computer for?
- For work? If so, what kind of work?
- Are you looking to build a gaming computer?
- If so, is there a specific genre of games that you play?
- Are you okay with running next-gen titles on lower settings, or do you want a system that can handle anything you want to throw at it?
While this line of questioning seems broad and largely unrelated, it leads to arguably the most important question to consider: How much is it going to cost to build a PC?
Well… it’s complicated. If you had asked this question a year or two ago, there would be a much more readily available answer. But in the last couple of years—owing to the pandemic, as well as the recent crypto craze—computer prices have been sporadic. And in one particular instance, it’s shown a worrying trend of drastically increased prices.
Generally speaking, there are two types of computers: Productivity computers—meant for work—and gaming computers—meant for, well, gaming. The type of computer you need determines the parts used, in turn determining how much the system will cost.
As a disclaimer, this article won’t be covering systems meant for productivity. This is due to a few reasons. First and foremost, if you work in a field where high-end productivity processors and other components are necessary, you should have the know-how to design your own system. Furthermore, in those use cases, “bigger is better”, putting the average cost of such systems well beyond someone who doesn’t make their living off of a computer workstation.
I. Parts Needed to Build A Gaming PC
Each computer is assembled by using the following components:
- Graphics Card (Abbreviated as GPU)
- Central Processing Unit (Abbreviated as CPU)
- Random Access Memory (Abbreviated as RAM)
- Storage – Solid State Drive (SSD)/Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
- Power Supply Unit (PSU)
- Computer Case
- CPU Cooler
- Case Fans
In nearly all systems, the GPU and CPU will take up the majority of the budget—simply because they’re the most important part of any build. Together, they’re responsible for nearly every process that a modern computer is responsible for handling, making them the focus of this article.
1. Graphics Card (GPU)
The Graphics Card is often going to be the single most expensive component of any build. That is particularly true in the current economic landscape. I previously mentioned a “worrying trend”. That worrying trend pertains to the GPU market.
Without going into too much detail, NVIDIA and Ryzen both (at the time of writing) released their new, top of the line Graphics Cards. If you’re looking to buy a new Graphics Card, there is little reason to consider any other models. So, what’s the issue?
Well, there’s a few. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global chip shortage, which in turn has led to a global chip shortage—one of the core components of GPUs. Coupled with the recent crypto mining craze—where individuals make profit off of owning and purchasing Graphics Cards in bulk—it’s no surprise that the GPU market has been turned upside down.
It’s gotten so bad that the 3080, which initially retailed at $700, is now listed for around $1,500 on Amazon. Similarly, the lower end 3070, which initially retailed for $600 is now listed for $1,100 on Amazon. In some cases, even cards as old as four years have been selling for more than their retail price.
This means that unless you’re lucky enough to snag a card directly from NVIDIA, you’ll be paying a premium. And this assumes the cards are even in stock—they usually sell out within minutes when a new batch is dropped. So, what are your options?
Well… you can buy from a reseller. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up paying around the same price. People in the hardware community will often buy in bulk whenever possible, to keep low supply cards out of the hands of scalpers. They’ll then resell the extra cards, with little to no markup. Sometimes you’ll find some kind soul selling the card for its initial retail price—though these individuals are the outliers, rather than the norm.
Another option—if you’re willing to take a hit in performance—is to sift through the aftermarket. Depending on your use case, you don’t always need top of the line hardware. For example, if you mainly play 2D platforming games, they will function perfectly fine on older GPUs. In some cases, you might not even need a GPU (more on that later).
How much does a graphics card cost? All in all, you should expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $3,500 on a graphics card. (In a normal market, though, this numbers would be a lot lower.)
Further Reading on Graphics Cards
- The Best RTX 3090 Graphics Cards for 2022
- The Best RTX 3080 Ti Graphics Cards for 2022
- Dedicated Graphics Card vs. Integrated Graphics: Which is Better for YOU?
2. Central Processing Unit (CPU)
While a Graphics Card is arguably more important than a CPU, the type of CPU in a system typically determines what the overall purpose of that system is. As the name suggests, the CPU is responsible for executing the bulk of a system’s processes, and different CPUs are made with different purposes in mind.
In some instances, a CPU can even perform the job of a GPU as well. These CPUs contain what is known as an integrated graphics card (abbreviated as iGPU). If you’re only looking for a computer to surf the web, there’s no reason to buy a ‘normal’ CPU. The integrated GPU will perform more than adequately, and can often yield a playable gaming experience, depending on the title. If all you’re looking for is web surfing, a cpu with an iGPU can cost as little as $100, while one capable of running games will cost around $250.
If you’re looking for a CPU meant specifically for gaming (in tandem with a GPU), the 5600x is a fantastic starting point, starting at $300 USD. On the higher end, prices tend to taper out around the $900 range. You should consider how strong your CPU really needs to be, both to avoid bottlenecking your GPU, and to save on costs wherever possible.
How much does a CPU cost? Overall, a CPU will cost anywhere from $100 to $900.
Further Reading on CPUs
- The Best CPU for Gaming in 2022
- Intel Core i3 vs i5 vs i7 vs i9: Which CPU is Best for You?
- APU vs CPU: Which Processor Type is Better for Gaming?
3. Motherboard (MOBO)
Functionally, a motherboard is just as important as any other part: the computer won’t run without it. It’s responsible for power distribution, and allows the different parts of a PC to communicate.
Make sure your motherboard is compatible with the other components you selected.
The most important thing is making sure that your motherboard and CPU are compatible with each other. The other parts are, with very few exceptions, universally compatible.
Keep in mind that, depending on the board you select, you may need to update the BIOS. While it’s a simple process, you can always purchase a motherboard that is compatible without having to perform an update.
If you’re able and willing to update the BIOS, compatible motherboards can be purchased for around $125. Keep in mind that for most of these motherboards, this is the last upgrade cycle they will be supported—meaning that, if you upgrade your CPU somewhere down the line, you may have to purchase a completely new motherboard. A more futureproof motherboard can cost anywhere from $200 to $300.
How much does a motherboard cost? Overall, expect to spend $120 to $300 on a motherboard.
Further Reading on Motherboards
- The Best Motherboards for Gaming
- How to Choose A Motherboard: 3 Quick Things You Need to Consider
- Micro-ATX vs Mini-ITX vs ATX: What’s the Difference?
4. Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is generally measured by 2 parameters: Capacity, and speed (clocked in mHz). The more RAM you have, the more programs you can run, and the faster it is, the faster your processing speed. There’s a lot of possible configurations. Here are the important ones.
- 1×8: 8GB total
- 2×8: 16GB total
- 2×16: 32GB total
- 4×8: 32GB total
- 4×16: 64GB total
16GB of ram is the golden standard at the time of writing. Having 32GB helps with memory intensive games (such as Apex, Warzone, Battlefield, etc.) but it’s more of a luxury than anything. 64GB is overkill in almost all scenarios. For extreme budget systems, 8GB of RAM is acceptable—especially since it is so easy to add a second stick of RAM in the future. However, you should seek to add another 8GB of RAM to your system as soon as possible.
RAM is almost exclusively sold in packs of two or four, but you can find single 8GB sticks for sale. Here’s how much you should expect to spend, on average.
- 1×8: ~$35
- 2×8: ~$70
- 2×16: ~$120-150
- 4×8: ~$160
- 4×16: ~$275
Four pack RAM generally boasts higher clock speeds, hence the slightly higher price per unit.
How much does RAM for a PC build cost? Overall, expect to spend ~$35-250 on RAM.
Further Reading on RAM
- The Best Memory for Gaming
- What Does RAM Do? (Computer Memory Explained)
- How Much Does RAM Affect FPS in Games?
5. Solid State Drive (SSD) / Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
If you’re new, it may be a bit confusing to see two different parts listed here, but solid state drives and hard disk drives perform the same function—they just differ in how they perform that function. SSD’s and HDD’s are both responsible for storing data (including the system’s OS, or operating system). In basic terms, an SSD stores information electronically, while an HDD stores information mechanically.
Generally speaking, SSD’s are faster, quieter, more reliable, and have a longer lifespan, but are substantially more expensive than a HDD with the same—or even more—storage. As such, an SSD is a non-essential “quality of life” component. That said, however, high storage, quality SSDs are substantially cheaper these days, so you really should consider using one in your build. Having your system’s OS installed on an SSD significantly decreases load times, and the same is true for games installed on an SSD.
Most motherboards also come with multiple SATA ports, allowing you to connect multiple drives at once. This makes connecting both an SSD and an HDD not only possible, but a practical choice.
The go-to HDD is the Seagate BarraCuda. The 2TB model is a reliable drive, and costs only $50 USD on Amazon—sometimes less. There’s no reason to look anywhere else, unless your line of work requires substantially more, or you just play a lot of games. In which case there is a 4TB model available for $75, and an 8TB model for $150.
If you’re on a budget, you can stop at an HDD and not worry about an SSD. If you have the money to spend, though, you should really consider it. 500GB SSD’s can be purchased for $50-$75 USD depending on the brand (Note: while not the focus of this article, many SSD manufacturers have been ‘exposed’ for lowering the write speeds of their SSD’s. Consider purchasing a reputable brand at the cost of a few more dollars).
If you have money to spare, you can also do the opposite—buy a high capacity SSD and forego the HDD completely. If this is your desired route, a 2TB SSD will cost around $200 USD, and a 4TB will cost around $400.
How much does it cost for an SSD or HDD? In conclusion, you can spend as little as $50 on your system’s storage, or as much as $450.
Further Reading on SSDs/HDDs
- The Best SSDs for Gaming
- The Best Gaming Hard Drives
- SSD vs HDD for Gaming: Do SSDs Make Your Games Run Faster?
6. Power Supply (PSU)
The power supply you choose for your build will require how much power it needs. Check out OuterVision’s PSU calculator to help you determine how big of a power supply you need. Generally speaking, 650-750 watts is recommended as it will give you plenty of room for upgrades in the future.
And, if you have extra money to spend on your power supply, buy a fully modular one. It’ll make your life so much easier.
How much does a power supply cost? A PSU will cost you $60-$150 depending on wattage and efficiency (as noted by its 80 Plus rating).
Further Reading on PSUs
- The Best Power Supplies for 2022
- What is A Modular Power Supply? Modular vs Non-Modular PSUs
- How to Choose A Power Supply: 5 Things to Know Before Buying A PSU
7. Computer Case
Choosing the right PC case for your PC build is extremely important. The case you choose will determine the kind of system you can build. And, it’s important to note that not all cases will be able to house all systems. Cases come in all shapes and sizes and they may not be able to house the core components for your system.
Not only that, but some cases are better than others at keeping your system cool. And, in general, you will pay more for a PC case that offers better airflow.
How much does a PC case cost? Expect to spend anywhere from as low as $50 to as high as $200.
Further Reading on PC Cases
- The Best Computer Case 2022
- The Best Budget PC Cases (Under $50)
- How to Choose A PC Case: 4 Things to Consider Before Buying
8. CPU Cooler
This one is a bit more complicated. There are 2 notable types of CPU coolers available: liquid cooled, and air cooled. For the purpose of this article, only All in One (AIO) coolers and air coolers will be considered. Keep in mind that some CPUs come with an air cooler—depending on your use case, it may be enough on its own.
All in One coolers contain liquid. Consider the risks upon choosing to install one.
How much does a CPU cooler cost? For an AIO, expect to spend anywhere from $80 to $200. For an air cooler, expect to spend anywhere from $45 to $100.
Further Reading on CPU Coolers
- The Best CPU Coolers for 2022
- How to Choose A CPU Cooler: 8 Factors to Consider
- Liquid Cooling vs. Air Cooling: Which Style CPU Cooler is Right for You?
9. Case Fans
Case fans will vary on a case-by-case basis. A computer case may come with multiple fans pre-installed, or it may not. Also, different cases can hold a different number of fans as well as different size fans. And, fan prices can vary depending on their size, how much air they can move, and whether or not they have RGB lighting on them.
Case fans can run from as low as ~$10 for cheap 120mm fans to as high as ~$20 for 140mm RGB fans.
10. Other Peripherals
Along with your actual PC, you’ll need a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and either a set of speakers or a headset. Peripherals can vary widely in price as, just like with your components, there is a large range of performance available.
In general, a monitor is going to set you back the most, with prices ranging from $100 all the way up into the thousands.
Keyboards, mice, and headsets can range from as low as ~$20-$30 to as high as ~$200-$300.
Further Reading on Peripherals
- The Best Gaming Monitors for 2022
- The Best Gaming Headsets for 2022
- The Best Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Combos
II. Example PC Builds
The links below will take you to guides dedicated to providing complete part lists for the related budget. Note that, as of right now, none of these systems can be built for the listed price. Due to global supply chain issues and chip shortages, the cost to acquire a GPU and other important PC hardware is significantly higher than normal.
However, as of right now, you can still get a prebuilt system at a reasonable price. This is because prebuilt and custom gaming PC companies are still able to buy their graphics cards in bulk and, as a result, they are still getting them for close to MSRP. So, while we normally recommend building your own PC to save on costs, as of right now, it actually makes more sense to choose a prebuilt system over building a PC yourself.
As such, we’ve also listed a number of prebuilt gaming PC options below.
Gaming PC Builds
- $300 Gaming PC Build
- $400 Gaming PC Build
- $500 Gaming PC Build
- $600 Gaming PC Build
- $700 Gaming PC Build
- $800 Gaming PC Build
- $1,000 Gaming PC Build
- $1,500 Gaming PC Build
- VR-Ready Gaming PC Builds
Prebuilt Gaming PCs
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PCs Under $1,000
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PCs for 2022
- Best RTX 3090 Prebuilt Gaming PCs
- Best RTX 3080 Prebuilt Gaming PCs
- Best RTX 3070 Prebuilt Gaming PCs
- The Best Custom PC Builders
III. Conclusion: How Much Does it Cost to Build A Gaming PC for 2022?
The cost of building a PC depends on a lot of things. There’s no single answer, as it’s uncommon to find two computer builds with the exact same components.
If you’re building a computer to browse the internet, you can spend as little as $300. If you’re looking to build a gaming computer, prices will vary greatly—$1000 is a good place to start for a budget build. Anything in between can vary greatly, all the way up to $4000 or higher. It all depends on what you, the user, wants.