Building a $1200 Gaming Computer in 2012

For most gamers that have $1200 to spend on a gaming PC the build itself goes beyond simply performance. In this price range there are a variety of things you could do for both performance, cosmetics, and of course functionality. Rather than give you a strict build for this price range I felt like giving you various options would be the better course.

Here’s our $1100 build as it currently sits before we add any upgrades:

GPU -  GTX 560Ti or HD6950
CPU – i5-2500k or FX8150
Ram – 16 GB Vengeance or XMS3
Motherboard – Asus P8Z68-V/GEN3 or GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3
HDD – 1TB Western Digital Black WD1002FAEX for speed and the Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARX for capacity.
BRD – Asus BC-12B1ST, Samsung SH-B123L/BSBP, or LG WH12LS39K
SSD – Crucial 64GB CT064M4SSD2
Case – HAF Mid Tower RC-922M-KKN1-GP
PSU – OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W

$1200 Computer Build Options:

Graphics Card

For this build there are really quite a few things you could do with $100. You could upgrade your GPU to the GTX 570 or HD6970. Comparatively the 570 gives you a better performance increase over the 560 Ti so Radeon users will have to determine whether the upgrade to the HD6970 is worth it.

CPU and Motherboard

Currently we have the i5-2500k and the AMD FX8150 as our CPU. I’d leave the FX8150 where it sits for AMD builders, but Intel builders should consider several options. The i7-2600k, i7-2700k, and i7-3820 are all available at this price level. The i7-3820 will give you the best overall bang for your buck; however, you will then have to use a X79 chipset motherboard to go along with socket 2011 for Intel’s Sandy Bridge-e Series. X79 motherboards at this point in time are significantly more expensive than Z68; however, if you go with something like the GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3, then you could probably make it work in this price range. While these upgrades, when compared to the i5-2500k, won’t add any additional in-game performance, they will give you great features like additional Cache and hyper-threading which could be well worth it if you use your computer for work. Another thing to think about with the i7-3820 is that you’ll have to purchase a separate CPU cooler, so be sure to keep that in your budget.


For hard drive I’ve given you several options, but if you want speed and capacity you could consider getting the 2TB WD2002FAEX for just around $60 more. Similarly for a solid state drive you could also upgrade to the 128GB Crucial option.


As far as cases are concerned there are a lot of really great options in this price range. I’d choose between the current HAF Mid Tower RC-922M-KKN1-GP, Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Full Tower Case with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (RC-932-KKN5-GP), or the Cooler Master Storm Enforcer (SGC-1000-KWN1).


My PSU choice of the OCZ ModXStream Pro won’t change here.

CPU Cooler

CPU coolers are not necessary for as many gaming builds as many people think. If you plan on overclocking, then sure a CPU cooler is necessary, but otherwise, why not use the stock options that the manufacturers give you?  For cooler I’d choose between something like the Cooler Master Hyper 212, the Zalman CNPS9900LED on the higher end, and for water cooling the Corsair Cooling Hydro-Series All-in-One High-Performance CWCH60.

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One Response to Building a $1200 Gaming Computer in 2012

  1. Bawb says:

    This article makes me very happy with my $700 build I had decided on. Most of the components you listed are already on their way.

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