Now that we’ve taken you through the best builds under $500, and under $1,000 for 2011 we’ll take you through one of the more popular price ranges for PC gamers, the under $1500 category. While you are somewhat limited in your choices for hardware and for games with a build under $500 and even somewhat under $1000, with a build around $1500 you can build a solid gaming PC with a graphics card and CPU that will help you to rule the world (well maybe not the world, but at least the gaming world)!
For builds under $1000 we generally recommend that you allocate a portion of your overall build (25%) to your GPU and CPU. While you can consider doing this with your $1500 build, our recommendation will come in slightly under that 25% range in order to allow options like a SSD for your gaming PC.
In this price range we’re still recommending the same CPU that we recommended for the $1,000 build, the core i7-2600k which features Intel’s latest technology and speed boosts of up to 3.8Ghz even when you aren’t manually overclocking. An Alternative to this CPU would be the i5-2500k which is similar to the 2600k but doesn’t have the hyper-threading capability that the 2600k has nor the cache. If you go with this CPU or an AMD alternative in the Phenom II X6 1090T, then you could technically allocate additional money to your GPU.
Price for CPU – 340, 226, 189
For your GPU we’ll give you 4 options. Our two high-end options would be the NVIDIA GTX 570 or if you are a Radeon fan, the HD 6970. Alternatively you could save additional money by going with the GTX 560 or the Radeon HD 6950. For the GTX 560 we recommend the newer card that has two fans.
Price for GPU, 339, 339, 289, 249
*Update 7/22/2011 – It’s probably in your best interest to go with a Z68 motherboard at this point in the year. We like the Asus P8Z68-V PRO. For Z68 motherboards consider using a smaller SSD as cache to give it SSD-like performance with Intel’s Smart Response Technology.
Our choice for LGA 1155 socket motherboard in this price range would be the Asus Sabretooth P67 and for those of you who chose the AMD CPU above, the ASUS Socket AM3/AMD 890FX Crosshair IV Formula for our high-end pick and the Gigabyte 890GX GA-890GPA-UD3H for our mid-range pick. Both of these motherboards are AM3+ ready which is a nice feature if you plan on upgrading to AMD’s Bulldozer line later.
Price for Motherboards – 220, 220, 129
What’s left – If you’ve chosen our high-end options at this point, then you’ve spent $900 of your overall $1500 budget.
With the increasing popularity of platforms like steam, more and more gamers are purchasing their games online and receiving a copy of their game with their online account. Necessarily files are generally stored on your HDD or SDD and therefore a fast hard drive is becoming increasingly important for your gaming PC. We recommend that you take advantage of the faster SataIII/Sata 6Gb/s technology for your main hard drive which should allow you speeds up to twice as fast as your old one. Look for a HDD that still has 7200 RPM and 64MB cache. You can get this Western Digital 2 TB SATA 6GB/s 7200 RPM 64 MB Cache Desktop Hard Drive WD2002FAEX for around $89.
DDR 3 Ram
For Ram we recommend the Corsair Vengeance, or the XMS3. At this point in time anything above 8GB should be fine for even the most demanding of games. Using at least a 4GB stick will allow you to upgrade as high as you should need.
Price: 89, 114 (after rebate)
DVD and or Blu-Ray Drive
For DVD RW we’ll go with this Samsung (as of 5/31/2011) and for Blu-ray Drive we recommend you go with this one from LG.
Price: 29, 106
What’s left- If you’ve stuck with our options we’ll assume that you have around $300 left for your case and SSD.
For a full-size case we’re partial to the HAF 932 or for a mid-tower the Cooler Master HAF Mid-tower. If you’d like to save some money here you can get the less expensive Cooler Master Elite for around $40.
Price: 154, 99, 39
For SSD we recommend you go with the Intel “510” series which has the fastest read/write transfer writes available at up to 500MB/s for read. For this price range you’re looking at the Intel 510 SSDSC2MH120A2K5 SSD for right around $250 right after the rebate.
Summary: Best Gaming PC Build Under $1500
If you picked our higher-end options all the way through you’d end up with a build right around $1,626 – while our lower end options would cost you right below $1300. Additional CPU-Coolers and case fans should be added based upon which case you choose.