As consoles become more advanced, they become more like PC gaming rigs. There’s always been a stigma in which people think PC gaming is superior to console gaming. In some ways it is, since you have more precision with a mouse than you do with a controller. In addition, you can connect a controller to a PC and get the best of both worlds. These days, it’s even possible and normal to see a PC connected to a big screen TV in the living room.

The lines between PC and console gaming blur more with each passing year. However, as PC and consoles become similar, the platform you should buy a specific game on becomes harder to determine. For instance, generally speaking you want to buy fighting games on consoles, but if you own an Xbox One and a PC, should you really go out and buy a PS4 just to play Street Fighter 5, or can you get away with picking up the PC port? As long as you have a controller or arcade stick that works on your PC (most do), then you may be better off going with the PC edition.

Now what happens if you don’t have a PC capable of playing Street Fighter 5 at maximum graphical settings? That’s what we’re here to help you with today. We’re going to go over some of your options for building an exceptional gaming PC for about the same price as a console. This won’t be the best PC of all time, but it will be powerful enough to play most new games at high settings over the next few years and potentially beyond that point.

There are three aspects of a gaming PC you want to focus on before spending money elsewhere. You’ll need a solid graphics card (video card), a good CPU (processor) and a decent amount of speedy memory (RAM). In most cases the video card and CPU will be the most expensive components in your new PC build, so let’s get those out of the way first.

It’s easy to spend over $1,000 on a video card and still not get the best. However, for our situation we’re going to offer a solid video card that will handle most games while still keeping cost in mind. That video card is the Sapphire R9 270. At the time of publication, you can find this card for about $150 if you look around online.

With the video card out of the way, we’re going to delve into the processor. For our needs, the AMD FX-6300 6-Core Processor Black Edition should be more than enough. It runs about $100 and gives us ample processing power for gaming and other various needs. That means our graphics card and CPU total to about $250. By the time we’re done, that will be roughly half the cost of the unit.

Once you have your processor and graphics card, you’re going to need a decent amount of RAM. For most games, 8GB of RAM will be more than enough. Of course you can bump this up to 16GB if you want to over extend a bit, but that would double the cost of the RAM as well. Once you get over 16GB you won’t see a huge difference in performance unless you’re really trying to multitask while gaming. We’re talking editing videos, watching a Twitch stream and playing a graphically intense game all at once. You can find one stick of 8GB DDR3 RAM, clocked at 1600 MHz for about $40 online. If you want to jump up to 16GB, you can find a bundle with two sticks for about $75.

Now you’ve spent about $300, but most of the main components are out of the way. It’s time to decide on a motherboard, case and power supply. You have quite a few choices when it comes to motherboards, but we’re going to recommend the MSI Socket AM3+/AMD 760G/DDR3, which runs about $70 online. Couple this with a 500W power supply (roughly $50) and place it all in a nice open case. You can get a decent case for about $60-100 depending on how aesthetically pleasing you want it to be.

That covers almost everything that’s going into your budget gaming PC and you’ve only spent about $450. That’s less than the price of an Xbox One when it first released, and your PC is going to do a lot more than simply play games. However, we’re not quite done yet. You’re going to need a hard drive and possibly a disc drive of some sort depending on your needs.

Prices on hard drives have fallen significantly to the point of being able to get a 1TB drive for less than $100. You should probably at least pick up a DVD writer for your new PC, but with the low prices of blu-ray writeable drives, you want to opt for the upgrade instead. Either way you’ll spend less than $100 on your optical drive. That brings your total up to less than $650 and closer to $500 if you opt to forego some of the upgrade options.

Now it’s certainly possible to build a solid gaming PC for less than what we listed here. It really depends on your preferences and how long you want your gaming rig to last. Keep in mind you can always upgrade down the road if you need a better graphics card or more RAM. You can opt to go a little bit cheaper now and upgrade later, or go with a higher end item now and wait a little longer before you need to upgrade. However you decide to proceed, PC gaming is cheaper now than it’s ever been.

Component Summary

  • Video Card - Sapphire R9 270
  • Processor - AMD FX-6300 6-Core Processor Black Edition
  • RAM - 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz
  • MSI Socket AM3+/AMD 760G/DDR3
  • 500W Power Supply
  • 1TB Hard Drive