If you're planning on building a computer for $1,500, here's a look at the parts we'd choose along with an explanation for each. You can either build a PC exactly like this one or modify it to fit your needs. Either way, we'll get you updated with all the latest information you'll need along the way.
I7-9700k vs Ryzen 7 3700X
For a $1,500 budget, I recommend you go for a processor in the $300 to $350 range. So, it really comes down to the Ryzen 7 3700X and the i7-9700(k) which are both available in this pricepoint as of today.
Against the Intel Core i7-9700k, the Ryzen 7 3700X loses a few frames in a few games. For me, this difference is only important if you plan on just gaming. If you don't do much gaming or if you do additional tasks like rendering on your gaming PC, the Ryzen 7 3700X certainly makes a lot of sense here. The difference in gaming here comes down to Intel's slightly higher clockspeeds and core ringbus.
Still, the 3700X makes huge improvements vs the 2700X and the additional threads allow this CPU to take the crown in anything that is more than lightly multi-threaded. In addition, as more games continue to optimize for additional cores, you may find that the 3700X has some additional longevity vs. the i7-9700k.
You'll have to take a look at your own workload to make a decision here. These are both great processors and unlike in previous years, I don't think you'll be regretting your decision too much one way or another. I'm waiting for a response from Intel but it's hard to deny that AMD and the Ryzen 7 3700X are looking very impressive.
Here's a look at the 2 builds I'd go for at the $1,500 price point:
Intel i7-9700k vs Ryzen 7 3700X $1,500 Build for 2019
|$1500 Intel Build||$1500 Ryzen 7 Build|
Ryzen 7 3700X
9th Gen, OF 3.6GHz - Turbo 4.9GHz, 8-Core / Thread
3000 Series, OF 3.6GHz - Turbo 4.4GHz, 8-Core / 16 Thread
Corsair H100i PRO
Corsair H100i PRO
Asus Prime Z390-A
Gigabyte X570 Gaming X
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
Samsung 970 Evo 500GB M.2
Samsung 970 Evo 500GB M.2
RTX 2070 or 2060 Super
RTX 2070 or 2060 Super
EVGA SuperNova G3
EVGA SuperNova G3
Good Graphics Card Options from $400 to $500 - To Super or not to Super?
NVIDIA recently released it's Super RTX 2060 and 2070. These cards give you significant performance boosts vs the standard 2060 and 2070. That being said, I'm finding the price differential between these models to be significant right now in most cases so some shopping on your part may be well worth it.
And if you're finding a 2070 for cheaper than a RTX 2060 Super, I'd recommend that route as it's still the better performer (most of the time). If you can find the 2070 and the 2070 Super at the same price, obviously go with the Super version.
Gamer's Nexus does a great job of comparing these GPUs. So, if you're wanting to get the best overall value, it's a video worth watching.
What about Radeon VII?
Radeon VII isn't really competitive right now at its price point. Stay tuned as this may change but as of right now I'm only recommending these NVIDIA products at the $400 to $500 price.
Motherboard Options for Intel and AMD under $200
If you're looking for a Good Z390-A motherboard I like the Asus Prime Z390-A. No, it doesn't have the gaming tag, but it has all the features you need as well as some solid overclocking potential. Not to mention, plenty of eye candy potential in the Asus Aura system with full RGB lighting control.
If you don't need quite as many features you can spend even less and go with a board in the $150 price range like the MSI Z390-A PRO. This is another solid board with plenty of features and still very capable of a solid overclock.
A Motherboard for the Ryzen 7 3700X
If you end up going with the Ryzen 7 3700X processor, I'd go with the newer X570 motherboards. Right now I like a moderately priced board like the Gigabyte X570 Gaming X.
Overall, I'd say that the motherboard is probably the easiest place to overspend right now. Most of the features consumers purchase they simply don't use. So, don't be afraid to go with a budget option here.
A Good Power Supply Under $100
Regardless of what you end up doing for your build, I highly recommend you spend a bit more on your power supply to get one that I'd consider to be in the top tier. EVGA has the most reasonable option in this tier in its SuperNova Series. The EVGA SuperNova 550W option is all you'll need but the 750W is often the same price.
If you're looking for an option at a different price point, take a look at my post on the best power supplies for the money by budget.
Best Air and Liquid CPU Coolers Under $100
If you don't care about hitting any overclocking records, you could save some money over our choice above by using something like the Hyper 212 EVO from Cooler Master. It does the best job of giving you a decent overclock at that price point. It gives you most of the performance of the most expensive water and fan coolers, but without the inflated price.
If you want to go with something a bit more premium, I've recommended the Corsair H100i as a liquid CPU cooler above. It should allow you to get all the overclock you'll want and keep your CPU cool.
2 Good PC Cases for the Money
I recently wrapped up my post on the best mid-tower gaming cases. Clearly there are a plethora of different case options that would work really well here. Looking at budgets and value for the money you pay, I'll narrow it down to two that I like right now.
If you go with a full-tower Case I'd go with the Phanteks Enthoo Pro. For another option that's about half the price, I like the Corsair Carbide 200R and the NZXT S340.
Phanteks Enthoo Pro Full Tower Case
If you're looking for a full tower case with a ton of features which don't cost a lot, the Phanteks Enthoo Pro is still a great option. While it's a couple of years old now that simply means that it's more tested, more refined, and all for less money than day 1.
The case itself is made of steel and plastic and has a side window for viewing all your hardware.
Expansion and Flexibility
For expansion it has 8 slots and can hold up to 10 120mm fans, 7 140 mm fans, or 2 200mm fans. That's a lot of air! Included with the case are 1 200mm fan in the front and a 140mm fan in the rear. For flexibility the SSD bracket is on a drop and lock system that can be placed in two different locations. Both HDD cages are removable as well.
Corsair Carbide Series 200R Case
If you prefer to go with something cheaper and more compact than a full-sized tower, I like Corsair's Carbide model 200R. It's a black steel and plastic case with plenty of airflow and expansion slots.
Corsair makes it Easy
I've done several builds in Corsair cases over the years and they always make it easy. Knowing the build doesn't take very long makes it easier to setup and upgrade in the future. The 200R has thumbscrews for the SSD, hard drive, an optical drives making it a tool-free setup.
Expansion and Compatibility
The 200R has seven PCI-E slots all with thumbscrews and allows for a GPU of up to 430mm long. CPU Coolers up to 160mm in height fit and the side panels can hold up to 8 fan mounts. The case comes with 2 x 120mm fans.
Overall, this is one of the better cases you'll find in the $50 range. It's sturdy, makes it easy to install, and has plenty of expansion. Find it on rebate for sub $50 pricing.
In the past, I'd skimp on storage options to get every bit of raw performance I could out of my gaming PC. Now, I opt for a good amount of storage as I understand just how important it is.
A solid-state drive here is a must here. If you play multiplayer it loads maps faster and in real-life performance, it's just about as important as any component I can think of.
I've gone with an NVMe drive in the Samsung 960 here. 500GB for better speeds and a lower price. I've purchased several of these over the last year and typically go with this model unless other options are substantially cheaper.
For Hard drive, we're going with the Hitachi Deskstar 7200RPM 2TB hard drive. It's regularly on sale for around $60 and for $10 more than the popular Caviar Blue 1 TB model from WD, gives you twice as much storage. If you store as many videos, shows, photos, and files as I do on your PC, then that extra storage will be something you're glad to have.
DDR4 Memory Options
If you're moving from a DDR3 rig, unfortunately, you won't be able to use what you already have. Still, you should be able to use what you buy here in your next few upgrades.
I can't imagine building a PC at this price range and not throwing at least 16GB of memory at it. In 2019, good ram isn't nearly as expensive as last year. So, I'd recommend you get all that you think you'll need for now. 16GB is plenty for most.
I especially like the Corsair Vengeance LPX series. It's inexpensive, good quality, and overclocks super well. G. Skill also makes their Ripjaws V series which is often available at a decent price for even 3000MHz speeds.
Why You Should Build Your Own Custom Computer
When you think about the parts you'd want to put in your PC with a budget of $1500, there's a lot of expectations. You'd expect a quality 80 Plus power supply with room to upgrade and overclock if you wanted. The manufacturer of a pre-built machine wants to give you the bare minimum of what you need.
For the motherboard, you'd pick exactly what you wanted. Either a motherboard with plenty of features, overclocking headroom, or perhaps one that didn't cost a lot.
If you let someone else take over, then you're allowing them to make all the big decisions. In terms of quality, it's a bit of a crap shoot on what you'll get.
With all of this being said, my point is that you should just build your own PC. If you've never done it before, then hopefully I can help you pick out the parts that will give you the best overall value. Putting the parts together is actually rather simple. The best way to get going is to just order the parts, get started, and grab a friend if you need help. I can answer any other questions you may have below.
Final Thoughts, AMD vs NVIDIA in 2019, and Summary
2019 is a great year to build a computer. Ryzen's 3000 series of processors is definitely a winner and Intel has stepped up their game as well. So, picking either the i7-9700k or Ryzen 7 3700X seems like a win in either scenario. If you care a lot about FPS in games, go with the i7-9700k. For heavy workloads, the Ryzen 7 3700X will be best.
If you'd like more options and more builds, I highly recommend you take a look at my build a gaming PC series on YouTube. Some of it gets a bit out of date from time to time but I typically redo all of my builds each quarter.
My $1500 Build YouTube Video:
You can go to my YouTube Channel for an alternate version of this build where I do a little more of a mainstream build. I've also posted my $300 to $2000 builds there as well as here.
If you're looking for an always up-to-date version of the build above you can also see my page on the top gaming computers of 2019. It includes 10 builds from $200 to $2500 that are frequently updated.
Should you Go SLI?
Potential Advantages of SLI
Better performance for your money. While this may not have completely been true in years past it's definitely true right now. The reason for this is that scaling has gotten better. By that, I simply mean that if you use two cards in SLI you can get closer to double the performance of a single card than ever before. In addition, it works really well with multiple monitor configurations.
Disadvantages of SLI
There are still a lot of disadvantages to SLI in 2016. When you have two graphics cards side by side in a case it uses more power and can get a bit hot from time to time. Also, not every game supports dual card configurations. That being said, most graphically intense games like Battlefield 4 provide support for this and AMD and NVIDIA provide driver updates regularly. In addition, micro stuttering can occur on occasion although, this is very limited on NVIDIA's newer cards.
Thoughts about Dual Card Configurations:
Starting out with a single card can also be advantageous if you want to SLI or Crossfire down the line. For example, if I bought a GTX 1070 today, then I could purchase another GTX 1070 years from now for a discount and save myself from having to upgrade.
That being said if you go with a dual card configuration for a similar budget, you're likely to get better performance right now. Either way, it's really a matter of personal preference, but with SLI configurations getting simpler, it'll probably become a more popular option over the next couple of years.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Open Discussion Area
Joey7 on January 12, 2019:
What you say about SLI, I was reading the very same argument about SLI when building a rig in 2010.
steve on June 21, 2018:
Great review! very helpful!
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on February 15, 2018:
Ram is pricey right now. When I updated this article (I must have missed that). Thanks for pointing it out.
Grigor on February 14, 2018:
in which world you’re living sir? You’re saying:- For how cheap the ram is I can’t imagine not throwing 16gb of ddr4 2400hz. Well if you’re lucky you can get those 16gb of ram for 150 up to around 190$!!! It’s way more than used to be. If for you that’s cheap, then what’s the price point were for you ram price is called expensive?! To put in perspective that’s around the price of a i5 8400 cooler included. It can’t be same price. It shouldn’t be. It’s outrageous and a rip off. I have no other name to call it. You can call it a “deal”! Up to you. But it isn’t at all.
Sahir on January 01, 2014:
Truly speaking from all this PC business,
I started building my PC in the beginning of 2005 with a Pentium IV and now it's evolved to a PC which runs everything smooth. Don't know about FPS or benchmarks but everything works.
My current setup is:
Q6600 at stock speed CPU - $60 from Ebay
Radeon HD5750 1 GB XFX GPU - $160 from Ebay
2 x 4 GB Kingston DDR3 RAM - cheap
OCZ Stealth X Stream 600W PSU - $150 from a local shop
ASRock microatx mobo supporting the CPU socket and DDR3 RAM - $65 from a local shop
Gigabyte cooling fan, it's big but don't know the name and was cheap
Several old hard drives, IDE and a 80 GB SATA 1 for the OS
Windows 7 64-bit
My PC runs everything flawlessly and all games I play on maximum settings at on a 32" HDTV with a Xbox 360 wireless controller.
Total was $ around $600 if including RAM and other minor things. That is less than half of this new rig.
Is there a need to build a new "budget" gaming PC if there is an option to get the performance from older hardware for much cheaper?
Rupa on December 17, 2013:
Hi i have used a Biostar mobo in a similar configuration.Its good.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on December 16, 2013:
Noah, it would be really hard to know without having the exact build in front of me.
Noah H on December 13, 2013:
I want to buy a high(er) performance gaming desktop for around $1500 my dad works for a company that gets a discount from dell so i was considering buying an alienware Aurora R4 (the medium build) and the price came to around $1500 (35% off) would this be a smart move or could i buy a higher performance computer for the same price?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on December 09, 2013:
Yes :). Through the board and the graphics card. It also has a DisplayPort option.
Scott P. on December 07, 2013:
this may sound like an idiotic question, because honestly, i'm not a computer expert. Does this build have a usable hdmi port?
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on November 27, 2013:
Nice job Matrixter - sounds like a beast.
matrixter on November 27, 2013:
Also, to anyone buying all the parts online like me. First off, look for as many promotion codes as you can find before you hit that checkout button. On newegg, I bought a combo which contained the CPU, (1) SSD, PSU, Motherboard and saved more than $50 just on that. Then I made sure when I put everything in the cart and was ready to checkout, that I clicked on each item to copy and paste their Promo codes for which ever ones had them. saved another $40-50 right there. Then finally, I shipped everything to instead of my house in NJ, to my friends house in PA where sales tax doesn't apply, so saved another $70 right there. So if you are stuck in a crappy state that has sales tax like CA or NJ try to see if you could do what I did and save some more money :)
matrixter on November 27, 2013:
I just put together my very first build. it's kind of similar to this.
Fractal Design Define R4 (non-windowed, and then purchased the windowed panel just to have both)
Corsiar Hyper 212 Evo
Asus Sabertooth Z87 Tuf
Gigabyte GTX 770 4gb
Asus Xonar Essence STX
16gb Corsair Vengeance 1600mhz RAM
HX 850w PSU
2 x 120gb Kingston SSDNOW V300 SSDs in RAID 0
1 WD caviar black 7200rpm
I put the SSDs behind the mobo and put the hdd in a MASSCOOL 5.25" drive bay cooler so that I could completely remove both Drive Cages to allow for much better airflow. If I need more disk space I'll use the other 5.25" bay for another. I bought a $12 lite-on dvd burner because it was on sale on newegg just incase I ever need it for something, haven't installed it.
I played around a bit with overclocking this chip, I didn't fine tune or anything so I could have gotten much better but I was able to achieve a stable OC of 4.4 ghz using 1.21v and the highest temp for the hottest core was 93°C. I used Intel Burn Test for 20 runs on High setting. I feel that this is way too hot for my liking so I won't be OC'ing it at all until I get my water cooling solution. I am either waiting on the Cooler Master GLACER 240L to be available again or I am going to do a custom loop. I may even de-lid for better temps. But as for now, everything is running stock and I enabled the XMP profile.
This computer is very fast. Windows 8.1 Pro operates with lightning speeds with those 2 SSDs in RAID. I'm loving it! Games perform really well, I got Assassin's Creed Black Flag, Batman Arkham Origins and Splinter Cell Blacklist all for free with the purchase of the GTX 770 on Amazon, Newegg has a similar offer but that's only when you also purchase a NVIDIA SHIELD with it, then you get the games. There is only a PNY GTX 770 on newegg that offers the games as a gift w.o having to buy the SHIELD. I bought it and then I found the Gigabyte version on Amazon so I am returning the PNY one. Gigabyte is a WAY better design, better stock OC clocks, better cooling, just better.
Anyway, yea... I used to think that building a computer was going to be super hard. I surprised at how simple it is. I'm seeking the next challenge now, how I will water cool this beast :)
Gana on November 14, 2013:
I also suggest a Kingston Hyper X Blue DRAM which is very efficient and a Biostar Gaming motherboard which happens to be good.
Eric D. on September 17, 2013:
CPU - intel core i5 4670k $220
CPU COOLING - Corsair Hydro Series H100i $100
MOTHERBOARD - MSI Z87-G45 GAMING $160
MEMORY - Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2x8GB) $150
GRAPHICS CARD - MSI GeForce GTX 760 $260
COMP. CASE- CM Storm Scout 2 Advanced $95
POWER SUPPLY - Corsair Gaming Series 700-Watt $110
FANS - Corsair Air Series SP120 Quiet Edition Twin Pack Fan $28
OPERATING SYS. - Windows 8 64 bit OEM $87
HDD - Seagate Barracuda 2 TB HDD $95
SSD - Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series 120GB $100
BluRay/DVD Drive - Pioneer Electronics BD/DVD/CD Burner $60
Total - $1465 + tax (most items from amazon are free shipping) around $1600 total if you want to make it $1500 just take away the ssd. you don't particularly need it.
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on September 16, 2013:
For this build I've suggested 16GB of Corsair Vengeance memory.
Abed on September 16, 2013:
what about ram?