How Much Does a Gaming PC Cost? (Cheap vs Expensive)

The gaming generations grew up on various consoles from Atari, to Nintendo, Xbox, and Playstation. Yet, most recognize that consoles are limited in ability to the ever-evolving gaming PCs that are known to soar high above in comparison to any TV bound system. So what is the average price of a decent gaming pc?

Most gaming PC cost between $600 to $1000 USD for a computer that will run all games at low to medium settings. More expensive gaming PC cost anywhere from $2000 USD or higher in terms of aesthetic and better function.

Unlike simply going to the store and buying a boxed machine with the same specs across the board like modern consoles, the creation of a good gaming rig is a little more involved.

Because of this, many prospective PC gamers are confused by the price/performance ratio which dictates how well their rig will run.

Cost of Cheap Gaming PC

Crypto currency mining components with graphics cards and gpu

When shopping for your first computer, many new buyers seek to budget their beginning pieces and build up their machine over time. Your beginner rigs are generally priced between $300-$800 USD.

This list of machines below will give you a generalized look at the price and parts to examine and determine what fits your budget and desired capabilities:

VR Ready$800Intel i3-10100
RTX 2060 6GB
16GB DDR4 RAM
480GB SSD
Balanced$700Intel i3-10100
RX 5600 XT
16GB DDR4 RAM
480GB SSD
Capable$600Intel i3-10100
GTX 1660 6GB
16GB DDR4 RAM
480GB SSD
Modest$500Intel i3-10100
GTX 1650
8GB DDR4 RAM
480GB SSD
Entry$400Intel i3-10100
RX 550 4GB
8GB DDR4 RAM
240GB SSD
Barebones$300Ryzen 3 3200G
8GB DDR4 RAM
Gigabyte A320M
240GB SSD

The barebones rigs are going to be underperforming at best, and at worst may not allow you to play a number of newer or more demanding titles. The higher end mid-rigs will be capable of playing anything, but might lag or be overwhelmed on certain games depending on the settings.

This is something else to keep in mind when constructing or buying your gaming PC: the intensity of the settings you want to play your games at.

On occasion, you might snag deals for mid-range PCs in this bracket on markets like Ebay when someone decides to sell off their PC or are upgrading their own parts and want to get rid of some previously used ones.

Buying slightly used parts can be a great way to save a bit of money on good parts instead of buying them brand new, but be sure to check the life expectancy and ask plenty of questions about the used part before committing to something that might need to be replaced from intensive use.

Cost of Expensive Gaming PC

CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme Liquid Cool Gaming PC

When you begin getting into prices above $800 USD to $1000, the price range for more expensive rigs will now vary wildly.

This is the point where the budget is based more on the longevity of the parts (to last through newer generations), cooling of said higher end parts, expansion of the system’s memory (both RAM and hard drive space to contain your games), and the aesthetics of the machine’s construction.

Related: Average Cost of RAM | 16GB | 32GB | 64GB | DDR3 & DDR 4

Regarding higher end PC parts, these rigs will use the newer GPUs, CPUs, and boards. Each will vary with the generation, but as a general rule the newest parts will obviously be the most expensive, whilst the older parts will still function but lag slightly behind the newer ones.

At the moment, the newest generation of GPU for example, the 3000 series coming in, will supersede the last generation which was the 2000 series released two years ago. The ability of the 2000 series GPUs will still function as a capable GPU for gaming years to come regardless.

Tip: Some older parts may not be compatible with newer parts, so always be sure to check the compatibility of your components.

One of the more important pieces of an expensive rig is the cooling systems. A higher end PC will generate a much higher amount of heat than a lower end PC because of the processing power that they’re capable of.

Because of this, the higher end parts usually need a more dedicated cooling system than the lower end parts. These can range from simple fans to dedicated radiators, and finally customized water cooling pump systems that pull away excess heat from every piece.

The aesthetics of a machine are superficial; mostly regarding the cases, the lighting systems (which are popular but unnecessary), and the various extra pieces that one might use to further customize their machine.

These can be anything from a GPU vertical attachment (which will mount your graphics processing unit in a different position) to simple board controllers to dictate what color lights you’ll use, and even the personalization of cases or keyboards.

Depending on how much of an enthusiast you are, or how important your PC’s looks are to you, all of these points in combination can even rise well above $2000 USD.

Cheap vs Expensive Gaming Setup

Online gamers playing strategy games in computer club

With the previous information at hand, your PC’s ratio of ability to cost will depend on your personal budget and desires. The person would need to compare their available funds to the potential games they are going to play.

For example, someone that’s going to be playing mainly MOBAs will not need a $2000 dollar machine and would be just as comfortable using a mid-tier rig. While, on the other hand, a potential streamer would likely need a powerful rig to process the strenuous loads that his future hobby will demand.

Tip: Remember that if you’re going to build a PC, you don’t need to buy all of your parts at once. You can put a little money aside at a time and upgrade as needed in your own time. Not only does this save you money in the long-run, but if you’re hard-pressed for time, you can construct it piece by piece, even if you just dedicate one weekend a month to it.

Cheap Gaming PC Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Less costly
  • Can be upgraded at any time and most mid and low-range parts are compatible
  • Some parts may have longer life-spans or better repair policies and warranties
  • Tend to generate less heat
  • Could buy a decent pre-built at this price without the struggles of building it yourself
  • More likely to find pre-owned at this price range
  • Parts are easier to replace if they are damaged or otherwise unusable
Cons
  • Most likely will not run graphics-intensive games at high settings
  • May not run some of the newest games at all
  • Might be incapable of running VR
  • Lower frame rates and graphics settings overall
  • Usually not very aesthetic pieces

On the other hand, if you’re tighter on cash, a lower-end machine can be a stopgap solution to beginning a PC gaming hobby.

These rigs are usually in the price range of $400 to $800 USD. In general, these machines will still be fine if you plan to play older games or MOBAs, but might not be the best choice for someone who plans on playing all the latest open world RPGs or tactical shooters.

Expensive Gaming PC Pros & Cons

A top-of-the-line gaming PC will obviously be more expensive, but often can wildly outperform the weaker competitors in various situations. If you’re looking to build a top-of-the-line gaming PC, prices can average around $1500 to $2000 USD.

Pros
  • Capable of and reliable for streaming
  • Runs the most demanding games comfortably
  • Compatible with VR using the best graphics
  • No limitations of graphical fidelity
  • Higher frame rates for smoother gaming
  • Highly customizable to your budget in terms of looks and function
Cons
  • Higher cost. Will require some decent upkeep in terms of money if you want to have the machine kept at the top of the market
  • More demanding on electrical bills
  • Can heat up a room rather significantly
  • More intensive capabilities require better cooling systems
  • Generally will be built by yourself
  • Not all high-end parts will be compatible with older parts and systems

Below I’ve provided a link to one of Linus’s videos on the topic of high vs low end PCs. This would be a great resource for anyone seeking more in-depth information on the decisions of purchasing a gaming PC.

How to Build a Gaming PC for Cheap

As someone who has built several of their own gaming PCs, my personal recommendation would be:

  • Buy pre-owned parts instead of fresh from the store.
  • If you buy pre-owned, always check their parts list to see if they’re upcharging too much.
  • Check multiple sites like Amazon, Newegg, and eBay for competitive prices.
  • Read reviews on your chosen machines or parts from reputable sources.
  • Be mindful of warranties when buying new and keep their documentation safe.

If you’re seeking to build a budget PC, the best mid-way pricing average would be roughly $600. This will allow a notable amount of wiggle room for your potential pieces, provided you shop around for reputable used parts instead of new.

However, if you’re looking to build an expensive rig, I would begin with a pricing average of $1500, to make sure you can afford parts capable of playing at the highest graphical settings.

But again, I have to stress that you also buy parts for an expensive rig that are used instead of fresh from the box, especially if you are planning to upgrade at some point.

Oftentimes, these parts will be marked down from anywhere between 25-50% due to their usage. Just keep in mind that their lifespan may be slightly reduced from a brand new part.

Ultimately, the decision of what you want to build or buy is entirely up to you, your interests, and your budget. What is expensive to you may be cheap to someone else, and that decision is yours to make.

Before starting your list of parts, you should think about what you want to use your PC for, how often you plan to use it, how important looks are to you, and determine what amount of money is reasonable for you to spend on your computer after taking into consideration other expenses that you have.

Determine what parts are the most important to your gaming experience, and what ones you’re willing to budge on or readjust depending on your financial situation at the moment.

Is Gaming PC Worth It?

Team of teenage gamers plays in a multiplayer video game on pc in a gaming club.

PC gaming is a hobby as much as it is a leisure activity. In comparison to consoles, one should be prepared to keep their system up to date with new parts and occasional replacements instead of simply buying another console as you would with.

The benefits of investing in a gaming PC outweigh the costs in the long run. A PC has a much wider array of game titles with better graphical fidelity and complexity in comparison to the downgraded titles one would be given on console hardware.

Not only this, consoles have a five-year lifespan which causes older game titles to be rotated out of circulation. If you want to have a lasting experience with all your purchases on one machine, invest in a PC.

  • Ryzen is a cheaper CPU, but the newer models perform almost the same as Intel’s.
  • The newest graphics cards aren’t required for a great PC. The 1070-80 series can run almost everything on the market at high settings but cost less.
  • Cooling is very important, but you can cut costs by buying more contemporary fans instead of water cooling.
  • The case matters, but you don’t need to buy ones with glass windows if you’re not planning on displaying the internal components. This will lower your price.
  • Some parts without RGB lighting are usually cheaper but perform the same. Check their capabilities.
  • Used parts, once again, should be fine. Their owners are usually looking to upgrade and offload their older parts to help the costs. You should do the same when you upgrade.

 Keep in mind, that a PC is upgradable. What you can afford now can be replaced in the future, unlike most electronics you purchase.

Gaming PC FAQ Answered

A gaming PC generally lasts for 4-5 years before the parts start to become outdated for running the newest games at the highest settings. For normal use, and light gaming on mid graphics settings, a gaming PC can last from 7-10 years before needing to be replaced or upgraded.

A good mind-range gaming PC that can run most games at 1080p can be purchased pre-built for $1000. One can also buy all the components and build a gaming PC for $1000. Due to a shortage in graphics cards and CPUs it may be necessary to buy those parts second-hand.

Gaming PCs use up to 6 times the voltage of a regular PC per year. This amount can vary based on the parts and what software the PC is running. Power consumption can also be reduced by using newer higher efficiency parts and keeping dust to a minimum.

Gaming laptops typically are less powerful than desktop gaming PCs. They also tend to be frailer and more prone to breaking. Since the highest end processors and graphics cards require a lot of space and cooling there are limits to how powerful the laptop processors can be.

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