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?
Average gaming PC costs between $800 to $1200 USD for a computer that will run all games at low to medium settings. A high-end gaming PC costs between $1500 to $2000 USD or more.
Unlike simply going to the store and buying a boxed machine with the same specs across the board as 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.
Related: Why Is My PC Fan So Loud? (Answered)
Average Price of Cheap Gaming PC
When buying a cheap gaming PC you can buy what you can afford right now so you can get started with your gaming. Over time you can upgrade components such as bigger and faster hard drives, faster CPUs, and even better graphics cards. It’s much better to get a cheap gaming PC now for around $300 – $800 USD and then add components as your budget allows.
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:
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.
You should consider what games you want to play and base your minimin requirements around those settings. You can improve the performance of your gaming PC over time by making small upgrades as your budget allows.
Marketplaces such as Craigslist or eBay will often have deals available for full rigs or components that you can use to upgrade your PC. These are often second-hand from other PC owners looking to perform their own upgrades, but the deals can be quite good when you’re on a budget.
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.
Average Price of an Average 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.
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 system. 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, dedicated radiators, and even customized water cooling pump systems that pull away excess heat from everything.
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
Using the information provided, you will need to check your current budget matches the minimum requirements for the games you want to play and what kind of performance you want to get out of those games. If your budget isn’t high enough to hit the minimum requirements you will need to start looking at building your own machine from second-hard parts.
For example, someone that’s going to be playing mainly MOBAs will not need a $2000 machine and would be just as comfortable using a mid-tier rig. 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
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.
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 ones.
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 can 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 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?
PC gaming is a hobby as much as it is a leisure activity. In comparison to consoles, you should be prepared to keep your system up to date with new parts and occasional replacements instead of simply buying another console.
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 can run all the same software and perform the same work tasks as a regular PC. The increased graphics and processing capabilities of gaming PCs can make multi-tasking and running multiple programs at the same time easier compared to regular PCs making them useful for high-end work.
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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Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.