Do It Yourself Computer Kits - How to Build a Gaming PC for $1000

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Building a Low-cost Gaming PC

It's completely possible to build a great gaming PC today for about $1000. In this section of the site, I've already done the leg work for you as far as planning and design. The only things left for you to do are order the parts and put together your new gaming PC. Now, keep in mind that I've assembled a list of parts that should come in under $1000, but I'm not including a monitor in this total. If you're in need of one to accompany your new gaming computer, feel free to check out my page on monitors to get an idea of what you'll need.

Since computer technology is constantly changing, I'll be updating this page as time goes on. My goal is to provide a complete listing of compatible parts that will allow you to build your own computer for around a current market price of about $1000 (excluding your monitor, speakers, and printer). Of course, you can always tweak the parts list to help you keep your costs down (or upgrade components as well). However, if you do decide to modify the list, make sure your alternate choices will be compatible with the rest of your hardware!

Configuration 1: Build Your Own $500 Bargain PC(Great DIY PC for web browsing and routine home-office work)

Configuration 3: Build Your Own High-Performance PC (Perfect DIY PC for high-end gaming, graphic design and multimedia work)

For more information on choosing components, follow the Quick Links for each listed component on the left-hand side of this page.

Parts List Updated on: [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Build Your Own Computer - Hardware List

Component Where to Buy Description Comments
Barebones PC Kit

ASUS Ivy Bridge Unlocked
TigerDirect
$722.99
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Unassembled bundle includes the following parts:
  • Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V LX Intel 7 Series Motherboard - ATX, Socket H2 (LGA1155), Intel Z77 Express, 2400MHz DDR3 (O.C.), SATA III (6Gb/s), RAID, 8-CH Audio, Gigabit LAN, USB 3.0, PCIe 3.0, CrossFireX Ready

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K BX80667i73770K Processor - Quad Core, 8MB L3 Cache, 3.50GHz (3.90GHz Max Turbo), Socket H2 (LGA1155), 77W, Fan, Unlocked, Retail

  • CD/DVD Drive: Sony Optiarc AD7280S-OB 24x DVDRW Drive - 24x, SATA, Black, OEM

  • Memory (RAM): 2x (8GB Total) Corsair CMX4GX3M1A1333C9 XMS3 4GB DDR3 RAM - PC10666, 1333MHz, 4096MB

  • Hard Disk: Seagate ST1000DM003 Barracuda 1TB Hard Drive - 7200RPM, 64MB, SATA 6Gb/s

  • Computer Case: Thermaltake VN40006W2N Commander MS-I Snow Edition Tower Case - ATX, Mid-Tower, 3x 5.25" Bays, 5x 3.5" Bays, 7x Expansion Slots, USB, USB 3.0, Security Lock, White

  • Power Supply: Ultra LSP650 650-Watt Power Supply - ATX, SATA-Ready, SLI-Ready, 135mm Fan, Lifetime Warranty w/ Registration

This barebones bundle is offered by TigerDirect.com. You'll get a discount for buying all of the parts in one bundle, plus you'll greatly reduce the possibility of buying incompatible parts since TigerDirect.com guarantees that all of the included parts are 100% compatible with each other.
Video/Graphics Adapter TigerDirect
$129.99
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EVGA 01G-P3-1557-KR GeForce GTX 550 Ti SuperClocked Video Card - 1GB, GDDR5, PCI-Express 2.0 (x16), Mini-HDMI, Dual DVI, DirectX 11 SLI Ready, Plus Photoshop Elements 10 Promo This isn't the highest-end video card available, but it will work very well for most gamers.
Floppy Drive/ Card Reader TigerDirect
$9.99
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Sabrent CRW-UINB 7-Slot USB 2.0 Internal Memory Card Reader & Writer - Aluminum, SDHC/SDXC/M2, USB 2.0, Black, 3.5", Self Powered, SDHC, MicroSD Support Multi-format media card reader. Accepts most common types of media cards.
Keyboard TigerDirect
$15.99
Microsoft ANB-00001 Wired Keyboard 600 - USB, Black A basic but functional keyboard at a bargain price.
Mouse $13.99
TigerDirect
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Microsoft Basic Optical USB Mouse A basic optical USB mouse. Good quality and affordable.
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Build Your Own Computer - Software List

Component Where to Buy Description Comments
Operating System Amazon.com
$161.66
Microsoft Windows 7 Choose the version of Windows best suited for your needs. For most, Windows 7 Home Premium is a good choice. When you shop for your copy of Windows, you may be confused by the options. If you have an existing copy of Windows (say Windows XP or Vista) and you have the original media (CD/DVD), you can purchase an Upgrade version of Windows 7 for significantly less. But remember, if you don't have the old discs, or if you're not installing over an old version, it wont work! You can also buy the cheaper OEM (System Builder) version of Windows, but the license will not allow you to move it to new hardware if you upgrade at any time in the future! So, buying the full retail version may work out better for you in the long run.
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Don't skimp on backing up your new PC. You can lose everything in a flash--through no fault of your own. Protect yourself--it is well worth the money. It can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to recover data from a damaged hard drive if you don't have a good backup!
Anti-Virus Software Kaspersky Labs
FREE 30 day trial!
Kaspersky Labs
If you're going to build your own computer, you'll need to protect it. You've heard about what kind of damage that viruses, malware, and trojans can do to your computer. Be sure to protect yourself. Kaspersky Labs has been in the business for quite a while, and in my experience as an enterprise-level systems administrator, I've come to depend on Kaspersky's services--They're usually the first ones on the block to update their virus definitions in response to a newly discovered threats!
Full Internet Security Amazon.com
$25.90
Norton Internet Security 2012 Internet Security Suites combine Antivirus, Malware, and other protective services in one package. Norton Internet Security 2012 also includes a Firewall for additional protection.


Now, let's examine the steps I followed to choose my parts:

Step one: Choosing my processor. For this gaming PC, I've chosen to purchase an Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 Processor. It's a dual-core processor running at 2.66Ghz with 3MB of SRAM cache. It has an 1800Mhz Front-Side Bus (FSB) and includes a fan and heatsink. Be sure to purchase the Retail version, otherwise you'll have to purchase your own fan and heatsink. Now that I've chosen my processor, this clears the way to decide on a motherboard that will support it.

Step two: Choosing my motherboard. I've chosen a quality, name-brand board that supports my processor type and also allows me to install up to 16GB of RAM (although I'm only installing 4GB since I'm installing the 32-bit version of Vista). My board of choice for this project: the Asus P5Q Deluxe Motherboard - Intel P45, Socket 775, ATX. This board has plenty of USB and SATA connections to support additional peripherals, and 2 PCI Express 2.0 slots allowing for expansion of video functionality. The board also has integrated high definition audio on board providing true surround-sound capabilities. Knowing what type of motherboard I'm purchasing now allows me to choose the appropriate memory.

Step three: Choosing memory. Memory prices have dropped dramatically over the past year, so this will be extremely helpful in keeping our costs down. My choice: Kingston HyperX Dual Channel 4096MB PC8500 DDR2 1066MHz Memory (2x2048MB). The memory configuration is 2x2048, meaning you get two 2GB DIMMs per package, for a total of 4GB of RAM.

Step four: Choosing my gaming pc case. I wanted a gaming case that is easy to work with and provides adequate ventilation to keep my gaming pc running cool. I also wanted a case that will show off my handywork, so I chose one with a clear side panel. The choice: the Aspire X-Plorer ATX Mid-Tower w/ 600w Gaming Power Supply. It includes an ample 600 watt power supply, two chassis fans (with space for two more if needed), plenty of drive bays, convenient front-panel USB/Firewire ports and audio connectors, and a really cool LCD displaying the internal temperature of your computer.

Step five: Choosing my Hard Disk (HDD). I've chosen the Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB Hard Drive - 7200, 16MB, SATA-300, OEM . I ordered the OEM version since my motherboard already includes one SATA cable for connecting my new drive.

Step six: Choosing my CD/DVD Burner. I went with a SATA DVD Burner, the PSony DRU-V200S/BR DVD Rewritable Drive SATA . Again, I made sure to purchase the Retail version. This drive is capable of reading and writing just about any CD or DVD format out there. The price for this drive is extremely reasonable, and I'm considering installing two of them to make copyng from disk-to-disk more convenient.

Step seven: Choosing my Video Card. I wanted a video card that performs well with most games out there on the market, so I've decided on the Diamond Radeon HD 3870 Video Card - 1GB GDDR3. It's a PCI-Express 2.0 card and is compatible with my chosen motherboard. This card is recommended for use on monitors up to 30" for a great gaming experience and sharp HD video playback.

Step eight: Choosing a card reader. I wanted the convenience of being able to plug memory cards from my digital camera directly into my gaming pc without the hassle of breaking out a cable to download photos. This is a very cheap add-on to your computer and is well worth the small cost. I chose the Ultra Internal 3.5" Floppy Drive w/Multi Card Reader - Black . It will install nicely into one of my case's 3.5" floppy bays. The brand I chose is a little more expensive that your run-of-the-mill $15 model, but it's worth paying a little extra. Quite often, the $15 models give computer users a lot of unecessary headaches.

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Step nine: Choosing a keyboard and mouse: For my keyboard, I chose the Logitech G11 Gaming Keyboard. It's subtle backlight makes it easy to see in low-lighting conditions. For my mouse, my needs are simple, so I chose the Microsoft Basic Optical USB Mouse. However, if you need a serious gamer's mouse, check out the Logitech G5 Gaming Mouse.