How much does it cost to build a PC? Gaming PC costs explained
So, how much is a PC? A gaming PC is almost always going to cost you more than a regular PC but why?
Building a PC can be quite challenging if you haven’t done it before, with hidden costs and possible compatibility issues being a bit intimidating for some newbies. There are many questions before you even begin the building process such as, how much does a PC cost? Is it cheaper to build your own PC? Will a gaming PC cost more than a standard work PC? Don’t worry, WePC is going to answer everything about the associated costs with computers and then tackle the more tailored questions like – should you buy an extra fan?
PC gaming is an expensive hobby, so the more research you put in prior to investment, the better.
How much is a PC?
How much a PC cost varies dramatically. A standard PC for general working can be put together for as little as $300, sometimes less with second-hand parts. The price of a PC starts to increase as you up the specifications. If you were to utilize a CPU or APUs integrated graphics, you can save money on a GPU you may not need but this can come with compromises.
The most expensive part of the PC is the graphics card. A GPU varies in price, with older or less powerful options being much more affordable. Like anything PC-related, the price goes up with the more power you require. So, if you want to play the latest games in 4K, you are going to require a more expensive graphics card.
How much does it cost to build a gaming PC?
Just like any PC or laptop, how much a gaming PC costs depends on your individual budget and game requirements. It can cost anywhere from $300 to $2000, and many people like to occupy a happy in-between at around $700-$1000. Whether you’re on a budget and pinching pennies or an enthusiast who wants the best of the best, there is a gaming PC for you. Check out our How to Build a Gaming PC guide for a more detailed breakdown of pricing tiers.
|Entry-Level/ Budget||Mid-Range||High-End||Enthusiast/ Extreme|
|– $300 Entry-Level Build||– $700 Gaming PC Build||– $1500 Gaming PC Build||– $3000 Gaming PC Build|
|– $400 Entry-Level Build||– $800 Gaming PC Build||– $2000 Gaming PC Build||– $5000 Gaming PC Build|
|– $500 Budget Build||– $1000 Gaming PC Build|
|– $600 Budget Build|
For those looking to build a mid-tier system and above, you can usually expect to spend around 50% of your budget on the graphics card. The GPU is the most expensive part of a gaming PC, so don’t worry about focusing your budget on this item. The CPU can also raise the cost of a PC build but this largely depends on your gaming requirements as previously mentioned. You could save in the CPU area as older generation chips are still quite good for gaming, giving yourself more towards the graphics card.
It can sometimes be best to find a balance between your components but it is important to note that other, forgotten about areas may raise the overall cost significantly. RAM kits are fairly priced these days and you should probably look to include 16GB of fast RAM with your PC, ensuring you get the absolute most out of it. Storage may seem like an area you can save money, however, you should focus on purchasing an SSD. It may seem like a good idea to buy a small-capacity SSD but they can fill up quite quickly, with modern games in some cases exceeding 100GB.
So how much does it cost to build a gaming PC? It obviously varies but it ultimately depends on your planned build and its capabilities. If you are looking to play the latest games, in max settings, at the highest resolutions, then you are likely to need to spend quite a lot of money ($1,500+). For the competitive esports lovers out there who want nothing but high frames in their favorite shooters, you are lucky, you don’t have to spend quite as much, with low to mid-tier systems able to support 144+ FPS in 1080p.
How much do gaming computer parts cost?
When building a PC there are many different online and offline retailers you can buy your components from. Prices can vary and the overall cost of your PC depends on your budget. Whether you are after entry-level spec to play games with low requirements or something more high-end, you can tailor your PC build around those needs.
Every component in a PC can be split up into the same cost categories above: entry-level, mid-range, high-end. Typically, high-end components come with more power or more features and obviously cost more. Lower-end components have a bit of a trade-off, maybe they are older generation or come with fewer features, giving you something more affordable.
Let’s take a closer look at what the various components typically cost.
How much does a CPU cost?
|Low-end||$125 – $200|
|Mid-range||$200 – $450|
The two flagship processors from AMD and Intel’s latest generation (5900X and 12900K) both retailed at MSRP between $550-$600. The CPU is still largely affordable, however, stock issues have still been apparent, meaning older, more affordable chips are sometimes hard to get.
How much does a GPU cost?
|Mid-range||$250 – $600|
A graphics card will be the most expensive part of your gaming PC and it is largely accepted that half of your overall budget should be spent in this area. Picking a GPU up for MSRP is the biggest challenge from finding stock at the time of writing this but avoid the scalpers and remain patient.
How much does RAM cost?
|Low-end (8GB Capacity)||$40 – $60|
|Mid-range (16GB Capacity)||$70 – $100|
|High-end (32GB Capacity)||$100+|
RAM prices increase if you are looking for faster memory kits. You will also spend more on memory with tighter timings too but for the most part, RAM is quite affordable and you should always aim for 16GB for gaming these days if possible.
How much does a motherboard cost?
|Low-end||$60 – $100|
|Mid-range||$100 – $200|
A motherboard is a great area to save money but the lower end you go the fewer features and capabilities you get. It is also worthwhile making sure you take full advantage of your motherboard’s features when looking at higher-end options as you can usually get similar performance for less.
How much does an SSD (storage) cost?
|Low-end (250GB Capacity)||$30 – $60|
|Mid-range (500GB Capacity)||$60 – $100|
|High-end (1TB+ Capcaity)||$100+|
Storage costs more based on its size and speed. You could in theory have two SSD devices with the same capacity, however, if one reads and writes quicker, it will likely be more expensive. You can also assume a price increase with the latest type of SSD. Old 2.5″ SSDs are often the cheapest option, with the newer, more convenient m.2 type SSDs costing more.
How much does a PSU cost?
|Low-end||$30 – $50|
|Mid-range||$50 – $100|
A power supply is relatively inexpensive in comparison to the rest of the PC. You can keep costs down by going for a non-modular option and ensuring you get just the right amount of power for your build. Be wary of anything below Bronze-rated and always research PSU tier lists before buying too as there is no reason you shouldn’t be buying from a reputable manufacturer.
Generally speaking, the lower the wattage, the lower the cost. The same goes for certain features like modular cables and LCDs, avoid these spend that extra cash on more important components.
How much does a PC case cost?
|Low-end||$40 – $60|
|Mid-range||$60 – $100|
Like a few components, the PC case is available for a variety of budgets. Lower-end cases are considered fit for purpose, with a bare minimum number of features and included fans. A budget PC case can still get the job done and still provide enough airflow to your system, however, these are sometimes plagued by quality issues.
A mid-range case can often provide the perfect balance between price and performance. Depending on the case, you could get an optimal amount of included fans, higher quality dust filters, and other nice-to-have features such as cable management options.
In the high-end, You usually have fewer quality concerns and can often see a lot of modularity, with the ability to re-configure your case depending on the size of your build. Some models may come with premium sound dampening materials for added stealth, others could assist in your next loop.
Do I have to build my own PC?
It’s a fun time, but you don’t have to. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, find a local PC hardware shop to do it for you. They’ll usually be eager to help out. Alternatively, you could try buying a custom prebuilt PC, which most major manufacturers produce.
Custom prebuilt manufacturers will charge a mark-up on the computers they sell, which obviously covers labor costs. So, in most cases, you can save money/ get more performance for your cash by building your own gaming PC. that being said, prebuilt computers often come with added benefits, such as software, testing, and warranties, so both options are more than acceptable.
What about the cost of a prebuilt gaming PC?
We champion the idea of building your own gaming PC here at WePC, however, in recent times that has become harder. Whether you are struggling to meet the increased prices of components or can’t even find stock, it has been tough. This is where the prebuilt gaming PC starts to make some sense, especially if you are new to the PC gaming world.
Prebuilt PC prices have risen along with the rest of the industry, so let’s take a look at the lowest costs for different ‘ready to ship’ RTX custom PC systems from US manufacturers (at the time of writing this article).
|RTX GPU||iBUYPOWER Price||CyberPowerPC Price||Origin PC Price||Skytech Price|
|RTX 3060 / RTX 3060 Ti||$1,599 (3060 Ti)||$1,665 (3060)||$2,321 (3060)||$1,369.99 (3060)|
Does PC gaming cost more than console gaming?
In most cases, yes, console gaming is far cheaper, but it doesn’t have to. In terms of hardware, you can get a good quality gaming experience while generally paying the same amount That being said, consoles now game in 4K and that is something that currently will cost you a lot more to do on PC.
You can save a lot of money elsewhere in PC gaming. While the hardware can cost a varied amount, or more if you opt for high-end hardware, the games are much cheaper. There are multiple storefronts on PC constantly running sales that allow you to get AAA titles for way under $60. You also save on peripherals, with gaming mice and keyboards being compatible regardless of branding.
Is it cheaper to build a PC?
Unless you are buying components or an entire PC second-hand, it is almost always cheaper to build your own custom PC. When building your own PC, you won’t have to pay for any labor costs, keeping costs down, and allowing you to include more into your system for the same price.
The main reason it is often cheaper to build your own PC is because of labor costs. Prebuilt manufacturing companies are businesses at the end of the day, with overheads and staff to pay, so it is perfectly acceptable for them to charge for their hard work. There are also a lot of additional benefits with a prebuilt computer that can sometimes be included in the costs, such as software and testing.
How long does it take to build a PC?
For your first time, it can be as long as two-three hours. With help or experience, it can take as little as one hour, especially once you really know what you’re doing. If you take time to prep beforehand by watching videos and reading your manuals, you can shorten the process significantly.
There are some areas that can stretch out the overall time. If you buy a bad PC case, you could find it isn’t ideal for the overall build process. A bad PC case may also make cable management very tricky, again, leading to lengthier build times. CPU coolers can vary from brand to brand too, sometimes giving even the odd experienced builder a small headache. The instructions are often clear, however, coolers such as AIO’s come with a few extra steps, again leading to more time being needed. Regardless, you should just take your time and enjoy the build, that’s what it’s all about.
How hard is it to build a gaming PC?
Not too hard. If you follow the instructions and are building in a safe environment, it’s pretty hard to screw up: everything has a set place. You won’t accidentally plug your GPU into your CPU slot, for instance. If you’re ever in doubt when building, consult your motherboard manual and the manual for the part that you’re attempting to install. This will usually clear up any confusion and help you finish up.
The hardest part of the process for beginners is at the start, with newbies running into compatibility issues but there is a lot of material online nowadays to help you through it. We have created a how-to build a gaming PC guide, helping you through said compatibility questions and offering complete step-by-step instructions to help you through the process.
Do I have to buy Windows?
Windows will provide the best all-around compatibility and support, but you can use Linux if you want. Linux can provide a great gaming experience, and is always getting more and more support. If you opt to save money by going for Linux, we recommend Linux Mint.
You only have to buy Windows if you don’t own a copy already and if you plan on buying a prebuilt system, don’t worry, they usually come with Windows pre-installed.
Do I have to buy an anti-static wrist strap and mat?
We often recommend to first-time builders to invest in an anti-static wrist strap purely to put your mind at ease and ensure you run into the least amount of complications. A lot of experienced builders may have an anti-static mat to place their components on to but that is about it, so no it isn’t absolutely necessary.
Do I need to buy a disc drive?
Unless there’s something you need it for, no. Most users only use their disc drive once: when installing Windows. If you have another PC and a USB stick on hand, however, you can create a USB Windows installer that you can use instead, saving you the trouble of installing a disc drive that you’re only going to use once. If you ever need one later, you can always buy one.
Should I buy extra case fans?
This depends on your case. We recommend having at least one intake (blowing air into the case from the front) and an exhaust fan (blowing air out the back of the case). If you have both of those, you should be fine- feel free to add more intake and exhaust fans as you please to lower your case temps.
It is worth noting that if your PC has a lot of high-end hardware, your internal temps will run higher, so you should consider extra fan options but remember these components are designed to take quite a bit of heat. Another note is that if you buy a budget PC case, they may often just feature a single 120mm case fan. This single fan will do a little bit for your internal temps, however, it is advisable to expand on this to at least have the intake/outtake configuration previously mentioned.
Do I need to buy all my parts at once?
Not at all. Many people space out their purchases over time, and you may even be able to assemble your PC before acquiring certain components. For instance, if you have every part of your PC except a graphics card, you may be able to run your PC off of your processor’s integrated graphics until you can afford to buy a GPU.
What PC components can I replace?
In theory, everything, as long as you ensure you watch out for any compatibility issues. For example, if you are running older DDR3 RAM and are looking to upgrade your motherboard, it just isn’t going to work. When replacing parts just ensure you do some planning before buying components.
When replacing parts double check compatibility, for example, every couple of generations, CPU/motherboards may feature different chipsets than before, meaning older generation components might not work.
Where to buy a gaming PC?
Tons of places. Prebuilt providers like iBuyPower, CyberPowerPC, MSI, Thermaltake, your local Best Buy, Amazon…or, better than all of the above, buying components yourself and building a PC of your own. And if you don’t know what to look for, we have more good news: we have you covered. Just head over to our Builds and we’ll help find the right build for you.
We already recommend the best-prebuilt gaming PCs for a variety of budgets:
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $500
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $800
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $1000
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC under $1,500
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $2000
- Best RTX 3090 prebuilt gaming PC
- Best RTX 3080 Ti prebuilt gaming PC
- Best RTX 3080 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Best RTX 3070 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Best RTX 3060 & 3060 Ti prebuilt gaming PC
- Best Prebuilt Gaming PC
If you plan on building your own gaming PC, we have guides on that too, focusing on different price categories:
- Best Gaming PC under $300
- Best Gaming PC under $400
- Best Gaming PC under $500
- Best Gaming PC under $600
- Best Gaming PC under $700
- Best Gaming PC under $800
- Best Gaming PC under $1000
- Best Gaming PC under $1500
- Best Gaming PC under $2000
- Best Gaming PC under $3000
- Best Gaming PC under $5000
Other Related Custom PC Guides:
- Best Gaming PC
- Best Budget Gaming PC
- The Best Silent PC Gaming Build
- The Best Streaming PC Build
- The Best Mini ITX Build For Gaming
Check out some of our game-focused custom PC build guides below.
- The Best Gaming PC For Valorant
- Best gaming PC for Warzone
- The Best Custom Built Gaming PC For CS:GO
- The Best Custom Built Gaming PC For Fortnite
- The Best Custom Gaming PC For Cyberpunk 2077
- The Best Custom Built PC For Emulation
Need a straight-up guide to building a gaming PC? We’ll walk you through every last step of the PC building process and ensure that your entry into PC gaming goes as smoothly as possible. In our detailed guide to building a gaming PC, we cover every last step of the building process, from picking out your build, to actually building, to installing everything on your new PC.
If you still have questions after finishing this article, don’t worry: we have you covered. Just ask us down in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible! Don’t be afraid to ask, either- we’re eager to help.
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