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Best Under $600 Gaming PC Desktop Computer Build 2016

Our $600 budget build performs amazingly well in both 1080p and 1440p AAA titles.
Our $600 budget build performs amazingly well in both 1080p and 1440p AAA titles.

Want to build a $600 budget PC that crushes every AAA game in 1080p? We're here to show you how to do it. In our $500 PC build, we achieved better than console level performance. With an additional $100 the options become that much better.

Whether you're building a PC for the first time or simply want some help with the part selection process, we can help. Using benchmarks, our own experience, customer reviews, and more we'll show you the parts that we recommend at each price point. These parts should allow you to prioritize performance while using quality parts that should allow your gaming PC to last for years to come.

We like the i5 6400 as it's inexpensive, comes with a CPU cooler, and won't bottleneck your graphics card.
We like the i5 6400 as it's inexpensive, comes with a CPU cooler, and won't bottleneck your graphics card.

Would you Choose a Better Graphics Card or Processor at this Price Point?

  • Processor
  • Graphics Card
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Choosing a Good Gaming Processor in 2016

At this point, we're able to get a processor in the i5-6400 that won't bottleneck the $250 graphics card we're planning for this build. That doesn't mean there's not a better processor out there. Rather, we simply mean that this CPU gives you all the performance you'll need for games.

In addition to the performance of the i5-6400, I like that we don't have to mess with an additional CPU cooler here. The i5-6400 comes with one. That would cost us at least $30 to $50. Those hard earned dollars can be placed towards more gaming performance-oriented hardware, like our GPU.

For Overclockers or Performance Power Users:

Some of you may not like that we went with a CPU that can't be overclocked here. If that's you, you can always go with the i5-6600k. Still, the difference in price for a decent Skylake motherboard for overclocking, a CPU cooler, and the extra $50 for the CPU itself is a backbreaker in terms of the performance for this build. Instead of a $250 budget for our GPU we'd have more like a $150 budget and that's being generous.

Intel Boxed Core I5-6400 FC-LGA14C 2.70 Ghz 6 M Processor Cache 4 LGA 1151 BX80662I56400
Intel Boxed Core I5-6400 FC-LGA14C 2.70 Ghz 6 M Processor Cache 4 LGA 1151 BX80662I56400

The i5-6400 is the way to go for budget builds in this price range.

 
The GTX 1060 6GB is our recommendation at the $250 price point. Value buyers may find the RX 470 4GB at $170 a good secondary option.
The GTX 1060 6GB is our recommendation at the $250 price point. Value buyers may find the RX 470 4GB at $170 a good secondary option.

Graphics Cards Around $250

The $250 graphics card market is probably the most competitive in the entire industry at this time. In it, you'll find the likes of the RX 480 8GB, GTX 1060 6GB, and used cards like the GTX 970. It's hard to go wrong here in terms of performance.

Speaking of performance, we're getting more at this price range than ever before. All of these graphics cards do an amazing job in 1080p and even work with many titles in 1440p. We've done a few comparisons of graphics cards in this price range as of late. If you're wanting additional information, our review of graphics cards for Battlefield 1 and budget CPU GPU combos taught us a lot about the performance of these mainstream cards.

Overall, I like the GTX 1060 6GB. While I do see the RX 480 as having a bit of a leg up on DX12 games, the performance differential just hasn't been there as of yet. For DX11, the GTX 1060 6GB has a clear advantage.

Unfortunately, I don't think we'll need to worry about DirectX 12 and graphics cards until the next generation comes out. Games like BF1 still give us zero reasons to think about it and performance improvements will only truly show once games are built from the ground up with the API.

Which GTX 1060 6GB?

I like the idea of going with the 6GB version of the GTX 1060. This should give your gpu a bit more longevity than if you skimp on the $50 and go with the 3GB version. Many games today use more than 3GB in 1080p and that number is likely to go up in the future. For now, try to find a GTX 1060 6GB around the $230 to $240 price range. This should allow you to stay within our budget. In addition, the performance difference between the AIB cards isn't that substantial.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC 6GB GDDR5 Graphics Cards (GV-N1060IXOC-6GD)
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC 6GB GDDR5 Graphics Cards (GV-N1060IXOC-6GD)

Both the GTX 1060 and 1050Ti have mini versions that offer similar performance but cost around $20 less. If you're not stuck on having a full-length card, you can save some money here.

 
We're going with an inexpensive micro ATX motherboard here in the Gigabyte GA-H110M-A. It still has plenty of features and goes well with our budget of $600.
We're going with an inexpensive micro ATX motherboard here in the Gigabyte GA-H110M-A. It still has plenty of features and goes well with our budget of $600.

A Good Under or Around $50 1150 Motherboard for 2014

Admittedly, we're going with a cheap motherboard here. Still, I've used many of Gigabyte's less expensive Micro ATX boards in the past and never had a problem. Specifically, I'm going with the Gigabyte GA-H110M-A. This is a board I recently used in a sub $500 build for my brother. At $40 after rebate, it's really a steal.

It has support for a full-sized graphics card, up to 32GB of memory, and 4x SATA 6Gb/s connectors. In other words, it has all the features that most builders need. The I/O connectors include USB 3.o and 2.0 and rear panel ports include 2 USB 3.0 and 4 USB 2.0 ports as well as an HDMI port.

Overall, the quality is good and the aesthetic is just ok. It'll fit in any micro ATX or standard ATX tower. Still for our needs here, it does a perfect job.

Good Mid Tower Cases Under $30

The Thermaltake H23, pictured above, can regularly be found for around $30 after rebate. If it's not on rebate, consider the Fractal Design  Core 1000.
The Thermaltake H23, pictured above, can regularly be found for around $30 after rebate. If it's not on rebate, consider the Fractal Design Core 1000.

I recently wrapped up my post on the best mid tower gaming cases and that knowledge really extends to this selection. Basically, we're trying to spend as little as we can as our case won't have a big impact on performance. Still, we want something that looks decent enough and doesn't sound like a helicopter.

Right now, the Thermaltake Versa H23 fits what we need perfectly. It looks great on the outside, is sturdy, and even has a window so you can see all of your awesome parts. It is a mid tower so our motherboard will appear kind of small in it. That being said you could go with the Fractal Design 1000 here if you care about that sort of thing.

The H23 comes with tool-free installation and is about all you can expect for $30 after rebate. It comes with a decent 120mm rear exhaust fan which should be enough for our low TDP build.

What Kind of DDR4 Memory is Best for Our Budget?

Our motherboard is compatible with DDR4 memory but only at a speed of up to 2133MHz. Anything you purchase above that will be down-clocked. Go with a 4x2GB kit here as it's ideal for gaming. More ram than this won't do anything for us.

For that reason, you should go with something cheap and reliable here. Kingston or Crucial DDR4 Ram would be great here. I trust both of these companies, and they have good budget DDR4 memory options.

EVGA's 500 W1 is probably the most popular power supply on the market. It's efficiency, capacity, quality, and price are hard to beat.
EVGA's 500 W1 is probably the most popular power supply on the market. It's efficiency, capacity, quality, and price are hard to beat.

Power Supply

We're going with a bronze certified power supply in the EVGA 500 W1. This power supply should give us good efficiency and decent quality as well. If we were building a budget $1,000 or more build, I might recommend you go with something like EVGA's SuperNova series instead. Still, at this price point, I'm comfortable that this PSU will do a good job.

It's relatively quiet with EVGA's intelligent auto fan, has a well-done paint job and great looking braided cables, and even comes with a three year warranty.

250GB Solid State Drive vs 1TB Hard Drive

I no longer recommend building any PC without a solid state drive. Seriously, it has that big of an impact. For that reason I'm recommending you take our $60 storage budget and allocate towards a solid state drive.

If you need more room, grab an old hard drive, use an external one, or save up and add a new one. For now, managing your space efficiently and going with a solid state drive instead will give you a huge speed boost.

Summary

There you have it - a $600 gaming PC build with major performance. I'd like to see more and more builds go this direction as I feel they give the best bang for your buck.

This PC will play the likes of Battlefield 1, the Witcher 3, Civilization 6, or just about anything you want to throw at it in 1080p. Even 1440p shouldn't be a problem as long as you're willing to switch to medium or high settings.

What are your thoughts on it? Leave us a comment with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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Budget $600 PC Build Discussion 11 comments

Jasmina 2 years ago

Quinn: If you need Windows, yes, this will unfortunately add quite a bit to the cost. :(

But Linux is free, as is FreeBSD.

Recent versions of Linux are vastly more user-friendly and easy-to-learn than old ones were.

And Linux can run many Windows games and other programs, by way of a program called Wine (also free).

If you're interested, you can download Linux, burn it to DVD or a USB stick, and boot your current computer from it to try it out. :) No need to install.

If you like it, you can install it onto your new computer, and that's $80 or so saved! (or whatever Windows is selling for these days)


Sam 2 years ago

How come your YouTube video has different parts to this page.


Quinn 2 years ago

Do I need to buy an OS? If I do, this will take me way over my budget


toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

CPUs come with stock coolers so unless you're overclocking you don't have to have one.


Danny 2 years ago

How would this build play crisis 3?


Jake 2 years ago

I'm not very good with computers so I find your guides very helpful, but as Emanuel asked, if I follow your instructions and but all the parts you recommend, I will not need a fan to cool it down?


escobar 2 years ago

could you add an ssd to this build?


Jojo 2 years ago

Is it worth it to use sli for this build or should I just get a better gpu?


Jake C 2 years ago

What about a sound card?


toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 3 years ago from The Game Author

You don't have to have a cooling system unless you plan on overclocking. CPUs come with stock coolers that work well enough for the average user.


Emanuel 3 years ago

I was curious whether or not a cooling system could be used/would be necessary and if so do you have any suggestions? Im not very computer saavy, so could you also suggest an economical monitor.

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