The $1,000 Build

Looking for the best PC you can buy for $1,000? You just found it! This guide will set you up with a system that provides excellent performance, quiet operation, and ease of building, all at a great price. That makes it what we consider to be the ideal mid-range PC. And take note: this system can be equipped for productivity, gaming, or both - just follow our tips to set it up to suit your needs.

For March 2017, we're continuing to recommend the new Kaby Lake platform, specifically Intel's Core i7-7600 quad-core processor and an H270-based motherboard. This combo provides all the latest speed and efficiency improvements, along with a slew of new features, including dual M.2 slots and a USB 3.1 Type-C connector. In the graphics department, we're now going with the Radeon RX 480 8GB, which had dropped in price dramatically over the past few months, making it the clear pick in the mainstream segment versus the more expensive GeForce GTX 1060 6GB. And thanks to significant driver improvements, it's not just cheaper, it's faster too. Finally, to provide a smooth gaming and all-around computing experience, we recommend you equip this system with a single 525GB solid-state M.2 drive, which will load games and the operating system at least twice as fast as the average hard drive, while installing in a snap!

Want to learn how this build compares to all the other build options we offer? Just flip over to the TBG PC Build Comparison Page. If your desk space is at a premium, also see our Small Form Factor build guides for tips on building an ultra-compact system. 

For extra help building your PC, check out our in-depth pictorials: "Assembling a Basic PC" and "Assembling a Mid-Range PC". And if you're looking to complete your system, browse our Monitor Buyer's Guide and Peripherals Buyer's Guide. Also feel free to post a question in our Reader Forum, or find inspiration in The Gallery, where we profile systems built by our readers. If you build your own PC using this guide, please let us know and we'll profile your system too!

To see how this build's components and prices have changed over time, flip to the $1,000 Build Archive page. Pricing and availability for midrange components change constantly, and we use real-time pricing engines so you always see the most up-to-date prices available. Links to Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Germany are also provided for each component category, with regional substitutions made based on availability. To support this site, please use these links if you purchase any of the products we list. 

The $1,000 Gaming / Productivity PC - March 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-7600

    The brand new Kaby-Lake-based Core i5-7600 runs at an impressive 3.5GHz, with Turboboost to 4.1GHz. That makes it about 10% faster than its predecessor the Core i5-6600, despite coming in at around the same price. It's also incredibly efficient, using just 65W at full load, and will never require more cooling than what's offered by Intel's stock heatsink, which is included in the box.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While this processor can't be overclocked, it provides plenty of power for just about any application.

    Motherboard:

    MSI H270 PC Mate

    To guarantee compatibility with the 7th-generation CPU listed above, you want to make sure to use an H270-based motherboard, which has built-in support for the chip. This model offers a fantastic feature set for the price. This includes eight USB ports, including a USB 3.1 Type-C port (which will eventually replace all other formats for connectivity), dual M.2 slot for cutting-edge solid-state drives, and a great array of expansion slots: one PCIe x16, one PCIe x4, three PCI x1 slots, and one legacy PCI slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The MSI "PC Mate" line has a long tradition of offering more features for the price than any of its competitors.

    Video Card:

    MSI Radeon RX 480 Gaming X 8G

    These are fantastic times for mid-range gamers. Thanks to a fierce competition between AMD and Nvidia right around the $250 pricepoint, consumers have choices, and right now, we think the very best choice is the RX 480 8GB from MSI. While we previously recommended the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, the tables have turned thanks to big price drop on the RX 480, along with recent driver updates that have really improved performance. These factors, combined with the extra 2GB of VRAM and the superior DX12 performance offered by AMD's advanced architecture mean the RX 480 is our new top choice in this price range!

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you need a video card solely for accelerating Adobe applications, get the compact, ultra-efficient Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 2GB... you'll save nearly $150 in the process!

    Memory:

    Crucial 2x4GB Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-2400

    This 2x4GB DDR4-2400 kit simply can't be beat in terms of value per dollar from a major manufacturer. Note that while the H270 chipset used for this build does not support RAM overclocking, it does improve upon its predecessor in supporting DDR4-2400 memory. The previous limitation was DDR4-2133. That offers an extra speed boost for the new Kaby Lake platform, above and beyond what the CPU itself provides.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While 8GB of RAM is enough for just about any typical productivity or gaming task, 16GB will provide benefits for high-resolution photo and video editing, and can also provide additional smoothness during extreme multi-tasking. If that sounds like what you're looking for, just jump up to Crucial's 2x8GB DDR4-2400 kit.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 525GB M.2

    Taking advantage of the latest form factor in the solid-state market, this M.2 drive will slot right into your motherboard, meaning you don't need to run data or power cables to your drive. This in turn provides a cleaner interior and eliminates potential physical failure points. And among the few reasonably-priced drives out there, Crucial's MX300 is the very best, offering more speed and more capacity than its competitors. One quick note: you'll need a jeweler's type screwdriver to affix the M.2 screw.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Need more storage space? Simply add the affordable Western Digital 1TB Blue Hard Drive to your build.

    Case:

    Corsair Carbide 100R Silent Edition

    Corsair combined all the best features of its entry-level and mid-range cases to create the cost-effective 100R Silent Edition. It has smart, subdued styling, a builder-friendly interior layout, and two quiet-running 120mm cooling fans. It's a perfect match for an ultra-efficient build like this one.

    The Guru's Tip:

    RL05

    Want a little more bling for your build? Then go for the sweet SilverStone RL05. It features two 140mm red LED fans up front to light up the case and provide fantastic cooling, all at an amazing price!

    Power Supply:

    EVGA 500B

    The 500B offers top-notch quality, Bronze-rated efficiency, and a 3-year warranty, along with the best customer service in the industry. And with 500W of power on tap, it has plenty of headroom to keep this system going for years, even with significant upgrades, including more powerful video cards.

    The Guru's Tip:

    As configured, this system will only require about 200W, well under the peak capacity of this power supply.

    Optical Drive:

    LG 24x DVD Burner GH24NSC0B

    Well-priced and from a respected manufacturer, this internal drive is the perfect model to use for software installs or data backups.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Including a DVD drive is what allows you to use the discounted DVD version of Windows 10.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10

    There's no doubt about it: Windows 10 is a big step beyond Windows 8 in terms of both usability and features. And the good news is that Microsoft keeps pushing out updates to Windows 10 that make it even better!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The biggest improvement W10 brings for gamers is DirectX 12, which allows game designers to create significantly more complex, detailed game engines. Examples include Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears of War 4, the latter which cannot be played on any operating system but Windows 10!