The Best $1,000 Mid-Range Gaming PC Build – September 2021

By Ari Altman | Published September 1, 2021 | Updated September 6, 2021


Due to the ongoing cryptocurrency mining craze, it’s currently impossible to buy video cards at retail prices. For this build, it’s currently impossible to buy any video card and still remain within budget, so we therefore recommend a pre-built PC, which you can see if you scroll down below. For reference, we provide our recommended DIY build, which you’re free to purchase if you already have a video card. Based on current market conditions, we do not believe this generation of GPUs will ever return to MSRP, so lower prices will have to wait until late 2022 when the next generation arrives!

A Mainstream Gaming PC to Grow With!

Looking to build the best PC possible for $1,000? This guide will set you up! We profile a build that offers excellent performance, quiet operation, and ease of assembly, all at a great price. If you’re ready to build a PC that can handle anything you could throw at it, from gaming to content creation, just follow this guide to get the best component picks.

This Month’s Build, Featuring Intel and Nvidia!

For September 2021, this build features Intel’s proven Core i5-10400, which packs in six cores and 12 threads. It’s an absolute gaming beast, and by far the best gaming value on the market today. While AMD was aggressive in launching some new high-end CPUs in late 2020, AMD shockingly no longer has anything worth considering in the mid-range market, despite its reputation for value.

For the video card, our top pick is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB. Alternatively, you can use the built-in video on the Intel CPU (for non-gaming purposes), or install an older video card you have on hand.

Keeping this build fed is 16GB of DDR4-2666 RAM, along with a fast 500GB solid-state drive, both of which ensure that the system will run smoothly for years to come. This build is housed in an attractive, value-packed Phanteks P300A case and powered by an efficient, high-output 550W power supply.

Parting Thoughts

If you need a monitor or peripherals, you can check out our dedicated guides, although we also have some great recommendations for you at the end of this guide. Note that we provide dedicated links to Amazon, B&H, or Newegg in the US, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU, 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 Pre-Built Option

  • The Mainstream Gaming Desktop

    CyberpowerPC GXiVR8060A10 10400F/GTX 1660 Super


    EXTREME DEAL! It’s hard to find a great deal these days, but this pre-built from CyberpowerPC is exactly that. Packing in an Intel Core i5-10400F 6-core, 12-thread CPU, a fast GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB video card, plus 8GB of RAM and a 500GB solid-state drive, it’s a serious gaming PC that will get you into the latest titles at a fantastic price.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This deal is honestly too good to be true. Given the lack of GPUs available at retail, you'd be crazy to pass it up!

The DIY Option

  • CPU

    Intel Core i5-10400 @Newegg

    The Core i5-10400 offers up six cores, 12 threads, and a very high Turbo speed, which all translates to excellent gaming performance! While AMD had been in the lead for a while, significant price increases, including on existing CPUs, has given Intel the clear advantage in terms of price/performance.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This CPU includes a cooler, but we recommend an upgraded model later in this guide.

  • Motherboard

    Gigabyte B460M DS3H v2

    This board is the perfect choice for a low-cost build. With four PCIe slots, five USB ports, four RAM slots, and six SATA ports, it gives the system room to grow. Plus it has a PCIe M.2 slot, which you’ll be taking advantage of with this build’s SSD!
    The Guru’s Tip

    While you can use more expensive B560 boards with this system, they won't provide any added benefit with the 10th-Gen CPU we recommend.

  • Video Card

    Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 OC 4GB


    This powerful and efficient GPU offers 4GB of fast GDDR6 VRAM and an efficient cooler to keep noise and temps down, making it perfect regardless of how much you push it!

    The Guru’s Tip

    Right now, this GPU is selling for around 2x its MSRP. Unfortunately, that's the going rate, and even then it's usually sold out. If you want to save some money, we suggest you strongly consider the pre-built PC we listed earlier in this guide.

  • Memory

    Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-2666


    With 16GB of RAM, you’ll have plenty of capacity for any typical task. Why do we choose this kit in particular? It offers great speed for the price thanks to tight CL16 timings, rare on 2666 kits. Most are actually much slower.

    The Guru’s Tip

    With these two sticks installed, you'll still have 2 free slots available for an upgrade down the line!

  • Solid-State Drive

    Samsung 980 500GB


    There’s lots of competition in the SSD market, but SSD pioneer Samsung has put all the other mid-priced offerings to shame with its 980 500GB, launched in early 2021. You simply can’t do better than this awesome SSD, which uses the speedy PCIe 3.0 interface and Samsung’s superior TLC NAND to vastly outperform every other PCIe 3.0 drive! Note that to install this drive, you’ll affix it in an M.2 slot on your motherboard using a jeweler’s-type screwdriver.

    The Guru’s Tip

    Because this slips into a slot on the motherboard, it requires no cables at all!

  • Case

    Phanteks P300A Mesh


    Phanteks has been producing fantastic cases for years, and while the P300A is there most affordable offering, it has all the same DNA. That means excellent cooling potential( thanks to the metal mesh front panel), builder-friendly features, and high-quality materials, all for a great price. The chassis includes one 120mm exhaust fan, along with a slide-on tempered glass side panel for looks and convenience.

    The Guru’s Tip

    We recommend you pick up the 140mm fan below and install it in the front of the case to enhance overall performance for a low cost.

  • Fan

    Arctic P14 Silent

    We recommend you upgrade the case’s cooling by installing this affordable 140mm fan in the front. It’s quieter than most 120mm fans, while providing far more airflow! The fluid dynamic bearing in this fan offers a long lifespan and smooth performance.
    The Guru’s Tip

    We've found that Arctic's P-series fans are the best all-around fans on the market!

  • Power Supply

    Silverstone ET550-B

    This PSU easily beats every competitor in its price class, offering top-notch quality and Bronze-rated efficiency. With 550W of power on tap, this unit has plenty of headroom to keep this system going for years, even with significant upgrades, including more powerful video cards.
    The Guru’s Tip

    Please avoid no-name PSUs from brands like RaidMax, Apevia, and Aresgame. They are complete junk, and only exist because there was a run on power supplies in mid-2020.

  • CPU Cooler

    Arctic Freezer 34

    This cooler is the perfect pick for a mainstream PC Build. Thanks to its advanced design, it offers nearly-silent operation despite excellent cooling capability. It uses our favorite all-around 120mm fan, the excellent Arctic P12 PWM.
    The Guru’s Tip

    You'll need this cooler, as the CPU does not include one!

  • Operating System

    Windows 10 Home USB Flash Drive

    Windows 10 was a big step up from Windows 8.1, and Microsoft continues to support Windows 10 users not only with regular security updates, but with major content releases every six months. And the USB version installs in under 5 minutes, meaning you can get right into using your system!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Microsoft appears to be slowly discontinuing physical copies of Windows 10. You can always go for the downloadable version from the same product page. All you need is an 8GB or bigger flash drive to load the image onto.

Optional Products

  • Wireless Card

    TP-Link Archer T5E AC1200/Bluetooth 4.2

    Need wireless networking? Look no further than this ultra-high-speed 802.11ac PCIe-based card!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Rare among WiFi cards, this one also has built-in Bluetooth, which is great for use with a wide variety of peripherals.

  • The Budget Gaming Keyboard

    Logitech G213 Gaming Keyboard

    Pick up a great keyboard at a great price with the G213. It’s quick, quiet, and responsive, and it also has sweet RGB backlighting, of course!
    The Guru’s Tip

    We really don't recommend wireless keyboards at all, and certainly not at this pricepoint, as the potential for connection dropouts is fairly significant, and there's little benefit to a wireless keyboard anyway, since it doesn't move.

  • The Mid-Range Gaming Mouse

    Logitech G502 Hero

    Get a jump on your competition with this awesome gaming mouse from Logitech, which features a next-gen 16,000dpi sensor and a classic ergonomic shape!
    The Guru’s Tip

    To control the various features of this mouse, you'll want to download Logitech's GHub software.

  • The Mainstream Gaming Headset

    Corsair HS35 Stereo

    Assuming you actually want to hear the bullets whizzing by you in your games, you’re going to need a great audio source, and there’s no better budget gaming headset on the market than the HS35 from Corsair! With 50mm drivers and a comfortable fit, it’s the real deal, where all the other headsets in its price range are just pretending.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This headset weighs just 250g, making it virtually disappear once you put it on!

  • The 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor

    Acer XFA240

    If you want to pick up a true “gaming” monitor, you want something with a high refresh rate. And this is the very best value out there in high-refresh-rate monitors. It features a 24″ 1920×1080 IPS panel capable of displaying images at up to 144Hz, which makes it infinitely smoother than a standard 60Hz monitor that costs just a bit less. And thanks to its FreeSync technology, it will run with zero lag or screen-tearing. Another nice feature of this model is the height-adjustable stand, which allows you to dial in just the right setup!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that FreeSync, developed by AMD, now works on either AMD or Nvidia video cards.

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