The Best $1,250 Quiet Gaming PC Build – September 2021

By Ari Altman | Published September 3, 2021 | Updated September 3, 2021

CRITICAL UPDATE:

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!

Game Hard, Run Silent!

Want a high-powered Quiet Gaming PC Build that delivers an excellent gaming experience while running in near silence? Then the $1,250 Quiet Gaming PC Build is the system for you! Every component has been chosen to maximize performance in both games and applications, while minimizing noise.

This Month’s Build, Featuring Intel and Nvidia!

For September 2021, the Quiet Gaming PC Build features Intel’s Core i5-10600K six-core, 12-thread CPU, which after a major price cut makes AMD’s entire mid-range CPU lineup obsolete! That’s in part because AMD is getting bold and raising prices, and abandoning its core $150-$300 market. The 10600K is supporting the proven GeForce GTX 1660 6GB video card. This combo can handle resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 with ease, and the GTX 1660  is also ultra-silent thanks to its excellent efficiency. The only issue is that the GTX 1660 is currently selling for about double its MSRP, which is true of all GPUs.

As for the other components, the Quiet Gaming PC Build is loaded up with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, a 512GB NVMe solid-state drive, a silent CPU cooler, and an efficient Gold-rated power supply. The icing on the cake is the be quiet! Pure Base 500 case, which will certainly live up to its name by keeping things quiet! Learn more about this awesome PC in our build overview YouTube video featuring the Pure Base 500, and feel free to post any questions to us directly on our YouTube 2020 Overview Video!

Parting Thoughts

We also list a few of our favorite accessories to complete the Quiet Gaming PC build, including a responsive keyboard, a great low-cost mouse, and an excellent 165Hz gaming monitor, but feel free to check out our dedicated Monitor Buyer’s Guide and Peripherals Buyer’s Guide for more options.

We update this build on a monthly basis to incorporate new product releases or major price adjustments, so check back often. Throughout our guides, we provide direct shopping links to Amazon, Newegg, or B&H for our readers in the US, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in other countries, including Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU, with automatic substitutions made where necessary. Your use of these links helps keep this guide alive!

The Pre-Built Option

  • The Mainstream Gaming Desktop

    ABS Master 10400F/RTX 3060 Gaming PC @Newegg

    $1200
    EXTREME DEAL! If you don’t want to wait for GPUs to restock at retail prices (which may never happen!), Newegg’s ABS gaming division has the answer with it’s prebuilt Master Gaming PC. This tower comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-10400F 6-core, 12-thread CPU, the awesome Nvidia GeForce GTX 3060 12GB video card (which sells on eBay for about 2/3 the price of this whole system), plus a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive and 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
    The Guru’s Tip

    Given the markup of GPUs at retail, this pre-built is actually a better value than the DIY build we profile below, thanks to its much faster GPU!

The DIY Build

  • CPU

    Intel Core i5-10600K

    $215
    The overclockable Core i5-10600K offers up six cores, 12 threads, and a Turbo speed of 4.8GHz, which all translates to excellent gaming performance! AMD’s CPUs in this price range (of which there are basically none) couldn’t come close to competing. That gives Intel the clear advantage in terms of price/performance. In fact, the 10600K is a better gaming CPU than even Intel’s 11th-Gen models.
    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that this CPU does not include a cooler, but for a quiet gaming system, you'd want an upgraded cooler anyway, and we recommend one later in this guide.

  • Motherboard

    Gigabyte Z490 UD AC-Y1

    $174

    This board will make a great foundation to your system. It offers robust 11+1-phase power stages, five expansion slots, two M.2 slots, and eight USB ports. Being a Z-series board, it also supports overclocking. And best of all, it has built-in 802.11ac wireless networking and Bluetooth!

    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that while you can use newer Z590 boards with this build, they are more expensive and won't add any additional functionality when paired with a 10th-Gen CPU like the one we recommend.

  • Video Card

    Zotac GeForce GTX 1660 6GB

    $560

    The GTX 1660 is the card that unleashed true high-end gaming potential at a mainstream pricepoint. With 6GB of VRAM on board, it’s a great match for running the latest games at 1080p, and it’s massively efficient, making this model cool and quiet.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This GPU is currently selling for around twice its MSRP, but amazingly that's by far the best pricing we've seen at retail during all of 2021. If you want a better deal, your only option is to go for the pre-built option we listed earlier in this guide. Retail GPUs will likely be selling at elevated prices until 2022.

  • Memory

    Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-3200 Black

    $79
    Thanks to great price on mainstream RAM, we can now squeeze a whole lot of performance and capacity into your system by going with a 16GB DDR4-3200 kit. It will help you make the most of your snazzy new system, which fully supports the high RAM speed of this kit!
    The Guru’s Tip

    To set this kit's speed, use the XMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI.

  • Solid-State Drive

    Samsung 980 500GB

    $60

    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

    This drive will fit into one of the two M.2 slots on the motherboard, leaving a free slot for a future upgrade!

  • Case

    be quiet! Pure Base 500 White Window @Newegg

    $85
    Offering fantastic value and quality for under $100, this model combines quiet operation and minimalist styling that truly strikes a balance. It includes 140mm fans in the front and rear for great airflow, plus acoustic padding to reduce noise. We love this case in white, but if that’s too bold for you, it’s also available in Metallic Grey.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This case is also available with a solid side panel, but we really like the look of the glass, and it doesn't let significantly more noise through.

  • Power Supply

    EVGA SuperNOVA 550 G3

    $60

    EVGA’s SuperNOVA series offers exceptional performance at a great price, and has set the standard for high-end PSUs for years. The 550 G3 is a perfect example of that, offering up 550W of Gold-rated power, fully-modular cables, and a hybrid fan design that shuts off at low loads for silent operation. It’s also backed by an exceptional 7-year warranty.

    The Guru’s Tip

    In a strange turn of events, the cryptocurrency mining craze has led to massive price cuts on mainstream-wattage PSUs, which can't be used for mining but are prefect for gaming!

  • CPU Cooler

    Arctic Freezer 34

    $29
    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

    The CPU we recommend for this build does not include a cooler, so this one is not optional!

  • Operating System

    Windows 10 Home USB Flash Drive

    $130
    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

    If the Windows 10 USB is ever sold out, you can always get it via download - all you need is an 8GB or bigger flash drive to load the image onto.

Optional Products

  • The 24-inch 165Hz Gaming Monitor

    Asus VG248QG

    $200

    Asus pioneered the high-refresh rate gaming monitor years ago, and has returned to the mid-range market with the VG248QG, which boasts amazing specs for the price. It gives you a 24″ 1920×1080 TN panel with a refresh rate overclockable to 165Hz (144Hz is standard), plus a 0.5ms (GTG) response time. It boasts adaptive-sync technology compatible with both Nvidia and AMD to provide stutter and screen tearing, plus a highly-adjustable stand to dial in just the right ergonomics.

    The Guru’s Tip

    Connect this monitor via DisplayPort to take advantage of its high refresh rate.

  • The Budget Gaming Keyboard

    Logitech G213 Gaming Keyboard

    $47
    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

    To set the keyboard's backlighting, you'll want to download Logitech's GHub software.

  • The Mid-Range Gaming Mouse

    Logitech G502 Hero

    $47
    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

    Avoid all the knock-off brands that often top the sales charts - they won't come close to offering the same performance and quality.

  • The Mainstream Gaming Headset

    Corsair HS60 Pro Surround

    $48
    If you need a good headset at an unbeatable price, we recommend Corsair’s excellent HS60 Pro Surround headset. Light, comfortable, and stylish without being in your face, it’s a great headset for gaming, and can even be used with mobile devices that have a 3.5mm analog jack.
    The Guru’s Tip

    The HS60 Pro Surround offers up a virtual 7.1 Surround mode via an included USB adapter.

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