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We can admit that over the past two years, there's been some negativity towards new PC gaming hardware. The reason is simple: most new PC hardware released over the last few years has been less than impressive, and this has certainly been the case for the latest generation of GPUs. However, despite that, it's not a terrible time to build a new gaming PC from scratch. In fact, it's probably the best time we've seen in the last three years or so. Even with fears of a global recession, inflation, and other financial uncertainties.
So instead of focusing on how bad the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti, 4070 Ti, 4080, Radeon 7900 XTX, and other overpriced GPUs are, let's go for a more positive piece about why building a new gaming PC right now could be a good idea, particularly for those in need of a fresh setup.
While the GPU might be the core component of any gaming system, there are still decent options available at reasonable prices, depending on what you're after. For those building a new PC from the ground up, there are many more parts you'll need to acquire beyond just the graphics cards, and surprisingly, these components are fairly affordable right now.
Looking at pricing trends for DDR5-6000 CL30 memory over the last 10 months, we see that pricing has slipped by almost 60%, dropping from $280 for a 32GB kit last October to just $116 today. This is a common trend when it comes to DDR5 pricing. But don't expect pricing to tumble much further.
Prices have already started to level off, and while they might slip a bit more between now and the end of the year, we don't anticipate much more downward movement as DRAM manufacturers have already made production cuts to stabilize pricing.
We would strongly recommend building a DDR5 capable system if you're starting from scratch. For those on tight budgets, DDR4 can still make sense, as 32GB DDR4-3600 CL18 kits have dropped just below $60 now. However, be aware that 32GB DDR5-5600 kits can be had for less than $80, so we'd strongly advise you to consider a DDR5 enabled platform.
DRAM prices are quite low right now, as it's possible to purchase high-quality DDR5 32GB kits for a little over $100, which is excellent value.
Another component that has seen a considerable price decline in the past year is SSDs. Oversupply and low demand have affected NAND flash and are predicted to continue for at least the remainder of the year, so prices are likely to slip a little further here, though not dramatically, especially for lower-end products.
Admittedly, we don't follow the SSD market as closely as we used to, but if you're only in need of a 1TB SSD and you're on a budget, it looks like you won't need to spend more than $40. There are plenty of options available, one that we've been using recently is the MSI Spatium M371 which can be purchased for just $35 for a 1TB capacity or $75 for the 2TB model.
There's limited historical pricing data on the M371, so a better example might be the Crucial P3 1TB, which currently costs $40 or $87 for the 2TB version. The 1TB model has more than halved in price over the past 10 months, so we see a trend similar to DDR5 pricing.
More higher-end models such as the Samsung 980 Pro 2TB have also seen significant price reductions. Over the past 12 months, the price has dropped from $250 to just $100, so SSD prices have more than halved across the board.
Gamers are spoilt for choice right now when it comes to CPUs, with multiple good options at almost every price point. We have covered all the options in our recent "Best CPUs" feature, so we recommend checking that out if you're seeking buying advice.
CPU pricing over the past few years has been competitive, so we haven't seen the same consistent decline as we just saw with DRAM and SSDs. That said, there have still been drops. For example, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, which started with an MSRP of $700, has recently dropped to $560. Similarly, Intel's Core i9-13900K cost $660 back in October and has since slipped as low as $550 – a 17% saving.
The 5800X3D has also dropped from $450 to as low as $320, which is an exceptional deal for those already on the AM4 platform. But for new system builders, we recommend the Ryzen 7 7700, currently priced at $320, which offers similar gaming performance with stronger productivity and is supported by the newer AM5 platform.
For budget shoppers looking to build a new PC that has plenty of power and will go the distance, the $220 Ryzen 5 7600 is the best choice right now. For gaming and platform support, it easily outclasses the Core i5-13500, currently priced at $250, although the latter is still a great CPU in its own right.
Improved motherboard pricing ties it all together, though changes here are not quite as impressive as we've seen from other categories. Right now, we're most up to speed with AMD B650 pricing as we've just finished a comprehensive buying guide.
For those on a tight budget, the Asrock B650M-HDV/M.2 is an excellent option at just $125. There are a number of solid boards priced below $200, though we've seen very little in the way of pricing improvements over the past 12 months. This also applies to Intel LGA 1700 boards, but there are comparable options for similar prices to those of their AM5 competitors, making either AMD or Intel a viable option for new system builds.
Cases and PSUs
When it comes to cases, there's a plethora of options, and many are quite good. With a sea of cases to choose from, pricing is very competitive. We do recommend checking out our Best Cases 2023 feature where narrow things down to some truly excellent options for you to consider. Our latest roundup covers various form factors, prices, and target audiences.
Speaking from a more personal point of view, I recently bought the Hyte Y40, a popular choice at the moment, and we were curious to see what all the fuss was about. The Y40 was a pleasure to work with, and we think the final product looks fantastic. Priced at $150, it's not cheap, but neither is it excessively expensive, and for what it offers, we believe it's excellent value.
However, like we said, the options here are nearly limitless. You can buy a decent-looking mid-tower for as little as $40, such as the Fractal Design Focus 2 RGB. The point being, the range of options and pricing for PC cases are as good now as they've ever been. The same applies to power supplies.
It's possible to buy a quality 600w power supply for less than $70, while top-notch 1000w units can be had for around $150. There are dozens of great options available, so research what's available at your price point and make your selection.
That leaves the graphics cards. The obvious choice here is the GeForce RTX 4090, priced at $1,600, they're impressive, so just get one of those, job done. We're joking, of course. While the RTX 4090 is impressive, its price isn't accessible for everyone. As we said at the start of this piece, the current generation of AMD and Nvidia GPUs leaves a lot to be desired, especially considering their pricing and somewhat misleading product names.
So, short of an RTX 4090 or maybe a heavily discounted 7900 XTX for around $750, we recommend considering previous generation GPUs. Currently, it's still possible to purchase a Radeon 6950 XT for $580, which makes it one of the best high-end deals available right now. It's slightly cheaper than the RTX 4070, offering a bit over 20% more performance. The only drawbacks being increased power usage, lack of frame generation support, and inferior ray tracing performance. Therefore, it's not a clear win for the 6950 XT, but it's still a decent deal at that price.
Further down the line, the Radeon RX 6700 XT, priced at ~ $320 - $350, is the only viable option, in our opinion. Below that, it's a toss-up between the somewhat underwhelming options, the GeForce RTX 4060 for $300, Radeon RX 7600 for $270, or an old 6650 XT for $250.
For those building a brand new gaming PC, any of these will work. While they may not offer incredible value, they do function well and will enable PC gaming, which is what truly counts.
The Radeon 6700 XT also facilitates a fairly impressive gaming experience, even if it is approximately two and half years old. That said, when it was released, it came with an MSRP of $480, but due to the crypto boom, it was more like $850 - $950. Therefore, while the current situation might seem bleak, for new system builds, it's actually quite good – again relative to what we've experienced not that long ago.
A New Build
All things considered, it's possible to build a Ryzen 5 7600 system with 32GB of DDR5-6000 CL30 memory on the Asrock B650M-HDV, along with a 1TB SSD, Sapphire Radeon RX 6700 XT, quality 750w power supply for around $100, a decent $100 ATX case, and a $50 air-cooler for roughly $1,050. Of course, you'll also need a headset, keyboard, mouse, monitor, and operating system, but for a relatively modest budget, that's a very capable gaming system.
Also see: TechSpot PC Buying Guide: 1H 2023
Ideally, had this GPU generation not been disappointing, you should expect at least 30% more GPU performance at this price range. But for new system builders, you're still getting a very capable gaming rig for less than the price of a new high-end GPU. So, it's not as dire as one might think.
Best of all, you'll be able to upgrade this system down the line. With that in mind, we'd recommend spending around $50 more on the motherboard for some extra features. And, of course, you can always opt for Intel as well. Anyway, that's our take on this topic. Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Do you agree that it's viable to build a new gaming PC today, and if so, what components would you choose?
Read our follow-up:
Why Upgrading a Gaming PC Right Now is Almost Pointless – And Expensive!
Masthead credit: Ella Don