For a long while the RTX series of graphics cards was the cream of the crop, the best you could get, and their price reflected that.
The new, RTX 3000 series has finally brought higher-end gaming to the masses and it’s a greater leap in performance than anyone could have expected!
So with that in mind, we’ll now present to you the best gaming PC build under 800 USD, with enough power to topple last year’s $1500 solution with ease.
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The Best $800 Gaming PC Build For 2021
Updated: August 8, 2021
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So, what exactly can this PC do?
Why we’re glad you asked because there are a couple of points in which this PC excels: 1440p gaming and upgradability.
It seems like we’re finally getting an affordable RTX 3000 series card that should be able to run any game currently available at 1440p at ultra settings with the framerate not dipping below 50.
And we only say ‘should’ because of some unpredictable, poorly optimized hardware-eaters out there like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. But even in such games, the framerate shouldn’t drop below 45 FPS, and keep in mind that this is with every single graphics setting cranked up to the max!
Tinkering with the graphics options just a bit should easily get you a stable 60 FPS even in games like Odyssey and Metro Exodus.
As for a lot of other AAA titles, they inch closer to 90 rather than 60 FPS.
Upgradability is pretty much a given with most PCs, that’s the advantage they hold over any console after all, but the question is to what extent.
First of all, let’s discuss the storage. We chose a 500GB Western Digital M.2 stick because it’s incredibly fast, has a respectable amount of storage, and comes at a reasonable price, something that’s not very easy to find these days.
You are, of course, welcome to get a different kind of storage instead such as an HDD or a 2.5 SSD. This option will leave you with more storage for the same price, but it will rob you of the superior speed of an NVMe SSD which is why we don’t recommend it.
That said, if you stick to our recommendation you will inevitably need to get more storage at some point and thanks to our case and motherboard choices this won’t present the slightest problem.
Second, there’s the PSU. The power supply on the list is a 600W model which will be plenty for this build. But don’t worry, even if you decide to make some upgrades, or spice things up with RGB, you’ll be perfectly fine, as long as you don’t do a complete overhaul.
We also made sure to give you a spacious chassis to work with so many other improvements such as a beefier CPU cooler or larger graphics card won’t be a problem either.
You’ll even be able to upgrade to a better 10th-gen Intel processor if you wish without changing the motherboard, but you shouldn’t expect any fancy features since it’s not a Z490 board.
The PC Build
But enough of that!
We know why you’re here – to see whether the hardware we’ve selected elicits a concurring nod or a dissatisfied shake of the head.
So without any further ado, we present the parts that will dominate the 800 USD price range in 2021.
For a while, Ryzen was unquestionably the best option when it came to affordable CPUs that were powerful enough to handle modern graphics cards and video games. Admittedly, Ryzen is still the most popular choice among budget and mid-range builders, but it’s no longer the only one.
Intel has finally joined the race with their 10th-gen low-end and mid-range processors and the Intel Core i3-10100F is currently the most cost-effective mid-range CPU out there.
It even beats out Intel Core i7-7700K in terms of performance, all the while coming in at a much lower price point and with a stock cooler.
But that’s not its only selling point. With a 3.6 GHz base clock speed and a boost frequency of up to 4.3 GHz, it will comfortably go above the widely-coveted 4.0 GHz mark under heavy loads. Moreover, this is a 4-core, 8-thread CPU. Thanks to hyper-threading you’ll have smoother gameplay and you’ll be able to have more background programs running without causing problems or stutters.
Now the amount of FPS will depend on the game since Intel still has the edge in certain titles and AMD in others. But we must emphasize that large discrepancies only really start kicking in way past the 60 FPS mark.
Before we move on to the next section, there is one more thing we have to mention.
Going with this CPU might not be your first choice, and that’s perfectly fine. However, we’ve made a calculated choice to go with the i3-10100F – a really good processor with an unexpectedly low price.
While it can’t compete with the likes of the Intel Core i5-10400 or the AMD Ryzen 5 3600, for example, it allows for more efficient budget management and ultimately better value for the money you’re spending.
Naturally, if your budget is flexible enough, you can always go with either of the abovementioned CPUs instead. They will squeeze a few more FPS out of your games and they will be less likely to bottleneck any GPU upgrade you might get in the future.
But keep in mind that those are $50-$70 more expensive, and in that case, you’ll have to make compromises regarding your other components if you don’t want the price of your rig spiraling out of control.
Cooler: Intel Stock Cooler
Any processor will naturally require a cooler which is why most CPUs, both Intel’s and AMD’s come with a stock cooler in the box.
Naturally, all of these stock coolers do a good job at keeping the temperatures under control, especially if there’s no overclocking involved.
As builders, we’re infinitely thankful for this because we don’t have to worry about an additional $20-30 going toward an aftermarket solution when it could be better spent elsewhere. However, there are plenty of reasons why you might consider getting a better cooler:
- First of all, if you’re an overclocker, you’re pretty much required to get an aftermarket cooler. For better or for worse, you won’t have to worry about this because the i3-10100F is locked.
- The harder the CPU works the hotter it gets and stock coolers might run into some issues in cases where the processor has to work under heavy loads for longer periods of time. A good aftermarket solution should be able to handle anything you throw at it.
- They look much better.
Now, in most cases, everything should be fine. Many people go through several iterations of their PC just with a stock cooler without encountering any issues, even if they do some light overclocking. But in case you’re interested in an alternative you can take a look at the link below.
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
With an MSRP of only $329, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 felt like the perfect fit for this build.
Now, we can all agree that the situation with GPU prices and availability has been horrendous lately and that it doesn’t seem to be getting better. Cards that would usually fit an $800 build are the Nvidia RTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2060, but those are currently grossly overpriced.
So what options do you have?
Well, you can either wait for the prices to drop, hunt for discounts or used models, or you can put your hopes into the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, which is what we chose to do.
After all, out of all of the cards you probably won’t be able to get, this one seems to be the best!
Alternatively, you can look into the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, which doesn’t cost that much extra compared to the RTX 3060.
The card features 12GB of GDDR6 VRAM, 3584 CUDA cores, a max boost clock speed of 1.78GHz, a 170W TDP, and it’s said to be roughly as powerful as the RTX 2070 Super. As we’ve come to expect from the 3000 series, this is a tremendous leap in performance for a much, much lower MSRP.
And not only that, but you’ll be able to use the new and improved DLSS 2.0 if you wish to improve your visuals.
With this, you’ll be able to enjoy the 1440p resolution to the fullest without paying any mind to the graphics sliders. This is a fantastic deal for only $800, but it also means that you’ll have to set aside a bit more money for a suitable monitor if you want to make full use of this PC’s power.
Of course, there are some cases where you’ll either have to settle for a lower framerate, lower graphics, or lower resolution (pick one) if you want the full 60FPS experience. Nevertheless, if you look at the price/performance of this card compared to all of the other cards in the same price range, the RTX 3060 is the clear winner.
As for the RAM, we’ve decided to go the extra mile and stack this gaming rig with 16 GB of the Crucial Ballistix running at 3000MHz.
You could technically get by with only 8 GB, but if the idea is to max out the settings in every game, you will certainly appreciate the extra mileage that you’ll get out of 16GB.
What’s even better is that you won’t have to worry about closing all unnecessary background processes every time you want to game.
We’ve also chosen to inject that extra bit of performance by opting for dual-channel memory with two 8GB sticks.
This will not only have a positive effect on performance, but it’s also a better option than having a single 16GB stick since, should one of them fail, you’ll still be able to function with the remaining 8GB until you find a replacement.
The Gigabyte B460M DS3H V2 is a budget motherboard that still has some special features to speak of despite its relatively low price.
This is an mATX motherboard that supports 10th and 11th-gen Intel processors and up to 128GB of dual-channel RAM with a maximum of 2666MHz. Now, this is a B460M motherboard, not a Z490, so it’s lacking in some areas, but it’s nothing that will hinder your gaming.
It’s a great budget mobo for the i3-10100F or the i5-10400F processors. It has a great build quality, an M.2 slot, 4 SATA 6Gb/s connectors, hybrid fan headers with fan stop, RGB FUSION 2.0, and Q-FLASH. It’s a very basic motherboard, so there is no Wi-Fi, or any other fancy bells and whistles.
Feature-wise it’s rather disappointing compared to Ryzen boards in the same price range, but quality-wise it’s excellent. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, we couldn’t go with a more higher-end board, but if you don’t mind waiting for discounts or buying used, you can catch great deals on Z490 models.
Alternatively, you could go for the Gigabyte B460 HD3 that has a slightly higher RAM clock speed limit, dual M.2 slots, and DualBIOS if that’s something you are interested in, but keep in mind that this will cost you a few more tens.
Now while the type of storage you use doesn’t have any direct bearing on performance in terms of FPS, going with an SSD will still improve your overall user experience by speeding up your OS and significantly reducing the time you’ll be stuck looking at loading screens.
But don’t go thinking that we’d choose just any SSD. What we have here is a Western Digital Blue SN550 with 500GB of storage.
While you might think that 500GB is not enough for gaming and while, admittedly, we would be inclined to agree, the reason we decided on this NVMe SSD was that, as always, we sought quality over quantity, and at its current price the Western Digital Blue SN550 is simply too good to pass up.
However, this means that you will have to get additional storage in the future, and here you have three options:
- Keep the storage you already own from an old PC provided that it’s functional
- Get a new HDD with plenty of storage
- Get a regular 2.5” SSD
The first option is the most budget-friendly, and what most of you on a tight budget will probably choose to go with because, why not?
The second and third options are for those who don’t own an old storage device, or for some reason don’t want to use it in their new PC.
Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and since the price difference is negligible, whether you’ll go with one or the other will entirely depend on your personal needs and preferences.
HDDs are slower, but offer more storage for the price, and have a longer life-span. If this is what you want to go with we suggest the Western Digital Caviar Blue‘s 1TB option.
SSDs, on the other hand, offer less memory for the same price as HDDs and have shorter life-spans, but they are much, much faster.
If you plan on buying one of these we highly suggest the Samsung 860 Evo. It is probably the best 2.5 SSD storage you can get for gaming.
It’s one of the fastest gaming-grade SSDs that use the SATA III interface, but more importantly, it’s one of the most durable and most reliable SSDs in this price range as well, and it even comes with a 5-year warranty to keep your mind at ease.
Keep in mind, however, that buying more storage will make you exceed the $800 budget. If that’s not something you are ready to do, another option is to go for one of the non-NVMe storage suggested above for your base build. This will make your PC slower, but you won’t have to worry about getting additional storage anytime soon.
And to keep this hardware running without any hiccups whatsoever we present the Thermaltake Smart 600W.
Not only does this PSU provide enough power for this build, but it also offers sufficient room for many future upgrades.
Moreover, Thermaltake Smart is 80+ certified. This means that the PSU is more power-efficient than non-certified models. Ideally, this means that you should save up on some cash in the long run, but this is hardly the only reason we opted for this model.
What drew us to it the most is the added reassurance of quality that’s also reflected in the 5-year warranty.
Ideally, we would have liked to have included at least a semi-modular version of this PSU, but unfortunately, due to budget constraints we weren’t able to do that, so this PSU is non-modular.
Functionally, it will serve you just the same. You’ll just have to deal with an added bit of cable clutter, but thankfully this shouldn’t be much of an issue because the case that will be housing all of these components is none other than the Phanteks Eclipse P400A.
The Phanteks Eclipse P400A is hardly the most visually stunning computer case out there, but if you’re looking for the most cost-effective case that places functionality and quality as its top priorities, then no case in this price range can match it!
First and foremost the case has excellent airflow, 2 USB 3.0 ports, simplified cable management, and has some of the most easily manageable SSD/HDD racks you can get at this price.
It also comes with two pre-installed fans on the back and front, with support for two more on the top and two in the front of the case. Additional fans would certainly further improve the airflow, but they are not necessary.
Furthermore, the case has a sleek, minimalist exterior that fits into any environment, and a beautiful tempered glass side panel that will show off all the amazing hardware we’ve intended for it.
But you need more than just hardware in order to game (although the hardware is the only thing that we took into consideration for the budget!) – you also need peripherals. And not just any will do, so to enhance the functionality of this PC we’ve handpicked some essential peripherals.
These are by no means irreplaceable, and if you’re happy with the equipment you’ve already got, feel free to just migrate it to this new gaming rig. But if you want cost-effective peripherals with the performance to match this PC then read on.
Now like we’ve said, this PC is stacked, and while Linux has been making strides to offer better and better gaming experiences (with Wine and Steam even allowing you to play some Windows-only titles on Linux), Windows still remains the best option if you want to get the best performance out of your hard-earned hardware.
Now here is where things get tricky. Like we said, this $800 PC easily meets and even exceeds the best $1500 PCs of last year in terms of performance. In terms of value, this is excellent; it’s all any gamer could want!
But when deciding on peripherals to feature in these guides, we also have to make sure their price is proportional to the budget. This is why we’re lucky that the monitor market has also seen some development over the past year, and that we can offer you a product that can actually do justice to the rig we’ve put together above.
The AOC C24G1A is a stunning new release from AOC that is perfect for this rig. This is a 24-inch VA panel with a 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. The monitor has a curved screen with nearly non-existent bezels, supports FreeSync Premium, and sports an adjustable stand with swivel, tilt, and quick release options.
The 24-inch panel is ideal for a 1080p resolution, so you’ll have a great time gaming on this monitor.
Some of you might have expected a larger monitor, but we wouldn’t recommend that since monitors larger than 24 inches aren’t a good fit for 1080p for the simple reason that the pixels would get stretched over a larger area, and are therefore more visible.
Overall, this is an affordable product that fits the price range and performance of this PC. But then again, everyone is different, and maybe you don’t want a VA panel, or you have your sights set on some other monitor, and that’s perfectly fine. In our opinion, though, this is a product that strikes a perfect balance of features for a great price and we can’t recommend it enough.
But, of course, a PC that can run games at max settings at 1080p and get 60FPS or more can definitely run games in 1440p as well. So for those of you who want to experience everything this PC has to offer we recommend the Gigabyte G27Q.
This is a 27-inch 1440p monitor that looks and performs fantastic, but it is quite a bit more expensive, so you’ll have to decide on your priorities before you commit.
A good mouse is a necessary part of any setup. But when it comes to mice, what’s good for one person may not be good for another. Despite this, we did our best to find a mouse that could fit many of you in more ways than one.
The Razer Viper Mini is a phenomenal mouse, especially if you’re a fan of Razer’s signature style.
First and foremost, it’s a wired mouse, which is expected at this price point, unless you don’t care much about responsiveness, battery life, weight, etc. and just want a clean setup without cables all over your desk.
Second, this is an optical mouse with 8500 DPI, which is great. Most of you are unlikely to ever go over 3200 DPI, so it’s probably unnecessary, but we’re not complaining! When it comes to other gaming features, the Viper Mini has 6 programmable buttons and a little RGB for good measure.
Now, this is all great, but what about the features that might make you want, or not want to buy this mouse?
Well, the Viper Mini weighs 61g, and it’s a bit on the smaller side. Razer recommends the mouse for small and medium-size hands, and claw/fingertip grips. All of this is great for first-person-shooters or any type of competitive gaming in general since it allows for fast reactions, but this is only a portion of the gaming population, so others may not like it as much.
On top of that, the mouse has the classic Razer ambidextrous design, and it has no additional weights, which might turn off some people.
Despite all this, the Razer Viper Mini is still an excellent mouse and comes at an affordable price. So if you found the characteristics mentioned above to your liking we encourage you to give it a chance.
It’s not just the monitor that has to keep up with the high standard set by the hardware – other peripherals have to keep up the pace too.
But you needn’t worry about that with the Redragon K552, as two of its most prominent features are maximum effort anti-ghosting and full N key rollover (which basically means that if you pressed the entire keyboard with your forearm, all the keypresses would be registered).
Overall, it’s a rather compact mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Red equivalent switches that wouldn’t look too impressive if not for the RGB backlit keys (with dynamic lighting effects), but it still packs many hidden conveniences that you’ll be sure to love.
For example, it features a solid metal frame for extra durability, dust-proof switches, 2 user modes, splash-proof design, and a gold-plated USB connector. Plus, it’s rather affordable for a mechanical keyboard without sacrificing much in terms of performance. The switches do an excellent job at imitating the Cherry MX red switches, so much so that you probably couldn’t tell the difference.
Granted, it doesn’t come with a wrist rest or a volume wheel for example, but this is what you would call a budget keyboard, so that’s where the corners were cut. Overall, however, it’s a very good deal if you’re looking for a good, affordable mechanical keyboard.
And if you also need a headset to take your gaming to the next level, we highly recommend the HyperX Cloud Stinger.
This headset comes with plenty of cool features for gamers. First of all, it works on multiple platforms including PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, etc. It has a 1.3m cable attached to the headset that you can plug into your controller if you’re gaming on a console, or you can use the additional 1.7m Y cable to plug it into the PC, or some other unit.
Additionally, it’s excellent at canceling out noise and has the volume and mute buttons directly on the headset.
However, unlike the bulk of the competition, it doesn’t attain this excellence for gaming at the expense of everything else! If you need a headset that will be as good in games as it will be for watching movies or listening to music, then the Cloud Stinger is like no other.
Not to mention the fact that it’s easily one of the most comfortable headsets in its price range with memory foam padding both on the ear cups and on the headband, and has a great microphone to boot!
If you’re looking to graduate from a tiny mouse pad that doesn’t allow for a lot of movement, or you simply want to replace an old, worn-out one, the Ktrio Extended Gaming Mouse Pad is a great and affordable choice.
Not only will it make your entire setup look much cleaner and more put-together, but you’ll definitely notice a difference in overall comfort and the performance of your mouse.
The Ktrio Extended mouse pad has a cover made of Lycra that, although smooth, doesn’t let your mouse slip around, but allows you to maintain control over your movements. It’s also stitched in a way that prevents any deformation over the course of extended use and has a rubber bottom to prevent sliding.
Additionally, if you tend to eat or drink around your PC you’ll be pleased to know that if you happen to spill any liquid onto this mouse pad you can just wipe it away with a cloth and it’ll be as if it never happened.
Generally, there isn’t much science that goes into making a mouse pad, but just like with a regular notebook or a piece of paper, though simple, you can definitely tell the difference between a well-made one and a poorly-made one. This may have been a weird analogy, but hopefully, we got the point across.
We went out of our way to try and find the most cost-effective peripherals so far – ones that won’t leave your wallet in a state of decay but will still offer phenomenal performance for their price, but with the gamepad, this isn’t as easy.
Yes, there are many decent gamepads out there, and going with any of them is fine if you need the pad for just a game or two (and these games aren’t platformers or fighting games – in this case, the GameSir G3w still remains the most cost-effective solution if you can get over the flamboyant exterior).
However, if you intend to make thorough everyday use of the gamepad then you’ll be grateful for going with the Xbox One controller, trust us.
The DualShock 4 is just as good an option, but even with the Steam support, it can act a bit wonky at times, so we recommend the Xbox One controller to most users for the added convenience. Aside from the superior comfort, these controllers have the durability to match even the most demanding gaming habits.
And if you’re curious whether you personally might favor the DualShock 4 over the Xbox One controller, check out this video where we compare these two controllers.
An uncomfortable chair is the last thing you want when you spend hours in front of your PC. Back problems that stem from this kind of lifestyle just keep growing if not addressed, so we wanted to include a chair on this list of peripherals just in case you are in need of one.
If you already have a good chair at home, there’s obviously no need to replace it, but if not, then the Office Star Mesh may be the thing for you.
This is obviously not a fancy gaming chair, it’s in the name, but it’s a well-made ergonomic seat that won’t entirely break the bank. It’s made of a mesh material that won’t make you sweat or stick to the seat, it has lumbar support that supports the natural curve of your spine, and you can tilt it to distribute the weight better.
Now, to be clear, this is not a premium chair, and it’s not going to behave like one, but it is a good entry point if you want something that has good back support, but don’t want to pay through the nose for it.
That said, since this is something that can affect your health, we would highly recommend saving up for something more high-end. Not only will it be more comfortable, but you’re also much less likely to have to replace it in 2-3 years.
In the end, whatever you choose, you won’t regret it, but it all depends on your priorities and the thickness of your wallet.
And finally, there’s the wrist rest, the HyperX Wrist Rest to be exact.
HyperX products in general offer great quality for a great price, but what we like most about them is their use of memory foam padding wherever possible.
This particular wrist rest uses a combination of memory foam and cooling gel to create incredibly comfortable support for your hands and wrists, that’s also cool to the touch and doesn’t allow your hands to sweat or stick to the material.
And they didn’t hold back with the padding either! You get a solid amount of foam to support your wrists, a nicely stitched rim, and a rubber underside that doesn’t allow the rest to budge. It’s the cheapest upgrade you can make to your build, and it gives you immediate results.
And that’s about it for this guide. Now all that’s left is to acquire all the pieces and put them together.
These days the former is sure to give you a bigger headache than the latter, unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean that you have to completely abandon setting up your new battlestation.
Graphics cards are indeed hard to come by, but the rest of the components are still available. It may take a little while longer than you expected, but you can still build a phenomenal $800 system if you’re willing to accept that it won’t happen overnight.
In the meantime, there are plenty of other things you can do to keep yourself busy. For example, you can check out all the awesome ways you can arrange your setup, or you can start saving up for all of the awesome games you’ll be able to play once your rig is complete.
Most importantly, you can use this time to stay on the lookout for sales and discounts. They’re probably not going to be as good or as frequent as they could be under normal circumstances, but if you can use the time you have to spend without your new system to your advantage, why not give it a chance.