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In just under a decade, esports evolved into this niche, underground activity that ‘nerds’ did in filthy, smoke-filled internet cafes, into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Selling out entire arenas full of spectators and paying out competitors in prizes that range in the millions of dollars.
So naturally, everyone wants a little slice of that at home, and unlike other professional sports like basketball or football, having a gaming setup in the comfort of your own house is entirely possible, if you have the cash.
Unfortunately, a lot of top-of-the-line gaming PC’s out there are somewhere in the $1500-$2000, basically the price of a second-hand car. And in professional esports where the games take up huge amounts of digital resources, you need top-of-the-line or close to it.
This is why many people choose to build their own rigs, and there’s a large and robust PC-building community out there that seek to Frankenstein powerful gaming machines at a fraction of the price. It’s in that community that we were able to find a way to create the best gaming PC we could build under $1000, with a little bit to spare.
Best Budget Gaming Monitor: Asus VP228HE
Asus’ VP228HE is the company’s best-kept secret: at a measly $89, this budget monitor from the hardware giant offers much for its price, with display qualities that are beyond its price range in 21.5-inch screen size that fully supports 16:9 aspect ratios and resolutions of up to 1920×1080. It even comes with a game-specific mode called, well, The Game, which allows users to brighten up darker regions of the screen without upping the brightness where it shouldn’t.
But it’s not all fun and The Games with this monitor: it does come with some downsides, like its mediocre 60Hz refresh rate. Sure, if you’re just watching Youtube videos or Netflix, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but for high-octane, fast-paced FPS games, this could put you at a disadvantage. However, the monitor is flicker-free, so it does balance everything out. The monitor’s menus also come with a bit of a learning curve, but just breeze through the instruction manuals and you should be fine.
Overall, not even its unimpressive frame rate can scare us away: at $89, you’re getting more than what you’re paying for and then some. Besides, practicing at lower frame rates might even be a good thing because it forces you to develop faster reaction times!
Best Budget Gaming Keyboard: STOGA Mechanical Keyboard
If click-clacks and backlighting are all that makes you happy when it comes to keyboards, then the STOGA mechanical keyboard is the cheapest you can go without sacrificing quality. It’s a stripped-down, no-frills, tenkeyless experience. It does not come with dedicated media controls, dedicated software, or even a program to control the RGB backlights. Instead, it comes with function keys, a QWERTY setup, a space bar….and that’s about it. But again, when you’re on your 7th hour of Warzone, do you really need a dedicated button to open Spotify?
Best Budget Gaming Mouse: Logitech G300S
The Logitech G300s is more than just a left-and-right-click: it actually comes with 9 programmable buttons situated near the top of the frame, and its ambidextrous design means that even lefties can join in on the fun. Because it’s a gaming mouse, Logitech made sure that the G300s’ click latency rate is top-of-the-line, making it an acceptable piece of equipment for even the most competitive gamer out there.
It does have a smaller CPI range than other gaming mice in its price range, but its max polling rate is fairly high, keeping the cursor feeling fluid and balancing out the low CPI. Overall, a pretty solid purchase, considering you’re getting professional-gaming-level equipment at casual-gaming prices.
Best Budget Gaming Headset: SteelSeries Arctis 1
At just under $50, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 offers a lot more than its price range: it has the same, robust 40mm audio drivers that you can find in the more expensive Arctis lines from SteelSeries, a removable mic with a 3.5mm connection, and pretty much omni-compatibility with most consoles and your PC.
Of course, at just under $50, don’t expect world-class mic quality, auto-adjust features for the volume, a perfect fit over your ears, or other fancy features that higher-end models offer. But for just under $50, the Arctis 1 doesn’t disappoint. Yes, it’s an imperfect fit but it’s still comfortable, the mic quality is subpar but it’s not garbled, and the audio is still fairly crystal clear; at least, clear enough to hear 11-year olds call you a Noob in Overwatch.
Best Budget Gaming CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
If you thought you needed hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars for a high-performance CPU that can play any game without setting its casing on fire, well, you’re not wrong. But for just under $100, the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G delivers above-average features that provide more than decent performance for such a low price. The Ryzen 3 3200G provides solid 720p performance thanks to its built-in Vega graphics, a whole lot of CPU power for background tasks, and is versatile enough to fit on most 300-series motherboard.
However, its stock heatsink is pretty bad, so you’re going to invest on a separate heatsink if you’re going to overclock your CPU, and you’ll have to update your motherboard BIOS for compatibility. But the Ryzen 3 3200G does get around these problems by having unlocked multipliers that allow you to fine-tune both your CPU and your graphics if you have a decent enough cooling system, and everyone needs to update their BIOS from time to time anyway.
(Optional) Best Budget Gaming Chair: GTRacing Pro Series Gaming Chair
It’s hard to justify shelling out a couple of hundred dollars just for a chair, but if you’re going to be gaming for hours on end, a good, ergonomic chair designed specifically for gaming becomes a great investment.
Luckily, most gaming chairs follow pretty much the same design scheme, and the GTRacing Pro Series Gaming Chair borrows a lot of these design elements and shoves them into the chair and prices it comparatively lower than other brands.
The GTRacing Pro Series Gaming Chair comes with the requisite neck pillow, lumbar support, and armrests, all of which are adjustable. It comes in seven different color combinations if you want to be fancy and feel like a pro.
With all of these parts put together, we could build the best gaming laptop under $1000, at just $446.97, which leaves us $552.03 to spare for a decent graphics card. Is that even possible? Well, let us present to you…
Best Budget Gaming Videocard: RTX 2070 Super
The graphics card will always be the most expensive part of any gaming computer, and unfortunately, the law of diminishing returns is pretty much evident the higher you go up the GPU food chain: for every teensy upgrade in performance (which lessens every step up), you shell out more and more money (which increase every step up).
And while it’s tempting to drop a thousand bucks on the latest video card out there, your best bet is to actually go down a couple of notches and settle for a mid-range GPU. This is where the RTX 2070 Super comes in: it’s the perfect GPU for budget gamers who want to build the best gaming PC under $1000 because it offers all the requisite graphics needs of most modern videogames, albeit with limits.
The RTX 2070 Super can handle 1440p Ultra on most games, and can even handle medium/high-quality graphics settings on 4K games, but not for extremely graphics-demanding games like Far Cry 6 or Metro Exodus. But it’s decent enough to play most competitive FPS’ and MOBAs.
This graphics card is about 10% slower than its big brother, the 2080 Ti, but it’s also 30% cheaper (see our comment about diminishing returns). And at 30% less, you’re still getting 8GB of GDDR6, DLSS, and ray tracing, so while you might not be able to see your character’s eyes’ reflection from a pane of glass in a snowstorm in-game, it’s going to be a more-than-just-ok graphics card for the price you’re paying.
Note that we didn’t factor in the CPU casing, a table, cables, and other miscellaneous items, which admittedly would place our entire purchase at a little over $1050. But this whole setup leaves you with $22.04 to spare, which is enough to get you a couple of older games on Steam, and a Big Mac.