The end of the calendar year is usually a good time to build and upgrade powerful gaming configurations. At this time, most manufacturers are trying to improve their annual results and suppliers are trying to free up their warehouses, so the number of promotional offers with real discounts is growing. The wide range of components available simplifies the choice and allows you to act more rationally. We suggest looking at the optimized configurations of the traditional PC of the month with a certain price rebalance that allows you to reduce costs while maintaining the gaming potential of the systems.
Basic gaming PC of the month
|Intel Core i3-12100F (4/8; 3,3/4,4 GHz, 12 MB L3)
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (6/12; 3.6/4.2 GHz, 32 MB L3)
|Intel H610 (LGA1700)
|AMD A520/B450 (Socket AM4)
|16 GB (2×8 GB) DDR4-3200
|Radeon RX 6600 8 GB/ GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB
|SSD, 1 TB, M.2 PCI-E
|Case and power supply
|Middle Tower ATX, 550 W
|Total amount for Intel-based PCs
|Total amount for PCs on the AMD platform
Gaming monitors for the “Basic Gaming PC” from our partner MSI
The MSI G2412 and MSI G2712 models with Full HD IPS matrix, high refresh rate of 170 Hz and a response time of only 1ms will provide a great gaming experience for entry-level systems.
This time, we will try to assemble the most affordable basic configuration that will still allow you to enjoy the game even in resource-intensive projects. For such a case, the most attractive options are easier to find on the AMD platform. As you may have already guessed, the processor position here is for Ryzen 5 3600. For just $85, we get a 6-core, 12-threaded Matisse processor with a 3.6/4.2 GHz operating formula and 32 MB of cache memory. It’s an irresistible offer in terms of price/performance ratio. Despite the fact that the computing cores of the CPU still use the Zen 2 architecture, the power of the chip will be enough for the corresponding category. The tray variant of the processor can be purchased for the equivalent of $75-77, so if you already have a suitable simple cooler, you can save some money.
For a system on Ryzen 5 3600, motherboards on AMD A520/B450 are relevant. Although the basic models on these chipsets start at $50-55, a much wider range of devices with better equipment is offered in the $70-75 price category. Considering that Ryzen 5 3600 is equipped with a PCI-E 4.0 controller, it’s a bit of a pity not to use this generation interface, but this is a limitation of these chipsets. AMD A520/B450 boards offer support for PCI-E 3.0 only.
Due to the availability of attractive 6-core processors, the AMD platform is a priority for basic gaming configurations. If for some reason you don’t initially consider this option, you can only count on the Core i3-12100F (4/8; 3.3/4.3 GHz) among Intel solutions in the ~$100 category. Processors with four computing cores can no longer always offer sufficient performance, but rather a faster response in the most resource-intensive games. In cases where the project does not require more than eight threads, Core i3s will hold up well, demonstrating even higher average fps than in the case of a budget AMD six-core. But in resource-intensive games, which are becoming more and more common, a CPU with more cores/threads can not only be more productive, but also avoid possible delays/lags at times of critical CPU load. That’s why Ryzen 5 3600 is a priority for affordable gaming platforms. Among the current entry-level 6-core Intel processors, we have the Core i5-12400F (6/12; 2.5/4.4 GHz) at a price of ~$160, which is almost twice as expensive as the competitor. The newer Core i5-13400F model with additional energy-efficient cores generally costs from $230, so this is a solution for higher-end configurations.
Among the available motherboards for the Intel platform, you will obviously have to choose something from the range of models for Intel H610. With $75-80 to buy a board, you can count on a board with sufficient equipment for an undemanding user. However, it should be noted that Intel H610 models allow the use of RAM modules only in the normal mode for certain processors. For the Core i3-12100F, this is DDR4-3200.
Among the graphics cards for basic gaming configurations, we can single out the Radeon RX 6600 8 GB, which at an estimated cost of $250 offers an excellent price/performance ratio. Without ray tracing, it is usually 25-30% faster than the GeForce RTX 3050 8GB, which is offered for about the same price. However, the NVIDIA model will probably remain in the focus of players’ attention even despite the worse average fps. A stable ecosystem with accelerated computing and DLSS support will in any case influence the final choice of a video card.
By the way, if you are attracted to the GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB, then you should hurry up with the purchase of this model. На початку наступного року NVIDIA планує запропонувати доступнішу й економнішу модифікацію GeForce RTX 3050 6 GB. The latter will be based on a GPU with fewer processors, and in addition to the memory capacity itself, the bus bit rate will be reduced from 128 to 96 bits. Undoubtedly, this will lead to a significant decrease in performance. The developers are betting on efficiency – potentially, the new RTX 3050 6 GB should consume up to 70 watts, instead of 130 watts in the classic GeForce RTX 3050 8 GB model. Another influential lever should be the price. It is expected that this particular video card will be the most affordable among the GeForce RTX line of graphics adapters. The exact value will be revealed during the announcement, but the preliminary recommended price of the “lightweight” versions will be from $179.
We are no longer considering GeForce GTX video card models in the context of gaming platforms. Some time ago, NVIDIA announced the end of the GTX 1660 production cycle, and now it is talking about the further abandonment of the GTX line of adapters.
We also traditionally equip basic gaming platforms with dual-channel RAM kits with a capacity of 16 GB (2×8 GB). It’s worth noting here that budget motherboards usually come with only two DIMM slots. So in the future, if you want to double your RAM capacity, you’ll have to buy a new set to replace the previous one. If you’re forward-thinking, you should immediately look towards 32GB kits. For certain projects, this capacity is already indicated as recommended. Therefore, while the cost of modules has not yet kept pace with the rising price of DRAM chips, you can consider this option. For the AMD platform, we focus on DDR4-3600 kits. In the case of the Intel platform, if you choose an Intel H610 board, the maximum mode will be DDR4-3200. The current difference in the cost of these kits is insignificant, so there is not much room for savings.
For data storage, entry-level gaming PCs are equipped with an SSD with a minimum capacity of 1 TB. The drives fill up very quickly, especially if you like “heavy” AAA projects that increasingly require 100+ GB of free space for installation. Unfortunately, the cost of SSDs has also started to rise, so if a few months ago $45 would have been enough to buy a simple 1 TB M.2 drive, now it’s more like $55-60.
Optimal gaming PC of the month
|Intel Core i5-12400F (6/12; 2,5/4,4 Ghz, 18 MB L3)
|AMD Ryzen 7 5700X (8/16; 3,4/4,6 Ghz, 32 MB L3)
|Intel B660/B760 (LGA1700)
|AMD B550 (Socket AM4)
|32 ГБ (2×16 GB) DDR4-3600
|Radeon RX 7700 XT 12 GB / GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB
|SSD, 1 TB, M.2 NVMe, PCI-E x4
|Case and power supply
|Middle Tower ATX, 650 W
|Total amount for Intel-based PCs
|Total amount for PCs on the AMD platform
Gaming monitor for the “Optimal Gaming PC” from our partner MSI
The MSI G274QPF 27-inch IPS gaming monitor with 2560×1440 resolution, 170Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and HDR400 support provides maximum immersion in gaming worlds and an optimal gaming experience.
In the category of optimal configurations, this time we also decided to experiment with more affordable solutions, trying to partially save money on the purchase of a PC without losing the gaming potential of the systems. So when choosing from Intel processors, one of the options is the Core i5-12400F (6/12; 2.5/4.4 GHz), which we have already mentioned in the context of basic configurations. The most affordable 6-core CPU from the manufacturer, which, despite belonging to the 12th generation chips, still looks very good in its role. Six productive cores without energy-efficient “impurities” eliminates dependence on the work of the load balancer for computing units. So this disadvantage for multithreaded tasks becomes a definite advantage for cases where maximum performance is required with a limited number of threads. It is not surprising that with a price of $160, the Core i5-12400F model is still among the five most popular CPUs in online aggregator ratings.
For the functional formula 6/12+4, you will have to pay a significant extra. The Core i5-13400F (6/12+4; 2.5/4.6 GHz + 1.8/3.3 GHz) model with this particular layout costs about $240. As you can see, the actual retail price of the CPU increases by as much as 50%, but the performance gain is much more modest. According to the test results, you can expect +10-15% in multithreaded tasks, and in games the increase in frames/c is even more modest – 5-10%. So, the presence of additional E-Cores is more likely to accelerate multithreaded tasks, if you have them in your daily work. It’s also a kind of insurance in case 6 cores with Hyper-Threading support may not be enough. And to such an extent that it can affect the minimum fps. Поки це рідкісні випадки.
If you still decide to choose a processor with additional E-Cores, then the Core i5-13400F can compete very well with the Core i5-12600KF (6/12+4; 3.7/4.9 GHz + 2.8/3.6 GHz) for $250. Architecturally, the chips are virtually identical, with the “enthusiast” model of the conventionally previous generation offering higher operating frequencies for both types of cores, which will undoubtedly affect the final performance in any task. Here, we don’t even take into account the unlocked boost factor – this processor advantage can only be used with an Intel Z690/Z790 board. For optimal configurations, this is already an expensive pleasure. In the basic version, we focus on mid-range models with Intel B660/B760 chipsets.
AMD has been putting so much effort into keeping the Socket AM4 platform relevant lately that we decided to use this solution as a possible option for an optimal gaming configuration. Indeed, Socket AM4 processors are still very popular among users who prefer to build their own PCs. And for some time now, the Ryzen 7 5700X processor (8/16, 3.4/4.6 GHz) has been at the top of the conditional rating of the most popular models for this platform. The price tag of $180 for a powerful 8-core chip is the very attraction that attracts quite demanding, but at the same time frugal buyers. It is Ryzen 7 5700X that is currently the most affordable way to get a processor with the best functional configuration of cores/threads (8/16) for gaming PCs. Although chips based on the Zen 3 architecture do not have the highest IPC performance, the presence of eight sufficiently powerful cores will allow you to get a solution that will not impress with record-breaking performance, but will not let you down. In addition, the option of upgrading the processor to a chip with even more cores or a model with 3D V-Cache for gaming acceleration remains for the future.
Another advantage of Socket AM4 over the newer AM5 platform is the ability to purchase a more affordable board with better equipment. The models on the AMD B550 offer good functionality. However, support for the PCI-E 5.0 bus and DDR5 RAM remains behind the scenes.
If the prospects and bonuses of Socket AM5 look more convincing, in the context of an optimal gaming system, the fast 6-core processors are relevant – Ryzen 5 7500F (6/12; 3.7/5.0 GHz) and Ryzen 5 7600 (6/12; 3.8/5.1 GHz). The younger model with integrated graphics turned off periodically almost disappears from the market in Ukraine, but in such cases, the small difference in retail prices ($200 vs. $220) allows you to get out of this situation relatively painlessly by choosing a slightly faster modification.
But as for the Ryzen 7 7700 (8/16; 3.8/5.3 GHz) in MPK version for $270, which we were very happy about last time, this version has now risen in price to $300+. This is obviously more than we would like to pay for a processor for a mid-range gaming system. And here we can go back to comparing the cost of an 8-core chip for Socket AM4.
As for graphics cards, we suggest choosing between the Radeon RX 7700 XT 12 GB and the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB. The former is more productive (+5-30%, on average – 15%), has a larger memory capacity, which also adds confidence in its relevance over time. The NVIDIA model with 8 GB of memory is usually significantly cheaper than the RX 7700 XT adapters (-10-15%), more economical, and even has a slight advantage in ray tracing mode. Versions of the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 16 GB are offered from $540-550, but in fact, the increased memory capacity is useful primarily for specialized tasks, while in games the overall “balance” of performance of this model is reduced to the 8 GB version.
According to the developers themselves, GeForce RTX 4060 Ti is the best option for Full HD, while higher-resolution modes require more productive graphics cards. Of course, the idea of equipping a 12GB GeForce RTX 4070 platform looks very attractive, but the $700+ price tag in this category of systems brings it back to reality and makes you limit yourself to more modest options. In addition, it will be very interesting to wait for the upgraded version of GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER. Although the graphics cards of the updated series will remain with 12 GB of memory, a significant (~20%) increase in compute units and related functional blocks should bring additional fps. Judging by previous leaks, the SUPER versions are expected to be announced on January 8, and the GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER line should go on sale on January 17.
While for basic gaming configurations, 32 GB of RAM is still a wish for the future, for optimal gaming configurations, it is already a standard capacity. It should be recalled that AMD chips for the Socket AM4 platform support only DDR4 RAM, so the choice has already been made at the architecture level. Intel Core processors of the 12th/13th/14th generations can work with both DDR4 and DDR5. So there is already a choice here. A DDR4 board and a corresponding DDR4-3600 memory kit will cost less, but using DDR5 can provide some acceleration in games. However, this option is not free – you’ll have to pay extra for both the memory kit itself and a slightly more expensive motherboard.
Advanced gaming PC of the month
|Intel Core i5-14600KF (6/12+8; 3,5/5,3 Ghz, 2,6/4,0 Ghz)
|AMD Ryzen 7 7700X (8/16; 4,5/5,4 Ghz; 32 MB L3)
|Intel Z690/Z790 (LGA1700)
|AMD B650 (Socket AM5)
|32 GB (2×16 ГБ) DDR5-6000
|GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB / Radeon RX 7900 XTX 24 GB
|SSD 2 TB, M.2 PCI-E 4.0
|Case and power supply
|Middle Tower ATX, 750 W
|Total amount for Intel-based PCs
|Total amount for PCs on the AMD platform
Gaming monitors for the ” Advanced Gaming PC” from our partner MSI
The 27-inch MSI MAG 274UPF and 32-inch MSI MAG 323UPF are flagship 4K monitors that deliver high-quality, vivid images with a high refresh rate and 1ms response time. Both models will allow you to maximize the capabilities of a powerful gaming PC.
For a powerful gaming system on the Intel platform, we recommend using Core i5-14600KF (6/12+8; 3.5/5.3 GHz + 2.6/4.0 GHz). This particular model of the Raptor Lake Refresh line looks like the most balanced option in terms of performance, price, and power consumption. Recently, during the review of the MSI MPG Z790 EDGE TI MAX WIFI motherboard, we used the Core i5-14600KF paired with a GeForce RTX 4070 Ti 12 GB. This set has proven itself in practice in games. In the mode with the power limiter removed, even during a long multi-threaded load, the 5300/4000 MHz mode can hold. If you really need it and have a liquid cooling system, you can further accelerate the CPU by adding 400-500 MHz to the operating frequencies of P/E-Cores. However, each additional percentage increase in performance will lead to a significant increase in CPU power consumption. Therefore, the practical benefits of overclocking should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
In the context of the progressive configuration, we can also consider the model of the conditionally previous generation – Core i5-13600KF (6/12+8; 3.5/5.1 GHz + 2.6/3.9 GHz), which differs from the Core i5-14600KF only in slightly lower operating frequencies. But the actual retail prices of these models are almost the same, so why not treat yourself to a new generation chip. Plus, 100-200 MHz for $5 is a good deal.
As for the motherboard, we choose a suitable model on the Intel Z790. The price will largely depend on the equipment. In any case, it is advisable to focus on models with a good CPU power stabilization unit. Under maximum load, the chips have a good energy appetite, which the board must satisfy.
This time we propose to build a progressive configuration on the AMD platform around Ryzen 7 7700X (8/16; 4.5/5.4 GHz). A powerful 8-core with predictable results and an adequate price (~$340). Although, of course, the presence of Ryzen 7 7800X3D (8/16; 4.2/5.0 GHz) in the manufacturer’s assortment tempts you to spend extra money, especially against the background of the current decline in its price to ~$420. Despite the more modest frequency formula and the lack of additional overclocking, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D has an additional 64 MB of L3 cache, which usually works great in games. If your budget allows, look towards a model with 3D V-Cache.
For both cases, a good motherboard based on the AMD B650 chipset is suitable as a platform. Such models usually offer a rational balance of price and functionality. However, the range is quite wide, as is the price range, so the final cost of a particular board depends on the actual equipment.
The progressiveness of a gaming platform directly depends on its specialized capabilities. At the same time, the performance in games is largely determined by video cards. It is undoubtedly the most expensive element of such PCs. In this case, we rely on GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB and Radeon RX 7900 XTX 24 GB. Worthy opponents with their own strengths. The GeForce RTX 4080 starts at $1300, while the flagship of AMD’s lineup is slightly cheaper – from $1200. Both graphics cards have excessive power for Full HD gaming, are great for 1440p at maximum settings, and feel quite confident in 4K.
Of course, the price factor is important, so we are looking forward to the announcement of new graphics solutions that may affect the price/performance ratio in this class. Here we have certain hopes for the announcement of SUPER-modifications of NVIDIA graphics cards. It seems that the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER will not be a revelation, offering only a small increase in CUDA computing power. Unless the price becomes more attractive, but that’s wishful thinking.
But as for the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER, it should be a very effective update. The model will have 16 GB of memory, which means it will have a 256-bit memory bus instead of a 192-bit one. Replacing the GA104 GPU with a GA103 with more active function blocks also promises to speed up. Obviously, this will lead to a significant reduction in the performance difference with the older GeForce RTX 4080 model. We also hope for a reasonable pricing policy from NVIDIA (in vain?). It is quite possible that the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER 16 GB will be the most attractive graphics card for advanced gaming systems that are not for all the money. But let’s wait for the start of sales of this model, which is tentatively expected on January 24.
If you want to save money, in the case of AMD adapters, there is still the option of Radeon RX 7900 XT 20 GB for $900+. It’s a good option, especially for 1440p mode, where this model is most effective. With the emergence of SUPER-modifications from the main opponent, we can expect the cost of AMD’s top solutions to be adjusted. The manufacturer does not shy away from using this tactic, which often works, especially in the CPU segment.
We also equip advanced configurations with 32 GB of RAM, but in this case we suggest equipping PCs with solid dual-channel DDR5-6000 kits with a good latency formula. For AMD platforms, it is no longer necessary, on Intel it is possible, but mostly only to satisfy the ambitions of maximalists. Usually, this brings a modest increase in fps, which is definitely not proportional to the additional costs. But what you can increase your budget for a little bit is the version of the modules with RGB backlighting, especially if you are not indifferent to the internal illumination of the system unit and use a case with transparent walls. As practice shows, the illumination of RAM modules attracts attention and helps to create certain accents in the lighting composition of the interior.
Among the interesting features of the RAM segment, it is worth noting that motherboard manufacturers are announcing the possibility of using 64 GB DDR5 modules. In this case, the total maximum RAM capacity will increase to 256 GB. For gaming platforms, such values will not be needed soon. Rather, this is an opportunity to get a platform for specific tasks within a traditional desktop system.
For top gaming systems, we do not even consider drives with a capacity of less than 2 TB. The total capacity is a priority here. Free space on a 1TB SSD runs out extremely quickly, and the need to constantly reload games is not what you expect from a system in the current price category. In the context of gaming platforms, there are no special requirements for drive performance. Even when launching heavy, large-scale projects, it takes time to process and synchronize the downloaded data, so record-breaking SSD linear transfers will not be involved.
Although, of course, for a powerful, expensive PC, we recommend focusing on fast, solid M.2 PCI-E 4.0 models with an additional DRAM buffer. Ultra-fast SSDs with PCI-E 5.0 support, which allow for read/write speeds of up to 12-14 GB/s, are still exotic for certain tasks where such capabilities provide real practical benefits. If these are on your list of daily tasks, you should first check whether the motherboard model you have chosen allows you to use PCI-E 5.0 drives in maximum mode. For the AMD platform, this probability is much higher, but in the case of Intel, you will have to be more responsible when choosing a board with M.2 PCI-E 5.0 support and obviously increase the initial budget for its purchase.
Regardless of the chosen configuration, our own preferences, modifications and improvements to our gaming systems, we should not forget about the feasible and regular support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – this will speed up our victory.