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Assembling a rig on a budget? How to build a gaming PC for $550

Prices might be on the up, but you can still build yourself a capable PC for $550.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by June Wan

Sure, you can buy a PC in pretty much any configuration you desire, but by building one for yourself, you can make sure you're getting maximum value for money.

But with prices rising across the board, careful decisions have to be made so as to not waste money frivolously on PC components that don't contribute to the performance of the whole.

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To help, I've assembled this sub-$550 hardware build so that all you will need to add is your own peripherals and operating system of choice. You can buy a Windows license here, for example.

Note that prices might fluctuate on either side of that $550 mark -- the components market is rather volatile these days. Now, let's see what you can get for the money.

While this is only a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, it brings a lot to the table, including quad-core power, a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and boost speeds of up to 4.3GHz, a cooler in the box, and a price that's well under $100.

The only downside is that there's no built-in graphics chip, but that's not a problem here as we're going to add a discrete GPU to this build next.

The graphics card is where it's very possible to spend the entire $500 budget on a single component, so we need to be smart to keep the build price manageable.

This GPU from Sapphire is a fantastic option for less than $200, offering 4GB of memory fitted, support for two monitors with HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, and twin cooling fans.

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This is where it's easy to blow a few hundred dollars and not see much of a return on it. That's why I've gone for the ASRock Z590 PRO4. It supports the Intel CPU above, can accommodate both SATA and M.2 storage drives and take up to a whopping 128GB of RAM, and is reasonably priced. 

Oh, and there's built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, so you'll save some money on adapters and dongles.

There are a lot of RAM brands out there, but I find that G.Skill hits a good balance of quality, reliability, and affordability when it comes to memory.

The brand is especially good for gaming systems that are pushed harder and made to run hotter than regular desktop systems. My recommended model is a 288-Pin RAM with DDR4 3200 (for decently fast data transfer speeds) and heat-spreaders fitted in.

Installing an SSD (solid-state drive) as opposed to an older HDD (hard disk drive) will unlock more power from this build here.

Sure, you can get much more storage for your money going for an HDD (about 2TB, or four times as much as you're getting here), but there's a huge performance hit. In this case, the sequential read speeds go up to 560 MB/s and sequential write speeds are up to 530 MB/s.

This power supply unit has enough power to keep everything running, and the modular cabling -- unwanted cabling can be detached from the PSU -- keeps the inside of the PC as tidy as possible.

The one from Thermaltake supports 500W output and has a large, quiet cooling fan to dissipate heat.

Here's an affordable yet cheerful case that will hold all the components in this build. For around $60, you wouldn't expect any fancy lights or fans on this tower, but think again! This case comes with RGB LED strips down both sides and four cooling fans with awesome RGB lights. There are also enough vents for heat management.

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