High-refresh rate gaming PC build for under $1,000

Want framerates over 100? Here's our high refresh rate PC build for under $1,000

avadirect avant mid size dekstop ava direct midsize gaming 8
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

As much as higher resolutions might look good in cinematic games, if you’re playing fast-paced or competitive titles, higher refresh rates can have a bigger impact on your gaming experience. It makes everything smoother and improves input lag, making your games look better and you a better gamer in turn. If you have a fast gaming monitor standing by and need some hardware to power it, here’s a high-refresh rate gaming PC build for under $1,000 that will help pump more frames to your display quicker than ever before.

If you’re a little unsure on the idea of building a PC yourself, don’t fret. It’s easier than you might think, and our handy guides can help walk you through the process every step of the way.

The build and what it can do

We’ll go into more detail about the different hardware choices we’ve made below, but here’s a quick summary of the parts we’ve picked.

Note: All of the products listed below are purchasable from Amazon and were found on the site as part of our research. It’s worth double checking their cost before you commit to buying as they do change regularly. Unfortunately, they also quickly sell out. If you don’t see an item in the module below, just click through the link below each component for the Amazon listing, as they often do come back in stock.

Although not included in this budget or guide, if you haven’t bought one already, you’ll also need a high-refresh rate monitor. These are our favorites.

+ Customize Your Bundle
Intel Core i5 9600K Processor
$259.99
Scythe Byakko Cooler
$23.99
MSI Arsenal B360M Mortar Motherboard
$89.99
Patriot Viper 16GB Memory
$99.99
Silicon Power 512GB SSD
$144.1
EVGA N1 550W PSU
$45
Thermaltake Versa H17 Case
$39.36
$702.42
Total:

This system features a combination of powerful mid-range components and cost-saving-measures where we can make them. The case, PSU, and cooler are all serviceable, solid choices, but they’re nothing fancy. The CPU and graphics card, on the other hand, are fantastically capable choices that when combined will deliver amazing visuals from indies right through to AAAs.

That said, this isn’t a $3,000+ gaming PC. Concessions will need to be made in the name of frame rates. If you’re trying to hit 120 FPS in esports games like CS:GO, Rocket League, or DotA 2, then you’ll be able to run them at maximum or near-maximum settings and still achieve such frame rates. If you’re trying to take full advantage of your 240Hz gaming monitor in Overwatch though, you’ll probably need to lower some settings.

CPU: Intel Core i5 9600K ($260)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 9600k 02

A decent CPU is a must if you’re trying to take full advantage of a high refresh-rate monitor — you don’t want it to bottleneck your graphics card. The Core i5 9600K is a fantastic option for our build offering six cores and the ability to hit 4.6GHz on the best of them when needed. It has the ability to overclock, so if you want to take it beyond its stock speeds you can do. It’s still fantastic right out of the box, though, if that’s not something you’re interested in.

The only downside is it doesn’t come with a cooler like some of Intel’s weaker chips, but we’ve found an affordable solution which you’ll read more about below.

You could opt for an AMD Ryzen 2700 at this sort of price point, but for the kind of build we’re putting together, the 9600K should easily outstrip it in most games.

Buy Now

Cooler: Scythe Byakko ($23)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 scythebyakko

CPU coolers can range from the small and loud to the huge and quiet, but we want something in between. We’re making a micro-ATX system so our cooler can’t be too big and it’s got to fit into our budget. The Scythe Byakko might not win any awards for style or performance, but for its relatively diminutive footprint it delivers excellent cooling and does so for a fraction of the cost of the bigger options out there.

Buy Now

Motherboard: MSI Arsenal Z370M Mortar ($115)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 msiz370m02

A microATX board is a good way to save space with your high-refresh rate gaming PC and to save a little money too. To give us some basic overclocking options in a compact form factor, we went with this great mATX Z370M Mortar board from MSI. It has good onboard cooling for various components, looks good, and even offers MSI’s armor protection for the first PCIExpress x16 slot which helps prevent GPU sagging.

Note: This board may require a BIOS update to support the new ninth-generation CPU we’re opting for with this build.

Buy Now

Graphics: Zotac Gaming RTX 2060 Twin Fan ($350)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 zotacrtx206002

Although we might opt for the fabled 1660 Ti if it turns out to be a real GPU, for now, one of the best mid-range cards available is the RTX 2060. A GTX 1070 is about the minimum we’d recommended for a high-refresh rate gaming PC and the 2060 offers 1070 Ti-like performance, so it’s an excellent candidate for our build.

This Zotac RTX 2060 Twin Fan edition features an enhanced cooler and a boost clock that matches Nvidia’s Founders Edition. It’s also quite compact, which is perfect for our mATX build. There are slightly faster RTX 2060s out there if you want to spend a little more, but this one fits best within our budget.

Buy Now

Memory: Patriot Viper Elite 16GB (2x8GB) 2,666MHz ($100)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 viperram02

You could probably get away with 8GB of RAM for this rig (after all, it’s more than enough for most) and you could save a little by doing so, but 16GB makes for a more future-proofed system that with our chosen components should keep your frame rates high for years to come. You could save a few dollars while maintaining 16GB if you opted for a single stick too, as it won’t have much of an effect on gaming, but overall system responsiveness should improve in dual-channel mode by a small margin.

We went with a 2,666MHz kit which isn’t super fast, but it should give you some headroom for basic overclocking if you like. You may see some modest performance improvements with 3,000MHz RAM — you’ll just need to pay a little more for it.

Wondering what all these terms are? Here’s our breakdown of everything you need to know about RAM.

Buy Now

Storage: Silicon Power 512GB SSD ($58)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 spssd

Although you could mix and match SSDs and HDDs to give you a fast boot drive and an expansive storage drive, we feel like a 500GB SSD is a good starting off point and gives you plenty of room to install your games on. You’ll probably want to add more storage in the future and there are definitely faster and better drives out there, but to keep costs down, this is a great starting point.

Buy Now

PSU: EVGA B1 500w 80+ Bronze ($50)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 evga500b01

EVGA produces some fantastic entry-level PSUs and that quality is more important than just about anything when it comes to buying a PSU. Although there are more powerful PSUs at this price point, we wouldn’t trust most of them to look after your components and 500-watt should be more than enough for the build we’ve put together. If you want to go for 600-watt or more for a little more headroom there are units out there, but we’d urge you to spend more too.

Buy Now

Case: Thermaltake Versa H17 ($40)

high refresh rate gaming pc build for under 1000 thermaltakeh17

Getting a good case for less than $50 isn’t easy, but Thermaltake has managed to create something that looks good, has chambers for better overall system cooling, space for expansive cooling options, and a great selection of front ports. We’d suggest buying a second fan for air intakes at some point in the future but we just couldn’t squeeze one into our budget. You should be alright in the near future, but a little extra airflow rarely hurts.

Buy Now

 Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Mobile

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for March 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks for the best portable chargers.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for March 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for March 2018.
Computing

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 
Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.
Computing

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.
Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Deals

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…
Computing

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.