Continuing the series I started yesterday, I thought I would put together a build guide for a Mid-Range 1440P AMD Gaming PC. I am classifying a mid-range gaming machine as costing between about $750.00 to $1500.00 for the main components.
Any desktop machine is going to need these basic components from seven different categories, broken down below.
- CPU and cooler
- Power supply
Mid-Range 1440P AMD Gaming PC Build
This is intended to be a relatively affordable machine that can easily play nearly any modern game at 2K (2560×1440) resolution using very high graphics quality settings in the game at high frame rates. It also has enough CPU/memory capacity and storage performance to handle more demanding desktop usage scenarios with very good performance. It should be significantly faster than most older high-end desktop machines from years past. Here are the main components:
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6 GHz 8C/16T Processor
This is currently what I consider to be the sweet spot in the 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series line. It has 8C/16T, but only has a TDP of 65 watts. Even though the base clock speed is only 3.6 GHz, most of the cores will spend most of their time running at a significantly higher clock speed. In most benchmarks, the Ryzen 7 3700X is very close to the higher priced Ryzen 7 3800X, close enough so that you won’t notice the difference.
I have one of these in my current gaming machine. Another bonus is that it comes with a Wraith PRISM cooler, which is the same CPU cooler that AMD uses on the 3800X and 3900X. This cooler does a good enough job that you probably don’t really need an aftermarket cooler.
This is a budget X570 motherboard (so it has PCIe 4.0 support) that still has the basic features and ports to get the job done for a mid-range gaming rig. PCIe 4.0 support is nice to have as a future-looking feature, but it is not that useful right now. Video cards don’t yet actually need the extra bandwidth from PCIe 4.0, and the first generation M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe storage cards are limited by the Phison controller they use to “only” about 5000MB/sec for sequential reads. Sequential read performance is not super important for a gaming PC, but it can be very useful for content creation work.
This is somewhat faster memory with tighter timings that helps AMD Ryzen 3000 processors perform better. There are plenty of detailed articles and videos that show that DDR4-3600 memory with tight timings (low CL numbers) are another sweet spot where you get a decent performance boost without spending significantly more money. If you are going to do other work besides gaming, you might want to get two 16GB sticks or four 8GB or 16GB sticks, depending on your needs and budget. Luckily, DDR4 RAM is very affordable now compared to a couple of years ago.
I am a big fan of Samsung for consumer storage. Their products consistently do well in benchmarks, and they are not much more expensive than other brands. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is the latest generation of their budget-friendly EVO line that actually beats the 970 PRO models in some benchmarks, for a lot less money. As always, make sure to get a model that is at least 500GB in size or larger.
Larger capacity NAND flash drives have more NAND channels, so they usually perform much better than smaller capacity drives from the same family. If you are used to SATA flash drives, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much better M.2 PCIe NVMe drives can perform. One weak point of M.2 drives is thermal throttling.
If you do a series of large sequential reads, back-to-back with no breaks, M.2 drives will get hot enough to severely throttle their performance. This is more of a problem in a laptop compared to a desktop, but it can still happen in a desktop machine. Some motherboards come with heatsinks for the M.2 slots, and you can buy aftermarket M.2 heatsinks.
This component is the single most expensive part in this build, which is usually the case for a gaming PC. Once you go to 2K or 4K gaming, your video card becomes your bottleneck for getting high FPS in most games. Once you get below 40-50 FPS, most people tend to notice that the game seems slow. On the other hand, unless you have a good gaming monitor that supports 144 FPS or more (and has FreeSync), you won’t get the full benefit of extremely high frame rates in your games.
The 7nm Radeon 5700 XT was released on July 7, 2019 as the higher end version of the Radeon 5700 series. This Gigabyte card uses three fans and a large heat pipe system so that it runs much cooler and generates a lot less noise than the original Radeon 5700 XT cards that used the reference single blower fan design from AMD. It is also mildly overclocked from the factory.
Since this case has a mesh front panel (rather than tempered glass) and lots of ventilation in the rest of the case, it has very good thermal performance. This is very important if you want to avoid thermal throttling from your components. The downside with mesh and lots of ventilation and fans can be increased noise.
You can minimize this by picking components that have better passive cooling features such as heat pipes and heat sinks. You can also add additional case fans and/or replace the stock case fans with better case fans if you so desire. This case has gotten many great reviews from sites that I respect like GamersNexus.
Corsair RMx 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply
This is a quiet, high capacity 80+ Gold certified power supply that has gotten great reviews. It is fully modular, so you can minimize your cable clutter. This model has two EPS connectors (which are required with some X570 motherboards). I have used this power supply in a couple of my machine, and I have been very happy with the results.
This machine has a total price (as of this writing) of about $1460.00. That does not include sales tax or an operating system. If you live near a Micro Center, and buy all of the parts at one time, you can usually save around $100 with their bundle discounts.
I think you will want Windows 10 Home or Professional. If you do use Windows 10, make sure to get version 1903 so that you get the AMD scheduler and CPPC improvements. You also want to make sure you get the latest BIOS version and the latest AMD chipset and All-In-One Driver versions.
Depending on your budget, you can add more RAM or storage right off the bat. You also have a very good upgrade path going forward. For example, you could upgrade to a 12C/24T or 16C/32T 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series processor using this motherboard. If you really think you are going to get a higher core count AMD Ryzen 3000 series processor later, you might want to get a slightly more expensive motherboard with better VRMs than the one I have recommended at this price point.
You could also get a much more expensive discrete graphics card if you wanted to play games at 4K (3840×2160). You can also go up to 64GB of RAM with this system.
Please let me know if you are interested in more posts like this. Thanks for reading!
The PCPartPicker parts list for this machine is here.