Building a powerful gaming PC is easy but selecting the parts is not. If you are looking for a beast gaming PC under $1200, you are at the right place. Here at Xtremegaminerd, we have gaming builds for almost every budget and we update them regularly to provide you with the best bang for the buck.
With our recommended $1200 gaming build, you can easily max out all the games at 1440p resolution. We compared, analyzed, and carefully selected all the components for this build that will give you fantastic value and is easily upgradable in the future. This PC will easily exceed your expectations and will make you immerse in gaming like never before.
Is $1200 Good For A Gaming PC?
$1200 is more than sufficient for building a powerful gaming PC. With 1200 dollars, you can have one of the best budget or mid-end CPUs and also a pretty high-end GPU for demanding titles. With the leftover money, you can have decent and fast storage, fast RAM, a reliable power supply, and a top-notch PC case.
However, it is important to manage the budget to invest the right amount for each component. Failing to do so will only result in an inferior configuration that may lead to insufficient horsepower to push the graphics to the max and possibly bottlenecks that will drop your fps frequently.
Before proceeding to the list, you should understand how to break down $1200 to buy each component. Below is a brief guide on what you should expect in a $1200 gaming build.
You should be able to buy a 6-core processor easily with this much of a budget. It is recommended to reserve a budget of around $150-$250 for the CPU where you will find a lot of powerful 6-core CPUs and I recommend the ones that have faster single/multi-core performance. Overclockable CPUs will also take preference.
Even though a motherboard doesn’t affect gaming performance, it is the main component that allows the transfer of data and communication of components. A motherboard that has an adequate number of slots, ports, and fan headers will be best for our PC. For an overclockable processor, I always recommend getting an unlocked chipset motherboard but that is generally more expensive.
For mid and high-end builds, 16GB RAM is appropriate to get rid of bottlenecks in gaming and non-gaming programs. A RAM kit with two 8GB sticks installed in a dual channel is the best configuration and a clock frequency of at least 3000MHz is recommended for the DDR4 RAM kit.
The Graphics card takes the most load in games and has its own processor and RAM for rendering the images quickly. For gaming at 1440p resolution, we need a lot of Cuda Cores/ Stream Processors with at least 6-8GB of VRAM to push the fps beyond 60. A budget of $450-$550 should be reserved for the GPU alone.
These days SSDs are quite common whether it is with the SATA interface or the M.2. I recommend getting at least 1TB of storage space in the form of SATA or M.2 SSD to store your important files, games, and OS. Storage can be upgraded later by adding another drive when needed.
I never recommend going cheap when it comes to power supplies. Reliable power supplies protect your PC from faulty current/voltages and also provide good voltage regulation, better hold-up time, and 80+ efficiency. To power our components, we will need 600W or higher PSU that will allow further small upgrades as well.
To install all the components, we will need at least a mid-tower case. It is recommended to go with the one that has optimal airflow, better components compatibility, and a dedicated cable management system. A $100 PC case will be perfect for our $1000 build.
Parts List For $1200 Gaming PC
Featuring 6 cores and 12 threads, the Core i5 12400F is the best sub $200 gaming CPU from Intel. The CPU belongs to the Alder Lake family and easily competes with more expensive 6-core CPUs. While it was possible to choose the 12600K, the cost would have increased due to the higher price of the CPU and the costly Z690 chipset motherboard. Instead, we are going to save some money for the other parts to achieve higher gaming performance.
The Core i5 12400F is a locked chipset but features a core clock that can go as high as 4.4GHz from the base clock of only 2.5GHz. This will alone help in improving the performance significantly. Moreover, the i5 12400F is compatible with both DDR4 and DDR5 out of the box which will eventually make upgrading easier.
Cuda Cores- 5888
Clock- up to 1755MHz
VRAM- 8GB GDDR6
Out of three GPUs available for $450-$550, the RTX 3070 seems to be the best choice for our build. There are a couple of reasons why RTX 3070 is the superior choice. As compared to AMD RX 6700 and 6750 XT GPUs, it is faster in Ray Tracing and also comes with DLSS support. While the 6700 and 6750 XT are also good options, their performance is similar to the 3070 which makes us recommend the latter due to the stated reason.
RTX 3070 brings 5888 Cuda Cores and a decent-sized VRAM of 8GB. It is such a powerful GPU that it can totally destroy every game at 1440p resolution. With Ray Tracing and DLSS On together in supported games, you can still game with good framerates at 1440p. Also, you don’t need to worry about bottlenecks or stuff. The i5 12400F is powerful enough to push the 3070 to 100% without reaching 100% itself.
CL Timings- 16-18-18-38
To have the maximum performance benefit, 16GB of DDR4 RAM will be perfect. I chose the T-Force Delta RGB 16GB kit that features dual 8GB RAM sticks clocked at 3200MHz. The kit also features tight CL timings of 16-18-18-38 for lower latency and on top of that, you get RGB LEDs on the heat spreader for fantastic aesthetics.
RAM support- 128GB, 5333MHz(OC)
Storage- 4x SATA, 2x M.2
PCI-E slots- 3x PCI-E x16,
The ASUS Prime B660M-A D4 is a good budget motherboard that gives you sufficient ports, slots, and headers for components. For the i5 12400F, it’s best to choose a chipset like H610 or a B660 as you won’t be able to overclock. Therefore, the B660 I chose will be ideal for our build especially when it brings more PCI-E lanes support than the H610 chipset.
It has 4x SATA ports for SATA drives and 2x M.2 connectors for fast NVME SSDs. For expansion cards, you get 3x PCI-E x16 slots which are rare to find on a cheap motherboard like this and you can install up to 128GB of total RAM with a frequency of up to 5333MHz. Definitely a top-notch board for any locked Alder Lake CPU.
To install OS and your games, you will need at least 1TB of storage space. I chose the SN570 1TB SSD from WD as it is blazing fast with a sequential Read/Write speed of up to 3500MB/s. With this SSD, your OS will boot quickly and your games will also load in a couple of seconds. In the future, you can add another M.2 or SATA SSD for more storage but currently, to avoid breaking our $1200 budget, we are sticking with this 1TB SSD.
Power Efficiency- 80+ Gold
Warranty- 10 years
As I said previously, I always discourage you from buying a cheap PSU. Along with sufficient wattage capacity, you also need good power efficiency and reliable operation. The SuperNOVA 650 G+ is an excellent PSU from EVGA that is recommended by every independent reviewer.
You will get an 80 Plus Gold power rating that helps the unit reach above 90% of power efficiency. The unit is also fully modular making cable management and connection easier. The voltage regulation is also very tight with around or less than 1% of deviation and you get 10 years of warranty from the company which alone tells you a lot about this PSU.
For the current config, it will be sufficient for powering all the components and also for little upgrades like AIO coolers, chassis fans, and storage drives.
Dimensions- 210 x 465 x 470mm
Material- Powder coated Steel, Tempered glass
Phanteks Eclipse P400A D-RGB is one of the most advanced and functional cases for just over $100. It is excellent in aesthetics with the beautiful front panel featuring triple ARGB 120mm fans that pull cool air from the meshed front panel. The case has a very spacious and premium-looking interior that can support up to 160mm tall CPU cooler and 420mm long GPUs.
The case has a long PSU shroud at the bottom for covering all the cable mess and has two 3.5″ drive bays to install hard drives. You can install 2x SSDs on the motherboard tray and can also install 4 more Storage drives with the optional 3.5″ drive slots. So, components compatibility is no issue in this case at all
We also see a well-done cable management system with multiple rubber grommets-covered routing holes all over the case and velcro straps to put all the thick cables together. Lastly, for customing the fan LEDs and fan speed, the case provides three buttons at the top that allows controlling the fan speed, the color of the fan LEDs, and the modes.
Links to Amazon UK and Amazon CA may contain different components depending on the availability and pricing. Most of the time these components will be RAM and Power Supply.
Is $1200 Gaming PC Upgradeable?
Absolutely. Every PC build we recommend is easily upgradable whether you want to upgrade a single or multiple components. The $1200 build uses top-notch components and will hardly need any upgrade unless you need an insane level of performance or 4K gaming without any compromise.
As the build uses a high-end GPU, I don’t recommend upgrading the GPU before everything. The first upgrade you can do is to add another storage drive for more storage space. This will be the least expensive upgrade and won’t affect your PC’s performance. The next upgrade should be your CPU and motherboard. The i5 12400F is a locked CPU and upgrading to an i5 12600K or a higher-end CPU will give you more cores/threads and the capability to overclock.
With the change of your CPU, it will be better if you also change your motherboard to a Z690 chipset motherboard to enable overclocking. With a Z690 chipset, you will also get more PCI-E lanes, more support for components, and a lot of headers for chassis fans and AIO coolers. With the CPU-Motherboard upgrade, you will also need to install an aftermarket CPU cooler as overclockable Alder Lake chips don’t come with a CPU cooler. Also, they need a good cooling solution for overclocking especially the CPUs with higher cores.
An AIO cooler with at least a 240mm radiator will be perfect and the case we used will support the AIO coolers perfectly including a 360mm radiator at the front. The last upgrade can be your GPU and PSU if you need to play games at 4K resolution with high framerates.
Best PreBuilt PCs Under $1200
We understand that not everyone possesses the skill to build a gaming PC or the time to do it. Therefore, we also have recommendations for those who are looking to play games without investing time in building a PC themselves. However, please note that we always encourage building your PC on your own as custom PCs are superior in performance and have easier upgradeability.
Out of several PreBuilts under $1200, the following PreBuilts are the best ones and can easily play every game at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.
Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060
16GB DDR4, 500GB SSD
AC Wifi and Windows 10 Home
For less than $1200, the Skytech Blaze II is an ideal gaming machine that features a CPU-GPU combo of Ryzen 5600G and RTX 3060. Being an APU, the Ryzen 5600G gives you an advantage over other gaming PCs as you have the option to choose either the discrete GPU or the integrated Vega graphics. While the Vega 7 on the 5600G isn’t sufficient for high-end gaming, it still does a good job for casual gaming and will come in handy if you ever encounter problems with your GPU.
This CPU-GPU combo will be perfect for maxed-out gaming at 1080p resolution and possibly play most games on high to ultra settings at 1440p. The RAM installed in the PC is 16GB DDR4 clocked at 3200MHz and the storage drive is 500GB NVME SSD. Not much for storing a lot of games but enough to get started. Additional things you get pre-installed on this PC are the AC Wifi and a Windows 10 Home that will save you a good amount of extra cash.
Enclosing the hardware is a Skytech micro-ATX chassis with 3x RGB Ring pre-installed fans and a 600W Gold PSU for reliable operation.
Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060
16GB DDR4, 500GB SSD+1TB HDD
AC Wifi and Windows 11 Home
The best $1200 PreBuilt PC you can buy is from CyberPowerPC which gives an overclockable Core i5 11600KF processor featuring 6 cores and 12 threads. You get RTX 3060 12GB for gaming that is ready to play modern titles on ultra settings. You will also get more and better storage compared to the Skytech Blaze II and of course a free gaming keyboard/mouse combo.
Other stuff like Wifi and Windows 11 Home is already pre-installed. Another great advantage you will get is a spacious and big mid-tower chassis for easy upgrading and 4x 120mm RGB fans are pre-installed to cool your system effectively. In no way this is a bad PreBuilt but you still can’t compare it to our recommend custom gaming $1200 build.
If you need any help or need advice regarding PC components selection or assembling your PC, let us know in the comments below. We will revert back in a day or two and sort out your problem.