PC Builds

Best $1200 Gaming PC Build in 2024

FI_Best $1200 Gaming PC Build

$1200 is a solid budget for those looking to build a brand new gaming PC. Consumers have a plethora of budget and mid-range components available to choose from, allowing you to build a powerful gaming-focused system with ease. In order to help with the decision making process, we’ve rounded up a number of parts in a full gaming PC build that can be put together, for roughly $1200.

This system has a more of focus on performance over design, due to the restrictive nature of our chosen budget. Despite this, we’ve still kept aesthetic in mind, securing some components that provide additional flair and lighting for your system. Either way, this system is more than capable of hitting excellent framerates at 1440p, with some legroom at 4K too.

This $1200 build should also offer some decent performance in workstation applications too, providing consumers with the option for productivity too.

In this build guide, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at each component, delving into the specs, performance, aesthetic, value-proposition, and more.

Main Components

CPU: Intel Core i5-12600KF

MPI_Intel on top of GPU

While Intel’s 12th-Gen is somewhat older now, this generation of CPUs still offers a very compelling value-proposition versus the rest of the market. The 12600KF in particular, is still one of Intel’s strongest options for those building a budget or mid-range system.

The 12600KF comes in with 10 cores and 16 threads, so this CPU is more than capable of handling 1440p and 4K gaming, while offering a reasonable core count for productivity applications. The boost clock speed also sits just below the 5GHz mark, so gaming should be very strong here.

In terms of pricing, the 12600KF sits close to the $200 mark, and is likely to drop further in time.

Key Specs

This is one of the few CPUs that offers this amount of cores at a sub-$200 price point, so the value-proposition is quite strong, especially for those looking to build a multifaceted system. And although there might be concerns about the age of this processor, especially when it comes to upgradeability, there’s plenty of upgrade options that consumers can leverage on the LGA 1700 platform with newer CPUs, if performance isn’t quite cutting it.

Buy the Intel Core i5-12600KF on:

$250.58 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 18:35:05 ET

CPU Cooler: be quiet! Pure Rock 2

MPI_be quiet! Pure Rock 2

Be Quiet’s Pure Rock 2 is a CPU cooler that provides an excellent balance of performance, and noise levels. The Pure Rock 2 is a single tower cooler, sporting a tightly knit fin stack designed to dissipate any heat your CPU is pushing out, as quickly as possible. Alongside the heatsink, there are four 6mm heat pipes, which should further enhance the cooling capability of the Pure Rock 2.

Be Quiet has used a Pure Wings 2 120mm PWM fan here, which should keep noise levels to a minimum even under an intense workload. It is also worth noting that the Pure Rock 2 has a vast amount of mounting hardware.

Key Specs

This includes compatibility with LGA 1700, so you won’t be required to pick up any additional brackets in order to install this cooler. While we could have used a liquid cooler here, the overall TDP of the 12600KF shouldn’t reach any levels of danger while using this air cooler, so we can save some money by picking up an this cheaper option instead.

Buy the be quiet! Pure Rock 2 on:

$26.90 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 18:35:05 ET

Motherboard: Gigabyte B760 Gaming X AX

Gigabyte B760 Gaming X AX

Gigabyte’s B760 Gaming X AX is an awesome budget motherboard that we’ve used in a number of budget builds in the past. While this motherboard does have more of a barebones look to it, there’s a larger focus on features that makes this board a worthwhile pickup.

Although you won’t be able to overclock your 12600KF with this motherboard, the Gaming X AX does support 7600MT/s speeds on the RAM, which is great to see. On the expansion front, consumers can leverage a Gen4 PCI-E x16 slot, along with two other Gen3 slots running at x1 speeds.

Key Specs

There are three M.2 connectors on this board, one of which offers Gen4 speeds, and the other two are Gen4 slots. While we would prefer to see a Gen5 slot for a productivity-focused build, Gen4 and Gen3 speeds should be more than enough for gaming. Rear IO is also pretty bountiful, with three high speed USB 3.0 ports on the rear, and four USB 2.0 options. In terms of networking, consumers can utilise either WiFi 6E or 2.5 Gigabit LAN, which means you should hit great speeds, regardless of whether you’ve chosen wireless or wired.

Buy the Gigabyte B760 Gaming X AX on:

$225.64 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 12:38:16 ET

RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR5 Black

Our choice of RAM for this build is Corsair’s Vengeance RGB Black DDR5 kit. This 32GB set of DIMMs comes in with a megatransfer speed of 5600MT/s, and a latency of CL36. Admittedly, this isn’t the strongest kit that we have in the GeekaWhat office, but we don’t need the best performing DIMMs for gaming.

Because DDR5 is still pricey, if you’re on a budget, picking up a kit of CL36 latency or lower is preferable, and will still out perform DDR5 in most instances, especially if you’ve got a megatransfer speed of 6000MT/s or higher.

Key Specs

You’re likely to see a 4-5% increase in FPS versus DDR4, which can be a make or break in high intensity Esports titles where framerates really matter.

Performance aside, Corsair’s Vengeance RGB kits are also pretty good looking. The RGB lighting on this kit can be configured using Corsair’s industry leading iCUE software, which is extremely simple to use, and allows you to customise lighting patterns and colours quite simply. The RAM lighting adds a nice splash of flair to this build, without moving away from the colour scheme.

Buy the Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR5 Black Kit on:

$132.22 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 12:38:16 ET

SSD: Samsung 990 Pro 2TB

MPI_Samsung 990 Pro 2TB
We’ve also taken a look at the 4TB version of this drive in a full review. Original Review by Jay Harris: Samsung 990 Pro 4TB SSD Review – Fast, but Overkill

Samsung’s 990 Pro SSD is our choice of storage medium for this build, and there are a few reasons as to why. While we could have picked out a Gen5 drive, our motherboard doesn’t offer a Gen5 slot, and PCI-E 5.0 SSDs aren’t in a great state right now. A high capacity Gen4 SSD seems like a better bet, especially as these drives are almost sitting at price parity with Gen3 options.

Although the 990 Pro is a bit of an outlier based on performance metrics, we’ve seen this drive sit below $150 from a variety of vendors. The 990 Pro is a long-lasting option, and will be perfect for new games that utilise DirectStorage. It is also worth highlighting that we’ve picked out a 2TB SSD specifically to avoid any massive storage upgrades in the future.

Key Specs

2TB is more than enough for most consumers, and this should be ample space for games and applications. Alternatively, if you need an upgrade in the future, 1TB Gen3 SSDs are very cheap, and are worth picking up alongside your main storage option.

Buy the Samsung 990 Pro 2TB on:

$199.85 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 12:38:16 ET

GPU: Gigabyte Gaming OC Radeon RX 7800 XT

MPI_Gigabyte RX 7800 XT Gaming OC
Original Review by Jay Harris: Gigabyte Gaming OC Radeon RX 7800 XT Review – Worth the Purchase?

AMD’s Radeon RX 7800 XT is a massive winner for the Radeon 7000 range of graphics cards, undercutting the competition in the mid-range market. The 7800 XT is a firm favourite in the GeekaWhat office, and our definitive recommendation for consumers looking to pick up a 1440p and 4K capable graphics card. The main reason why we’ve picked out the Gigabyte AIB is value-proposition. The MSRP of the 7800 XT is the principal selling point of this GPU, as it beats out pretty much every other card in this price class.

And because Gigabyte’s OC variant also sits at MSRP, it makes sense to secure an options that comes with better thermal capability, alongside an improvement to the clock speed.

Key Specs

To briefly touch on performance, the RX 7800 XT really thrives in gaming benchmarks at both 1440p and 4K, across a number of different titles. We were particularly surprised with how well the RX 7800 XT held up in modern games, offering consumers high framerates in a number of triple A titles. Needless to say, for a $1200 gaming PC build, the RX 7800 XT is worthwhile pickup.

Buy the Gigabyte Gaming OC Radeon RX 7800 XT on:

$613.68 at Amazon
Last updated: 2024-02-26 12:38:16 ET

Case: Deepcool CH560

MPI_Deepcool CH560
Original Review by Jay Harris: Deepcool CH560 Review – An Interesting Hybrid Design!

Housing all of our components, is Deepcool’s CH560. This chassis is a airflow-focused design that offers an aesthetic akin to one of Deepcool’s previous cases, the CK560. The CH560 offers a mesh front and perforated side panel, maximising airflow across the entirety of the case. The perforations on the side panel are a welcome change, as this should allow air to freely ventilate out of the side. Ventilation aside, the CH560 is an awesome looking case.

The CH560 comes with four RGB fans (three 140mm fans at the front, and one 120mm at the back).

Key Specs

Its great to see a case come with a solid number of RGB fans without costing a fortune, as this provides budget consumers with a way to add some flair to their build without breaking the bank. It is also worth noting, that despite the smaller stature of the CH560, it is geared for upgradeability, providing plenty of room for a mass of component configurations. This includes support for 360mm radiators at the front, and top, along with 380mm of clearance for graphics cards.

Buy the Deepcool CH560 on:

PSU: Thermaltake Smart BM3 750W

MPI_Thermaltake Smart BM3 750W

Thermaltake’s Smart BM3 750W unit is powering this PC build. This power supply is on the cheaper side versus some of the alternatives that we could have picked, so grabbing a cheaper option allows us to save a bit of money. The most important areas to note about the Smart BM3 is that it is semi-modular, and that it sports a bronze efficiency rating.

A semi-modular power supply has a set of cables that are built into the unit, while offering a few extras that can be plugged into the power supply, such as SATA power, and PCI Express cables for graphics cards.

Key Specs

Admittedly, this isn’t perfect for cable management, but you should be able to cram any cables you don’t need into the channels of the CH560. In terms of efficiency, the Smart BM3 sports a bronze rating, which means power lost as heat will be minimised. We’d love to see a gold rated unit, but because this is bronze rated, it saves us some money. The Smart BM3 power supply also supports ATX 3.0, which could be used with further generations of graphics cards. ATX 3.0 isn’t especially useful for this particular build, but it does provide some upgrade paths.

Buy the Thermaltake Smart BM3 750W on:

Performance

1440p, High Settings
Avg: 83FPS

Graphics Preset: Custom
V-Sync: Off
Dynamic Resolution: Off
Shadow Quality: High
Reflections: High
Crowd Density: High
Motion Blur: OFF
Upscaling: Off


1080p, Comp. Settings
Avg: 302FPS

Preset: Low
V-Sync: Off
Render Distance: Far
TSR: Off
Global Illumination: Off
Ray Tracing: Off
Effects: Low
Post Processing: Low


1440p, High Settings
Avg: 148FPS

Preset: High
V-Sync: Off
DLSS: Performance
Textures: High
Particle Quality: High
Tessellation: Near
Shaders: High

1440p, High Settings
Avg: 113FPS

Preset: Recommended
V-Sync: Off
Anti-Aliasing: TAA High
Effects Quality: High
Texture Quality: High
Shadow Quality: High
Motion Blur: Off

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editor
Jay Harris is an expert in everything PC hardware! With a degree in Cybersecurity, and a PC hardware background Jay has all of the technical knowledge required to make informed recommendations. Jay is an avid keyboard builder and gamer, with a major passion for tech. In fact, Jay's personal rig boasts a white RX 7900 XTX graphics card, inside of the Lian O11D Mini - a true enthusiast's dream!