With MMORPGs like Black Desert Online and RPGs like The Witcher 3 finally out, there's probably a good chance that you might be feeling the age of that old computer you've been scraping by on for years now. It's finally time for an upgrade.
Finding that right combination that is still budget-conscious but pushes for every extra frame can be tough, but I've spelled out an awesome build that balances both power and cost for something that will handle any top quality game or MMO you could toss at it while still ensuring that you won't need to worry about upgrading for a number of years.
The Ultimate MMORPG Gaming Build
- Intel Core i5 6600K $239.99
- EVGA GTX 970 SSC ACX 2.0 4GB $338.99
- Asus Z170 Pro Gaming $154.99
- G.Skill Ripjaw V Series 16GB 2400 (2x8GB) $66.99
- Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD 149.99
- Corsair CX600M 600W PSU 64.99
- Asus 24x DVD-RW 25.44
- Cooler Master N400 79.99
Intel Core i5 6600K
Intel's Skylake series of processors aren't exactly amazing upgrades over their predecessors, but they're worth buying just for the future-proofing features alone. With more PCIe lanes, the i5 6600K is going to be ready to handle blisteringly fast PCIe SSDs that will become more prevalent in the coming years. As for going with the i5, it might not offer the same muscle as an i7, but unless you're planning on doing some CPU intensive tasks outside of gaming (like rendering video) the i5 is everything you could want out of a gaming CPU. It's highly overclockable (spring for a new heatsync first), offers great performance, and won't break your budget.
EVGA GTX 970 SSC ACX 2.0 4GB
For gaming, there's nothing more important that choosing the right graphics card to fit both your budget and your expectations of what you can achieve. Fortunately, Nvidia has been making this extremely easy with their 9xx series of cards, and without a doubt the 970 is the most optimal choice. While it won't offer the game-destroying power of a 980 or above, the 970 is a remarkably powerful card that will offer steady frames on all but the most punishing of graphics settings.
There's a ton of options to choose from for Nvidia cards, but I cannot recommend the EVGA SSC ACX 2.0 enough. It runs silent yet still remains highly overclockable if you ever feel the need to really push the card to the limit. EVGA has a ton of variants on the 970, so if the SSC isn't up your alley you can probably find one that is.
Asus Z170 Pro Gaming
You can't really go wrong choosing the Asus Z170 Pro Gaming as it will have all the features you will probably want while still offering Asus' powerful UEFI BIOS. There's also a second PCIe 16x lane, which means if you're ever at a place when you want to scale up your power, you can slot in a second 970 and start running an SLI setup.
G.Skill Ripjaw V Series 2400 16GB (8GBx2)
Shelling out for DDR4 RAM might seem like a bit of a luxury, but there's good reason to make the jump as prices continue to drop towards DDR3. Using 16GB also isn't going to have much impact on gaming performance, but it does open some windows for video editing or working in various game engines. And the extra RAM is such a small spend in the grand scheme of things the choice is an easy one. If you're really strapped for cash, drop one of the 8GB sticks and save the money.
Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD
This option might be a bit contentious depending on how much you need for storage, but going for a larger SSD that still requires a bit of file management is a better choice that compromising on a smaller SSD or forgoing one altogether in order to buy a larger HDD. With a 500GB SSD, you'll still have plenty of space for all of your programs and a good amount of games, but if you're into torrenting or capturing video, you'll want to spring for a secondary HDD to supplement your storage needs.
Samsungs 850 series offers a great price point that doesn't sacrifice speed, in fact it really does everything it can with the SATA standard. When PCIe SSDs become more affordable in the future, replacing the Samsung or supplementing it won't be as painful either.
Corsair CX600M 600W PSU
There's certainly cheaper options to toy with when looking at power supplies, but the CX600M's modular design makes building a PC a breeze because you don't need to contend with cables you have no use for. And while our EVGA GTX 970 SSC ACX2.0 isn't a huge power hog, having that extra few hundred watts as a buffer will be helpful if you intend to experiment with overclocking or future upgrades.
Asus 24x DVD-RW
This is totally optional. I mean, I bought one years ago when DVDs were still popular and I still never use it. Don't believe me? I just opened it right now and the disc that was still inside was the Guild Wars 2 install disc from when the game first launched. Yep.
Cooler Master N400
I'm not going to tell you what case to buy especially because it really is going to boil down to stylistic preferences, but the N400 is a great and simple choice that still offers plenty of functionality while still remaining sleek and minimal. If you're wanting to really make a statement, there's always cases out there exploding with LED that can do that for you, but the N400 will offer flexibility, space, and most importantly, great options for case fans to make sure all your hardware is getting the airflow it needs.
With a build like this, you'll not only have a computer that can easily run any current MMORPG at 1080p and 60fps, but you'll also have a machine ready for the next five years of hardware innovations—and that's really just as important in so many ways.
If you're extremely budget conscious, there are ways to scale back and save a few dollars by pursuing cheaper options. For one, considering dropping the SSD in favor of a traditional HDD will give you more space at a lower price, but you will miss out on the amazing performance value of an SSD. You could also save a few dollars on the motherboard, choosing to go with one that doesn't offer a second PCIe 16x lane, losing the option for SLI but still saving a few dollars.
When it comes to performance, the last thing you should look to cut is the EVGA GTX 970 SSC or the i5 6600K, as both are crucial in performance, and even though both might seem like big spends, each will last you for years. In the end, you can always spring for minor upgrades like an SSD later, but choosing to go with a slower video card or CPU is a much more limiting choice.
Whether you choose to go with the build or modify it to suit your needs, the hardware above will provide a great template for those looking to get into a mid-tier gaming PC without having to drop $1500.