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Here are the winning PC builds from our forum competition

About a month ago, our community team proposed a competition on the PC Gamer forums (opens in new tab): Put together the best hypothetical PC builds you can with budgets of $500, $1,000, and $2,000. At the low end, we wanted a machine that makes the most of a limited budget, and at the high end, a PC that laughs in the face of ray tracing and can handle high framerates and high resolutions in the latest games.

The submissions have been voted on, and the PC Gamer community has picked its three favorites, one in each category. Here they are, with a little context from their creators:

$500 - The Black Goblin by Nonomcno (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Cooler Master)

Components
(Also see on PC Part Picker (opens in new tab))

Nonomcno went for compactness over power for this $500 "console killer" build, using the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G's fantastic integrated graphics over a discrete card, which will suffice for games like Fortnite and Valorant at 1080p. For $250 more, our recommended budget build (opens in new tab) includes a GTX 1660 Super, but in a full-sized case unlike the chubby little Cooler Master Nonomcno chose. A $500 PC like this would make a great living room build for playing 4K media and less-demanding games.

Nonomcno says: So my first thought when reading "Console Killer" was it should look like a console. This made me think about my very first console, the Gamecube. Naturally, I wanted to find this reminiscent boxy design and that's when I found the Cooler Master Elite 110. It's small boxy and portable design immediately spoke to me. Moreover, its good airflow and relatively low price made it a must. Following the choice of the case was the CPU, or more the APU in this case, in order to keep the price and space in check and still get a capable gaming rig I went with the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G as it was the best price/performance APU.

$1,000 - Moar Frames by logainofhades (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Antec)

Components
(Also see on PC Part Picker (opens in new tab))

Logainofhades brings us a nicely balanced AMD build, which is pretty similar to our recommended mid-range build (opens in new tab), with some tweaks. This machine would work great for streaming and 1440p gaming.

Logainofhades says: For my build I went for price/performance. The B450 Tomahawk Max is one of the best B450 boards you can get, with an attractive price. The Gigabyte 5700xt is a great value for its performance, as well. The R5 3600 has proven to be a very capable CPU, and with its 12 threads, is quite capable of gaming, and streaming many popular titles.

$2000 - Supernova 2020 by Oussebon (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Corsair)

Components
(Also see on PC Part Picker (opens in new tab))

At the high-end tier, Oussebon delivers a stylish build that is about as future-proof as you can get right now given that we're still waiting to see what consumer Ampere GPUs (opens in new tab) will look like. As an upgrade, another TB of storage couldn't hurt, but otherwise this is a luxurious build that, as you'd expect from a two grand gaming PC, is full of RGB lighting.

Oussebon says: For $2,000 we can fit a 2080 Ti in for 1440p high refresh/ultrawide or 4K gaming. Cyberpunk 2077 is still unknown for hardware—will we want Nvidia’s Ampere GPUs for raytracing?—so this build aims at today’s games overall. An R7 3700x and 16gb RAM is plenty for modern gaming until we upgrade the platform, though the B450 motherboard will let us have a Zen 3 CPU if we want (for real this time). The rest tries to find the sweet spots—a semi-passive and high quality PSU, fast storage, a capable CPU cooler, and a case with decent airflow—while staying within budget and delivering essential RGB.

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