Why You Should Always Buy A Mid-to-High-Range Gaming PC?

By CPUAgent Staff

Why You Should Always Buy a Mid-to-High-Range Gaming PC

The PC gaming world offers a variety of choices ranging from entry-level to high-end gaming rigs, and there can be multiple selections within each choice, but should a gamer consider an entry-level gaming PC?

The question comes most often to those under a budget or those who aim to play only a handful of lightweight games like Minecraft, CS:GO, and Fortnite. While an entry-level PC will certainly run those games with no issue, once you look at the future you will see that it may not be a good choice, and might even be a waste in the long run.

For any PC, the most important hardware parts to determine its performance are the motherboard, CPU, graphics card and memory, which should all be powered by a sufficient power supply. Using these 5 parts, we set some common parts and their price range to the 4 tiers of gaming PCs, shown below.

Common Hardware Selections

Entry-level gaming PC range

  • Motherboard: B360/B365 for Intel, B450 for AMD.
  • CPU: Intel i3, or AMD Ryzen 3
  • Graphics card: RX 570/580, or GTX 1050 to 1650S
  • Memory: 8/16GB RAM with speed up to 2666 MHz
  • Power supply: 500 Watt, 80+ certified

Cost: ≤ $500

Mid-range gaming PC range

  • Motherboard: Z390 or Z490 for Intel, B450 or B550 for AMD.
  • CPU: Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 5, plus cooler if needed
  • Graphics card: RX 580 8GB, GTX 1660/1660S, RX 5600 XT, RTX 2060/2060S
  • Memory: 16GB RAM with speed of 3200 to 3600 MHz, CL16
  • Power supply: 650 Watt, 80+ Bronze/Silver/Gold certified

Cost: $600-$850

High-end gaming PC range

  • Motherboard: Z490 for Intel, B550 or X570 for AMD.
  • CPU: Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 7/9, plus cooler if needed
  • Graphics card: RTX 2070/2070S, or RX 5700 XT
  • Memory: 16GB or 32GB RAM with a speed of 3200 to 3600 MHz, CL16 or lower
  • Power supply: 750 Watt, 80+ Gold certified

Cost: $1000-$1350

Extreme-end gaming PC range

  • Motherboard: Z490 for Intel, or X570 for AMD.
  • CPU: Intel i7/i9 or AMD Ryzen 9, plus high-end cooler
  • Graphics card: RTX 2080 SUPER or 2080 Ti
  • Memory: 32GB or 64GB high-speed RAM with low CL.
  • Power supply: 850 Watt or more, 80+ Gold/Platinum certified

Cost: $1700-$2300+

We made a build of each tier and tested them in multiple games on Ultra settings.

Average FPS Benchmark on Ultra Settings

Graphics card (GPU)

Gigabyte GTX 1650 SUPER WINDFORCE OC

EVGA RTX 2060 KO ULTRA GAMING

Gigabyte RTX 2070 SUPER WINDFORCE OC 3X

Asus RTX 2080 Ti ROG Strix Gaming OC

Video Memory (VRAM)

4 GB

6 GB

8 GB

11 GB

Processor (CPU)

Intel i3-9100F

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

Intel i9-10900k

Number of CPU Cores

4 Cores

6 Cores

8 Cores

8 Cores

Number of CPU Threads

4 Threads

12 Threads

16 Threads

16 Threads

Average 1080p Performance

70.0 FPS

110.4 FPS

131.4 FPS

168.6 FPS

Average 1440p Performance

51.1 FPS

77.2 FPS

97.0 FPS

128.5 FPS

Average 1440p Ultra-wide Performance

43.3 FPS

65.4 FPS

82.8 FPS

109.8 FPS

Average 4K Performance

29.8 FPS

44.9 FPS

57.8 FPS

76.8 FPS

Total Price including Motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM and PSU

$ 450

$ 780

$ 1170

$ 2500

Now that we have our build tiers and benchmarks, let’s see why a mid-to-high-range Gaming PC is the better choice.

  1. Best value/performance ratio

An entry-level $450 PC could last you a year and a half, which is around $25 a month. It won’t be able to properly run heavy games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Cyberpunk 2077, maybe on 720p and/or lowest settings. But a mid-range PC for $700 can last you 3 years or more, which is around $19.5 a month, and it will run those games at 60+ FPS just fine. You could lower some settings to reach even higher frame rates for a 144Hz monitor, and if you fancy 2K or 4K gaming, a high-end build will ensure that for you and will last longer.

But avoid going to the extreme when making a high-end build. Both the RTX 2080 SUPER and Ti models cost too much to be justified, and improve performance by a mere 15% for the SUPER, or 25% for the Ti over an RTX 2070 SUPER, respectively. The gain is not worth that much extra money especially since they easily get replaced by the next series of cards, such as an RTX 3070, as we imagine it to be called.

  1. Hardware reliability

Ever wondered why computer hardware dies eventually? Most of the time it’s because of heat. All computer parts heat up when they’re used, but that’s fine as long as it’s not constantly at high temps. The costlier PC parts are usually equipped with better cooling systems and can withstand heat much better. For example, one of the variants of the RTX 2060 costs $265 while most others are $295 or more. The reason is that specific variant has only 1 fan so it’s more prone to heat problems, and it could be weaker than the others so that it doesn’t reach high temps to begin with. The extreme-end cards like the RTX 2080 Ti can reach very high temps at around 80C, which also makes them likely to fail sooner, and may require a lot more power to run efficiently.

  1. Better aging without breaking the bank

Decent hardware parts aren’t that much more expensive compared to the weaker or stronger variants. If a GPU costs an extra $20-$40 but with better cooling, then it’s usually worth that extra money since you get more power out of it and it will last you longer in the long run. The same goes for the motherboard and RAM. A better but costlier motherboard probably has better VRMs and cooling to be able to fully support the CPU in doing its job and to possibly overclock it, and a better RAM can be faster with low CAS latency than the cheaper models.

  1. More options and support by mainstream products and games

Nowadays game makers want to sell to as many people as they can, which means that their games must be able to run on the most affordable PCs. This is good news for all gamers, but it’s even more of a good news to those with mid-to-high-end builds because it means your rig will last much longer now, especially for online games as they tend to be the most lightweight.

However, in some games the graphics quality is one of the selling points, such as Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed franchises. With a mid-to-high-range build, you’re able to run even the demanding products and games. You can always lower some settings too and you probably won’t notice, so no need to pay an extra $300 just so you can run the game with everything at max.

  1. Less costly requirements on other components (Motherboard, PSU, CPU, GPU, Cooling)

Going for a high-end component requires other high-end components, so the overall cost of the system is too much compared to a slightly less performing system that has mid-range components but can live to the same age. Let’s say you were going to buy an RTX 2060 mid-range build that would cost you $750, but then you changed your mind and wanted an RTX 2080 SUPER, which alone costs around $750. If you were to go for a powerful GPU, it’s only natural to take a powerful CPU to accompany it and for your PC combo to live longer, so an i7-10700k ($400) would be ideal, but it doesn’t come with a cooler, which means an additional $35 for a decent one. Next, you would need a more powerful motherboard such as MSI MPG Z490 GAMING EDGE, costing around $200. Finally, the RTX 2080 SUPER requires a large capacity power supply, so an 850 Watt power supply ($160) should be sufficient. This brings the total cost to $1500 with 16GB RAM included. That’s twice the price of the mid-range PC!

You can see how by just upgrading one part to the next tier, the overall build price increases. The same goes with how you set your goals. A mid-range PC can easily get stable 60 FPS on 99% of games, but once you get a 144Hz monitor, your overall build will need to be upgraded to reach 144 FPS and make use of your new monitor.

But what if you decided to go for that upgrade? Well, that’s fine as long as you don’t get something overkill like an RTX 2080 Ti, which is absurdly expensive since it has no contender, and because anything above 144 frames won’t show an effect. Also, if you want your PC purely for gaming, then you can settle for a decent 6 or 8 core CPU like Intel 10600k/10700k or Ryzen 3600/3700X. No need for those extra cores and threads on the 3950X!

Finally, you should avoid putting yourself in a situation that introduces the need for costly upgrades. For instance, do not purchase a 2K monitor if your current GPU cannot handle 2K resolution. Furthermore, do not set unachievable goals such as 144 FPS single-player gaming at 4K. If you really want 4K, set your aim to 60 FPS and lower the settings a bit to reach your goal.

  1. Avoids low-end stuff

They will age faster as they are currently at the lower boundary. For example, do not buy a 4-core non-multithreaded CPU, because even a 4-core 8-thread one is now endangered. The same goes for the GPU, the lower-end ones, such as the GTX 1650 SUPER, come with only 4GB of VRAM, which is also endangered now.

Mini GPU variants should also be avoided as they tend to be noisier, have worse cooling, and are likely to be weaker. For example, an RTX 2060 Mini with a single fan is noisier than a full size card because the single fan has to run faster to cool it off, and if that fan were to have problems, you won’t be able to use the card for gaming until it’s fixed.

In short...

As we’ve seen in the FPS averages table, both of the mid- and high-range builds performed very well for their price, and were better than the entry-level one in terms of power, longevity, and reliability, and they offer more bang for your buck especially when looking at their price-by-year advantage. They were also better than the extreme-end PC since it was very expensive for the performance to be justified, and its performance benefit will be beaten easily once the next generation of GPUs and CPUs hit the market.

Okay, what hardware is recommended for today’s games?

So, you want to build yourself a powerful PC that lasts long but isn’t too costly? Great! Here’s what you should aim for:

  • CPU:
    • Mid-range: 6 core, 12 thread such as Intel i5-10400, i5-10600K, or AMD Ryzen 5 3600 for,
    • High-end: 8 core, 16 thread such as i7-10700K, or Ryzen 7 3700X.
  • GPU:
    • Mid-range: 6GB or 8GB VRAM card such as GTX 1660 SUPER, RTX 2060, RTX 2060 SUPER, or RX 5600 XT for 1080p/1440p gaming.
    • High-end: 8GB VRAM card such as RTX 2060 SUPER, RTX 2070, RTX 2070 SUPER, or RX 5700 XT for gaming at any desired resolution.
  • Motherboard socket: Z490 for Intel, B450 or ideally B550 for AMD. Should support 3200+ MHz RAM speeds.
  • Memory: 2x8GB or 2x16GB, 3200-3600MHz, CL16 or lower.
  • Power supply: Minimum 650 Watt, 80+ Bronze certified, or ideally 750+ Watt, 80+ Gold certified.

Happy gaming!