Home Guides & How To Best Pre-built Gaming PC Specs 2022

Best Pre-built Gaming PC Specs 2022

It's been an interesting couple of years for gaming PC hardware, but things are finally starting to settle down again. With no major impending releases, the burden of cryptocurrencies and mining somewhat lifted, and demand being mostly satiated at last, the thought of looking for new components or even an entire new pre-built gaming PC is actually far less stressful than it was 6 months ago.

Even so, that still doesn't detract from the fact that there are a lot of options out there at the moment, both in terms of individual components and pre-built configurations. So, we thought we'd have a look at what we think some of the best possible gaming desktop specs are right now, whether you're simply looking to upgrade or splash out on a whole new pre-built gaming system. We'll also clarify that when we say "best" we're not necessarily talking about the fastest "top-of-the-line" components, but rather we'll be considering our picks based on their relative price to performance so that you can get the most bang for your buck.

Best Gaming PC Processors

With the arrival of Intel's 12th Gen, and AMD's Ryzen 5000 series processors still going strong, there's a fair few choices to make when it comes to CPUs. But regardless of whether you're purchasing a pre-built gaming PC, upgrading an older system, or building your own from scratch, the choice is pretty clear when it comes to the best value processors.

Intel Core i5-12400F

For us, the best possible pick right now has to be Intel's Core i5-12400F, a six-core, twelve-thread CPU with boost clocks of up to 4.4GHz. Besides being a fantastic value processor coming in at a very reasonable £170, when paired with a suitably powerful GPU the 12400F is more than capable at all resolutions, able to push an average of 184fps in many titles at 1080p high settings. To put that into perspective, that puts it on par with both the Ryzen 5 5600X and i5-12600KF in terms of gaming performance, yet these two CPUs will set you back anywhere between £200 and £255. Meanwhile, the previous generation i7-10700KF and i7-11700KF, which also offer similar performance, still cost anywhere between £280-£380 respectively.

That said, if you are willing to take a look at some slightly older hardware, then the previous generation Core i5-11400F, and the Core i5-10400F before that, can be picked up for around £150 and £130 each, whilst only being about 15% slower than the 12400F. A pretty great deal considering the much slower AMD Ryzen equivalents such as the Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X both still retail for anywhere upwards of at least £180.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Alternatively, if you're looking to save even more on your CPU, then look no further than the Core i3-12100F. Available at under £100 from some retailers, and a mere 13% slower in gaming than the i5-12400F, this perky four-core, eight-thread CPU is a fantastic performer with phenomenally good value for money. Granted, as a quad core processor it does start to sweat a little in more CPU-demanding titles, but by and large the majority of games are still far more dependent on the GPU than CPU. And ultimately, if your budget is tight, we think it makes a lot more sense to save that £70 difference to put towards a more powerful graphics card.

The other great thing about all of these processors is that none of them actually need to be liquid-cooled to reach their full potential, and can make do with some fantastically efficient and budget friendly coolers such as the beQuiet Pure Rock 2. That means an even larger saving overall, helping to put a bit of extra cash aside for a better graphics card.

Best Gaming PC Motherboards

Motherboards can prove a trickier choice for the less technically-inclined, and especially so when looking at options provided by custom builders whose configurators don't exactly make it obvious what an extra hundred quid gets you. But fear not, we've got a couple of options here and we'll explain what the differences actually are.

First up are our picks for Intel, starting with the MSI Pro B660M-A DDR4. Unlike the cheaper H610 chipset and even compared to some other B660 boards, MSI's Pro B660M-A is a solid choice for entry level to mid-range 12th gen processors. With decent connectivity thanks to its fairly generous I/O (including an internal header for USB type-C for cases that support it, and plenty of headers for RGB lighting), reliable power delivery, and good board temps under heavy workloads, at £134.99 you can't go far wrong.

MSI Pro B660M-A DDR4

Alternatively, if you've got some extra cash and are looking for something a little shinier, plus the addition of built-in WiFi, there's also the MSI MAG B660M Mortar WiFi DDR4. Once again, this board has a decent feature set and performs well when it comes to power delivery and thermals, though it does come in at a pricier £179.99. With that said, you'll also get an extra USB port and another for USB Type-C, an additional two SATA connectors for more SSD and HDD storage potential, heatsinks for both of the M.2 slots, and a cleaner rear I/O thanks to the pre-installed I/O shield.

MSI MAG B660M Mortar WiFi DDR4

The Pro B660M-A is a great choice for both the 12100F and 12400F, whilst the MAG B660M Mortar makes more sense with the latter, and both boards offer a future upgrade path for anyone that later wants to look at slightly power hungrier chips like the i5-12600 and i7-12700 non-K SKUs.

Speaking of K SKUs, for those wanting to unlock the full potential of an overclockable CPU from the 12th Gen line-up, our next pick goes to the Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4. To be perfectly honest, it's fairly difficult to get it wrong when it comes to the Z690 chipset, with the vast majority performing well across the board (no pun intended). But for us, the Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X is the clear winner thanks to its £199.99 price point, making it one of the cheapest of its chipset. Granted, there are a few cheaper options out there, including Gigabyte's own Z690 UD DDR4 board, but the Gaming X does seem to slightly outperform them when it comes to power delivery and thermals, as well as looking a lot nicer thanks to some rather sleek silver-grey heatsinks.

Gigabyte Z690 Gaming X DDR4

For those considering the 11th and 10th Gen CPUs we mentioned earlier, we'd recommend checking out the MSI MAG B560M Mortar WiFi, which as you might guess, is simply the LGA 1200 (11th and 10th Gen) socketed version of the MSI MAG B660M Mortar WiFi. So, with a very similar feature set and still fantastic power delivery, thermals, and connectivity (even still including the USB type-C port), at £142.99 it's a great pair for either the i5-11400F or i5-10400F. And much like the B660 equivalent, it'll even give you some head room if you ever decide to upgrade to a higher end 11th or 10th gen processor further down the line.

As for AMD, we have a couple of suggestions here, namely the MSI MAG B550M BAZOOKA and MSI B550-A PRO. Much like their B660 Intel boards, MSI have got another two fantastic choices here for team Red, with both boards coming in at around £119.99 - £124.99. Similarly to the B660s for Intel, these are fantastic choices for the latest Ryzen processors, with smooth power delivery, great thermals, and acceptable feature sets, as well as being perfectly capable of managing even high-end R9 CPUs. Bare in mind though that, if you intend to use 5000 series CPUs with these boards, you may need to update the BIOS to ensure compatibility.

MSI MAG B550M BAZOOKA

When it comes to the X570 chipset though, it's a harder sell. Most boards come in at around £160+, but don't really offer a great deal more over the B550 boards besides additional PCIe 4.0 expansion slots, an additional M.2 slot in some cases, and a bit more weight courtesy of some extra heatsink real estate. They do offer support for older generation Ryzen processors too, but it's unlikely in 2022 that someone still clinging to a beloved Ryzen 2600X would spend almost £200 just to upgrade their motherboard. And even less likely that anyone would be purchasing a brand-new pre-built system sporting less than a Ryzen 3000 series processor. That said, if you simply have to have one then our recommendations would be either the ASUS PRIME X570-P, Gigabyte X570S Gaming X, or the MSI MAG X570S Tomahawk Max Wifi.

Best Gaming PC Graphics Cards

Despite still being well above their retrospectively ludicrous MSRPs, graphics cards have somewhat stabilised - stock, though still thin at times, has eased up significantly for certain cards and pricing isn't through the roof for every single model out there. But besides just delivering as many frames as possible, in the current market it's all about which cards are the best value for money. After all, if you're having to pay over £300 for even just an "entry-level" card, let alone any mid-range or high-end cards, then it might as well be the most cost-effective one, right?

As far as we're concerned, the winner of that award has to go to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. Currently in quite plentiful stock and available for "as little as" £530-£550, if you want a GPU right now then this is one of the best when it comes to relative price and performance. Despite being similar in spec to AMD's RX 6600, as well as having only 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM compared to the 12GB that the RTX 3060 has, it still comes in at around 23-27% faster than both of those cards at 1080p and 1440p. Considering that the RTX 3060 and RX 6600 are on average about £450, that leaves them around 20% less expensive, but whilst also being almost 30% slower.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

What's more, unlike the two cheaper GPUs, the RTX 3060 Ti is actually quite capable at 4K too, averaging just shy of 60fps at high and ultra-settings; in other words, with some tweaking, a stable 60fps+ at 4K with a mix of medium-high settings. And, in DLSS or FSR supported titles, that figure could increase too, making it a top-notch choice for those wanting to try out 4K for the first time and maybe even a little Ray Tracing as well.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, its strong value proposition means it also beats both the RTX 3070 and RX 6700 XT. Though both these cards are technically faster, it's only by a marginal 10-15%, and you'll need to cough up at least another £120 for the AMD card (a 21% increase), and a whopping £250 for the NVIDIA card - that's a 45% increase in price...

If your budget can't quite stretch to the 3060 Ti though, then the next best pick would have to be either NVIDIA's RTX 3050, or preferably AMD's RX 6600, provided you can pick them up for as near to £300 as possible. The AMD card does have the advantage here when it comes to gaming performance, able to offer a solid 23-25% increase over the RTX 3050, but it's also usually more expensive, starting at closer to £360 more often than not - it really depends on just how much cost you need to save here. As such, we'd also like to take a moment to gently remind you of our earlier recommendation on CPUs, where we highlighted the £70 difference between a 12400F and 12100F... almost like we knew it might be useful right about now...

AMD Radeon RX 6600

Either way, both are still fairly capable performers, able to deliver over 100fps on average at 1080p and comfortably over 60fps at 1440p, whilst being much friendlier to your wallet than the RTX 3060 and RX 6600 XT. They're also significantly faster than the cheaper but seriously lacklustre RX 6500 XT.

Alternatively, if you've been setting aside a hefty GPU fund for the last two years and are gearing up to spend it now, then the RTX 3080 10GB is what you're after. By far the best value high-end card of NVIDIA's 30-series line-up, the RTX 3080 10GB will provide you with RTX 3090-like performance for only a fraction of the cost. Even at their average £1000 price point, there just isn't really any competition. If you'd like a far more in-depth discussion on why the RTX 3080 10GB wipes the floor with every other high-end card, then check out the article I wrote just prior to its release, linked below.

RTX 3070 or RTX 3080: Which is better value?

Related Article

Why an RTX 3080 is "better value" than an RTX 3070

Read More

Other components to think about

Beyond what we've already discussed, the best gaming PCs around, pre-built or otherwise, need a few more components to function in the first place. Namely RAM, storage, and a power supply. Most of the time we don't tend to pay these guys nearly enough attention, and to be fair it's because you can't go too wildly wrong. But if you're looking for ideal configurations there's a few things to keep an eye out for.

When it comes to memory, any gaming desktop worth its salt should be boasting 16GB RAM and in a dual channel configuration, at the very least. For many modern AAA titles 8GB RAM just doesn't cut it anymore, and having only a single stick of RAM is basically just asking for lower fps and a more sluggish experience in general. Don't be fooled either - it might seem like a logical thing to save money on when your budget is tight, but the problems which arise from having insufficient memory in a single channel configuration will actually hamstring a lower-end system far worse than a mid or high-end one.

As for RAM speeds, having memory running at the maximum speed that your motherboard and processor support is usually better than not, though, to a point. With DDR5 now sitting on the shelves, it's not uncommon to see speeds as high as 5100MHz, which although supported by Intel 12th Gen processors, really isn't going to do you many favours in terms of gaming performance. So for now, it's far more cost-effective to stick with DDR4. For Intel, 3200MHz is usually the max supported speed (without overclocking), and for most people this will be absolutely fine for their needs. The same goes for both Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series processors, for which the memory speed sweet spot tends to be 3200-3600MHz.

Patriot Viper Steel 16GB RAM DDR4 4400MHz

Speaking of speed, storage is another one of those components worth giving a little more thought to. Historically, HDDs were all anyone ever needed, until the far faster SATA SSDs came into the picture. Though definitely preferable for their much quicker read and write speeds, the larger capacities often proved a tad too expensive to justify for most folks, and the same could be said when the even faster NVMe SSDs entered the scene. For a while, and even still in the current climate, this resulted in a lot of people opting to spec storage in a sort of hybrid manner, using something like a 250GB SSD, or more recently, NVMe drive to store and run the PC's operating system, and then a much larger capacity 1TB HDD (or more) for storing pretty much everything else. But this really isn't necessary for gamers any more.

With the prices of both NVMe and SSDs decreasing significantly over the last few years, and games developers starting to make more effective use of the technology for faster streaming and load times, there's almost no reason for a gamer to have an HDD in their system anymore. Just look at the latest consoles from Microsoft and Sony; not an HDD in sight.

For most people looking at a mid-tier or higher gaming PC, it's really quite sensible to just thwack a 1TB NVMe in there and be done with it, such as the WD Blue SN550, or better yet, the WD Blue SN570 which is 50% faster for a marginal increase in cost. And arguably, even if your budget was tighter, a 500GB SSD or NVMe would be more than enough storage to get you up and running for at least the first year or two, so long as you're sensible with managing game installs. You could even use something like Steam Cloud to keep all of your save files in Valve's servers, rather than taking up additional space on your own system.

Western Digital Blue SN750 1TB SSD NVMe

Ultimately, when it comes to storage capacity, it's one of the most flexible parts of a build. If you started out with a little less than you'd have liked, then as soon as you've saved up some more cash, you can just grab another 250/500GB SSD, or even another 1TB SSD, in the form of a standard 2.5" SATA drive. In fact, provided you had an additional M.2 slot spare on your motherboard, you could actually purchase another 1TB NVMe instead, which would not only be faster, but probably be cheaper than an equivalent 1TB SSD, and you wouldn't have to worry about navigating around cables trying to find a spare SATA port for it to plug into.

Power supplies on the other hand are really straightforward. If it's 80 Plus certified and at least bronze rated, all you need to do is make sure the wattage is sufficient to power everything. These days, the vast majority of PSUs tend to be 80 Plus Gold rated anyway, and unless you're grabbing all of the most power-hungry components available with the intention of overclocking the ever-loving life out of them, something in the region of 550W-850W will be suitable for most systems. Just be sure to give yourself some breathing room which will help accommodate any future upgrades you might make to your system - seeing as power supplies are so reliable nowadays, it means you can get quite a few years out of them before you'll need to replace it. And if you're ever unsure of what wattage you need to go for, then head over to OuterVision's calculator and it can help you figure it all out.

beQuiet Pure Power 11 FM 650W PSU

Cases for your consideration

Of course, no gaming PC could be complete without being built into a beautiful case - a somewhat subjective matter it has to be said. But I do have a few suggestions for those that aren't sure where to start, and there is some degree of objectivity at play here too. If there's one thing that can be proven to be measurable with cases, it's their potential for effective airflow. I won't get into too much detail here as I've spoken extensively about the topic before in our PC part picking guide, but the gist is that some cases will starve your components of air like it's nobody's business. That means a very hot, very unhappy PC.

If you want to give your components the best chance to stay cool and breathe easy, consider cases like the Fractal Design Torrent, Corsair 5000D, Fractal Meshify 2 XL, MSI MAG Forge 100RCougar Archon 2 Mesh, and the Phanteks Eclipse P500A. These are all pretty attractive cases, in our humble opinion, that will give you the most opportunity to mount fans that actually cool your components effectively, rather than just frantically circulating hot air. And, as a nice bonus, all of these cases come with pre-installed fans for your convenience. Most even offer RGB lighting too, for those that love a colourful system.

So, what does the best pre-built gaming pc of 2022 look like?

For some, this might be as simple as the fastest possible PC out there. But for us that just isn't the case. After all, why spend an arm and a leg for a gaming experience that's measurably only a few percent better than one that could cost you half as much?

If we piece all of our favourite components together, the end result is a really capable machine offering top-notch performance at a cost-effective price:

Case Cougar Archon 2 Mesh RGB Gaming Case £49.99
Motherboard MSI MAG B660M Mortar WiFi DDR4 £179.99
CPU Intel Core i5-12400F £169.97
RAM Patriot Viper Steel 16GB DDR4 RAM (2x8GB) 3200MHz Dual Channel Memory Kit £56.99
GPU PALiT NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Dual 8GB £549.98
Cooling beQuiet! PURE ROCK 2 Black £29.99
PSU beQuiet! Pure Power 11 FM 650W 80 PLUS Gold Fully Modular ATX Power Supply £79.99
Storage WD Blue SN570 1TB SSD (NVMe) £92.99
Total Cost (No OS) £1209.89
Total Cost (+ Win 10 Home @ retail cost) £1323.42

With a system like this, you'll be getting one of the best possible value gaming PCs around, easily able to hit comfortably over 100fps in the vast majority of games at 1080p and 1440p high settings, giving you the edge in competitive titles like Fortnite, CS:GO, League of Legends, and more. Plus, you'll be able to delve into 4K and Ray Tracing with at least 60fps, or even more with the help of DLSS or FSR in supported games.

If all this talk of a perfect gaming PC build has got you excited, and the building side of things isn't for you, why not check out our Reign Gaming range? There you'll find a whole host of custom systems, including a few just like the one we spec'd today, such as the Reign Scout Extreme MKIII and Reign Sentry Pro MKIII.

Reign Scout Extreme MKIII Gaming PC

All of our Reign systems are fully configurable too. So, if you see something you like but want to make a few personal tweaks, there's a range of choices you can make to do so. From processors and cooling solutions, to memory, storage and cases, it's all up to you.

That's it for today though, let us know what your ideal gaming PC spec is right now, down in the comments below!

Posted in Guides & How To

Author -

Published on 22 Mar 2022

Last updated on 22 Mar 2022

Recent posts