Best Budget Gaming PC
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Despite what many may think, the best budget gaming PC will actually handle a lot of today’s greatest AAA titles quite well. It should be noted that you may need to reign in your expectations, as playing these titles in ultra settings, at high resolutions, will be a step too far.
Building a cheap gaming PC can be a very challenging task, especially when trying to achieve great performance. The truth is, you don’t have to break the bank when building a PC, and depending on your budget, you may actually be surprised by the performance the best cheap gaming PCs produce.
What You Get For Your Money
As this is a budget PC build, we aren’t going to be spending thousands here. Of course, what constitutes as “cheap” or “budget” varies from one gamer to the next but we are aiming to keep this affordable.
The “budget” end of the cheap gaming PCs category gives builders much more flexibility. With the extra few hundred dollars at your disposal, you can afford to include a dedicated GPU, improving your graphical performance exponentially. You are likely to be able to afford more storage space and stronger RAM to support your build too.
Some may consider $500-$600 as mid-range but we think of this as cheap, simply because there are still several compromises. You are likely to be investing in slightly older generation CPUs and GPUs and will probably have to opt for a cheap PC case, non-modular PSU, and 500GB of SSD space.
The performance of this budget PC build may surprise you. The components are good enough to give you high FPS in esports titles and this will deliver in those AAA titles when playing in 1080p.
When building a cheap PC, you will often find you need to use older generation components. Regardless, this will still perform well and comes with an optimal amount of RAM and storage.
How We Choose
The team here at WePC has years of combined building and, of course, gaming experience, allowing us to make astute recommendations to our friends, families, and readers. All of our custom PC recommendations are backed with careful research and benchmarking to ensure the products we suggest are actually the best for the job. We work tirelessly to update and keep every build recommendation as up-to-date as possible, even when items go out of stock we will be there to fill the gap with appropriate replacements.
We are always looking for value for money and try to focus on performance over just flashy looks, ensuring your hard-earned cash isn’t going to be squandered.
NOTE: Due to the ongoing effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, some retailers are experiencing stock issues. WePC constantly updates our pages to reflect current availability, so if the PC you want shows as out of stock, check back later or check out these alternatives.
How We Test
We build all our custom PC build recommendations in-house at the WePC office, making sure all the components are compatible and work in unison for the best gaming experience.
Once built, we put these custom PC’s through their paces, benchmarking a wide selection of the most popular and demanding titles. It isn’t just gaming we focus on, we like to test our PCs for general work scenarios from lightweight to heavy-duty tasks.
We know some of our readers like to overclock systems and push the price to performance even further, so we ensure that we test this too. This can leave you reassured that the components can handle this extra push in power and nothing will break down the line.
Our Recommended Custom Build Details
This affordable gaming system may feature older generation components but that doesn’t mean they are of poor quality. You are going to be able to achieve great gaming results in 1080p with this build, pushing high frames in esports titles and having the ability to play almost any game at an enjoyable setting.
The Best Budget Gaming PC
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Our best budget gaming PC is a cheap PC that still performs. This affordable build works best when playing in a 1080p resolution and will be able to deliver high FPS results, in max settings, across a multitude of games.
AMD’s Ryzen 5 3600 isn’t just a great gaming CPU but one of the best budget CPUs on the market and really helps matters when trying to build a cheap gaming computer. Despite being from the previous generation of processors, the 3600 still offers 6 cores/12 threads and comes with a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a boost clock speed of 4.2GHz. This should be more than enough to handle most demanding games at 1080p and will churn through med-high demanding workloads.
The ASRock B450M-HDV may be a budget motherboard but it is a reliable base for the components in this build. This board accommodates up to 3200MHz memory as well, meaning you should be able to find the sweet spot for Ryzen/memory partnership. The motherboard doesn’t really impact gaming performance too drastically but it is important to have a stable board that can support your components.
Corsair’s Vengeance LPX RAM offers excellent value and is largely considered a bargain. The kit offers high performance and also comes at a price point that is both affordable and competitive. We’ve opted for 16GB of DDR4 3200MHz, giving you more than enough for gmaing.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super is a very attractive budget GPU, offering decent performance in the 1080p sphere. Performance-wise it beats the older RX 580 across most titles, even some demanding games, and will give this cheap PC plenty of graphical power.
A Solid-state drive has fast become an essential hardware component and we highly recommend installing your OS onto it. This is because SSD’s offer huge performance increases for desktop usage and boot times, alongside much faster loading times in games. This SSD has a 500GB capacity giving you enough room for your OS and games.
The Phanteks P300 brings a bit of quality to this build at a very affordable price. The case features an aesthetically pleasing design and has adequate airflow to keep even this build relatively cool. Phanteks are a well-respected PC case manufacturer and the P300 comes with a 120mm exhaust fan, PSU shroud, and tempered glass side panel.
We have gone for quality and efficiency for the power supply, with the EVGA 500W BA featuring plenty of both and a low price tag. The only compromise we had to make was with this being a non-modular PSU but not to worry it won’t make a difference once built and the case’s power supply shroud will take care of the rest.
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Things To Consider
The first thing to look for when buying a budget gaming PC is its specifications. You’ll obviously already have a budget in mind but if the PC isn’t up to tackling the games you want to play in the settings you desire, then what’s the point? There are going to be compromises when trying to buy a budget gaming PC but that doesn’t mean you can’t the best gaming experience for your cash.
For budget gamers, older generations of graphics cards are king. As you can see from our recommended build and prebuilts, you can often expect the mid-range champions to feature – the GTX 1650 Super, 1660 Ti, 1660 Super. that being said with new releases, we see systems with the slightly newer RTX 2060 featuring in more affordable builds, giving budget PC fans a bit more power.
What Is A Cheap Gaming PC?
It’s true, “cheap” is a rather ambiguous term, where everyone’s definition of what is cheap can be different. At WePC, we consider any gaming computer around $500 and below as cheap, this is console territory and the gaming experience isn’t always a fantastic one. For others, what we consider cheap could be mid-range, creating a bit of confusion around the term.
In any case, a cheap gaming PC is essentially going to consist of older generation components, less powerful components, and compromises across the build, whether that’s storage space, graphical fidelity, or the RAM kit you install. What’s great about PC building is you have a large number of options to choose from and the challenge that arises from building a PC on an affordable budget can be quite a buzz.
Unless you play old, less graphically intensive games like competitive esports titles, a cheap gaming computer could age very fast, leaving you needing upgrades sooner rather than later. Another thing to consider is the rise in higher refresh rate monitors, offering gamers a smoother experience if their computer can push out a certain amount of FPS, which cheap gaming desktops may struggle to do.
Why Spending A Little More, Gets You A Lot More
So, a cheap gaming PC should really only be thought of as a system for casual use or as a starting place for anyone new to the world of PC gaming to build upon. That being said, are you not better off saving a little more? After all, you’ve managed to save $500 so what is another $200? Well, most of us are impatient and want it now! The reality is, if you can save yourself an extra few hundred, you can enhance your gaming experience a phenomenal amount but then you start to wonder.. where it will end.
Why Bother Building A Cheap Gaming PC?
If we all had enough money to build a high-end gaming computer, then I’m fairly certain we would do exactly that! The reality is that PC gaming can be quite an expensive hobby and it makes a lot of sense to set yourself a budget.
With this in mind, the obvious savings you generate from building an affordable PC over buying a prebuilt alternative start to present themselves, giving you more money to spend on better components rather than the extra costs of labor that PC building companies factor into costs.
Aside from getting more performance out of your cash and learning a new skill, you can handpick every component, with total control over how your PC looks.
A big factor in whether you should your own gaming PC or not is your individual needs. If you are a casual gamer or love games that aren’t particularly taxing on the CPU/GPU, a cheap gaming PC may be all that you need. On the flip side, if you want to play AAA games in max settings at high resolutions, things may be a little tricky down in this price bracket.
What To Prioritize In A Cheap Gaming PC?
For anyone new to building a PC, cheap or otherwise, it can be a daunting task. When building the best budget PC, every penny counts and you ideally want to ensure you get the most bang for your buck when down in the lower end of the scale. Unlike high-end builds which give you the freedom to choose whatever components you want, a budget PC is much less forgiving. You must prioritize and sacrifice key hardware components to ensure you stay within your budgetary limits.
We advise you to select your graphics card first to meet your gaming needs then build up the rest as best you can while sticking to your budget.
Budget Gaming PC Build Vs Prebuilt
We always recommend that you build your own computer here at WePC and that is for one simple reason – value. It is no secret that you can squeeze in better hardware for your cash when building your own gaming rig, with the markup on prebuilt computers usually costing the same amount as an entire component ($100-$300).
While the performance of this PC is never in doubt, when building your own, you could in theory include a better CPU or GPU into your computer for less. This means you could get even better performance for your hard-earned cash, get better in-game results, and future-proof your investment for longer.
The main selling point behind prebuilt gaming PCs is that it saves you the hassle. We understand that not everyone knows how to build a computer and may not even have the time to learn this new skill, so the convenience of a prebuilt makes a lot of sense. Of course, there are many more benefits to buying a prebuilt PC from manufacturers, obviously, it takes the stresses away from finding all the compatible components, while also preventing damage to said components when the time comes to build it.
With a prebuilt PC, you are going to be able to send it back to the manufacturer if anything goes wrong. Furthermore, if you feel you need an upgrade, suppliers will often do this for you or at least insist you send it to them for an upgrade. Manufacturers will also dish out a warranty, usually covering parts and labor for around a year but some companies offer impressive warranties and you can always spend extra on insurance, giving you a lengthy/ lifetime warranty.
Check out some of our price-focused custom PC build guides below.
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Related Prebuilt PC Guides
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Best Prebuilt PC Brands
Every recommended prebuilt gaming computer in this article is from a reputable manufacturer. You are probably wondering how we know what the best brands are? Well, we have done our research and purchased PCs from these brands.
Most notable brands:
The Best Budget Prebuilt Gaming PC
If you are still unsure about building yourself a PC, we understand, not everyone has the time, so we have included some budget prebuilt gaming PCs that are ready-made and save you the hassle. We have included the different options, catering for slightly different budgets but if none of them take your fancy, you can always check out some of our other guides in the “Things To Consider” section.
Upgrade Path for Custom Build
With budget gaming PCs being relatively cheap, there is plenty of room for upgrades. PC gaming will be a breeze for those looking to game in 1080p but if you are considering playing in 1440p or would like even more FPS, this section is for you, however, these will significantly increase the overall cost.
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is a significant upgrade and we would advise you to also upgrade the motherboard featured in this build too if you plan on going for this CPU.
The 5600X comes to shelves with an impressive 6core/12thread makeup, featuring a base clock of 3.7GHz and a boost clock of 4.6GHz respectively.
To give the CPU above and your other components a more premium base, we recommend upgrading to the Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus motherboard. This board is packed with great features for the price, with impressive VRMs, overclocking support for your CPU and RAM, PCIe 4.0, and Wi-Fi.
For a significant graphical upgrade, the RTX 3060 Ti is a great place to start. This is an affordable GPU from Nvidia’s latest 30-series and will push high frame rates for esports games while also providing an excellent gaming experience in those more demanding AAA titles.
Operating System & Peripherals
Since the budget only factors in the cost of the important components, we have included this section. Most people already have operating systems and gaming peripherals, but for those that don’t, here are our top recommendations.
The operating system is, ultimately, is highly important when it comes to PC gaming. Whilst there are a few different operating systems to choose from, for me, there is one stand-out winner when it comes to gaming – Windows.
To save yourself money on shipping an OS and buying a disc drive, use any old 4GB+ USB drive you have around the house. (Or grab a cheap one from a friend)
Buy an anti-static wristband, and use it properly. Failing to do so places you and your components at risk of static discharge that can ruin your expensive components.
An anti-static mat may also help you by providing a safe surface for you to rest your components.
If you’re unsure how to use it, then we can tell you how to use an antistatic wrist strap properly.
Our very own PC building guide, linked above, will walk you through the PC building process step-by-step. It’s one of our favorites, and as long as you mind your manual alongside it, your building process should go fairly smoothly.
Refer to this, and check our How to Build a Gaming PC guide for a more detailed PC building guide that addresses every newbie’s needs when building a PC – from choosing a build, installing the corresponding drivers, and maintaining the computer through the years.
How To Build A PC
Never built a PC before? Let us guide you through everything you need to build your first PC, even if you’re a complete beginner!