With our 400 dollar gaming PC, we were focused on getting the best value for your budget. While we aren’t quite at the price range where value is at its absolute best, we are getting into the price range where we can start making some serious leaps forward into good performance in modern games. While this may not be our cheapest gaming PC build, it’s still extremely affordable while also functioning as the CONSOLE KILLER PC build under $400, as we like to call it. (Just Console Killer? Certainly rolls off the tongue better.)
Consider this build entry-level PCMR (That’s PC Master Race. You’ll acclimate to the lingo eventually.) Let’s dive into the details.
This PC build is mostly standard components for this price range, except we managed to squeeze in a GTX 1050 while still keeping the total cost of the build under $450. We had three goals to meet here:
Making the cheapest gaming PC build that still offers a great value - Truth be told, the $300 gaming PC build is a good starting point but just that: a starting point.
This build is the first that keeps a great value while still being viable as a gaming machine for years to come, thanks to its great performance in 1080p games.
Providing console-quality performance - If you’re spending console-money, you want console quality. While you may need to make settings adjustments here and there, we feel like this build does that pretty well, while still offering cheaper games via Steam and upgrade options to go even higher.
Keeping high-quality components - Many budget builds will use no-name PSUs and the such in order to make the price work, but we avoided this. Not only is that bad practice, but it can actually be dangerous for your system!
We chose to stick to quality parts you can trust instead of cutting corners, and we think it shows.
We’ll dive into detail on how we chose the rest of the components below. For now, rejoice: this should provide all the performance you need for a console-level gaming experience. Factor in Steam sales, and you’re getting an even cheaper gaming experience in the long run!
How We Choose the Parts
We understand the importance of keeping components in our builds up-to-date, that way you can make the most of your budget. For this reason, we’re always staying on top of the latest tech news-- like the announcement of the RTX 20 series from Nvidia, though those don’t factor into any of our builds (yet) and definitely won’t factor into a $300 build (although the indirect price drops for other GPUs that could result afterwards might).
We know the ins and outs of hardware performance, price, and compatibility. And we’re never afraid to do our due diligence with extra research. For instance, we check up-to-date benchmarks from multiple sources around the web to confirm the performance of different components. We also like to look at what fellow industry professionals like Tech Deals and Linus Tech Tips are saying, just to make sure we’re not missing anything.
The Best Cheap $400 Gaming PC Update:
Intel Celeron G3930 Dual-Core Processor
A lightweight CPU, to be sure, but one that shouldn’t bottleneck this build’s gaming performance and should do just fine with other tasks.
Patriot Signature Line 8GB DDR4-2400
With a full 8GB of RAM, multitasking and gaming shouldn’t be any problem whatsoever for this powerful PC build.
Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM
Unless you’re already a PC gamer with a large library 1TB of storage should be a great starting point.
EVGA BR 450W 80+ Bronze-Certified PSU
An unfortunately non-modular PSU, but with great bronze certification and the peace of mind that comes with buying EVGA.
MSI B250M PRO-VDH Micro ATX Motherboard
A solid motherboard that shouldn’t give you any issues. No overclocking in this price range, though.
Estimated $423.54 at Amazon
(Price are accurate as of October 25, 2018. Click the button to see the latest prices)
Enough of the preambling-- let’s break down each individual component in this system and why it was chosen over the other options out there.
This was definitely the hardest choice to make, but a necessary one to get the GPU power we wanted out of this cheap gaming PC build without going over budget. In most of the games you’ll be playing, this CPU shouldn’t give you any problems- modern games focus on making the most of GPU power rather than CPU power, and the strong GPU should help offset any performance losses you may experience with this Celeron processor.
That being said…if you’re going to upgrade something in this build, this is what you should upgrade. We recommend stepping up to an i3-7100 if you can afford it, or just saving up for our $500 PC build for a step up in performance across-the-board.
EVGA is a pretty great GPU manufacturer, and easily our top pick for best Nvidia graphics card manufacturer. Turns out that their reliability isn’t limited to high-end graphics cards, either- even in the budget range, EVGA puts out some genuinely strong offerings that are worthwhile choices over the competition. You may not think “budget gaming” when you see EVGA, but their GTX 10-Series cards are proof that can be accurate.
Patriot is a trusted brand, and for good reason. This kit of 8GB DDR4 RAM should offer all the speed and memory capacity that you should need for gaming and multitasking and is easily the best pick in this price range. Thanks to it being two 4GB sticks, it’ll also run in dual-channel, ensuring that the DDR4 RAM is being used to its fullest extent and you don’t experience any hitches or problems associated with running RAM in single-channel.
Despite being a budget product, this RAM still has great build quality, so it should last well into the foreseeable future.
This 1TB HDD may feel like starter storage…and it is, but it’s still the best storage solution you’re going to find in this price range, at least from a value perspective. While it may not be an SSD, for common desktop usage you won’t really notice a big difference and longer load-times shouldn’t negatively impact you too much in games.
The Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD is the best you’re going to get here, and should provide a good gaming experience overall. If you demand more from your storage, however, feel free to replace or supplement it with the SSD recommended below.
Unless you want a house fire, don’t buy a cheap PSU. Buy from a reliable manufacturer, like EVGA, and if you need to keep it cheap go with a PSU like the one we’re recommending here. The BR 450W isn’t going to win any awards for usability or high-end features, but it is going to be solid, stable and reliable for years to come, and that’s what matters.
The MSI B250M PRO-VDH is an entry-level motherboard, but that’s all you’re going to need for an entry-level PC build like this one. Motherboards don’t directly impact gaming performance, and extra features that do (like overclocking) are only available with much more expensive CPUs and much more expensive motherboards in turn. All you need in this range is reliability and quality, and this motherboard has both of those things.
Of all the budget cases we’ve recommended here on WePC, this is definitely the most nice-looking. It also has great out-of-the-box cooling, a clean aesthetic, great airflow, and plenty of room for a long GPU or a few extra hard drives down the line.
Honestly…we’re hard-pressed to find something wrong with this pick, and we think you’ll be, too. For that reason, the MasterBox Q300L is our recommended case for this $400 gaming PC build.
Why is This The Best Custom PC for the Price of $400?
Simply put? We’re providing the only up-to-date gaming PC build for $400 featuring a GTX 1050 that isn’t linking to unavailable parts, isn’t stuffing in dangerous no-name PSUs to save money, and isn’t going dramatically over budget to accomplish its goals. In fact, every once in awhile this build actually falls under $400. While it might be higher on other days, it shouldn’t ever go over $450.
The big compromise that needed to be made here was the processor. We weren’t able to afford an i3 or even a Pentium while still using the 1050, so we opted instead to use a Celeron G3950. While those of you who are familiar with the Celerons of old may be having a heart attack, don’t worry- this one is actually pretty decent, and won’t bottleneck your 1050.
Speaking of the GTX 1050, this baby is perfect for a cheap gaming computer. The GTX 1050 shouldn’t have a problem with 1080p60 in your favorite games at medium settings. This means that PUBG, Fortnite, Overwatch and CS:GO should all be perfectly playable with this build...and if you configure your settings right, should still look pretty dang nice.
What games can this PC run?
In this section, we’re going to tell you how this game should be able to run your favorite games.
- Fortnite - Fortnite should run at 1080p60 and high settings with little, if any, issues.
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds - PUBG should run at medium settings in 1080p60.
- Monster Hunter: World - MHW will run at 1080p60 with medium settings.
- League of Legends - Due to being a light eSports title, League should be easily pushed to 1080p60 by this build.
- Dota 2 - Same as above.
- Overwatch - Overwatch should be very playable at high-to-max settings and 1080p60.
- Rainbow Six: Siege - Siege should run just fine at medium settings in 1080p60, maybe even a few higher settings.
- Warframe - Warframe won’t be an issue for this PC build at all- expect 1080p60 at max settings with ease.
- Grand Theft Auto V - GTA V should be playable at 1080p60, but you may need to turn down some settings to medium to keep a high framerate.
- Team Fortress 2 - TF2 will do great at 1080p, but due to the weaker CPU in this build you may have difficulty with pushing it past 60 FPS on high settings.
Similar Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $400
It is great building your own cheap desktop computer-- especially if you’re on a tight budget.
Nonetheless, not everyone is fond of building their own gaming computer. (Don’t worry, you can still join the PCMR either way.) If you are one of the people who isn’t into building a gaming computer and just wants a plug-and-play setup, we have you covered.
In the Q1 of 2018, the shortage of GPU greatly affected custom built prices, so we added these sections to our builds. This was what triggered the why you should buy a prebuilt PC now trend. While this advice was mostly only relevant for a short window in time, there are still great prebuilt gaming desktops in the $400 range:
Future Upgrade Options
It’s no doubt that this custom $400 build is already plenty powerful but here are a few upgrades you can opt for if you want an extra edge down the line.
NOTE: These will raise the price of the build!
One of the best upgrades you can get to improve user experience is the ADATA Ultimate SU800. It is our entry-level SSD recommendation due to its great storage capacity and performance.
The SU800 will be more than enough to store your OS, programs and your favorite games. All of these will have blazing-fast loading times, thanks to the SU800, too!
What won’t benefit from an SSD are media files, like music and video. We’d recommend using your HDD as a “dumb” storage device for media if you opt to buy both of these.
ut, if you decide to buy only the SSD, know that you’ll be operating with a tiny amount of disk space.
The GTX 1060 is a big step up from the 1050, offering a massive 95% performance boost. With this powerhouse, you’ll be exceeding the PS4 Pro by a pretty good margin, and will also start knocking on the door to VR capabilities! You won’t have a problem playing games at 1080p60 with this card.
However, it’s not all good news since buying this GPU will add a decent $80 to the cost of the build. Moreover, if you don’t upgrade the CPU alongside it, you may find it bottlenecking in some titles.
The Corsair CXM 450W offers 50W less of power but is still has an 80+ Bronze Certification, which is pretty good. But that’s not why we’re recommending it. The real reason why is simple: less headaches.
Non-Modular power supplies can be a bit of a mess of cabling, especially for first-time builders. Opting for a Semi-Modular PSU means the only cord you can’t detach is the motherboard power cord (and why would you?), with all the others only needing to be routed as necessary.
If you want an easier building process, we highly recommend spending extra for the Semi-Modular PSU over the Non-Modular one. It will go over budget a bit, but it will also save you a few headaches.
OS Options and Recommended Peripherals
Like other build guides you can find online, we don’t include the price of the OS and peripherals in the build. This is for a lot of reasons, but typically users will have at least some of these things before jumping in.
In case you’re missing some or all of these things, we’ve provided a list of easy recommendations below.
This budget $400 gaming PC can’t do its fragging without an operating system. If you don’t have a pre-existing retail Windows installation to carry over from an old PC to this one, here’s our recommendations.
If you want maximum performance and compatibility, buy a Windows 10 license. This is an expensive route, but it will ensure that you get the most out of your rig.
If you can’t afford Windows right now, you can also opt for a Linux distribution. If you go that route, Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint are our highest-recommended for usability and support. Do note, however, that they will be harder to use and not all games will be compatible with them.
Mouse and Keyboard
Need some basic input devices? No worries.
For Advanced Users: ($100)
The Logitech G502 is one of the best gaming mice picks around, and runs a cool $60 on most days. If you’re a dedicated FPS gamer who wants a competitive edge, the G502 is a fine, sturdily-built option for your needs.
Meanwhile, Redragon K551 serves as an excellent budget mechanical keyboard solution. The idea of budget mechanical keyboards used to be absolutely alien, especially from a lesser-known manufacturer, but Redragon has really knocked this one out of the park.
If you spend a lot of time typing or just want the best possible input experience for WASDs/MMOs/MOBAS, buy a mechanical keyboard. You’ll never want to go back.
No point in buying the $400 gaming PC if you can’t enjoy the pretty graphics, right?
For Starters: ($100)
The Asus VH238H should serve this build perfectly if you don’t have anything laying around. Its 1080p resolution is more than enough for the 1050 you’re packing, and with a 2ms response time on top of that, you should be in business for solid gaming. The screen comes in at 23 inches and is pretty solidly built.
If that isn’t enough for you, you should take a look at our in-depth 20 monitor roundup guide. If you have ambitious dreams of gaming at 1440p or 144HZ one day, we recommend investing in a monitor for your future upgrades.
Good audio design is integral to an immersive gaming experience, and you aren’t going to get that with built-in monitor speakers or cheap earbuds. Here are some great budget audio options if you need them.
The Logitech Z130 Speakers are a great entry option. These speakers (about $20) may not offer you anything special like surround sound or subwoofing, but they will allow you to enjoy quality audio at a fair price.
If you’re more serious about gaming, though, especially competitively, you’re going to want a headset. Our favorite budget solution is the Corsair Raptor HS40, which is built fairly well (despite its low price) and should provide you with good comms and situational awareness in games.
The TP-Link Archer T4U is a great, convenient Wi-Fi solution at a fair price. If you must use wireless with the Quad Damage, you can use this.
For the most stable gaming experience, though, go with wired.
Wired (Ethernet Cable)
Buying this ethernet cable off Amazon should give you all the wired stability and performance you’re looking for. We highly recommend this if you’re serious about gaming in any competitive manner.
You may now know the components you’ll need to create our $400 gaming PC build, but that doesn’t mean you know how to build a gaming PC under $400, or any other price range for that matter. Most people have questions about PC building, especially if they are new to building a PC. And of course, there are a lot of easy mistakes you should be aware of so that you know what to avoid.
Invest In Antistatic Equipment
Computer parts are delicate. Most intuitively understand this, hence why they’re scared of “messing up”. But one major step you can take to avoid “messing up” is using an anti-static wristband. These help dissipate static discharge, which would otherwise ruin your components before you’ve even put them together.
But they only work if you know how to use the anti-static wristband properly.
To save some extra stress and make your workplace computer-friendly, you can also buy an anti-static mat, which you rest your parts on while working.
Watch Building Guides
By using Tek Syndicate’s in-depth build video and the instruction manuals that come with your components, you should be well on your way to assembling your new budget PC.
Building will always take longer for a first timer; however, with the right guidance (and mastery over standoff screws!), it should go pretty smoothly.
If you need further instructions, our detailed step-by-step How to Build a PC guide should help you out. We cover everything from deciding your budget to long-term computer maintenance.
Install OS Via USB
Don’t shell out extra for an optical drive you’re only going to use once. Instead, grab a 4GB USB stick and install your OS like a real enthusiast!
To do this on Windows, simply plug it into your PC and install Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. The program will walk you through the rest of the (easy) process, and, in no time, you’ll have a portable Windows installer!
The best budget $400 gaming PC is complete! You have a budget gaming PC that can butt heads with the PS4 Pro while still enjoying all the benefits the PC platform has to offer. This includes lower game prices and endless upgradeability.
Give yourself a pat on the back and your PC a loving caress. It’s time for you to get out and start fragging.
How did you find the build? Are you unsure of something? Do you want to sacrifice a little to suit your budget? Tell us down the comments!