Best Gaming PC Under $400
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We’ve updated our $400 build with a fantastic AMD Ryzen APU, a processor with integrated graphics. While the new generation of Ryzen chips has been released, the older ones still offer better price to performance and make sense in a build at this price. We’ve also updated our prebuilt computer recommendations, bringing you fantastic value for those who prefer to purchase rather than build.
With the 400 dollar gaming PC our main focus was to give excellent value for money whilst still providing a decent level of gaming performance. While we aren’t at the price range where value is at its absolute best, we have enough wiggle room in the budget to make 1080p gaming quite playable. While this may not be our cheapest gaming PC build, it’s still extremely affordable with a slightly stronger processor and graphical power.
We consider this build as being entry-level for both performance standards and build difficulty making it the perfect gateway into PC building, so let’s dive straight in.
Before we explore the hardware specs in more detail and why we chose them, let’s take a quick look at the build as a whole and precisely what it has to offer. We’ll discuss how we managed to stick to $400, some of the compromises that came up during the hardware selection process, and how it performs on a day-to-day basis.
Watch Our Best $400 Gaming PC Build
What Do You Get For Your $400?
One of the biggest struggles we encountered when putting this build together, was sticking to that strict price of $400. Luckily for us, AMD APUs undercut their Intel rivals.
Like many price-conscious custom builds, the aesthetics were compromised for increased performance. The case is pretty basic but still offers some RGB and a user-friendly design.
At this price range, you need to be realistic with what performance you expect to achieve. For us, we focused on designing a build that can achieve 900p-1080p gaming, that is tailored towards low-intensive games such as CS: GO, Fortnite, and Overwatch. The APU should be able to churn out 60+FPS on these games on low-medium settings.
If you’re new to PC building, then you’re probably a little confused at this point, especially with all the abbreviations we’re throwing around. So, let’s discuss the most important aspect of this build, the APU.
An APU, in layman’s terms, is a CPU and a GPU rolled into one. Yes, that’s the reason why this build doesn’t have a graphics card. Over the years, integrated graphics have become increasingly powerful. The VEGA 11 graphics that the 3400G comes equipped with has performance that lies somewhere between the GTX 1030 and the GTX 1050.
The great thing about these APUs is that you can upgrade to a more powerful standalone GPU down the line, and still have a powerful multi-core processor at your disposal. It truly is the best of both worlds.
How We Choose
Our team has years of experience behind them building PCs for a range of needs and budgetary requirements. All this knowledge combined with hours of research, user feedback, and onsite benchmarking is what goes into choosing the best components for our builds.
We look for value for money, how the components perform together, and focus on gamer’s needs to make sure our builds are the best bang for your buck.
We build all these PCs ourselves, in-house, so trust us when we say we want to make them as good as possible. We actually use all these builds ourselves day-to-day in the WePC offices.
How We Test
We build each of our selected PC’s from scratch to make sure all the parts we recommend work well together, fit into the selected case, and provide the best performance possible for the price range.
Once built, the PC’s are used in the office for everyday work as well as a range of games from light to heavy-duty. While we test, we also run benchmarking tests to see how well our builds perform, all while keeping an eye on the temperature of the components themselves.
We tested our AMD builds against their Intel counterparts and found that these CPU’s performed better across the board, and for a lower price. This is why we only recommend an AMD version.
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 or part you want shows as out of stock, check back later or check out these alternatives.
Our Recommended Custom Build Details
Enough of the preamble– let’s break down each individual component in this system and why it was chosen over the other options out there.
Our $400 AMD Custom Gaming PC Build
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Our best custom-built gaming PC for under $400 is an excellent example of good gaming performance when sticking to this price. Whilst the components that go into the design of this PC are considered low-end, they still provide some of the best price/performance in today’s market. With AMD’s flagship APU at its core, you’ll be able to take on low-intensive games such as; CS:GO, LOL, DOTA2, and Rocket League.
AMD shocked the world with their most recent series of CPUs (Ryzen 3rd Gen) and has seemingly knocked Intel off the top spot for the first time in, well, as long as I can remember. Before the stock shortages and price-hikes, we were able to fit a 3400G into this build, an APU which comes equipped with impressive RX VEGA 11 integrated graphics. To keep the price relatively low, we have had to opt for the 3200G, a 4core/ 4thread CPU with Vega 8 graphics, and a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, with a max boost of 4GHz. The 3200G provides enough power to play low-intensive games such as CS: GO, Fortnite, DOTA 2, and Rocket League at 1080p while maintaining smooth, playable FPS.
There’s no point in skimping on a motherboard at this stage, and that’s why we’ve opted for the Gigabyte B450M DS3H motherboard. It not only offers a bunch of features that are geared towards gamers but also comes compatible with all Ryzen 3rd Gen CPUs. That being said, it’s still effectively an entry-level board but slots nicely into this $400 build. Ultimately, if you’re looking for an affordable board that’s going to achieve everything you’d want from a gaming motherboard, then look no further.
Patriot is a trusted and reliable brand that brings some of the most affordable hardware offerings to our shelves. For that reason, we’ve gone for 8GB of their DDR4 Viper Steel Series 3200MHz RAM kit in our $400 build. We contemplated putting 16GB in this build, but for the price difference, we thought it was worthwhile leaving that as a future upgrade. With this RAM, you’ll be able to push pretty much any game you want without trouble. That being said, your CPU will feel the effects long before your RAM does, so you are still limited to what the 3400G can do. On the plus side, the RAM is quick enough (3200MHz) to extract excellent performance out of the CPU but you should opt for 16GB when you begin upgrading this machine.
You’ll be glad to hear that this build makes use of a super-fast SSD storage solution. If you aren’t familiar with SSDs and how they work, in basic terms, the technology inside an SSD differs dramatically from that of traditional HDDs. This means they can read/write data much, much faster. We’ve gone for Crucial’s BX500 480GB SSD in this build as we think that’s enough to get you up and running. You might need to expand your storage capacity down the road to keep up with demand, but for a start, this is a great SSD to go with.
Of all the entry-level cases we’ve recommended here on WePC, this is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing. It also has great out-of-the-box cooling, a clean design, great airflow, and plenty of room for a GPU or a few extra hard drives down the line. The Zalman S4 currently showcases superb value for money and is the perfect option for this $400 gaming build. This PC case comes with two 120mm fans, which is more than enough but for optimal cooling, an extra for the front would be a great investment.
When buying a cost-effective PSU, we always recommend buying from reputable, reliable manufacturers. If you don’t, you run a serious risk of hardware malfunction down the line. For that reason, we’ve gone for a Corsair CV 450W bronze-rated PSU. It isn’t going to win any awards for the most outstanding PSU, but it certainly does the job and will provide efficiency and safety while you use it.
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Things To Consider
Before looking into a custom PC, you should establish what you would like to achieve in regards to performance and ability. Builds can vary massively in terms of in-game performance, and your budget might not reflect your performance expectations. For example, this build is custom-designed to play low-intensive games such as CS: GO and Fornite in around 900p. If you’re looking to play the latest AAA games in 1440p, then we would suggest looking at our $700 build and above.
It’s worth mentioning that prices do fluctuate on Amazon, and the builds can be above or below the intended set price. We do check our builds every couple of days to make sure they haven’t increased in price and make sure we are still recommending the best value-for-money hardware.
For this build, we decided to go for the Ryzen 3400G and pair it with 3200MHz RAM. We did toy with the idea of using the 2400G and faster 3600MHz RAM, but it didn’t quite meet our requirements on this occasion. After much deliberation, we concluded that the performance difference between the two setups would be minimal. So we went for the Ryze
Future upgrades are always worth considering, even more so on entry-level builds such as this. Fortunately, this build has been designed with that aspect in mind. The motherboard is one of the latest B450 PRO MAX from MSI, which offers out-the-box Ryzen 3rd Gen compatibility and up to 3466MHz RAM support. While the APU has its own powerful built-in graphics unit; a standalone GPU would also add decent performance gains. Luckily, the motherboard can also accommodate a GPU, as well.
Thanks to improvements in hardware, overclocking has become increasingly popular, and you can pretty much overclock every part of your build nowadays. That being said, it still comes with severe risks, especially if you aren’t fully up-to-speed with the process.
If you’re thinking of trying your hand at the PC boosting dark arts, then you’ll be happy to know this build is fully equipped for light overclocking. Ryzen chips are almost fully optimized out-of-the-box, though, so you will struggle to see any worthy performance gains.
For me, the $400 was a relatively easy one to piece together. Obviously, at this price range, it had its limitations, but let’s start with the positives. The M-ATX motherboard is the perfect size for this case and allows for excellent airflow throughout. As we used an APU, we had plenty of space to play with when it came to cable management.
That being said, the cable management was less than desirable thanks to a number of different case issues. For this price range, though, it’s hard to be too disgruntled.
We made use of an Ifixit PC toolkit when building this PC, and we highly recommend you do the same as it makes life that much easier. You can also use an anti-static wrist band if you feel the need to.
Is it just gaming you’re looking to do, or are you using this build as a workstation as well? This is a question you should be asking yourself from the start. Why? Well, some PCs are designed to perform better in gaming scenarios rather than intense multi-core workload situations.
Luckily, this APU has the best of both worlds. Thanks to the impressive single-core and multi-core performance of the 3400G, you won’t see any major performance drops when switching from work to gaming and vice versa.
Lastly, we consider the aesthetics of the build. Aesthetics are a pretty important part of a custom build these days, especially when you have expensive hardware to show off. Unfortunately, at this price range, you don’t have the funds for a stylish case. That being said, we did manage to fit a tempered glass case into our build, and we think it looks pretty good.
As a general rule, RGB supportive hardware comes with premium price tags attached. If this build isn’t up to your high aesthetic standards, you may have to extend your budgetary requirements a little.
Check out some of our other price-focused custom PC build guides below.
- Best Custom Gaming PC under $300
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Check out some of our related prebuilt PC guides below.
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Every recommended prebuilt gaming PC in this article is from a reputable manufacturer. You are probably wondering how we know what the best gaming PC brands are? Well, we have done our research and purchased PCs from these brands.
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What Games Can This PC Run?
This build will provide 60FPS in all competitive online titles, however, if PUBG is your main game then you would have to look at the $500 build to achieve 60FPS and above. Additionally, the dedicated graphics card and a more powerful CPU would allow you to raise the graphical settings and resolution in all titles. Looking at demanding single-player games such as The Witcher 3, you would be looking at 30FPS at 900p, but well-optimized titles like Forza Horizon 4 allow for 50FPS at 1080p and still look incredible even on Very Low graphical settings.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Forza Horizon 4
Monster Hunter: World
The Witcher 3
Total War: Warhammer II
Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $400
It is always a great idea to build your own desktop computer, especially if you’re restricted on how much you can spend.
Nonetheless, not everyone is fond of building their own gaming computer due to the hassle that comes with it. If you’re one of the folks that aren’t overly keen on the idea of building your own, then you’ll be happy to know we’ve searched the web for the best pre-builds for around $400.
In the Q1 of 2019, 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:
Upgrade Path for Custom Build
So, you’ve got this far, but you’re not entirely satisfied with the performance of this build. Well, don’t worry, below are a number of upgradability choices that will increase the performance of this build exponentially. That being said, remember, these upgrades will increase the price of your build!
NOTE: These will raise the price of the build!
The RX 570 is both a massive step up in price and, more importantly, performance. It currently boasts a considerable step up from the onboard graphics that the $400 build currently houses. 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 struggle to play games at 1080p/60fps with this card, either. However, it’s not all good news since buying this GPU will add a decent $150 to the cost of the build. But after that, you can relax for the next year or so without upgrades.
Operating System & Peripherals
If you want maximum performance and compatibility, buy a Windows 10 license. This might be a pricey route, but it’s going to ensure that you get the most out of your rig, and it’s super user-friendly. Windows can still be purchased in DVD format if that is more convenient for your needs. If you need antivirus software, please read our guide to the best free antivirus software available today.
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. Windows still come in DVD format if that is more convenient for your needs.
Note: if you need antivirus software, please read our guide to the best free antivirus software available today.
We understand that building a PC, especially if it’s your first time, can be a relatively tricky and strenuous process. Below we have outlined some of our best building tips so that you don’t make the same mistake so many have before you. If our tips aren’t enough, we have created a list of the most popular PC building questions, which should cover pretty much everything there is to do with PC building. Furthermore, we would recommend checking our most popular mistakes made by PC builders page as well.
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!
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. This will 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.
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!