This post recommends the best gaming PC you can build for under $400. If you’re looking to buy a pre-made gaming rig in 2019, we recommend the iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PC. It’s powered by an AMD Ryzen 3200G with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, 8GB DDR4 RAM and a 1TB HDD.
We've updated our $400 build with the fantastic AMD Ryzen 5 2400G processor with integrated graphics and high-speed RAM. 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 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.
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 the budget of $400, some of the compromises that came up during the hardware selection process, and how it performs on a day-to-day basis.
Budget - One of the biggest struggles we encountered when putting this build together, was sticking to that strict budget of $400. Luckily for us, the new range of AMD chips have been marketed to almost undercut their Intel rivals. This means the market price for AMD CPUs is at an all-time low, perfect for our little $400 build. We did toy with the idea of using the 2400G and faster RAM, but after a bunch of inhouse benchmarking tests, we established that the 3400G was the better way to go.
Like many budget custom builds, the aesthetics were compromised for increased performance. The case is pretty basic but still offers some RGB and user-friendly design.
Performance - 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 at 60FPS and above. Thanks to the 3400G, this build can reach well over 100FPS on games like Dota 2 and CS: GO. Other more taxing games like The Witcher 3, Hitman 2, and Monster Hunter: World sees around 30-50FPS. We found capping your FPS to around 30 helps provide a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.
AMD APUs - 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 1050Ti.
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 the PC Components
Our team has years of experience behind them building PCs for a range of needs and budgets. 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 your budget can buy.
We build all these PC’s 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 the PC Components
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.
The Best Cheap $400 Gaming PC Update:
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G Processor
Amd's Ryzen range is widely considered the best value for money CPU's available today and the 3400G packs a real performance punch at a affordable price.
G.SKILL 16GB (2 x 8GB) Ripjaws V Series DDR4
The perfect pairing for this CPU is 16GB of fantastic 3600Mhz RAM.
Kingston 480GB A400 2.5'' SSD
If you want speed, then an SSD is an absolute must. This affordable option from Kingston is sure to provide super fast loading times for any games.
Seasonic S12III 450 SSR-450GB3 450W 80+ Bronze
Due to budget restrictions we've had to go for a non-modular PSU here, however it does have a great bronze 80+ rating and a fantastic build quality which comes with buying Seasonic.
MSI ProSeries B450-A PRO Max
A fantastic little motherboard that has the capacity to house everything you're going to need to create the ultimate $400 gaming machine. Additionally, this B450 motherboard supports Ryzen third generation straight out of the box!
AeroCool Cylon RGB Mid Tower PC Case
An astonishingly cool (aesthetically and literally) budget case that dominates other value options in the same price range.
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.
AMD shocked the world with their most recent series of CPUs (Ryzen 3rd Gen) and have seemingly knocked Intel off the top spot for the first time in, well, as long as I can remember. One of their standout performers in this new series is the 3400G, an APU which comes equipped with impressive VEGA 11 integrated graphics. The 3400G is a 4core/ 8thread CPU with clock speeds of 3.7GHz base and 4.2GHz when under AMD’s precision boost. The 3400G 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. It comes with its own CPU cooler which works great right out of the box and provided cool temps for the most part. Overall, the best APU currently available and one that actually offers good gaming performance as well.
G.Skill is a trusted and reliable brand that has offered us some of the best hardware offerings over the last decade or so. For that reason, we’ve gone for 16GB of their DDR4 Ripjaws V series 3600MHz RAM in our $400 build. We contemplated putting 8GB in this build, but for the price difference, we thought it was worthwhile opting for double. 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 (3600MHz) to extract excellent performance out of the CPU and is much better suited over slower, 3000MHz, and below, RAM.
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 Kingston’s 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.
When buying a budget 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 Seasonic 450W Bronze rated PSU. It isn’t going to win any awards for most outstanding PSU, but it certainly does the job and will provide efficiency and safety while you use it.
There’s no point in skimping on a motherboard at this stage, and that’s why we’ve opted for the MSI ProSeries B450-A Pro MAX motherboard. It not only offers a bunch of features that are geared towards gamers but also comes compatible with Ryzen 3rd Gen CPUs. That’s right, no need to update the BIOS with this one! That being said, it’s still effectively an entry-level board but slots nicely into this $400 build. MSI has equipped with the PRO MAX with better VRM’s which is great for people wanting to overclock their chip. Just be careful if you do decide to OC this chip though, the motherboard does not come with a VRM heatsink so temps will run a fair bit higher. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a budget board that’s going to achieve everything you’d want from a gaming motherboard, then look no further.
Of all the budget 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 long GPU or a few extra hard drives down the line. The Aerocool Cylon RGB currently showcases superb value for money and is the perfect option for this $400 gaming build. Even though the case does come with a single 120mm internal fan, I would recommend purchasing a couple of extras to help maximize the airflow potential. Not impressed by this case? Well, here’s a list of the best PC cases currently available in today’s market.
Things To Consider
By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of how we choose and test the hardware we have recommended. Next, let’s discuss some of the things we feel you should consider before deciding which build is right for you. Below are some of the most important areas of a custom build and should be deliberated before finalizing your choice.
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 budget. We do check our builds every couple of days to make sure they haven't gone too far over budget 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 Ryzen 5 3400G combo, effectively futureproofing the build for a few more years.
Upgradability and Future-proofing
Future upgrades are always worth considering, even more so on a budget build 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 it's 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.
Ease of Building
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 room in your budget for a stylish case. That being said, we did manage to fit a tempered glass case into our budget, 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 budget a little.
What games can this PC run?
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - 1920x1080 Low 135FPS average
- Dota 2 - 1920x1080 Low 105FPS average
- Fortnite - 1600x900 Low 100FPS average
- Rocket League - 1920x1080 Quality 90FPS average
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege - 1600x900 Low 80FPS average
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds - 1600x900 Very Low 60FPS average
- Overwatch - 1600x900 Low 80FPS average
- Warframe - 1920x1080 Medium (75% resolution scale) 80FPS average
- GTA V - 1600x900 Normal 90FPS average
- Forza Horizon 4 - 1920x1080 Very Low 60FPS average
- Monster Hunter: World - 1600x900 Low 60FPS average
- Hitman 2 - 1600x900 Low 40FPS average
- The Witcher 3 - 1600x900 Low 40FPS average
- Total War: Warhammer II - 1600x900 Low 45FPS average
All tested competitive online games achieve above the minimum desired framerate of 60FPS with low graphical settings and a resolution of 1600x900 or 1920x1080 depending on the title. The $400 build makes PUBG “playable” which the $300 build couldn’t quite muster.
That said, the game is still poorly optimized and won’t feel smooth to play all of the time. Demanding single-player titles like The Witcher 3 and Hitman 2 target 40FPS with a 1600x900 resolution and low graphical settings. Whilst Monster Hunter: World achieves an average of 60FPS, frametime consistency isn’t quite there so don’t go in expecting a solid and super smooth experience. If you want a smoother gaming experience, higher framerates or greater graphical fidelity in your games then take a look at our $500 build.
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 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:
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.
Mouse and Keyboard
Having the right computer peripherals is essential when it comes to gaming, especially competitive games like the ones this PC is designed to play. For that reason, we’ve decided to bundle together some peripherals that fit the budget of this build. Let’s take a look at the choices.
Roccat KONE Pure SE
The Roccat Kone Pure SE is our top budget mouse pick for the $400 build, fantastic ergonomic design, superb high-performance optical sensor, and a very respectable price tag. What more could you want? If you’re looking to splash out a bit more on peripherals then why not check out our best gaming mouse post.
Redragon K552-RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Meanwhile, Redragon K552 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.
SteelSeries QcK Gaming Surface
Razer Gaming Bungee V2
A lot of people reading this will be first-time builders who don’t own a monitor. So, that being said, below are our top recommendations for displays that match the performance output of the custom build above. We’ve taken into consideration the average FPS (frames per second) our custom build will achieve and have paired it with the most relevant monitor.
BenQ ZOWIE RL2455S 24 Inch Gaming Monitor
The Benq RL2455S 24” gaming monitor should serve this build perfectly if you don’t have anything laying around. Its 1080p resolution is more than enough for Ryzen’s onboard Vega 11 graphics you’re packing, and with a 1ms response time on top of that, you should be in business for solid gaming. The screen comes in at 24 inches and, as you would expect from Benq, is well 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.
Having the right audio can be the difference between winning or losing, even more so in the games that this PC is designed to run. That’s why we’re recommending you buy one of the following audio options for your newly built PC.
Creative Inspire T12 2.0 Multimedia Speaker
HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset
If you’re more serious about gaming, though, especially competitively, you’re going to want a headset. Our favorite budget solution is the HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming headset, which is built fairly well (despite its low price) and should provide you with good comms and situational awareness in games. If you’re a little more invested in gaming then we would suggest having a look at our best gaming headsets article.
ASUS PCE-AC56 Wireless Express Adapter
The ASUS PCE-AC56 Wireless Adapter is a great, convenient Wi-Fi solution at a fair price. If you must use wireless then it’s really worth while investing in a decent adapter. 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.
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.
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!
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. 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.
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.
And there you have it; the best custom PC build for under $400. Our comprehensive guide has been designed to make the entire hardware selection and building process as simple as possible. You no longer have to stress over which product performs better at a specific price range; we've done all the hard work for you. Ultimately though, if you're a first-time PC builder looking to play low intensive, competitive esports games at 900p, then look no further. This build has you covered and can be upgraded when the time comes.
Let us know what you think of our build by leaving us a comment in the section below. Furthermore, why not jump over to our community page and leave us some pictures and feedback of the completed build, we'd love to hear from you!