Not every gamer out there has the financial backing to purchase an all-singing, all-dancing, high-end gaming PC. As much as we might want to crank the latest AAA game titles up to max settings, it’s not always cost-effective to build a PC that can do that. Furthermore, a lot of popular titles from the last couple of decades don’t actually require that much computational power to run at efficient levels.
With that in mind, in the following article, we take a closer look at some of the more budget-oriented PC builds that are available in today’s market. We explore the gaming performance of each build, alongside how each build benefits from a jump up the budgetary ladder.
So, let’s waste no further time and dive straight into it!
When we talk about PCs on a budget, we’re specifically talking about PCs that cost between $300 – $600 to build. Despite these PCs still being considered entry-level (even at the higher end of the budget spectrum), there is still some good performance to be had if you choose the right components.
Our team has a wealth of experience under their belts when it comes to designing and building some of the best PCs for each individual budget. Below, we take a closer look at what each budget can get you from a gaming stand-point.
One of the big questions we get asked around here is, why should I buy a budget gaming PC? Why not just wait and save up a little extra?
Well, the answer is fairly straight forward, you don’t always need a high-end PC for the games you plan to play. For example, if you’re into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you don’t really need anything more powerful than the $600. Yes, if you want to play at the highest level then you may want to consider some slightly better components, but for the most part, this PC will provide you with excellent gaming frame rates.
Secondly, if gaming is the secondary purpose of your PC, you probably won’t need the fancy GPU or powerful CPU for your general everyday needs. Modern APUs are more than enough power for general work needs, checking emails, and browsing the web. You’d be surprised what you can achieve from the lowest budget PC options available.
The best budget gaming PC for $300 is, well, entry-level to say the least. At this end of the price spectrum, users are confined to an APU over the more conventional CPU/GPU pairing. However, it isn’t all bad news; AMD’s latest 3000 series APU lineup is actually fairly powerful, giving consumers that opt for one the ability to play less intensive (yesteryear) games at playable levels.
For us, the best budget gaming PC for $300 consists of the following components:
At the next budgetary rung on the ladder, we found the best budget gaming PC for $400. Truth be told, you aren’t really getting a great deal more than what you get at $300. However, there are some subtle differences that will make your gaming experience a little better.
As you can see from the specs above, there is very little difference between this and the $300 gaming PC. That said, the greatest improvement you get for your money is found within the APU and RAM partnership. The 3400G is quite a bit more powerful than the 3200G, and because they’re APUs, they thrive under faster RAM. For that reason, and the fact the $400 budget can actually afford it, we’ve gone for 16GB of 3200MHz RAM for this build, over the 8GB of 3000MHz found in the latter.
As we approach the $500 marker, the best budget gaming PC starts to change quite a bit. For a start, this is the first build we’ve seen that houses its own standalone GPU – over the more budget-oriented APUs of the cheaper builds. The best budget gaming PC for under $500 has the ability to play last generation games, along with some more modern titles that are less demanding.
Here’s what it consists of:
Finally, we have the best budget gaming PC for $600. At this price range, you’re bordering on the mid-range price range – where gaming in 1080p at mid to high settings starts to become very feasible.
The $600 gaming PC has a fairly decent standalone CPU and GPU, capable of powering modern titles at 1080p and competitive esports games at over 100FPS. You get much more versatility at this price, with the CPU being the most powerful in this list, bringing more cores and additional multitasking workflow abilities to the table.
Here’s what goes into it: