The global economy may be experiencing inflation, but the price of major PC components is actually quite low and, in many cases, falling. Because GPU prices are falling fast While SSDs, RAM (at least DDR4 RAM), and PSUs remain inexpensive, there’s never been a better time to build a low-cost gaming PC than now. With today’s prices, you can configure a solid, 1080p-ready gaming PC for under $500 that includes both discrete graphics and a 12th Gen Intel processor. We are also able to configure a very capable gaming PC for less than $400 using AMD integrated graphics.
Below we will show you how to build a gaming pc for less than $500, or even less than $400 using parts available from major US retailers today. Please note that the prices we list were current when we wrote this, but may increase or decrease slightly by the time you read this. Since these listings are primarily based on price, we have not tested each specific part listed, nor have we tested them all together. The cost of an operating system is not included, but you can get Windows 10 or 11 free or cheap. And, if you’re willing to spend a lot more than $500, please check out our list of best pc builds for more powerful recommendations.
Gaming PC under $500 with discrete graphics
Our sub-$500 gaming PC is built around two key components: an Intel Core i3-12100F processor and a AMD Radeon RX6400-powered graphics card (ours is from XFX but any RX 6400 should work the same). Although the other components are good value for money, you can easily replace a similar PSU, SSD, RAM kit or H610M motherboard and get the same performance.
With 4 performance cores, 4.3 GHz acceleration speed and an affordable price, Intel’s Core i3-12100 is the best cheap processor right now and the Core i3-12100F is a variant without an integrated graphics card (which we won’t need). By writing our Intel Core i3-12100 Processor Reviewwe put Intel’s processor through a host of benchmarks and found that its single-threaded performance – the type that matters most for gaming – was better than processors that cost twice as much, including the Ryzen 5 5600X and Intel’s latest generation Core i5-11600K. The Core i3-12100F also comes with a CPU cooler in the box, so you don’t need to spend extra money there.
We go with the Radeon RX6400because it’s the cheapest current-gen GPU on the market, not because it’s one of the best graphics cards. In our tests, the RX 6400 averaged a very playable 56 fps when we compared it in 8 popular games at 1080p resolution on medium settings. It’s not super fast, but it’s good enough to play AAA titles without stuttering.
We picked the RX 6400 so we could set up a gaming PC for under $500, but if you can stretch your budget to just $20 more, the much faster Radeon RX 6500 XT is available for as little as $179 and is 30% faster and much faster. better to buy. Both GPUs have a 2.8 GHz boost clock and 4 GB of VRAM, but the 6500 XT has 1024 GPU cores compared to the 6400’s 768, and its VRAM runs at 18 Gbps instead of 16 Gbps.
To support our 12th Gen Intel CPU we need an inexpensive motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket. The lowest chipset with this socket is Intel’s H610 and we found it to be cheaper in the $89 MSI PRO H610M-G. It’s a basic board with just two RAM slots and a single M.2, PCIe Gen 3 slot for storage. We saw a card that was $10 cheaper but lacked the M.2 slot we needed for our SSD choice.
Our storage drive of choice is the 512GB capacity TeamGroup MP33. tested the TeamGroup MP33 in 2020 and found that it offers great performance for the money, and is more affordable now than it was back then. This NVMe SSD offers rated sequential read and write speeds of 1700 and 1400 Mbps respectively, which is about triple what you get from a SATA SSD.
To hit our $500 price tag, we had to stick with a modest 8GB of RAM, in the form of a 2x4GB DDR4-3200 kit from Crucial. Any low cost kit of DDR4-3200 RAM would do here. However, if you can splurge the extra $15-20, you can get 16GB of RAM, because we spotted TeamGruop’s T-Force Zeus DDR4-3200 RAM in a 2 x 8GB kit for just $48. . Since the motherboard only has two RAM slots, it would be wise to spend a little more now rather than upgrade later.
Our case is the Corsair Carbide 175R, which normally costs around $40 more but was available for $44 (with a discount) from Newegg at the time of this writing. The case has an attractive and sleek design with a tempered glass side panel and RGB logo, as well as an RGB exhaust fan in the box. Corsair is one of the top names in cases, so this is very high quality for the price. However, if you don’t like the discounts or this is no longer on sale by the time you read this, you can find a $45-$50 case in the form of the FBM X2 or FBM X1 from Rosewill, the latter not being particularly attractive. , but you have to make some sacrifices to build a gaming PC under $500
The final piece in our sub-$500 gaming PC is a 430W power supply from Thermaltake. Any 400-500W power supply from a reputable brand will do the job here. The Thermaltake Smart 430W is 80+ certified, but not Bronze or Gold, which means it has some degree of efficiency considerations.
If you can stretch your budget a bit, father, between $20 and $80, we recommend replacing the RAM, GPU, and storage with slightly better parts. Our first priority is to upgrade from 8GB of RAM to 16GB, as the motherboard only has two DIMM slots, so you’ll have to throw away your current RAM if you want to upgrade later. Upgrading to TeamGroup’s $48, 16GB (2 x 8GB) kit costs less than $20 more and will make every aspect of your computing life easier, from web browsing to document editing and gaming.
Adding an extra $20 to upgrade to a Radeon RX 6500 XT from the RX 6400 is another no-brainer. You gain about 30% more performance for a very minimal expense.
The highest priority upgrade, though still a good one, is to go from a 512GB SSD to 1TB capacity, which in the case of the TeamGroup MP33 costs just $30 more. You can certainly get by with a 512GB SSD, but if you plan on installing more than three or four AAA games, you’ll probably need some extra storage.
Gaming PC under $400
If you want to build a gaming PC for less than $400, there’s no way you can afford a graphics card. That’s why you need a relatively cheap processor with excellent integrated graphics, in our case the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G. The $160, 65-watt processor has 6 cores, 12 threads, and a maximum boost clock of 4.4 GHz. It also comes with a cooler in the box so you don’t have to spend money on one.
In our multi-threaded application tests, the Ryzen 5 5600G beat the pants off many competitors, including the quad-core, Core i3-12100 we use in our sub-$500 gaming PC.
More importantly, the Ryzen 5 5600G’s built-in RX 7 Vega GPU is good enough to play games well at 720p and passably at 1080p. On our suite of 720p gaming tests, the 5600G averaged 75.4 fps, which is more than playable. When we upped the resolution to 1080p, the average fps dropped to a still respectable 43.5 fps. But on many games you will be able to dial in a few more settings to increase the frame rate.
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Our motherboard for our gaming PC under $400 is the ASRock B450M-HDV R4.0. It’s important to note that because the B450 chipset is older than the Ryzen 5000 series processors, not all B450 motherboards will work with the 5600G out of the box. All will support these CPUs after a BIOS update, but if you don’t have an older Ryzen CPU, you’ll likely have no way to boot and perform that update. However, the B450M-HDV R4.0 (make sure it’s R4.0) promises first-boot compatibility.
ASRock’s board only has two DIMM slots, so keep in mind that if you go for the 8GB of RAM we need to stay under $400, you won’t be able to upgrade without replace memory. However, apart from this limitation, the B450M-HDV R4.0 has other basic features, including support for M.2 PCIe Gen3 SSDs.
Our case, RAM, storage, and power are the same as our sub-$500 gaming PC. That means we’re going with just 8GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, a modest 512GB SSD, and a 430W power supply. The Corsair Carbide 175R is a good budget case, but may not be available at the price we’ve seen since a long time. You can replace any of these components with different models with similar specifications.
As with the sub-$500 gaming PC version, the sub-$400 config will be significantly better if you spend an extra $20 to upgrade to a 16GB (2 x 8GB) kit or, less importantly for the performance and more for game storage space, an additional $30. to upgrade to a 1TB SSD.