Best Cheap Gaming PC Build
Last updated August 3, 2017
Shopping for PC components can be intimidating if you’re not up to date on hardware news. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you and have put together three tiered builds (cheap, mid-range, and high-end) geared to deliver great gaming experiences.
You can certainly build a PC for less than the budget-oriented rig we’re recommending here, but it’s often a good idea to spend a little more to mitigate serious bottlenecks and avoid harsh compromises. With that in mind, we spec’d out components that will deliver an excellent 1080p gaming experience for less $650.
|CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 1200||$109.00|
|GPU: EVGA GTX 1060 Gaming||$220.00|
|Motherboard: ASRock AB350M-HDV||$70.00|
|RAM: Patriot Viper Elite 8GB (2x4GB) 2800MHz||$70.00|
|Storage (SSD): Kingston A400 120GB||$55.00|
|Storage (HDD): IBM/Seagate Constellation ES 1TB Hard Drive||$40.00|
|PSU: EVGA 500 B1 80+ Bronze 500W PSU||$36.00|
|Case: Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 3.1||$40.00|
Listed prices reflect time of publish.
Click through the gallery to read why we chose our respective components.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 1200
AMD recently released two good budget CPUs with its Ryzen 3-series processors. Unlike Intel’s entry-level Core-i3 equivalents, AMD’s chips feature four cores instead of two. Four cores is the minimum number of cores we recommend for any respectable gaming PC.
That’s why we’re going with the Ryzen 3 1200 for our processor. It’s an affordable quad-core CPU that offers a 3.1GHz base clock and a 3.4GHz boost clock. The CPU is also fully unlocked, which means you can overclock it as long as you have an AM4 motherboard with the B350 or X370 chipset and proper cooling. The same can’t be said of all Intel i3 CPUs.
Its quad-core architecture makes it VR-ready and provides some future-proofing for games that will be optimized for four cores. It also has four threads; coupled with 8MB of L3 cache and 2MB of L2 cache, this makes it a pretty good chip for productivity, too. And you don’t need to worry about spending more on an aftermarket cooler since the CPU comes with AMD’s Wraith Stealth solution.
GPU: EVGA GTX 1060 Gaming
The Cryptocurrency craze has unfortunately greatly inflated the price of graphics cards since GPUs are so good at mining data, but we were able to find an EVGA GTX 1060 for $220. It’s a really good GPU, too. From our testing, it’s on par with the GeForce GTX 980, which was Nvidia’s $550 flagship graphics card in 2014.
In terms of specs, the EVGA variant carries a stock 1506MHz core clock and 1708MHz boost clock along with 3GB of GDDR5 RAM. It’s by far the most expensive component in our build and you can argue that it belongs more in a mid-range build, but we think it’s worth the investment for a gaming rig considering it should be able to max out most games at 1080p with smooth, playable frame rates.
Motherboard: ASRock AB350M-HDV
Since we selected a Ryzen 3 CPU, we’ll need an AM4 motherboard to pair it with. We’re going with ASRock’s AB350M-HDV ATX mobo. At $70, it’s the most affordable board we could find that will allow us to overclock our CPU. It also supports DDR4 RAM up to 3200MHz. Finally, it has an M.2 slot, which gives you the option to install super-fast NVMe SSDs.
RAM: Patriot Viper Elite 8GB (2 x 4GB) 2800MHz
Any respectable gaming PC should have at least 8GB of RAM, so we’re going with 8GB of Patriot’s Viper Elite sticks clocked at 2800MHz. Patriot is known for its memory, and these modules in particular are compatible with our Ryzen CPU. We’re getting our RAM across two modules, so we can run it in dual-channel mode to get more memory bandwidth.
Storage (SSD): Kingston A400 120GB
While solid-state drives are more expensive than hard drives, we couldn’t recommend building a system without one, even in a budget-centric rig. As an affordable solution, we’re going with Kingston’s 120GB A400 SSD. That’s not a ton of storage, but it should be enough for the operating system and some of your favorite games and programs. In terms of speeds, it’s a SATA III drive that’s capable of delivering read and write speeds up to 500MB/s and 450MB/s, respectively. In layman’s terms, this will make your PC boot up faster, load programs quicker, and feel much more responsive overall.
Storage (HDD): IBM/Seagate Constellation ES 1TB Hard Drive
While we absolutely recommend getting a solid-state drive for at least your boot drive, 120GB isn’t going to be enough for all your needs. That’s why we’re supplementing our SSD with a 1TB hard drive. More specifically, we’re recommending the IBM/Seagate Constellation ES drive, which is a 7,200RPM HDD that provides plenty of space for the price.
PSU: EVGA 500 B1, 80+ Bronze 500W PSU
Even though we’re putting together a budget rig, it’s vital that you don’t skimp out and buy a cheap, no-name power supply. A PSU that fails can really damage the rest of your components. With that said, we’re going with EVGA’s 500 B1 PSU. The company is one of the best PSU manufacturers on the market, and its 80 Plus Bronze rating provides safety at an affordable price. Its 500-watt output also offers more than enough juice to power all of our components.
Case: Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 3.1
Just because our case is under 40 bucks, it doesn’t mean that we have to get one that looks ugly or cuts corners on features. Cooler Master’s MasterBox Lite 3.1 is built with acrylic glass front and side panels and supports two 120mm fans at the front, a 120mm fan in the back, and has a cutout at the bottom for your PSU fan. The case fits full-length graphics cards and offers front I/O that includes a headphone jack, mic port, USB 3.0 port, and USB 2.0 port. Overall, the case looks pretty sleek as well.
The total for our build comes up to $751.92 You can certainly build a PC for less, but this build represents a killer gaming rig that will be able to max out the most graphically demanding games at 1080p with smooth frame rates. It’ll also be able to handle VR and plenty of 1440p games as well. It has all the core components you need in a great gaming PC.