Here’s the deal:
A lot of people want to build a gaming PC, but they think it’s too expensive.
The thing is, that couldn’t be further from the truth…
PC gaming has never been cheaper, especially in 2020.
With the right approach, you can build a console killer, 300 dollar gaming PC that can run games in 1080p with ease.
In this guide, you’re going to learn how to do exactly that.
What Do You Need to Build a 300 Dollar Gaming PC?
Alright, I’m going to be completely honest with you:
You can’t build a 300 dollar gaming PC with brand new parts – at least, not a PC that can game in 1080p.
However, if you buy used components online, you can make $300 go a long way.
All you need to build a 300 dollar gaming PC is a used desktop, graphics card, and if you can afford it, an SSD.
Really, that’s it.
You can get everything you need on eBay for a fraction of the price of new components.
The best part is, they’ll run just as well as brand new (and more expensive) parts.
What does this mean for you?
You can build a cheap gaming PC pretty easily, even in 2020.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
How to Build a 300 Dollar Gaming PC
It’s time for the tutorial. In this section, you’re going to learn how to build a cheap gaming PC (for less than 300 dollars) step by step.
Step 1: Find a Cheap Desktop on eBay
On a budget like this, you have to make your money go a long way.
Trying to build a good gaming PC from scratch on a budget like this is going to be next to impossible.
But here’s the thing:
You don’t have to build a gaming PC from scratch.
The most important component of any gaming PC is the GPU. As long as you have a processor that’s fast enough to keep up with your GPU and sufficient RAM, you’re pretty much good to go.
The secret is finding a used desktop on eBay that has (almost) everything you need.
Luckily, you can find a desktop on eBay that’s a few years old for around $150 (or less).
First, search for “desktop” on eBay.
You can use the filters in the left column to help you find the right desktop.
Apply the “8GB RAM” filter, and set the maximum price to $150 for the entire thing.
Look for a desktop that has:
- A good CPU (it doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line)
- 8GB of RAM (DDR3 will do)
- A case that’s large enough for a dedicated GPU
- A good power supply
Think about it this way:
When you buy an old desktop on eBay, you’re getting a processor, motherboard, RAM, power supply, case, and possibly even a hard drive for around $150.
A new processor alone would be at least $100, even if you buy a budget CPU. As you can see, the value in buying an old desktop cannot be overstated.
Here’s an example of a good find:
It has a good i5 CPU, 500GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and Windows 10, all for $135.
Don’t forget about the case, motherboard, case fans, and power supply as well!
If you can, go for an i3 or even an i5 processor, even if it’s a few generations old.
This part is important:
notice how the case is large enough to house an external GPU - this is crucial!
Some of the computers you’ll find will have slim/small cases that aren’t large enough for a GPU.
If you want to buy another case that looks better and can fit your graphics card, you should check out the post I wrote about the smallest ATX cases.
They’re big enough for all of your components, but the cases still aren’t overwhelmingly large. In fact, they’re perfect for beginner builders.
Anyway, once you’ve found a good PC on eBay, it’s time to find your graphics card.
Step 2: Buy an External Graphics Card (GPU)
At the time of writing, you can buy a used AMD RX 570 graphics card on eBay for around $110, which is a great deal.
An RX 570 can easily game in 1080p, with medium to high settings in most of today’s newer titles.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more – and your prebuilt desktop has a capable CPU (Intel i3, i5, etc) then you can even go for an RX 580.
With an older generation i3 or i5 CPU, coupled with an RX 580, you’ll be able to crush 1080p gaming, easily playing at high-ultra settings.
Step 3: Install the Graphics Card
Once you’ve ordered your PC and graphics card, you’re going to have to install the graphics card.
Don’t worry, it’s not hard at all. In fact, it’s probably the easiest part of the entire PC building process.
You can check out this in-depth tutorial about installing a GPU for a step-by-step walkthrough.
In short, here’s how you do it:
- Open the side panel of your case, and remove the extension slot cover
- Install the graphics card in the PCI slot, and screw it in
- Plug in the external power cable from your power supply, if necessary
- Close the case
It’s that simple - after that, you can connect your PC to your monitor, power it on, and start gaming!
What Will a 300 Dollar Gaming PC Run?
This is going to vary slightly depending on the prebuilt you buy, but if you can manage to pick up a PC with 8GB of RAM and a quad-core (older generation) i3 or i5 CPU, you’re in business.
Coupled with an RX 570 (or ideally an RX 580), you can expect to run:
- PUBG on Ultra Settings: 60+ FPS
- Battlefield V Medium Settings: 60+ FPS
- Grand Theft Auto V High Settings: 60+ FPS
- CS:GO Very High Settings: 100+ FPS
- FIFA High Settings: 60+ FPS
- Fortnite Very High Settings: 60+ FPS
As you can see, even 300 dollars is enough for a good 1080p gaming PC, assuming you spend your money wisely.
Still, even though $300 is enough for a good gaming PC, saving another $200 is enough for an awesome gaming PC.
Trust me, that $200 goes a long way.
If you have the money to spare, check out my 500 dollar gaming PC bulid. I was surprised by the amount of performance I got while still remaining under budget.