- Build Overview - 400 Dollar Gaming PC Build
- How We Chose the PC Components
- Custom $400 Gaming PC Build
- Should You Build or Buy a Gaming PC?
- A Closer Look at the Parts
- Things to Consider
- What games can this PC Run?
- $400 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Other Gaming PC Builds
Custom $400 Gaming PC Build
Here’s the deal:
You want to build a gaming PC that can handle 1080p gameplay without leaving your wallet KIA.
Some say it’s not possible to build a 400 dollar gaming PC, but we’ve proved them wrong.
This gaming PC is actually under 400 dollars, and can smash 1080p with ease.
Let’s jump in!
Before we talk about the custom build, let’s quickly talk about an awesome prebuilt gaming PC.
Some people just don’t want to go through the trouble of painstakingly slapping together their PC from the ground up and installing Windows.
So, for the lazy ones, we have a prebuilt option to suit your $400 budget.
Acer Aspire TC-885
400 Dollar Prebuilt Gaming PC
With this $400 prebuilt, you're getting an Intel i3-9100, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 16GB Intel Optane Memory, a 512GB SSD, a DVD drive, WiFi, and Windows 10 Home. It even comes with a mouse and keyboard.
- Great CPU
- Fast RAM
- Windows 10 Installed
- Comes with mouse & keyboard
- Integrated graphics
- Case doesn't look "cool"
This prebuilt gaming PC is insane - you’re getting a 9th generation Intel i3 CPU, 8GB of DDR4 memory, a fast SSD with Windows 10 already installed, and a mouse/keyboard combo.
However, it doesn’t include a dedicated GPU - that would be a stretch on this budget.
You’re going to want to add a dedicated graphics card if you’re serious about gaming with this PC.
Yes, adding one will push you over budget a bit.
But why wouldn’t you – after all, you’re trying to game, right?
Build Overview - 400 Dollar Gaming PC Build
Before we dive into the build components and why we chose them, let’s quickly talk about the build as a whole and what it has to offer.
We’ll discuss how we managed a $400 budget, some of the compromises we had to make, and more.
Sticking to a strict budget of $400 was definitely the hardest part about this build.
Our last build opted for a cheap Ryzen 3 1200 and an RX 570 (still a great dedicated card) but we were going slightly over budget.
Now that AMD’s Ryzen APUs are on the cutting edge of performance, not to mention their ridiculously low prices, we thought using a Ryzen APU was the best option.
What does this mean for you?
We bypassed the GPU altogether, dramatically slashing prices and keeping the build below the $400 price point.
In terms of performance, this $400 gaming PC has an outstanding bang for your PC gaming buck.
Despite not having a dedicated GPU, you’ll enjoy 1080p games with playable framerates if you’re willing to turn the settings down a bit, even in AAA titles. Not bad for an APU, eh?
More on this build’s gaming performance later.
About AMD APUs
If you’re a beginner PC builder, you probably don’t know what an APU is.
It happens to be the most important part of this build, so let’s talk about it in a bit more detail.
An APU is basically a CPU that also has a GPU built-in. Your motherboard uses the graphics chip in your CPU instead of your graphics card.
You can plug an HDMI cable directly into your motherboard, and game to your heart’s content.
While an APU isn’t as powerful as a dedicated graphics card, modern APUs have come a long way, especially in Ryzen chips.
Most APUs couldn’t even handle a regular game at 720P just a few years ago - but now, they dominate 1080p in new titles, as long as you’re willing to turn your settings down a bit.
That brings us to the compromises section. We had to make a few hard choices that you should know about.
The first and most important choice was the APU. It was a smart choice on such a low budget, but as we mentioned, a dedicated GPU is always a better option.
But if $400 is all you can muster, the APU will serve you well.
The next tough decision we had to make was the storage for this build. Instead of opting for an SSD and a mechanical drive, we had to choose one, or the other.
Mechanical Storage vs Solid State Drives
While an NVME drive won’t have a direct impact on your gaming performance, it will make your life way easier. If you want to learn more about NVME drives and gaming performance, check out our article here.
We opted for a 500GB NVME drive instead of a 1TB or 2TB mass storage mechanical drive.
Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking, 500GB isn’t a lot of storage. Why on earth wouldn’t you want 2TB of storage instead of 500GB?
You’re right about that, but here’s the deal:
Mechanical storage drives are slower than my grandma, and believe me, she’s slow.
In addition, solid state drives are getting both faster and cheaper by the day. It’s never been a better time to buy a solid state drive for your build than now.
Instead of waiting a few minutes for your PC to boot and an additional several minutes for it to ‘warm up’, an NVME drive will have your PC up and running in a matter of seconds.
You won’t have to wait ages for your games to load anymore, nor will you have hard drive freezes that are often to blame for your PC freezing.
Lastly, you can always add an additional 1TB drive for ~$30, so don’t freak out.
How We Chose the PC Components
I have years of experience building PCs for a variety of needs and budgets (I’ve been doing it for six years now).
All of my knowledge combined with hours of research for each build is what goes into picking the best parts for this $400 gaming PC build.
I always look at value for the money, ensuring you’re getting the best bang for your PC gaming buck. I can assure you that you’re not going to find a better value gaming PC build.
In addition, I always check the build’s benchmarks compared to other configurations to ensure it’s performing better than any other build in this price range.
With that being said, let’s jump in:
A Closer Look at the Parts
Let’s take a look at each component in a bit more detail:
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
Quad Core Processor
Featuring four physical cores clocked at a whopping 3.7GHz and Vega 8 integrated graphics, this APU can handle new titles in 1080p without a dedicated graphics card.
- 4 physical cores
- Great overclocking
- Good gaming performance
- Good stock cooler included
- Dedicated graphics included
- None, this chip is awesome
When AMD launched their third generation Ryzen processors, they shocked the world and knocked Intel out of the spotlight for the first time in quite a while.
The Ryzen 3 3200G is based on the Zen+ architecture and is a slight upgrade from its predecessor, the Ryzen 3 2200G. It’s still using four cores and four threads, but they upgraded the clocks on both the CPU and the GPU.
The 3200G base clock is up from 3.5GHz to 3.6GHz, and the boost is up from 3.6GHz to 4GHz. On top of that, the GPU is up from 1100 MHz core clock to 1250MHz.
What does that mean for you?
Higher FPS and graphics, of course!
The Ryzen 3 3200G is the best $100 you can spend if you’re building a gaming PC and you don’t want a graphics card. In fact, you no longer need a graphics card with this chip.
It can handle low-intensity games and e-sports titles like Fortnite, Dota, Rocket League, and CS:GO, easily maintaining a buttery smooth framerate.
Gigabyte B450M DS3H
Micro ATX Motherboard
The Gigabyte B450M DS3H isn’t really much to write home about. It functions, you can overclock with it, and you have a headstart on your CPU upgrade path.
- Supports overclocking
- Up to 64GB RAM
- Budget friendly
- Not the most future proof motherboard
The B450 chipset has out of the box support for the whole Ryzen 2000-series lineup, and can also support the upcoming 3000-series chips with a BIOS update. This means that you can easily upgrade to a 2200G, 2400G, 2600, or 2700 with no conflicts.
Since all Ryzen processors are unlocked, we strongly urge you to overclock your CPU and RAM to get the best possible performance out of your rig. This board also supports AMD Crossfire.
Its rear IO consists of 4 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, and an RJ-45 Gigabit LAN port. For the front, it supports up to 4 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports via internal headers.
Storage is handled by 4 SATA III 6Gb/s connectors and 1 M.2 slot with SATA and PCIE 3.0 support. The B450M DS3H also comes with AMD StoreMI, a utility that offers SSD-like performance for traditionally sluggish mechanical hard drives.
This board is fairly baren when compared to other popular AM4 motherboards, but it’ll do what you need it to and it’ll do it well.
At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, right?
G.Skill 16GB (2x8GB Kit)
DDR4 3200MHz RAM
G.Skill is well known for their fast and reliable ram kits, which is why we chose their 16GB dual channel kit for this build. It's fast and affordable, exactly what we need!
- Dual-channel memory
- High speed
- No RGB Lighting
When it comes to AMD’s Ryzen CPUs, RAM matters. That’s especially the case with an APU.
Traditional graphics cards have dedicated RAM built-in. That’s why most GPUs have two, three, four, six, or eight gigabytes of RAM advertised in their titles.
VRAM helps graphics cards store and process textures. Unfortunately for us, one of the drawbacks of an APU is a lack of memory available for graphics.
That’s why we need a crap load of fast RAM for this build. 16GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM configured in a dual channel setup is going to have a significant impact on performance, insuring the APU has enough memory to handle 1080p gaming.
We weren’t able to include RAM with any flashy RGB lighting or anything crazy, but this RAM is going to get the job done for an affordable price.
WD Blue SN550 500GB
NVME SSD Drive
This NVME drive plugs directly into your motherboard and provides lightning fast storage. Best of all, the price of SSD storage is dropping significantly, making this a great choice even for a budget build.
- Dude it's dirt cheap
- Lightning fast
- Only 500GB
As mentioned above, NVME drives are way faster than mechanical hard drives and are even a bit faster than traditional SSD drives.
You won’t have to wait for your PC to boot up, your games will load insanely fast, and you’ll be far happier overall.
The only downside to choosing an SSD over an HDD is that SSD drives are more expensive per gigabyte, but in terms of performance, the value is definitely there.
This NVME drive is easily twice as fast as any mechanical drive you can find, and is less than twice the price. It’s a no brainer, especially considering you can add a cheap hard drive later on.
EVGA 500 Watt 80+
EVGA has graced us with an amazing budget option for PSUs. It's nothing more than a basic power supply, but it's reliable, and at this price point that's exactly what we need.
- Incredibly durable
- Good bang for your buck
- 80+ certified
- Not modular
Your power supply can make or break your build (literally).
It is one of the single most important parts of a computer and if you don’t take care while choosing, you may end up with a dead computer and an empty wallet.
500 watts is more than enough to supply this PC without working up a sweat.
It also gives a bit of headroom for upgrading, but always do your research on possible upgrades and make sure you’ll have enough power.
Finally, the EVGA 450 BR has an 80 Plus Bronze efficiency rating, stating “85% efficiency or higher under typical loads,” according to Amazon. For an in-depth explanation of PSU efficiency ratings, check out our article.
ATX Mid Tower Case
The MX330 is an awesome case for budget builders. It looks great and performs better, despite its incredibly low price tag.
- Side panel window
- Dude it's dirt cheap
- Good bang for your buck
- Power supply shroud included
The Cougar MX330 is everything you could ask for in a budget case, and then some.
Featuring an acrylic side panel window, you’ll be able to see your components running smoothly inside your case. Sure, tempered glass would be nice, but any side panel window is better than nothing on a $400 budget.
This case also has an awesome power supply shroud, which will help with airflow and cable management.
The MX330 will make for a terrific first PC case, and leaves plenty of room for upgrades later down the line.
Things to Consider
At this point you should have a pretty good idea of why we picked the components and how we chose them.
Now, let’s discuss some other things you need to consider before building (or buying) a gaming PC.
These things have a large impact on your bottom line, ultimately affecting which PC build you’ll choose.
Before you decide on a budget, it’s important to think about the kind of games you want to play and what performance you’re expecting.
For example, if you want to play low-demand e-sports titles like CS:GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, Overwatch, and Fortnite, this $400 gaming PC is a good choice.
Those games aren’t going to tax your system heavily and your APU will handle them with ease. You’ll be able to smash 1080p on medium settings and consistently achieve 60+ FPS.
On the other hand, if you want to play games like Call of Duty: Warzone or other AAA titles on 1440p with max settings, consider our $800 build and above.
At the end of the day, it’s all about your expectations. The more you save for your gaming PC, the better your performance will be. Sometimes, it’s worth the wait.
Future-proofing and Upgrades
Future-proofing is something that gets tossed around a lot in the PC gaming space, but what is it, exactly?
According to Moore’s law:
The speed and capability of computers can be expected to double every two years, as a result of the number of transistors a microchip can contain.
That basically means technology is moving at an insanely fast pace, and your PC will get old, fast.
It’s one of the main pros and cons of PC gaming:
On the one hand, you get to be on the cutting edge of gaming technology, but on the other, you have to upgrade often to keep your system current.
That’s where future proofing comes in.
Choosing your parts in a way that’ll allow your PC to game for years to come, and leaving room for upgrades is a great way to maximize the life span of your build.
Instead of opting for an old processor, you won’t have to upgrade for a while if you spend extra money on the newest model.
Another example of future-proofing is making sure you have a good power supply. You may not want a GPU right now, but what happens if you decide to add one in the future and your power supply can’t handle it?
You’d have to buy a new power supply, in addition to your new GPU, and rewire your entire PC.
Instead, buy an ample power supply now that can handle extra power draw in the future.
That’s exactly why we chose a meaty power supply for this build.
You’re not going to need all of the power right now, but if you decide to add a GPU or more hard drives in the future, you’ll be glad your power supply is up to snuff.
Overclocking is another big one - it’s a great way to maximize the power of your components, and has become pretty mainstream.
You can pretty much overclock any component in your PC without much trouble, but overclocking isn’t the best idea if you’re brand spanking new to building a gaming PC.
Some motherboards have BIOS that make it easy to overclock, in which case you should be in good shape.
Even doing it manually isn’t too hard, but should be done with caution. You don’t want to run your components too hard without ample cooling and risk damaging them.
If you want to know if overclocking is worth it for you, check out our guide.
Are you planning on using this PC strictly for gaming, or are there are workstation tasks you’d like to use it for as well?
One of the best parts about buildin a gaming PC vs a console is that it’s more than a gaming machine. Gaming PCs can edit photos, videos, stream, etc. as well.
Some components are designed for multi-core workstation situations while others are best suited for gaming.
This build has the best of both world, thanks to the awesome four core Ryzen APU. Its impressive single and multi core performance means you can game and work, all on one machine.
One very important note we need to make before our final section is internet connection.
Geez, how could we have overlooked such a major detail. How are you gonna play Apex: Legends without a gateway to your router?
Let’s fix that.
Wired: As always, your go-to method of connection should always be via Ethernet.
Ethernet offers the quickest direct connection to your router, and the rest of the internet by extension.
Picking the right Ethernet cable comes down to durability, speed, and length. As for speed, we recommend a newer CAT5e or CAT6 cable.
Ethernet cables come in anywhere between 5 foot to 100 foot variants. Just make sure you measure the length between your system and your router before you buy.
We suggest purchasing any of Amazon’s choice Ethernet cables, and can personally attest to their reliability.
Wireless: Not everyone can use an Ethernet solution.
Maybe you’re just way too far away from your router, or you don’t have a clear path for your cable to reach. Sometimes you just need to say no to wires.
Fear not, we have the solution!
For a quick USB adapter solution we have the OURLINK Mini 600MB/s Adapter.
For an internal solution, we recommend the Unit Bluetooth 1200MB/s WiFi Card, or TP-Link AC1300 Dual Band while it’s on sale.
Design & Aesthetics
Lastly, consider the design and aesthetic look of your gaming PC.
You can get creative with your color schemes.
Some will throw their parts in a case and call it a day, while others will match the RGBs of their fans and RAM sticks to their keyboard, mouse, headset, and even their gaming room.
There is a world of possibilities at your fingertips.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the budget to go crazy with RGBs and stuff, but we did fit a nice side panel window that will show off your components.
Going back to the upgrades section, you can add case fans that have RGB lighting, or upgrade your RAM to a model with RGB lights included too.
What games can this PC Run?
Here are the benchmarks for this system:
- Overwatch: 1080p Low 60 FPS average
- Rainbow Six Siege: 1080p Low 67 FPS average
- World of Warcraft BFA: 1080p Medium 58 FPS average
- CS:GO: 1080p High 87 FPS average
- Dota 2: 1080p Low 103 FPS average
- GTA V: 1080p Medium 53 FPS average
- League of Legends: 1080p Very High 104FPS average
- Witcher 3: 720p Low 43FPS average
- Apex Legends: 720p Low 71FPS average
- Battlefield V: 720p Low 54FPS average
- Fallout 4: 720p Low 58FPS average
- Fortnite: 720p Low 64FPS average
What about server hosting?
If you want to host a server on your PC, it’s possible - in fact, it’s pretty easy. We have a full tutorial that teaches you how to host a Rust server on your PC in less than 5 minutes. Seriously, it’s pretty easy.
But you’re usually better off paying a game hosting company a small monthly fee to do it for you.
1. Servers require a lot of processing power. Gaming is already demanding enough - trying to run a server at the same time will tank the server’s performance.
2. Your server will lag when more people join, getting worse as player count increases.
3. Players can only join when your PC is on and the server is running. That means you have to leave your PC on 24/7 so everyone can play.
They’ll take care of the setup, ensure stellar performance all the time, and they’re cheap. Hosting companies take the headache out of server hosting, so you and your friends can enjoy the game like you’re supposed to.
$400 Prebuilt Gaming PC
Although I’d take a custom built PC over prebuilt any day of the week, not everyone wants to order parts and assemble them.
It takes longer, and if you’re a beginner, it can seem pretty challenging at first.
That’s why we’ve included this prebuilt PC in the guide. If you’d rather have a “plug and play” option that doesn’t require much thinking, you can buy this computer and use it the moment it arrives at your doorstep.
|RAM||8GB DDR4 2666MHz|
|GPU||AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB (Recommended)|
|Check Lowest Price on Amazon|
The Intel i3-9100 offers better performance than either the Pentium Gold G5400 or the Ryzen 3 1200 (though the 1200 wins after overclocking). With 4 cores and 4 threads at a base of 3.4GHz, this CPU is ready to take on any games you can throw at it. Well, after you buy a GPU.
This PC comes with 8GB of DDR4 memory running at 2666MHz. The processor only supports up to 2666MHz so don’t bank on any overclocking, but there is room to add more memory in the future.
One interesting addition is its 16GB of intel Optane cache memory. Optane memory, in short, increases the efficiency of mechanical hard drives, allowing them to run with SSD-like performance.
The included 1TB 7200RPM SATA hard drive is sure to get you by with whatever your storage needs may be, and with the Intel Optane unit, it’ll be running at lightning fast speeds.
This computer’s IO is very notable, especially for a pre-built. The front consists of an SD card reader, the usual headphone and microphone jacks, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, a Type-A and a Type-C. In the rear, you’re greeted with 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, and 4 USB 2.0 ports.
If you plan on adding in your own GPU, we advise you to change the power supply as well. Its measly 300W might have some trouble running a dedicated graphics card, and the last thing you’d want is to fry your new computer.
As for choosing a new graphics card, that’s a bit difficult if you want to stay within a budget.
Considering the $400 initial price tag, you may be unwilling to buy that brand new RX 580 OC edition. We’re on your side, don’t spend more money than you need to.
Our suggestion: Buy used. Head onto eBay and purchase a used RX 570 for around $100.
If you want to spend even less (or more), buying an older series card may be the route for you. The GTX 900 series, the 960, 970, 980, and 980 Ti are all amazing budget used cards that still hold up in modern games very well in mid to high range settings.
Intel Optane Overview
Intel Optane is an M.2 PCIe 2280 SSD, basically, but it’s also so much more.
Optane memory is a caching drive that uses software to automatically learn about your most frequently used programs and system behaviors to streamline your mechanical hard drive’s performance.
The boost in performance isn’t insignificant either, giving your new $40 1TB hard drive the speed of a $120 1TB SSD, or at least fairly close to it.
One amazing thing about Optane though, is that it doesn’t need to be paired with a mechanical hard drive. You can pair Optane memory with a normal SATA SSD to bring salvation to that nasty SATA bottleneck.
The speeds that Optane can offer are off the charts, and calling it a game changer would be an understatement.
Other Gaming PC Builds
Check out our other budget gaming PC builds:
- $500 Gaming PC Build
- $600 Gaming PC Build
- $700 Gaming PC Build
- $800 Gaming PC Build
- $900 Gaming PC Build
- $1000 Gaming PC Build
Don’t you dare start thinking we forgot the peripherals!
Sure, you’ve built your computer and you’re ready to start up and play some games, but wait, where’s your keyboard and mouse? Where’s your headset? Where the heck is your monitor?!
Redragon is one of the top dogs among budget keyboards, and their Redragon K558 ANALA is proof of that.
Mechanical keyboards don’t generally come cheap, but the K558 offers the amazing feeling of mechanical keyboard for under $50.
The K558 sports multi-color backlighting with 8 colors and 4 brightness levels. Its amazing ABS keys give the K558 water resistance and outstanding durability, standing up to a staggering 50 million keystroke test, and its Redragon Blue Switches allow for broad keycap customizability.
It even comes with a braided cable, a gold-plated USB connector, and a palm rest!
Redragon’s at it again with the budget peripherals, this time with the Redragon M711 Cobra.
The amount of features jam-packed into this budget mouse is astonishingly awesome. Adjustable DPI levels, programmable buttons, and its own programming software?
The M711 has 5 DPI levels: 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, and 5000, but can also be adjusted manually from 100 to 10000, allowing for fine-tuning to fit exactly what your needs may entail.
If you’ve ever needed extra quick keymaps for games, this is the mouse for you. It has 7 individually programmable buttons that can be mapped to anything you might want.
RGB! 16.8million is a really big number, we know, but hopefully, somewhere in the millions of colors this mouse can pump into its LEDs, you can find exactly the color combination that matches your setup.
Gaming headsets are important, as sound quality can make or break your experience.
For a budget setup like this, we recommend the Behringer HPX2000.
Whether you’re listening for the next callout in a CS:GO match or mixing down the next track for your upcoming concert, the Behringer HPX2000 is the only budget option. The amazing performance you receive for under $20 is almost unimaginable.
They’re comfortable and lightweight so your long sessions won’t have to be interrupted by the pain of adjusting your headphones.
You can expect the audio quality of a pair of headphones that would cost three to four times as much, and they do an outstanding job at emulating location in 3D space.
They even come with a 3.5mm to ¼” adapter for any audio interfaces you may want to use.
If you want premium audio quality, the Blue Snowball is a great mic, offering the best bang for your buck.
I’ve been using one for the past few years, and I absolutely love it.
Add in a cheap pop filter and you’ll be set for some exceptional quality.
This microphone comes with a tripod style stand for your desk so you can place it wherever, but from personal experience, there is nowhere you can put it on your desk where it won’t be in the way.
Lucky for you, the Blue Snowball is compatible with most adjustable suspension mic stands.
We recommend a combination with some of Amazon’s top picks of microphone accessories to go along with the Snowball.
The Acer SB220Q is Amazon’s choice, and now it’s ours as well.
This LED-lit monitor is one of the cheapest 1920x1080 options you can find.
The SB220Q sits at 21.5” in size while offering slimness usually only found in laptop screens. Coming in at a thickness of just 0.24-inches, fitting this monitor on your desk will be no problem.
There are a couple of other notable features in this full HD 1920x1080 monitor. Rocking a response time of only 4ms and a refresh rate of 75Hz for only $90 it seems like a dream, but go ahead and pinch yourself – we’re sure you will find it’s all real.
To go along with your shiny new Radeon RX 570, the SB220Q also harbors support for AMD FreeSync, so say goodbye to frame skipping!