The Extreme Budget Gamer ($400)

January 30, 2018 by Headshot Jacob Tuwiner

This is the #1 best gaming PC under 400 dollars for your money in 2018. All of the parts have been hand picked with the best price to performance in mind.

Component Name Price Image
CPU Intel Pentium G4560 $83 CPU
MOBO MSI Pro Series Intel B250 $50 Motherboard
RAM Crucial 8GB DDR4-2133 $90 8GB Ram
HDD WD Caviar Blue 1TB 7200rpm $50
GPU MSI GeForce GTX 1050 2GB $150 GPU
PSU Corsair CX 450 80+ Bronze Certified PSU $40 PSU
CASE Rosewill - FBM-X1 MicroATX Mini Tower Case $27 case
Check Lowest Price on Amazon

A $400 Gaming PC - Prebuilt?

Though many prebuilt gaming PCs aren’t worth the time or the money, there are some viable prebuilt options on the market.

If you know what you’re looking for, you can find some great prebuilt alternatives.

If you’re on a lower budget, the Dell Inspiron i3650 is another great option.

You can find the PC on Amazon for just $340.

Inspiron-3650

The PC features:

  • Intel Core i3-6100
  • 8GB DDR3 Ram
  • 1TB Hard Drive

This PC comes without a GPU. Don’t worry, this problem is easily solved.

There are lots of powerful and cheap GPUs for sale on eBay. You can easily find a GTX 1050 ti used on eBay for a low cost.

After you purchase the prebuilt desktop and the GPU, you’re getting a very capable gaming machine for around $500 or less. This PC can easily game at 1080p. Although it’s a bit over the $400 mark, it’s pretty great for a prebuilt PC.

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The Case

case

The case is more than just a pretty looking box. In fact, it is much more than that.

A good case must be:

  • Eye catching
  • Aerodynamic (if you will)
  • The right size
  • Spacious
  • Compatible for you

These factors must be kept in mind when deciding which case is right for you. This is why the Rosewill - FBM-X1 MicroATX Mini Tower Case is the case of choice for this build.

This case is an amazing deal. For under $30, you’re getting a case with a side panel window, and front panel USB 3.0 headers.

Most cases with these features are usually in the $40+ range. Furthermore, cable management is no problem.

Cable management is important to keep in the back of your head when wiring your PC.

Not only does it make the inside of your PC look better, it improves airflow. This helps to keep your PC nice and cool while you’re pushing it to the limit. You can read the reviews of this product here.

Specs:

  • Type - MicroATX Mini Tower
  • Color - Black
  • External 5.25” Bays - 1
  • Internal 3.5” Bays - 1
  • Internal 2.5” Bays - 1
  • Motherboard Compatibility - Micro ATX, Mini ITX
  • Maximum Video Card Length - 11.81”

Buy your case here

The Processor

CPU

The Pentium G4560 is the perfect choice for any budget gaming computer.

Here’s why:

Though most games are not very processor intensive, it is still important to have a processor that can keep up with the graphics card without bottlenecking.

The Pentium G4560 has a base clock of 3.5GHz, which is less than the i3-6100’s clock speed of 3.9GHz.

But that is the best part.

Due to the brand new Kaby Lake architecture, it can be paired with 2400MHz ram. What does this mean?

It means that using higher frequency ram can compensate for the processor’s frequency deficit.

But here’s the kicker:

Even though this processor can be found for $60, it outperforms the i3-6100, which is priced over $100.

Specs:

  • Cores - 2
  • Threads - 4
  • Hyperthreading - Yes
  • Base Frequency - 3.5 GHz
  • TDP - 54 W
  • Cache - 3 MB
  • Lithography - 14 nm
  • Memory Types - DDR4-2133/2400, DDR3L-1333/1600 @ 1.35V

Hyperthreading technology is what makes this processor so powerful. Though it only has 2 physical cores, each core is able to process 2 threads, instead of just one.

So what?

This means it effectively has 4 cores, not 2.

Each thread acts as its own core. The processor, instead of having just 2 physical cores, now has 2 physical and 2 theoretical cores. Video games, editing softwares, etc. detect 4 cores, not two.

Since most games utilize all 4 cores of a processor, this is quite beneficial for in-game performance.

The Motherboard

Motherboard

The MSI Intel B250M PRO-VDH micro-ATX motherboard is the motherboard of choice for this build.

This motherboard is budget friendly and easy to use. It doesn’t have any fancy features, but it gets the job done which is exactly what we’re looking for.

What’s the bottom line here?

For around $50, you are getting a component that will not only do a great job, it will do that job for a long time.

Specs:

  • Socket - 1151
  • Chipset - Intel® B250 Chipset
  • Memory - DDR4 2400/ 2133 MHz
  • Memory Channel - Dual
  • DIMM Slots - 4 x 288-pin DIMM
  • Max Memory (GB) - 64

The Ram

8GB Ram

For this build, one 8GB Stick of Crucial RAM was selected.

Prices of RAM are through the roof, and it can be difficult to fit 8GB into a budget build; lucky for you, we did just that.

It’s 2018 and most games require 8GB of ram now. Some are recommending the use of 12GB and even 16GB.

You could save some money if you chose 4GB of RAM instead, but there are many games that won’t even launch anymore with only 4GB of RAM.

On the contrary, 8GB is still good for gaming right now, and there’s always room for upgrades in the future.

Specs:

  • Type - 288 pin DIMM
  • Speed - DDR4-2133
  • Size - 8GB (1x8GB)

The Hard Drive

The WD Caviar Blue 1TB 7200RPM internal HDD has become the standard mass storage drive of budget gaming PCs. It offers a TB of fast, reliable storage for just $50. It’s really a great deal, and it’s hard to beat it.

We didn’t have the budget for an SSD which isn’t ideal; however, this build can be easily upgraded to accomodate multiple HDDs or SSDs.

While an SSD is optimal for your OS and games, it doesn’t actually have any impact on your FPS or graphics. This PC is a gaming PC, and it’s being designed to provide the best in-game performance for the money.

However, SSDs do make a pretty big difference in boot speeds and the overall user experience of your PC in my opinion. You can buy a 120 GB SSD for just $50 or a 240GB SSD for $70. The 240GB SSD offers double the storage and more storage per dollar.

The Graphics Card

GPU

The GPU is the component of the PC that handles all of the 3D rendering. If you’re building a gaming PC, this is the part you should really focus on.

You don’t need the fastest CPU on the market, as most games don’t utilize much of the CPU’s processing power. You’ll get the best gaming performance if you buy the best GPU that you can afford. This means sacrificing some power elsewhere in the build.

I see prebuilt gaming PC manufacturers selling PCs with 16GB of RAM, an i7 CPU and an old crappy GPU. They trick uneducated consumers into buying their PC which is advertised as a gaming PC, when really it won’t perform well at all.

In this build we picked a budget friendly CPU and only 8GB of RAM, but we were able to include a good GPU.

For this build, we’re going to be using the MSI GTX 1050 2GB. While you won’t be maxing out every game with 60 FPS, you can definitely achieve 40-60FPS with a mix of medium-high settings in 1080p resolution. On a $400 budget, this is pretty darn good.

In my opinion one of the main drawbacks of this GPU is the amount of dedicated video memory (VRAM). If you want to turn your textures up to ultra, you’ll need a decent amount of VRAM. With this GPU you’ll have to turn your textures down a bit, but other than that it’ll be fine.

This video shows this card’s performance in 8 different games. The number in the top-left corner of the screen is the FPS counter.

As you can see, this GPU really packs a punch for the price.

  • Chipset - GeForce GTX 1050
  • Memory Size - 2GB
  • Memory Type - GDDR5
  • Base Frequency - 1.35 GHz
  • Boost Frequency - 1.46 GHz
  • TDP - 75 Watts
  • Length - 7.17”

The Power Supply

PSU

It’s important to choose the right power supply, as they can make or break your build (literally).

If your power supply isn’t up to par, your PC won’t even turn on. If your PSU isn’t efficient then your electricity bill will soar. Worst case scenario, your PSU short circuits and damages or destroys the some or all of your components.

Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered. Corsair has a great selection, and the CX 450 80+ Bronze Certified PSU made the cut for our budget.

It’s a power efficient and reliable PSU, providing the perfect wattage for the build. It also allows for some overclocking later down the line if you choose to do so.

Specs:

  • Type - ATX
  • Wattage - 450 Watts
  • Fans - 1
  • Modular - No
  • Efficiency - 80+ Bronze
  • PCI-Express 6+2-Pin Connectors - 2