The global economy may be facing inflation, but the price of key PC components is actually very low and, in many cases, falling. Why GPU prices are falling fast while SSDs, RAM (at least DDR4 RAM), and power supplies remain cheap, there’s rarely been a better time to build an inexpensive gaming PC than now. At today’s prices, you can configure a solid 1080p capable gaming PC for under $500 that includes discrete graphics and a 12th generation Intel CPU. We can also configure a very capable gaming PC for under $400 using AMD integrated graphics.
Below we will show you how to build a gaming pc for under $500, or even under $400 using parts available at major US retailers today. Please note that the prices we have listed were current when we wrote this, but may go up or down a bit as you read this. As these lists are primarily based on price, we have not tested all of the specific parts listed, nor all of them 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, 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 CPU and a AMD Radeon RX 6400powered graphics card (ours is from XFX, but any RX 6400 should work similarly). While the other parts are good value for money, you can easily replace a power supply, SSD, RAM kit or H610M motherboard with similar specs and get the same performance.
With 4 performance cores, a boost speed of 4.3GHz and an affordable price, Intel’s Core i3-12100 is the best cheap processor now and the Core i3-12100F is a variant that comes without integrated graphics (which we won’t need). When writing our Intel Core i3-12100 reviewwe put Intel’s processor through a series of benchmarks and found that its single-threaded performance – the most important type for gaming – was better than processors costing twice as much, including the Ryzen 5 5600X and Intel’s latest generation Core i5-11600K. The Core i3-12100F also comes with a cooler in the box, so you don’t have to spend more money on it.
We go with the Radeon RX 6400because it’s the cheapest current generation 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 across 8 popular games at 1080p resolution at medium settings. That’s not very fast, but it’s good enough to play AAA titles without stuttering.
We chose the RX 6400 so we could configure a gaming PC for under $500, but if you can stretch your budget just another $20, the much faster Radeon RX 6500 XT is available for just $179 and is 30 percent more. fast and much better buy. Both GPUs have a boost clock of 2.8GHz and 4GB of VRAM, but the 6500 XT has 1024 GPU cores to the 6400’s 768, and its VRAM operates at 18Gbps instead of 16Gbps.
To support our 12th generation Intel CPU we need a cheap motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket. The cheapest chipset with this socket is Intel’s H610 and we found it cheap in the $89 MSI PRO H610M-G. it’s an entry-level 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 choice of SSD.
Our preferred storage unit is the TeamGroup MP33 with a capacity of 512 GB. We revised the TeamGroup MP33 in 2020 and found that it offers really good performance for the money and is more affordable now than it was back then. This NVMe SSD has rated sequential read and write speeds of 1,700 and 1,400 MBps respectively, about triple what you get from a SATA SSD.
To hit our $500 price point, we had to stick with a modest 8GB of RAM, in the form of a 2x4GB DDR4-3200 kit from Crucial. Any low-cost DDR4-3200 RAM kit would fit here. However, if you can spend just another $15-$20, you can get 16GB of RAM, as we’ve seen TeamGruop’s T-Force Zeus DDR4-3200 RAM in a 2 x 8GB kit for just $48 Considering the motherboard only has two RAM slots, it would be wise to spend a little more now instead of upgrading later.
Our case is the Rosewill FBM-X2 (opens in new tab) which was $44 on Newegg at the time of writing this. Admittedly, this is a very simple case, as it doesn’t have a window to view its components. However, it has enough space for four 120 mm fans or two 120 mm fans and a 240 mm radiator. Its glossy metallic gray color is at least solid looking, and you have to make some sacrifices to build a gaming PC for under $500.
The final piece of our sub-$500 gaming PC is a 430W power supply from Thermaltake. Any 400-500 W power supply from a reputable brand will do the job here. The Thermaltake Smart 430W is 80+ certified, although not Bronze or Gold, which means it has some degree of efficiency considerations.
If you can stretch your budget a little, dad, from $20 to $80, we’d recommend swapping out the RAM, GPU, and storage for slightly better parts. Our first priority is going from 8GB RAM to 16GB because the motherboard only has two DIMM slots, so you’d have to throw away your current RAM if you want to upgrade later. Switching 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 browsing the web to editing documents and playing games.
Adding another $20 to switch to a Radeon RX 6500 XT from the RX 6400 is another no-brainer. You get about 30% more performance for a minimum expenditure.
The lowest priority upgrade, while still good, is moving from a 512GB SSD to a 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’re planning on installing more than three or four AAA games, you’ll likely need the extra storage.
Gaming PC under $400
If you want to build a gaming PC for less than $400, there’s no way you can buy a graphics card. That’s why you need a relatively cheap CPU with excellent integrated graphics, in our case the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G🇧🇷 The $160, 65-watt CPU has 6 cores, 12 threads, and a max clock of 4.4GHz. It also comes with a cooler in the box so you don’t have to spend money on one.
In our multithreaded application tests, the Ryzen 5 5600G outperformed many competitors, including the quad-core Core i3-12100 we used in our sub-$500 gaming PC.
More importantly, the Ryzen 5 5600G’s integrated RX 7 Vega GPU is good enough to play well at 720p and passably well at 1080p. In our 720p gaming test suite, the 5600G averaged 75.4 fps, which is more than playable. When we increased the resolution to 1080p, the average fps dropped to a still respectable 43.5fps. But in many games, you will be able to lower a few more settings to increase the frame rate.
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Our motherboard for our under $400 gaming PC is ASRock B450M-HDV R4.0. It’s important to note that since the B450 chipset is older than the Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, 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 probably won’t have a way to boot and run this update. However, the B450M-HDV R4.0 (make sure it’s R4.0) promises compatibility on first boot.
ASRock’s board only has two DIMM slots, so keep in mind that if you opt for the 8GB of RAM we need for under $400, you won’t be able to upgrade without replacing the memory. However, in addition to 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 supply 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 430 watt power supply. W. The Rosewill FBM-X2 is a less-than-ideal case, so if you see another case for sale for less than $60, it’s worth considering.
As with the sub-$500 gaming PC build, the sub-$400 configuration will be significantly better if you spend another $20 to upgrade to a 16GB kit (2 x 8GB) or, less importantly, to the performance and more for game storage space, an extra $30 to switch to a 1TB SSD.