Cheap Gaming PC Build for $550 – “The Intel Option”

In $400-$800, Custom Builds by Branton151 Comments

cheap intel gaming pc build under 550

This budget-level gaming PC will work great as a starter setup. It’s cheap, powerful, and offers up a lot of upgrade potential. For around $500, you can’t do much better than this!

Powered by a 6th generation Intel i3 CPU, a 4GB RX 470, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, this budget build is a beast. Plain and simple.

It’s capable of playing modern AAA titles in 1080p at 60fps, and it’s going to completely blow your console’s sub-par performance away! Pretty soon your under-powered PS4 will only be used for Netflix!

So without wasting any more time on this intro, let’s get down to the build! If you have any questions, ask me in the comments!

That’s about all you’re going to need, seriously. If this is the first gaming computer you’ve ever built, it might seem like a daunting process that only an expert could complete, but you would be wrong. Building your own gaming PC couldn’t be easier, and there are a ton of concise guides out there that will walk you through the process.

If you’re still thinking that it’s a super-difficult process, just click (or tap) below, skim through the video, and then you’ll know for sure.

Here are the basic steps that I follow when building:
  1. Install the Power Supply into the Case
  2. Install the processor
  3. Install RAM
  4. Mount the CPU cooler
  5. Place the rear I/O plate
  6. Mount the motherboard to the case
  7. Plug your GPU in
  8. Install any storage
  9. Plug everything into the appropriate spots
  10. Turn it on / Install OS & drivers!

Video Walkthrough

Instead of me typing out a ton of of words to explain this process, why not watch this video put together by EasyPCbuilder.com? He does a great job of explaining everything in detail, and is going to get you running in 30 minutes.

Keep in mind that it’s not the exact same build, but the process is really similar. There’s really only 1 way to do things, and it’s pretty hard to mess anything up if you’re being careful.

Cheap Intel Gaming PC Build for $550

Updated: September 5th, 2016

  • Corsair 100R

    Great layout, optimal cooling, front USB 3.0 & 3.5mm audio jacks.
    View

  • Gigabyte GA-H110M-A

    LGA 1151, H110 chipset, mATX, built-in ethernet & integrated audio.
    View

  • Intel i3 6100

    “Skylake”. 3.7GHz, dual-core with hyperthreading, comes with a stock cooler.
    View

  • MSI RX 470 Gaming X

    4GB GDDR5, amazing cooling compared to reference, great overall performance
    View

  • EVGA 500 B1 80+

    500W, 85% efficiency, 3-year warranty.
    View

  • Kingston HyperX Fury (8GB)

    8GB, 2133MHz, DDR4, single stick.
    View

  • Seagate 1TB HDD

    3.5 inch, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache, quiet!
    View

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Something else you might want for your build is a CD/DVD drive. Some components will come with discs to install drivers, and having a CD/DVD drive will really help. Not only that, but when it comes to installing a copy of Windows, it’s way easier to do it from the original disc.

You really don’t need anything fancy, and this Samsung CD/DVD drive will work perfect!

Details

This little build is packing quite a bit of power for such a relatively small price. It’s powerful enough to handle any esports title you can think of either maxed out or very close to while performing exactly like you need it to. It’s even capable of handling AAA games with relative ease, as long as you’re not aiming for the highest settings.

The 6th generation Skylake-based i3 6100 is a strong CPU for what it is, not only that, but it essentially gives you the option to upgrade to a stronger CPU down the road. It’s technically a dual-core CPU, but thanks to one of it’s features called “Hyperthreading” which simulates 2 extra cores, programs and games will recognize the i3 6100 as a quad-core CPU, effectively allowing you to run anything that requires a quad-core.

The motherboard used in this build is great for a budget-level board. It gives us everything we would need, but nothing extra. Because it’s utilizing the H110 chipset, it does not support CPU overclocking and kind of narrows your upgrade path slightly. It comes with an built-in ethernet controller, which means you can run a wired internet connection to this build with no problems and nothing extra needed. It only has 2 DIMM ports for RAM, and that’s something to keep in mind for future upgrades as well.

msi-rx-470-gaming-x--8gbAMD’s brand new RX 470 is a seriously powerful “budget” level graphics card, it has all the rendering power you need to run pretty much any game on high-very high settings if not maxed right out while still getting 60fps in 1080p. MSI did it justice with their Gaming X model that boasts better cooling, less noise, and a better overall look than AMD’s reference cards.

Since this build is using a Skylake processor, we basically have to go with DDR4 RAM, which isn’t such a huge deal anymore since it became a lot more affordable. The motherboard in this build only has 2 DIMM slots for RAM, so running a single stick of 8GB is better than 2 x 4GB if you ever plan on going higher than 8 gigs.

When it comes to picking out your case, there is a huge selection available, and I would really suggest looking around to find one that you really like. The case I picked was based on features & what it will support, rather than any kind of visual points. If you find another case that you like, but you’re not sure if it will work, just as me in the comment section and I’d be glad to help!

The EVGA PSU I chose will supply you with a solid 500W of power, which is more than enough to safely run this build running full-out. Like I mentioned before, EVGA has a reputation of putting together great PC hardware, so you won’t have to worry about this power supply frying your system.

Operating System

Picking out the right operating system is dependant on a couple of factors – what you need, and what you can afford.

windows-10-homeGoing with Windows is generally a good choice when it comes to getting the most compatibility, etc. Your best option when using a Skylake processor is going to be Windows 10, especially with all of the confusion around how long MS will support the older operating systems on Skylake-powered builds. Not to mention Windows 10 exclusives like DirectX 12. Just keep in mind that if you get the retail disc, you will also need a DVD drive. Or, if you want to skip the optical drive there’s also a USB flash drive Windows 10 installer.

However, there is also a free alternative, and that’s Ubuntu (or another Linux-based OS like SteamOS). As Linux is becoming more and more popular, more dev studios are extending their support out to Linux-based operating systems as well, so you can definitely expect to see more and more games supporting Linux. It’s not all golden with Linux, though, and there are quite a few games / programs that just won’t run on it.

When it comes to installing something like Ubuntu on your new PC, it will require you to create your own installation disc / flash drive. It’s not really a difficult process by any means, but it’s just another step to take into consideration. If you wanted to create your own bootable flash drive for either OS, you can find good instructions here.

Extras!

Without a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and some kind of audio, you’re not going to be gaming anytime soon – or doing much of anything with your new PC.

So, unless you already have these peripherals, then you should probably consider looking at what I have suggested below. There’s a huge array of choices available to you, and these are just some of the better & more cost-effective options I’ve picked out.

CM Storm Devastator

An awesome kb+m combo for $30 from Cooler Master!
Read More!

Creative Fatal1ty

Good sound quality, a solid mic, and a budget-minded price are 3 things you get from the Creative Fatal1ty!
Read More!

ASUS VS238H-P

An amazing 23 inch gaming monitor from ASUS! 2ms report rate, 50,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
Read More!

About WiFi…

tplink-dual-band-wifi-adapter-pcieWhen it comes down to connecting to the internet, this build will support a wired connection without needing anything extra, which will always be better than WiFi.

But, if you want / have to use a WiFi connection then you’re also going to need a WiFi adapter.

There are a few different styles of Adapters, but the most common are PCIe or USB mounted. For one, you could get a decent USB-based WiFi adapter for about $20 that would work alright and is the most versatile. Or you could get an internally mounted WiFi adapter that’ll cost about $35, and will give you better performance than the USB option, but depending on your GPU / motherboard config it may not fit.

Conclusion

This entry-level Skylake gaming PC build gives you a solid amount of gaming potential, and lots of room for future upgrades. The parts were hand-picked with the budget-oriented gamer in mind, and the build will last you a long time – especially if you go for the i5 6400 or 6500 upgrade right away.

As it stands, this build will completely destroy next-gen console performance by constantly giving you higher frames per second with higher graphics settings to boot.

Like I said at the start of this guide, not long after you have this beast put together and fired up, your console will either be covered in dust, or only used for streaming some Netflix.

If you have any questions ask me the comment section and I would be happy to help! 

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Author

Branton

The first game that I ever played on a PC was Ultima Online in 1999, and since then I have been hooked on PC gaming, and putting together awesome builds. Thanks for stopping by!

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151 Comments on “Cheap Gaming PC Build for $550 – “The Intel Option””

  1. Can you use these parts instead and have this build still work; a NZXT S340 case, Zotac GTX 1060 3GB, WD Blue 1TB hard drive, and Ballistix sport 2x 4gb ram. I’m going for a white and black build for this budget

    1. Not a problem! I just wanted to double check 🙂 Wouldn’t want someone to accidentally grab the wrong RAM!

  2. SO I purchased exactly the same parts and I do not think the graphics card is compatible? It just will not fit in this case. First time building a PC am i doing something wrong?

    1. Hey Faris I Shteyh,

      There should be plenty of room to work with, the 100r supports up to 16-inch graphics cards in the top slot and the MSI RX 470 is only 10.9-inches.

  3. This is my first setup and I have a few questions, would this work with a Deepcool TESSERACT SW ATX Mid Tower Case? And also should I buy some thermal paste as well? Last, I noticed this wasn’t updated since September 5th, 2016 (As of making this comment) so I was wondering whether there were any better GPU’s or CPU’s for the same price range, or should I just stick with the ones listed?

  4. Will there be any risk of bottlenecking with the CPU and the GPU? Thanks in advance and hopeful to get a response.

  5. Hi this is my first build and I was wondering if the thermaltake versa N21 tower would work with this build?

  6. Will I be able to use an i7-940 CPU and still use this build? Is it a possible upgrade option? And can you recommend a cheap but good aftermarket cooler? I was looking at the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. Thanks for your help.

    1. Hey Jonathan,

      Unfortunately, the i7 940 is a very old CPU and would not work with the motherboard in this build – the i3 6100 actually has stronger single-core performance than the i7 940, believe it or not. The Hyper 212 EVO would work great as an aftermarket cooler, another option is the Cryorig H7.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Is the MSI Intel Skylake B150 LGA 1151 DDR4 USB 3.1 Micro ATX Motherboard (B150M Pro-VD) a good replacement because the motherboard you suggested is around 75 dollars on amazon right now.

        1. Hey Jonothan,

          That would be an awesome replacement. I’m not going to lie, this build kind of gets neglected.. I haven’t even switched it over to the new style yet! I’ll be doing that later today, however.

            1. Hey Jonothan,

              It depends on the cooler, but if you’re getting something like the CM Hyper 212 EVO or the Cryorig H7 they’ll come with paste. That case would work great 🙂

              Hope that helps!

  7. Is the MSI RX 470 Gaming X as good as a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660? I want to run overwatch at a good fps of 60 or above and the recommended graphics card was an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660.

    1. Hey Jeremy,

      The RX 470 is leagues ahead of the GTX 660 in terms of performance 🙂 They’re like night & day in comparison!

  8. Just ordered this build as my first gaming PC and I’m super excited, I’ll mainly be playing game like League of Legends, CSGO, and Rainbow Six Siege. But just to have an idea of how powerful it is, what games would not run very well on this build?

    1. Hey Nate,

      Awesome, good to hear! There’s pretty much nothing that won’t run well on this build – it won’t be maxing out the newest & best games, but you won’t run into any issues playing them on good settings either 🙂

      Hope that helps!

    1. Hey Luis,

      That really depends on how much future expansion you have in mind, it might not be a bad idea to look at some ATX sized motherboards (the one in this build is mATX). Otherwise, the included mobo will be pretty much all most people need 🙂

  9. I am planning to use this PC to play games so if I wanted to run Overwatch on 60 fps (medium settings) would this work? If anyone can help that would be great!

      1. Thanks a million!!! 🙂 would the MSI H110M GAMING with Intel H110 Express microATX Motherboard – LGA1151 Socket improve the PC in any way?

        1. No problem, Alex! It sure would, it would give you more USB ports as one upgrade, otherwise everything else is pretty much the same.

  10. Hi! I got this build and it works great! If I want the best overall improvement, which part should I upgrade first? My upgrade budget is $120 plus whatever I can get for the part I’m replacing. Thanks!

    1. Hey Gabe,

      Awesome, makes me happy to hear that 🙂 Honestly, I wouldn’t upgrade anything just yet – but the first one would definitely be the CPU for an i5. That would give you the most noticeable performance increase within your price range (assuming you get ~$100 for the i3).

      Hope that helps!

  11. Branton about the last version of this 550 build do you still save the link from them?. Plan to get this once i get my brithday money 500

  12. Hey dude this P.C is awesome but the Ram is 16 GB single stick more liked and Nvidea GE 1080 is better graphic card

    1. Hey Rahul,

      I agree, the GTX 1080 is definitely better – that’s why it costs more than this build does on its own 🙂

  13. Im thinking go getting this pc but will it run CS GO and minecraft more than 100fps good settings ??

    1. CS:GO for sure, Minecraft would depend on your settings but you’ll be closer to 60fps if your world is massive.

  14. Love this build. Though what i5 processor would you recommend. I’m not sure the i3 would be enough since I also want to use my system for data visualization software. (Tableau) if you know what that is. Thanks so much.

  15. Dear Branton,

    In your build and in some comments people ask if they need to buy a cooler for the processor and you always say that the processor comes with the cooler, my question is that your link to the amazon page for the Intel i3 6100 there are 3 options, Processor, Processor + Cooler, Processor + Liquid Cooler, what of these options should I choose? Thank you for this wonderful guide and thanks in advance for answering my question.

    1. Hey Vance,

      The “Processor + Cooler” and “Processor + Liquid Cooler” options come with aftermarket coolers that are really unnecessary for an i3 6100. The standard “Processor” option comes with a stock cooler that’s more than sufficient to keep the CPU nice and cool 🙂

      1. Dear Branton,

        I was also wondering if you know any of the trends of the price fluctuation on amazon for these parts, over the past few days while I’ve been planning my build I’ve noticed them change ~$2-3 in price so any tips on when to buy would be much appreciated.

  16. Will this be able to run games such as CS GO, Rust and Arma 3? If so what kind of performance would I get? Any help/advice is appreciated.

    Thanks

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