The Best Budget Gaming PC Build for $400

In $400-$800, Custom Builds by Branton439 Comments

budget gaming pc build under 400

This $400 budget beast is a MOBA/CS:GO powerhouse and will blow consoles away when it comes to AAA games. It’s packing a lot of power for a small price and also gives you lots of room for future upgrades. Coming equipped with a Pentium G4400, a brand new GTX 1050 and 8GB of RAM, this build will blow through your favorite games like you can’t even imagine!

Games like DOTA2 or CS:GO and any other popular e-sports game will run great on this build, and you’ll even be able to pull off 50fps+ in the more demanding AAA titles like The Witcher 3, GTA:V, or Dark Souls 3.

Without burning up any more time on this intro, let’s get down to the build!

  • A couple different styled/sized screwdrivers
  • Anti-static wristband (optional but suggested)
  • Patience

The actual process of building your new PC is actually a lot easier than you’re currently sitting there thinking it is.

With the dawn of YouTube also came the dawn of as many “How To:” videos that you could ever want. There are a ton of great videos to walk you through the setup of your new PC, and I’ve featured one in the box below, I would suggest watching it once or twice to get everything somewhat figured out.

Here are the basic steps that I follow when building:

  1. Install power supply
  2. Install processor into the motherboard
  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 spot
  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.

Best Budget Gaming PC Build Under $400

Updated: March 23rd, 2017

  • Rosewill SRM 01

    mATX, 13.86 x 6.89 x 13.78 inches.
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  • Gigabyte GA-H110M-S2H

    mATX, LGA 1151, H110 chipset. Built-in ethernet controller.
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  • Pentium G4400

    3.3GHz, dual-core. LGA 1151 socket-type. Comes w/ a stock cooler.
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  • Zotac GTX 1050 2GB

    2GB GDDR5 VRAM, small form-factor, incredible 60fps capable budget performance!
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  • EVGA 430 W1 80+

    430W, up to 80% efficiency, 3-year warranty
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  • 1x Crucial Ballistix Sport LT

    8GB DDR4, 2400MHz, CL16. Single stick.
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  • Seagate BarraCuda 1TB HDD

    3.5 inch, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache, quiet & reliable!
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Suggested/Optional

Add-ons like SSDs and optical drives are by no means necessary, but they may give you a better experience. If you’re planning on installing your OS from a disc instead of a USB flash drive then you’ll definitely need an optical drive.

  • Windows 10 (USB Installer)

    Windows 10 is your best bet when it comes to picking an operating system. This version is a USB installer.
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  • 120GB PNY CS1311 SSD

    Up to 90,000 IOPS read & write. An SSD is the single best upgrade to make your PC feel faster but it won’t increase FPS in games.
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  • Samsung Internal 24x CD DVD±R/RW kit

    Comes with mounting hardware & cables. An optical drive isn’t necessary, but if you’re installing your OS from a disc you’ll need it.
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  • Samsung Ultra-Slim External CD DVD±R/RW

    A lot of people are moving away from internally mounted optical drives, and it’s easy to see why! This one is definitely one of the cheaper & better options to consider.
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Details

Building a budget gaming PC for around $400 is a really challenging thing to do, to do it right that is. You have to balance power with price, and it has to be done well. This build is hopefully a good example of positive balance. Keep in mind that the price above is for the core components only, you will still need an operating system, and any other peripherals you don’t currently have.

pentium-g4400The 6th gen Intel Pentium G4400 is a great entry-level LGA 1151 processor for the builder on a budget. It’s going to get you into games with really decent performance (considering the price) and it will allow you to eventually upgrade to a stronger Skylake processor like the i5 6500. For a ~$400 build, this processor is actually pretty amazing.

The Gigabyte GA-H110M-S2H is decent budget-level mobo and it’s going to give us all of the features that we might need, but not a lot more. It has 2 DIMM slots for RAM, which is somewhat limiting, but you’ll likely only need 2 anyways. It also has an onboard ethernet controller which means you can easily run a wired internet connection without needing anything extra, and wired is always better than WiFi when it comes to gaming.

zotac-gtx-1050-2gbNvidia’s brand new GTX 1050 has become the new budget-level powerhouse by inching out AMD’s RX 460 by offering better performance for the same cost! Zotac did the 1050 justice with this 2GB rendition of Nvidia’s new card, and it’s going to perform seriously amazing in 1080p. Games like CS:GO and other esports titles will run absolutely flawlessly, and other more intensive games like Fallout 4 or GTA:V will also run extremely well – way better than on console! High settings in GTA:V will give you an average of 60+fps!

DDR4 RAM is really the only good option when it comes to running a Skylake-based build, and 8GB is really all any gaming PC needs as of right now. With that in mind, I loaded in a single 8GB stick from Crucial’s Ballistix Sport line that’ll work great while giving you room to grow. If you decide to add another stick of RAM eventually, just make sure that it’s the same speed at the very least, the same make/model would be even better.

For storage, a 1TB HDD will be more than enough for most people, but there are other options that you might want to consider. The single “best” upgrade to make your PC “feel” faster (you won’t get more fps in games) is an SSD. Although they’re pricey for the amount of storage you get, they’re definitely worth the extra cost if you like your computer to boot really fast / anything else installed on the SSD. The PNY CS1311 is one of the better budget-level options, if you’re considering adding an SSD to your build.

Operating System

The operating system you choose is going to depend on how much you have to spend, or how much you want a legitimate copy of Windows.

windows-10-homeWindows is the most common choice, and because this build is running a Skylake processor, you’re going to want to look at Windows 10. It’s going to give you access to the widest range of compatible games & programs while running really smoothly. It’s come a long way since launch, and it’s definitely worth checking out. But, it’s your build, so you can pick whichever version you’re most comfortable with.

Ubuntu is a great option for a lot of people for the main reason that it’s entirely free. It’s a Linux-based operating system that will allow you to play quite a few games, but not everything that Windows would. With the launch of SteamOS you can almost guarantee that more dev studios will port their games to Linux sooner than later.

When it comes to actually installing your operating system, you have pretty much 2 options. You’ll have to either install it from an optical drive or create your own bootable flash drive with a Windows installer.

The first option is obviously a lot easier, and doesn’t require any additional time, but you’re going to have to make sure you grab the DVD drive linked above. If you want to make your own bootable flash drive, you can find instructions here.

Extras

If you don’t already have the basic peripherals to go with your new PC, you’re definitely going to want them. You’re going to need a mouse, keyboard and a monitor – at least. Headphones or some kind of speakers would also be a good idea.

If this is the scenario that you’re in, then we have some really awesome suggestions for you to consider. The keyboard and mouse we’ve featured might be from a brand you haven’t heard of, but Redragon makes some really awesome peripherals that retail for way less than you would expect.

  • Asus VS238H-P

    23″, 1080p 60Hz, 2ms response time – Great for gaming
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  • CM Storm Devastator II KB+M Combo

    An awesome keyboard + mouse combo from Cooler Master for around $30! Available with red, green, or blue backlighting.
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  • Creative Fatal1ty

    Good sound quality, a solid mic, and a budget-minded price are 3 things you get from the Creative Fatal1ty headset.
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  • Reflex Lab Mouse Pad

    Super smooth, very accurate, and extremely comfortable to use! Reflex Lab mouse pads are available in 4 sizes from your basic 9″ x 8″ right up to a whopping 36″ x 18″!
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WiFi

If you plan on using a WiFi connection, then you’re also going to need some kind of WiFi adapter as very few motherboards come with it built-in.

You have a couple of options, either a USB-based WiFi adapter, or one that mounts internally, but you only need one. USB is more convenient and much cheaper in most cases, but they’re often less reliable than an internally mounted unit.

  • TP-LINK TL-WDN4800

    Internally mounted WiFi adapter. 2.4GHz or 5GHz.
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  • TP-LINK TL-WN722N

    USB WiFi adapter. 2.4GHz
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Conclusion

If you came here looking to build yourself a kickass and cheap gaming PC for $400, I hope you found what you were looking for. The power this build puts out is nothing to scoff at, and it’s definitely going to outperform your PS4 or Xbone.

This is definitely a console competitor and it’s going to give you quite a bit of power in a nice space-saving package. I set it up so you can easily upgrade components as they go on sale or get cheap – better yet would be to wait until you have the $ saved for a slightly higher priced build.

All-in-all, you will be hard pressed to build a better gaming PC build for around $400. It’s cheap, it’s compact, and it’s relatively powerful.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below, and share this with your friends!

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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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439 Comments on “The Best Budget Gaming PC Build for $400”

  1. What would be the best upgrade if you had 50 dollars more? An upgrade that would solely improve gaming performance or computer speed would be what i would like to upgrade, but what would be the best in your opinion?

    1. Hey Gabe,

      That’s a tough call. I would either upgrade to an i3 CPU from the Pentium G4400, an i3 6100 would work great 🙂 Or I would upgrade the graphics card, that extra $50 could get you a more powerful RX 470 instead of the GTX 1050.

  2. I’m looking for a good entry to the PC world I’ve never built one and I’m kinda nervious I won’t know how, I don’t know much about what each part does and stuff but I have a few questions, all I’m looking for in a PC right now is something that can run most all AAA games with good quality is that this build or do I need something more expensive? Also is it ok if I use my own 1 tb SSD insted of the listed 1 tb HDD? Would I need to buy an adapter or something?

    1. Hey Ryan,

      No worries, I’ve got you covered! Check out this quick intro that I put together, it’ll give you a fast run-down on each of the components, what they do, and also how to put everything together.

      This build will keep up with the consoles, but I personally wouldn’t consider console quality (medium settings @ ~60fps) “good” when compared to what you can get out of a PC by investing a bit more. A $600 build would give you way more power and get you running most AAA titles on high settings in 1080p @ 60fps. You can definitely use your own storage, just make sure that it’s properly formatted and doesn’t contain an existing operating system/drivers from an old system.

      Hope that helps! If there’s anything else, just ask 🙂

    1. If it holds your OS or drivers for your old PC, then it would need to be completely wiped clean or it could cause issues on the new build. There are alternatives, but that’s usually going to be your best bet.

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