The Best Budget Gaming PC Build for $400

In $400-$800, Custom Builds by Branton481 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 2GB 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:
-Install the Power Supply into the Case
-Install the processor (make sure the arrows line up)
-Install RAM (make sure they are in the right way before you try to seat them!)
-Mount the CPU cooler
-Place the rear I/O plate
-Mount the motherboard to the case (get your i/o ports through and use the middle standoff as a guide)
-Plug your GPU in
-Install any storage
-Plug everything into the appropriate spots
-Turn it on / Install OS & drivers!

In-depth Walkthrough

Instead of me typing out a ton 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.

Or, if you did want a ton of words, I’ve put together somewhat of a crash course to building your gaming PC that you might want to check out, in it I explain what each part’s role is in your PC as well as how to put everything together. There’s also this FAQ which covers some of the most commonly asked questions.

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.

Best Budget Gaming PC Build Under $400

Updated: September 19th, 2017

  • Rosewill SRM 01

    mATX case, 13.86 x 6.89 x 13.78 inches.
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  • Gigabyte GA-B250M-DS3H

    mATX size, H110 chipset, LGA 1151 socket. 6x SATA3, 6x USB. Supports up to 2400MHz RAM.
    View

  • Pentium G4400

    3.3GHz dual-core processor. LGA 1151 socket-type. Comes with a stock cooler.
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  • EVGA GTX 1050 2GB

    2GB GDDR5 VRAM, small form-factor, incredible 60fps capable budget performance!
    View

  • EVGA 430 W1 80+

    430W, up to 80% efficiency, 3-year warranty
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  • 8GB Crucial Ballistix Sport LT

    2x 4GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM, CL16.
    View

  • Seagate 1TB HDD

    7200 RPM, 64MB cache, quiet & reliable!
    View

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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 7th 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 Kaby Lake processor like the i5 7500. For a ~$400 build, this processor is actually pretty amazing.

The Gigabyte GA-B250M-DS3H is great budget-level mobo and it’s going to give us all of the features that we might need and more. It has 4 DIMM slots for RAM leaving lots of room for future expansion as well as multiple SATA ports for increased storage. 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.

Nvidia’s new GTX 1050 has become the new budget-level powerhouse by offering the best price vs. performance ratio at this level. EVGA did the GTX 1050 justice with their compact but powerful 1050 Gaming model. 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 2400MHz Ballistix Sport LT line that’ll work great while giving you room to grow. If you eventually decide that you want to add more RAM, 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
    View

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 I ever played on PC was Ultima Online way back in 1999, since then I've been hooked on PC gaming and putting together awesome builds! Thanks for stopping by!

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481 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.

  3. I already have a 5,400 RPM 2tb drive, is that gonna be a problem that it’s not 7,200 RPM? What effects would it have on my PC?

    1. The speed difference won’t be a problem per say, it just won’t be as good as a 7200 RPM drive. Your HDD will operate slightly slower in comparison, that’s all.

  4. If I have a hard drive right now that’s a hhd and it’s 2tb but it’s only 5,400 RPM should I not use it and just buy a 1tb 7,200 RPM drive? Will my computer be slower if I use the 5,400 RPM drive?

    1. Hey Angel,

      It’ll definitely run those games, but H1 might be a little rough until it’s been better optimized.

  5. New to pc gaming so excuse the question but can this support dual monitors or do I need another graphics card?

    1. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need to, John 🙂

      It can definitely support dual monitors, it can actually support up to 3 if you needed it to! But, if you want to span games across those 2 monitors in an ultra-wide resolution, then you would probably want something with a little more power.

  6. If I ran games like Doom or Rainbow Six Siege, do you think I could still get at least 30 fps?

  7. Hi,
    not to sound crazy, but, without getting into the realm of crazy ebay stuff, is there any really good money saving techniques to utilize as I have a fully built ancient hp desktop that i want to harvest parts from,
    thanks,
    Jerome

    1. Hey Aaron,

      Yep, definitely. The Pentium G4560 probably isn’t the best choice for a CPU intensive game like GTA:V, but the GTX 1050 can handle it no problem.

    1. Hey Brett,

      This build would work great for less intensive games like CS:GO and Overwatch, but H1Z1 is a more CPU-intensive game and I’d almost recommend upgrading to an i3 7100 over the Pentium G4560 for it.

  8. Hi there Branton!

    I’m back! This was my build 14 months ago. I wrote you a bunch last year and this is what I was able to come up with. I’ve since added a 1TB SSD when it was on sale. But I didn’t clone my 250GB hard drive to it. I thought I could just add it and use both but for some reason I cannot find the 1TB Samsung SSD on the pc. So am I able to take it out and reinstall it and clone the 250gb hard drive to it this time? My 250gb is totally full now. 🙁 here is my build from last year:

    MSI Z170A motherboard
    Samsung 250GB SSD
    16GB Kingston Ram
    EVGA’s 500B1 PSU
    G4400 processor
    Corsair Carbide Spec 2 case
    Samsung opticle drive
    Windows 10 Home

    So now I want to upgrade the CPU, and unnoticed the core i5 7600k is only a couple dollars more on amazon right now! Can I use that here? It’s not sky lake but it I think that doesn’t matter right?

    Also I have been eyeing the Radeon 380 (?) 8gb graphics card forever but not sure if it’s better than your recommendation last year of the gtx 1060 6gb. I’d like to make my pic capable of using something like the oculus rift with ease. I tried that out this winter and it was awesome!

    I still have a budget, but I guess I’m looking for the best value and bang for my buck.

    Thank again for enlightening me!

    1. Welcome back, Samuel!

      This video should help you get your HDD/SSD combo setup; I’m pretty sure all you have to do now is setup a new volume, should only take you a few minutes 🙂

      You can definitely use your MSI Z170A mobo with a Kaby Laky CPU like the 7600K, just make sure that your mobo’s BIOS is updated before you swap CPUs. Updating your BIOS is pretty easy to do, especially with your particular mobo; You can either download MSI’s Live Update 6 app and have it update your BIOS for you, or you can do it manually by downloading the BIOS drivers onto a small flash drive, restarting your PC and entering your BIOS, selecting “m-flash” and then installing the drivers from the flash drive. Either way will work.

      The 1060 beats the 380 by a fair margin, the 8GB RX 580 released recently and it would be the one you want to look at as far as AMD goes… But, it’s almost impossible to get one right now due to how new it is. If you can hold off for a month on the graphics card I think we’ll see the prices come down for the 1060s and more 580s become available.

      Hope that helps!

  9. I have a little jingle. I can now definitely afford the gtx 1060 6gb (over the 3gb – I was most considering)

    I want to build a pic for my wife with my extras I’ll have left over from the upgrade. She is t interested in gaming but loves messing around with pictures. She loves taking pictures.

    What would be the smallest case and best value motherboard to support my G4400 processor, gtx 950 video card, and one or two of my 4gb Kingston ram? I can give her my 250gb SSD, and add that 2 TB SSHD you recommended me last year. I’d like a more capable optical drive so I can give her mine. Something that can scan a DVD and save it onto an external hard drive… we have over 400 DVD’s and. 4TB external drive we’d like to use to start transferring those to it.

    Should I upgrade my power supply? If so to what? And if not then what should I buy for her pc?

    I want the core i5 7600k processor and will need a cooler for it. What would be the most I realistically need? If I push my new build to its limits, would the fan be enough or would you suggest I buy the liquid cooled heat sink?

    I don’t plan on upgrading this desktop after this upgrade. I will ride this out until I decide to build a new one years from now.

    Thanks in advance.

  10. Branton! I went to Fry’s Electronics and they price matched all of their items to match amazon, new egg and many other sites… So I took your advice, I bought the gigabyte GTX 1060 6gb, the core i5 7600k, they didn’t sell the older liquid heat sink, so I bought the H80i v2, sales person said it would fit into my spec 2 case. I upgraded my Power supply to an 850 and then I bought some things to build a pc for my wife… Bought her a beautiful white case $50, $60 motherboard, 2x 4gb ram cards for $60. She’s getting my old processor from last years $400 build, old GTX 950 2gb…

    I watched the videos you recommended! Thanks so much! I really struggled trying to understand how to get my bios to the new version 6… but somehow after many attempts I figured it out. The video on you sent me for being able to find and format my 1TB SSD was amazing! It worked perfect! Then I found another video on migration… I was kicking my self for not migrating it during install! So It is migrating now! I will take the 250gb SSD out and put it in the wife’s computer…

    I feel overwhelmed again, all over for this build.. It’s very challenging for me, but I now know I can do it because with your help last year I did it! I’m very grateful for your site and guidance! I’m super stoked to play my games with my new setup with I get it done! I need to buy her just a wifi adapter and a SSHD and she will be set!

    Things I still want advice on are: I want to give her my optical drive and would like a much better optical drive, I want to be able to read and write DVD’s and CD’s… I’m not sure how to read that in abbreviated form… I have developed a love affair with most things Samsung… So that is preferred, but not necessary.

    Respectfully,
    Samuel 🙂

    1. Sounds like you two will be gaming together in no time!! The H80i V2 is an awesome CPU cooler, I used it for a long time and it never let me down.

      I’m glad that you were able to get your drives all sorted out, now you’ll know exactly what to do when it’s time to add another one!

      Nothing to feel overwhelmed about! You’ve successfully built 1 PC so you could easily build 100 with that same knowledge 🙂

      This is about the best choice in terms of Samsung CD/DVD+RW ODDs, 24x, 1.5GB/s, all the specs you need to burn quickly.

      Hope that helps!

  11. Branton, need help, debug dram light is on (on motherboar), at start up for just a few seconds, then it goes off. The monitor will not come on. Need help bud. I’m kinda stuck. Thanks in advance

  12. Started off with CPU light for a quick second and then switches one time to dram and dram stays on for upwards of 5-6 seconds before shutting off.

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