The Best Budget Gaming PC Build for $400

In $400-$800, Custom Builds by Branton450 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.
    View

  • Gigabyte GA-H110M-S2H

    mATX, LGA 1151, H110 chipset. Built-in ethernet controller.
    View

  • Pentium G4400

    3.3GHz, dual-core. LGA 1151 socket-type. Comes w/ a stock cooler.
    View

  • Zotac 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
    View

  • 1x Crucial Ballistix Sport LT

    8GB DDR4, 2400MHz, CL16. Single stick.
    View

  • Seagate BarraCuda 1TB HDD

    3.5 inch, 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. View

  • 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. View

  • 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. View

  • 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. View

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 View

  • 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.
    View

  • Creative Fatal1ty

    Good sound quality, a solid mic, and a budget-minded price are 3 things you get from the Creative Fatal1ty headset.
    View

  • 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″! View

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. View

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

  1. Hi Branton,
    I was wondering if later I could swap out the CPU with a i5 or i3. Would the motherboard still be compatible?

    1. Hey,

      You definitely could! The motherboard will support all LGA 1151 socket CPUs, like the i3 6100 or the i5 6500. But, I would suggest upgrading straight to an i5 when it comes time.

      I hope that helps!

  2. Hey this is my first time building a PC and I was wondering if there is any specific instructions to putting this together. Also, will this run Overwatch and Team Fortress 2 well.

    1. Hey Tanner,

      Above the parts list there’s a tab titled “How to build your PC” which includes steps & a video 🙂 It will run both games well, medium settings will get you 60fps+ in Overwatch.

    1. Hey Ali,

      Minecraft would take the biggest hit if you wanted to max it out with a 750ti, but DOTA 2 would still be able to get over/around 60fps on ultra.

      I hope that helps!

    1. Hey Bobby,

      Definitely, A GTX 960 would work perfectly! if you don’t mind doing a mail-in rebate, you can get this one for a really great price right now.

    1. Hey Rick,

      No aftermarket CPU cooler is needed, the stock one will work just fine 🙂 That doesn’t mean you couldn’t add one if you wanted, but it’s really not necessary.

      I hope that helps!

    1. Hey Robbie,

      You don’t. The CPU comes with a stock CPU cooler and the case will come with a fan. If you needed one, I would have said so in the parts list 😉

    1. Hey Rick,

      The only real difference is the cost (and a clock difference that would be almost unnoticeable in comparison). The EVGA GTX 950 that was previously loaded in this build had recently shot way up in price which forced me to swap it out for the more cost-effective Gigabyte option.

      I hope that helps clear up any confusion I might have caused 🙂

  3. Will the new dawn of war game be able to be played with as also civ 6 the only real reason i want a new pc

    1. Hey Logan,

      There haven’t been any system requirements confirmed for either game yet, so I can’t really say anything that isn’t speculation based on assumptions. That said, I would assume that DoW3 will have some issues running on this build with anything higher than low-mid settings, but Civ6 should run well if the requirements turn out similar to Beyond Earth’s.

  4. Is this the cheapest budget you recommend for pc gaming? I’ve seen many other people who do $300 console killer builds so I was just curious.

    1. Hi Lucas,

      Pretty much, yep. You could shave off ~$50 or so by downgrading the GPU (GTX 750ti), RAM (4GB instead of 8GB) and storage (this 500GB HDD), but that’s about as cheap as a gaming PC is going to get, and to save that ~$50 you’re sacrificing more than $50 of performance in my opinion.

      I hope that helps!

      1. Thanks man! I’ll probably save up to buy your $400 build around christmas time. Also one more thing, are you going to update your builds for the rx 480?

        1. No problem! By Christmas time a build at this level is going to look a lot different than it does now, there should be way more options in terms of budget-level graphics cards at the very least. I will definitely be updating my builds when the Polaris-based cards start to launch.

        1. Whether it’s “good” is generally a matter of perspective 🙂 But, I like your build and I think that it would work great for the right person.

          Going backwards to the G3258 would be an alright choice, but only if you’re going to overclock it (in which case you might want an aftermarket CPU cooler), is that why you picked that awesome little H81 board that’ll support a 4.5GHz OC? If you were planning to OC the G3258, it would outperform the G4400 and be the better short-term choice, otherwise, sticking with the current gen G4400, an LGA 1151 socket mobo and DDR4 RAM might be a better idea (here’s what that would look like) – the next gen of Intel CPUs (Kaby Lake) will also use the LGA 1151 socket like Skylake does, so you’ll have way more potential options when it comes time to upgrade your CPU, if that’s what you had in mind. The R7 360 is alright for what it costs, it’s actually pretty solid, but it’s still outperformed by the GTX 750ti by quite a bit for not a lot more (here’s what it would look like w/ a 750ti). Everything else looks awesome 🙂

          That all said, since you’re not going to be building until around Christmas time, the options you have now aren’t going to be the same as in 5-6 months. By then we’ll likely see some major changes (AMD’s Polaris to name one) and price shifts that will allow for some really powerful budget-level builds.

          I hope that helps!

    1. Hey Jerry,

      If you’re referring to streaming PS4 games to your PC, this build can definitely handle that without an issue.

      I hope that helps!

  5. Hey brandon,

    i have 2 questions for you. will this be able to run games like bf4, gta 5, and arma 3 & 2 at low/medium settings at 30fps+? also, do i need thermal paste?

    1. Hey Hayden,

      It definitely can, it can actually handle those games on higher settings than you’re hoping for. For instance, GTA:V could run on high settings and get 30-40fps most of the time. BF4 would run a lot better in comparison, here’s a benchmark so you can see exactly how well it’ll run with the G4400 & GTX 950 🙂

      You do need thermal paste, but it’ll come preapplied to the bottom of the CPU cooler, so you won’t need to actually buy any yourself.

      I hope that helps 🙂

  6. Hey Branton

    thanks for the quick reply. i am definitely going to be getting this for christmas,if i can convince my parents to let me build it, hopefully i can help them out with the payment. btw do you any good cheaper monitors? if so i would really appreciate it.

    1. No problem, Hayden! By Christmas, it’ll be a completely different build – it should have wayyy more power!!

      The 21.5″ Acer G226HQL is probably the most affordable option that would also work well for gaming.

    1. Hey again Jeff,

      Not really, no. Although it’s far from the worst power supply out there and it’s great for this level, when you have more room in your budget it’s always a better idea to go with a higher-grade PSU.

    1. Hey Jim,

      It sure can. Skyrim would run really well depending on how many & the type of mods you install, but TW: Warhammer would require a mixture of medium & low settings to maintain 30fps+ in larger battles as it can be really hardware intensive.

      I hope that helps!

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