The Best Budget Gaming PC Build for $400

In $400-$800, Custom Builds by Branton422 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: January 1st, 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

  • Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD

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

Estimated
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Potential Upgrades

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.

  • 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.
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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.
    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.
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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″!
    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.
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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 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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422 Comments on “The Best Budget Gaming PC Build for $400”

  1. Hey thanks for replying! Is it possible to get a different tower case than the rosewill? and if yes can you tell me what kind?

    Thanks, Tristan

    1. Hey Tristan,

      No problem! You could use a different case for sure, maybe something like the Vivo V02? Pretty much any mATX or ATX case will work, if you find one that you like but you’re unsure if it’s compatible/a good choice, feel free to drop a link and I’ll take a look 🙂

  2. Hey i love the build but is everything you need included? Is there a system speaker? audio jacks. If there is stuff missing can you list them? I want to make sure everything is fine for the build because i’m probably gonna consider it.

    1. Hey Alex,

      All of the core components that you’ll need are included, which includes audio, video, power, cables, etc. Things like the operating system, keyboard, mouse, monitor & speakers/headset are not included in the price, however.

    1. Hey Ryan,

      It depends on a lot of things, in a build like this a single stick is better to start off with so you can just add another one to have more RAM, instead of having to replace 2 perfectly good sticks of RAM to add more.

      1. also if i were to mix and match parts from the 500 dollar build and 400 dollar pc build and make sure they are compatible would that be ok

        1. sorry one last thing : if i were to order the parts separately because i need to order a different case do you have a recomendation for a good i5 cpu, and if i ordered them separately do i have to get the operating system on a usb.

          1. The i5 6400 would be something to consider for sure. But, you might be better off with an i3 6100 due to the cost. You don’t necessarily have to get the USB installer for Windows, you could get the disc version as well, but you will need an OS either way.

  3. This build looks great for the money. How will it perform with flight sims like IL2 Sturmovik or Rise Of Flight? Would I have to turn down the effects to get a good frame rate? Thanks

  4. Would an Intel G3258 4 Pentium 3.20 GHz 3M Cache 2 Core Processor work with this build/is it better than the Pentium G4400?

    1. Hey Liam,

      It would not work with this build and is worse than the G4400 – the G4400 is actually the new G3258.

  5. I saw some comparisons with these two processors on Amazon (not the most trustworthy site) and I’m not sure if it true or not. This is my first build and I am very new to all of this.

    1. Ha, I think Amazon is pretty trustworthy – they wouldn’t be the biggest online retailer in the world if they weren’t 🙂 The review section might be hit or miss at times, but that’s the same anywhere really.

    1. Hey Dylan,

      Honestly, it really depends on the settings you want to run at. If you’re going to be playing something along the lines of Forza Horizon 3, you will want a GTX 1050Ti or a GTX 1060 without a doubt.

      Hope that helps and Happy Holidays!

    1. Hey Nichols,

      Nope, the X4 860K would require a different motherboard – plus the Pentium G4400 completely blows it out of the water in terms of performance.

    1. Hey Luis,

      It will definitely run overwatch, high settings should get you around 60fps. There are plenty of case options, but not many around the same price point unfortunately.

  6. Hi, I was wondering if this build would work with Windows 7. I’m not a fan of Windows 10 and I’m unfamiliar with other OS.

    1. Hey Leviathon,

      Windows 7 would definitely work, but keep in mind that MS have been making things Windows 10 exclusive, like DirectX 12 and even some games.

  7. I’m pretty new to this so you said the ssd is a good choice do a not get the other hard drive and get the ssd or get both for the pc

    1. Hey Ryan,

      At this level, it’s a really, really tough call. If you have a bit more in your budget, getting an SSD to start with would be a good idea, but anything worthwhile (at least 240gb) is going to take this build way over $400 which is something to keep in mind. Otherwise, an HDD will give you more space for less $ to start.

      BUT, if you have room in your budget for an SSD… Well, that extra might be better spent on a stronger GPU or CPU… And that’s what it makes it a really, really tough call.

    1. Also, I want to know if I can run my favorite games at high settings, like overwatch, dying light, rocket league, doom, etc. (doom might be a bit of a problem but Idk)

      Btw I’m new to all of this and I really like your build. I don’t know much at all so if I miss something obvious you know why.

      1. A build at this level is more suited for mid-level graphics in new AAA titles but it can handle high settings in most esports games like Rocket League.

        Everyone has to start somewhere!

    2. Hey Aldan,

      It should work just fine!

      The LED lights are powered through your motherboard and ultimately by your power supply – so they don’t need to be charged 🙂

      Hope that helps!

  8. I’m not sure how to do the whole OS stuff but do you buy it on amazon or do you have to do something else. I’m very new to this type of pc stuff, fyi. Also, is there a way to plug in PS4/XONE controllers and if so how?

    1. You can buy it off of Amazon, another website, or through a local store if they have a better price (Microcenters are great).

      There sure is! Both can be used, but the Xbone controller works the easiest as far as I know. If you already have a Xbone controller all you need to do is either use your charging cable to plug it in or grab one of these USB adapters to use it wirelessly 🙂 I haven’t tried a PS4 controller in a while, but you used to have to use third party software to get it to work and it was just a hassle, I honestly don’t know if that has changed recently as I just use an Xbone controller.

    1. Hey Dylan,

      Pretty much anything could be upgraded to make this build stronger, GPU, CPU, RAM, storage, and everything else could be upgraded or expanded to be more powerful 🙂

    1. Hey Michael,

      There are a few caveats with any Linux-based OS. As an example, some games won’t be compatible with Linux by default, but most of them can be run through a program like Wine and still work alright.

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