Building a good cheap gaming PC on a budget of around $550 is definitely not impossible. This build is packing an AMD R5 2600, an 8GB RX 580, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 480GB of SSD storage. Now, that's a solid, yet inexpensive gaming PC! Easily on par with the top-level (Pro and X) consoles.
This build won't result in the most powerful desktop around, but it won't be the weakest either - not by a long shot! It'll be more than capable of playing AAA games in 1080p without an issue. You can play practically anything on this build on max settings while getting 60fps performance.
When it comes to this gaming PC, no upgrades are off the table. Want more storage? Add it! Need more RAM? Get more!! Craving a more powerful GPU or CPU? Upgrade!!! I think you get the picture.
Have a question? Ask me in the comment section!
The Best $550 Gaming PC Build
Updated: October 3rd, 2019
Thermaltake Versa H15
A good, inexpensive, mATX case. Comes with 1x 120mm fan and support for 2 more.
MSI B450M Pro-M2
A good mATX motherboard on the B450 chipset. 6x USB ports + 4x SATA ports and 1x M.2.
AMD R5 2600
3.9GHz 6-core 12-thread processor. Comes with a good CPU cooler (AMD Wraith Stealth).
PowerColor RX 580 Red Dragon (8GB)
A great GPU for 1080p gaming. An RX 580 is the best options in terms of price vs performance at this level.
Thermaltake Smart 500W
500W 80+ rated non-modular power supply, 5-year warranty.
8GB HyperX Fury DDR4 RAM
2x4GB 2666MHz DDR4 RAM. More RAM can be added if needed.
Kingston A400 480GB SSD
A great 480GB SSD.
- A small Phillips screwdriver
Size #2 works well as a general rule.
- An anti-static wristband
Optional but recommended.
- Patience And lots of it.
That’s really all you need to assemble your new desktop. All of the mounting hardware and cables will come with the parts listed above. The only time you might need something extra is if you’re modifying the build on this page.
Below you'll find a handful of different add-ons and upgrades for this build. Some are necessary, specifically a copy of Windows 10, but some are completely optional like an SSD and/or an upgraded CPU cooler.
Windows 10 is your best bet when it comes to picking an operating system. This version is a USB installer. View
LG Electronics 8X External DVD Writer
With a lot of modern PC cases moving away from internal 5.25″ bays, external optical drives like this one have become much more popular then their internally-mounted counterparts. View
TP-Link Archer T3U
If you have to use WiFi, you will also need a WiFi adapter like this one. Read more about WiFi below. View
Building your own gaming PC doesn't have to be an insanely difficult and stressful process. Using guides like this one you should be able to streamline everything but the actual build process. This $550 budget build is capable of handling 1080p gaming without an issue. If you want to stream, this is NOT the build for you; for that, you'll need an 8th-9th gen i5/an older i7 processor (or an AMD equivalent) at the very least.
Keep in mind that the price listed above is for the core components only, you will still need an operating system, and any other peripherals you don't currently have.
Case: Thermaltake's H15 mATX case is my usual go-to for cheaper builds. Not only is the price almost perfect, but the case performs will in all areas outside of cable management.
However, the cable management isn't all that bad if you take your time and work smart. It comes with 1x 120mm fan and will support 2 more. Liquid cooling radiators will have trouble fitting in the H15, but it's not impossible to do. If you want a different case, check out the best mATX cases.
Processor (CPU): AMD's R5 2600 is the absolute best CPU you can buy without spending more than $180 right now. Due to the recent release of the 3000-series, this absolute gem from the 2000-series can see prices below $150. At that price, you simply can't go wrong with an R5 2600.
The R5 2600 is an unlocked processor and does support overclocking. However, its stock CPU cooler will be good enough for light overclocking. However, if you want even more cooling potential then check out the best CPU coolers for 2019!
Graphics Card (GPU): An RX 580 is a phenomenal graphics card for 1080p gaming. Especially when you consider that you're paying less than $200 for one. It'll have no problem running ANY games in 1080p on very high-ultra settings... Assuming they're not unoptimized early access titles, that is.
PowerColor's RX 580 Red Dragon 8GB is easily one of the best options in terms of price vs performance right now.
System Memory (RAM): When it comes to RAM, 8GB is still all you need for gaming this far into 2019. There will come a time (sooner than later) when most games will demand maybe 12GB or more, but that time hasn't come just yet. Even some of the very few games that currently "require" 16GB run perfectly fine with an 8GB-12GB setup.
With that in mind, if you're like me and you end up running Chrome with 100 different tabs open while gaming at the same time, you might want to consider adding more RAM.
Power Supply (PSU): There are a lot of high-performance parts in this build, so it's fair if you're assuming it's going to need a gigantic power supply, but luckily it won't! At most this build will only use a few hundred watts of power, so an 80% efficiency 500W supply will do the trick just fine.
I've picked Thermaltake's Smart 500W 80+ mainly because EVGA's 500 BQ are currently sold out. It's a non-modular supply with an 80+ rating and it'll work well.
Storage: This build comes with a single Kingston A400 480GB SATA SSD. It's a good amount and you shouldn't run short anytime soon. Starting with a single SSD vs an HDD is a good option for boot speeds. This way, if you install an HDD down the road for more space, your operating system and important boot programs will already be installed on an SSD, increasing boot times across the board.
I didn't pull any punches when it came to squeezing every ounce of power from your $550 budget, and you will not be disappointed!
When it comes to picking an operating system, you have quite a few options laid out before you. But, the best / easiest two are either Windows or something Linux-based.
If you’re really strapped for cash, or you really just don't like Windows, Ubuntu is a great option because it’s entirely free, and it's really solid/secure. It’s a Linux-based OS and can play any game that supports Linux. More and more games are adding Linux support, but it definitely sucks when a game you've been waiting forever for ends up being Windows only...
The more expensive option is buying a copy of Windows. With DirectX 12 becoming more common and the Skylake-based processors basically demanding Windows 10, you might want to consider jumping on that right away, but it's ultimately your call.
Installing your operating system can be done in a couple of different ways, either by DVD or a USB flash drive that you either create yourself or buy. Either will get the job done, but going for Windows & using the retail DVD (or USB flash drive) is going to be the easiest - any cheap DVD drive will work.
If you want to create your own USB flash drive to install something like Ubuntu from, you can find some decent instructions here.
If this is your very first gaming PC, you probably need almost everything on this list. If that's you, set aside another few hundred for these additional peripherals.
If that's the situation you're in, then I have some really awesome suggestions for you to consider. Each peripheral was hand-picked for this build and they're all guaranteed high quality.
When it comes to picking a display, you really want it to be perfectly suited to your usage, that's why I've put together a guide on how to pick the best monitor.
Chairs are no different, to fully enjoy your gaming experience you really need to find the best gaming chair possible. Due to the insane amount of options, I've put together this in-depth gaming chair buyers guide, check it out!
ASUS VS247H-P 24" monitor
24″ 1080p 60Hz monitor with a 2ms response time – Great for gaming and inexpensive! View
CoolerMaster Devastator 3 keyboard + mouse combo
An awesome RGB keyboard + mouse combo for under $40. View
Easily one of the best gaming headsets for under $50!
Logitech Z623 2.1 sound system
2.1 channel, 200W RMS/400W peak. If you like bass, these are the speakers+sub you want. View
Since the motherboard in this build does not have built-in WiFi (most don't) you will need a WiFi adapter if you plan on using a wireless internet connection. That said, if you have the option to run a wired connection, do that instead because it will be faster & more reliable.
There are tons of options when it comes to picking a WiFi adapter and it can be a little confusing at first, but don't worry because I'm going to help sort that out.
Picking the right adapter is a matter of first determining what kind of router/modem you're working with. Does it support 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands? Or just the 2.4GHz band? This will dictate what kind of WiFi adapter you should be looking at.
The easiest way to determine which "bands" your modem/router supports is to determine its operating standard. There are really only 2 as of right now, AC and N. AC is the better/newer of the two and supports both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, where N only supports 2.4GHz.
Ideally, you have an AC router as the 5GHz band is significantly better for gaming than its slower 2.4GHz counterpart, but if you don't you're not completely out of luck. An N router/adapter will get the job done for the time being, but you should definitely consider upgrading sooner than later if you're going to be using WiFi for a while.
This budget gaming PC is a great place to start without completely destroying your wallet. Now you know that for right around $550 you can build yourself an awesome desktop capable of playing all of your favorite games without an issue. Maybe not on ultra settings, but that's not why you're here!
You're here to get a solid foundation, something to get you in now and upgrade down the line, right?
Perfect, because that's exactly what this build is! A solid foundation. Upgrades are easy to make and numerous to choose from, almost nothing is off the table! You could upgrade to a more powerful 8th generation Intel CPU, you could add a stronger GPU, maybe more RAM if you wanted, perhaps an SSD? I think you get the picture.
So, what are you waiting for? Hit that big red button and get this build!
Have a question or comment? Feel free to drop it in the comment section below!