The Best Cheap Gaming PC Build for $550 – “The Intel Option”

Updated: September 10th, 2018Author: BrantonCategory: Budget Builds166 Comments

best budget gaming pc build 550
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Building a good cheap gaming PC on a budget of around $550 is not impossible. This build is packing an Intel i3 8100, a GTX 1050, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 1TB of storage. Now, that's a solid, yet inexpensive gaming PC! 

Skip the filler and check it out now

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. Games like Fortnite, CS:GO, Team Fortess 2, DOTA2, LoL, and anything else like that will run near-flawlessly with this setup. 

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: September 2nd, 2018
  • Thermaltake Versa H15

    A good, inexpensive, mATX case. Comes with 1x 120mm fan and support for 2 more.
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  • Gigabyte B360M DS3H

    A good mATX motherboard on the B460 chipset (for 8th gen Intel CPUs). 6x USB ports + 6x SATA ports.
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  • Intel i3 8100

    3.6GHz 4-core 4-thread processor. Comes with an okay CPU cooler.
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  • Zotac GTX 1050 2GB

    2GB DDR5 SDRAM graphics card. Enough to handle low-mid setting AAA gaming in 1080p.
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  • EVGA 500 BQ

    500W power supply, up to 85% efficiency, 3-year warranty.
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  • 8GB Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 RAM

    1x8GB 2666MHz DDR4 RAM. More RAM can be added if needed.
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  • WD Blue 1TB HDD

    3.5 inch, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache, quiet!
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*Hardware prices change daily, sometimes multiple times in a single day. Therefore, the price listed above should only be considered a rough estimate.
The tools you need:

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.

Recommended Add-ons

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 (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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  • Sandisk SSD Plus 120GB SSD

    For way faster boot times and much shorter load times, an SSD is the way to go. Ideally, you want to use your SSD as your primary boot drive – where your OS and boot programs are installed.
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  • Cryorig H7 CPU cooler

    The stock CPU cooler that comes with an i3 8100 is enough to keep it cool, but an aftermarket CPU cooler like the Cryorig H7 will do an even better job.
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  • 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.
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  • TP-Link Archer T4U V2

    If you have to use WiFi, you will also need a WiFi adapter like this one. Read more about WiFi below.
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Build Breakdown

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 gen i5/an older i7 processor (or 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.

budget gaming pc buildThermaltake'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.

Intel's brand new i3 8100 is the first of its series to boast a 4-core 4-thread processor. No more of that skimpy hyperthreading to simulate extra cores! This means the new 8th gen i3 processors are more than good enough for gaming. Of course, you'll get more performance out of a higher priced processor, but that's not the point of this build! The i3 8100 is a locked processor and does not support overclocking, so its stock CPU cooler will be good enough. However, if you want even more cooling potential then check out the best CPU coolers for 2018!

A 2GB GTX 1050 is very much an entry-level graphics card. It's nothing phenomenal, but compared to previous generations it's not too bad either. It's enough to handle 1080p gaming without many issues. It'll have no problem with games like CS:GO, DOTA2, LoL, Fortnite, and things like that. If you want to extend your graphical processing power, definitely consider an upgrade to a GTX 1050 Ti or better yet a 3GB GTX 1060.

When it comes to RAM, 8GB is all you need for gaming this far into 2018, really. 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.

There are a lot of high performance parts in this build, so its fair if you're assuming its 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 EVGA's 500 BQ which is an awesome semi-modular supply offering more than enough connections for everything you need, it also comes with a nice 3-year warranty just in case the worst were to happen.

Due to how crazy prices have been lately, I could really only include a 1TB HDD in this build without sacrificing actual performance elsewhere. That being said, if you have another $50 kicking around, adding a 120GB SSD would be a great idea. SSDs perform almost 15x faster than conventional HDDs, but they also cost a lot more /GB. A 120GB SSD is often the same cost as a 1TB HDD, hence why I included an HDD and not an SSD by default.

I didn't pull any punches when it came to squeezing every ounce of power from your $5500 budget, and you will not be disappointed!

Operating System

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...

budget gaming pc windows 10The 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.

Peripherals

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!
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  • CoolerMaster Devastator 3 keyboard + mouse combo

    An awesome RGB keyboard + mouse combo for under $40.
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  • Corsair HS50

    Easily one of the best gaming headsets for under $50!
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  • Logitech Z623 2.1 sound system

    2.1 channel, 200W RMS/400W peak. If you like bass, these are the speakers+sub you want.
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WiFi

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.

  • TP-Link TL-WN722N

    A very affordable N150 USB WiFi adapter. Capable of 150Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
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  • TP-Link Archer T4U V2

    A reliable AC1300 USB WiFi adapter. Capable of operating on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
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  • Rosewill AC1300 PCIe WiFi Adapter

    A good internally mounted (PCIe) AC1300 WiFi adapter.
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Conclusion

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! 

$550 Gaming PC Build

This budget gaming PC build is an awesome place to start. It can handle 1080p gaming without a problem and won't have any issues with games like Fortnite, CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, LoL, and anything else along those lines. 

Hardware

CaseThermaltake Versa H15
MotherboardGigabyte B360M DS3H
ProcessorIntel i3 8100
GraphicsZotac GTX 1050 2GB
Power Supp.EVGA 500 BQ 80+ Bronze
RAM8GB DDR4 (2666MHz)
HDDWD Blue 1TB (7200RPM)
SSDOptional
CPU CoolerStock

Features
  • Very easy to upgrade
  • Good 1080p gaming performance
  • Lots of USB ports
  • HDMI + DisplayPort + DVI connections
  • Integrated audio and ethernet controllers
best gaming pc build 800
About the Author

Branton

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by!

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Utsav
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Utsav

As of now, the PC case is only for Amazon Prime members, and I don’t have Amazon Prime… Any suggestions for other PC cases I could use for this setup?

I reeeaally want a pc
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I reeeaally want a pc

Welp i built it… I didn’t work.. I used the gigabyte gtx 1050 2gb with tgis build, but like it keeps turning on and off (the case fans and the cpu fan) the gpu doesnt turn on and it doesnt have a PCIE cord slot.. So like idk..

I reeeaally want a pc
Guest
I reeeaally want a pc

Could I use the gtx 1050 instead?

I reeeaally want a pc
Guest
I reeeaally want a pc

Could I use the EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 FTW Gaming Graphic Cards instead?

I reeeaally want a pc
Guest
I reeeaally want a pc

Is ok if i use the rx 460? And which one should I buy? Lemme be honest… The 470 is out of stock everywhere and the only one that’s for purchase its $400.

I reeeaally want a pc
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I reeeaally want a pc

Is this like a complete build? I don’t need anything else right?

Paul
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Paul

Is this the best build you can get for this Prime Day? Also will an internally mounted WiFi adapter fit in with this pc build’s GPU and Motherboard?