Best Budget Gaming Desktop Computer Builds for 2018


(Recommended $400 and $600 PC Builds to Maximize Performance & Reliability for Your Money)

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2017

Welcome to our latest lineup of the best budget gaming desktop builds for your money, where each and every month we do the extensive time-consuming hardware research for you in order to help you more wisely select the current best bang for your buck PC components for your particular budget.

On this page we have our entry-level budget gaming PC examples which show you how to fully maximize spending amounts of under $400 and $600 (US Dollars) for maximum gaming enjoyment throughout 2018 and beyond. For those building a more powerful rig head on over to the High-End Builds or Extreme Builds instead.

You can use these monthly PC build examples exactly as they are or as a base of inspiration to make your own tweaks and adjustments, but if you do mix and match parts around don't forget to check for full compatibility between all your parts and accessories.

Ok, let's get straight into the first of the best budget gaming desktop builds which has been carefully-selected for gamers on a real tight budget who still want a capable, reliable and well-balanced modern rig for decent 1080p performance (and great 720p performance).


Important to Know: Our suggested parts-lists below do not include Operating System Software or peripherals which you'll be needing for your new PC to be fully functional and ready to go. We recommend getting Windows 10 and for peripherals see our top-rated gaming monitors, keyboards, mice, and headsets. Also, if you want a CD/DVD drive in your build, make sure you choose a case that has at least one drive bay and this is the drive we would pick.




Best Budget Gaming PC Build Under $400 for 2018



Gaming Performance:

720p (1280 x 720):

1080p (1920 x 1080):

1440p (2560 x 1440):

VR & 4K:

GREAT

GOOD

POOR

BAD

The above is the average expected performance of this build at different resolutions when playing a typical, graphically-demanding modern game on high settings.



THE $400 BUDGET BUILD
Graphics Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB)
CPU Intel Pentium G4400 (3.30 GHz)
Motherboard MSI B250M Pro-VD (mATX, DDR4, USB 3.1)
RAM Crucial Ballistix LT 4GB (DDR4, 2400 MHz)
Hard Drive WD Blue 1TB (7200 RPM)
Power Supply EVGA B1 450 Watts (80+ Bronze)
Case Cooler Master N200 Mini Tower
TOTAL COST: $392

* Total cost is only an estimate as hardware prices fluctuate


This gaming desktop computer build is a prime example of the fact that you don't need to break the bank to put together a solid-performing, quality machine capable of playing the latest PC games.

A custom PC like this will easily outperform many pre-built desktops that sell for WAY more than this, and even though it's kind of a meaningless comparison, you'll also find this setup to be more powerful than current generation consoles.

This build is worth considering if you'll only be sticking to the standard 1080p (full HD) resolution and you don't mind turning down some in-game graphic settings to get smooth performance (ie close to 60 frames per second and over) in the more visually-demanding games.

And if you'll be mostly playing older, indie, or eSports titles, then this little rig may be all you need as these games typically aren't as demanding on your hardware.

Keep in mind the above build obviously does not include the operating system software and peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers/headset) which are all required for a new working gaming system. Check out our buying guides for advice on choosing the best peripherals.

Also, if you want WiFi for wireless internet you will also need to get a wireless adapter as most motherboards do not come with WiFi built-in; you have the choice of a wireless network card which you install on your motherboard or an external USB WiFi adapter (your call). 

Ok, let's take a closer look at each carefully-selected component and why they made the cut for those who want to get into the nitty-gritty details.

$400 Build Graphics Card:

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 2GB


For an entry-level gaming PC build like this your best bet right now is either the fairly new RX 560 from AMD, the older RX 460 if you can find it quite a bit cheaper than the RX 560, or NVidia's GTX 1050 which is the one we've included in this month's example due to it having slightly better pricing and availability at the time of writing.

Either of these three cards will make an excellent choice for a new gaming desktop on a budget, and all have very similar gaming performance so choosing between them will come down to what sort of price you can find them at when it's time to order your parts.

With the GTX 1050 2GB graphics card can play most modern games in 1080p smoothly on low to medium settings (or maxed out for older games and some eSports), or smoothly on high/ultra settings if you use 720p resolution.

For readers who care more about the nitty gritty little details and who care about squeezing out the absolute most frames-per second in certain games, one thing you may wish to factor into your decision when picking a budget graphics card is that some games do perform better with either AMD or NVidia.

For example, CS:GO (the most popular first-person shooter in the world) runs better on AMD hardware in general, so if that's your favorite game (or you won't be playing anything else) then you may want to favor getting an AMD card such as the RX 560 2GB for the slightly better FPS (frames per second) you'll get.

Although if you stick with our recommended 1050, don't worry as CS:GO will still play very nicely - I just wanted to point this out for gamers who are building their PC to squeeze out the most performance for a particular game.


$400 Build CPU:

Intel Pentium G4400 (3.30 GHz)


Whilst your video card is the most crucial component for gaming, the CPU is not far behind. When building a PC for gaming on a tight budget, right now the latest Intel Pentium series reigns supreme. Specifically, we've chosen the G4400 which is on the cheaper end, but will provide enough performance for decent modern gaming in 720p and 1080p.


$400 Build Motherboard:

MSI B250M Pro-VD


When building a gaming desktop computer on a budget, you don't need a fancy motherboard; simply one that gets the job done and has the basic features that you need.

We've picked a well-priced MSI board which has all the features you would actually need for a build like this, and that pairs up well with your Pentium processor. For such a cheap motherboard it's good-quality, reliable and durable, and the built-in audio is very decent. We've also included this one in the next $600 build as well.

Most modern motherboards have good on-board sound these days which eliminates the need for a sound card unless you're doing audio production or you're building a top-tier system and want the best audio quality possible to take advantage of high-end speakers/headphones.

This motherboard has LAN capability, as all modern motherboards do, but it doesn't have WiFi so if you want wireless capability you'll need to get a wireless network card or USB dongle. 


$400 Build RAM:

Crucial Ballistix 4GB DDR4 2400 MHz


For modern gaming 4GB is the minimum you want to go for, and we've stuck with Crucial as they're one of the most reliable names in the memory game. Plus, this particular 4GB module is currently at a good price. It's good, cheap, fast DDR4 RAM; enough said.

This computer's motherboard has 2 memory slots, allowing you to easily add another 4GB later down the track should you want to. Or, if you want to avoid having to upgrade altogether, simply pay the extra 30-40 bucks now for 8GB (either 1x8GB or 2x4GB sticks) as it'll help overall system performance too. But if you're looking to cut costs on your custom rig as much as you possibly can, just stick with 4GB as like I said it's enough to get by for most games.


$400 Build Hard Drive:

Western Digital Blue 1TB


For a gaming desktop computer on a budget, it's best to avoid SSDs (Solid State Drives) because traditional HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) are much more cost-effective. 

However, if you do want to take advantage of faster boot and application load times and don't mind spending an extra 50 bucks or so on your build, the SSD included in the upcoming "Mid-Range" build below would be our suggestion and will fit into this build without problems.

Anyway, for your HDD you can't go wrong with Western Digital as they're a top name for hard drive reliability, with Seagate being our second choice. As for size, 1TB is a pretty standard size these days and will be enough for most gamers. Of course, feel free to get more or less storage based on your needs.


$400 Build Power Supply:

EVGA B1 450W 80+ BRONZE


Now onto the often-overlooked PSU (Power Supply Unit). Even though you're building a super cost-effective, budget gaming PC you still want to avoid simply throwing in any cheap no-name-brand PSU you can find; picking a decent unit to reliably power your PC is still important when putting together a cheap system.

The EVGA B1 450w fits the bill nicely, and is a decent-quality, reliable and wallet-friendly option with a 80-Plus Bronze rating which is a nice bonus. 450 watts of power is more than enough for the needs of this cheap gaming PC.


$400 Build Case:

Cooler Master N200 Mini Tower


Last but not least we have the cheap yet excellent PC case, the Cooler Master N200, which fits our budget and feature needs perfectly without sacrificing on quality and reliability. 

This is easily one of the better affordable PC cases out there with a fairly sturdy design and nice features such as easily removable dust filters, 3 USB ports on the front, a mesh front panel for good airflow, and two pre-installed fans (one on the front and one on the back).

To top it off it looks great with a sharp, minimalist black design. It's a Mini Tower, coming in at a little under the size of your typical Mid Tower, which makes it nice and compact and good for moving around should you need to (LAN party anyone?). But it still has plenty of room inside of all your parts and for decent airflow.

We actually used this exact case ourselves in our own most recent real-life build (the build we used as illustration purposes in our step-by-step PC building tutorial here) and we'd definitely buy it again if we build another budget rig.




Best Budget Gaming PC Build Under $600 for 2018



Gaming Performance:

720p (1280 x 720):

1080p (1920 x 1080):

1440p (2560 x 1440):

VR & 4K:

FLAWLESS

GREAT

AVERAGE

POOR

The above is the average expected performance of this build at different resolutions when playing a typical, graphically-demanding modern game on high settings.



THE $600 BUDGET BUILD
Graphics Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC (4GB)
CPU Intel Pentium G4560 (3.50 GHz)
Motherboard MSI B250M Pro-VD (mATX, DDR4, USB 3.1)
RAM Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8GB (DDR4, 2400 MHz)
Hard Drive WD Blue 1TB (7200 RPM)
Power Supply EVGA B1 500 Watts (80+ Bronze)
Case Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid-Tower
TOTAL COST: $554

* Total cost is only an estimate as hardware prices fluctuate.


This budget gaming desktop is a prime example that you don't need to break the bank to put together a high-performing, quality machine capable of playing the latest PC games very nicely.

This build is perfect if you'll be sticking to the standard 1080p (full HD) resolution and you don't mind turning down some in-game graphic settings to get flawless performance (ie 60 frames per second and over) in the more visually-demanding games.

Building your own computer like this one will easily outperform pre-built desktops that sell for WAY more than this, and even though it's kind of a meaningless comparison, you'll find this PC to be more powerful than current generation consoles as well.

A budget build like this one is also suitable for some eSports titles, although to be honest it depends on the game and on whether or not you'll be using a 60 Hz or 120/144 Hz monitor or not (higher refresh rates require more powerful hardware). 

Before we get into a breakdown of why each part was selected, keep in mind the above build obviously does not include the operating system software and peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers/headset) which are all required for a new working gaming system. We'll get into our top picks for these accessories at the bottom of this page.

Also, if you want WiFi for wireless internet you will also need to get a wireless adapter as most motherboards do not come with WiFi built-in; you have the choice of a wireless network card which you install on your motherboard or an external USB WiFi adapter (your call). We also provide suggestions for these below.

Ok, let's take a closer look at each carefully-selected component and why they made the cut, excluding any parts that remain from the previous build: the motherboard and hard drive are the same as in the $400 build.


$600 Build Graphics Card: 

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC (4GB)


Starting off with the all-important graphics card, which is the biggest factor when it comes to gaming performance, and it's hard to look past getting a 1050 Ti as it's the king of wallet-friendly GPUs around the 150 dollar dollar mark right now.

With one of these little bad boys in your rig you'll be playing most of the latest games nice and smoothly in 1080p resolution, even on high or maxed out settings in many titles.

It's also got a very decent 4GB of VRAM (video memory) which makes it nicely future-proofed as well as that is all you need for the games of today and into the future.

Feel free to get any version of the 1050 Ti as any will fit in with this build; the one we included is Gigabyte's OC edition which is slightly faster than other models.

$600 Build CPU:

Intel Pentium G4560 (3.50 GHz)


The great thing about the G4560 is you get very similar performance to Intel's i3 range of processors, but for a much more attractive price, and for an entry-level gaming rig it's enough CPU power to run most modern games assuming you have a decent graphics card as well like the one we've included in this build.

So, don't let the cheap price of this processor fool you. Overall it's a very capable processor that can't be beat for the price. It comes with a CPU cooler too which is adequate for this build, so there's no need to buy a separate CPU cooler.


$600 Build RAM:

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 8GB


For this rig basically any DDR4 memory will do just fine. We chose a basic 8GB stick of Crucial DDR4 memory as it's well-priced, and Crucial are one of the most trusted names in the memory game. 8GB is the sweet spot right now for gaming, and when you have a good CPU and graphics card it's all you need for excellent performance now and into the near future.

We've opted for a single module of 8GB instead of getting two 4GB sticks so you leave one of the 2 RAM slots on your motherboard free for an upgrade later should you ever want to add another 8GB in a few years to make a total of 16GB.

You could shave off a few dollars by going for 4GB instead without noticing too much difference in most games, however now we're starting to see some games really benefiting from 6GB and above so you might as well get 8GB now to avoid having to upgrade later. Plus, RAM isn't that expensive, and 8GB will definitely help general system performance too.

As for getting more than 8GB; it's a waste of money when building a cost-effective budget build like this one and will give you diminishing returns when it comes to gaming. We'd only consider a huge 16GB of RAM if your overall PC budget is over 800-1000, or if you'll be doing memory-intensive work like video editing.


$600 Build Power Supply:

EVGA B1 500 Watts 80+ Bronze


We've gone for a decent 500 watt unit from EVGA who produce some excellent value PSUs these days. It has an 80+ Bronze rating, which isn't the only indication of quality but a nice thing to have, and overall it's a reliable model that is all you need for a budget/mid-tier build like this.

500 watts is also more than enough power for our needs, including plenty of wiggle room to accommodate any upgrades you may wish to make later down the track.


$600 Build Case:

Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid-Tower


Another awesome mid-tower case that looks great, but with a little more room than the more compact case from the previous recommended budget build. You could practically choose any mid-tower case for these parts, so feel free to pick and choose one that tickles your fancy, but the HAF 912 is easily one of the best value around and hard to beat in terms of quality and features (oh, and looks) for the price.

That wraps up the best parts-list for around 800 dollars for this month. Remember, don't take our recommendations as gospel, and always do your own research especially if you have particular wants and needs that we didn't mention. However, both of the above two budget gaming PCs are a great examples of how to really squeeze out performance and reliability for your hard-earned money. Happy gaming.


NEXT: The High-End Gaming Computer Builds








Home | About | Contact | FanPage | Disclaimer