Last Updated: August 4, 2019
If you're planning the best cheap gaming PC build for under 400 dollars, this AMD build guide is for you and will explain how to best navigate the current August 2019 hardware market to strategically choose the best value for money parts. Spending $400 to build your own computer for gaming may not seem like enough for modern AAA games, but the truth is, with the right carefully selected list of components and knowledge of where the value is, it's absolutely more than enough to assemble a very respectable cheap gaming computer to get decent 1080p performance in a variety of popular games (including many eSports) if you don't mind a little compromise on graphics quality.
The star of our current recommended $400 gaming PC build is the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G, which is one of, if not THE single best overall bang for your buck cheap gaming CPUs to ever hit the market in recent times. Why? It comes with a very capable integrated graphics chip (Vega 11), the likes of which blows previous integrated GPU solutions out of the water, which means you don't have to fork out for a separate video card and you'll still get enough graphics performance to handle many popular games in 1080p.
While building a PC with the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and its integrated graphics won't get you flawless 60FPS on high settings in the most demanding of titles, if you see our estimated FPS for this build below this CPU/GPU combo will provide very respectable performance in a wide variety of games if you pair it with some fast RAM as we have in this sample build.
Simply put, if your aim is to build the best $400 gaming PC, the R5 2400G is objectively unbeatable in terms of bang for buck as a gamer in this price bracket. It also remains our current top recommendation in this price range despite the ever-so-slightly faster Ryzen 5 3400G having been released last month (more on that in the full build breakdown below if you're curious).
Besides the great value CPU (technically an APU as it has integrated graphics), in this $400 build guide we'll also explain exactly how to pick a great list of supporting components to make a complete, compatible and reliable 2400G gaming PC that's well-balanced and flexible for future upgrades (such as adding a video card later).
As with all gaming desktop builds published on the site, our recommendations are based on a combination of extensive, objective research and analysis of the current market, blended with our own subjective opinion based on over a decade helping gamers make smarter purchase decisions. But despite the painstaking hours and careful thought put into our gaming PC build guides, always remember to do your own research to ensure you buy the right parts for your specific situation (everyone has different needs). Hope this build helps you in your planning, and leave a comment at the end if you have questions or to share your own opinion on what makes the best $400 custom PC for gaming right now in Q3 2019.
See Also: Plan the Best $500 Gaming PC Build (for more demanding games and/or higher settings)
Recommended $400 Gaming PC Build (August 2019)
|Graphics Card||Radeon RX Vega 11 2GB (comes with CPU)||-|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 2400G (3.9 GHz, Quad Core, 2nd Gen)||AMD|
|CPU Cooler||Stock (comes with CPU)||-|
|Motherboard||MSI B450M Bazooka V2 (microATX, 4 x DDR4 Slots)||MSI|
|RAM||Kingston HyperX Fury Black 8GB (2x4GB, 3200MHz, DDR4)||Kingston|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Blue 1TB (7200 RPM, 64MB Cache)||WD|
|Power Supply||EVGA 500 BT (80+ Bronze, Non Modular)||EVGA|
|Case||Thermaltake Versa H15 SPCC (Mini Tower, USB 3.0, mATX/mITX)||Thermaltake|
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Notable Build Features Cheatsheet
|CPU Series/Architecture||2nd Gen Ryzen (Zen+)|
|Estimated Wattage||~ 160W|
|RAM Slots||4 (2 slots free)|
|Max RAM Support||64GB|
|CPU Overclockable?||Yes (AMD overclocking intro)|
|Built-in WiFi?||No (get wireless desktop adapter)|
|Storage Support||4 x SATA3 Drives (HDD or SSD), 1 x m.2 SSD|
|Case Fans||1 x 120mm Included (rear), 2 Additional 120mm Mounts|
|Front Panel USB Ports||1 x 3.0, 1 x 2.0|
|Optical Drive Support?||Yup (1 x 5.25" Drive Bays)|
|Max CPU Cooler Height||155mm|
|Max GPU Length||315mm|
|Multi-Monitors||Dual Monitor Support|
900p (1600 x 900):
1080p (1920 x 1080):
1440p (2560 x 1440):
VR and 4K:
The above is the average expected performance of the $300 parts-list at different resolutions when playing graphically-demanding modern AAA titles on high/ultra/maxed settings. Don't be put off if you're playing less-demanding games and/or playing on lower settings, as you'll get better performance (sometimes much better).
Estimated Average Frame Rate (Ryzen 5 2400G, 2x4GB 3200MHz)
Now let's get to our frame-rate estimates for the cheap $400 gaming PC build which is the type of performance you can expect with a Ryzen 5 2400G using the integrated GPU, when paired with 8GB of fast DDR4 3200MHz RAM as we've included in our current recommended parts-list. Keep in mind these are just ballpark averages based on analyzing various benchmarks (see our disclaimer below), but they're a good indication of what performance you'll get by building a $400 gaming PC build with the Ryzen 5 2400G APU:
Average FPS: 1080p MEDIUM Settings
Average FPS: 1080p HIGH Settings
Very decent numbers for less demanding games like Counter Strike Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Rocket League, and though we didn't include it in our benchmark analysis, this AMD APU build also makes for a good League of Legends gaming computer as judging by our FPS estimates for LoL in our $300 gaming PC build guide (that uses a 2200G) this setup can easily achieve 144FPS+ on at least medium settings for use with high refresh rates like the pros).
More graphically demanding hits like Grand Theft Auto 5, Player Unknown Battlegrounds, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Assassins Creed Odyssey would only be playable if you're willing to play on low settings. As for the most demanding titles on the market like Witcher 3 or the Tomb Raider series; give it a miss. However, all that assumes 1080p resolution so if you don't mind choosing a lower gaming resolution like 900p or 720p, the $400 gaming computer will produce a smooth experience in the majority of AAA games (if you still sacrifice the settings a bit depending on the specific title).
Top Pick: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G (using integrated graphics)
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G (using integrated graphics) *Requires BIOS Update: See Below*
AMD Ryzen 3 1200 + NVidia GT 1030 2GB
Intel Pentium G5400 Gold + NVidia GT 1030 2GB *Switch to Intel Motherboard*
As already mentioned, the Ryzen 5 2400G is a great value choice as a gamer if you're limited to a $400 budget for your PC build and it'll provide surprisingly good 1080p performance as shown in our FPS estimates above (surprising for an APU, that is). Its combination of decent quad-core performance and integrated graphics is impressive for the price, and even more so now in Q3 2019 thanks to a nice little slash in price to under $130 thanks to the release of the new 3400G (more on that in a sec).
Ryzen 5 2400G vs Cheap CPU + GPU
Your other option for a cheap gaming PC build under $400 in 2019 is combining a NVidia GT 1030 with a cheap dual-core Intel CPU like the G5400 or G4560, or the quad-core Ryzen 3 1200. Either of these configurations would give you neck and neck gaming performance overall compared to the 2400G's Vega 11 graphics combined with 3200MHz RAM (8GB). However, at the 2400G's current great price, it's the cheaper buy overall (at least in the USA) and therefore our top recommendation right now if building a new $400 gaming rig. It's also the more future-proof option compared to Intel's cheap dual-core CPUs, as the 2400G boasts 4 cores and is clearly the better overall CPU.
2400G vs 3400G? (& Important Disclaimer if Choosing 3400G)
This wouldn't be much of an update to our latest recommended $400 PC without discussing the latest AMD APU release, the Ryzen 5 3400G. This is the slightly-faster new generation of the 2400G. Or is it? The fact is, the new 3400G is actually still based on the same Zen+ architecture as the 2400G (unlike other Ryzen 3000 processors which use the new "Zen 2" architecture; confusing I know). That means it's essentially an overclocked 2400G, bringing only minor performance improvements.
Gaming performance over the 2400G is about ~5-6% give or take depending on the game (using integrated graphics), but the 2400G has now been dropped to around $125 US making it a tough choice. Either are good options, however, we stick by the 2400G as our top pick for anyone building a new system at this time (especially beginners) - and not just because it's the cheaper option.
BIOS update issues have plagued builders using B450 boards - especially MSI boards. As explained in our latest $300 gaming PC build guide, to be able to use a new Ryzen 300 series CPU like the 3400G with a B450/X470 motherboard (your only practical choice on a budget as the new Ryzen-3000-ready X570 boards are way out of this budget), you would need to update the motherboard BIOS first. But here's the thing: to be able to do the update on most boards, you need an old CPU handy, which as a new builder you likely don't have access to.
You'd have to go into a PC shop, or order a special AMD bootkit, to be able to do the BIOS update, which could be a hassle (and potential cost if the shop charges you). Plus, some motherboards (mostly MSI) have a special handy feature called BIOS Flashback which allows you to update the BIOS without needing a CPU, however there have been widely reported problems from builders who have tried doing this for Ryzen 3000 which makes it risky (and MSI even said themselves that you should probably return your B450 board if you bought one for Ryzen 3000). To fix this MSI are soon releasing "Max" model B450 boards which will come with Ryzen 3000 support out of the box, but there's no official word on when they'll drop.
Therefore, I can't comfortably recommend using a new 3400G CPU with a B450 motherboard, as it's a lottery and could cause headaches (especially with MSI boards and their Flashback feature; other brands mean you'd need an old CPU as mentioned). As a beginner, the 2400G is the hassle free compatibility-guaranteed option, and it's cheaper, too (and the minuscule performance difference won't be noticed by 99% of people). But that's assuming you want to build right now, because your other option is to wait it out and get the 3400G with a new B450 board once they're released (to guarantee compatibility and a smooth build).
An excellent value, feature-rich and well-priced B450 for a R5 2400G build that also looks the part
When it comes to choosing the best motherboard for a Ryzen 5 2400G build, you have a few choices in terms of motherboard types to get (referred to as the chipset). You could get an older Ryzen generation 1 motherboard (A320 or B350 chipset) to save as much as possible, however the B450 chipset is best for 2nd-gen Ryzen and almost as affordable if you pick a good value model.
Speaking of which, the MSI Bazooka Plus V2 is a good-quality, feature-rich little board (micro ATX) that's priced nicely these days. It's also a slickly-designed board though keep in mind that doesn't count for much if you're opting for the Thermaltake Versa H15 case as it lacks a clear side panel, so get a see-through case if that's important to you. The Bazooka Plus V2 also has all the features you'd want for a great little future-proofed PC including 4 RAM slots, M.2 SSD support, good onboard audio, and decent overclocking capacity if you want to push your 2400G a little.
Speaking of overclocking an AMD CPU like the R5 2400G, while we don't generally recommend it to most beginners building their first custom desktop, if you do decide to go ahead with it the good news is the stock cooler that comes with the 2400G will indeed be just fine assuming you're staying within a mild to medium overclock. If you look into people's experiences with overclocking the 2400G, you'll find that the stock cooler will serve you well up to a certain point. You would only really need an aftermarket cooler if you're really pushing it to the max or need lower temps/noise (or for aesthetic reasons).
RAM speed isn't usually a big concern for a gaming computer and you should simply pick the fastest modules you can afford (with anything 2400MHz or above being fine), however, APUs like the 2400G do take advantage of faster memory, making your RAM choice a little more important than usual when planning the best 2400G gaming PC build. Good news is RAM prices are better at this point in time than early 2019 and last year, so fitting a nice set of 3200MHz modules into our target $400 budget is possible (unlike the last iteration of our $400 build where we had to stick to 2666MHz; not the end of the world but 3000/3200MHz will net you clearly higher FPS with an APU). Having dual channel RAM is also important for the 2400G, as a single channel setup (eg 1 x 8GB as opposed to 2 x 4GB) would see a noticeable drop in performance. So whatever you do, always get 2 sticks for an integrated graphics build.
Western Digital have long been the most reliable when it comes to HDDs, and their Blue 1TB drives are a mainstay pick for our builds for a reason (great value and 7200RPM; ideal for a HDD). 1TB is also a nice amount for most people, but you can always add more internal/external drives later. Yes, Solid State Drives are faster, and quite affordable these days, but to include the more-important performance components we wanted for this sample parts-list (2400G + fast RAM + good b450 motherboard) we've had to sacrifice on including a small SSD.
However, if you're flexible in your budget then absolutely do consider throwing one in the mix, even at this cheap price tier, as a 240/250GB model won't set you back much and will load your OS and other programs/games you fit on there a fair bit faster than any HDD. Personally I'd avoid smaller SSDs than that such as 120GB, as it would fill up real quick thanks to the huge size of some modern games. Besides, 240/250GB SSDs don't cost much more. If you really value load speeds, go for a faster M.2 SSD if you can afford it but just check whatever motherboard you buy supports it (the Bazooka Plus V2 does).
To power the parts of our $400 R5 2400G gaming PC is the good value yet good-quality (for a budget model) PSU from a now quite trusted name in the PSU game. EVGA have really made a name for themselves in power supplies over recent years, particularly in the value market. Their BT series is cheap, but not too cheap, and a nice balance of price and performance/reliability. Not a high-end model by any means, but for our purposes here it's of adequate quality. It's got an 80 Plus Bronze rating for efficiency too, which is something you should look for as a minimum when picking a good PSU for your PC build. 500 watts is also plenty of power for these parts and then some, meaning you have a ton of flexibility for future upgrades including adding a graphics card later on. Last but not least, the Seasonic is another good value PSU for a reliable cheap build.
The Thermaltake Versa H15 is an excellent smaller case for a cheap gaming build with a clean, minimalist yet stylish design, good quality and durability for the price, and easy to work with first-timers which is always something we take into account when selecting cases for the builds on the site. It's only got the one pre-built fan installed (1 x 120mm in the rear), but for this low-powered R5 2400G parts-list that won't hold you back. I'd buy an extra fan to install in this case if overclocking your AMD 2400G, adding a graphics card to the mix, or if you live on Mustafar (now possible and quite tempting thanks to VR). But overall, it's got very decent airflow for a cheap case, and this is another key reason for its inclusion here as cooling is important for any gaming rig.
One of the better overall cases in the sub 50 dollar case market that has everything you need for a cheap gaming rig and is simple to work with for beginners
As for our second choice (previously a top pick in our cheap builds), the Cooler Master N200 is a bit older but still very worthy of consideration if you want a good cheap compact enclosure that's easy to work with and has a good set of features. Airflow is also decent, and it has 2 pre-installed fans plus a meshed front panel to further promote airflow. The N200 is what I personally used for the budget 1050 Ti machine I assembled for the explanations and illustrations in the how to build a PC eBook I released a while back which is now a free tutorial on the site (you're welcome. oh, and a shoutout to anyone reading who purchased the book. thanks for your support and hope it helped a bit). So if you use the N200 case for your build, and you need installation instruction as a newbie, see that tutorial for specific instruction on building in that case if you need it (though the guide can be used when building in any case as we've made the steps as generic as possible to apply to any type of build; budget or high-end).
Recommended Operating System and Software
For the $400 cheap gaming PC build, or any of our suggested builds, we recommend Windows 10 64-Bit (Home or Pro edition, but Home is fine for most people especially if you're just gaming). Linux is another option but only suggested for advanced users who know what they're doing. To get Windows 10 for your custom build you have various options:
As for other good programs to kick-off your new setup in style, if you want our thoughts on that see our guide to the best things to install on a new gaming PC which includes recommended anti-virus/malware, hardware monitoring, utility programs, etc.
Recommended Optical Drive (totally optional)
Whilst optical drives are being used less and less by PC builders due to the rise in digital media and streaming, if you still want to play DVDs, CDs, or burn DVDs/CDs (or to install the DVD edition of Windows 10 mentioned above as it's usually cheaper than the flash drive version), you'll want to get an optical drive, which this $400 custom PC build does have support for (the Thermaltake H15 case has room for 1 optical drive up top). This is the cheap yet reliable, decent-quality model we'd suggest:
Recommended Cheap Accessories
If you also need to get a monitor, input peripherals (keyboard and mouse), and a headset or speakers for audio, these are our current top picks to go along with a cheap gaming PC build like this one. See our full accessory buying guides (in the main menu up top) to see all our recommendations for these parts, including details on what to look for in a good gaming monitor, headset, mouse, and so on.
Sceptre E205W-1600 V1 20" LED Monitor (1080p, 60Hz refresh rate, 5ms response rate)
Acer G226HQL 21.5" LED Monitor (1080p, 60Hz refresh rate, 5ms response rate)
Acer Nitro VG220Q 21.5" IPS Gaming Monitor (1080p, 75Hz refresh rate, 1ms response rate, AMD Freesync)
AOPEN 24MX1 24" Gaming Monitor (1080p, 60Hz refresh rate, 1ms response rate, AMD Freesync)
Creative Sound Blaster Blaze Gaming Headset (Good Cheap Headset)
Logitech G300s Optical Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse (Good Cheap Mouse)
Corsair K63 Compact Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (Good Cheap Keyboard)
Redragon K552-BB Gaming Keyboard, Mouse, Mouse Pad & Headset (Good Cheap Combo)
Creative A250 2.1 Multimedia Speaker System (Good Cheap Speakers)
If you're on the fence about whether it really is worth the time to build your own PC, here we've listed a couple of the best value, respectable prebuilt desktops we could find that include similar parts. If you have a careful look into these prebuilts and compare everything to what you could build yourself, you'll see just why 9 times out of 10 building a PC yourself is better than buying a premade one. That being said, a prebuilt PC can be okay and isn't the end of the world if you'd rather just pay extra for the convenience if you perhaps just don't have the time, patience or interest to build your own. Therefore, these desktops are worth considering as a backup plan to our recommended custom $400 parts-list.
Top Pick: CUK AsRock DeskMini (3400G, 16GB 2666MHz DDR4, 512GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD, Win 10)
iBuyPower Enthusiast Gaming Desktop (2400G, 8GB DDR4, 120GB SSD, Win 10)
HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop (2400G, RX 580, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Win 10) (inc. discrete GPU)
Assembling the Cheap Gaming PC
See our full walkthrough guide to installing a gaming PC step by step for a written guide you can take at your own pace, or see our top recommended YouTube videos on installation in our main introduction to building gaming computers. If it's your first time building a computer, it really isn't anything to be afraid or overwhelmed by if you simply take your time, follow safety precautions carefully, and do one step at a time. Good luck!
Upgrade Path Example (Adding a GPU)
If you have more to throw at this parts-list, if gaming is your priority then the first thing you want to consider is buying a graphics card like a RX 570 or RX 580 (either a 4GB or 8GB model) or GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti if going for NVidia, which would significantly boost performance and take this build from being decent for low to medium demanding games, to very decent for the majority of games on the market.
Just keep in mind there's no real point upgrading to a graphics card of lesser caliber than the aforementioned models, such as the RX 560 or RX 550 (or even worse GT 1030), as these GPUs wouldn't provide enough improvement over the 2400G's integrated graphics to be worth it. Just remember to always check that any card you add will fit in your case, and on your motherboard, as GPU sizes vary and take up different amounts of PCIe and case slots. Plus, make sure your PSU supports a GPU upgrade, including having enough power and the right connectors.
The 500 watt unit we've suggested is enough to power any card we've just mentioned though, including an RX 580 if you were to upgrade to that as they require a 500 watt card. Going any more powerful than an RX 580 isn't recommended for this particular build though, as you'd start getting into potential CPU bottlenecking territory as the R5 2400G is good - but not that good.
For simple questions and help with choosing parts, comment on the Gaming PC Builds hub and we'll help a gamer out.
For more in-depth and specific 1-on-1 help and guidance, our eBook comes with access to our exclusive support email for ongoing help and advice whenever you need it along your DIY journey (reserved for customers only).
Anyway, hope this article helped and good luck with your setup.