Last Updated: Sep 10, 2018
Building a super cheap custom gaming PC and want to make the absolute most of your limited budget? The following best cheap gaming PC build for under $400 is for you. Each month we tweak this build (and all our recommended PC builds) to the best of our ability to ensure it remains a great example of how to stretch $400 further to get the best performance and reliability possible for this price tier.
The downside to such a cheap gaming build is you have to get an integrated graphics card (meaning the graphics is included with your processor) however these days AMD provide very capable integrated solutions meaning you can still get decent gaming performance to play not just old games but new ones too (you'll just have to turn down the settings on demanding games to get better performance).
But speaking of old games, and less demanding games like many eSports - this cheap gaming PC build could be all the power you need. Or, if you don't mind playing in 720p resolution instead of the standard 1080p, this setup is your best friend. Don't get me wrong as it's still playable for 1080p resolution as well.
Let's dive into the best cheap gaming PC build under $400, including the important specs you need to know about, performance estimates, and most importantly a breakdown of why each component was chosen (as well as recommended peripherals to go with this particular build if you need those parts as well).
720p (1280 x 720):
1080p (1920 x 1080):
1440p (2560 x 1440):
VR and 4K:
The above is the average expected performance of this build at different resolutions when playing a typical, graphically-demanding modern PC game on high/ultra settings.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 2400G (3.90 GHz, Quad Core)|
|GRAPHICS||Vega RX 11 (included in CPU)|
|MOTHERBOARD||Gigabyte GA-AB350M-DS3H (micro-ATX)|
|RAM||Patriot Signature 8GB (DDR4, 2 x 4GB, 2666 MHz)|
|HARD DRIVE||WD Blue 1TB (7200 RPM)|
|POWER SUPPLY||Antec VP-450 (450 Watts)|
|CASE||Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 3.1 (micro-ATX)|
At this point in time, in this cheap price tier you've essentially got two options: either get the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G that is a combined decent CPU and graphics solution, or get a cheap Intel processor such as a G4560, G4400 or newer G5400 and pair that up with a dedicated budget-friendly graphics card such as the GT 1030.
For the best cheap gaming PC build under $400 right now, we've gone with the former. Why? AMD's latest processor/graphics combo unit, the Ryzen 3 2400G, packs serious punch for the price and whilst you obviously can't expect any crazy gaming performance, it's capable of handling 1080p in a decent manner if you don't mind turning down the settings to low/medium (depending on the game).
It's all you need for older games, and modern hits like CSGO, Overwatch, LoL, and Fortnite at smooth frame rates on medium settings in 1080p. For more demanding games like PUBG and GTA 5 you'll need to either go low settings for a decent experience, or drop down to 720p resolution if you don't mind that.
Plus, the 2400G is not only a good cheap gaming CPU GPU combo, it's a decent quad-core processor in its own right, meaning not just decent gaming performance but overall system performance for general applications and multitasking. That also means it'll last you a fair while, and will be enough processing power to continue on with should you decide to buy a dedicated graphics card down the track for better gaming performance.
The Gigabyte GA-AB350M-DS3H is a no-frills AMD micro-ATX motherboard from a reliable motherboard manufacturer, and is all you need for a basic gaming build on a tight budget like this. Just obviously don't expect any fancy features for the price.
It's got 4 memory slots which is nice for such a cheap board though, meaning that you'll have 2 spare slots should you want to add some more memory down the track to make a total of 16GB that'll give your system a nice little longevity boost in a few years (the board supports a maximum of 64GB RAM so you're safe there).
Like all modern motherboards it comes with decent onboard sound and LAN working, but also like most motheboards it doesn't come with wireless/WiFi built-in. If you want wireless internet on your build, you will have to do what most other builders have to do as well which is get either an internal wireless network card that slots into your motherboard, or a USB dongle/adapter version if you prefer to do it that way. Either can work just as well as each other (see the Builds FAQ for more on this including our recommendations).
Patriot has always been a good memory manufacturer, and these Patriot modules are well-priced and at a nice 2667Mhz speed. If you're wondering, yes 2667 and 2666Mhz modules are the same thing. 8GB is the sweet spot for gaming right now and all you need for modern games now and into the future.
As mentioned above, these 2 modules only take up 2 of your 4 total RAM slots, so you have room for a RAM upgrade later should you want to upgrade to 16GB in the future. But right now in 2018, 16GB is a luxury as a gamer and only recommended for high-end gaming builds or for heavy workstation tasks (such as video editing PC builds etc). 8GB of RAM is enough to maximize performance in 1080p in the far majority of situations.
Western Digital have long been the most reliable when it comes to HDDs (short for Hard Disk Drives if you're brand new to all this stuff) and 1TB of storage is more than enough for most gamers, although feel free to include less or more storage as needed. 7200RPM is also a good speed to shoot for when getting a HDD which is what this drive runs at. Yes, Solid State Drives (SSDs) are faster than a standard HDD like this, but are more of a luxury component as their size to cost ratio is much higher and we only recommend SSDs for more expensive builds.
Antec are a reliable name in the PSU game (PSU = Power Supply Unit) and the VP-450 is a great value, decent-quality unit that'll serve the $400 build well for (hopefully) a long time. A common mistake newbies make when building a PC that you want to avoid is simply picking the cheapest no-name PSU you can find, which can bite you in the backside later on as it's always a risk when a power supply fails; worst case is it could take some or all of your other parts along to the cemetery with it! Learn more in our guide to buying a good power supply, but you can rest that this is a high-quality budget PSU that is hard to beat for the price.
Last but not least we have a great value for money case in the MasterBox Lite 3.1 from Cooler Master, which not only looks seriously awesome for such a cheap case but doesn't lack in features either.
The see-through side panel is typically a feature reserved for more expensive cases and a real nice touch for the price, but most importantly it's a decent-quality chassis with a hybrid steel/plastic make; it's not some super-flimsy, super-questionable-quality case that is sometimes the case (pun intended) when you settle for a budget option, and it's one of the overall better bang for your buck budget cases around right now.
It's only got one pre-installed fan that it comes with, however this is literally all you need for the $400 parts-list as you're obviously not building an over-the-top beast of a system and therefore your cooling requirements are low.
For the best $400 gaming PC build we recommend Windows 10 which you can get in a handy USB/flash-drive version or a disc version if you want to make your own bootable flash drive from that (since this build doesn't have an optical drive as they're totally optional these days):
See our top value for money budget picks of these accessories in our peripheral buying guides (see the top menu) should you need to buy these new and you're not reusing old ones. Simply put, you can choose any that you like for this gaming computer build as they come down to personal preference.
That's it for the current best cheap gaming PC build under $400 for September 2018 (IMHO). We hope it serves you well as-is or as a base for your on-going build research. If you're putting together your first PC, fear not as it's very simple to do these days and in 2018 if you can build Lego you can build a PC no problems. See our PC installation guide if you just require the core installation steps, or see our more comprehensive eBook if you want more thorough guidance and all the steps of planning, ordering, building, troubleshooting, maintaining and upgrading your first PC in detail. Good luck and long live PC gaming ;)