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Best Cheap Gaming PC under $400 in 2021

We take a look at the best gaming PC you can build or buy for under $400.
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400 dollar gaming pc

Our $400 Custom Gaming PC Build

As with all of our builds, this machine will provide you with the best possible performance for your money. While the components may not be high-end, you can be sure you’ll have a satisfactory gaming experience.

$400 might not seem like a lot when it comes to building a gaming PC, but if you know the right components to spend the bulk of your money on then you can still come away with a decent rig. In this build we used AMDs special line of CPUs with integrated graphics chips to massively reduce the cost of building a gaming rig. 

If you’re new to PC gaming or building your own gaming rig then this is the perfect build for you. It’s a comparatively small investment, but gives you entry-level performance and is also pretty easy to put together, even if it’s your first time giving it a go.

What You Get for $400

When you’re only spending $400, you need to be sure you know exactly where you need to spend your money. At this price point, it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option in every area, but to have the best experience it is worth splurging on one or two of the components. 

An SSD is certainly pricier than a HDD, and comes with less space too, but the increased boot and loading times are worth it. Similarly, you can get much better performance out of a build with a dedicated CPU and GPU, but going for one of AMDs APUs to handle both means you can afford to spend a bit more on other areas like the motherboard which gives you a strong foundation to build and upgrade from in the future. 

Realistically, even with our expert advice you should realize you’re not going to get top-tier performance from this build. Any low-impact games like Fortnite should run at respectable frame rates in medium graphical settings without any major hiccups. You can even manage some more intense games like The Witcher 3 if you don’t mind capping your FPS to 30.

How We Made This Build

As with all of our builds, we used our team’s cumulative decades of experience to pick out the best components needed within our budget. We rigorously research, build, and test each of the builds on our site so that you can be sure you’re getting the absolute best PC you can for the price. 

We run the PCs we build in our offices every day to ensure that they’re capable of anything you could throw at them. From the cheeky lunch break gaming session to the rigours of day-to-day work, these builds are put through their paces in every situation imaginable. 

You can be sure that if this PC can do it, we’ve tested it. That includes the PC gamer’s gold standard of overclocking the hardware. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before attempting it yourself.

Our Recommended Custom Build Details

Looking for your best possible PC for only $400? Well, you’ve found it. Now let’s take a look at this gaming PC.

400 dollar gaming pc

Our $400 AMD Custom Gaming PC Build

As with all of our builds, this machine will provide you with the best possible performance for your money. While the components may not be high-end, you can be sure you’ll have a satisfactory gaming experience.

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CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

When it comes to picking a processor for a build in this budget range, then the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G is a great choice. Like all of the G-series chips, the 3400G comes with an onboard VEGA graphics chip to handle the graphical processing, in this case a VEGA 11 chip. With the graphical rendering taken care of you’re saving a lot of money on the GPU, and you get some pretty solid performance out of the chip considering how cheap it is. 

Specs-wise you’re getting a 4 core, 4 thread APU that clocks in at around 4.2GHz when pushed to full capacity with AMD’s precision boost technology. You can guarantee a decent experience on titles like DotA 2 and Rocket League at 1080p, without worry about severe frame dropping.

Motherboard

ASRock B450M-HDV R4.0

A good motherboard is integral to a good gaming PC, as it defines how far you can upgrade over time, as well as how long your current build will last you. The ASRock B450M-HDV R4.0 is a really solid choice, packed full of features, and supporting processors up to AMD’s third gen CPUs. Not only is this a perfect fit for your build, but it leaves you with adequate room to upgrade later on.

RAM

Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 8GB (2 x 4GB) 3200MHz

When it comes to memory, 8GB is good enough to get you started, and the Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 8GB (2 x 4GB) 3200MHz kit is a good balance between performance and cost. These are well-built RAM sticks that clock in at 3.2 GHz, meaning you’re hitting near the upper limit of what is supported by your motherboard clock speed wise.

SSD

Samsung 870 EVO 500GB SSD

As we said above, the trade off between an SSD and a HDD is well worth it. Although you get half the space you would if you chose a HDD, the SSD will let your games load much faster, not to mention you’ll get into your OS quicker as well. The Samsung 870 EVO 500GB SSD has read/write speeds of 560Mb/s and 530Mb/s respectively.With 500GB you’ve got enough room for your OS and to install a few of your most treasured games.

PSU

Corsair CV450 Power Supply

Anything that deals with supplying electricity needs to be well-made, or you run serious risks to your own safety. That’s why we recommend the Corsair CV450 Power Supply. Corsair are a well-known company, and they’ve proven before now that they make reliable hardware that rarely, if ever, breaks down or stops functioning.

PC Case

Zalman Z3 Mid Tower PC Case

The Zalman Z3 series of PC cases is a great choice when it comes to buying a case for your budget PC build. It’s got a simple but stylish design, really good airflow, and can be easily assembled even by someone who is new to PC building. It also comes with a case fan pre-installed to help prevent your components from overheating too, which is always a nice touch, especially in a budget case.

Things to Consider

Budget & Upgradability

Before you consider buying any parts for your machine, you should pin down exactly what it is that you want out of the build. If you’re looking for a high-end PC gaming experience then you’re going to need to spend more than $400. If you’re comfortable with an adequate entry-level PC gaming experience, then $400 is a good amount of money to spend on your first build. 

You’ll be able to play a lot of games at 1080p with capped framerates, and of course the past 30+ years of PC history should also be available to you too thanks to places like GOG. You’ll certainly find no shortage of games that’ll run on the machine, and it’s a good place to start with the intention of upgrading incrementally as you go on. 

Speaking of upgrading, you should find plenty of room to increase your performance from this point. Getting a separate GPU and CPU is a great starting point to think about, and you can always double your RAM to two 8GB sticks as well. If you’re interested in aesthetics it may also be worth considering a modular PSU with removable cables to cut down on your in-case clutter. 

Overclocking Capability

Overclocking is something that lots of PC gamers love to get involved with, and it’s not hard to see why. The concept of squeezing extra performance out of your components for no extra cost is certainly enticing, but before you take the plunge you should be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. 

While this build is certainly ready for some light overclocking, you might want to think twice about giving it ago. With the well-optimized components in here you’ll not be able to squeeze much extra performance out of the build, and as with all overclocking you could risk damaging your parts if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Ease of Building 

If you’re new to building PCs this build is a decent mix of ease and learning opportunities. While the small motherboard makes it easy to fit everything in, the lack of a modular PSU might make fitting all the cables inside the case a little finicky. 

With persistence and patients getting this build put together isn’t too taxing even for a complete novice. Just make sure you have a set of PC building tools and an anti-static wristband to ensure you have as easy a time as possible. 

Non-Gaming Performance

While you’re almost certainly here mostly for gaming, you can rest assured that non-gaming tasks are also easily completed by this build. While you won’t want to try anything too intensive, like running advanced rendering programs, basic video and photo editing are a complete breeze with this build. 

It goes without saying that surfing the internet and creating documents is also easily accomplished as well. If you’re thinking of trying to start a streaming career you may want to consider spending more money on your build.

Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $400

If you really can’t stomach the idea of putting a PC together for yourself, then you can always aim for a pre-built machine instead. Of course, you’ll be either paying fmore, or getting less performance, as some of the budget must go towards paying for the convenience of a pre-built rig. Either way, here are the best options in your price range. 

iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC (Element Mini 9300)

Although the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC (Element Mini 9300) is slightly outside of the budget of the custom build, it’s well worth the extra money. Not only does it look great, but it comes with an SSD for fast booting and loading, 8GBs of DDR4 RAM, and an RX 550 dedicated graphics card to give you some great gaming moments without ruining your wallet. 

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop Computer (2200G)

While it doesn’t quite beat out the iBUYPOWER machine above, this HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop Computer (2200G) is a decent option for gamers on a budget. It comes with one of AMD’s APUs inside, and offers 1TB of regular HDD storage to carry more of your gaming collection than an SSD-only PC would usually be able to.

Upgrade Path for Custom Build

XFX Radeon RX 570 RS XXX Edition

One of the most important things when it comes to upgrading this build, is getting your hands on a dedicated GPU. AMD has done a great job on their APUs, but when you offload the task of graphics rendering to a dedicated card, you’ll notice a huge jump in your performance. The XFX Radeon RX 570 RS XXX Edition is a great choice to go for, packing 8GB of DDR5 VRAM and enough power to boost your gaming performance through the roof when compared to the base build. 

Operating System & Peripherals

To get the most out of your new gaming rig, there are a few key peripherals that you might want to consider getting your hands on. 

Windows 10 Home USB 

Obviously, all your new hardware needs new software to run on it. If you don’t already have an OS then we recommend Windows 10 because of it’s amazingly vast library of compatible software. The USB option means it’s nice and easy to install, and even easier to use, and you can even save a bit of cash by choosing the OEM version, but just remember that license only allows you to install on one machine. 

Razer DeathAdder V2

If you don’t already have a gaming mouse lying around then you should consider getting the Razer DeathAdder V2. This entry-level gaming mouse has a satisfying feel in your palm and comes with Razer’s incredibly sensitive sensor so you can be sure all of your hand movements are being accurately tracked. 

Redragon K556 RGB Mechanical Keyboard

When it comes to gaming, you need a mechanical keyboard. The Redragon K556 RGB Mechanical Keyboard is a very nice entry-level mechanical keyboard that comes with all the features a gamer needs. The tactile brown switches will make sure you’re always hitting the right keys while the built-in RGB will make you really feel like a PC gamer. PLus, as we all know, RGB improves your gaming performance. 

SteelSeries QcK Gaming Surface

The days of boring, poorly-made mouse mats are gone. Now SteelSeries offers a great line of gaming surfaces in a variety of different sizes. Personally we recommend the SteelSeries QcK Gaming Surface XL, as it will prevent your keyboard from slipping as well as providing the perfect surface for your mouse sensor. Plus the quality is so good you know it’s not going to fray or fall apart. 

LG UltraGear 24GL600F-B

If you’re going to be PC gaming, you need to get yourself a decent gaming monitor. This 

LG UltraGear 24GL600F-B is a great choice if you want to combine value with high performance. It has a refresh rate of 144Hz, so you know you’ll be able to get those high frame rates when it counts, and comes with various features geared towards improving your gaming experience. You won’t find a better HD gaming monitor for this price, and because it’s made by LG you can be sure it’s going to be sturdy too. 

Creative Inspire T12

The Creative Inspire T12 speakers are a great choice for entry-level speakers. You can enjoy decent quality audio without breaking the bank, but if you’re into your bassy music you may want to consider splashing out more cash on a bigger sound system. 

HyperX Cloud Stinger Headset

If you’re especially into online gaming and want your teammates to be able to hear you properly, then the HyperX Cloud Stinger Headset is worth considering. Not only do you get crisp audio reproduction through the headphones, but you also get great clarity on the mic, so you can be sure you’re being heard. Of course this all comes for a great value price as well. 

Closing Thoughts

400 dollar gaming pc

Our $400 Custom Gaming PC Build

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Silent PC Review has been providing expert advice and detailed reviews of PCs and peripherals since 2002. Our technical advice has been featured on publications such as: New York Times, O’Reilly, PCMag, Popular Mechanics, Forbes, etc. plus countless trade shows and industry articles. We’re dedicated to providing top-notch advice and reviews for choosing your next PC build.