Best gaming PC under $400
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We’ve updated our $400 PC build with one of AMDs Ryzen APUs, a processor with integrated graphics. While the new generation of Ryzen chips has been released, there are no new APU options, so the older SKUs still offer better price to performance and make sense in a build at this price. We’ve also updated our prebuilt computer recommendations for those who prefer to purchase rather than build, although we strongly advise you build.
With the 400 dollar gaming PC, our main focus was to get as much as we could out of every penny. While we aren’t at the price range where value is at its absolute best, we have enough wiggle room in the budget to make 1080p gaming quite playable. While this may not be our cheapest gaming PC build, it’s still extremely affordable with a slightly stronger processor and graphical power. We consider this build as being entry-level for both performance standards and build difficulty making it the perfect gateway into PC building, however, you should limit your expectations. This does not come with a dedicated GPU but it is set up in such a way where you can continue to save for one and then install it without any issues.
What do you get for your $400?
One of the biggest struggles we encountered when putting this build together, was sticking to that strict price of $400. Luckily for us, AMD APUs are made for this sort of price point. Your $400 gaming PC gives you a starting place, with an adequate motherboard, sufficient RAM, and enough storage to get your started. Yes, frame rates may not be the best but a lot of games are playable in 1080p.
At this price range, you need to be realistic with what performance you expect to achieve. For us, we focused on designing a build that can achieve 900p-1080p gaming, that is tailored towards low-intensive games such as CS: GO, Fortnite, and Overwatch. The APU should be able to churn out 60+FPS on these games on low-medium settings.
If you’re new to PC building, then you’re probably a little confused at this point, especially with all the abbreviations we’re throwing around. So, let’s discuss the most important aspect of this build, the APU. An APU, in layman’s terms, is a CPU and a GPU rolled into one. Yes, that’s the reason why this build doesn’t have a graphics card. Over the years, integrated graphics have become increasingly powerful. The VEGA 11 graphics that the 5600G comes equipped with has performance that lies somewhere between the GTX 1030 and the GTX 1050.
The great thing about these APUs is that you can upgrade to a more powerful standalone GPU down the line, and still have a powerful multi-core processor at your disposal. It truly is the best of both worlds.
How we choose
Our team has years of experience behind them building PCs for a range of needs and budgetary requirements. All this knowledge combined with hours of research, user feedback, and onsite benchmarking is what goes into choosing the best components for our builds. We look for value for money, how the components perform together and focus on gamers’ needs to make sure our builds are the best bang for your buck.
We build all these PCs ourselves, in-house, so trust us when we say we want to make them as good as possible. We actually use all these builds ourselves day-to-day in the WePC offices.
How we test
We build each of our selected PCs from scratch to make sure all the parts we recommend work well together, fit into the selected case, and provide the best performance possible for the price range. Once built, the PCs are used in the office for everyday work as well as a range of games from light to heavy-duty. While we test, we also run benchmarking tests to see how well our builds perform, all while keeping an eye on the temperature of the components themselves.
We tested our AMD builds against their Intel counterparts and found that these CPUs performed better across the board, and for a lower price. This is why we only recommend an AMD version at this price point.
Prebuilt gaming PC under $400
NSX GAMING 5600G Desktop PC
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
Radeon Vega Graphics
512GB NVMe SSD
It is always a great idea to build your own desktop computer, especially if you’re restricted on how much you can spend. Nonetheless, not everyone is fond of building their own gaming computer due to the hassle that comes with it. If you’re one of the folks that aren’t overly keen on the idea of building your own, then you’ll be happy to know we’ve searched the web for the best prebuilt gaming PC for around $400.
Our custom PC build under $400
Enough of the preamble– let’s break down each individual component in this system and why it was chosen over the other options out there.
Our $400 Custom Gaming PC Build
Our best custom-built gaming PC for under $400 is an excellent example of entry-level gaming performance when sticking to this price. This PC is designed to give you an entry point into gaming, with the idea of leaving room for future upgrades and the addition of a dedicated graphics card down the line.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
3.9GHz - 4.4GHz
while keeping the price relatively low, we can still squeeze in the 5600G, 6 4core/ 12 thread APU with Radeon Vega graphics, and a base clock speed of 3.9GHz, with a max boost of 4.4GHz. The 5600G provides enough power to play low-intensive games such as CS:GO, Fortnite, DOTA 2, and Rocket League at 1080p while maintaining smooth, playable FPS.
MSI B550M PRO-VDH WiFi
The motherboard is an area we can save some money on for this price range, and that’s why we’ve opted for the B550M. This board offers enough in terms of features and is compatible with Ryzen CPUs. That being said, it’s still effectively an entry-level board but slots nicely into this $400 build. Ultimately, if you’re looking for an affordable board that’s going to achieve everything you’d want from a gaming motherboard, then look no further.
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Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200MHz
4GB - 16GB
DDR4 2400Mhz - 4000Mhz
Corsair is a trusted and reliable brand that brings some of the most affordable hardware offerings to our shelves. For that reason, we’ve gone for 16GB of their DDR4 Vengeance LPX Series 3200MHz RAM kit in our $400 build. With this RAM, you’ll be able to push pretty much any game you want without trouble and it leaves your PC in a good spot for any future upgrades.
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WD Blue SN570 500GB
You’ll be glad to hear that this build makes use of a super-fast SSD storage solution. If you aren’t familiar with SSDs and how they work, in basic terms, the technology inside an SSD differs dramatically from that of traditional HDDs. This means they can read/write data much, much faster. We’ve gone for Western Digital’s 500GB SN570 SSD in this build as we think that’s enough to get you up and running. You might need to expand your storage capacity down the road to keep up with demand, but for a start, this is a great SSD to go with.
Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L
Of all the entry-level cases we’ve recommended here on WePC, this is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing. It also has great out-of-the-box cooling, a clean design, great airflow, and plenty of room for a GPU or a few extra hard drives down the line. The Q300L currently showcases superb value for money and is the perfect option for this $400 gaming build. This PC case comes with one pre-installed 120mm fan, providing your system with some airflow out of the box. If you add a dedicated GPU to this build we recommend buying another case fan.
Seasonic S12III 500 SSR-500
When buying a cost-effective PSU, we always recommend buying from reputable, reliable manufacturers. If you don’t, you run a serious risk of hardware malfunction down the line. For that reason, we’ve gone for a Seasonic 500W bronze-rated PSU. It isn’t going to win any awards for the most outstanding PSU, but it certainly does the job and will provide your components with efficient and safe power for years to come.
Things To Consider
Before looking into a custom PC, you should establish what you would like to achieve in regards to performance and ability. Builds can vary massively in terms of in-game performance, and your budget might not reflect your performance expectations. For example, this build is custom-designed to play low-intensive games such as CS: GO and Fornite in around 900p. If you’re looking to play the latest AAA games in 1440p, then we would suggest looking at our $700 build and above.
It’s worth mentioning that prices do fluctuate on Amazon, and the builds can be above or below the intended set price. We do check our builds every couple of days to make sure they haven’t increased in price and make sure we are still recommending the best value-for-money hardware.
For this build, we decided to go for the Ryzen 3400G and pair it with 3200MHz RAM. We did toy with the idea of using the 2400G and faster 3600MHz RAM, but it didn’t quite meet our requirements on this occasion. After much deliberation, we concluded that the performance difference between the two setups would be minimal. So we went for the Ryze
Upgradability And Future-Proofing
Future upgrades are always worth considering, even more so on entry-level builds such as this. Fortunately, this build has been designed with that aspect in mind. The motherboard is one of the latest B450 PRO MAX from MSI, which offers out-the-box Ryzen 3rd Gen compatibility and up to 3466MHz RAM support. While the APU has its own powerful built-in graphics unit; a standalone GPU would also add decent performance gains. Luckily, the motherboard can also accommodate a GPU, as well.
Thanks to improvements in hardware, overclocking has become increasingly popular, and you can pretty much overclock every part of your build nowadays. That being said, it still comes with severe risks, especially if you aren’t fully up-to-speed with the process.
If you’re thinking of trying your hand at the PC boosting dark arts, then you’ll be happy to know this build is fully equipped for light overclocking. Ryzen chips are almost fully optimized out-of-the-box, though, so you will struggle to see any worthy performance gains.
Ease Of Building
For me, the $400 was a relatively easy one to piece together. Obviously, at this price range, it had its limitations, but let’s start with the positives. The M-ATX motherboard is the perfect size for this case and allows for excellent airflow throughout. As we used an APU, we had plenty of space to play with when it came to cable management.
That being said, the cable management was less than desirable thanks to a number of different case issues. For this price range, though, it’s hard to be too disgruntled.
We made use of an Ifixit PC toolkit when building this PC, and we highly recommend you do the same as it makes life that much easier. You can also use an anti-static wrist band if you feel the need to.
Is it just gaming you’re looking to do, or are you using this build as a workstation as well? This is a question you should be asking yourself from the start. Why? Well, some PCs are designed to perform better in gaming scenarios rather than intense multi-core workload situations.
Luckily, this APU has the best of both worlds. Thanks to the impressive single-core and multi-core performance of the 3400G, you won’t see any major performance drops when switching from work to gaming and vice versa.
Lastly, we consider the aesthetics of the build. Aesthetics are a pretty important part of a custom build these days, especially when you have expensive hardware to show off. Unfortunately, at this price range, you don’t have the funds for a stylish case. That being said, we did manage to fit a tempered glass case into our build, and we think it looks pretty good.
As a general rule, RGB supportive hardware comes with premium price tags attached. If this build isn’t up to your high aesthetic standards, you may have to extend your budgetary requirements a little.
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Every recommended prebuilt gaming PC in this article is from a reputable manufacturer. You are probably wondering how we know what the best gaming PC brands are? Well, we have done our research and purchased PCs from these brands.
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We understand that building a PC, especially if it’s your first time, can be a relatively tricky and strenuous process. Below we have outlined some of our best building tips so that you don’t make the same mistake so many have before you. If our tips aren’t enough, we have created a list of the most popular PC building questions, which should cover pretty much everything there is to do with PC building. Furthermore, we would recommend checking our most popular mistakes made by PC builders page as well.