How to Build a Gaming PC on a Budget

Computer gamer rig with monitor stands on table in modern room lit with neon light.

When building a gaming PC on a budget, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when hunting down parts that offer the best bang for your buck. There are certain components that are going to end up costing you more in the long run, if you don’t prioritize your spending within your budget.

The first thing to do is think about the kinds of games you like to play. If you are someone who plays mostly old-school classics or online casino games, then you don’t have to focus as much of your budget on something like the graphics card. But if you’re a fan of the latest AAA titles and graphically demanding games, you’ll want to put a few extra dollars into your Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).

Regarding the budget we are working with, the components we recommend can create final builds of varying costs, with a few different low-to-mid-range recommendations for each component.

Parts

Top view of various pc components

When choosing the parts you’re going to need, it is important to know what you want to do with this machine. In our case, we want to build a custom gaming PC, so we should be looking to optimize our build for a gaming workload specifically.

The parts that you will need for your gaming PC are a CPU, GPU, motherboard, power supply, some RAM, a storage device for the operating system and all your games, and finally a case to put it all in. You’ll also need some peripherals such as a mouse and keyboard, and a monitor or two – you might want to play some online slots on the other screen while you have some downtime.

Another important point to keep in mind is that we aren’t factoring in sales. You might be able to find the CPU you want at a discounted price, which means you don’t have to trim a few dollars and buy less or slower RAM to get the GPU you wanted.

CPU & GPU

The two most important components to think about in a gaming PC are the CPU and GPU. By and large, these are going to be the two parts that have the most impact on your in-game performance, and they will also determine which other parts you will be using in your build.

For your CPU you’re going to be looking at AMD and their Ryzen series if you’re working with a budget. The reason we are going with AMD instead of Intel for our CPU recommendations is because there are simply better CPU offerings from AMD right now, and more importantly, the performance per dollar works out with our budget. AMD CPUs also come with a stock cooler that actually has decent performance, and can save you even more money if you decide to upgrade your cooling later down the line.

Your GPU is arguably the most important component in your gaming PC build because you are going to be focusing on gaming performance. So if you want to wreak havoc in DOOM, or stream a live dealer game at an online casino, your PC is optimized to give you the best experience possible. We’ll be recommending both AMD and Nvidia GPUs in this post, so you have more of a variety of builds to choose from.

Our recommended CPUs and GPUs:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600 / AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • GPU: GTX 1660 Super / RX 5600 XT

Motherboard

 Modern high end gaming productivity motherboard macro PC components

The motherboard acts as the backbone of a PC and seats all your components to allow them to work together. Every component you have in your PC is going to connect to the motherboard in some way. Because we are going to be using an AMD CPU in our build, we are going to need a motherboard with a socket that is compatible with our CPU. This is really easy with AMD because all of their mainstream CPUs are socket AM4+ compatible, so we have more motherboards to choose from that will work with our CPU choice.

Depending on the form factor, or the size of your motherboard, you might have some more research to do because of the different features available – you don’t want to buy a four stick RAM kit if you only have two slots on your motherboard, for example. For our recommendations, we limited the form factor to ATX and Micro ATX, since all our components are compatible with either. Micro ATX, or mATX, is an offshoot of the ATX form factor. mATX boards are slightly smaller than standard ATX boards, and so there is less space for as many components. Keep this in mind when you are choosing the motherboard for your gaming PC build. 

Our recommended motherboards:

  • Asrock B450M-HDV
  • Asrock B450M Steel legend
  •  MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX
  •  ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming

Power Supply (PSU)

The power supply does pretty much what it says on the can – it supplies the necessary power to the rest of the components in your PC. You will need to have a power supply that is able to provide enough power to all the components in your machine. If you are planning to upgrade your gaming PC down the line, then you might want to get a power supply that can handle having some more power-hungry components installed later on.

Our recommended power supplies:

  • EVGA BR 500W 80+ Bronze ATX PSU
  • Thermaltake Smart 700W 80+
  • Corsair CX450 80+ Bronze

CPU Cooler

AMD CPUs come packaged with a stock CPU cooler, so if you only plan on upgrading your cooling later on, then you can stick to using the AMD Wraith Prism or Spire cooler. If you do plan on buying a CPU cooler, then the decision is between air and liquid cooling. Liquid cooling can get very expensive, but there are cheaper options for liquid cooling in all-in-one kits known as AIOs. While there might be slight performance and thermal deltas between AIOs and air cooling, you can go with whichever suits you best.

Our recommended CPU coolers:

  • Hyper 212 Black Edition (air cooler)
  • Shadow Rock Slim (air cooler)
  • Corsair iCUE H115i 280mm (AIO)

RAM

Close-up macro shot of installed RAM memory in computer motherboard slot. Shot in neon colors.

RAM, or random access memory, handles all the workloads and processes on your computer — from keeping track of all the tabs you have open in Chrome, to smoothing your gaming experience. For most AAA games these days, developers recommend at least 16GB of RAM, in order to meet the performance requirements to enjoy the game without any issues.

Most budget gaming PC builds can manage 16GB of RAM without going over budget, but getting 8GB now and filling out the RAM slots later down the line is fine too. It all depends on how much you are willing to spend and what you’re willing to cut back on to save a few bucks here and there.

Our recommended RAM:

  • G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB DDR4
  • T-Force Gaming Nighthawk RGB 16GB DDR4

Storage

You are going to need storage in your PC for your operating system, any software you use, as well as all the games you are going to want to play. What we would recommend is that you get a slightly smaller (somewhere between 120 – 250 GB) SSD for your operating system (OS) to live on, and a larger (500GB – 1TB) 3.5-inch HDD to store all your games and other data on.

Our recommended storage devices:

  • XPG SX850 256GB SSD
  • Seagate 1TB Barracuda HDD

Case

The case you decide to build your PC in should be able to fit all your parts, but also it should look aesthetically pleasing to you, as you are going to see it all the time. That being said, you don’t have to have a case that is fully lit up with RGB and has a tempered glass side panel; you can easily get a much cheaper case with fewer cosmetic features (which could save you a few important dollars that could make the difference between you having 8GB and 16GB of RAM to game with).

Our recommended computer cases:

  • Fractal Design Meshify C
  • Cougar MG120
  • NZXT H500

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