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Best Gaming PC Build Under $400 of 2020 & 2021 | Budget Ryzen Builds

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The Team That Worked On This Build

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Our $400 AMD Custom Gaming PC Build

400 Custom PC Build

Our Prebuilt Gaming PC Recommendation

Build Overview

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We’ve updated our $400 build with the fantastic AMD Ryzen 5 2400G processor with integrated graphics and high-speed RAM. While the new generation of Ryzen chips has been released, the older ones still offer better price to performance and make sense in a build at this price. We’ve also updated our prebuilt computer recommendations, bringing you fantastic value for those who prefer to purchase rather than build.

With the 400 dollar gaming PC our main focus was to give excellent value for money whilst still providing a decent level of gaming performance. While we aren’t quite at the price range where value is at its absolute best, we are getting into the price range where we can start making some serious leaps forward into good performance in modern games. While this may not be our cheapest gaming PC build, it’s still extremely affordable while also functioning as the CONSOLE KILLER PC build under $400, as we like to call it.

We consider this build as being entry-level for both performance standards and build difficulty making it the perfect gateway into PC building, so let’s dive straight in.

Before we explore the hardware specs in more detail and why we chose them, let’s take a quick look at the build as a whole and precisely what it has to offer. We’ll discuss how we managed to stick to the budget of $400, some of the compromises that came up during the hardware selection process, and how it performs on a day-to-day basis.

Budget

One of the biggest struggles we encountered when putting this build together, was sticking to that strict budget of $400. Luckily for us, the new range of AMD chips have been marketed to almost undercut their Intel rivals. This means the market price for AMD CPUs is at an all-time low, perfect for our little $400 build. We did toy with the idea of using the 2400G and faster RAM, but after a bunch of inhouse benchmarking tests, we established that the 3400G was the better way to go.

Like many budget custom builds, the aesthetics were compromised for increased performance. The case is pretty basic but still offers some RGB and user-friendly design.

Performance

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 at 60FPS and above. Thanks to the 3400G, this build can reach well over 100FPS on games like Dota 2 and CS: GO. Other more taxing games like The Witcher 3, Hitman 2, and Monster Hunter: World sees around 30-50FPS. We found capping your FPS to around 30 helps provide a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.

AMD APUs

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 3400G comes equipped with has performance that lies somewhere between the GTX 1030 and the GTX 1050Ti.

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 budgets. 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 gamer’s needs to make sure our builds are the best your budget can buy.

We build all these PC’s 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 PC’s 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 PC’s 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 CPU’s performed better across the board, and for a lower price. This is why we only recommend an AMD version.

NOTE: Due to the ongoing effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, some retailers are experiencing stock issues. WePC constantly updates our pages to reflect current availability, so if the PC or part you want shows as out of stock, check back later or check out these alternatives.

Our Recommended Custom Build Details

Enough of the preambling– let’s break down each individual component in this system and why it was chosen over the other options out there.

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400 Custom PC Build

Our $400 AMD Custom Gaming PC Build

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Our best custom-built gaming PC for under $400 is an excellent example of good gaming performance on a strict budget. Whilst the components that go into the design of this PC are considered low-end, they still provide some of the best price/performance in today’s market. With AMD’s flagship APU at its core, you’ll be able to take on low-intensive games such as ;CS:GO, LOL, DOTA2, and Rocket League.

AMD shocked the world with their most recent series of CPUs (Ryzen 3rd Gen) and have seemingly knocked Intel off the top spot for the first time in, well, as long as I can remember. One of their standout performers in this new series is the 3400G, an APU which comes equipped with impressive RX VEGA 11 integrated graphics. The 3400G is a 4core/ 4thread CPU with clock speeds of 3.7GHz base and 4.2GHz when under AMD’s precision boost. The 3400G 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. It comes with its own CPU cooler which works great right out of the box and provided cool temps for the most part. Overall, the best APU currently available and one that actually offers good gaming performance as well.

There’s no point in skimping on a motherboard at this stage, and that’s why we’ve opted for the ASRock B450M PRO4 motherboard. It not only offers a bunch of features that are geared towards gamers but also comes compatible with all Ryzen 3rd Gen 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 a budget board that’s going to achieve everything you’d want from a gaming motherboard, then look no further.

Corsair is a trusted and reliable brand that bring some of the most affordable hardware offerings to our shelves. For that reason, we’ve gone for 16GB of their DDR4 Vengeance LPX 3200MHz RAM kit in our $400 build. We contemplated putting 8GB in this build, but for the price difference, we thought it was worthwhile opting for double. With this RAM, you’ll be able to push pretty much any game you want without trouble. That being said, your CPU will feel the effects long before your RAM does, so you are still limited to what the 3200G can do. On the plus side, the RAM is quick enough (3200MHz) to extract excellent performance out of the CPU and is much better suited over slower, 2666MHz, and below, RAM.

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 Adata’s 480GB 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.

Of all the budget 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 Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L currently showcases superb value for money and is the perfect option for this $400 gaming build. This PC case comes with one 120mm fan which is more than enough but for optimal cooling, an extra for the front would be a great investment. Not impressed by this case? Well, here’s a list of the best PC cases currently available in today’s market.

When buying a budget 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 Corsair CV 450W bronze rated PSU. It isn’t going to win any awards for most outstanding PSU, but it certainly does the job and will provide efficiency and safety while you use it.

Things To Consider

By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of how we choose and test the hardware we have recommended. Next, let’s discuss some of the things we feel you should consider before deciding which build is right for you. Below are some of the most important areas of a custom build and should be deliberated before finalizing your choice.

Budget

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 budget. We do check our builds every couple of days to make sure they haven’t gone too far over budget 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 a budget build 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 it’s 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.

Overclocking

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.

Non-Gaming Performance

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.

Aesthetics

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 room in your budget for a stylish case. That being said, we did manage to fit a tempered glass case into our budget, 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 budget a little.

What Games Can This PC Run?

This build will provide 60FPS in all competitive online titles, however, if PUBG is your main game then you would have to look at the $500 build to achieve 60FPS and above. Additionally, the dedicated graphics card and a more powerful CPU would allow you to raise the graphical settings and resolution in all titles. Looking at demanding single-player games such as The Witcher 3, you would be looking at 30FPS at 900p, but well-optimized titles like Forza Horizon 4 allow for 50FPS at 1080p and still look incredible even on Very Low graphical settings.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Benchmark CSGO
218

720p

178

900p

136

1080p

Low

Dota 2

Benchmark Dota 2
165

720p

134

900p

110

1080p

Low

Fortnite

Benchmark Fortnite
94

720p

82

900p

71

1080p

Low

Rocket League

Benchmark Rocket League
137

720p

110

900p

86

1080p

High Quality

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Benchmark Rainbow Six Siege
91

720p

74

900p

58

1080p

Low

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Benchmark PUBG2
74

720p

60

900p

41

1080p

Very Low

Overwatch

Benchmark Overwatch
87

720p

72

900p

59

1080p

Low

Warframe

Benchmark Warframe
89

720p

76

900p

54

1080p

Medium

GTA V

Benchmark GTA V
112

720p

91

900p

67

1080p

Normal

Forza Horizon 4

Benchmark Forza Horizon 4
92

720p

73

900p

59

1080p

Very Low

Monster Hunter: World

Benchmark Monster Hunter World
56

720p

48

900p

32

1080p

Low

Hitman 2

Benchmark Hitman 2
54

720p

38

900p

31

1080p

Low

The Witcher 3

Benchmark The Witcher 3
56

720p

42

900p

29

1080p

Low

Total War: Warhammer II

Benchmark Total War Warhammer II
48

720p

39

900p

29

1080p

Low

Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $400

It is great building your own cheap desktop computer especially if you’re on a tight budget.

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 pre-builds for around $400.

In the Q1 of 2019, the shortage of GPU greatly affected custom-built prices, so we added these sections to our builds. This was what triggered the why you should buy a prebuilt PC now trend. While this advice was mostly only relevant for a short window in time, there are still great prebuilt gaming desktops in the $400 range:

1st

Boasting AMD’s latest generation processor and a handy RX 550, this build is going to be able to play competitive esports titles at 1080p no problem. A great option for someone looking to do casual, low-intensive gaming on a budget, albeit over.

2nd

A great little prebuilt option which is capable of handling competitive esports titles such as; CS:GO, LOL, DOTA2, and Rocket League.

Upgrade Path for Custom Build

So, you’ve got this far, but you’re not entirely satisfied with the performance of this build. Well, don’t worry, below are a number of upgradability choices that will increase the performance of this build exponentially. That being said, remember, these upgrades will increase the price of your build!

NOTE: These will raise the price of the build!

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The RX 570 is both a massive step up in price and, more importantly, performance. It currently boasts a considerable step up from the onboard graphics that the $400 build currently houses. With this powerhouse, you’ll be exceeding the PS4 Pro by a pretty good margin, and will also start knocking on the door to VR capabilities! You won’t struggle to play games at 1080p/60fps with this card, either. However, it’s not all good news since buying this GPU will add a decent $150 to the cost of the build. But after that, you can relax for the next year or so without upgrades.

Operating System & Peripherals

If you want maximum performance and compatibility, buy a Windows 10 license. This might be a pricey route, but it’s going to ensure that you get the most out of your rig, and it’s super user-friendly. Windows can still be purchased in DVD format if that is more convenient for your needs. If you need antivirus software, please read our guide to the best free antivirus software available today.

If you want maximum performance and compatibility, buy a Windows 10 license. This is an expensive route, but it will ensure that you get the most out of your rig. Windows still come in DVD format if that is more convenient for your needs.

Note: if you need antivirus software, please read our guide to the best free antivirus software available today.

Building Tips

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.

Install OS Via USB

Don’t shell out extra for an optical drive you’re only going to use once. Instead, grab a 4GB USB stick and install your OS like a real enthusiast!

To do this on Windows, simply plug it into your PC and install Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. The program will walk you through the rest of the (easy) process, and, in no time, you’ll have a portable Windows installer!

For Linux distributions, use UNetbootin or Rufus instead. The same instructions apply.

Invest In Antistatic Equipment

Computer parts are delicate. Most intuitively understand this, hence why they’re scared of “messing up”. But one major step you can take to avoid “messing up” is using an anti-static wristband. This will help dissipate static discharge, which would otherwise ruin your components before you’ve even put them together.

But they only work if you know how to use the anti-static wristband properly.

To save some extra stress and make your workplace computer-friendly, you can also buy an anti-static mat, which you rest your parts on while working.

How To Build A PC

Never built a PC before? Let us guide you through everything you need to build your first PC, even if you’re a complete beginner!

Closing Thoughts

And there you have it; the best custom PC build for under $400. Our comprehensive guide has been designed to make the entire hardware selection and building process as simple as possible. You no longer have to stress over which product performs better at a specific price range; we’ve done all the hard work for you. Ultimately though, if you’re a first-time PC builder looking to play low intensive, competitive esports games at 900p, then look no further. This build has you covered and can be upgraded when the time comes.

Let us know what you think of our build by leaving us a comment in the section below. Furthermore, why not jump over to our community page and leave us some pictures and feedback of the completed build, we’d love to hear from you!

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The Team That Worked On This Build