Strapped for cash, but need an entry-level gaming PC to run games like Fortnite & Rocket League? Then, this $300 gaming PC build will do the trick for you.
What if I told you that, for $300 you could build a decent entry-level gaming computer for 1080P gaming? No, it won’t be a gaming PC that can max out today’s top games. However, for $300 you can put together a system that is capable of running most modern games on lower (and, for some games, medium) settings.
That’s not too bad for that low of a budget. And, this build will not only deliver solid performance now, but it is also set up so that it can easily be upgraded in the future to a system that will be able to max out games on a budget 1080P monitor.
So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly $300 gaming PC, keep reading to see how you can build one that will exceed your expectations.
Or, you can check out more builds on our Best Cheap Gaming PC Builds guide.
Not everybody has thousands of dollars to spend on a high-end gaming computer. However, the reality is that spending thousands of dollars on a gaming PC isn’t always necessary. And, if you’re someone who currently has a cheap laptop or older desktop that can’t run any of today’s top games, all you probably care about is getting a system that will at least let you play your favorite games.
With the $300 gaming PC build listed below, you’ll be able to run most of today’s popular games on at least lower settings on a 1080P monitor.
This $300 build comes with an AMD Ryzen 3 2200G APU and 8GB of DDR4 memory. The 2200G has decent integrated graphics built into it that can handle most games out there on at least minimum settings.
The build also comes with a 450W power supply that will easily be able to power a mid-range graphics card later down the road, when you are ready to upgrade. In fact, this build is really just a couple of upgrades away from being a really powerful mid-range system. But we’ll talk about potential upgrades further down in the post. For now, here is the part list that will help you build a solid gaming PC for under $300:
*NOTE: We’ve also linked to an affordable pre-built gaming PC, too. So, while you’ll get more performance out of the build listed below, if you absolutely don’t want to build a PC yourself, the pre-built desktop we have linked to will serve as a viable alternative.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 3 2200G|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance 8GB|
|HDD||WD Blue 320GB|
|CASE||Thermaltake Versa H15|
|ODD||Install O.S. from USB drive|
Grand Total: $270-$330
*Component prices fluctuate daily. Click here for current pricing.
**Price includes the components that make up the tower only. Windows 10 is included in the list, but will cost extra—and you will definitely need an operating system one way or another.
While we feel that the components listed above will give you the best value for your budget, there are alternative options that you can go with to either cut the price down further or to get more performance out of the system now…
In the past, a lot of people would recommend going with an Intel Pentium G4560 CPU and pairing it with an entry-level graphics card (like the GT 1030) rather than going with an AMD Ryzen 2200G APU. And, really, going with a G4560 and GT 1030 isn’t that bad of an idea if your goal is to get as much performance out of your system right now.
However, most benchmarks show that the performance difference in most games between a system built with a G4560/GT 1030 combo and a system built with a Ryzen 2200G are minimal. And, since a Ryzen 2200G system (with motherboard costs included) is going to be anywhere from $20-$40 less expensive than a G4560/GT 1030 based system, you get more value by going with a Ryzen 2200G.
The other positive about choosing a Ryzen 2200G over an Intel Pentium G4560 is the fact that it has a less expensive upgrade path to becoming a mid-range gaming computer.
Again, we’ll discuss all of the upgrade options further down in this post, but with a Ryzen 2200G, you can easily add a mid-range graphics card to it and upgrade the processor to a brand new Ryzen 3000 series CPU and you’d be good to go. Whereas, with a Pentium based system, your highest upgrade option would be an older Kaby Lake processor (older LGA 1151 motherboards are not compatible with newer Intel Coffee Lake CPUs). For a Pentium/GT 1030-based system, you can swap out the graphics card just as easily in this system. But, the difference is that with the Ryzen 2200G you won’t have to eat the cost of the GT 1030 when it comes time to upgrade.
Of course, you could always sell the GT 1030 used after you’re done with it to help you recover costs (check out our guide on Selling Used Computers and PC Parts). But, with the Ryzen 2200G, you won’t have to worry about that.
We’ve already discussed how the integrated graphics on the Ryzen 3 2200G are good enough to run most games on a 1080P monitor on lower settings. But, as a clearer picture of what this system is able to do, you can expect it to:
- Run eSports titles (Dota 2, League of Legends, Overwatch, etc.) at ~50-60FPS on medium or higher settings
- Run AAA titles (like Middle Earth: Shadow of War, Rise of the Tomb Raider, etc.) at ~30FPs on lower settings
If you mainly play competitive eSports games that aren’t super demanding, then the 2200G will have you covered. If you want to play AAA titles, the 2200G will be able to run them at lower settings, but you shouldn’t expect to get a high framerate at 1080P—although, reducing your monitor’s resolution should help there as well.
For RAM, we chose a single 8GB stick of Corsair’s Vengeance LPX 2400MHz DDR4 memory. Rather than going with a 2x4GB kit to utilize dual channel memory, we opted for a single stick of RAM for two reasons:
- It’s much cheaper than the cheapest 2x4GB of DDR4 memory
- It will make adding a second stick of RAM much easier
While you may have been told that running your RAM in dual channel configuration will give you more performance than running a single stick of RAM, the reality is that, for gaming, dual channel configurations typically don’t offer a significant performance advantage when compared to single channel configurations. (For proof of this, check out our guide: Single Channel vs Dual Channel vs Quad Channel Memory).
And, since the micro-ATX motherboard in this build only has two DIMM slots, that means if you were to start out with a 2x4GB kit of memory right now, you wouldn’t be able to upgrade to 16GB of memory down the road without having to replace your existing kit.
By going with a single 8GB stick of memory now, all you need to do to get to 16GB of RAM is to add a second identical 8GB Corsair Vengeance stick of memory.
While the price of this build will fall anywhere from ~$270-$330 depending on how the price of the components are fluctuating, this cost only accounts for the tower itself. It doesn’t account for the cost of an operating system, which you will definitely need in order to get the build up and running.
A brand new copy of Windows will set you back another ~$100. So, that will take the cost of this build up closer to $400 if you buy a copy of Windows brand new.
However, there are ways around paying $100 for Windows.
Use A Linux-Based Operating System?
You can choose to go with a Linux-based operating system for free. The downside, there, though, is that not all modern games can be run on a Linux-based system.
Buy A Windows 10 Key for Cheap from A Third-Party Marketplace?
The other option to cut down on the costs of Windows is to buy it from a third-party marketplace. Sites like Kinguin.net have Windows 10 keys for as low as ~$30. Some people question whether or not purchasing Windows keys from Kinguin is a good idea or not. I covered the pros and cons of using a marketplace like Kinguin in another guide, Is Kinguin Legit? if you want to read further into it.
Get Windows 10 for Free?!?!
If you absolutely can’t afford to pay for Windows right now, the good news is that you can still install it on your computer and use it without having to buy a key for it. The downside is that without activating Windows, you will be limited in some areas on what you can do with your system.
However, even with an unactivated version of Windows installed on your computer, you can still play all of your games and use your system in a fairly normal manner.
The only real differences between an activated Windows and an unactivated Windows is in some customization options (for instance, you won’t be able to put up a custom wallpaper if you haven’t activated Windows.)
So, in the grand scheme of things, if you’re okay foregoing some of the customization options that require Windows to be activated, you could use Windows 10 for free without ever activating it. And, at the very least, if you can’t afford Windows 10 now, you could still always build your tower and use the unactivated version of Windows for the time being, until you can afford to purchase a key.
The best part about this $300 gaming PC is that, with just a couple of upgrades, it can go from being an entry-level 1080P gaming PC, to a mid-range gaming PC that can max out pretty much any game you throw at it.
Here’s how I would upgrade this computer to get it to a mid-range gaming computer:
1. The first upgrade I’d make would be to add a mid-range GPU (~$175-$300)
The following GPUs would make for a good upgrade:
If it were my system, I’d shoot for either an RX 580 4GB, RX 580 8GB, or GTX 1060 6GB. These will be more than enough to handle any game on a 1080P monitor right now and in the coming years. All of these graphics cards will work with the existing power supply in this build, too, so you won’t have to upgrade your power supply as well.
2. The second upgrade I’d make would be to upgrade to a mid-range CPU (~$150-$300)
The motherboard in this build can hold the following processors:
It can also hold other first-generation Ryzen processors as well (Ryzen 5 1600, 1600x, etc.), but since the prices are fairly similar, you might as well upgrade to the newest generation. If you’re willing to buy a used processor at a discount, though, you could always check out ebay to see what kind of deal you can get on the first generation Ryzen CPUs.
If it were me, I’d probably be shooting for the Ryzen 5 2600 as it isn’t too expensive (comes in at ~$165) and will offer you enough processing power to run any game out there.
3. The third upgrade I’d make would be to add a second 8GB stick of RAM (~$50)
For the next upgrade, I’d double the amount of RAM in this system by adding a second 8GB stick of Corsair Vengeance LPX 2400MHz memory. This will take you from 8GB to 16GB, which will be more than enough for most scenarios.
4. The fourth upgrade I’d make would be to add an SSD (~$50-$150)
The other downside of this build is that it only comes with 500GB of storage to start out. That should be enough to hold over most gamers for a little while and the good news is that adding additional storage is pretty easy. And, so, the next upgrade to make would be to add an SSD. An SSD will speed up your boot times, make games and your OS load faster, speed up file transfers, and add additional storage to your build. You could technically add this early in your upgrade schedule if you don’t mind the performance you are getting.
With all of those upgrades, you’ll now have a very capable mid-range gaming computer that can max any game out on a 1080P monitor. Even before the upgrade from 8GB to 16GB, the system would be able to handle any game you threw at it.
Along with your computer, you will also need a keyboard, mouse, and monitor (if you don’t already have them.) If you have a $300 budget to spend on your gaming computer, my guess is that you also have a limited budget to spend on your peripherals.
So, with that being said, here are some picks for some budget-friendly peripherals that will pair nicely with this $300 gaming PC build:
*Or, if you’d prefer a mechanical keyboard, check out our post on the best mechanical keyboards under $50.
|Redragon M711 COBRA||/10|
*For more cheap mouse options, check out our guide on the best budget gaming mice.
No, this $300 gaming computer isn’t going to let you max out a game like The Division 2 on a 1440P 144Hz monitor. You probably won’t even be able to run The Division 2 on medium settings on a 1080P monitor with this build.
However, you will be able to run The Division 2 (and games like it) on lower settings. And, the key there is that you will be able to run it. For a lot of gamers who are stuck with older laptops or desktops that can’t run modern games, just being able to run newer games would be a huge upgrade. And, really, that’s who this build is for: people who have an extremely tight budget, but who just want to be able to play modern games.
This system also has a simple upgrade path to becoming a solid mid-range gaming computer, too. So, it will not only work well for right now, but it will also give you plenty of potential for the future as well.