PC gaming is known for many things. Unparalleled customizability, the potential for absolutely stunning visuals, and access to the most colossal library of games are among the most appealing, although there’s also the notoriously high price tag that comes along with all of this.
But what if we told you that you could get initiated into the world of PC gaming for only $300?
Let us dive right into the best $300 PC build at the moment.
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The Best Cheap $300 Gaming PC Build For 2021
Updated: January 20, 2021
Click on the product images to view the product on Amazon, where you can see more images in high resolution and check the current price. The price may be higher than $300 due to price fluctuations.
So, what exactly can you expect from such an affordable PC build?
Well, there are two things to highlight: upgradeability and console-like performance (and by this, we mean the Xbox One and the PS4).
Sure, it won’t perform that much better than these consoles, and it definitely won’t perform better than the insane new-gen consoles, but we’ve made sure to include some enticing pieces of hardware that will help increase the longevity of this build with some sweet upgrade paths down the line.
This isn’t to say that this is a half-finished build. It works perfectly fine on its own with just the $300 invested into it, but the option to upgrade is there for you nonetheless. Although, if, for whatever reason, you have no intention of upgrading this build at all, then you may very well be better off getting a console.
So how does it perform?
Full disclosure: this build relies on the integrated Vega 8 graphics, courtesy of the Ryzen 3 3200G CPU.
As such, it’s actually better suited for esports than it is for AAA titles, and you’ll actually get slightly worse framerates in AAA titles on this PC than you would on a console. We know that this may put off some of you, but we feel that our reasoning is solid, and we’d very much appreciate it if you considered this.
Who knows, we may just change your mind.
The PC Build
Now that we’ve presented an overview of the build and what you can expect from it, let’s dive deeper into each component, starting with the brain of the build.
The CPU (APU actually) is the heart of this entire build, and there’s absolutely no other model that ties everything together quite like the Ryzen 3 3200G.
For starters, this is an excellent CPU in its own right. Though this particular model relies on the Zen+ instead of the Zen2 architecture, the 3200G is still a decent upgrade from its second-gen counterpart.
With 4 cores, 4 threads, and a 3.6 GHz base clock speed going all the way up to 4.0 GHz at maximum boost, 3200G delivers an admirable level of performance.
Add to this the fact that this is an APU with Vega 8 integrated graphics no less, and it becomes clear why no CPU Intel currently has to offer can beat it at this price point.
Cooler: Wraith Stealth Cooler
In case you’ve had any misgivings about using the stock Wraith Stealth Cooler that comes with the Ryzen 3 3200G, let us reassure you, it’s more than capable of keeping up with the heat. You won’t need a better aftermarket cooler even if you plan on doing some light overclocking.
While you will be happy to know that, as all Ryzen chips, the 3200G can be overclocked, we don’t recommend doing this, but not because of the cooler!
We’ll talk more about this when we discuss the case we picked for this build, but the main culprit is the airflow.
You generally want to have several criteria met before you overclock your CPU, and the situation with this build isn’t optimal.
This isn’t to say that it couldn’t be done to great effect, but we wouldn’t recommend it, especially seeing as this is not a high-end gaming rig, and for the kind of settings you’ll be running games on, the factory clock speed is more than good enough.
GPU: Vega 8
The Vega 8 performs only marginally worse than, say, the RX 550 or the GT 1030 GPUs (which are the best GPUs you could fit into this budget).
Let’s put this in perspective, shall we?
Overall, you should expect at least a stable 30 FPS at 1080p in most games. In modern AAA titles, you may have to fiddle with the graphics settings quite a bit to get there (for example, dropping the resolution to 720p in games like Assassin’s Creed: Origins), but in esports titles, you should expect the full 60 FPS experience.
We know that this isn’t a promise that would get many gamers salivating over it, but here’s the thing:
The aforementioned dedicated GPUs would allow you to play Assassin’s Creed: Origins at 30 FPS in 1080p instead of 720p. This isn’t a large performance leap by any stretch of the imagination, especially given that you would most likely also have to get a worse CPU and maybe cut the RAM down to 4 GB to make this happen.
So instead of including both a sub-par GPU and a sub-par CPU, this build offers an excellent CPU with integrated graphics that doesn’t lag too far behind these $80-$90 dedicated solutions.
And the Vega 8 graphics doesn’t just give you respectable graphics for an entry-level PC build. It offers upgradeability as well because you can just strap on a dedicated graphics card later, and everything will work just fine without having to replace any of the existing hardware in the process.
Our advice is to stick to the Vega 8 graphics until you can upgrade to at least a GTX 1050Ti or an RX 560 graphics card.
So for the price of less than $100, you’re getting a great CPU in its own right, integrated graphics that rival those of dedicated entry-level graphics cards, and a great cooler to boot. Normally, we like to provide you with some alternatives for these components, but in this case, the Ryzen 3 3200G is just the optimal CPU bar none.
Now, one thing you ought to know about integrated graphics cards is that they don’t come with their own VRAM. Instead, they leech off of your system RAM. This is why you absolutely should not reduce the RAM if you’re looking to cut costs.
4 GB of RAM isn’t enough for gaming as it is, and that’s without a portion of these resources going towards the graphics. You also don’t want to save the extra couple of bucks by opting for RAM slower than the standard 2400MHz, and going dual-channel is also highly advised as it will significantly improve the performance of an APU.
With all this in mind, the RAM we’ve opted for in this build is the Patriot Viper 4 Blackout with two sticks of 4 GB, bringing the total to 8 GB of dual-channel 3000MHz.
While this is a completely respectable amount of memory, for now, we still highly recommend closing all unnecessary background programs while gaming, for increased performance, as well as upgrading to 16 GB at some point later on, especially if you plan on sticking to an APU.
Alternatively, if you plan on upgrading soon, you may decide to get one 8GB stick now and for another $30 get one more 8GB stick in a few months for a total of 16GB.
Full disclosure, you shouldn’t expect much out of the motherboard.
We didn’t have enough room in the budget to think about cool LED lights, or extra functionality, or anything but quality and the most basic future-proofing.
Nevertheless, the Gigabyte B450M DS3H has everything you’ll need at the moment. Best of all, the motherboard is now also compatible with 3rd-gen Ryzen processors right out of the box, but make sure the box has a sticker saying it’s Ryzen 3000 ready, if possible, and that you’re not getting some of the older models.
When it comes to upgradeability, we’ve made sure to pick a motherboard with 4 RAM slots so you can easily increase your memory in the future without having to replace the sticks you already own completely.
The DS3H is unlocked, comes with two fan headers, and supports multiple displays in case that’s something that interests you.
All in all, it’s a very basic motherboard, but if you take care of it, it will serve you well and last you a long time.
In order to stay as close to the $300 budget as possible, we decided to go with the ADATA SU635 with only 240GB of storage. This may not be much, but it’s SSD storage meaning that your PC will be much faster and much more responsive than it would be with a regular old HDD.
If you’ve never used an SSD before, be prepared to get new socks, because this SSD will knock them right off. It’s no NVMe, nor is it the fastest SSD out there, but even the slowest SSD is miles faster than a regular hard drive and will be a noticeable step up for anyone willing to invest in it.
That said, if you don’t see yourself investing another $30-40 in the near future into some additional storage, you might want to go with an HDD right off the bat, in which case we recommend the Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002. As this is a much slower hard drive, you will be able to get double the storage for the same price.
The SeaSonic S12III 500W is a really solid power supply. It’s not too expensive, but it offers a great level of performance that’s further supported by the 5-year warranty it comes with.
Furthermore, its 500W capacity will be plenty to power the entire rig even if you upgrade it with a dedicated GPU of the GTX 1650 caliber.
It’s a non-modular PSU, but it features heavy-duty protection, it is 80+ Bronze certified, and the 120mm sleeve bearing fan is both quiet and powerful, which is definitely a plus.
This may not be the most expensive build, but all the hardware pieces here were handpicked because of their quality and upgradeability, and it’s worth buying this PSU to ensure that the whole gaming rig won’t get fried the first chance it gets.
The case is the most underappreciated component in most PC builds. Oftentimes inexperienced builders will just pick something cheap that (hopefully) has enough room for everything, without any consideration for airflow.
Long story short, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by buying a $30 case, not unless you also intend to use it as an oven.
It’s not even that there aren’t any decent, serviceable cases around this price range, but the few of such in existence are expertly hidden in a vast junkyard. This video should give you the gist of what we mean.
So, what we’ve done here is we’ve picked out one reasonably priced model that we can actually say good things about.
The MasterBox Q300L isn’t the best case we’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely a step above the junk it shares a price range with.
It has decent airflow that can support some light overclocking (although we’d advise first mounting an additional front fan), 2 USB 3.0 ports, and dedicated space for cable management (which you’ll be needing, especially given that the PSU is non-modular). We’d prefer it if it were a little bigger, but you can’t have everything.
The case comes with one 120 mm fan in the back and has room for four more fans – 2 x 120 mm on top, and 2 x 120/140 mm in the front. It also comes with removable dust filters on top, front, and bottom for easy cleaning and an acrylic side panel.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a cheaper case that’s even better than this one.
How does one accomplish such a feat?
This applies to the case more so than to any other piece of hardware, especially in a budget build like this, where you won’t be gunning for RGB lighting. There’s never a shortage of good computer cases at great discounts on Amazon, and we whole-heartedly advise seeking out such a solution. The Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L was, among other things, our way of making sure the price of this build doesn’t fluctuate too much. It’s a perfectly fine case, you won’t be disappointed by it, but you can find something better with a little effort if you put your mind to it.
Unfortunately, you’ll need more than just the essential pieces of hardware to game on a PC, so we also have to cover the matter of peripherals.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll only cover the essentials, plus the controller, which may as well be considered an essential PC gaming peripheral nowadays.
Also, the situation here is strikingly similar to what we’ve described in the computer case section:
- There’s a lot of junk among budget peripherals.
- You should always be able to find decent items on good discounts.
- We won’t feature models currently on discounts in this article so that you at least have access to a single quality budget solution.
- Also, bundles are your friends.
Note that these peripherals are NOT included in the $300 price tag.
Now we know what you’re thinking: Why should I spend $100 for Windows 10 when my whole rig costs just $300?
Honestly, you don’t have to, but there’s a good case to be made in favor of doing so. PC games, in general, have much better compatibility with Windows than with any of the Linux operating systems.
Not only does gaming on Windows grant you access to the biggest library of games, but games will run better on this build on Windows than they will on Linux.
Windows alone gives you an FPS boost, essentially.
If this is out of the question, of course, then don’t just install any Linux. Not all Linux operating systems are born equal, so if you want one that performs decently in games, we’d suggest opting for SteamOS, Ubuntu Linux, or Game Drift Linux.
Picking out a monitor for this build was smooth sailing. We knew we needed a budget 1080p monitor, and, unburdened by the quest for the most cost-effective features, we instead turned our attention towards quality. And that’s just what you get with the HP 24mh.
The IPS panel with FHD is ideal even for the performance-oriented since in most games you won’t be reaching any jaw-dropping framerates that would make full use of a TN panel. The monitor has a 75Hz refresh rate, it’s compatible with AMD’s FreeSync technology, and comes with built-in speakers which will come in handy if you don’t already own any from some previous build.
And it’s nothing to scoff at design-wise either. This is a 24-inch monitor, which is perfect for 1080p resolution, and it has paper-thin bezels on three sides giving it a distinctly modern and expensive look.
Now, if you’ve perhaps set aside a larger budget for the monitor, you can freely use it for something else since anything more expensive than the HP 24mh will be pointless if paired with a $300 PC.
On the other hand, if you want something cheaper, our only recommendation is the Acer SB220Q. It’s a bit smaller and doesn’t have a display port, but with this particular build you probably won’t need it anyway, and it will save you a few bucks.
In the end, it comes down to your preference and how much you’re willing to spend, just make sure to stick to 1080p resolution as anything more than this will look terrible unless you plan on getting a graphics card that can run games at a higher resolution.
As we already said: bundles are your friends.
Their value is consistently high, their prices reasonable. All you have to do is make sure to pick a bundle that features quality products that are appropriate for your needs, and the Havit Mechanical Keyboard, Mouse, and Headset Kit is the perfect strike for those looking to game on a budget.
The keyboard in this bundle is amazing for its price, and while the RGB lighting does its best to scream ‘GAMING,’ that’s not why we picked it.
When the novelty wears off, you won’t even notice the RGB lighting, but you’ll always appreciate the reinforced metal panel, detachable wrist rest, anti-ghosting, and full-switch rollover which ensures that all of your clicks, intentional or accidental, will be registered in the right order.
On top of it all, this is a full-sized mechanical keyboard, with clicky, tactile, and responsive keys you’ll be sure to appreciate regardless if you’re gaming or working. We would’ve liked to see some programmable keys thrown into the mix to make this a truly gaming keyboard, but we can hardly complain about this given the price.
The mouse is pretty standard, but not without its perks. It has a simple design, much like the famous Razer mice, plenty of RGB, two programmable buttons, and several DPI levels you can choose from. The sensor registers up to 4800 DPI which will be more than enough for this PC.
The headset, however, is more impressive than we thought it would be. It’s pretty light despite how it looks, and it has memory foam pads making it reasonably comfortable even after several hours of use. Most importantly, it has 50mmm drivers and virtual surround sound that actually sounds amazing.
This is a surprising addition to a budget headset, but definitely a welcome one.
It’s not every day we come upon such a great deal, which is why we had to include it on this list. Overall, it holds amazing value, and if you’re looking to buy all of these items for your new rig there is no need to look further than this.
Even the most expensive mice are nothing without a proper mouse pad. For this reason we give you the Ktrio Extended Gaming Mouse Pad.
What’s great about this item is that you get an enormous working surface for an incredibly affordable price. What’s more, the pad has properly stitched edges and rubber underside that prevent fraying and sliding, and the slightly textured cloth that gives you better control over your mouse.
You can also afford to be a little clumsy since the mouse pad is waterproof, so even if you happen to spill something, simply wiping the liquid off with a cloth will make the pad as good as new.
One thing we need to mention, however, is that this is the smallest pad in Ktrio’s line of extended mouse pads, so if you can’t afford to get something so large we recommend you take a look at what Kingston has in their HyperX FURY S lineup. Not only do they have several different sizes from S to XL, but also a bunch of different designs you might like.
We can see this last bit being a point of contention with regards to the controller being included in this list in the first place.
No, the controller may not be a mandatory PC gaming peripheral in the sense that you can play games without it. Still, the large majority of games nowadays are designed with the controller in mind, and in some titles, it definitely shows.
So if you don’t intend to use a controller, then, by all means, don’t use it. But if you do, then getting the tried and true Xbox One Controller is the best thing you can do (and if you already own an Xbox One, then all the better).
Now, this isn’t exactly a sub-$20 item, but considering what a nightmare most cheap controllers tend to be, you’re better off making this one-time investment than changing three controllers within a year because they all just stop working for no reason.
Full disclosure our first pick for this build was the GameSir G3w, which is a truly budget solution that actually doesn’t suck. The only problem is that it’s chronically unavailable on all the online stores we searched through. That said, if you don’t want to spend $50 on an Xbox One controller, and manage to find the GameSir G3w, go for it.
You might be surprised to find a chair on this list, but we did say that we would cover all the essential peripherals, and a chair definitely falls under that category.
The BestOffice Mesh Chair is a very simple and affordable chair that can fit most people’s budgets while at the same time having a decent ergonomic design and back support. This is especially important for all the den-dwellers out there who spend most of their day glued to the PC.
This is a mesh chair, meaning that the body of the chair is made of a breathable mesh material. The seat is a soft cushion covered with mesh material, while the backrest is entirely made of hardened mesh. The frame of the backrest extends to the middle of it to serve as lumbar support and make you sit upright at all times.
The chair is mostly made of black plastic, but the body comes in eight different colors some of which are particularly vibrant and might appeal to a younger audience. Speaking of which, although it works perfectly well for adults due to its smaller frame this chair can also be a great fit for children and teenagers who spend a lot of time in front of their PC.
Since a chair is something that can affect your health and posture, we would recommend investing in a higher-end model if you’re in a position to do so, but if budget is the name of the game, then the BestOffice Mesh Chair is a great starting point for anyone who wants to save their spine.
You’ve now taken a look at the best gaming PC under $300 right now. The final price may fluctuate a bit, but it shouldn’t exceed the budget by more than $30, seeing as we made sure not to feature heavily discounted hardware.
Now all that’s left is to put all the pieces together.
It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s well worth it, even if you decide to pay a professional to do it. Not that there’s a need to do that. Like installing Windows for the first time, building a PC is only scary until you get down to actually do it.
Just follow a decent guide on YouTube and you will do just fine.