PC gaming is known for many things: unparalleled customizability, the potential for absolutely stunning visuals, and access to the vastest library of games are among the most appealing, although there’s also the notoriously high price tag that comes with all this.
But what if we said you could get initiated into the world of PC gaming for only $300.
Let’s dive right into the best affordable $300 PC build right now!
The Best Gaming PC Under $300 For 2019
Updated: January 22, 2019
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.
So, what exactly can you expect from such a budget solution?
Well, there are two things to highlight: upgradeability and console-like performance
Sure, it won’t perform that much better than a current-gen console would, 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 intentions of upgrading this build at all, then you may very well be better off getting a console.
So how exactly does it perform?
Full disclosure: this build relies on the integrated Vega 8 graphics, courtesy of the Ryzen 3 2200G 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 these 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 took this into consideration.
Who knows, we may just change your mind.
CPU: Ryzen 3 2200G
The CPU (APU actually) is the cornerstone of this entire build, and there’s absolutely no other model that ties everything together quite like the Ryzen 3 2200G.
For starters, this is an excellent CPU in its own right, being a current-gen Ryzen 2 CPU that relies on modern architecture. And with specs that boast four physical cores and a very respectable 3.7 MHz max boost frequency, it’s nothing to scoff at either. A CPU like this would’ve been firmly in the i5 territory a couple of years back before Intel had any real competition.
Some might even argue that this CPU is too OP for this budget and only detracts from the overall gameplay experience because it eats up a whole third of the budget. But throughout this article, you’ll find out precisely why this isn’t the case, and why there is no better CPU to build a budget gaming PC around. The reasons extend well outside the scope of what you normally expect from just a CPU.
Cooler: Wraith Stealth Cooler
In case you’ve had any misgivings about using the stock Wraith Stealth Cooler that comes with the Ryzen 3 2200G to keep things cool, let us reassure you, it’s more than capable of keeping up with the pace. In fact, you won’t need a better 3rd party cooler even if you plan on doing some overclocking. We know that the 4.0 MHz frequency is widely coveted by gamers, so you may be happy to know that the Ryzen 3 2200G can be overclocked to this degree using the motherboard in this build.
We don’t recommend this, but not because of the cooler!
We’ll talk more about this when we discuss the case we’ve picked up 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 you couldn’t do it, we’ve seen it done to great effect, but we wouldn’t recommend it, especially seeing as you won’t need it.
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
Like we’ve mentioned, this build uses the integrated Vega 8 graphics card. And in case you have some reservations about this, let us put your mind at ease:
The AMD Vega integrated graphics are good. In fact, they’re great!
But don’t take our word for it. Take Intel’s word; or Intel’s action, to be precise.
AMD is Intel’s biggest competitor in the CPU market, but the Vega graphics that AMD has developed perform so well that Intel has struck a deal to use these integrated graphics chips in their own CPUs! This is unprecedented.
So how good are these graphics? We feel that we may have overhyped them a little bit just now. There have never been better-integrated graphics, that’s for sure, but they still won’t beat out dedicated graphics cards. Still, the Vega 8 performs only marginally worse than, say, the RX 550 or the GT1030 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 tinkers with the graphics settings quite a bit to get there (for example dropping the resolution to 720p in Assassin’s Creed: Origins), but in esport titles you should expect the full 60 FPS experience.
We know that this isn’t a promise that would get many gamers to salivate 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 don’t lag too far behind these $80-$90 dedicated solutions.
And the Vega 8 graphics don’t just give you respectable graphics for an entry-level PC build. They offer upgradeability as well because you can just strap on a dedicated graphics card later and everything will work just fine. And you won’t need to replace any of the existing hardware in the process. Our advice is to stick to the Vega 8 graphics until you can make the leap 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 in these builds, but in this case, the Ryzen 3 2200G is just the optimal CPU, accept no substitutes.
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 8 GB
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 regular 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. Going dual-channel is also highly advised, although the link we’ve provided leads to a single 8GB RAM stick in order to better meet the budget.
If you’re planning to make this your final build then the extra $10 or so are definitely worth it and will effectively double your bandwidth, but if this is only a starting point for your PC build then keep in single-channel, in case you want to upgrade to 16 GB in the future.
Motherboard: Gigabyte B450 AORUS M
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 B450 AORUS M has everything you’ll need at the moment: quality parts and all the connection ports essential to a gamer.
Best of all, the B450 line was optimized to suit the 2nd-gen Ryzen processors like a glove. And while all B350 motherboards still support Ryzen 2, chances are you’d have to manually update the BIOS in order to get the integrated graphics to work at all, which can be a real headache.
Storage: Seagate BarraCuda
As expected, you’re stuck with HDD at this price range. However, we didn’t take this as an invitation to find the cheapest HDD available on the market. No, we’ve made sure to include a quality and reliable hard drive so you won’t have to be wary of when putting any personal files in.
Enter: Seagate BarraCuda.
This is one of the most cost-efficient 7200 RPM HDDs out there, and with 1 TB of storage, you won’t be running out any time soon. Sure, it’s no SSD, but it’s among the very best HDD offerings we’ve ever seen. And surprisingly enough, the 500GB version is only cheaper by about $3 than the 1TB version, so you can enjoy the high storage volume without ever having to wonder whether you could’ve got less storage in exchange for better in-game performance.
Power Supply: EVGA 400 N1
There’s not much we can say about the EVGA 400 N1 other than that it’s a really solid power supply. It’s not the least expensive PSU, but when you weigh the potential ramifications of having a bad PSU powering your entire build against any other piece of hardware, you’ll see why we’re sticking to one of the most tried and true solutions – EVGA.
This model comes with a 2-year warranty. Its 400W capacity will be plenty to power the entire rig even if you upgrade it with a dedicated GPU of the GTX 1050Ti caliber. And while it may not come with any of the higher efficacy certificates that the more expensive EVGA PSUs have, it does feature good heavy-duty protection. Plus the 120mm sleeve bearing fan is both quiet and powerful, that’s 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.
Case: MasterBox Q300L
The case is the most unappreciated component in most PC builds. Often times inexperienced PC builders will just pick something that’s cheap and (hopefully) has enough room for everything, without any consideration for airflow.
Long story short, you aren’t 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 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, with a 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 in non-modular). We’d like it more if it were a bit bigger, but you can’t have everything.
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 on 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 in order 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 jank 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.
Operating System: Windows
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 they do 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 actually 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.
Monitor: Acer SB220Q bi
Picking out a monitor for this build was smooth sailing, really. We knew we needed a budget, 1080p monitor. And, unburdened by the quest for the most cost-effective features (or features in general), we instead turned out attention towards quality.
And that’s just what you get with the Acer SB220Q bi – it’s a budget-friendly 1080p monitor that has everything you’ll need and then some. The IPS panel here is ideal even for the performance-oriented since you won’t be reaching any jaw-dropping framerates that would make full use of a TN panel in most games. The response time is the lowest it could possibly be on an IPS panel – 4ms. And it even has a bit of extra performance value, with a 75Hz refresh rate and AMD’s FreeSync Technology.
We won’t offer any alternatives since it’s actually rather difficult to find an objectively bad monitor. So long as it’s FullHD, any model that you already have or can get cheap should be just fine. The Acer SB220Q bi does, however, offer the best bang for your buck.
Keyboard & Mouse: Redragon 101 Keyboard and Mouse Combo
As we’ve 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 and appropriate products. Some bundles are garbage (although they are a minority, thankfully), and some quality bundles weren’t geared towards gamers, with small, lightweight mice.
The Redragon 101 bundle, however, is the perfect strike for those looking to game on a budget.
The Redragon LED RGB Keyboard is a pretty good keyboard for this price. And while the RGB lighting does its best to scream ‘GAMING’, that’s not why we’ve picked it; it’s just an added bonus. When the novelty wears off, you won’t even notice the RGB lighting, but you’ll always appreciate the ergonomic and splash-proof design. And being able to disable the Windows key is always a plus in our eyes, as are the 12 handy multimedia keys. We would’ve liked to see some programmable keys thrown into the mix, to make this truly a gamer’s keyboard, but we can hardly complain about this given the price.
And the keyboard isn’t even the standout product in this bundle. That honor goes to the Redragon M601 mouse. And unlike many budget models, this mouse has the actual size and heft to be truly gaming-worthy (not to mention programmable buttons and a 4 level DPI adjustment capping out at 3200). And if you should happen to like your mouse a little bit lighter, that’s not a problem at all, because the M601 comes with 8 weights that you can separately fit into the mouse.
Honestly, it’s a mouse that we could easily recommend you buy separately, but this bundle gives it even greater value.
Speakers: Creative A250
Now all you need are some decent speakers and you’re ready to game.
Again, we tried to keep things here as simple as possible. If you already have any properly functioning speakers the Creative A250 won’t be much of an upgrade. However, if you are in need of a new set, then this is one you should be perfectly happy with.
They’re not really easy on the eye, that’s for sure, but the Creative A250 offers an excellent balance of price and quality. They sound crisp, and while the bass won’t make your heart thud, it still has some power to it. Everything about it just exudes quality: from the satellite drivers to the large subwoofer. The speakers manage to sound big despite their compact size.
Although, if you’re more of a headphones kind of gamer, then you can extend the mouse and keyboard bundle to also include a mouse pad and a decent headset for the price.
Controller: GameSir G3w
We can see this last bit being a point of contention, with regards to both the controller being included in this list in the first place and the model we’ve highlighted.
No, the controller may not be a mandatory PC gaming peripheral in the sense that you can run games without it, but 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 a controller. But if you do, and you want a truly budget solution, then the GameSir G3w is the way to go. It may not be a perfect controller, but as you can imagine, a lot of the models in the sub-$20 price range are downright horrible, and the GameSir G3w isn’t.
It’s rather ergonomic (if a bit on the smaller side for some users), sports decent vibrations, and has plug and play compatibility with Windows. Overall, it definitely has a quality feel in your hands. And what surprised us the most was the D-pad, which wasn’t nearly as bad as those of the competition.
What downsides it does have are mainly cosmetic. We would’ve been absolutely fine with there being no LED lights on this controller, especially since they’re so inconsistent. Namely, the Y button of the first model we got our hands on wouldn’t light up, which was exceedingly frustrating. It functioned perfectly fine, but it looked like a second-hand controller that has seen its fair share of hardship. Luckily, we kept the receipt and the replacement worked great, LED light and all. Although looking at the online review, we saw that our problem wasn’t unprecedented.
So why do we still recommend this product?
It’s not just that the pros outweigh the cons, but you aren’t likely to find a better PC controller for under $20.
And there you have it, the best gaming PC under $300. 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 and we’re sure you’ll do just fine.
So until next time, have fun gaming on the best PC $300 can buy.