When I say “Cheap”, it should mean that the gaming PC should be affordable to the vast majority of the PC gamer community and should be able to play a lot of popular titles especially eSports games. Therefore, it shouldn’t be only ‘Cheap’ as it is not possible to play all the games on it smoothly.
As this term can mean different things to every other person, I have stated mine to let you know that what I am going to focus on in this post.
From the past few years, watching the sales of different PC components around the world as well as the engagement of people on our posts, I have seen that somewhere from $450-$650 is the budget range where most PC gamers fall. Therefore, the build suggestions I am going to give will cover this range only.
So, again, know that for many, Cheap could be somewhere from $200-$300 but I would be wasting your and my time if I recommend some APU like Athlon 3000G or Ryzen 3200G. These cannot give a proper game experience.
One more thing to know is that this year, things are pretty tough due to the GPU shortage but it will never be the same always. Things always change and you will soon get your build done at a fair price.
The recommendations I am going to list here will contain the best and latest-gen parts from each category whether it is the processor, graphics card, case or storage drive. Not only that but you will be given direction on how to build the whole PC that will follow after the build suggestion.
Now without waiting any further let’s dive into the list to see what you can get for $450-$650 to build the best possible gaming PC in 2021.
Processor- $450-$550 PC Build
Intel Core i3 processors are as good as any other budget Ryzen processors. However, the current prices of budget Ryzen CPUs and APUs are too much, therefore, the best choice to go with is the Core i3 10100F. It’s a powerful 4 cores/12 threads processor that is capable of handling any game at 1080p resolution.
Moreover, it goes perfectly with any budget or mid-level graphics card without bottlenecking it in any way. It features a base clock of 3.6GHz that can go up to 4.3GHz that can increase the gaming performance noticeably.
For a $400 to $500 budget, this is the best choice for any cheap gaming build and doesn’t require any custom cooling solution as it is a locked chip. So, you will save a little more money.
Processor- $550-$650 PC Build
Many will recommend the Ryzen 5 3600 for a build that costs up to $700 but I disagree humbly. I do consider the fact that the Ryzen 5 3600 is one of the best gaming processors we can have but the i5 10400F simply gives more value for a much lower price.
For $40-$50 less, you are going to get equivalent gaming performance with the i5 10400F and also the same amount of cores/threads. So, by no chance, you are losing any value. Moreover, the cost of an aftermarket CPU cooler is saved as i5 10400F is also a locked chip that doesn’t require any additional cooling except by the stock heatsink.
Ryzen 3600 although comes with a stock cooler but for overclocking, it does require at least an air cooler that will cost you $30 or more based upon how far you want to go. Also, with the i5 10400F, you will no longer need an overclockable chipset which will save more money on the motherboard.
The best thing? The i3 10100F and i5 10400F share the same socket and therefore will be compatible with most LGA 1200 socket motherboards. This way the users of i3 10100F or i5 10400F can even upgrade to something like i7 10700K or i9 10900K.
For both the mentioned processors, you need either an H410 or H510 motherboard. Currently, it’s difficult to find an H510 chipset board and both of these chipsets are almost equivalent in features. MSI H410M-PRO here features dual RAM slots that can support up to 64GB of RAM clocked up to 2933MHz and 1x PCI-E x16 slot for graphics card and 1x PCI-E slot for expansion cards like Wifi card.
There are 4x SATA ports and 1x M.2 connector for storage and 6x USB ports at the I/O for peripherals connectivity. Its best feature, however, according to me is the Debug LEDs that help finding out the fault when the system doesn’t boot.
It’s cheap and will support all the components listed in these build suggestions.
Whether you are building a $300 build or a $500 build, the minimum RAM I recommend is 8GB. Nowadays, I don’t recommend investing money in other parts by cutting off the budget for the RAM because RAM bottlenecks badly if it is insufficient.
8GB RAM will be plenty but also not too much as games easily consume more than 6GB of RAM at 1080p resolution. This RAM stick from Patriot is clocked at 3000MHz that will be completely compatible with the motherboard I listed. So, don’t worry about the memory frequency support of 2933MHz on the board.
It is fast and affordable and once you will you need more, you have one more slot left to fill. Make sure you buy this same RAM module when you are upgrading.
Storage drive- Common
Thanks to TeamGroup for launching a great performing and affordable NVME SSD that cost as most SATA SSDs. You shouldn’t be going with hard drives these days except if you need a lot of storage but in the very start, you need an SSD for storing your OS and files so that they run quickly.
NVME SSDs are even faster and although the MP33 is slower than a lot of NVME SSDs, it is still three times faster than the SATA SSDs at the same cost. Faster NVME SSDs will cost you double than this one and therefore, will increase the overall cost of the build.
With 500GB capacity, you can surely store a couple of big games on your drive and you can add a new one when you need more space.
Graphics card(Option 1, $450 Build)- Geforce GT 1030
GT 1030 is a low-profile card that is meant to play games on low to medium settings at 1080p. It is not suitable to play AAA titles at all and should only be used for casual and eSports games like Fortnite, CSGO, Valorant, and older titles.
It comes with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and 384 Cuda Cores. With a TDP of only 30 watts, it can take power from the PCI-E slot and doesn’t require any external power cable.
Graphics card(Option 2, $550 Build)- GTX 1650
GTX 1650 is a solid budget graphics card that is aimed to provide a decent gaming experience at 1080p. It can’t max out settings but can play almost every game on high settings giving you 50-60 fps. GTX 1650 belongs to the Turing family and features 896 Cuda Cores.
Unlike the original edition, this one features GDDR6 memory that runs at 12Gbps instead of 8Gbps resulting in better performance. The total VRAM size here is 4GB which is sufficient for most games and with a TDP of only 75 watts, it doesn’t require any external power just as the GT 1030.
Graphics card(Option 3, $650 Build)- GTX 1660 Super
Stepping up, GTX 1660 S is the bigger sibling of GTX 1650 with more Cuda Cores and more VRAM. It features a total of 1408 Cuda Cores and 6GB GDDR6 VRAM. Unlike 1650, it can actually max out most games at 1080p resolution and can sustain 60 fps in most titles.
Power Supply- Common
Whether you buy the parts belonging to the $450 build or $650 build, you will be able to power all the components with a 450 Watts power supply easily. To allow upgradability I suggest going with a little higher-wattage power supply. Therefore, 650 watts will be perfect.
EVGA 650 GQ features reliable components and 80 Plus Gold rating that delivers up to 90% efficiency on typical loads. It is semi-modular and will only require you to plug only those cables which you will need except for the EPS and ATX cables.
It is a semi-modular unit, so cable clutter can be easily avoided by using only those cables which are required.
It’s common to find people going with fancy looking cases with RGB lights all over the place. What matters more is how easy will it be to install your parts. A good case should allow flexibility and should provide good cable clearance at the back.
DeepCool Matrexx 50 provides multiple routing holes on the motherboard mounting plate and even in the PSU shroud so that you can hide your cables easily. It features a transparent front panel with vents on the side for airflow and a side tempered glass panel to see through.
For $50, out of dozens of mid-tower cases, it is among my top 3 top picks to go with and it has certainly impressed users more than any $50 case.
How to assemble the parts and make it work in less than an hour
So after choosing all the parts, it’s now time to assemble the components to make it work. You can do this in under an hour if you follow my steps by step short guide even though if you have never built a computer or if you have built systems before, it won’t take you more than half an hour. In case you want the full tutorial in detail, you can grab our Guide for free.
For assembling the parts, you just need a #2 screwdriver. An Anti-static wristband is preferable but if you don’t have one, then there is no problem.
Let’s start with the building process!
Start with installing the processor and CPU cooler
Installing an Intel and AMD processor is a little different. But to align the processor, the method is the same. You have to check a Small Arrow symbol on both the motherboard and the CPU.
Open the latch on the socket by pulling the arm up. Now align the processor to get the correct alignment and drop it gently. Remember don’t put any kind of pressure on it otherwise you will break or bend the pins.
Then close the arm which will take a little bit of force. Don’t feel shy in it.
For installing the cooler, there are two different ways. Both Intel and AMD have different mechanism for installing the stock coolers. But before installing be sure to apply a pea-sized thermal paste if your cooler doesn’t have pre-applied thermal paste on its base.
On the Intel motherboard, you have to put the cooler on the CPU aligning with the 4 screw holes and then press the plastic latches on adjacent sides with a little bit of force which will make a click sound. After that, you should check it by moving the cooler. If the cooler doesn’t move, then you have installed it properly.
Also, make sure to check the back of your motherboard to see if the plastic latches are evenly coming out on the other side.
On the AMD motherboard, there are two famous methods: The first one is very easy in which you have to remove the plastic covers present above and below the CPU socket in order to align the screws present on your Stock AMD cooler. Just put it gently and secure the cooler with the help of a screwdriver.
The second method is applicable on those CPU coolers where you have to use the two clips present on 2 sides to attach them to the plastic clips which you can see above the CPU socket. You may have to use a lot of force in order to do that but remember to put even pressure on both sides.
After installing the cooler, you can now plug in the 4 pin power connector which is present on your CPU cooler cable to the CPU_FAN header present on your motherboard. Don’t worry! it will go in one direction only.
Install the Memory
Perhaps it’s the easiest thing to do. Grab the sticks and align them with the slot. You will find a small plastic barrier in between the slots which will not be in the exact centre which will make you know how to align the memory stick. Put some pressure on the stick so that you hear a click sound from both the ends of the DIMM slot confirming that the stick is properly installed.
You should install the stick by leaving one DIMM slot in between them in order to benefit from them the most.
Install the motherboard
To install the motherboard into the case, you have to first open the side panel of your cabinet to have access to the interior. Now before installing the motherboard, you have to put the I/O shield at the rear of the case to align with the I/O ports of the motherboard. This is one of the most common things people forget.
After that, align the motherboard to the standoffs screws inside the case. If your case doesn’t have standoffs pre-installed, you have to install them before putting your motherboard. These standoffs will come free with your chassis. Also, the screws will also be available with your case for installing every component which you will put inside it. So, do not worry about that.
Install the Hard Drive
PC cabinets use different methods for the installation of hard drives but they are easily figurable and you just have to use screws in order to secure your hard drive.
Find the slot inside your case and use the 4 or at least 2 big screws which are going to be used for securing the power supply as well and make sure that the hard drive doesn’t move. Some cases have a tool-free mechanism in which you just have to take out the drive bay and put your hard drive in it. It doesn’t require any screwdriver.
Install the Power Supply
I always recommend installing a power supply after the components I listed above because of the mess it causes. Installing a power supply is just as easy as the hard drive.
Gently slide the power supply inside and align the power supply to the screw holes which are present at the rear of your case. You can either face the Power supply with the fan side down to take cool air or you can also put it in the opposite direction if you want to prevent any dust from entering into it. Preferable is fan side down.
Some cases have the Power supply installation area at the top but most of the newer cases have at the bottom. But the installation method will be the same.
Time to connect the cables!
Wiring is a little bit tricky if you never did this in past. But when you will follow me you will not need another try to learn it. First of all, I don’t recommend installing a graphics card before wiring because it creates a lot of difficulties in doing so. So, completing the wiring stuff before installing the GPU is highly recommended.
Also, before you connect every cable it is recommended that you make the way for each wire through routeing holes so that most of them get hidden behind the motherboard tray. Go through my Cable Management Guide to learn how to do it.
#1. Connect the 24 pin ATX cable
The biggest connector you will find is the 24 pin power connector that will be having the thickest cable and can be recognised easily. You have to connect it to the 24 pin power port on your motherboard which is 95% of the time present at the right middle side of the PCB. It will go in one direction only. Make sure you properly connect it by putting some good pressure on it.
#2. Connect the CPU power cable
CPU power cable will have 4+4 pin power connectors and there will be either a 4 pin or 8 pin power port on your motherboard which is mostly present at the top left side of the PCB. It will be near your CPU socket. Similar to the 24 pin ATX power connector, it will also go in one direction.
So depending on how many pinholes your CPU port has on your motherboard, you have to connect this connector. You will have to connect either a 4 pin connector only or combine two 4 pin connectors to make them 8 pin power connector if your board has an 8 pin power port. Eazy peazy!
#3. Connect the SATA cables
There will be two cables that you need to connect to the hard drive. One is the 15 pin SATA power connector to power your hard drive and one will be the SATA cable that you need to connect to the motherboard. The power cable will be present on your Power supply and the SATA cable which is for the interface will be present separately and comes with the motherboard.
#4. Connect USB 3.0 and front panel cables
This is the most complicated stuff you will face because there are so many small connectors on the cables that come from the front panel of your chassis. These are Audio, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Reset, Power, HDD LED, Power LED connectors. Out of these, the Audio, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 connectors are easy to connect because they are big and go in one way. You can find the labelling on your motherboard easily and if you don’t, then remember to download my guide to do it easily.
For the other small connectors, remember the following diagram and connect these cables just as the diagram shows.
Install the Graphics card
Time for installing your favourite component. To install it, simply remove the PCI expansion cover which is present in your case at the rear. Generally, you have to remove two of them because most cards are two slot cards. Make sure you remove the right ones which are aligned to the PCI-Ex 16 slot on your motherboard.
Open the plastic latch at the right end of the slot and plug in the card with a little bit of pressure so that the latch closes by itself. Then connect the power cable from the power supply. If your card has a six-pin power port, then use a six-pin power connector and if it has more, you will have to use more. It is easily figurable.
Use some Zip Ties
Finally, after all the wiring stuff, use some zip ties in order to make your system look neat and tidy. It will also prevent the loose wires from entering into any fan and save a lot of space.
Next thing is to install the operating system. I recommend going with Windows 10 which is compatible with most of the applications and your games will run without any problem.
Then you will need to download the GPU driver for your graphics card and other important drivers from official websites in order to make your system run smoothly.
Just because you now know what parts you will be using in this build doesn’t mean that you have completed your whole build. Without proper peripherals, you won’t be able to take advantage of your PC. I have listed some good peripherals that should be in your budget and will help you defeat your opponents in the game.
As I have myself tested a lot of peripherals, I have quite a good amount of knowledge on what you should buy and whatnot.
Just close your eyes and get this keyboard/mouse combo. Don’t go here and there searching for what is good and what’s not. Just simply go with it. It will cost only 30 bucks and provide you with the best value for money. Especially, the mouse Reddragon M601 which is a dream of every budget gamer.
Even though I am used to high-end gaming mice like G502, Razer Deathadder and Corsair M65 Pro, this mouse is still in my eyes a premium peripheral at the cost of a pizza. You can’t compare it with any other cheap gaming mouse because of the number of features it packs.
The keyboard is also a great deal as it comes with RGB lighting in-built. The quality and design of these two are unmatchable and you shouldn’t be thinking about it further. Just get it!
SteelSeries QcK Gaming Mouse Pad- Amazon
SteelSeries QcK is one of the most popular mouse pad that costs under 10 dollars and is big enough to support your mouse movements. The size of this pad is 12.6 x 10.6 x 1.6 inches with a SteelSeries Logo at the left bottom corner.
You will be able to move your mouse flawlessly on it and it won’t become dirty in a short time, unlike the pads which have a lighter colour and need to be washed frequently to make them look clean. This mouse pad has a very smooth surface and a steady rubber base that won’t slide easily by your hand movements.
When headsets are taken into consideration, I don’t recommend going cheap as with other components. Cheap headsets die after a couple of months and due to this, you have to spend a lot of money frequently in buying new cheap headsets.
Why not go with something that is reliable for a while and won’t cost you that much? The Logitech G230 is made exactly for this purpose. It costs under $40 and is reliable. It has got thousands of positive reviews because it features a good Stereo 2.0 surround audio quality and noise cancelling.
Aesthetically it’s very appealing to eyes and its Mic work flawlessly which you can rotate from horizontal to vertical direction or vice versa. Logitech is providing 3 years of warranty with this headset.
Headset always will not be the best solution for gaming because using them for several hours may cause pain in the ears and sometimes having audio along with fresh air to your head is also required.
Cyber Acoustics 2.1 speaker sound system is cheap and comes with a pair of speakers and a subwoofer that will fill your room with the game audio. 2.1 may not be a full surround experience but for a cheap build, you shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on 5.1 or 7.1 surround speakers.
These speakers will cost you only 40 bucks which are way cheaper than any other enthusiast-level speakers but are also reliable. Nearly 10K people have provided positive feedback on these because of the value this system provides. Along with the speakers and subwoofer, you will also get a hub that can be used for connecting headphones for gaming so that you don’t have to use your CPU’s audio jacks.
There are a lot of budget gaming monitors that cost nearly $100 but I suggest investing a little more in it because having a smooth experience is a must when your rig can provide you with more than 100 fps in games like CSGO, Overwatch or Rocket League. As one of the builds, I listed above can achieve this, make sure you get the best out of it.
For this purpose, I chose the Acer KG251Q bmiix monitor that you should get in order to take your gaming to next level. This will cost you around 150 bucks but comes with AMD FreeSync that will provide you with tearless gaming which is what irritates me the most.
The monitor comes with 1ms fast response time and with a 1080p resolution that your rig will have the capability to handle. The monitor has a base refresh rate of 60Hz and can be overclocked to 75Hz. So, this is something better than most budget monitors that cost nearly 150 dollars. But if you don’t want to go more than $100, then I suggest going with the HP Pavilion 22cwa which have some fewer features but will fulfil the basic needs.
I have completed the most important things in this post and if you still get stuck anywhere in between, there is something called “comment section” which you can find below. So, don’t hold yourself back in asking any question and make sure you thoroughly read this guide. It will be a lot beneficial.