Many gamers think that you need a blazing fast CPU and a top tier graphics card to run games, but this simply isn’t the case. You can be a gamer with almost any system, it all boils down to what games you want to play and if you are okay with lower graphics settings. So, let’s dive into our guide on how to build an Intel gaming PC for under $400.
We did a post two months ago about our Ryzen 3 2200G build and this time it’s the turn of the blue team with our Intel build. We sourced the parts from Newegg.com as they offer great prices and they generally have a great selection of products for the gamer with a tighter budget.
We could have gone for the Pentium G4560, but it’s 2018 and we felt that we had to go for a Coffee Lake CPU, the Intel Pentium Gold G5400. But, there is a downside for some due to the fact that the new Coffee Lake CPU will only run on a 300 series motherboard. So if you have an older LGA 1151 socket motherboard, then tough luck, you can’t use it with this build. Regardless of this tiny drawback, the G5400 is a very capable Dual-Core CPU for budget builds and it even features Hyper-Threading, which is a great addition for its low price tag. It also comes in around $30 cheaper than the competing Ryzen 3 2200G CPU, however, the 2200G is slightly more powerful when it comes to many tasks.
As mentioned above, the Intel CPU that we chose will not work with older LGA 1151 motherboards and requires a 300 series motherboard. Now lucky for us, there are now a few cheaper 300 series motherboards on the market and MSI H310M PRO-VD is our choice. It has no bells and no whistles, but it’s cheap and for this build that’s all that matters. It has two RAM slots and a single PCIe slot, which is perfectly fine for a budget build. You won’t be adding mammoth amounts of RAM or an SLI setup to this build. The six USB ports on the rear of the board will easily allow you to connect all of your peripheral needs. You get a DVI and a VGA port, however, as we are using a dedicated card, these ports will go unused. It must also be noted that this board is not backwards compatible with older LGA 1151 processors.
We are still in the mists of RAM-Gate and are still seeing higher prices across the board. Regardless if you are after gaming memory or budget memory, they have all gotten more expensive in the last year or so. With so many choices on the market, we decided to go for the Patriot Signature 8GB kit. The kit includes two 4GB DDR4 2666MHz modules which will be more than enough for the types of games that this system will handle. This is pretty much some barebones RAM, no RGB lighting or fancy heat shrouds here. Sure you could go for higher frequency memory, however this would be lost with the G5400 CPU.
We could have used the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 610 that the CPU offers, however, it is complete garbage, and is not really up to any sort of gaming in our honest opinion. So instead we went for the GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030. This NVIDIA GPU is currently the entry-level 10-series GPU and will get the job done for many popular eSport titles. Now, don’t expect 60fps at 1o80p on high settings. This is not that kind of card and its price is far from the cards that will offer you that kind of gaming experience. Instead you get a GPU that will run most games, as long as you don’t mind lower settings. Though games such as Fortnite will run at around 30 frames per second on high settings, and that’s great news as this game is perfect for budget gamers due to the fact that it’s free-to-play. Games like CS:GO will run at higher frame rates, however, this isn’t hard due to the fact that CS:GO isn’t too graphics intensive.
There are tons of cases on the market today and manufactures are adding more and more features to cheaper and cheaper cases. This case isn’t exactly one of these cases and for its price we can’t really expect it to have some top tier features. What you get is a case with a single fan mounted on the rear of the case to extract that war air and the option to mount additional fans to the top and front of the case. Though, none of these come with any sort of filter on them and dust will find its way into this case with ease. The case also allows for an optical drive to be mounted, though many gamers these days don’t buy disks anymore and we decided to not go for an optical drive in this build either.
Many overlook the importance of a good power supply and tend to go for the cheapest option on the market. This isn’t the best choice as some cheaper power supplies have the tendency to crash and die after some time and may even take some of your hardware with it due to voltage spikes. For this reason we went for a power supply from a brand that we know and trust. The EVGA 450 BT is our choice for the power supply and it’s currently on sale for under $30. With a power rating of 450 Watts, this PSU will easily have enough power for this build and can handle more powerful graphics cards if you intend to upgrade down the line to a GTX 1050 Ti or even a GTX 1060.
Lastly we have the storage drive. Sure, it would have been nice to go for a superfast SSD, however, we do have a budget of $400 and this means no solid state drive for us. Instead we went for a reliable and well-priced Seagate Barracuda hard drive. It offers 500GB of storage space, which should allow you to install a good amount of games. Plus, the drive is a 7200rpm hard drive, so the speeds aren’t too bad. However, you can add an SSD at a later stage when your budget allows for it.
We managed to come in just under $400, however, some of our selected components are actually on offer and prices may vary depending on when you buy them. Our budget didn’t include shipping or state tax and this will push the price to just over $400. Regardless of this, our budget Intel gaming PC will easily handle some of the most popular games on the market today. If you want to play Rocket League, LOL, Fortnite or CS:GO, then this PC will be just right for you. If you don’t want to source the parts yourself and would prefer a good prebuilt gaming rig, then head over to our PC guide where you might find just what you are looking for.