Best Budget $150 to $200 Gaming PC Build 2018
Having a minuscule budget but still wanting to play games on PC is the story of my childhood.
So, I set out to bring something to my gaming channel that I've never done before; build a budget gaming computer in the $150 to $250 range that play today's latest titles. The range in budget is for those of you who would prefer to spend just a little bit more in order to have a few more options.
Sound impossible? It's not.
Below, I'll show you the parts you'll need to purchase in order to build your inexpensive gaming machine along with why I've chosen them.
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Best APU / CPU/ GPU Combination for Under $50
PC building experts will point you in the direction of the G3258 and the RX 460 or 1050 when talking about budget CPU and GPU combinations. Unfortunately for this build, those $170 combinations take up the entirety of our budget.
Instead, we're focusing on a few cheap APU options that give you processing power along with dedicated-like graphics. Overclocking isn't going to be much of an option here as the CPU cooler would be too expensive. For that reason, the A6-7400k makes a lot of sense for our *$150 build. The , which can be found for $20 to $25 more, is a solid step-up for our *$200 to $250 build. AMD A8-7600 APU
*Prices vary greatly from day to day. As such, these builds may be up to $50 more depending on the deals that you're able to find. Also, we have yet to see Bristol Ridge APUs available to consumers. When the A6-9500 and A8-9600 become available or if Raven Ridge gets released in 2018, look out for these options.
The aim with our AMD A6-7400k APU might be a little different than you expect. We want to build a computer that can handle many of today's most popular games like CS:GO, League of Legends, Minecraft, and even some moderately heavy games like Tomb Raider or Bioshock Infinite.
Since most people on a budget of $200 aren't going to have $60 to go out and spend on a new game like Battlefield 1, we'll be focusing on free-to-play or inexpensive games. If you're wanting to play games like that, it'll be hard to do with this PC and you may want to up the budget.
Don't get confused with the A6-6400k here. The 7400k is Kaveri-based, has R5 graphics, and uses the new compute core technology.
A Cheap but not Too Cheap Power Supply
It would be easy to go out and find a $10 power supply that would run this computer. Still, considering how much it costs to run your computer each year, you're much better off in the long-run going with something that will not only last you a long time, but cost you less over time.
For that reason, I recommend you find a PSU that's 80 PLUS certified that's on a rebate. Often times, you can find something nearly as good for cheap if you're willing to look.
Typically you'll find what you're looking for in EVGA's 430 W1 or the Corsair CX 430. Try to find one on rebate for around $25. Typically, they're more like $35 to $45. I used a gold certified power supply from another build that I had lying around as I already had an extra. That being said I've used the W1 model on a $450 i3 build that I built for my brother a few months back. For the money, it's one of the better options available.
You don't need the extra capacity; however, sometimes the 500 watt version of this is cheaper than the 430 watt one, so be sure to check both. Getting a rebate here is crucial to staying within our budget.
A Cheap and Good Gaming Case
Xion Performance mATX Case Review
The case I used was Xion's mATX case. I was a little hesitant in purchasing this case because of the price; however, in the end this no frills case did exactly what I wanted it to.
By no frills, I simply mean that this case excludes an optical drive in the front and has no easy-mounts for installing your storage. Still, it does include 1 120mm Blue LED fan in the front and screw holes for in the drive bay area for mounting your drives.
The outside of the case looks great with a brush aluminum finish and dust filter grill in front of the fan. The USB 3.0 port in the front I/O was not compatible with the USB headers of our motherboard; however, I used a cable to convert it to USB 2.0.
Overall for $20, I couldn't have expected any more than what I got.
Ram - Dual Channel is a Must
As you can see on the benchmarks for this build, using dual channel memory is a must. For this reason, I recommend you go with a slightly more expensive 2x2GB kit rather than just buying a 1x4GB option.
Admittedly, this may take you a bit over your budget; however, it'll be well worth the extra $5 to $10 for considerably more performance. If you can, step up to a 2x4GB kit. As ram is something that's easily transferable to other builds, it's practical to make that investment now.
My Previous A4 7300 APU $150 Build
Initially, I went with the A4 7300 for this build. It's often available for cheap. Right now, I've seen it as low as $35. Here are some benchmarks for that APU.
A4 7300 Bechmarks for Tomb Raider, BF4, Bioshock Infinite, and CS:GO
While it would have been nice to have benchmarks for Minecraft, League of Legends, and games like Diablo 3, these benchmarks should give you a really good indication of what the A4 7300 is capable of. Clearly if you go with the Kaveri A6-7400k for around $20 more, these numbers will be higher.
Still, at this price point you have to be careful about going with higher-end APUs. while the A6-7400k makes sense, many other $100 options don't simply because you can purchase a more effective dedicated CPU/GPU at that price point.
A4 7300 Review
Overall, I was impressed with the benchmarks I got with the A4 7300. These might not be impressive to PC gamers who have a $1,500 budget, but for 1/10th the price you really have a lot of games which you could play.
The CPU aspect of the A4 7300 was also a lot quicker than I expected. The dual core with up to 4GHz turbo was quick to respond and makes for a good budget option. Those who want to use this as a cheap browsing or video watching option will certainly not be disappointed.
Motherboard Options Under $30
There were few FM2 or FM2+ motherboard options in the $30 price range. For that reason, I was thrilled to see Gigabyte's FM2+ F2A68HM-H as an option. It has 2USB 3.0 ports in the rear I/o, 4 USB 2.0, and even an HDMI port.
FM2+ Backward Compatibility:
FM2+ motherboards are backward compatible with socket FM2 APUs and work with the current Kaveri generation of APUs as well. Sticking with the newer technology here, should provide you with some additional value down the line.
$150 to $200 Gaming PC Build Parts List
A Good and Cheap Hard Drive:
At the time of writing this post I can purchase a 320GB Western Digital Caviar Blue Hard Drive for $15, a CX 430 for $19.99 after a $20 rebate from Newegg, a 1x4GB stick of ram for as little as $24 and a 2x2 kit for $35. In addition, the motherboard was on rebate for $29.99.
For the $150 to $200 build, I used pricing from Amazon, NCIX, and Newegg in the US as I prefer to use those particular options where I live.
If you're wanting to build this PC at a similar price, you'll need to make modifications to it based upon rebates and pricing available where you live.
$150 and $200 PC Builds
$200 (Only Changes Shown)
Gigabyte FM2+ GA-F2A68HM-H
Xion mATX Case
Crucial 2x2GB CTKIT24664BA160B
Corsair Vengeance 2x4GB
WD Caviar Blue 320GB
*Price After Rebates
I got more performance than I thought I'd get out of our $150 build. It's amazing how far performance for the money you spend has come in the past few years. A few years ago $150 wasn't enough to expect any type of gaming, now you can accomplish quite a bit.
In addition to its performance, the build has a small form factor that would make it great as an HTPC or emulator gaming PC to put in your entertainment center.
AMD Bristol Ridge APUs in 2018
Admittedly, Raven Ridge APUs may be available in the near-distant future. If you come across this build and something like the AMD A8-9600 or A6-9500 is available, it's likely you'll get better performance. For now, AMD has given priority to PC manufacturers and, after many months, consumers still don't have access to the part alone.
$150 Gaming PC Video Review
© 2015 Brandon Hart