Best cheap gaming PC 2021 – build a 1080p AMD rig for under $600

PC gaming doesn't have to cost the earth, or even a lot of cash. Here's how to build a great 1080p machine on a budget

Building the best cheap gaming PC arguably takes more techie smarts than simply putting together a super high-end rig. It’s all about compromises and knowing where you can make concessions to price without necessarily tanking gaming performance… and that’s a lot harder than just picking the most expensive silicon and jamming it all into one PC.

Let’s be honest for a second, PC gaming is not the cheapest of hobbies. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible to create a cheap gaming PC that can run modern games. Okay, you won’t be able to pack the latest and greatest hardware into your chassis – as we have in our guide to the best gaming PC builds – if you’re having to be a little parsimonious about your component picks, but there is some fantastic last-gen kit still available for a great price. And, you don’t have to spend an extra fortune if you want a similarly-specced prebuilt gaming PC.

And that’s what’s allowed us to put together this high-quality, low-cost cheap gaming PC that’s still able to fling frames around without a care and nail 1080p gaming in the best PC games. And yes, it’s another all-AMD build…Team Red ain’t half bad at this.

In our cheap gaming PC build we’ve gone for a four-core, eight-thread Ryzen 3 3300X. This CPU made our best gaming CPU list as the best budget option, and is a solid CPU delivering excellent gaming performance at a bargain price.

For the graphics card, we’ve gone for an AMD RX 5500 XT, in particular the 8GB variant rather than the 4GB for just a $30 dollar increase – the 4GB version will struggle in 2020 titles like Watch Dogs: Legion.

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Best cheap gaming PC build

Product $ £
CPU AMD Ryzen 3 3300X $120 £115
CPU cooler Wraith Stealth included Free Free
Motherboard Gigabyte B450M DS3H $65 £62
Memory Crucial 2x 4GB DDR4 2400MHz $32 £28
Primary storage 1TB WD Blue HDD $45 £37
Graphics card AMD RX 5500 XT $230 £199
PSU Corsair CV450 PSU $54 £54
Chassis Corsair Carbide 100R $53 £49
$599 £544

CPU – AMD Ryzen 3 3300X

Cores: 4 | Threads: 8 | Max boost: 4.3GHz
This last-gen Ryzen 3000 CPU has still got the goods when it comes to gaming performance, and will power through general productivity tasks too.

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Motherboard – Gigabyte B450M DS3H

Chipset: B450 | Socket: AM4
The smaller-scale Gigabyte B450 board is a great-value option, and made it into our best gaming motherboard guide for the budget category. With that Micro-ATX form factor you’re only really sacrificing the needless potential for multi-GPU support.

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Memory – Crucial 2x 4GB DDR4 2400MHz

Kit: 2x 4GB | Speed: 2,400MHz
We’ve gone for some no frills Crucial RAM to save money as opposed to any fancy RGB backlit RAM, but in dual channel configuration rather than a single stick of 8GB for improved performance.

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HDD – 1TB WD Blue

Socket: SATA | RPM: 7,200
At this level it’s tough to finance the installation of an SSD with enough space to act as a boot drive and have enough space for games. So an HDD is a necessary evil here, unless you want to stretch another $60 / £60 for the best SSD for gaming

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Graphics card – AMD RX 5500 XT (8GB VRAM)

GPU: Navi 14 | Cores: 1,408
This last-gen GPU from AMD is one of the best graphics cards you can get for 1080p gaming, and in older less demanding titles you’ll be able to hit 144Hz refresh rates too.

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Power supply – Corsair CV450 PSU

Capacity: 450W | Modular: No
This 450W PSU gives you room to grow in terms of both CPU and GPU, but you’re necessarily sacrificing the modular design to hit this lower pricepoint.

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Chassis – Corsair Carbide 100R

Windowed: Yes | Support: ATX
Corsair makes some gorgeous PC cases, but it also makes very affordable ones too. This is a simple, no frills chassis, but no less solid for it.

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Optional upgrades…

If you’ve got a bit of spare cash, there are a few changes you can make to this build to make it even better.

Graphics card – AMD RX 5600 XT 6GB

GPU: Navi 14 | Cores: 2,304
For another $70-odd on top of the price of the RX 5500 XT you can go for the next graphics card up in the Navi lineup, the 5600 XT, which is capable of stretching into 1440p gaming too.

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Storage – 1TB WD Blue NVMe SSD

Socket: NVMe | Speed: 2,400 MB/S
For an extra $60 or so, instead of a 1TB hard drive you can go for a 1TB NVMe SSD with read/write speeds over 15x faster. Your PC will thank you for it.

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best cheap gaming pc – prebuilt

Want the convenience of a prebuilt PC but still don’t want to break the bank? You can pick up some pretty similarly-specced prebuilt rigs for only an extra $100 / £150 or so. Both the US and UK PCs listed here have the same RX 5500 XT graphics card and 8GB of RAM from our build, along with AMD’s better 12-threaded Ryzen 5 3600 chip – perfect for gaming and productivity tasks.

If you’re in the US, you can pick up an Ibuypower prebuilt for $699. As well as the specs above, it comes with a 240GB SSD for its storage. Windows 10 comes preinstalled, so there’s no need to worry about fishing out any more for a Windows 10 key.

UK customers can grab Palicomp’s prebuilt PC for £769. This comes with a 1TB hard drive for storage, and Windows 10 preinstalled. You can save £60 if you already have a Windows 10 key lying around and are willing to install it yourself, which is a simple task. As a plus, the CPU is water cooled too, so you can learn how to overclock your CPU to get even more power out of it.

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