Cheap Effective Gaming PC Build For $350! (2020 Review)

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If you’re looking for a cheap, but highly effective gaming PC build for $350, then you’ve come to the right place. This build has to be one of the best we've ever featured and will allow even people on a limited budget to enjoy PC gaming to its fullest. This build gives you fantastic performance for the price, and will deliver a better experience than a console will, for sure!

When creating this build, we considered people who don’t have the cash to get a $600 gaming PC or who aren’t that deep into PC gaming. If you want to play games like League of Legends, CS:GO, or Fortnite, then this is the PC we would recommend for you. With this build, you should expect medium settings (some high settings) in most games.

If you’re interested in seeing other price points of PC builds, check out our overall listing of PC builds.

We also have an even more in-depth article discussing PC builds ranging from $200-600, and we included a unique upgrade path that isn’t normally discussed. We even feature a $200 gaming PC. 

The Build

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • 80mm rear case fan
  • Solid chassis with vented PCI-E slots
  • Easy to access I/O ports
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  • 3.4 GHz precision boost
  • Quad core CPU
  • VR ready system
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  • GEForce GT 1030
  • 4096 x 2160 max digital resolution
  • AORUS graphics engine
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  • AMD Ryzen AM4 7th-gen Athlon processor
  • Proprietary SafeSlor Core PCIe slots
  • Optmized fan controls
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  • Data rate of 2400MHz
  • Dual in-line memory module
  • Lifetime warranty
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  • 120mm sleeve bearing
  • EVGA 400W N1 series
  • OVP, OPP, SCP protected
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  • Designed with IntelliSeek for improved power consumption
  • Fitted with advanced algorithms monitor
  • No touch ramp load system
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Cheap Gaming PC Build For $350: The Underdog

This build is titled “The Underdog” because of the low price, which makes people feel as though it’s a build that will provide a very lackluster gaming experience, but that’s the farthest thing from the truth.

While this build doesn’t compete with some of the more expensive gaming builds, it’s a fantastic entry gaming PC for someone who is just getting started. Not only is this PC cheap, it also has an excellent upgrade path considering its price. You will easily be able to upgrade this PC and extend its life for many years.

If you don’t have a huge budget, but still want to get into PC gaming, then this is for you! This build will allow you to play even triple-A titles such as Fallout 4, Skyrim, and GTA 5, while still having a great experience. Breakout titles like Fortnite are something this PC can also crush. You should expect to play most games at around medium settings.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into this build and see why it is titled ” The Underdog.”

Build Breakdown

ROSEWILL Micro ATX Mini Tower Computer Case, Steel and plastic computer case with 1x 80mm rear fan, Top I/O ports: 1x USB3.0, 2x USB 2.0 and Audio In/Out ports (SRM-01)

The whole purpose of this build is to maximize the performance for the price, and we had to make a few sacrifices, but, fortunately, this case was not one of them. Even though the Rosewill Performance MTX case is cheap, it still has an incredible design that makes it looks like it cost double what the actual price is.

One of the most important things to look for in a case is good airflow, and this case has two preinstalled 120mm fans that do an excellent job of filtering out hot air and stopping your PC from overheating.

If you are a fan of a solid, simplistic design, you will love this case. However, we understand that not everyone likes the look of this case, so feel free to check out other cases for this build.

Note: We recommend thoroughly checking before you change any case to make sure the dimensions will fit everything properly.

Best Power Supply:
EVGA 400W

EVGA 100-N1-0400-L1 , 400 N1, 400W, 2 Year Warranty, Power Supply 100-N1-0400-L1

Okay, to be frank with you guys, this power supply isn’t the best. However, it will get the job done and should last you a good while. The EVGA 400 Watts Power Supply might sound like it won’t do a lot, but it will definitely suffice for all the needs of this build.

One thing we love about this power supply is the fact that it is very quiet, which is amazing considering its price range.You will have to upgrade this power supply in the future though, as this is already cutting it close with the current components of this build.

If you do have any issues with this power supply, it does have a two-year warranty, which is really important for peace of mind.

Best Video Card:
Gigabyte OC 1030 2GB

Gigabyte GV-N1030OC-2GI Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 OC 2G Graphics Card

The Gigabyte GTX 1030 is the heart of this build, without a doubt. This card is what will allow you to run games on medium to high settings at such a cheap price. The design of a graphics card means nothing, but this card still puts out a great aesthetic.

Some video cards are known for running hot, but the GTX 1030 has an amazing internal fan that will allow it to keep cool, even when under a lot of strain.

Considering this card's compact design, we were impressed by the performance this card produces, earning our recommendation.

Honestly, there are no major issues with this card and it is one of the best-kept secrets for gaming PC builds at this price range.  If you’re looking for a cheap gaming PC, there isn’t a better graphics card out there.

Best Processor:
AMD RYZEN 3 1200

AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Desktop Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler (YD1200BBAEBOX)

For the processor, we decided to include a Pentium. The AMD Ryzen 3 1200  is amazing for the price and makes for a great sidekick to the GTX 1030.

It’s a dual-core processor but still has more than enough cores for any current game. Surprisingly, the G4400 provides a pretty snappy gaming experience. It uses very little power and doesn’t overheat. What more can someone want out of a CPU?

Considering the price of this processor, including it into this build was a very easy choice to make.

Best Motherboard:
GIGABYTE GA-A320M-K mATX

ASUS PRIME A320M-K AMD Ryzen AM4 DDR4 HDMI VGA M.2 USB 3.1 Micro-ATX Motherboard

This Micro-ATX motherboard is small but perfect for the purpose of this build, which is to get the best performance possible for a low price. A few things had to be sacrificed, and this just happened to be one of the things that had to be downgraded. However, even though the ASUS Prime 320M M-ATX is such a small motherboard, it still will allow you to house everything in this build with some room to spare

The motherboard BIOS is just as important as the physical motherboard, and the BIOS on this is not bad. You have a lot of options to customize your PC, and it’s very simplistic (one of the worst things is having a BIOS that is confusing).

In the future, we recommend getting a better motherboard if you want to make this a long term PC, but at the moment, this is our recommended choice based on the budget.

Patriot Signature Line 8GB (2 x 4GB) 288-Pin DDR4 PC4-19200 2400MHz Memory Module Kit PSD48G2400K

We managed to find some cheap RAM that is also of high quality. The Patriot 8 GBs of RAM make an excellent edition to this build at an affordable price.

Fortunately, we managed to squeeze in 8 GB of RAM into this build! We did this with two 4 GB sticks, simply because it’s much more affordable.

Patriot is a relatively unknown brand, but when you’re able to get 8 GBs of quality RAM for the price of most 4 GB options, and all you lose is the name brand, that’s a pretty good deal.

Best Storage:
WD Blue HD 500GB

WD Blue 500GB Desktop Hard Disk Drive - 7200 RPM SATA 6 Gb/s 16MB Cache 3.5 Inch - WD5000AAKX

Western Digital is a very popular hard drive maker and while we would love to cheap out on the hard drive, there’s nothing worse than having a sub-par hard drive that stops working after a few months.

Other than the super-slim design (made for laptops, but will work 100% on a desktop, as well), this hard drive spins at 7200 RPMs, which means it downloads things quicker than your average hard drive and is better for running applications. Considering that this is the only storage we put with this build, this is critical.

Hard drives are known to be pretty fickle, so it’s good to know that if your hard drive dies, you’re backed by a two-year warranty. If any issues do occur with this hard drive, don’t hesitate to get a replacement.

We also recommend getting an SSD if you have some extra money, but they are by no means necessary, considering their high price and low amount of space.

Looking For an Insanely Cheap Build?

If you’re looking for a super-cheap PC build for watching movies and doing schoolwork then check out something called an APU. These are basically a combined CPU and GPU. A lot of people have been asking for something cheaper than this, but at such a low price point, having a full-fledged gaming PC build is almost impossible.

We also have an article on the best APUs for gaming so if you’re interested in them, then definitely check out the post.

Build Conclusion

A lot of sacrifices had to be made in “The Underdog,” but it turned out to be a gaming PC build that will give more people the chance to get into PC gaming, due to its cheap price tag.

You can expect to play most games on medium settings, which is outstanding when you consider the price. We give that estimate mostly because you have the GTX 1030 and the quad-core Ryzen 3 1200 processor and all the other components are just good enough not to bottleneck it.

The only major issue with this PC is that its upgrade path isn’t the best, due to the mATX motherboard and some weak components. So if you’re looking for a PC with a better upgrade path check out our $400 gaming PC build.

If you do decide to change anything in this build, please make sure that everything is compatible! We don’t want you to end up wasting your time and money.

Recommended Peripherals

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • 21.5" HD widescreen display
  • Radeon free sync technology
  • 75Hz refresh rate
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  • 25 non-conflict keys
  • Gold plated, anti-corrosive USB connector
  • Wired gaming mouse included
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  • Brand signature memory foam
  • Lightweight
  • Multi-platform compatibility
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  • Up to 600Mbps wif-fi speeds
  • Dual band wi-fi
  • Compatible with multiple OS's
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  • Enhanced cybersecurity systems
  • Password free sign in system
  • Mixed reality capability
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It doesn’t matter how great of a PC you build if you don’t have the peripherals to use with it. Below, are some recommended PC peripherals. Each of these peripherals will be affordable so you can get the best gaming experience possible, while still maintaining your budget. 

Acer SB220Q bi 21.5 Inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Ultra-Thin Zero Frame Monitor (HDMI & VGA port),Black

PROS

  • 21. 5 inches full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen IPS display
  • Radeon-free Sync technology. No compatibility for VESA Mount

CONS

  • None

If you’re looking for a good name brand monitor, you really can’t go wrong with this Acer 1080 LED-lit monitor. Not only is it one of the most affordable 1080p monitors out there, but it’s also very high quality with amazing color contrasts.

You also have an array of customization options with this monitor, allowing it to be a perfect fit for you.

Our only issue with this monitor would have to be the stand. It’s pretty rigid and messes up the mobility of this monitor. Tall people having to look down at the monitor is an inconvenience, as it can be uncomfortable and cause neck problems.

If you’re looking to get an amazing, but affordable 1080p gaming experience, then this monitor’s hard to beat.

Best Keyboard and Mouse Combo:
Redragon S101 Combo

Redragon S101 Wired Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Combo RGB Backlit Gaming Keyboard with Multimedia Keys Wrist Rest and Red Backlit Gaming Mouse 3200 DPI for Windows PC Gamers (Black)

PROS

  • PC Gaming keyboard and moust combo: Includes Redragon RGB Backlit Computer Gaming
  • RGB Backlit gaming keyboard; 7 different RGB lighting modes & effects, 4 backlight brightnesses

CONS

  • None

If you’re looking for a good gaming keyboard and mouse combo, you really can’t go wrong with the Redragon S101 combo.

The keyboard feels great and even mechanical at times, even with it being rubber. It’s great to get that response when you click on the keys.  It’s also fully backlit, which is perfect for anyone who games at night (almost all of us) and even for people who just like browsing. It’s also super-durable, and it will likely last for years if it’s taken care of.

The mouse has three different DPI settings 1000,1600, and 2000. While this isn’t necessarily amazing, it does get the job done for a good price. There are also buttons on the side that will allow you to quickly access abilities while gaming. This is more than enough for most games, but if you are playing MMO games, then you should check out our cheap gaming mice article.

All in all, this combo provides incredible value, and will allow you to game competitively while on a budget. The Redragon S101 set also has a two-year warranty for those paranoid readers. So if you do have any issues, you can easily return this and get the issues resolved.

HyperX Cloud Stinger - Gaming Headset – Comfortable HyperX Signature Memory Foam, Swivel to Mute Noise-Cancellation Microphone, Compatible with PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Mobile Devices

PROS

  • 50 millimeter directional drivers for audio precision
  • Lightweight headset with 90-degree rotating ear cups

CONS

  • None

If you’re looking for a cheap gaming headset, the HyperX headset is a fantastic buy. Not only does it match the color scheme of this build, but you are also getting something that will allow you to game for hours without any discomfort, and that will also fit any head.

It doesn’t matter how comfortable a headset is, because what every gamer really cares about is the sound. So does the HyperX allow you to dive into a game world and become totally immersed? We would have to say yes. With the HyperX , you’re getting powerful surround sound that will bring you into whatever game you’re playing. You also get some amazing bass for those lows that can easily make or break your gaming experience

You can also use this on your phone, tablet, or just about anything with a sound jack because it doesn’t have a USB. This is pretty important for someone who doesn’t have money to spare (though we can’t imagine walking around with these).

We recommend these headsets without a doubt for anyone looking for a really cheap gaming headset.

Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Wi-Fi USB Adapter (A7000-10000S)

PROS

  • AC1900 Wi-Fi speeds up to 600 Mbps on 2.4GHz and 1300 Mbps on 5GHz
  • Dual Band Wi-Fi—Faster connections to more Wi-Fi networks.
  • System requirements: Windows OS

CONS

  • None

There’s not much to say about the Nighthawk adapter other than that it provides an excellent Wi-Fi connection at an affordable price.

You will be able to download at 1900 Mbps, which is insane for anyone living out in the country. It’ll work with both Ubuntu and Windows.

The Netgear NightHawk AC 1900 adapter is more than enough to meet most people’s needs, so if you don’t have access to an Ethernet cable, this would be the go-to choice.

We have an entire post dedicated to the best USB Wi-Fi adapter.

Operating System Options

Now that you’ve got your PC built, it’s time to start thinking about which operating system you are going to install on it. For those who don’t know, an operating system is just an application that houses and manages all of your other applications. There are hundreds of operating systems out there, but the two most popular ones available to you are Ubuntu Linux and Windows. Below, we'll discuss the pros and cons of both of these operating systems so you can decide which one is best for you.

(Ubuntu) Linux

There are so many open project operating systems, but one that seems to have risen above all the others is without a doubt, Linux.

Why Get Linux?

Since Linux was made by developers for a tech-savvy crowd, it offers a plethora of customization options that allow you to completely configure your PC and operating system. For people who love to have full control over their PC, Linux is a perfect choice

Linux is also a free OS, which is always a plus. You won’t have to pay a dime for it, but you will still be getting a lot of features.

Why Not Get Linux?

Linux might be confusing for people who aren’t that into fully customizing their PC. One of the biggest pluses of Linux can also be its greatest con. Linux offers so many options and freedom, but it can easily be overwhelming for someone who isn’t that into computers outside of gaming.

Linux isn’t fully supported by developers just yet. While progress is being made with this (Steam OS is on Linux), Linux gaming is not being fully optimized, which can make your build perform worse than the same build with the Windows OS installed.

Windows

Why Get Windows?

Windows is the leading OS out right now and with that honor, you get certain privileges. The major one is that almost every PC game is optimized for Windows first, so you never have to worry about a PC title not being supported by your OS.

Windows is also pretty straightforward to use, with few issues. For people who want to easily set up an OS and start gaming, Windows is the best choice.

Why Not Get Windows?

Many people do not know this, but Windows costs money. Sure there are ways to get by this cost quite easily, but when your OS costs about a third of what your gaming PC costs, that can really destroy your budget.

Which Windows to Get?

Windows 10 all the way! Windows 7 and 8 no longer receive updates nor are they optimized for newer titles. As a gamer, this is something you’re going to have to buy.

The USB version works best for this build since it doesn’t have a optical drive (disk drive).

So, Which One Is For You?

As you can see, both of these operating systems have their pros and cons, but for most people, Windows is going to be the best operating system, at least until Linux is being fully optimized by developers on a consistent basis.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a gaming PC build that is cheap, but also very effective, then “The Underdog” is the build for you. You will be able to game with a mix of medium and high settings at the price of a console! If you’re looking for a console killer, then this is it.

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