400$ Gaming Computer in 2011


-This article is now outdated, please check out the 2013 version.


Hard-core gamers will invest hundreds, even thousands of dollars in hardware each year. But if you don't wish to empty your wallet, yet still want to have a decent gaming computer, then you can build your own, for about 400 dollars! In this article, we decided to hunt down the ideal parts for a cheap and efficient rig that plays games without killing the wallet.





  1. No operating system is included with this build, so you'll need to shave off another hundred dollars for Windows. If you have a copy of Windows, you can install it, otherwise, you can use Linux (not very good for gaming, but with WINE you can do some pretty impressive stuff).
  2. Also note that this is simply the tower, and does not include the monitor, mouse, keyboard, or other peripherals.
  3. Finally, if you screw up anything, we are not to be held responsible.
Parts Links Price (USD)
-Optical Drive:
-Power Supply (PSU):
-Video Card:


With taxes and shipping, the overall price averages around 400$

More information on each component, and justification of our choices.

  • Case: We chose this case for a few reasons. First of all, it's cheap, yet not too flimsy, so it won't break if you carry it around, like per example to "lan parties". The case also has good ventilation, and room for a lot more fans. More fans = cooler components = saving money with overclocking. The only thing we didn't like was that the case wasn't compatible with both MicroATX and ATX form factors.

  • Motherboard: There isn't that much to say about the motherboard choice. You might even chose another one if you wish, but make sure that your motherboard is of the MicroATX form factor, supports DDR3 RAM and has a AM3 socket. You will preferably also want to have a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, but PCI Express 1.0 x16 is also OK. Our chosen board has all this, so you might just want to stick to it.

  • Optical Drive: Unless you want to watch Blu-ray, which is not the purpose of this computer, don't invest a lot of money for optical drives. For gaming, all you really need is a decent DVD-ROM drive, which is extremely inexpensive. There are a lot of choices out there, but we decided to go for the ASUS one because it's a reputable brand.

  • Power Supply Unit (PSU): Unless you want to fry all of the components of your beautiful new computer, always be careful when choosing a power supply. Here, we chose a 500 watt PSU, which is more than enough to power all our components, and still leave room for expansion. Also, we needed a ATX form factor, otherwise it wouldn't fit in our case. It is well rated, and the price is very reasonable.

  • Processor: This is where our budget starts catching up with us. Normally, a gaming computer would require a quad-core processor or more, but our price doesn't permit that. Still, this triple-core Athlon is a high performance CPU, and you might be able to overclock it, even on stock cooling. If ever you want to upgrade, the AM3 socket on the motherboard supports just about every modern AMD processor.

  • Ram: 4 gigabytes is the norm nowadays, and DDR3 is the way of the future. Some people may complain that 4GBs isn't enough, but unless you're a fan of heavy multitasking, 4 gigabytes is more than what you'll need.

  • Storage: On really expensive gaming computers, you might see SSD drives. These are crazy fast, but ever more expensive. Instead of spending ten times more on somewhat quicker storage, we went for a traditional hard drive. This WD Caviar Blue drive is still quite quick, and the 500GBs of storage is more than enough for installing games

  • Video Card: Here's the most important part of a gaming computer, and would be THE place to invest more if your budget is higher. Of course, the HD 4670 is a highly capable card, but still will lag a bit on more modern games. If you can, invest in something more powerful, such as the NVIDIA 9800gt or the Radeon HD 4850.


The purpose of this article is to prove that you don't need a thousand-dollar budget in order to build a highly capable computer. Here, with a little luck, you could easily go below four hundred dollars, and play World of Warcraft, Call of Duty: Black OPS, The Sims... well, most mainstream games. You could even play a bit of Crysis, but don't expect a thousand frames per second! And if you ever feel like you need more power, this computer is easily upgradeable.