While building a gaming PC for $300 can be an onerous task, at the end of the day, it is possible to build a low-spec gaming machine for that price point. With a line of particularly powerful APUs, you will be able to play some games with ease.
I have worked in the IT field for a few years, and have been a gamer for even longer. I have tried to game on almost any piece of Tech I could get my hands on.
With my knowledge of tech and gaming PCs in particular, I hope my experience can help you pick a building path that is best for you and your gaming needs.
Let’s get into it.
- Playing modern triple-A titles will most likely not be possible with the hardware you can afford for $300.
- Thanks to Ryzen, APUs have become viable for low specced gaming.
- You can modify an old office Dell Optiplex with a GPU to get some surprisingly good gaming performance.
Why an APU is a Good Option for a $300 Gaming PC
Let’s start with, what an APU even is. GPUs or Graphics Processing Unit, are what we normally use to get video output from our computer so that we can see it on our display. It also does the heavy lifting during gaming.
An APU or Accelerated Processing Unit is the best of both worlds, marrying together both an extremely capable CPU, as well as a built-in GPU. They use Vega Graphics Architecture, which is a scaled-down version of the same technology found in GPUs.
The main draws of an APU is its lower cost and low power pull. Instead of having to pay for both a CPU and GPU separately for upwards of $100+ per part, you can buy an APU to keep your build price within budget, since you can get one for $128.
APU Build Performance in a $300 Gaming PC
So what kind of performance will a small APU deliver? The results are pretty impressive considering it completely replaces a GPU in this build. You can check out the build here.
The price comes out to about $38 over budget. But you can swap the Ryzen 5 5600G for the Ryzen 5 4600G to save about $24. However, I believe that the performance difference between them justifies the price point you will be paying.
Consoles like the PS4 and Xbox use a variation of an APU. Albeit more powerful, you should still net solid performance at 720p low/medium settings, with no issue at all. Most games will run at a solid 30 FPS with slight dips.
I will have to stress this, do not purchase this build if you are looking to play a newer triple-A title. This machine will play indie games and older mainstream titles with ease. CS: GO, Valorant, GTAV and other Competitive will run perfectly on this kind of gaming PC.
The best thing about this gaming PC build is its upgradability. Once you are ready and can afford it, you have an amazing upgrade path for later on.
$300 Dell Optiplex Build
This is a bit of an unorthodox build, but with such a small budget, you’ve have to get crafty. This build calls for us to buy an old Dell Desktop model, preferably the 9020 model as it has more than enough room to work in.
This build is only for those willing to risk going through eBay to purchase all of the parts as they are no longer readily available through other means. Since Dell Optiplex has a lot of proprietary parts, which makes it is impossible to upgrade this build later on.
As you can see above, this build consists of a single desktop computer, a graphics card, and a SATA to PCIe adapter. That one is necessary since Dell power supplies do not have PCIe power connectors, so we take the power from a SATA one, and transfer it to the graphics card!
The price to performance on this build is almost absurd. For only $275, you will be able to play any modern-day triple-A game at medium to low settings, with excellent frame performance.
The RX 580 is a great low-price GPU that can tackle most anything you throw its way, and it pairs greatly with the, albeit old, good i5 CPU within the Dell Optiplex. If you want a closer look at the performance you can expect to get from this check out the image below.
It is very possible to build a gaming PC within an extremely tight budget around $300. It won’t be able to play everything, but you’ll get more than enough for the price to perform. For Indie or competitive games, this will be more than enough.
Of the two build options, it is entirely up to you if you want to save room for an upgrade path, go with the APU build, which out the gate, gives you good performance for a lot of lower specced games. To get more price for performance but no upgradability, go with the Dell Optiplex!